Comedian Tommy Smothers once said that if he fell into a vat of chocolate, he would yell “fire!”  His brother Dickey asked why he would yell “fire!” Tommy said that if he yelled “chocolate!,” no one would come.

Actually that makes sense. But it’s the kind of thing you don’t give much thought to because your chances of falling into a vat of chocolate are slim and none. It’s just a tidbit to store away in case you ever visit the Hershey factory.

And to answer someone’s recent question about why I watch The Discovery Channel so much, it’s because there are lots of little-known facts, tips and tidbits revealed there. Stuff that you didn’t know but could help in rare circumstances such as being stranded on a jungle island or being a contestant on “Jeopardy.”

Just last night I learned that the sound a duck makes won’t produce an echo. I’m not sure who confirmed that bit of trivia or why. I just hope it did not involve federal funds.

Yet, it could be helpful to know this in one of those very rare episodes of life. For instance, if I got separated from my rafting party in the Grand Canyon, I now know to yell “help!” instead of quacking really loud. And if I yelled “chocolate!,” with my luck someone would say, “What the heck is Tommy Smothers doing here?”

And did you know that cats can make more than 100 vocal sounds and dogs can only make 10? Again, I hope this research was not tax-funded. And before they do apply for federal funds, I can tell you for free that cats are also 100 times more arrogant than dogs.

More tidbits:

The Discovery Channel is not the only cable location to gather trivia. For instance, on The Animal Channel I learned that a 70-pound octopus can squeeze through a hole no bigger than a silver dollar because it has no backbone. And because this little-known fact has to do with money and being spineless, I wanted to draw some analogy to Congress, but I try not to get so political in this column.

I bet you didn’t know that elephants have only four teeth. Having learned that, I’m surprised that some television station hasn’t yet found an elephant to interview that would describe the sound of a tornado when it strikes.

Something I haven’t discovered on any of these channels, however, is how people described tornadoes before freight trains were invented.

While we’re on elephants, the first bomb dropped on Berlin during World War II killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo. Also, elephants talk to each other  with rumblings in their stomachs. So the next time your stomach growls in church, just say you’re talking to the elephants ... one of God’s creatures.

One more thing about elephants, they produce 80 pounds of poop per day. And again I don’t know why one would need to know this unless, of course, he was  going to be involved in a congressional hearing and needed an analogy on time being wasted.

By the way, the scientific name for a giraffe is “camelopardalis.” Now we know why we call them giraffes. A giraffe can go longer without water than a camel. And if it could pick up a basketball, it could dunk it easier than a camel.

Perhaps you didn’t know, but the longest recorded flight of a chicken is about 13 seconds. I knew they couldn’t fly very well, and we used to clip their wings so they couldn’t fly at all. I once flew for about 3 seconds. I tied a towel around my neck like a cape and jumped off the first tier of the windmill. Some would say I crashed. But that’s all a matter of perspective. I contend that I flew down.

And it just hit me ... it’s a good thing that chickens couldn’t fly more than 13 seconds at a time or they may have migrated before Sunday dinner.

Life is so short, and there is still so much to learn. Stay tuned.

(Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer, 985-4545. Email:

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