Ernie Hausen, of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, had one great talent. He could pick the feathers off of chickens really, really fast.
When he started picking chickens, in 1904, it took him a full half hour to defeather one. Since he was paid 5 cents per chicken, he wasn't making much money. Over the years he sped up. By 1922, he won a Chicken Picking Championship by picking his chicken clean in 6 seconds. He topped this in 1939, upping his time to 3.5 seconds. As far as I know, that record stands to this day.
Hausen dips the chickens in 164-degree water, quickly runs his large, powerful fingers across the wings, from the tips inward; does the same with the legs, finally peels the feathers from the back and breast. Suddenly the bird is as bare as a billiard ball.... He tells of picking 1,472 birds in 7 hours and 45 minutes in a contest. -Ithaca Journal - Feb 7, 1946
As far as I can tell, the world record for the most voluntary vasectomies performed in a single day (and at a single event) was set on December 5, 1987 in Bangkok, when 1214 men received the operation. This beat the previous record of 1202, set in 1983.
Interesting how the article specifies these were voluntary vasectomies. Is there a separate record for involuntary ones?
Anyway, 'most vasectomies' appears to be a category that Guinness doesn't bother to cover.
Since Marvel films have, for some reason, inspired these super-fan stunts, I speculated that the then imminent release of Avengers: Endgame would lead to a new attempt at a record. And sure enough, Agustin Alanis of Riverview, Florida is going for it. I believe he's already set a new record, but since Avengers: Endgame is still in theaters, he's still watching it, and is shooting for a total of 200 viewings. This is especially impressive since the movie clocks in at around 3 hours.
Odd Trivia: The shortest scheduled commercial flight in the world takes a mere 90 seconds. It's the Loganair flight between the Scottish islands of Westray and Papa Westray. From cntraveler.com:
In good conditions, Loganair’s 1.7-mile jaunt between the Scottish islands of Westray (population: 640) and Papa Westray (population: 72) in the Orkneys, off the north coast of the mainland, can take under a minute. Headwinds can make the flight a whopping two-and-a-half minutes. Retired police officer Graham Maben is one of the route’s regulars; the 70-year-old Orkney native now runs a tour business on the islands, and estimates he has taken the flight around 40 times over the past 15 years.
It’s not official yet, but Steve Ruppel appears to have gained the Guinness world record for “most cinema productions attended - same film.” Put more clearly, that’s the record for watching the same film, again and again, in a cinema. Ruppel has watched Captain Marvel 116 times since its release on March 7.
Ruppel said that when he first heard Guinness kept such a category "I thought it was the most insane thing ever, I thought it was impossible. I wasn't even sure why it was even a record, but I thought after a while, 'I should probably do that.'" I like how his thought process progressed from 'it's insane' to "I should do that."
While at the eye doctor yesterday for a routine check-up, I noticed a plaque on the wall of the lobby. It was the word 'Guinness' that happened to catch my eye, and looking closer I realized it was a certificate from Guinness World Records recognizing the ophthalmology department I was in for performing the most eye tests in an 8-hour period: a total of 1,109 tests!
I hadn't known that speed eye testing was a thing.
However, some googling reveals that their record has subsequently been shattered. The Guinness website lists the current record holder as "V Senthilbalaji" of Karur, India, which performed 25,355 eye tests in 8 hours on April 4, 2015. (I'm assuming V Senthilbalaji must be the name of a hospital).
But what are the rules for gaining this record? Is there no limit on how many doctors can participate? In which case, speed isn't as important as just collecting a whole bunch of eye doctors in one place. And what exactly counts as an 'eye test'?
(My apologies for the lousy quality of the picture below. I'm blaming it on my phone's lousy camera. Or maybe I just need my eyes checked...)
William A. Gold of Australia had the dubious distinction of being named the least successful writer ever in the 1975 edition of the Guinness Book of Records. To my knowledge, Guinness never awarded this record to anyone else.
Gold gained the title because, as of 1975, he had written at least eight novels and 100 short stories, but none of them had been published, despite his best efforts. His writing had only ever earned him 50 cents from an article published in the Canberra News.
I've only been able to find the titles of two of Gold's book. One of them was John Lewis Seeks a Mission, which he submitted to the Adelaide Advertiser $2000 Literary Competition in 1966. (Obviously, he didn't win.) The other was One Best Seller: A Satire on the Publishing Game. The Sydney Morning Herald described this as dealing with "the adventures of author Eric Bellamy, literary agent Lawrence Templeton, and the latter’s attempts to get Bellamy’s novel, Sibelius on Sunday, published." Gold eventually self-published this novel in 1984. (and it's available for purchase from some used book stores in Australia.)
The great claim to fame of Marva Drew of Waterloo, Iowa was that she typed the numbers one to one million on a manual typewriter. It took her about six years, starting in 1968 and ending in 1974 (although she took several years off in the middle). It totaled 2,473 pages.
She explained that she got the idea when she heard that her son’s high school teacher had told him that no one had ever counted to a million, and that anyone who tried would be crazy. So Marva decided she’d do it.
She noted that if someone started at the age of 18, they could conceivably type up to 50 million in their entire life.
Some other info from the Waterloo Courier:
“Corrections and erasures were done meticulously, and often whole handfuls of pages were discarded when she discovered she’d left out a number somewhere along the way...
There were physical problems, too. The endless carriage returns caused pains in her wrist, back, and shoulders, and there were swollen fingers, eyestrain, headaches, and insomnia."
Marva Drew poses with the stack of completed pages.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.