Want to cure insomnia? Invest in linen sheets or paint your bedroom green.
Or do you need a few wrinkles to disappear for a few hours? Stir a raw egg white with a fork and carefully paint it onto each wrinkle with a fine camel's hair brush. Let dry, then apply make-up foundation. Try not to get caught in the rain.
Those are just a sampling of helpful hints offered up by "The 2001 Old Farmer's Almanac," now in area stores. It's a quirky little magazine you've probably seen in the magazine rack -- and thumbed right past it.
A copy of the new edition happened to cross my desk last week. I've never read one before but, I must admit, I found it difficult to put it down. Maybe that's why "The Old Farmer's Almanac" has been around since 1792 when Robert B. Thomas published the premier issue. At the time, George Washington was serving his second term as president. It's the oldest continuously published periodical in North America that has never missed a year.
Thomas used a complex series of natural cycles to devise a secret weather forecasting formula for astronomical and weather predictions. The magazine claims an 80 percent accuracy rate on a seasonal basis.
Back in 1792, a copy of the almanac cost only six pence, or about 9 cents. Now you'll have to shell out $4.99 for an issue.
The charts contain typical planting tables and gardening advice you would expect to find in the almanac, but there was a month-by-month astrological timetable based on the moon that was rather intriguing. According to the almanac, there are certain times of the month when it is more favorable to do certain things, like give up smoking, start a diet or have dental care.
Most people tend to start their New Year's diet on Jan. 1, but the almanac said the best days to begin dieting are Jan. 11 and 15. But if you miss those dates in January, there are several favorable dates each month in 2001. If anything, the almanac can provide the perpetual dieter with a good excuse not to start dieting yet.
The feature stories are probably the best in the almanac. My favorite was "How to Change Your Pants in the Woods," an anecdote offered by Almanac reader Jon Vara of Marshfield, Vt.
Now first of all, I wondered, why would you need to change your pants in the woods? Vara said there are a number of respectable reasons for wanting to change your pants in the woods. I suppose there are, but I couldn't come up with any.
Vara said the right way to change your pants in the woods is to "take off one shoe, then -- while standing on the other, still-shod foot -- withdraw that leg from the leg of Pants A. Insert it into the corresponding leg of Pants B, put your shoe back on, and calmly tie it. You are now wearing both shoes and have one leg in each of the two different pairs of pants. ... Untie and remove your other shoe (that is, the shoe on the foot of the leg that's still within the leg of Pants A), slip out of the second half of Pants A, and step into the other half of Pants B. Pull Pants B up to your waist."
If you've followed the procedure correctly, said Vara, you'll have changed your pants in the woods without getting your socks dirty.
And you thought you knew everything.
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