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Question of the Day

What percentage of Americans own a dog?

About 40 percent of American households have at least one dog. There are 59 million cats, 52.9 million dogs, and nearly 300 million people in the United States. Although there are more cats than dogs, dogs can be found in 4.2 million more households than their feline counterparts.

Last 7 Days

    There was a hurricane that formed in both the Hatteras and Oregon Inlets in North Carolina. What was the year and what were the highest sustained winds?

    We found no data that indicate any hurricane actually formed in either of those North Carolina areas. Hurricanes are products of a tropical ocean and atmosphere. Powered by heat from the sea, they are steered by the easterly trade winds and the temperate westerlies, as well as by their own ferocious energy. Being a coastal state, the residents of North Carolina have had their share of landfall hurricanes for generations, having had 11 major hurricane make landfall between 1990-1996. As for high winds, Hurricane Fran, a major Category 3 hurricane, hit the North Carolina coastal areas of Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender, Onslow, and Carteret counties on September 6, 1996, with sustained surface winds of almost 130 mph.

    My friend and I noticed that cows feeding in a pasture all face the same way. Is there a reason for this?

    Yes, especially in coastal areas. Cows will swing like a weather vane to face the wind head-on. Otherwise, the wind will ruffle their fur, and they don't like that.

    I'd like to complete a saying that goes something like this: "May the sun be at your face and the wind at your back." Can you help?

    It's part of an Irish blessing for travelers. Here's one version of it: "May the road rise up to meet you, / May the wind be always at your back, / May the sun shine warm upon your face, / And the rains fall soft upon your fields, / And until we meet again, / May God hold you in the palm of His hand."

    What is the meaning of alarm, as in a three-alarm fire? Obviously, the more alarms there are, the more serious the fire, but what does an alarm measure?

    An alarm is a warning, signal, or call to action. It originated as a call to arms -- "All'arme!" (To arms!) in Old Italian. As used by fire departments, the signal is preceded by a number, which alerts the dispatcher to the magnitude of the fire and the response required. The numbers represent preestablished assignments of apparatus and manpower and allow the dispatcher to know instantly how much equipment and how many firefighters will be needed to do the job. The higher the number is, the more of each will be required.

    In cooking, does it matter which type of soy sauce is used?

    The two main types to consider are light and dark. The dark will have a much heavier flavor, while the light is saltier. We wouldn't recommend the light for persons trying to restrict their salt intake. Some specific brands of soy sauce can achieve the flavor without the saltiness. As a substitute, you could try a beef bouillon cube dissolved in water.

    What weather patterns result in droughts?

    Strangely, weather scientists can't explain why droughts occur in some years, or decades, and not others. They do come in cycles. Droughts occur when a high-pressure area settles over a region and then doesn't move on, as is usual. Clouds can't form because the high pressure is pushing down the air, causing "compressional warming" and lowering the humidity. Essentially, the conditions needed for creating rain have been removed. When this goes on for a long time, a drought occurs. Although the 20th century had some notorious droughts, one of the most famous of which produced the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, the United States and other parts of the world have seen worse. There were "mega-droughts" in the 13th and 16th centuries, and there's nothing to stop such droughts from occurring again.

    How are coffee beans decaffeinated?

    Two methods are generally used. In the first, the beans are placed in a rotating drum and softened with steam for 30 minutes. They are then rinsed in a chemical solvent for about 10 hours. When the chemical has absorbed the caffeine from the beans, it is drained away, and the beans are steamed for 8 to 12 hours more so that any remaining solvent will evaporate. A minute amount of the chemical (0.1 parts per million) remains in the beans. In the second method, green coffee beans are soaked in hot water until the caffeine is drawn out of them. The water is drained and treated with a chemical, which absorbs the caffeine. Then the mixture is heated until both the chemical and the caffeine evaporate. The remaining water is returned to the beans, which, according to coffee experts, allows the beans to regain most of their flavor.

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