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Questions from Children

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I do volunteer work at a school my company adopted in 1988. While I have no trouble speaking in front of groups, I am usually more nervous about being in front of children than adults. One never knows what question will be asked. This week I was with a 3rd grade class and got two “deep questions”.

How should we refer to 2010? Is it called Twenty-ten or Two thousand and ten? Prior to 2000 our almanac asked people how we refer to the 2000s. You have teens, twenties, etc. But what about 000s.. I was hoping that the media would come up with a cute word but nothing came forward. I told the class that the media was now official referring it as Twenty-Ten but since there is no rule or law governing it; they are free to call it two thousand and ten. We then took a vote and the vast majority decided to go with twenty ten. Phew — that’s one less problem to deal with going forward.

The second probing question was about sunrise and sunsets on other planets. Fortunately, I was prepared (or was able to recall) an article from years earlier about this subject. There are sunrises and sunsets on other planets but you can only see them from Mercury, Mars and Pluto (I know it has been downgraded) because these planets are not surrounded by hazy atmospheres. The length of a day differs on each planet. Mercury’s day is 6 months in Earth days. The Martian day is about the same as ours but the sun in 1/3 smaller and Pluto rotates once every 6 ½ Earth days. But there is a sunrise and sunset on each. In the case of Pluto, the sun is so far away, it looks more like a dazzling star amid a black sky.

Got to love questions form students. They have curious minds.

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If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

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