Saturday, November 22, 2014

Urban Legends - The Town That’s Been Burning for Over Half a Century

Surfing on the Internet in search of new mysteries to talk about I found out something very strange. I’ve already talked about the Ringing Rocks County Park. And again today’s weirdness is located in Pennsylvania. What if I tell you there exists a city which has been burning for almost 50 years. And is still burning now. 

I was surprised when I first heard about Centralia, a borough (a self-governing municipal entity that is usually smaller than a city) and a near-ghost town in Columbia County. Its population has radically dwindled from over 1,000 residents in 1981 to 8 in 2014, and so is the least-populated municipality in Pennsylvania. But If you look at it, seems a very pleasurable city. So why everybody ran away ?

Founded in 1862, Centralia came out because of the booming coal mining industry. Under the town lays a particular type of coal, called Anthracite coal (also known as Black Diamond, a much cooler name), once in high demand for heating homes. This underground mine  surrounds the area, providing massive quantities of this mineral source. In fact, approximately 95% of all anthracite coal in the U.S. is in Pennsylvania.  Some estimates the total amount of coal under Centralia before mining began at 25 million tons. So it’s no surprise that Centralia prospered for a while with over 2.000 residents during its success peak.

But the problems began in the 1960s. Lots of people were moving away from using coal for heating purposes, reducing the mineral demand.  As a result, the population of the town had decreased to between 1,100 to 1,200 people. In addition, mining companies had removed approximately 50 to 70 percent of the usable coal beneath the town and the surrounding area by 1962. No large scale mining took place in town anymore, though other veins of coal continued to be mined elsewhere in the area.

The “Centralia Mine Fire” began in the days before Memorial Day in May of 1962. The exact nature of what locals refer to as “The Incident” causes arguments even today. Nobody can be completely sure of what actually happened. The most accepted theory states that Centralia’s volunteer fire department intentionally set fire to the town trash dump, in order to decrease the amount of waste before Memorial Day, since it was located near the town cemetery. The volunteer firefighters didn’t notice that, hidden beneath the trash bin, there was an opening to the mine shaft. Consequently the fire spread into the coal mine underground. There were strict regulations requiring that the entrances to unused mines must be sealed off to prevent such fires, but this opening was simply overlooked. Another popular theory about the start of the fire that began in 1962 claimed that a fire from a mine explosion during the 1930s was never extinguished and caused the most recent fire.

The fire was discovered on May 27th 1962, and the Department of Environment Resources and the Centralia authorities tried to put out the fire during the summer. It’s no surprise they miserably failed. A lack of funds severely restricted the firefighting efforts then, when it was most beatable. They tried to extinguish the fire several more times over the next twenty years, trying such things as digging deep trenches, as well as flushing the fire by dumping wet sand in tunnels, in both cases to cut it off from spreading, among several others extinguishing methods.  The government spent around $7 million trying to put the fire out, but the fire has always won since then.

Anyway, the fire didn’t seem to be posing any danger to Centralia or the surrounding towns, so everybody gave up, also because planning a solution to stop fire (digging a massive trench around where it had spread) would have cost over a half a billion dollars. At this point, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania closed a handful of mines near the Centralia mine due to dangerous gases traveling through the connected areas into those other mines, but otherwise ignored the situation. The residents of Centralia were frightened  at first, taking the fire in stride. But, after few years, they benefited from the ground being heated. For example, their sidewalks and driveways no longer needed shoveling during the cold, snowy months. Others benefited from having warm soil in their gardens and could harvest tomatoes in winter.

But the bad news came from a gas station owner, who discovered in 1979 that the fire had heated his underground fuel tanks to a 172 degrees Fahrenheit. While not anywhere near the 500°F ignition critical level , it was nonetheless a sign of just how hot the ground was getting in certain areas. Gasses and heat from the fire also began to kill vegetation above ground, leaving clear marks around the city limits (and the photo up here is a clear example).

Then in 1981, the Centralia Mine Fire brought national attention to the small Pennsylvania coal town. Twelve-year-old boy Todd Domboski (on the right) was cutting through his grandmother’s backyard when the ground opened up beneath his feet. Heat from the mine fire warmed the ground and opened a sinkhole. Domboski managed to stop his slide into the sinkhole and a fiery, smoke-filled death below by grabbing a tree root and shouting for help. If his cousin wasn’t  quickly help pull him out, Todd Domboski most likely would have died from inhaling the carbon-monoxide filled smoke.

This near-death tragedy made headlines across the U.S. and spurred the government into action.  The U.S. Congress earmarked $ 42 million for the purpose of buying out and relocating all of Centralia’s citizens.  In the end, Pennsylvania spent about $52,000 per house on average to relocate the residents of Centralia.

While most of the citizens eventually chose to take the money and leave town for a safer place to live, a handful of residents refused to leave their homes. Everybody has problems to leave the places where their families grew up and lived, is a natural law. They claimed that their houses were safe despite the fumes and other dangers because they weren’t in the path of the fire. Nevertheless, Pennsylvania’s government declared eminent domain in 1992, meaning that the government could seize private property so long as they compensated the property owners. Those who remained in Centralia became actual squatters.

The residents who remained in town underwent a lengthy court battle with the state in order to keep their homes. They argued that the government buyout originated from an underhanded plan to gain valuable mineral rights. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania denied everything,  arguing this has never been their intention and that the buyout does not impact mineral rights. As of June 2014, the 8 remaining residents of Centralia have been given the right to live out the rest of their lives in the town with the government taking possession of their land after their deaths. It’s a pretty sad price for loving their own homes…

Nowadays, Centralia is virtually a ghost town. The properties that the state either purchased or seized have been leveled, and the vegetation has been allowed to grow without artificial limitations.

The Centralia Mine Fire has burned for over fifty years without slowing down. Some estimates claim that there is enough coal under Centralia to fuel the fire for another 250 years or so.  Needless to say, the town will not be rebuilt anytime soon, though the handful of remaining locals do note it has become something of a tourist attraction, with a few thousand people a year paying a visit.

There was also a time capsule buried in Centralia in 1966. The few citizens left in town plan to dig it up in 2016. I swear that if I hear such another amazing story located in Pennsylvania, I will have a new country to visit in the near future. I wanna be there to see what's inside that capsule....

Monday, November 17, 2014

Discovery Central - Caffeine

Awww! That cup of coffee. When you grab it, pouring that dark liquid into your mouth in early morning, you are sure it will help you against sleep. It's commonly known this is caused by caffeine, a chemical widely used for its awakening properties. Caffeine has been used as a drug for thousands of years, both in medicine and in daily life. There are several plants, cultivated or harvested, that contain this substance, but today caffeine is added to many foods, more than you think. Despite the increase in caffeine use in recent times, many people have little knowledge of the overall effects it has on their bodies. So, let's start with this new "Discovery Central".

The word Caffeine derives of course from the world coffee because coffee plants were one the first discovered ones which had a huge amount of it. Caffeine’s chemical name is 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine, based on its formula, C8H10N4O2, and in its pure form caffeine is a very bitter white powder. But it can have other names when found in particular plants. For example, sometimes is called guaranine when found in guarana, mateine when found in mate, and theine when found in tea. 
Overall, caffeine is found in the beans, leaves, and fruit of over 60 plants, where it acts as a natural pesticide that paralyzes and kills certain insects feeding upon them. Plants that contained caffeine have been used as a stimulant and source of energy since as they were discovered. Different cultures all around the world used caffeine long before they knew what caused the effects used the plants that produce this drug for medical uses and to increase energy. It was not until 1819 that the drug caffeine itself was isolated as the source of the effects. Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge made the discovery in Europe as a result of the growing interest in plant chemistry that began there in the nineteenth century. A poet called Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe gave Runge some coffee beans as a gift, and told him to analyze them. In few months Runge was able to extract and purify caffeine from the beans. From this point on caffeine was identified in many plants all around the world. Only a year later, in 1820, it was found that the theine in tea was also caffeine, but it was not until 1865 that it was discovered in kola nuts.

Nowadays much of the modern population uses caffeine as a stimulant, exciting the brain and nervous system while fighting fatigue. Making caffeine one of the most widely consumed psychoactive agents in the world! Caffeine is a drug like substance that shares traits with other addictive substances such as amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin (find out the first Discovery Central). Caffeine uses the same biochemical mechanisms as these other drugs to stimulate brain functions. As a result of excess caffeine consumption you may feel like your mind is racing and your thoughts are coming much faster, and this feeling can at times be very overwhelming. Decaffeinated products are now more widely consumed against the sense of “turbo-speed”.Through extraction processes, individuals can enjoy the taste of beverages, like coffee, without feeling overstimulated.

But how it all started ? Caffeine effects have been noted since the year 850.  Each country has its own story and source of caffeine, but the most eccentric finding was in Ethiopia. The folk stories passed between generations says that a farmer, who had recently moved his goats to a new pasture found them to be restless and excited. For the next few days he watched them, and noted they were grazing on small berries. These berries were later dried and called “coffee beans”.

But we can go in older times. One of the first plants discovered and used for the effects of its caffeine was the tea plant (click to find out my Random Facts About Tea). Most people associate tea with China, as that is where European nations first learned about this beverage. Ancient writings detail how tea could improve alertness and concentration, although it was obviously not known at the time this was caused by the caffeine. The Chinese likely learned about tea from either natives of northern India, or tribesmen from Southeast Asia.

The cocoa bean (click here for the Random Facts About Chocolate) is another common plant that has long been used for the effects of caffeine. Archaeological discoveries in Mexico have found the first use of the cocoa bean to be by the Olmecs who lived in Mexico between 1500 and 400 B.C.E. The Olmecs harvested wild cacao pods to make a chocolate drink. Following the Olmecs, the Maya became very wealthy trading cocoa. Within Mexico, chocolate was then passed on to the Toltecs and finally the Aztecs in twelfth century. In the early sixteenth century, the Spanish conquistadors first learned of chocolate from the Aztecs, and it was spread through Europe from there. Although the Maya were the first civilization of the New World to keep historical records, most information about the early use of cocoa was lost when conquistadors and missionaries destroyed much of their culture.

Despite being the current primary source of caffeine, coffee (here you can find Some Random Facts) did not make its appearance until the ninth century in Ethiopia and possibly not until the fifteenth century in southern Arabia. This late discovery of coffee is unusual since coffee grew along trade routes between Ethiopia, Abyssinia, and the Middle East. Unlike chocolate and tea, coffee beans were eaten instead of made into a drink. The Galla tribe of Ethiopia mashed the beans and mixed them with animal fat to make a filling and energizing food for war trips. We can think of those as today's energy drinks.

In 1640, coffee finally made its way to Europe, first entering through Venice.  Initially it was used as medicine, but later became a social drink.  The first published paper that wrote about the effects of caffeine was by a French pharmacist, Philippe Sylvestre Dufour, in 1671.  He wrote about the three main caffeine drinks that were circulating through Europe at the time, coffee, tea, and cocoa.  These drinks were used as alternatives to alcoholic drinks in Europe at the time.This was the start of the first capitalist world economy. Caffeine spread all over the world. From then on, caffeine drinks have been modified and consumed not only in the form of coffee and tea, but in numerous forms in modern society.
The latest craze being energy drinks. The 1830s saw the first flavored soft drinks which were actually considered health drinks. The original flavors came from bark and flowers added to the drinks which gave birth to sodas such as root beer, ginger ale, and lemon. Root beer was in wide distribution by 1876, and by 1881 so was the cola flavor which is made from kola nuts. While the kola nuts do add caffeine to sodas, today 95% of the caffeine in most sodas is added for extra effect. Due to current knowledge of the effects of caffeine, US regulations have limited the caffeine content of sodas to no more than 6 mg/ounce. This level of caffeine is much lower than the amount naturally found in coffee and tea. In fact energy drinks contain caffeine along with various other chemicals to give people energy.  These drinks have taken over and are now and have caused the consumption of caffeine to skyrocket, which has lead to the controversy of its side effects.

If this helps us stay awake, why being frightened of its amount in blood ? Surely a doctor is not needed to know caffeine has bad influences on our body.
People report feeling energetic, imaginative, efficient, self-confident, alert, able to concentrate, and motivated to work. But all of these have consequences.

Caffeine is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream after oral ingestion. Its completely absorbed in just forty-five minutes. Caffeine affects the central nervous system travelling through the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, caffeine attaches to plasma and rides to the brain. When it arrives, caffeine acts as an antagonist and inhibits adenosine receptors. The blocked adenosine receptors lead to an increase of dopamine in the brain. Many of the known effects of caffeine are caused by this increasing. Dopamine helps with cognition, motor coordination, sleep, and mood, while adenosine helps promote sleep and suppress arousal. So the main effect we all known can be logically presumed. Despite what you probably think, in a chemistry lab caffeine powder is very dangerous. In fact pure caffeine is extremely toxic to humans. The chemical cannot be touched with bare hands and the fumes cannot be inhaled without serious effects.

Low doses of caffeine appear to increase motor coordination, while higher amounts decrease it to below normal levels. The effect caffeine has on sleep is also partially caused by its blocking of adenosine receptors. As previously mentioned, adenosine promotes sleep, and since caffeine blocks it from the receptors, this wards off the feeling of sleep. Unfortunately, this can lead to insomnia and cause headaches. Caffeine also increases the rate that noradrenergic neurons fire, which helps to mediate sleep. It does not, however, eliminate the need for sleep.

There are several types of symptoms that come with this condition. Some symptoms may not immediately alert you to the fact that you have had too much caffeine, since they may not seem serious. For example, you may experience:
  • dizziness
  • diarrhea
  • increased thirst
  • insomnia
  • headache
  • fever
  • irritability
Other symptoms seem more severe, and call for immediate medical treatment. These more serious symptoms of caffeine overdose include the following:
  • breathing troubles
  • vomiting
  • hallucinations
  • confusion
  • chest pain
  • irregular or fast heartbeat
  • uncontrollable muscle movements
  • convulsions
BUT I'M AFRAID IT'S NOT ALL.
After a long and persistent use of caffeine, the body can build up a tolerance to it. The number of adenosine receptors in the brain increases due to the amount of caffeine molecules blocking the others. This has two main effects on the brain. First, it requires more caffeine to block the receptors and receive the same effects. So, no particular issues. Second, with more receptors, the effect of adenosine when there is no caffeine in the body is increased. This is what causes the withdrawal symptoms that approximately a quarter of sensitive users get when they stop taking caffeine. When individuals slowly decrease their caffeine intake, withdrawal symptoms are not seen. This shows that the craving for caffeine is much weaker than that for commonly abused drugs such as amphetamines or nicotine. Withdrawal effects are similar to those of other drugs and include craving, tiredness (and insomnia), confusion, and mild to severe headaches. These symptoms can last up to two weeks. Due to the strength of caffeine, relatively small doses can be lethal. Orally ingesting as little as three grams has been known to cause fatalities. It is estimated that the lethal dose for humans is between 150 mg/kg and 200 mg/kg but it depends upon individual and sensitivity. Scientists have been examining whether excessive caffeine intake can also cause heart problems.

"COFFEE IS GOOD, TOO MUCH COFFEE...DEFINITELY NOT GOOD". I think I get the advice. What about you...?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Random Facts About....Halloween

Since few days, the scariest night of the year is only a memory. But, even if I'm a little late, I wanna share with you some interesting curiosities about Halloween, the very well known celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. In my country, anyway, this celebration is not widely spread, so people would rather stay at home, watching some scary movies in front of a television than actually dressing up and conquer the street searching for some delicious sweets. Unfortunately, the strange nature of Halloween has captured people’s imaginations for centuries, and led to many superstitions and traditions that last to this day. But with this I'm not saying Halloween is failing. Lots of people still believe and decide to join others for hanging out and having fun.
And personally, I have more of a reason to party because my birthday is on the 1st of November.
Anyway, let's find out some interesting facts about this spooky tradition.

1. Originally, Halloween was known as “Samhain,” a Celtic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the cold months. The pagans who first celebrated the holiday believed that on Samhain the veil between the two worlds was at its thinnest, and the dead could walk the earth. Samhain is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and is known to have pre-Christian roots. Many important events in Irish mythology happen or begin on that day. So we can say Halloween was born in Ireland.

2. Speaking about Halloween, we have to mention witches as a popular disguise. Actually the word “witch” comes from the Old English "wicce", meaning “wise woman.” In fact, wiccan were highly respected people at one time. According to popular belief, witches held one of their two main meetings, or sabbats, on Halloween night.

3. Most of us can only imagine walking through a movie-style Halloween town—unless you’ve been to Salem, Massachusetts, the self-proclaimed Halloween capital of the world. The city is full of shops that commercially celebrates witches, with also a witch museum and scores of other spooky sites. However, like any city, the thing that truly gives it the spark of life and wonder are the people. Salem on Halloween is an extraordinary experience, with people thronging the streets in every sort of costume imaginable. So the city lives and breathes the culture of witchcraft and, as Halloween comes, the amount of people in costume steadily increases. Some people have even classified Salem to a all-year-long  Halloween party. It’s a place where dreams (and nightmares) come true.

4. Black and orange are typically associated with Halloween. Orange is a symbol of strength and endurance and, along with brown and gold, stands for the harvest and autumn. Black is typically a symbol of death and darkness and acts as a reminder that Halloween once was a festival that marked the boundaries between life and death.

5. Probably you have heard of Jack O' Lantern. Well, in case you haven't, this is an Irish legend. This has it that one day the devil himself came to take the soul of a thieving man named Jack. But Jack managed to trick the devil, making him promise to never take his soul. After eventually living a long life, Jack tried to enter Heaven, but could not, for he had lived a life of evil. He then attempted to enter Hell, but the devil kept his word, being no big fan of Jack anyway. When Jack complained of having no way to see, the devil laughed at him and threw him a glowing ember, which he fashioned into a lantern using a turnip in his pocket. He became Jack Of The Lantern, doomed to aimlessly walk the Earth with nowhere to go. During centuries, turnips were replaced with pumpkins, and that's why now are the most popular symbol of Halloween. Some legends say the Irish would use turnips or beets to create jack-o’-lanterns for multiple purposes. The lanterns were sometimes used as a means of honoring those souls trapped in purgatory, but their threatening faces were also used to scare away evil spirits.

6. Dressing up as ghouls and other spooks originated from the ancient Celtic tradition of townspeople disguising themselves as demons and spirits. The Celts believed that disguising themselves this way would allow them to escape the notice of the real spirits wandering the streets during Samhain. Also Trick-or-treating evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats and food to calm down spirits who roamed the streets.

7.  Scarecrows, a popular Halloween fixture, symbolize the ancient agricultural roots of the holiday. So dressing up like one of these "giant puppets" can be considered some kind of tribute to the ancient celebrations.

8.Halloween celebrations in Hong Kong are known as Yue Lan or the “Festival of the Hungry Ghosts” during which fires are lit and food and gifts are offered to placate potentially angry ghosts who might be looking for revenge.

9. Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween.

10. The owl is a popular Halloween image. In Medieval Europe, owls were thought to be witches, and to hear an owl's call meant someone was about to die.

11. Some people think of El Día de los Muertos as a Mexican version of Halloween. But these two holidays actually boast very different perspectives of death. Halloween is very much based on the fear of death and spirits, but on El Día de los Muertos, death is embraced and even celebrated. On this day, the spirits of the dead return to Earth, guided by the strong aroma of marigolds and incense to shrines, set up for them by their families, who celebrate their return. As the day comes to an end, the families may head to the cemetery to spend the rest of the night with their loved ones before they go back to the other world. While many of our Halloween traditions find skeletons to be scary,  El Día de los Muertos uses them both to celebrate and laugh at death. What a fantastic way to exorcise it!

12.  Maybe you don't believe in legends, but there's actually a scientific phenomenon with the Jack O' Lantern history. Swamp gases that interact with decaying matter will sometimes give off a strange light that seems to vanish when you get closer. Before we had a scientific explanation, people believed these were trapped souls who could enter neither heaven nor hell and would lead you astray. These chemical fires are commonly called Will-o'-the-Wisp. Surprised...I hope so.

13. While "trick or treat" today means "give us a treat or we'll put a prank on you", originally it meant that the person asking for the treat would perform a trick for the amusement of the giver. This often included reciting rhymes or singing songs. The practice eventually switched, in North America, Ireland and Scotland, to the solicitors vandalizing homes and performing others pranks if the treat was not given. Also the first known mention of trick-or-treating in print in North America occurred in 1927 in Blackie, Alberta, Canada. Than this tradition became more popular thanks to the mass media and the television. In fact, also Walt Disney in 1952 and Charles Shulz in 1951, used this in cartoons and comics, with Donald Duck and The Peanuts.

14. The largest pumpkin ever measured was grown by Norm Craven, who broke the world record in 1993 with a 836 lb. pumpkin. Another record was registered by Jim Bryson, with his 824 Kilos pumpkin. The last one was carved by artist Ray Villafane, who made a scary masterpiece. Let me say his work on pumpkins is amazing.

15. Now let's talk about speed in carving. Well, Stephen Clarke holds the record for the world’s fastest pumpkin carving time: 24.03 seconds, smashing his previous record of 54.72 seconds. The rules of the competition state that the pumpkin must weigh less than 24 pounds and be carved in a traditional way, which requires at least eyes, nose, ears, and a mouth.

16. Pumpkin carving being associated with Halloween comes from a method used by the Celts to ward off evil spirits during the over-nominated Samhain.  The Celts would hollow out turnips, then carve faces in them and place candles inside.  The turnips were then either placed in the windows, to keep evil spirits from entering a home, or carried around as lanterns.  This tradition eventually melded with the North American tradition of carving pumpkins.  At this point, the carving of pumpkins, which had been around in North America before Halloween was popularly introduced, became associated almost exclusively with Halloween around the 19th century.

17.  Halloween was influenced by the ancient Roman festival Pomona, which celebrated the harvest goddess of the same name. Many Halloween customs and games that feature apples (such as bobbing for apples) and nuts date from this time. In fact, in the past, Halloween has been called San-Apple Night and Nutcrack Night.

18. Scottish girls believed they could see images of their future husband if they hung wet sheets in front of the fire on Halloween. Other girls believed they would see their boyfriend's faces if they looked into mirrors while walking downstairs at midnight on Halloween.

19. Because Protestant England did not believe in Catholic saints, the rituals traditionally associated with Hallowmas (or Halloween) became associated with Guy Fawkes Night. England declared November 5th Guy Fawkes Night to commemorate the capture and execution of Guy Fawkes, who co-conspired to blow up the Parliament in 1605 in order to restore a Catholic king.

20. According to tradition, if a person wears his or her clothes inside out and then walks backwards on Halloween, he or she will see a witch at midnight.

21. Teng Chieh or the Lantern Festival is one Halloween festival in China. Lanterns shaped like dragons and other animals are hung around houses and streets to help guide the spirits back to their earthly homes. To honor their deceased loved ones, family members leave food and water by the portraits of their ancestors.

22.  Boston, Massachusetts, holds the record for the most Jack O' Lanterns lit at once (30,128).

23. According to legend, if you see a spider on Halloween, it's actually the spirit of a loved one watching you.


24. October 30th is National Candy Corn Day. Well, it's perfectly comprehensible, in fact Americans purchase over 20 million pounds of Candy Corn each year. And those candies are great just because Candy corn has been made with the same recipe by the Jelly Belly Candy Company since around 1900.

25. Valentine's Day is no longer the sweetest national holiday at least when it come to candy sales. More than twice as much chocolate is sold for Halloween as for Valentines Day; 90 million pounds of chocolate are sold during Halloween week alone. In total, $1.9 billion is spent on Halloween candy each year.

26. In 2010, Belleville, Illinois, became the latest city to ban trick-or-treating for kids over 12. Teens can face fines from $100 to $1,000 for going door-to-door (although according to officials, more often than not, over-age Halloween-goers are just given a warning).

27. The biggest pumpkin pie on record was 20 feet in diameter and weighed 3,699 pounds. It was baked by the New Breman Giant Pumpkin Growers in Ohio in 2010, breaking their own previous world's record of 2,020 pounds. The ginormous orange pie contained 1,212 pounds of pumpkin, 233 dozen eggs, 109 gallons of evaporated milk, 525 pounds of sugar, 7 pounds of salt, and 14.5 pounds of cinnamon. Spookylicious...

28. The pumpkin originated in Mexico about 9,000 years ago. It is one of America's oldest known vegetables. Pumpkins generally weigh from 15-to-30 pounds, although some weigh as much as 200 pounds. The majority of pumpkins are orange, but they also can be white, yellow or striped. They are rich in vitamin A, beta-carotene and potassium, and their seeds provide protein and iron.

29. No matter how scary your local haunted house is, it probably can't top the Haunted Cave in Lewisburg, Ohio. It measures 3,564 feet long, and Guinness World Records named it the world's longest haunted house in 2010 (until it was beaten by a haunted house in Japan in 2011). Even spookier: It's located 80 feet below ground in an abandoned mine.

30. Halloween is the second highest grossing commercial holiday. After Christmas, obviously.

31. Linus is the only one in the Peanuts gang who believes in the Great Pumpkin.

32. Imagine you’re walking home on Halloween night, coming back from a party or perhaps a successful night of trick-or-treating. Everything seems fine, but then you hear the sound of someone walking behind you. You quicken your step a bit, but they seem to match pace with yours. While you might be tempted to turn around and look to assure yourself that everything is okay, this could be a fatal mistake. According to superstition, there is a good chance on Halloween that you are being shadowed by Death himself, and if you look upon him it will be your end.

I don't know, maybe you felt observed on Halloween night. In that case, you probably risked to be the Death's candy bar....AND EVEN IF I'M A LITTLE LATE, HAPPY HALLOWEEN, SNOOPERS !!
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