# A Geography Quiz

Before 1997 there were exactly three countries in the world that were both geographically contiguous and alphabetically adjacent in a list of nations. (One country changed its name.) What were they?

# Small and Large

There are almost exactly as many inches in a mile (63,360) as there are astronomical units in a light-year (63,241.1).

# Seems Right

SPRING SUMMER AUTUMN WINTER SUNDAY MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY JANUARY FEBRUARY MARCH APRIL MAY JUNE JULY AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER NOVEMBER DECEMBER ONE TWO THREE FOUR FIVE SIX SEVEN EIGHT NINE TEN ELEVEN TWELVE THIRTEEN FOURTEEN FIFTEEN SIXTEEN SEVENTEEN EIGHTEEN NINETEEN TWENTY TWENTY-ONE TWENTY-TWO TWENTY-THREE TWENTY-FOUR TWENTY-FIVE TWENTY-SIX TWENTY-SEVEN TWENTY-EIGHT TWENTY-NINE THIRTY THIRTY-ONE contains 365 letters.

(Dave Morice, “Kickshaws,” Word Ways 33:2 [May 2000], 133-145.)

03/06/2019 UPDATE: Reader Jean-Claude Georges finds that this works in French too if you label the categories (year, seasons, months, days, numbers):

“And as in Dave Morice’s text, just add a ‘B’ (for bissextile = leap) after ‘AN’ to get 366 for leap years.” (Thanks, Jean-Claude.)

# Northeast Passage

Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Atlanta are collinear.

(Thanks, Ryan.)

# For What It’s Worth

SWEATERDRESSES is typed entirely with the left hand, JOHNNY-JUMP-UP with the right. ANTISKEPTICISM alternates.

# Pilot Program

For 50 years, Snoopy has been NASA’s official safety mascot. Every astronaut wears a sterling silver Snoopy pin into space and presents it personally afterward to an employee or contractor as a special commendation for outstanding achievements related to safety.

Each year, fewer than 1 percent of the aerospace program workforce receive the award; it’s the highest honour recognizing the people who work to keep astronauts safe.

# On the Quiet

To avoid alarming their visitors, hospitals typically alert their staff to emergency situations by announcing “codes” over the public address system. Alberta uses these:

Code Red: Fire
Code Blue: Cardiac arrest/medical emergency
Code Orange: Mass casualty incident
Code Green: Evacuation
Code Yellow: Missing patient
Code Black: Bomb threat/suspicious package
Code White: Violence/aggression
Code Brown: Chemical spill/hazardous material
Code Grey: Shelter in place/air exclusion
Code Purple: Hostage situation

These haven’t been standardized; a few other systems are listed here. One common variation is “Paging Dr. Red” or “Paging Dr. Firestone” to alert staff of a fire. Sometimes “Code Clear” is announced when the emergency has been dealt with.

For similar reasons, airlines refer to dead bodies as “Jim Wilson.” American Airlines’ help desk for funeral homes is called the American Airlines Jim Wilson Service.

# Misc

• By age 14, Harry Truman had read every book in the Independence, Missouri, library.
• In honor of Ray Bradbury, a web page censored by a government returns HTTP error status code 451.
• Wyoming, Wisconsin, is in Iowa County.
• Vincent van Gogh and Salvador Dalí were both named after dead brothers who had preceded them.
• “Virtue is insufficient temptation.” — George Bernard Shaw

# Misc

Salman Rushdie suggested that if Robert Ludlum had written Hamlet it would be called The Elsinore Vacillation.

Larry Rosenbaum observed that a gigolo is a million million billion piccolos.

The Greek god of theatrical criticism was named Pan.

Most pygmy hippos in American zoos are descended from William Johnson Hippopotamus, a pet given to Calvin Coolidge.

BISOPROLOL FUMARATE is an anagram of SUPER MARIO FOOTBALL.

Illinois considers Pluto a planet.

“It is as if children know instinctively that anything wholly solemn, without a smile behind it, is only half alive.” — Iona and Peter Opie, The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren, 1959