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Lighthouse Tales: Minutia is trivial, but little things still matter

The tide comes in twice a day at Battery Point, turning this little isthmus into an island. This time is not only useful for the keepers to do all the little tasks that need doing when the island is inaccessible to people, but it also gives us time to think about the little things.

The word "Minutia" is defined as small or trifling matters. The world is made up of facts both well-known and not so well known. Minutia is begging to be recognized.

I would like to share some of the little things that I have learned in life. Who knows when this information may become useful to you?

A little minutia

At the bowling alley, the distance from the foul line to the center of the kingpin is sixty feet. That is the same as the distance between bases in little league baseball. Speaking of baseballs, there are 108 stitches on one.

The hard parts on the ends of your shoelaces are called "Aglets." Lobsters walk forwards while crabs walk sideways. You never see cashew nuts in the shell because the shells are poisonous.

Each can of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup has exactly 212 noodles.

History reports that Guglielmo Marconi invented the radio, but in 1943 the Supreme Court of the United States credited Nicola Tesla as being the inventor of the radio.

A little more minutia

All this is really good Minutia, but there is a lot more. Did you know that there are 336 dimples on United States golf balls but the British golf balls have only 330.

Lead pencils have no lead in them – the black part is graphite. The wristwatch was invented in 1905 and clocks run clockwise because they were invented in the northern hemisphere (the shadow on sundials in the northern hemisphere moves clockwise).

The first Battery Point Lighthouse keeper was Theophilis McGruder who came west to find gold with his partner James Marshall; they split up in 1845 and Marshall went on to discover gold at Sutter's Mill in the Sierras, triggering the California Gold Rush.

A lot of minutia

The United States has never minted a penny; the official name for the coin is the one-cent piece. And, while we are on the one-cent piece, the portrait of Abraham Lincoln faces right while all other U. S. coins have portraits that face to the left (except the new nickel faces more or less at you).

The Yo-Yo was a weapon invented in Hawaii. A banana seed is the whole banana.

The malted milkshake was invented by the Coor's Brewing Company during prohibition as a way to sell their barely malt when they were not allowed to make beer. The largest plant in the world is a stand of Aspen trees in Colorado connected by a common root system.

I hope that you have enjoyed this in-depth look at Minutia. I'll provide more later.

Randy Ansley, the Battery Point Lighthouse keeper, can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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