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Question of the Day

A bountiful crop is often referred to as a bumper crop. Where does this term come from?

Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed.) dates the noun bumper ("a brimming cup or glass") to the year 1676. The adjective, meaning "something unusually large," dates to 1885.

Last 7 Days

    Even though I've put cedar in my drawers and hung cedar-scented sachets in my closets, I still have moths flying around my family room and kitchen at night. How can I get rid of them?

    It sounds as though you have a problem with clothes moths. The moths are most likely coming into your home from outside, attracted or confused by the light. Look for their entrances and close them up. If moths are in your clothes, infested items should be discarded, dry-cleaned, or washed in hot soapy water and dried at a high temperature. Thorough vacuuming will remove most of the moth larvae in your carpets if you have an infestation. Clean cracks, crevices, corners, and underneath objects.

    Can you find kangaroos anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere?

    Only in zoos. Kangaroos are not only confined to the Southern Hemisphere as their natural habitat, but they are also limited to Australia itself! The theory is that kangaroos, a group of mammals known as Marsupials, evolved after Australia became isolated by sea, approximately 60 million years ago. Any kangaroos you see any where else in the world are certainly imported!

    How long is the solar cycle?

    The solar cycle is the periodic change in the number of sunspots. (Sunspots are a big factor in The Old Farmer's Almanac annual weather forecasts.) The cycle is the interval between successive minima (periods of low sunspot activity) and is about 11.1 years. During the cycle, solar flares, sunspots, and other magnetic phenomena move from intense activity to relative calm and back again.

    In cooking, how exactly should I "macerate" something?

    This term means "to soften," and the method for doing so involves soaking something in a liquid. You are soaking it either to soften it or to flavor the liquid. Dried fruit, for instance, can be soaked in wine. The wine will soften the fruit, but it also will be flavored by the fruit.

    What is the smallest mammal in the world?

    It's Kitti's hog-nosed bat (also called bumblebee bat) from Thailand. It's only 1.2 inches long and weighs 0.07 ounces.

    Is there a special system used by professional sports teams to assign the numbers on players' jerseys?

    Yes, and it's very simple: "Jordan, what number would you like? How about you, Rodman?" Get the idea? Obviously, a player can't choose a number that is already taken by a teammate or that has been "retired" in honor of a former player.

    Can I eliminate the poison oak at the back edge of my wooded lawn without using chemicals or going in there and cutting?

    Try combining 3 pounds salt and 1 gallon soapy water. Spray this solution on the plant's leaves and stems.

    Why do the leaves on trees seem to turn upside down before a storm?

    Before a cold front arrives with its clouds and rains, the wind is often from the southwest. With the wind in this direction, the plant or tree orients itself to get optimum sunlight, and the leaves are in an unstable position with respect to the wind moving past them. This instability makes the leaves flip over. The unstable leaves then foretell the approach of a cold front which is likely to bring rain.

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