“Happy First Day of Summer,” I greeted Marty and Justin, when I dropped my car off at their place for an oil change. “This is the longest day of the year.”
“Oh yeah, I heard something about that…” Justin sounded bored.
But Marty was excited, “The Summer Solstice! Do you know why it’s the longest day of the year?” He reached for a piece of paper – one of the mats they put on the floor of your car to protect the carpet. He began to draw a diagram of the tilted earth circling the sun. He explained that on this day we were closer to the sun than any other day of the year…and it’s because of the tilt of the earth, not the direction or shape of the orbit…
Then he stopped, sort of embarrassed. “I guess I got carried away.”
“No, I’m glad to know that,” I assured him. “I’ve been trying to learn one new fact a day since my birthday last week. Sort of keep my brain stretched out. I’m trying to be really intentional about it. So this is my fact for the day.”
The previous day I had learned that the heat of peppers is measured by The Scoville Scale. (Named after Wilbur Scoville, who invented it in 1912.) The Scoville Scale measures the amount of capsaicin in a hot pepper. Capsaicin is a chemical that stimulates nerve endings in the skin. They use it for pepper spray. Pure capsaicin has a Scoville rating of 16,000,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).
“Well, if you want all kinds of useless bits of trivia, Marty’s the guy to go to,” Justin joked without mercy.
The older man looked a little abashed.
It made me think of an old story I heard about a frustrated teacher. He stopped in the middle of what he felt was a very interesting lecture. The students were not even slightly interested. They were texting and whispering – and some were even dozing.
Annoyed, the teacher walked to the blackboard and picked up a piece of chalk to write a word in huge letters: APATHY.
He stepped back and glared at his class.
They stared blankly at the word on the blackboard.
Finally one boy grunted the question, “Apathy. What’s apathy?”
“I dunno,” grumbled the kid next to him, “Who cares?”