Mr. Know-It-All: Knowledge worth weight in gold


Q: I'm giving my girlfriend an engagement ring of nearly one carat. I read a booklet about diamonds, so I feel like I'll be able to buy with confidence. But what is a carat? -- G.J.H., Austin, Texas

A: First of all, congratulations! I wish you and your wife-to-be the very best.

There is no great mystery about a carat -- it's merely a unit of weight for diamonds and other gemstone. One carat equals 200 milligrams, or 0.200 grams. So if you have a one-pound diamond, it would weigh just about 2,268 carats!

Just for fun: If your fiancee weighs 125 pounds, she would weigh 283,495 carats -- but I would say she's priceless! Good luck, my friend.

Q: What does "karat" mean? -- G.J.H., Austin, Texas

A: A karat is a unit of purity of gold -- 24-karat gold is pure gold. To make jewelry, 24-karat gold is too soft, so it must be mixed with another metal, such as copper or silver. So if a piece of jewelry is marked 18-karat gold, it means it is 18 parts gold and 6 parts other metal.

Q: From time to time in a Western TV show or movie, the bad guys hide out in Robbers Roost. Is this a Hollywood-created location? -- E.B., Sarasota, Fla.

A: Robbers Roost was an outlaw hideout located in southeastern Utah. Its natural topography made it an ideal place to hole up. With its wide-open, rough terrain, it made it difficult to move about undetected, thus making it easy to defend. During the end of the Old West, Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch gang built cabins in this area. With some nearby contacts, they were able to have access to beef and other supplies. Story goes that pursuing lawmen never discovered the site of the hideout.

Now you can hike, take horseback rides and drive ATVs in the area.

Did you know? Courtney Love was considered for the role of Dorothy Boyd in the movie "Jerry Maguire" (1996). The part went to Renee Zellweger.

Q: I grew up on a farm in Connecticut. My grandpapa not only farmed, he also traded with the local Native Americans. He paid them a fair price for their goods and sold them for a good price in town. If he got more profit than expected he'd give them credit for items in his trading post. I loved when they came to the store and told me stories about magical people of the forest; they were described as mischievous but basically good-natured. However, some Native Americans -- I think from another tribe -- described them as being dangerous. I'm over 90 years old, and all my family is long gone. Are you familiar with the stories by any chance? Do you know the creature's name? -- M.J., Storrs, Conn.

A: I'm thinking you were enchanted with the Wampanoag people, and they were telling you stories of the Pukwudgie. You are right -- the stories of these creatures vary from tribe to tribe. Some say they are known to kidnap people and push them off cliffs. The best advice is if you do encounter a Pukwudgie in the woods is to ignore it. More than likely, you will be rewarded with a nonconfrontational moment.

I just read that Mounds State Park in Anderson, Ind., is allegedly a hotspot for Pukwudgie activity.

Send your questions to Mr. Know-It-All at or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.


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