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Murch: A little distraction before the election

November 2, 2012
The Alpena News

Monty Python's Flying Circus had a catchphrase, "And now for something completely different." This kind of fits that category. I needed a break from politics, and so this stays away from it.

I love geography and little nuggets of information, so I invariably find things that catch my eye while looking for something completely different. It's generally useless information that sometimes gets caught in my brain. Other times it's just interesting stuff I remember enough so I can look up and share with others. Such as:

* Skype software was created by Estonian developers and in mostly developed in Estonia. The country, formerly part of the Soviet Union, has a total population of less than 1.3 million people. Just proves major advances in technology can happen anywhere.

Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, has a population of 3.1 million people. What is interesting is that the city was only founded in 1899. It's only been in existence as a city for 113 years, and was founded simply as a train depot on a railway from Mombasa (currently the second largest city in Kenya next to Nairobi) to Uganda.

Scotland is due to have an independence referendum in 2014 to decide if the country will leave the United Kingdom and become an independent country. There are some experts on these sorts of issues who believe if it is successful you will similar votes throughout Europe, especially Flanders (located in parts of France, Belgium and Netherlands) and has Brussels as its largest city, and Catalonia, which is in the northeast part of Spain and Barcelona is its largest city.

Alpena would be the sixth largest city in Iceland. Alpena's population, 10,410, is 174 people fewer than the fifth largest city in Iceland. Of course, Iceland only has 320,000 people, 202,341 who live in the Reykjavik metropolitan area.

There are 26 universities in the Quito, Ecuador, metro area. I don't know why I find that interesting, but I do. Quito is the capital of Ecuador and is the capital that is highest above sea level in the world at 9,350 feet probably more interesting than the university count, but I find both interesting.

There are 20 fully-professional soccer teams in London at the various league levels - six of them play in the Barclay's Premier League. There are another 23 that are professional to some level (semi-pro, etc.). That's 46 teams. Imagine 46 professional basketball teams in New York City, all of which either play in the NBA or have an eye on playing there. Of the teams playing at the top level, Arsenal plays in a stadium of over 60,000 and Queens Park Rangers play in a stadium of just over 18,000.

Lifestyles Editor Diane Speer's hometown is a small town in Pennsylvania with a state penitentiary. That little town in the new home of Pennsylvania's most infamous recent criminal - Jerry Sandusky.

The necktie, the staple of businessmen everywhere, originated in Croatia. It comes from a cravat that was worn by Croat soldiers in the 17th century. Though neckwear has been part of uniforms throughout the ages, it's generally accepted that the modern necktie has ties (pardon the pun) to the Thirty Year War in the early to mid-1600s. Now a business can say it is soldiering on and it has a whole new meaning.

Busan, South Korea, is the fifth-busiest seaport in the world. I guess it makes sense when you think of all the products produced in Asia and sent around the world.

The average high temperature in Casablanca, Morocco, is 70.24 degrees. Yet the warmest month, August, averages just 78.6 degrees. January, not surprisingly, is the coolest, with an average low of 47.1 degrees. I like those kinds of temperatures. Not too hot, not too cold - and no, I'm not reading from Goldilocks and Three Bears.



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