WELCOME TO MY BOOK. I hope you enjoy it.
What’s to enjoy about being frightened, you ask? That’s a good question. I suppose it’s like watching a horror movie: you know it’s going to freak you out, but you buy the ticket—or, in this case, the book—anyway. Maybe you like the thrill of fear. Maybe you’re a glutton for punishment. Or maybe someone gave the book to you as a gift. They might think you don’t have enough fiber in your diet.
What about me? Do I write these books because I’m a sadist? Nah. When it comes to scary business, I believe that forewarned is forearmed. Think of me as someone who’s trying to help you by educating you. Because I’m a nice guy like that.
If you want to learn more about any topic herein, check out the source list at the back of the book for links to more information. If you’ve read the other two books in this series, 1,000 Facts That Will Scare the Sh*t Out of You and Scared Sh*tless, welcome back and thanks for your support.
For the rest of you: Be afraid.
WHAT’S SCARY ABOUT FLORIDA, you ask? Besides the fact that it looks like a giant wiener? I could cite any number of things: Casey Anthony, George Zimmerman, hanging chads, alligators, Key West, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Instead, I will ask you, which state do you think of whenever you hear a news story about someone eating someone else’s face off or a guy shooting up a Burger King with a bazooka because they didn’t hold the pickles on his Whopper Jr.? Right: Florida. And if you don’t think of Florida first, you’re not paying attention.
FACT 1 A mother–daughter duo in Tampa are partners in pornography. Jessica and Monica Sexxxton post home movies on their own site and will have sex with the same person at the same time, though they claim they never touch each other on camera. Whew! For a minute there I was creeped out.
FACT 2 In 2012, fifty-year-old cougar Jennie Scott of Manatee County was arrested for beating the crap out of her thirty-two-year-old boyfriend after he climaxed first during a 69 love-session and refused to continue pleasuring her.
FACT 3 A Jacksonville man, Allen Casey, was arrested in 2012 for hitting his boyfriend in the face with a plate for playing too much Alanis Morissette music. Casey defended himself to police, saying, “That’s all that motherfucker listens to.”
FACT 4 In July 2013, Josue Rodriguez of Lake Worth attacked his roommate with a machete after the roommate changed the radio station while Rodriguez was in the shower. Who keeps a machete in the shower?
FACT 5 Three San Mateo men were arrested in 2013 for stealing a nine-foot-tall, six-hundred-pound purple aluminum chicken from a roadside stand.
FACT 6 A Lake County man was arrested in June 2013 for leaving nude photos of his former roommate on the cars of the roommate’s co-workers and grandmother after the roommate moved out. The victim had allowed the photos to be taken in return for room and board.
FACT 7 Kingsley Lake, or “Silver Dollar Lake,” is almost a perfect circle, spanning nearly two thousand acres with a surprising depth of ninety feet. The reason for the popular lake’s unique shape and depth? It is one of Florida’s many sinkholes.
FACT 8 In August 2013, 150 law enforcement officers in full riot gear were called to Avon Park Youth Academy, an all-male juvenile correctional facility, when rioting inmates set fire to parts of the building and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. The riot broke out after the losers of a basketball game refused to make good on their original wager: three containers of Cup Noodles.
FACT 9 According to the New York Post, most of the seven hundred rhesus monkeys captured in recent years around Silver Springs, Florida, tested positive for the herpes B virus.
FACT 10 Miami suffers from an infestation of giant African land snails, which can grow to the size of rats. The snails consume plants, stucco, and plaster, and can cause significant structural damage to homes and businesses.
FACT 11 Giant African land snails were likely introduced to Florida by a practitioner of Santería, a religion that uses the creatures in rituals.
FACT 12 Some giant African land snails carry a parasitic lungworm that, if transmitted to humans, can cause illnesses including meningitis.
FACT 13 Florida is infested with an estimated 150,000 nonnative Burmese pythons. Often pets that have been released into the wild, the twelve- to thirteen-foot creatures have disrupted the food chain in the Everglades.
FACT 14 The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has created a tournament to kill invasive Burmese pythons in the Everglades, offering cash prizes to hunters who destroy the most and the largest snakes.
FACT 15 The rock or North African python is also establishing a population east of the Everglades. More aggressive than Burmese pythons, rock pythons are responsible for the deaths of two Canadian children and a sixty-pound family dog in West Kendall.
FACT 16 Florida game officials fear that the growing populations of rock and Burmese pythons will mate and create a “super snake.” Both animals are in the top five largest species of snakes in the world.
FACT 17 In November 2013, a sixth grader at a Collier County middle school was suspended for setting off the fire alarm by twerking into it. The student was suspended because the school had been declared a “Twerk-Free Zone.”
FACT 18 An Ocala man was arrested in November 2013 for reportedly terrorizing and chasing an eight-year-old after the child refused to share his potato chips.
FACT 19 An Allapattah man was busted in December 2013 after he caught a four-foot-long alligator and tried to barter it for a twelve-pack of beer at a convenience store.
FACT 20 In a March 2013 attempt to keep her local beach clean, a Stock Island woman confronted and brawled with a littering spring breaker, biting her in the cheek.
FACT 21 Residents of a Tampa apartment complex captured a twelve-foot alligator from a river in October 2013 and leashed it to a tree to keep as a pet. Other residents told law enforcement that people “had caught [the alligator] and was feeding it cats.” The animal was ultimately removed by authorities and destroyed.
FACT 22 A Duval County high school is being asked via a petition on Change.org to change its name. The school, the student body of which is predominantly black, is named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate Army general and the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
FACT 23 Convicted murderers Robert Mackey and Paul Trucchio of Volusia County were said to have prayed to “the alligator god”— in this case a concrete statue—in hopes that the wild animals would eat the body of their victim, Lorraine Hatzakorzian.
FACT 24 Hatzakorzian’s severed head was found in the Everglades, but the rest of her body remains missing.
FACT 25 A Bradenton man was arrested on misdemeanor battery charges in January 2013 for giving unsuspecting strangers wedgies.
FACT 26 In October 2013, an Escambia County man was arrested on felony child abuse charges for reportedly beating his daughter to the tune of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.” Someone should beat Robin Thicke to the tune of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.”
FACT 27 When a Palm Bay man got into an argument with his girlfriend in January 2013 while dropping her off at work at Taco Bell, he bit off her thumb. Doctors were unable to save the severed digit.
FACT 28 An Orlando man was arrested in November 2013 for attacking his pregnant sister by grabbing her neck and throwing her into a nightstand after she ate his chicken nuggets.
FACT 29 In November 2013, a Gibsonton woman renewed her wedding vows with her “husband”— a Ferris wheel she named Bruce. She wanted a mate who would stay around. *rim shot*
FACT 30 A Pensacola woman stopped traffic in August 2013 when she stood on the roadside asking for breast implant donations by carrying a sign that read, “Not Homeless, Need Boobs.”
FACT 31 In October 2013, a grieving Sarasota man was questioned after sprinkling the ashes of his deceased fiancée in LensCrafters of the Westfield Southgate Mall. The man said that he was spreading the ashes in places that had been special to the dead woman. She must have really loved their one-hour lens guarantee.
YOU KNOW WHAT WAS great about going to the doctor in centuries past? Nothing, that’s what. Not a damn thing. That is, unless you like the idea of having a hole drilled in your head or leeches clamped on your nipples or gallons of blood drained from your body every time you dared complain of a headache.
No, wait, there was one good thing back then: you didn’t have to wait an hour to see the doctor. Why? Because you were the only idiot there.
FACT 32 The use of maggots to clean wounds has proven to be effective for patients who don’t respond to traditional treatments. Or who have difficulty vomiting.
FACT 33 The arrival of antibiotics in the twentieth century made the use of maggots fall out of favor, but the method is now making a comeback and is used today in some hospitals to treat conditions like leg ulcers, pressure sores, and infected surgical wounds.
FACT 34 Hairballs save lives—or at least they saved some lives in the 1600s, when aristocrats were often the targets of assassination attempts by arsenic poisoning. Bezoars, or hairballs from goats and sheep, were placed in drinks to absorb any arsenic that might have been put there. The drinks were horrible, but at least drinkers didn’t die.
FACT 35 Modern research has proven how the ancient method was effective: sulfur compounds in the hair proteins of a bezoar bind to the toxic agents in arsenic, rendering them harmless.
FACT 36 Trepanation, the medical practice of cutting into the skull, dates back to the Stone Age. Ancient Egyptians believed that trepanation could help alleviate pressure on the brain, while physicians in the Middle Ages thought the practice would release evil spirits from the possessed.
FACT 37 Trepanation is still used in some countries today to treat ailments ranging from fatigue to epilepsy to depression. You’re still depressed after the procedure, but at least you know why: you have a gaping hole in your head.
FACT 38 Sixteenth-century women would apply puppy urine to their faces, believing it was beneficial to the skin’s health and complexion. I’m wondering if they collected the urine first or just held puppies over their heads.
FACT 39 The ancient medical practice of bloodletting involves draining blood from the body to help cure disease. Believed to have originated in ancient Egypt, the practice was the main therapy used by doctors for thousands of years.
FACT 40 In the Middle Ages, bloodletting was often performed by barbers, which is why the traditional barber’s pole—like the bloody towels that once hung outside barber shops—is colored red and white.
FACT 41 After a twelfth-century church edict prohibited monks and priests from performing bloodletting, barbers added the procedure to their list of offered services, along with cupping, tooth extractions, lancing, and even amputations.
FACT 42 To determine a patient’s health, a barber surgeon would study the color of the patient’s urine, and sometimes smell and even taste it—yes, taste it.
FACT 43 Patients frequently died during treatment by bloodletting. George Washington died after giving five to seven pints of blood in twenty-four hours to cure a throat infection.
FACT 44 Ancient Egyptian physicians believed that leech therapy could cure symptoms for a variety of illnesses, from fevers to flatulence.
FACT 45 In the 1800s, women had leeches placed in their vaginas to treat conditions like vaginal discharge and cervical cancer.
FACT 46 Leeches were applied to the clitoris to treat nymphomania and other female complaints.
FACT 47 Leeches still have medical applications today, as their saliva has been found to promote circulation and speed the healing of damaged tissue.
FACT 48 The leech is invaluable to surgeons who are faced with the difficulties of reattaching minute veins, which clot easily, in procedures such as limb and scalp reattachments, limb transplants, skin flap surgery, and breast reconstruction.
FACT 49 The ancient Greek doctor Galen recommended the use of electric eels for treating headaches and facial pain.
FACT 50 Eels were also used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to treat gout; the patient would stand on an eel until his foot became numb. This paved the way for today’s popular Dr. Scholl’s Eel Inserts.
FACT 51 One American doctor in the early 1900s treated mental illness by removing his patients’ body parts. Dr. Henry Cotton would begin with extraction of teeth. If that failed to cure a patient’s mental illness, he would remove organs such as the tonsils, stomach, and large intestine.
FACT 52 More than a third of Dr. Cotton’s patients died. Shocking, right?
FACT 53 By the end of his career, Dr. Cotton had removed thousands of tonsils and teeth from patients at his hospital—a hospital that served a lot of soup.
FACT 54 During the Great Plague in 1665, one recommended way to stop the disease was to smoke tobacco. At Eton College in England, boys were paddled for not smoking.
FACT 55 Victorian-era women who showed interest in sex were often labeled mentally ill nymphomaniacs.
FACT 56 Victorian treatments for nymphomania included enemas, leech treatments to genitalia, and even a clitoridectomy, the surgical removal of the clitoris.
FACT 57 The concept of nymphomania was first laid out by the French physician M. D. T. Bienville in his 1771 treatise Nymphomania, Or a Dissertation Concerning the Furor Uterinus. Among the behaviors Bienville cited as symptomatic of nymphomania: dwelling on impure thoughts, reading novels, and eating too much chocolate.
FACT 58 Victorians believed that masturbation could lead to insanity, blindness, and death, which is why at least one British gynecologist at that time, Dr. Isaac Baker Brown, recommended that any woman who masturbated should have her clitoris removed. I say that if God didn’t want us to masturbate, He would have made our arms shorter.
FACT 59 Boys who masturbated during the Victorian era risked having their foreskins sewn up, with only a small hole left for urination.
FACT 60 Other Victorian boys had their hands tied to their bedposts during the night or wore straitjacket pajamas to prevent masturbation.
FACT 61 Patented in 1876, the Stephenson Spermatic Truss is an antimasturbatory device that squeezed the penis into a small pouch that was stretched and strapped down between the legs to prevent erections.
FACT 62 Another device, the four-pointed penile ring, is a metal collar lined with spikes that was worn around the penis, effectively thwarting erections.
FACT 63 Wearers of the Bowen Device would have their pubic hair ripped from the body should erection occur. Nowadays people pay good money to have their pubes ripped out.
FACT 64 The penis-cooling device uses cold water or air to prevent erections.
FACT 65 In an early American pediatric guide, the Treatise on the Physical and Medical Treatment of Children (1825), Dr. William Dewees advised expectant mothers in late pregnancy to allow “a young but sufficiently strong puppy” to suckle at their breasts to toughen the nipples and improve milk flow in preparation for breast-feeding.
THE FIRST THING I did after researching this chapter was to go online and order one of those umbrella hats. It’s not particularly fashionable, I know, and my family now refuses to go anywhere in public with me, but I don’t care. I’ll be damned if I let falling birds or frozen dung from an airplane toilet take me out and make me the laughingstock of the next life, if there is one.
FACT 66 Blue ice occurs when an airplane’s sewage tank or drain tube develops a leak, exposing the blue waste treatment liquid from a plane’s toilet to freezing temperatures at high altitudes. In most cases, blue ice forms and remains attached to the aircraft’s exterior, but it can sometimes break off and plummet to the ground.
FACT 67 In 2007, a Leicester, England, couple was “enjoying a spot of good weather” outside when a chunk of blue ice hit their home, then struck their heads. The husband reported that the ice had “a particularly pungent whiff of urine.”
FACT 68 Along with being a hazard to those on the ground, waste leakage is a safety issue for air travel. In some cases, blue ice has damaged planes, in one instance knocking an engine off a wing.
FACT 69 In 2012, a Long Island couple complained that they were struck with blackish-green fluid that fell from an airplane overhead. The liquid was first thought to be oil but was later identified as excrement, presumably from the plane’s lavatory.
FACT 70 In 2002, the home of a woman in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, was pelted with blue ice, which landed on her car and her child’s swing set, and in the swimming pool. Some melted ice also seeped into her air-conditioning unit.
FACT 71 In 2006, a large chunk of blue ice ripped a two-foot hole in an elderly couple’s roof in Chino, California, and crashed into their bed, which, luckily, was unoccupied at the time.
FACT 72 Blue ice can fall from the sky with enough force to crash through roofs and crush cars.
FACT 73 In February 2013, a meteor exploded over the Ural Mountains in Russia. The blast shattered windows and injured nearly eleven hundred people.
FACT 74 Entering Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of at least thirty-three thousand miles per hour, the ten-ton meteor broke into numerous pieces about twenty miles above the ground.
FACT 75 Small asteroids can also explode with tremendous power, explains Andrew Cheng of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. “It doesn’t take a very large object. A ten-meter-size object packs the same energy as a nuclear bomb,” Cheng said.
FACT 76 In 1976, a meteorite entered Earth’s atmosphere and exploded in the skies near the city of Jilin in northeast China. Witnesses confirmed seeing the red fireball split into several pieces before falling to the ground.
FACT 77 At the meteor’s impact site, investigators found eleven large masses weighing a total of four metric tons. Now on display in Jilin City, “Meteorite 1” has the honor of being the largest stone meteorite discovered in recent years.
FACT 78 In 1954, a Talladega County, Alabama, woman was the first recorded human to be hit by a meteorite when an eight-pound chunk tore through her roof and struck her while she was napping. The woman was not seriously injured.
FACT 79 Histoplasmosis, a disease that can affect humans and animals, is caused by a fungus in bird droppings.
FACT 80 When histoplasmosis spores are inhaled, infection can occur.
FACT 81 While most infections produce only a flu-like illness or no symptoms at all, severe cases of histoplasmosis can cause high fever, blood abnormalities, pneumonia, and even death.
FACT 82 Some areas near the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers show evidence of previous histoplasmosis infection in up to 80 percent of the population.
FACT 83 Pigeon droppings can contain E. coli bacteria and the fungus Cryptococcus neoformans. Pigeons can also be carriers of viruses commonly borne by mosquitoes, such as West Nile encephalitis.
FACT 84 Every year in Britain, an estimated two thousand people catch infections from wild pigeons. Worse yet, the number of pigeons in Britain is estimated to have doubled in the past five years.
FACT 85 An estimated thirty to forty thousand wild pigeons roost in London’s Trafalgar Square alone.
FACT 86 The dead body of a Dutch skydiver went undiscovered for more than a week in 2012 before it was found by chance in a field. No one in the man’s jump group noticed that his parachute failed to open or that he did not check in after the jump.
FACT 87 An experienced fifty-one-year-old skydiver was attempting a complex stunt in March 2013 when both his parachutes failed, sending him into a three-minute spin. Despite hitting the ground at thirty miles per hour, the man survived with minor injuries.
FACT 88 When both of her chutes failed to open during a 2004 jump, veteran South African skydiver Christine McKenzie fell into a hundred-mile-per-hour free fall from eleven thousand feet. Luckily, McKenzie’s plummet was broken by power lines, and she suffered only a broken pelvis.
FACT 89 For several days in November 1976, hundreds of dead blackbirds and pigeons fell intermittently on the streets of San Luis Obispo, California. The California Department of Fish and Game theorized the birds had been poisoned and were soon proven right: California Polytechnic University admitted to seeding a field near the town with poison grains in the hopes of better controlling the bird population.
FACT 90 On New Year’s Eve in 2011, thousands of dead birds fell on the town of Beebe, Arkansas. Preliminary tests showed the birds had died from blunt-force trauma before they hit the ground. Investigators believe that the five thousand dead blackbirds, European starlings, and others were flushed from their roosts by local fireworks and were driven to fly lower than usual, where their poor night vision sent them crashing into buildings, trees, and other stationary objects.
FACT 91 After meat chunks fell from the sky and struck a Kentucky woman in 1876, analysis revealed the meat to be venison. One professor wrote in the Louisville Medical News that the “only plausible theory” for the meaty rain was “the disgorgement of some vultures that were sailing over the spot.” In other words, buzzard vomit.
FACT 92 In 1902, clouds from a giant Illinois dust storm blew across the eastern United States, mixed with rain clouds, and later fell as mud showers.
FACT 93 During storms, waterspouts can suck up fish, frogs, and snakes from oceans or lakes. Strong winds can carry the animals miles inland before dropping them to the ground.
FACT 94 Witnesses from England to India to the United States have reported instances of fish falling from the sky.
FACT 95 The United Kingdom’s Great Yarmouth has the dubious honor of being named the country’s most likely place for strange objects to fall from the sky. The British Weather Services cites the instability of the atmosphere and the town’s proximity to the North Sea as contributing factors.
FACT 96 In 2002, hundreds of tiny silver fish rained upon Great Yarmouth. The fish were fresh but dead.
FACT 97 For two days in 2010, hundreds of small white fish poured onto the town of Lajamanu in Australia’s Northern Territory. Though Lajamanu is hundreds of miles from the nearest body of water, this was the third incident of falling fish in the town in thirty-six years.
FACT 98 In October 2012, a two-foot-long leopard shark fell on a golf course in San Juan Capistrano, California. Experts believe a bird grabbed the shark from the ocean and then dropped it onto the course.
FACT 99 If you think spiders are scary, imagine them falling from the sky. That’s what seemed to be happening in February 2013 when thousands of large spiders descended upon Santo Antonio da Platina, Brazil. Turns out the spiders weren’t falling but dangling from power lines and poles while mating. Which isn’t any less frightening.
FACT 100 In 1969, the town of Punta Gorda, Florida, was pelted with “dozens and dozens” of golf balls falling from the sky during a rainstorm. Officials theorized that the passing storm had sucked up a golf-ball-filled pond.
FACT 101 In March 2013, an eight-year-old schoolgirl on a field trip in Berkeley, California, was surprised to discover that her leg had been pierced with a two-foot-long crossbow bolt that had fallen from the sky. The girl’s injury wasn’t life-threatening.
FACT 102 A seven-year-old Wisconsin girl took a hunting arrow to the back in 2012 while outside playing. She suffered lung and spleen injuries.
FACT 103 A Manson, Washington, couple narrowly escaped injury in 2007 when a six-hundred-pound cow fell off a two-hundred-foot cliff and onto their minivan, causing significant damage.
FACT 104 In 1942, a British forest guard in the Indian Himalayas discovered a frozen lake filled with hundreds of skeletons. The cause of these deaths remained unsolved until 2004, when a National Geographic team examined the bones and determined that the victims had suffered blows to the head and shoulders caused by “blunt, round objects about the size of cricket balls.” The conclusion: two hundred travelers were crossing the valley in 850 C.E. when they were caught in a deadly hailstorm.
FACT 105 Ninety-two people were killed in Gopalganj, Bangladesh, in 1986 when grapefruit-size hail fell during a storm.
FACT 106 The Guinness World Records has designated hail from the Gopalganj storm as being the heaviest ever recorded, at two pounds.
FACT 107 The deadliest hailstorm on record occurred in 1888 in Moradabad, India, and killed 246 people.