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Welcome to CW’s sumptuous executive suite where we, the storied keepers of The Wisdom, enjoy a life of privilege and luxury untrammelled by the quotidian concerns and petty fears of workaday existence. What?! What do you mean the Canada Revenue Agency is on the line?!


Why do people tremble when they're scared? Emily Murgatroyd of Vancouver wonders.


This is because fear activates the "fight-or-flight" response, writes Kim Hellemans of the department of neuroscience at Carleton University in Ottawa.

This response "is governed by the sympathetic nervous system, a division of the peripheral nervous system that consists of nerves that originate in the spinal cord and make connections with diverse body organs."

When we are afraid, she says, these nerves send signals to our organs to prepare the body either to flee from or fight a predator or potential threat, increasing the heart rate, dilating the pupils and causing tunnel vision.

Dr. Hellemans theorizes "that the trembling might be caused by the release of adrenalin (one of the hormones released during fight-or-flight), which, in the absence of actual fighting or fleeing (when we would be using our muscles), may result in trembling. Or, it could be due to the sudden drop in blood glucose, as glucose is diverted from the blood to the muscles during the fight-or-flight response."


Why do so many double doors have one side locked? wonders Peter Ladner of Vancouver.


Scott Hoffman of North Vancouver has noticed that it is always the door with bolts at the top and bottom that is fastened, as opposed to the one that contains the main lock.

"To unlock the second door," he says, "one needs to flip the security pins at the top and bottom of the door frame, so I suspect the reason so many don't get unlocked is pure laziness."


Last week's item about drying clothes outside during the winter sparked a big response from CW readers, many reminiscing about bringing in such items as long underwear that were frozen stiff. Vanessa Ransom, who lived as a child in Halton Hills, Ont., recalls a frozen diaper snapping in two when her mother tried to fold it.

Meanwhile, Illo Neri of Bourget, Ont., a Canadian Forces pilot who took an Arctic survival course in the 1990s, remembers drying clothes in -40 weather.

He says you couldn't help perspiring when carrying out tasks on the survival course. In the Arctic, wet clothes will quickly lead to hypothermia, so they have to be dried. This is not as difficult as it seems.

Once the clothes are frozen, he writes, "all one has to do is beat them dry, knocking the ice out. Granted, there will be some water left behind," but the clothes will only be slightly damp.

A final word from Henny Bernards of Toronto, who cautions that drying wet clothes in freezing weather will cause the moisture inside the fibres to expand as the clothes freeze. "This causes damage to the fibres."


  • “My late husband used to spit on his shoes as he shined them,” writes Roberta Robinson of Calgary. “Did the spit do any good? If so, why?”
  • What do cruise ships do with their wastewater that accumulates during cruises? Rick Jamison of Saskatoon wants to know.
  • Why is the Manitoba-Saskatchewan boundary a series of small jogs, rather than being a straight line like the Saskatchewan-Alberta boundary? asks Don Keith of Waterloo, Ont.

Let’s hear from you: If you have the answer to one of these questions (or a question of your own) send an e-mail to Please include your location and a daytime phone number.