Question of the Day

My cats bring in ticks occasionally. How do I know if they're the type that spread Lyme disease?

The tick that carries Lyme disease is called a deer tick and is different from the common dog tick. Although dog ticks are noticeably larger than deer ticks, accurate identification can be made only with a microscope. For certain identification of a tick, you'll have to send it to a laboratory. If you pick ticks off your cats, immerse the ticks in a small vial of alcohol until they can be checked. Ask your local vet for the lab closest to you.

Last 7 Days

    What and when was the year with no summer?

    According to Acts of God: The Old Farmer's Almanac Unpredictable Guide to Weather & Natural Disasters, the year without a summer was 1816. In 1815, the volcano Tambora erupted in Indonesia. The volcano's heavy ash, column of dust, and sulfurous gases rose into the stratosphere, and swift winds spread them around the globe. The hazy shroud caused the sun to appear dull and reddish over the next few years. In 1816, it snowed in New England in July. Snow and killing frosts occurred throughout the northeastern United States and Canada in June, July, and August. The corn crop was abysmal, and the poor farming conditions caused many New Englanders to relocate. The cold reached across the Atlantic to Europe, making it impossible to grow crops there, which spawned widespread famine.

    Can a tornado circulate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere?

    Most tornadoes circulate clockwise, but not all of them do. Scientists have documented a few going counterclockwise. Hurricanes, however, always circulate counterclockwise north of the equator and clockwise south of the equator, due to the Coriolis effect. This is why hurricanes don't occur at the equator. A move from the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere (or vice versa) would change the hurricane's direction and weaken it so much that it would fall apart.

    In baseball, what does it mean to stick a fork in the pitcher?

    This phrase means the pitcher is done for the game and should be replaced. It comes from the idea that you stick a fork in cooking food to test whether it's done.

    What are the warmest cities in the United States?

    According to a list of the U.S. cities that have the most days over 90 degrees F, number one is Yuma, Arizona, which has 175 days a year above 90 degrees; second is Phoenix, with 167; and third is Tucson, with 140. Also on the list are Las Vegas, Nevada; Fort Myers, Florida; and the Texas cities of Brownsville, San Antonio, Austin, San Angelo, and Corpus Christi.

    What is the best way to store paintbrushes after using them?

    If you take just a short break during painting, you do not need to clean the brushes. Simply wrap them in plastic wrap until you are ready to begin painting again. To store brushes overnight, wrap them in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place them in the freezer. Remove them about an hour before you want to begin painting. To store brushes for a long period of time, clean them, wrap them in brown paper cut from a grocery bag, and secure the paper around the handle with tape or an elastic band. Store the brushes flat or hang them by their handles. Standing them up in a can or jar will permanently bend the bristles.

    Can you shed any light on the phrase "hell-bent for leather," meaning "in a hurry"?

    The British counterpart of this phrase is "hell for leather," meaning in a hell of a hurry. Evidently, the phrase was coined while the British army was in India, and most likely the leather refers to a horse's or team's leather gear, from saddle to bridle and reins, and the whipping given to these items when a rider or driver was pressed to attain full galloping speed. "Hell-bent" is an American term, meaning headed in a certain direction at all costs and with heedless speed, even if it means ending up in hell. Most likely, "hell-bent for leather" is a combination of these two phrases.

    Do you know who invented the Snugli, which many women use to carry babies?

    Well, some would say that the Togo people of West Africa are responsible for this "newfangled" idea. Ann Moore, an American pediatric nurse working with the Peace Corps in Togo in the early 1960s, saw the women there using slings to carry their babies while they worked. The babies were comfortable, and the women's hands were free to do their work. Moore and her mother, Lucy Aukerman, used this idea to design their own adjustable, pouchlike infant carrier. They patented the design and ultimately sold it to a commercial producer.

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