If I could only possess 5 books for the rest of my life, they would be as follows:  1) my Bible, 2) my fat dictionary, 3) my thesaurus, 4) The Joy of Cooking, and 5) the Almanac.  The first four will last a lifetime, but the Almanac has to be replaced every year.  My 2022 Almanac arrived in the mail a few days ago, and I spent all morning yesterday studying it.  I now know more about the real world than many of the people who are trying to run the real world. 

Since we Americans are so competitive about everything, let’s start with a quiz to see if you know who is the most, biggest, and busiest... for last year.  Answers are at the end.

1.     Country with the most population:
2.     Urban area (world) with the most people:
3.     The most used website:
4.     The U.S. airline that carried the most passengers last year:
5.     The world’s busiest airport:
6.     The two countries with the most paid days off:

To let you get a breather before the next quiz, Americans paid 24.4% of their gross earnings last year in taxes.  If that bothers you, don’t emigrate to Germany, where they fork over 38.7% of their earnings to various tax collectors.  

In 2020, life expectancy of Americans dropped for the first time since World War II, due to COVID.  We are living 1.5 years less than before.  It used to be that we could make it almost all the way to age 79.  But now we head out to meet our maker at an average age of 77 years and three months.  The last time the life-expectancy dropped was at the start of World War II, by almost 3 years between 1941 and 1942..  

The divorce rate also dropped last year.  That happens, historically, when the life expectancy rate drops. After all, you can just wait them out instead of paying for a divorce lawyer. The divorce rate is now down to 2.7 (per 1000 people) after reaching a high of 5.3 in 1981.  The marriage rate is also falling: only 6.1 per 1000 got married last year.

You may wonder what we are doing with all this extra time on our hands, since both weddings and divorces can be very time consuming.  Evidently we are working.  Work productivity has risen year by year, and the average worker is now 72% more productive than the slackers back in 1979.  Unfortunately, our pay has only increased 17.2% in that time, which suggests that someone up the line is slacking in our stead, benefiting from our hard work.

But not all almanac information is depressing. Some of it calls for celebrating and throwing a party. Don’t forget to take some time during 2022 to celebrate the 100th birthdays of the Lincoln Memorial, Readers Digest, and water skiing.

It’s time now for quiz #2.  According to the almanac, what is now the top selling brand in each of the following areas:

Breakfast cereal:
Soft drink:

Okay, take another break while I lecture you some more.  Of the 25 richest people in the world, 16 are from the United States.  If you want to break into that club, you’ll need at least $49 billion to your name.  The people in the Geneseo church are generous, but not to the point that I’ll be getting my name in that section of the almanac next year.

In another money related issue, if you add up all the coins and bills in circulation, we should each be able to pay cash the next time the Girl Scouts come knocking on our doors with their cookies. If all that money were shared equally, every single one of us would have $6,565 tucked away in our billfolds, pockets, and purses. I'm a little short it seems, but maybe it fell between the cushions of my couch.

There is a whole section of the almanac about crime and how much crime goes on in each state.  At this point, let me come to the defense of my home state:  Illinois.  Sometimes I get a little tired of everyone picking on us.  I know… our ex-governors are usually the only white criminals who ever actually get sent to prison.  And people traveling from coast to coast can’t wait to get through Illinois so they can get to Kansas, or Hoosier-land.  And having to share your state with Chicago can be like sharing your bed with a sperm whale. 

But Illinois isn't all that bad.  There are 17 states where you are MORE likely to get assaulted, killed, or raped.  Quiz #3: Can you name them?  Can you name the safest state when it comes to violent crime?  Oh, by the way, watch your car if you go through New Mexico, the state where it’s most likely to get stolen.  

Okay, I’ve run out of space and time.  There is SO much more to tell you:  we haven’t even gotten to dwarves, driving while texting, animals, weather, sports, notable people, history, presidents, flags, health, food, military affairs, and science.  But there will be other Sunday posts in the months to come, and I’ll work it all in!

In the meantime, here are the answers to the quizzes from today:

Quiz #1:
1.     China, 1.3 billion
2.     Tokyo 37 million
3.     Facebook
4.     Southwest Airlines
5.     Guangzhou, China
6.     Austria and Malta (38 each)
Quiz #2:

Cereal:  Honey Nut Cheerios
Candy:  M & Ms
Coffee:  Folgers
Cookie:  Oreo
Soft drink:  Coca Cola
Toothpaste:  Crest

Quiz #3:

States where you are more likely to be assaulted, killed, or raped than in IL:  Michigan, Kansas, Missouri, Delaware, Maryland, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Alaska, California.  (What’s wrong with some of those places?  Are they too wimpy to get tough on crime?)  The safest state:  Maine.