DEAR READER: Ask, and you will find yourself in the Indian Ocean

Friday, June 27, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. CDT; updated 1:10 p.m. CDT, Friday, September 12, 2014

Dear Reader,

A side benefit to slower news days — what, you didn’t notice? — is catching up on some projects that have been in need of attention.

One of those is called Any Questions. It’s a feature in which you, dear reader, ask about anything Columbia related that’s got you going “hmmmmm” and the Missourian finds answers.

There have been several in the past couple of weeks:

Think of it as the local version of Only researched by reporters, not a search engine. The frequency of Any Questions depends on two things: whether there are questions in the inbox, and whether there are reporters available to answer them.

Here are a few in the works: What is the history of Gordon Manor? And: Are Missouri allergies worse than in other parts of the country? Based on my nose, I’d say the answer is a resounding, "yes," and follow it with a sneeze. I think the reporter might be looking for a little more authoritative source.

The all-time favorite question among Missourian staff came from Café Berlin, which asked, “How many biscuits tall is The Tiger Hotel?” Missourian analysts came up with the answer: 480 biscuits. That’s using Berlin biscuits. Mine never seem to rise so nicely.

I don’t get to play. But if I did, I’d have plenty of questions. I’d start with my street. Is the emphasis on the first syllable or the last? And who was Lindell anyway?

I live in the Historic Old Southwest part of Columbia. When did it become old, and where was New Southwest? My guess: What was then considered the new part isn’t so new anymore. Perhaps Copperstone Creek and those other neighborhoods off Scott Boulevard should be the Really New Southwest.

I’m warming up: If the waffle cone was introduced at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, when did it reach Columbia? How long is a concrete street supposed to last, and how old is Audubon Drive? My guess is that it’s approximately 10 years older than the maximum expected life for concrete in mid-Missouri.

I’m told — which means I’ve heard it somewhere and don’t actually know whether it’s true — that glaciers stopped north of Interstate 70, causing flatlands there and hills to the south. Really? Is Columbia made up of all the junk a glacier piled up here? And could I bury those Missouri River nuisance fish, Asian carp, in the soil around here as fertilizer? You know, like the Pilgrims were taught to do when they landed in America and began their long-running exploitation of the natives.

Or is it a myth that they used fish for fertilizer? Seems like they’d rather eat them. But maybe there were Pilgrim Asian carp who lost their way. Not good eating, no matter how many lessons I might get in cooking them.

Speaking of not good: Where does Columbia rank in the lost art of using turn signals while driving? If you see a red light blinking, you might want to capture a picture. They are rare birds. (OK, so maybe that question isn't really answerable.)

A friend at the Coffee Zone answered his own question the other day, but it's so good it's worth repeating: If you drill down from Columbia to the other side of the world, where do you wind up? Answer: The Indian Ocean, southwest of Australia. Mulling the most important questions of our time is why I love coffee shops.

But I digress.

I bet you have way better questions.

If you do, give community outreach director Joy Mayer a call or a letter. Send a tweet to @CoMissourian. Put it on the Missourian's Facebook page or fill out the form on our website.



P.S.: After a hiccup, a burp and a … well, you know ... the Google Surveys system is up and running on That’s the deal where, instead of needing a membership for content after it’s 24 hours old, a reader can “pay” by answering a one- or two-question survey. The Missourian business folks still have a few bugs to digest, but for the most part everything is working. So far as I know, there has been just one complaint.

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