Can you explain the fiscal cliff in 30 seconds?

For this week’s featured answer, we turn to the sexy topic of US fiscal policy. In between leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches and drafting up your holiday wishlist, you may have heard of our nation’s pending doom on New Year’s Eve, also known as the fiscal cliff.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke coined the term last winter and reporters have latched on. After all, what better way to spice up a snorefest like fiscal policy than to turn it into a doomsday prophecy like careening off a cliff?

You can read hundreds of articles and essays about the topic, but if you want a quick 30-second answer, we’re here:

And now back to that turkey sandwich…

Thanksgiving 101 on

Planning a feast for family and friends this Thanksgiving? Or are you opting for a dinner out but are curious about the history of the holiday? Either way, we’ve got answers to your Thanksgiving questions.

Let’s start with the basics: When, where and how did Thanksgiving originate? Plymouth isn’t the unanimous answer to this question. Some believe the first thanksgiving feast was held in sunny Florida of all places. And who do we have to thank for this day off school and work? Which US president made Thanksgiving a national holiday? 

Now onto the meat of the matter: turkey. One of our most popular questions every year is how do you cook a turkey? Hint: it’s pretty easy, but timing is everything so you may want to check out our detailed answer to how long do you cook a turkey? The most frequent question on Butterball’s Turkey talkline is how long a turkey takes to defrost. Here’s our answer.

Thanksgiving traditions don’t end with turkey and potatoes. Many families turn their TVs to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or NFL football on Thanksgiving Day. So, when was the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Two NFL teams always play on Thanksgiving. Which ones?

And in case you have a lull in dinner table conversation, here’s a few bits of turkey-related trivia to have up your sleeve:

Fascinating Facts about Costco

Costco, a warehouse club where customers pay to shop, is a fascinating example of American business culture. Where else can you buy a lifetime supply of mayonaise, toilet paper and a casket in the same store? Check out these questions and answers for a closer look at this giant retailer.

How many products does Costco sell? Given how big these warehouses are, the answer may surprise you.

What is Costco’s number one selling product? Hint: You use it every day. Well, we hope you do.

Since Costco makes most of its money off of membership fees (about $55 a year), it can offer steep discounts on many products. So, what exactly is Costco’s price markup?

It’s nearly impossible to leave Costco without hitting up the food court. Which makes us wonder, why are Costco hot dogs so cheap? and What do the Costco food courts sell in international locations?

Costco is the world’s largest retailer of wine. It also sells a lot of meat. How many rotisserie chickens does Costco sell a day?

What other questions do you have about Costco? Ask them in the comments or in our Costco topic on

Meet VigorousChemist: Expert in Chemistry, Music and!

Sri Lanka is not the only area where VigorousChemist excels.  He is an accomplished pianist and an expert in chemistry – his username should not surprise, once you know this fact.  His contributions on the site are close to 40,000!  VigorousChemist went through the Mentoring Program and then became a Category Supervisor in Buddhism, Chemistry, Sri Lanka (where he hails from) and Organic Chemistry.  He also spends time greeting new members as a WikiGuide and editing Q&A as a WikiReviewer.  He discovered while studying at the university.  We are thrilled to have learned more about him!  Read more!

What is your first name?

My first name is Chrishan.

What is your occupation?

I’m currently an undergraduate in the Physical Sciences stream at the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka.

What is your username and how did it come about?

My username at is VigorousChemist. When I was in high school in the Advanced Level of Mathematics stream, I became famous for solving exam questions in chemistry in a relatively short time. My friends gave me this nickname after I got only one incorrect response in a span of 30 minutes on a two hour exam.

What enticed you to join our community?

While I and my classmates were doing academic work, we used the Internet for immediate reference.  On many occasions –  actually almost all occasions –  we landed on the page.  I decided that one day I would contribute to!  I signed up on April 29th in 2012, although prior to that time I contributed as an anonymous user.  The credits of enticement should go to my friends and search engines.

What is your favorite thing to do on

As a regular contributor, my favorite task is to give first answers in full sentences.  I submitted 100 such answers even before completing my first 150 contributions.  By now, as a Supervisor, batch recategorizing and editing alternates are among my favorite activities.  Meanwhile, my least interesting task is to warn and block users.

If you were inviting someone to join, what reason(s) would you give that person to become a part of our community?

I never forget to invite my friends to contribute to  On the site they help other persons in various ways, and they gain knowledge about the fields they are interested in.  I would recommend as one of the best websites with a friendly community of Community Assistants, Supervisors, Special Project Assistants and other contributors.

What life accomplishments are you proud of?

One of the accomplishments that I am most proud of is being eligible to do undergraduate studies in my favorite subject stream.

What accomplishments on are you proud of?

I’m proud of being a Double Platinum Contributor, a Special Project Assistant Active Alumni, and a Category Supervisor.  I am also a Mentoring Program Graduate, another tremendous achievement!

What is your favorite type of music?  

I like classical music, especially piano sonatas and symphonies.  Among my favorite composers are Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Robert Schumann.

Who is your favorite poet?  What is your favorite poem and why?

Poet, Wendy Whatmore

My favorite poet is Wendy Whatmore.  My favorite poem is “Island Spell” by the same author, and it is written about my home country, Sri Lanka. The poetic devices and techniques used there are awesome!

Do you view the glass ‘half full’ or ‘half empty’?  Why?

Actually I believe it depends on the context. As an example, when results are given on an exam, I’d like to see the glass as ‘half filled’. But when I’m practicing something, such as a performance for a recital, I usually like to see the ‘half empty’ glass, because it can be further filled by continuous effort!

What is your favorite quote and why?

“A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new,” by Albert Einstein.  I believe that I may make many mistakes in life (although I try to refrain), so I am practicing to be patient in all circumstances when dealing with others.

Who or what is your inspiration in life?

My parents, all of my teachers, and my sister are among the persons who support me in all my activities.

Amazon Rainforest

Where is one place in the world you would love to visit and why?

I would like to visit the Amazon Rainforest. The beauty of nature, the colorful surroundings rich with natural and clean air, and its solemnity would make me happy and light hearted!

What are your special interests, hobbies, or collections?

There are many activities that I enjoy in my leisure time.  Most often I play the piano.  Among my other hobbies are philately, listening to music, photography, playing chess and contributing to (obviously!).

Five Questions about Presidential Elections

On November 6, Americans will elect their next president and we’ve got answers to your questions about elections.

1. Election Day is always held the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Which makes us wonder: Why are US elections held on a Tuesday?

2. Alright, so you cast your ballot. Now what? How do elections exactly work? And what is the electoral college all about?

3. Elections are the best example of the democratic process, but were there ever US presidents that weren’t elected by the people?

4. So maybe you have a jaded view of voting. What are two good reasons you should exercise your right to vote?

5. Many Americans have the option to vote early or by mail, but if you’re planning on going to the polls Tuesday, you might be wondering when the polls close in your state.

P.S. Curious who is going to win? Check out these weird ways to predict the presidency. And if you’re not happy with the result, find out when the next presidential election is here.