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WEIRD PASTIMES by T. A. Tafoya
With our limitless imaginations, humans have come up with all sorts of interesting activities in an effort to stave off boredom. Tidbits takes a look at a few of the wackiest pastimes. • Chess Boxing requires both brains and brawn. This Dutch event combines a game of chess played in between rounds of boxing. Two individuals go at it for up to 11 rounds. The game starts with a four-minute chess round followed by two minutes of boxing. The World Chess Boxing Organization’s motto is: “Fighting is done in the ring, and wars are waged on the board.” The match can be won through domination in either activity or some combination of a knockout, checkmate and exceeding the time limit on speed chess or by a judges’ decision. • Ever thought of chasing cheese? In a battle of pursuit, people risk life and limb to chase an eight-pound Double Gloucester cheese down a very steep hill in the annual Cheese-Rolling Festival at Cooper’s Hill in Brockworth, Gloucestershire. There are five races, and the first person to make it to the bottom still on their feet wins the cheese! turn the page for more!
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WEIRD PASTIMES (continued) • Can you talk afterwards? The World Stinging Nettle Challenge is held at The Bottle Inn in Marshwood, Dorset, U.K., every year as part of a charity beer festival. Competitors come from all over the world to see how many nettle leaves they can eat off two stalks in an hour’s time. The bare stalks are measured, and the winner is the one with the greatest accumulated length. It takes skill and endurance to chew and swallow the leaves and not blister the tongue. • You shouldn’t be asleep for this one! Bed Racing is a sport enjoyed by the people of North Yorkshire Town in the United Kingdom who hold the annual Knaresborough Bed Race. Competitors race beds in teams of six, plus one on the bed. The bed has to run on four wheels and must also float. The race is 1 mile (3 km) long with five up-hill climbs leading to a final challenge of crossing a river. • Ferret Legging is a male-only competition that started in Yorkshire, England, and is now held at the Richmond Highland Games & Celtic Festival in Richmond, Virginia. Men compete with one another by trapping two live ferrets in their pants. The pants must be tied at the ankle and secured at the waist with a belt to prevent the ferrets from escaping. The animals cannot be sedated and must have a full set of teeth. No filing or blunting of teeth is allowed. After the ferrets are secure in the trousers, the competitors stand in front of the judges. The winner is the man who can last the longest. There are two important additional rules to Ferret Legging: The ferrets must have free access from one leg of the trousers to the other, and no underwear can be worn! The current record stands at 5.5 hours. • Witcham in Cambridgeshire, England, hosts an annual Pea Shooting contest where the competition is fierce! Contestants shoot a pea 12 feet (3.64 m) through a 12-inch (30.48 cm) tube towards a 12-inch (30.48 cm) target. Pea shooting recently moved into the 21st century with laser-guided shooters. • Wife Carrying started in Finland and is now played all over the world. In this race, male competitors run a 278-yard (253.5-m) track with two dry obstacles and one water obstacle while carrying their wife on their back. The fastest time wins. The wife must weigh at least 108 pounds (49 kilograms) and may be carried piggyback, fireman’s carry or Estonian style, where the wife
To Your Good Health By Paul G. Donohue, M.D.
Leg Cramps Cramp Sleep
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: For several years I have had spasms in my left leg at night while asleep. Now I get them in my right leg. They are intense and painful. My calcium is normal. I have taken magnesium and leg-cramp pills without results. I have put soap in the bed, used mustard and tried many other home remedies without any luck. I would be indebted for any other suggestions you might offer. -- S.G. ANSWER: Nighttime leg muscle cramps are another one of the joys of aging. Why? I don’t know. A cramp is a sustained, painful muscle contraction. In a very small number of people, low blood calcium or magnesium, an underactive thyroid gland and dysfunctions of the kidney or liver might be the cause. For most, a cause cannot be found. Quinine was a favorite remedy. Now quinine has a limited use -- only for malaria. It has potentially dangerous side effects that make it unwarranted for muscle cramps. Some find that tonic water stops their cramps. That’s fine that they do; the amount of quinine in tonic water is quite small. There is evidence that the heart and blood pressure drug diltiazem can be useful. Vitamin B complex -- a mixture of the B vitamins, including B-6 -- also has some support for its use. Stretching the leg muscles three times a day and again before going to bed might prevent cramps. One exercise is standing on the lowest step of a stair with heels projecting off the edge of that stair. Raise high on your toes and then slowly lower yourself until the heels are well below the level of the stair. Hold that position for 10 seconds and repeat the exercise 10 times. Some have found that a warm bath taken before heading to bed stops their cramps. The booklet on restless leg syndrome and nighttime cramps offers a more lengthy treatment of this annoying problem. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue -- No. 306W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery. DEAR DR. DONOHUE: When I had my last tetanus vaccine, the shot also included pertussis. Doesn’t that make it more complicated? Why not one shot at a time to avoid allergic reactions? -- I.M. ANSWER: The tetanus shot is given every 10 years. Included in the tetanus shot is diphtheria vaccine. The material is called Td. Between the ages of 19 and 64, another vaccine is included in the shot -- pertussis, whooping cough. That shot is Tdap. It is substituted for the Td shot and is given only once. Pertussis immunity wanes with age and needs this booster to keep people from contracting whooping cough. Whooping cough isn’t just a childhood illness. Older people catch it and spread it. At that stage of life, whooping cough leads to coughing that lasts for many months. The rate of allergic reactions from the combination of these vaccines is quite low. The protection that the combination provides is quite high.
For Advertising Call (951) 695-2323 WEIRD PASTIMES (continued) hangs upside-down with her legs around the husband’s shoulders, holding onto his waist. The prize is the wife’s weight in beer. • A conker is a nut of the horse chestnut tree. During The World Conker Championships, conkers are threaded onto pieces of knotted string to prevent them from coming off. The aim of the game is to smash your opponent’s conker. Who goes first is decided by a coin toss, and the loser of the toss holds up a hand with the dangling conker on the end of its string. The other player then attempts to hit the dangling conker as hard as he can with his own conker by swinging it over-arm. If he hits it, he gets another go. If he misses or hits the opponent’s knuckles, the play switches, and the receiver gets a crack at his opponent. This continues until one of the conkers is so damaged that it falls off the string. • Big crowds regularly attend the Great Christmas Pudding Race held in London’s Covent Garden’s West Piazza. It is a relay event where teams in fancy dress negotiate a challenging 164yard (150-meter) obstacle course while carefully balancing a dish of Christmas pudding on a tray. The race supports cancer research in the U.K. • The ancient sport of shin-kicking is part of the annual Cotswold Olimpicks. The goal of shin-kicking is to kick your opponent as hard as you can in the shins. Each time your opponent falls to the ground you earn a point. The winner is the person with the highest score in the best of three rounds. Competitors are encouraged to pad their legs with as much straw as possible. • The World Toe Wrestling Competition started in 1976, and it has made it to the big time in the adult sporting world. Competitors face each other toe-to-toe across a “toedium,” where they lock their big toes together and try to force their opponent’s foot to the ground. Organizers of the sport applied for its inclusion in the Olympic Games, but it was not accepted.
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www. tidbitssocal.com WEIRD PASTIMES (continued) • Extreme Ironing is a dare-devilish sport that combines the dangerous and exciting with the dull and mundane. Participants call themselves “ironists.” They take their ironing board, iron and some wrinkled clothes to extreme places and set to work. Individuals and teams participate in world competitions to set new records for ironing clothes underwater, hanging off cliffs, on top of moving vehicles, even near the top of Mount Everest. Photographs are taken for proof.
OVERCOMING THE ODDS LIVING WITHOUT LIMITS Nick Vujicic was born with phocomelia, a medical term for babies born with malformed or missing limbs, but he has turned his experiences with a disability into inspiration for others.
1. Name the Dodger who played all 13 of his major-league seasons under manager Tommy Lasorda. 2. Only one American League player in the 1970s had a season in which he amassed 400 or more total bases. Name him. 3. Who was the coach of Southern Cal’s football team before Pete Carroll’s nine-season reign? 4. When Chris Bosh became the Toronto Raptors’ career leader in points scored in 2010, whose mark did he surpass? 5. Name the last time the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Northeast Division. 6. FC Dallas set a Major League Soccer record in 2010 for longest unbeaten streak in a single season. How many games was it? 7. True or false: World heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield was once a world cruiserweight boxing champion.
• Nick Vujicic was born with no arms and no legs, only one little foot with two fused toes. When they saw their newborn baby for the first time, his parents were stunned and in disbelief. They were not prepared for the moment, as prenatal ultrasounds detected nothing unusual. Doctors could see the fetus was a boy but didn’t detect any missing limbs. • Vujicic’s parents struggled with idea of raising such a severely handicapped child. How could they care for him properly? What kind of life would this child have? Could he ever grow up to care for himself, go to school or live independently? The doubts and worries filled their heads. After much grieving and soul searching, they moved forward, and instead of dwelling on their circumstances, they set out to raise their child to be as normal as he could be. • As Vujicic grew from an infant to a toddler, he learned to roll his trunk across the floor to get around. He would roll to a wall and using his forehead would walk himself up the wall to an upright position, bracing himself with his little foot. • Doctors performed a simple surgery to separate his two toes so that he might be able to use them more like fingers. He later learned
1. HISTORY: When did the Franco-Prussian War end? 2. INVENTIONS: What was the name of Robert Fulton’s first commercially successful steamboat? 3. RELIGION: Who is the patron saint of Wales? 4. MUSIC: What famous singer’s 1950s TV show featured the Vic Schoen Orchestra? 5. LITERATURE: Who wrote the novel “Rebecca”? 6. MYTHOLOGY: In Greek mythology, who was Telemachus’ father? 7. ADVERTISEMENTS: What is “the beer that made Milwaukee famous”? 8. GEOGRAPHY: Where is Lake Maracaibo? 9. GENERAL KNOWLEDGE: For what line of work was Fannie Merritt Farmer best known? 10. POLITICS: What system of government does the Fabian Society support?
For Advertising Call (951) 695-2323 WITHOUT LIMITS (continued) to use those two little toes to operate a custombuilt electronic wheelchair, a computer and even a cell phone. • Once he reached school age, he began to notice he was much different than other kids. His family was instrumental in helping him overcome these emotional challenges. They never let him feel sorry for himself and never coddled him. He went to mainstream schools, and although it was almost unbearable at times, he found the strength to persevere through humor and the ability to poke fun at himself. • Vujicic has grown up to be not only selfsufficient with a career, but happy and full of a joyful purpose. While still in school, he was invited to speak to student groups, church groups and other teen organizations, which led him into his career as an internationally successful motivational speaker. He is also the author of an inspiring book titled “Life Without Limits.” • His message of hope encourages others to stay focused on their dreams. “For every disability you have, you are blessed with more than enough abilities to overcome your challenges,” he says. And he should know! He encourages others by showing them how he learned to accept what he could not control and focused instead on what he could. • “You can wish; you can dream; you can hope, but you must also act upon those wishes, those dreams and those hopes. You have to stretch beyond where you are to reach where you want to be,” says Vujicic. • He came to realize that he didn’t have to be normal. “I just had to be me,” he says. “At first, I was not willing to confront that what was really wrong with me wasn’t my body, it was the limits I put on myself and my limited vision of the possibilities for my life.” Vujicic found the confidence to build a rewarding and productive life without limits.
www. tidbitssocal.com THE HISTORY OF SPORTS
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Sports most likely extend back as far as humans have been in existence. We are active and competitive beings, and through competition, we have developed many of our most basic skills. Through the history of sports and the changes to the rules of games, we can see how society has changed its beliefs over the years. The winner of the game is no longer the last man alive but the one with the most points or best time. Tidbits looks back at sports from centuries ago to modern day. • In Ancient Greece, athletic competitions were held during religious festivals in every Greek city. Swimming and fishing were regular sporting events, as was javelin throwing, high jumping, boxing and wrestling. Ancient Persia is where polo and jousting are said to have originated. • The Olympic Games began in Olympia in 776 BC in honor of Zeus. People came from all over Greece to take part in them. Wars were stopped to allow everyone to participate, except women. They were not even allowed to watch. If they did and were caught, they were executed by being thrown off a cliff. Originally the Olympic games only included a single sprinting event. • During the Roman Empire, the first gladiators fought for sport (sometimes to the death), in 264 BC. Romans also competed in chariot and horse racing. They held foot races, wrestling matches and played a form of handball. Less physical games included gambling with dice and board games.
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HISTORY OF SPORTS (continued) • In the Middle Ages, knights competed in jousting tournaments. The main sport of the upper class was hunting deer and wild boar. • A very rough form of football called “mob football” was invented during the Middle Ages and played between neighboring villages. The ball was an inflated pig’s bladder and any means could be used to move the ball to a goal, as long as it didn’t lead to murder or manslaughter. The game of golf was developed in Scotland in the 15th century. • A billiard game became popular in 16th-century France. The game was played with two balls that were struck with the edge of what resembled a hockey stick on a table made of wood covered in a green woolen cloth with felt sides. The game of curling became well established by the 16th century in Scotland and the Netherlands. • King Charles II made yachting a popular sport in the 17th century, and a game of “Nine Pins,” much like today’s bowling, was played as an indoor and outdoor sport. • In the 18th century, horse racing became a professional sport, and the Jockey Club was formed in Britain in 1727. • During the 19th century, sports became more organized with leagues and rules. The London Football Association devised the rules of football in 1863. In 1867, John Graham Chambers wrote a list of rules for boxing.
Cat’s Taste for Plastic Could Signal Diabetes By Samantha Mazzotta
DEAR PAW’S CORNER: I’m replying to Dave, the reader whose cat chews on his wife’s oxygen hose. This may sound weird, but he should consider having his cat checked for diabetes. Our cat, “Tuffy,” started chewing on our clear plastic shower curtain. We waited a bit too long to have him checked out, and he was in dire condition by the time the veterinarian saw him. It was my wife who read something in a cat magazine and suggested that the vet test Tuffy for diabetes. Sure enough, he had it. And while our cat’s prognosis was initially not good -- the vet said he might have three months to live -- thanks to regular insulin injections and care, Tuffy lived another four and a half years. So Dave, keep the faith, and have your cat checked for diabetes. -- Tom W., via email DEAR TOM: Thanks so much for calling attention to this possible health condition! Chewing on clear plastic as a signal for possible diabetes is not something I have heard of before, but I’m very glad your wife made that connection.
Readers, keep in mind that many, even most, cats chew on weird things. Plastic shopping bags and crumpled paper are especially fascinating, and it’s not unusual to see cats gnawing at them. Of course, you should take efforts to stop them from ingesting such items. This type of gnawing does not necessarily signal a health problem, but if you’re unsure, take your pet to the veterinarian to ease your suspicions. Other signs of feline diabetes include a voracious appetite and/or drinking large quantities of water, as well as frequent urination or urinating a much larger amount than usual. Weakness in the cat’s back legs is another serious symptom. Send your pet questions and tips to ask@pawscorner. com, or write to Paw’s Corner, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Find more pet advice and resources at www.pawscorner. com.
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1. Current Angels skipper Mike Scioscia. 2. Bostonâ€™s Jim Rice had 406 total bases in 1978. 3. Paul Hackett (1998-2000). 4. Vince Carter, with 9,420 points. 5. It was the 1999-2000 season. 6. Nineteen games. 7. True. He held the WBA cruiserweight belt (198688) and the IBF and WBC cruiserweight belts (1987-88) before going on to win world heavyweight titles