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  1. Fact of the Day - ROLLER SKATES Did you know... that roller skates are shoes, or bindings that fit onto shoes, that are worn to enable the wearer to roll along on wheels. The first roller skate was effectively an ice skate with wheels replacing the blade. (Wikipedia) The first recorded roller skate inventor, John Joseph Merlin, originally of Belgium, decided to debut his metal-wheeled roller skates at a fancy masquerade party in London in 1760. Merlin’s plan was to suavely skate into the salon while simultaneously playing a violin. Unfortunately, Merlin hadn’t practiced skating much prior to the soiree, nor were his skates engineered for turning. Merlin ended up crashing into a large mirror and suffering serious physical injuries, though his pride might have been the part of him most severely bruised. John Joseph Merlin Though many more inventors would create their own versions of the roller skate over the next century, it wasn’t until 1863, when James Plimpton tried his hand at this whole roller-skate-inventing thing, that there came into existence a skate actually capable of turning. Plimpton’s four-wheeled skate made use of springy carriages called trucks that allowed the skater to turn by leaning in the direction of travel. Plimpton built a roller rink in his New York furniture-business office, and he also established the New York Roller Skating Association to promote skating. Roller skating tends to have its heydays and its fallow eras. Though the 1970s may be thought of as the most famous roller skating decade, the early 1900s experienced its own roller skating craze. In 1905, roller skating rinks opened in cities on the East Coast, and skating was often chosen over dancing and other types of entertainment. The craze then snaked its way across the Heartland and to major cities on the West Coast. By 1906, newspapers were running trend pieces about roller skating fashions. Then, in 1916, Charlie Chaplin starred in The Rink, the first movie about roller skating (below). The first recorded marriage on roller skates took place in 1912 in Milwaukee between a Miss Hattie Baldwin and a Mr. W. McGrath, according to the National Museum of Roller Skating. And, yes, there is a National Museum of Roller Skating. It’s in Lincoln, Nebraska, and it recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. In the 1950s and early ‘60s, the roller skating carhop was a ubiquitous sight at drive-ins. Movies like American Graffiti and TV shows like Happy Days further solidified the carhop’s place in American pop culture. Roller skating carhops still exist today, and the Sonic restaurant chain hosts an annual event called the Sonic Skate-Off, a competition to find the most skillful skating carhop from its 3,500 drive-ins nationwide. Utah carhop is finalist in national SONIC skating competition At the height of the 1970s roller revolution, each major American city developed its own skate style, though some styles were more distinctive than others. Chicago especially became known as a roller skating city and became famous for JB skating, which borrowed many of its intricate moves from the Godfather of Soul (“JB” is said to be an abbreviation for “James Brown.”) Fancy footwork and standing dance routines are hallmarks of the JB style, and a well-known move is aptly called the “Crazy Leg.” The JB style is still practiced on Chicago skating rinks today. In 1979, Cher released a song called “Hell on Wheels.” The accompanying video was one of the very first modern, MTV-style music videos. It features an interesting mix of truck drivers, bikers, and Cher on roller skates wearing a zebra-print jumpsuit. Before he was Johnny of nobody-puts-Baby-in-a-corner fame, Patrick Swayze made his big-screen debut as Ace in 1979’s Skatetown USA. Dubbed “The Rock and Roller Disco Movie of the Year,” the film also starred Scott Baio and The Brady Bunch's Maureen McCormick. In the clip below, you can see Swayze as Ace, using his belt as an imaginative prop in a roller disco contest. The Amish typically eschew technology and complicated machinery in favor of a very simple life. Cars, motorcycles, and even bikes are forbidden modes of transportation, but roller skates have been used for decades in Amish communities. In the 1990s, however, in the middle of the Rollerblade craze, the New York Times reported that though the Amish youth had adopted inline skates as transportation, only a third of Amish congregations had approved their use. Some of the elders were concerned that Rollerblades, which were able to achieve greater speeds than roller skates, could dilute the Amish no-frills lifestyle. The largest parade of roller skaters took place in Paris on June 15, 2008, according to Guinness World Records. The parade consisted of 1188 participants who skated for 12.68 miles. Once a mecca of roller skating, New York City now has only one remaining indoor roller rink, RollerJam USA on Staten Island (though another makeshift rink operates out of a gym in Brooklyn). RollerJam USA was badly damaged during Hurricane Sandy, and for a while it looked as though New York’s rink count would be reduced to zero. It took $750,000 and six months of extensive repairs to finally reopen the rink this past spring, according to RollerJam USA’s owner Joe Costa. “It was worth it,” Costa says. “There’s still this whole underground skating community that you wouldn’t even know exists—people from the ‘70s who are still doing it. And there’s a new generation that’s definitely getting interested in roller skating. Gliding on skates to the music—there’s no feeling like it.” My note: there's also another movie I enjoyed and that was Xanadu. Source: MentalFloss - Roller Skates
  2. What's the Word? - DADA pronunciation: [DAH-dah] Part of speech: noun Origin: French, 1916 Meaning: 1. An early-20th-century international movement in art, literature, music, and film, repudiating and mocking artistic and social conventions and emphasizing the illogical and absurd. Example: "I didn't understand Dada art until I visited the Marcel Duchamp exhibition." "The Italian film festival had many Dada-inspired entries." About Dada As an artistic movement, Dada, or Dadaism, took off in the early 1920s in Paris. This appreciation of nonsense, chaos, and the absurd is thought to be a backlash against the effects of World War 1 and a capitalist society. As technology was advancing, Dada spanned across artistic mediums. Did you Know? The word "dada" can be found in many languages and cultures to refer to a father. It transcends language barriers perhaps because "da" is one of the first and easiest sounds for a baby to make.
  3. Thank you for clarifying. I was one of those asking about the downloads. The way you have it now is fine for me. Maybe members if they want downloads and find them somewhere else can post links to those places for the other members.
  4. Fact of the Day - LASSIE Did you know... that Lassie is a fictional character created by Eric Knight. She is a female Rough Collie dog, and is featured in a short story that was later expanded to a full-length novel called Lassie Come-Home. Knight's portrayal of Lassie bears some features in common with another fictional female collie of the same name, featured in the British writer Elizabeth Gaskell's 1859 short story "The Half Brothers". In "The Half Brothers", Lassie is loved only by her young master and guides the adults back to where two boys are lost in a snowstorm. Published in 1940, Knight's novel was filmed by MGM in 1943, as Lassie Come Home with a dog named Pal playing Lassie. Pal then appeared with the stage name "Lassie" in six other MGM feature films through 1951. Pal's owner and trainer Rudd Weatherwax then acquired the Lassie name and trademark from MGM and appeared with Pal (as "Lassie") at rodeos, fairs, and similar events across America in the early 1950s. In 1954, the long-running, Emmy winning television series Lassie debuted, and, over the next 19 years, a succession of Pal's descendants appeared on the series. The "Lassie" character has appeared in radio, television, film, toys, comic books, animated series, juvenile novels, and other media. Pal's descendants continue to play Lassie today. (Wikipedia) In the mid-1950s, when television was still gaining momentum, "Lassie" stunned and entertained audiences. The canine became a household name. When the famous canine Lassie hit the small screen in 1954, fans were ecstatic. After the brave pup became famous through a slew of hit films it made sense to launch a series. The series quickly became one of the most beloved television shows in history. It had a massive audience for nearly 20 years but here are some interesting facts fans may not know about Lassie. Lassie and actor Jon Provost (aka Little Timmy) 1. Timmy Never Fell Down A Well Even though Timmy had many mishaps during the show and often needed Lassie to save him, he never fell down a well. The scenario was popular but never happened in the show. 2. Lassie Was A Stunt Double The handsome collie named Pal who ended up playing Lassie had been rejected at first for the role in "Lassie Come Home" because he was a male. However, after impressing the filmmakers as a stunt dog, they decided to give him the role completely. 3. Lassie Was Actually A Male Since Pal did such an amazing job, the producers ended up casting all the dogs after him to play the role of the iconic lady were actually male dogs. Especially because the producers realized female dogs shed more when they went into heat and looked smaller than the male dogs. 4. Pal Played His Own Son Pal was an amazing actor. In "Son of Lassie," the amazing pup played both the mother and son roles. Pal 5. His Last Appearance Pal played the legendary dog "Lassie" in "Lassie Come Home" and his last appearance before he passed was the pilot of the "Lassie" TV series. He died in 1958. 6. Tommy Rettig Was Allergic To Dogs The actor behind the character "Jeff Miller" in "Lassie" was allergic to dogs. In fact, besides getting too old for the childish role, it was one of the reasons why he left the show after just three seasons. 7. Knocked Off Air The only time that "Lassie" was taken off air in the USA was for the annual CBS television showcase of "The Wizard of Oz" (1939). The film was played once a year from 1959 to 1967 and took place on a Sunday evening. 8. Timmy Had Two Sets Of Parents From December 1957 to September 1958, Cloris Leachman and Jon Shepodd played Timmy’s parents. However, reports claim that Cloris argued a lot with the cast and crew and was eventually fired. They were replaced with June Lockhart and Hugh Reilly. June Lockhart, Hugh Reilly, Jon Provost, Lassie 9. There Were More Dogs Involved To ensure the dog playing Lassie was not lonely, there were other dogs on set. When the cameras were done filming, the dogs were allowed to play. In the early ’70s, a pup named Hey Hey played Lassie in the episodes Peace is Our Profession. He had two miniature poodles called Buttons and Bows on set to keep him company. 10. Jeff And Porky Didn't Really Get Along Even though Jeff and Porky played best friends on the show, they apparently did not get along off-camera. The pair reportedly often fought on set. 11. Alcoholism Made Robert Bray Leave Robert Bray left the show after four seasons. Reports claim that the star left due to his struggles with alcoholism however, the official statement that was released claimed he had grown tired of his role. He never acted in anything else after "Lassie." 12. The Role Was A Family Affair After Pal passed away after filming the first two episodes, his son, Lassie Jr., stepped up to the role. He took over the role until 1959 and was followed by Lassie Jr.’s sons, Spook and Baby, who took turns in the role until the last two seasons of the show before their brothers Mire and Hey Hey took over. Lassie (1940 - 1958) 13. Longest Lassie Pup The collie that played Lassie the longest was named Baby. He was the grandson of Pal, the original Lassie and played the role for six years. 14. Baby Lived the Shortest Even though Baby played Lassie the longest he actually lived the shortest. Baby passed away suddenly at age 8 while most of the other dog actors lived to about 17 years. 15. Famous Theme Song The famous "whistle" theme song which the show became known for was not the original opening and closing credits. It was introduced in Season 5 and the previous four seasons had a more traditional orchestral theme song. 16. Real Lassie The real Lassie on whom the show was based was owned and trained by Rudd Weatherwax. She reportedly lived to be 19 years old. Rudd Weatherwax and Lassie, 1955 17. Andy Clyde's Final Performance Andy Clyde's one-shot return to the series as "Ben Adams," after his recurring role as "Cully Wilson" was his final performance ever. 18. Syndicated Titles When the seasons starring Jon Provost were syndicated to the daytime TV, they were titled "Jeff's Collie." Then when Provost left the series, his shows were syndicated as "Timmy and Lassie". 19. Who Was Timmy Named After Timmy got his name from producer Bonita Granville. He was named after her mother, Timmie. 20. Full Cast Change When Jon Provost grew tired of his role and left the series after seven seasons it led to the entire fire the rest of the human cast. Lassie (2005 film) Source: AmoMama - "Lassie" Facts You Might Not Know | Wikipedia - Lassie | Wikipedia - Lassie (1954 TV series)
  5. What's the Word? - MUGGLE pronunciation: [MUH-ɡəl] Part of speech: noun Origin: British English, 1990s Meaning: 1. A person who is not conversant with a particular activity or skill. Example: "We joked that my dad was a muggle in the kitchen because everything turned out burnt." "I'm quite a muggle when it comes to any sport." About Muggle It's a silly little word created by J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter series. Muggle simply means someone without magical skill. It proved to be so useful that it was added to the dictionary to describe someone without skill, not restricted to the wizarding world. Did you Know? For a relatively recent addition to the world of literary classics ("Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" was published in 1997), the vocabulary of Hogwarts has been quickly adopted. In addition to muggle, you're likely to hear wizarding lingo such as Quidditch, Voldemort, galleon, and patronus cast about like spells.
  6. Fact of the Day - WISHING WELL Did you know... that a wishing well is a term from European folklore to describe wells where it was thought that any spoken wish would be granted. The idea that a wish would be granted came from the notion that water housed deities or had been placed there as a gift from the gods. This practice is thought to have arisen because water is a source of life, and was often a scarce commodity. (Wikipedia) Folktale Origins Of Wishing Wells Wishing well at Ramona marriage place old town, San Diego, California, 1930. Source: (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images) In the mall, in the park, or in your neighbor’s front yard, we see wishing wells in a lot of places and we all know what we are supposed to do…drop a coin in and make a wish. But how did this custom start and what was the original meaning of it? Did our ancestors truly believe that they had to pay for their wishes? And what is the significance of a well? Let’s dive deep into the folklore of wishing wells. Wishing Wells and Sacred Water Since water is the key to life, finding sources of fresh water was important to our ancestors. Occasionally, fresh water sprang from unexpected places, like from underground springs or rivers. For many cultures, particularly ancient European cultures, underground springs were viewed as special, sacred waters that were given to mankind as a gift from the gods. To thank the gods for their gift, they would drop small tokens of their appreciation into the spring. Later, coins were used. Ancient Well. Source: (terriwindling.com) Wishing Wells and Clean Water Clean, potable drinking water was—and still is—a concern. Anthropologists will tell you that settlements and town were established near sources of clean drinking water. To protect the water and keep it safe from contaminants, the people often built structures, such as wells or well houses and, these structures began a gathering place for the people of the town. Even if the water source was large, like a river or harbor, forts and castles were constructed to protect it. Oftentimes, it was thought that spirits or gods lorded over these water sources and kept them clean. Pliny the Younger mentioned wishing wells in his writing. Source: (reasonabletheology.org) Wishing Wells and Ancient Rome Wishing wells seem to be a very old tradition that was prevalent across Europe. One of our earliest written references to wishing wells came from the second century in the works of Pliny the Younger. He described several individual springs that converge into a still body of water. He wrote, “There the water, clear as glass, allows you to see gleaming pebbles on the bottom and the coins the people have thrown in.” Wishing Well - Picture of Amigos Castle, Lightning Ridge. Wishing Wells and the Germanic People The Germanic tribes of Europe believed that spirits lived in the waters and actually created the water. The spirits liked to intervene in the lives of the humans living near them. If a person spoke aloud a wish or hope while standing over the water, the spirits might take pity of them and grant their wish. A person could sweeten the deal by dropping a small coin or another valuable token into the well in hopes that the spirits would be pleased. Coventina's Well in Northumberland. Source: (northernvicar.co.uk) Wishing Wells and the Celts The idea of appeasing the spirits by tossing tokens into a well was especially common in the Celtic culture. The Celtic goddess, Coventina, who ruled overhealing and childbirth, had a famous well attributed to her in Northumberland. The people built a small temple to Coventina around the source of the spring water. Archeologists have discovered small token gifts to Coventina, including coins, glass and pottery items, buttons, and beads, dating back as far as 407 C.E. Mimir guards the Well of Wisdom in Norse mythology. Source: (ancientpages.com) Wishing Wells and the Norse One popular Norse legend revolves around a water deity named Mimir. According to the stories, Mimir lived in the Well of Wisdom and guarded the sacred waters. He drank from the well every day, making him the wisest being in all the land. The Norse god Odin, desperate to save the world from destruction, sought a sip from the Well of Wisdom. Mimir, however, demanded payment from Odin before he could drink. The price Mimir demanded was high. He asked for Odin’s right eye. Odin eventually agreed to pay the price and his eye was thrown into the well so others could see that a price must be paid in order to seek wisdom from the well. Chalice Well in Somerset. Wishing Wells and the Holy Grail The Chalice Well, or Red Well, is located in Somerset, England. Iron oxide gives the water a red color that the ancient Brits associated with human blood. According to local legends, the well was the place where Joseph of Arimathea hid the Holy Grail, the chalice that was used to catch Jesus’s blood at the time of his crucifixion. This legend was used to explain the red color of the water. Since then, people have paid their respects by leaving offerings at the well. Trevi Fountain in Rome. Source: (hubpages.com) Wishing Wells are Big Business Since tossing a coin into a wishing well or fountain in exchange for a granted wish is such a widespread custom, it had become big business. Take Rome’s Trevi Fountain, for example. More than 3,000 coins are tossed into the famed fountain each day. That adds up to about $1.5 million U.S. dollars per year! The city of Rome uses the money to fund programs for needy people in the community. Source: Mr-Mehra - Folktale Origins of Wishing Wells | Wikipedia - Wishing Well
  7. What's the Word? - FINITE pronunciation: [FAHY-nahyt] Part of speech: adjective Origin: Latin, 15th century Meaning: 1. Having limits or bounds. 2. (of a verb form) having a specific tense, number, and person. Example: "'We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.' ― Martin Luther King Jr." "Use finite verbs in order to avoid any confusion." About Finite Buzz Lightyear exclaims, "To infinity and beyond!" The opposite of this unlimitless prospect is finite. There's a clear and defined end, which isn't a bad thing, unless you're a toy astronaut. Did you know? In a grammatical sense, finite verbs give information about the subject. They can inflect the gender, person, number, tense, aspect, mood, and voice of the subject. You're probably most familiar with changing the tense (present, past, future) and person (I, you, it, they) of finite verbs.
  8. Fact of the Day - HAND FAN Did you know... that a handheld fan, or simply hand fan, may be any broad, flat surface that is waved back-and-forth to create an airflow. (Wikipedia) The origin of hand fan can be dated back to as far as 4,000 years ago, in Egypt. At that time, it was considered a sacred instrument and used in religious ceremonies. It was also seen as a symbol of royalty, as is evident from the two elaborate fans found in King Tut’s tomb. Other cultures where hand fans were used include Persian, Hebrew, Greek, Roman and Chinese. Read on to know more interesting and amazing information on the history, origin and background of fans. Bodbezan, Persian Handheld Fan Hand fan is known to have been invented in China and Japan, with both holding different legends of its creation. In Japan, the fan was created after the folding wings of a bat, while the Chinese believe that the sight of a woman fanning her facemask at a festival led to the tool’s creation. The hand fan was taken to Europe by way of trade routes in the 1500s. In Europe, it became an exotic and stylish symbol of wealth and class. Japanese Fans Chinese Wall Fan; Prosperity Blossoms with Black Bamboo The Italians became the first users of the hand fan in Europe. Trade increased and so did the fans. In the 17th century, fan making became a professional undertaking and the ‘Guild of Fan Makers’ was established. Until the mid-17th century, hand fans were considered a luxury item and made from expensive materials. They were often bejeweled as well. Printed fans turned up with the French Revolution, produced to make a political statement. 17th century European Fan The next hundred years saw a large range and variety of hand fans being developed. By the 18th century, they were being produced in almost all the countries across the world. Some even developed painted fans, which eventually became a recognized art form. In the 1920s, a single ostrich plume became a high fashion statement that was dyed to the same color as one’s dress. However, the early 20th century saw a decline in the use of hand fans, though they were still produced as an advertising medium. French Painted Fan Spain engrained hand fans into their culture and still use them for their original purpose - that of keeping cool. The Japanese hand fan symbolizes various things, such as friendship, respect and good wishes. It is gifted to people on special occasions and forms an important stage prop for various Japanese dance performances. Japanese believe that the handle of the fan represents the beginning of life and the ribs are for the roads of life, going out in all directions. Traditional Japanese Dancers In the present times, there are different styles of fans that are being manufactured, namely folding, brisé (made from separate sticks, linked together top and bottom), cockade (opens into a full circle) and a simple rigid shape on a handle. The two outer sticks are known as guards and are more decorated. Materials like tortoiseshell, ivory, bone, mother of pearl, metal and wood are used as guards and sticks. However, they are now more used for decorative purposes, rather than functional. Source: WIkipedia - Hand Fan | Lifestyle - History of Hand Fan
  9. What's the Word? - RIPPER pronunciation: [RIP-ər] Part of speech: noun Origin: Unknown, mid-19th century Meaning: 1. (Australian) A thing that is particularly admirable or excellent. 2. A tool that is used to tear or break something. Example: "Look at that ripper riding the waves!" "I need a seam ripper to fix these stitches. About Ripper There's the cheeky bit of slang, but ripper can also be quite practical. It's a tool used to rip, break, or tear something. Any good sewer will have a seam ripper in their kit. Did you know? As a bit of Australian English slang, ripper means someone particularly skilled, perhaps in surfing. Other words of "strine" — Australian slang — include mate, no worries, arvo, and fair dinkum.
  10. Fact of the Day - HALLOWEEN CANDY DId you know... that for most American kids, it wouldn’t be Halloween without trick-or-treating for candy; however, that wasn’t always the case. When the custom of trick-or-treating started in the 1930s and early 1940s, children were given everything from homemade cookies and pieces of cake to fruit, nuts, coins and toys. In the 1950s, candy manufacturers began to get in on the act and promote their products for Halloween, and as trick-or-treating became more popular, candy was increasingly regarded as an affordable, convenient offering. It wasn’t until the 1970s, though, that wrapped, factory-made candy was viewed as the only acceptable thing to hand out to all the little ghosts and goblins that showed up on people’s doorsteps. A key reason for this was safety, as parents feared that real-life boogeymen might tamper with goodies that weren’t store-bought and sealed. Today, when it comes to Halloween candy, a number of the most popular brands are enduring classics. For example, the first Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar was produced in 1900 and Hershey’s Kisses made their debut in 1907. Company founder Milton Hershey was a pioneer in the mass-production of milk chocolate and turned what previously had been a luxury item for the well-to-do into something affordable for average Americans. In the early 1900s, he also built an entire town, Hershey, Pennsylvania, around his chocolate factory. In 1917, Harry Burnett Reese moved to Hershey, where he was employed as a dairyman for the chocolate company and later worked at its factory. Inspired by Milton Hershey’s success, Reese, who eventually had 16 children, began making candies in his basement. In the mid-1920s, he built a factory of his own and produced an assortment of candies, including peanut butter cups, which he invented in 1928 and made with Hershey’s chocolate. During World War II, a shortage of ingredients led Reese to pull the plug on his other candies and focus on his most popular product, peanut butter cups. In 1963, Hershey acquired the H.B Reese Candy Company. In 1923, a struggling, Minnesota-born candy maker, Frank Mars, launched the Milky Way bar, which became a best-seller. In 1930, he introduced the Snickers bar, reportedly named for his favorite horse, followed in 1932 by the 3 Musketeers bar. Frank’s son Forrest eventually joined the company, only to leave after a falling out with his father. Forrest Mars relocated to England, where he created the Mars bar in the early 1930s. In 1941, he launched M&Ms. Mars anticipated that World War II would produce a cocoa shortage, so he partnered with Bruce Murrie, son of a Hershey executive, in order to have access to a sufficient supply of ingredients; the candy’s name stands for Mars and Murrie. Another crowd-pleasing Halloween candy, the Kit Kat bar, was first sold in England in 1935 as a Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp and in 1937 was rechristened the Kit Kat Chocolate Crisp. The name is said to be derived from a London literary and political group, the Kit-Cat (or Kit Kat) club, established in the late 17th century. The group’s moniker is thought to be an abbreviation of the name of the man who owned the shop where the group originally gathered. Since 1988, the brand has been owned by Nestle, maker of another perennial trick-or-treat favorite, the Nestle Crunch bar, which debuted in the late 1930s. And of course, no Halloween would be complete without candy corn, which was invented in the 1880s by George Renninger of the Wunderle Candy Company of Philadelphia. Other companies went on to produce their own versions of the tricolor treat, none longer than the Goelitz Confectionery Company (now the Jelly Belly Candy Co.), which has been doing so since 1898. Source: The Haunted History of Halloween Candy
  11. What's the Word? - EDIFICE pronunciation: [ED-ə-fəs] Part of speech: noun Origin: Latin, 14th century Meaning: 1. A building, especially a large, imposing one. 2. A complex system of beliefs. Example: "The edifice at the center of campus contained the business school classes." "The first task of the new government was to establish a constitutional edifice." About Edifice An imposing word comes with imposing roots. In Latin, "aedis" means dwelling and "facere" means to make. The first definition keeps the idea of building construction, but sense number two is more figurative. An edifice is built of a complex set of beliefs. Did you know? The largest edifice in the United States is the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington. This facility was built in the 1960s for the manufacturing of the 747. The edifice is still used for the construction of some of the Boeing company's largest aircrafts.
  12. Fact of the Day - PLAYING CARDS Did you know... that a playing card is a piece of specially prepared card stock, heavy paper, thin cardboard, plastic-coated paper, cotton-paper blend, or thin plastic that is marked with distinguishing motifs. Often the front and back of each card has a finish to make handling easier. (Wikipedia) Because we are all familiar with the modern deck of playing cards, a standard deck of Bicycle rider back playing cards seems very "normal" and "traditional" to most of us. But to people of the past, a deck like this is anything but normal! The reality is that playing cards have undergone a radical transformation since their first beginnings several centuries ago. Our modern playing cards evolved into a deck of 52 cards with four suits in red and black and with two Jokers by making a journey that took hundreds of years and involved travelling through many countries. In fact, the most significant elements that shaped today's deck were produced by the different cultures and countries that playing cards travelled through in order to get to the present day. In this article, we will survey the history of playing cards, emphasizing in particular the geographic influences that have determined what modern playing cards look like today. Our whirlwind historical tour will begin in the East, under a cloud of uncertainty about the precise origin of playing cards. But from there we will make our way to Europe, first to Italy and Spain, then east to Germany, back west to France, and across the channel to England. Finally we will travel over the ocean to the United States, which is where most of our decks are produced today by USPCC in the form that we now know them. The East The precise origin of playing cards continues to be the subject of debate among scholars, and even the best theories rely more on speculation than proof. There is clear historical evidence that playing cards began to appear in Europe in the late 1300s and early 1400s, but how did they get there? They seem to have come from somewhere in the East, and may have been imported to Europe by gypsies, crusaders, or traders. The common consensus appears to be that an early form of playing cards originated somewhere in Asia, but to be completely honest, we cannot be entirely sure. Paper is fragile and typically does not survive well across the ages, so solid historical evidence is lacking. Educated guesses have made links to the cards, suits, and icons of 12th century and even older cards in China, India, Korea, Persia, or Egypt, which may have been introduced to Europe by Arabs. Some scholars believe that playing cards were invented in China during the Tang dynasty around the 9th century AD. There does seem to be evidence of some kinds of games involving playing cards (and drinking!) from this time onward, including cards with icons representing coins, which also appear as icons on playing cards later in Western Europe. If correct, it would place the origins of playing cards before 1000 AD, and it would see them as originating alongside or even from tile games like dominoes and mahjong. Some have suggested that the playing cards first functioned as "play money" and represented the stakes used for other gambling games, and later became part of the games themselves. Others have proposed connections between playing cards and chess or dice games, but this is again speculative. It is very possible that playing cards made their way from China to Europe via Egypt in the Mamluk period, with decks from that era having goblets (cups), gold coins, swords, and polo-sticks, which represent the main interests of the Mamluk aristocracy, and bear parallels to the four suits seen in Italian playing cards from the 14th century. But we cannot even be totally sure that playing cards did first appear in the East; and it may even be that the first ancestors of the modern deck of playing cards were first created in Europe after all, as an independent development. So let's head to Europe, to the earliest confirmed reference to playing cards there, which we find in a Latin manuscript written by a German monk in a Swiss monastery. Mamluk Playing Cards Italy and Spain In the manuscript dated 1377, our German monk friend Johannes from Switzerland mentions the appearance of playing cards and several different card games that could be played with them. In the 1400s playing cards often appear along with dice games in religious sermons as examples of gambling activities that are denounced, and there is clear evidence that a 52 card deck existed and was used in this time. The suit signs in the first European decks of the 14th century were swords, clubs, cups, and coins, and very likely had their origin in Italy, although some connect these with the cups, coins, swords, and polo-sticks found on Egyptian playing cards from the Mamluk period. At any rate these are still the four suits still found in Italian and Spanish playing cards today, and are sometimes referred to as the Latin suits. The court cards from the late 14th century decks in Italy typically included a mounted king, a seated and crowned queen, plus a knave. The knave is a royal servant, although the character could also represent a "prince", and would later be called a Jack to avoid confusion with the King. Spanish cards developed somewhat differently, the court cards being a king, knight, and knave, with no queens. The Spanish packs also didn't have a 10, and with the absence of 8s and 9s in the national Spanish game of ombre, it resulted in a 40 card deck. The first playing cards in European Italy were hand-painted and beautiful luxury items found only among the upper classes. But as card playing became more popular, and methods were developed to produce them more cheaply, playing cards became more widely available. It was only natural that this new product eventually spread west and north, and the next major development occurred as a result of their reception in Germany, and one historian has described their rapid spread as "an invasion of playing cards", with soldiers also assisting their movement. Germany To establish themselves as a card-manufacturing nation in their own right, the Germans introduced their own suits to replace the Italian ones, and these new suits reflected their interest in rural life: acorns, leaves, hearts, and bells; the latter being hawk-bells and a reference to the popular rural pursuit of falconry. The queen was also eliminated from the Italian courts, and these instead consisted of a King and two knaves, an obermann (upper) and untermann (under). Meanwhile the Two replaced the Ace as the highest card, to create a 48 card deck. Custom decks abounded, and suit symbols used in the novelty playing cards from this era include animals, kitchen utensils, and appliances, from frying pans to printers' inkpads! The standard German suits of acorns, leaves, hearts, and bells were predominant, however, although in nearby Switzerland it was common to see a variation using flowers instead of leaves, and shields instead of hearts. The Germanic suits are still used in parts of Europe today, and are indebted to this period of history. But the real contribution of Germany was their methods of printing playing cards. Using techniques of wood-cutting and engraving in wood and copper that were developed as a result of the demand for holy pictures and icons, printers were able to produce playing cards in larger quantities. This led to Germany gaining a dominant role in the playing card trade, even exporting decks to Western Europe, which had produced them in the first place! Eventually the new suit symbols adopted by Germany became even more common throughout Europe than the original Italian ones. France Meanwhile early in the 15th century, the French developed the icons for the four suits that we commonly use today, namely hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs, although they were called coeurs, piques, carreaux, and trefles respectively. It is possible that the clubs (trefles) derive from the acorns and the spades (piques) from the leaves of the German playing cards, but they may also have been developed independently. The French also preferred a king, queen, and knave as their court cards. But the real stroke of genius that the French came up with was to divide the four suits into two red and two black, with simplified and clearer symbols. This meant that playing cards could be produced with stencils, a hundred times more quickly than using the traditional techniques of wood-cutting and engraving. With improved processes in manufacturing paper, and the development of better printing processes, including Gutenberg's printing press (1440), the slower and more costly traditional woodcut techniques previously done by hand were replaced with a much more efficient production. For sheer practical reasons, the Germans lost their earlier dominance in the playing card market, as the French decks and their suits spread all over Europe, giving us the designs as we know them today. One interesting feature of the French dominance of playing cards in this time is the attention given to court cards. In the late 1500s French manufacturers began giving the court cards names from famous literary epics such as the Bible and other classics. It is from this era that the custom developed of associating specific court cards with famous names, the more well-known and commonly accepted ones for the Kings being King David (Spades), Alexander the Great (Clubs), Charlemagne (Hearts), and Julius Caesar (Diamonds), representing the four empires of Jews, Greeks, Franks, and Romans. Notable characters ascribed to the Queens include the Greek goddess Pallas Athena (Spades), Judith (Hearts), Jacob's wife Rachel (Diamonds), and Argine (Clubs). The Knaves were commonly designated as La Hire (Hearts), Charlemagne’s knight Ogier (Spades), Hector the hero of Troy (Diamonds), and King Arthur's knight Lancelot (Clubs). The common postures, clothing, and accessories that we expect in a modern deck of playing cards today find their roots in characters like these, but we cannot be certain how these details originated, since there was much diversity of clothing, weapons, and accessories depicted in the French decks of this time. But eventually standardization began to happen, and this was accelerated in the 1700s when taxing on playing cards was introduced. With France divided into nine regions for this purpose, manufacturers within each region were ordered to use a standardized design unique to their region. But it was only when playing cards emigrated to England that a common design really began to dominate the playing card industry. England Our journey across the channel actually begins in Belgium, from where massive quantities of cards began to be exported to England, although soldiers from France may also have helped introduce playing cards to England. Due to heavy taxes in France, some influential card makers emigrated to Belgium, and several card factories and workshops began to appear there. Rouen in particular was an important center of the printing trade. Thousands of decks of Belgian made playing cards were exported to countries throughout Europe, including England. In view of this, it is no surprise that English card players have virtually always been using the French designs. But playing cards did not pass through Europe without the English leaving their stamp on them. To begin with, they opted to use the names hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs to refer to the suits that the French had designated as coeurs, piques, carreaux, and trefles. We do not know why, but they based two of the suit names (spades and clubs) on the names of the Italian deck rather than directly translate the French terms piques (pikes) and trefles (clovers); one possible explanation is the Spanish suits were exported to England before French ones. The word diamond is also somewhat unexpected, given that the English word for carreau (wax-painted tiles used in churches) at the time was lozenge. Whatever the reasons, it is to usage in England that we owe the names that we use for the suits today. It is also to the English that we owe the place of honour given to the Ace of Spades, which has its roots in taxation laws. The English government passed an Act that cards could not leave the factory until they had proof that the required tax on playing cards had been paid. This initially involved hand stamping the Ace of Spades - probably because it was the top card. But to prevent tax evasion, in 1828 it was decided that from now on the Ace of Spades had to be purchased from the Commissioners for Stamp Duties, and that it had to be specially printed along with the manufacturer's name and the amount of duty paid. As a result, the Ace of Spades tended to have elaborate designs along with the manufacturer's name. Only in 1862 were approved manufacturers finally allowed to print their own Ace of Spades, but the fate of the signature Ace of Spades had been decided, and the practice of an ornate Ace with the manufacturer's name was often continued. As a result, to this day it is the one card in a deck that typically gets special treatment and elaborate designs. The artwork on English court cards appears to have been largely influenced by designs produced in Rouen, Belgium, which produced large amounts of playing cards for export. They include details such as kings with crowns, flowing robes, beards, and longish hair; queens holding flowers and sceptres; and knaves that are clean-shaven, wearing caps, and holding arrows, feathers or pikes. But whatever variety was present, slowly disappeared as a result of the industrious efforts of Briton Thomas de la Rue, who was able to reduce the prices of playing cards due to increased output and productivity. This mass production he accomplished in the 1860s gave him a position of dominance in the industry, and the smaller manufacturers with their independent designs eventually were swallowed up, leading to the more standardized designs as we know them today. De la Rue's designs were first modernized by Reynolds in 1840, and then again by Charles Goodall in 1860, and it is this design that effectively still used today. It was also around this time that double-ended court cards became common (to avoid the need to turn the cards, thereby revealing to your opponent that you had court cards in your hand) and the existing full-length designs were adapted to make them double-ended. United States The Americans are late companions to our historical journey, because for a long time they simply relied on imports from England to meet the demand for playing cards. Due to the general public's preference for goods of English origin, some American makers even printed the word "London" on their Ace of Spades, to ensure commercial success! From the earliest days of colonization there are even examples of native Americans making their own decks with original suit symbols and designs, evidently having learned card games from the new inhabitants. Among American manufacturers, a leading name from the early 1800s is Lewis I. Cohen, who even spent four years in England, and began publishing playing cards in 1832. In 1835 he invented a machine for printing all four colours of the card faces at once, and his successful business eventually became a public company in 1871, under the name the New York Consolidated Card Company. This company was responsible for introducing and popularizing corner indices to the English pack, to make it easier for players to hold and recognize a poker hand by only fanning the cards slightly. Another printing company had already printed decks with indices in 1864 (Saladee's Patent, printed by Samuel Hart), but it was the Consolidated Card Company that patented this design in 1875. First known as "squeezers", decks with these indices were not immediately well received. A competing firm, Andrew Dougherty and Company initially began producing "triplicates", offering an alternative that used miniature card faces on the opposite corners of the cards. But new territory had been won, and indices eventually became standard, and today it is hard to imagine playing cards without them. One final innovation that we owe to the United States is the addition of the Jokers. The Joker was initially referred to as "the best bower", which is terminology that originates in the popular trick-taking game of euchre, which was popular in the mid-19th century, and refers to the highest trump card. It is an innovation from around 1860 that designated a trump card that beat both the otherwise highest ranking right bower and left bower. The word euchre may even be an early ancestor of the word "Joker". A variation of poker around 1875 is the first recorded instance of the Joker being used as a wild card. Besides these changes, America has not contributed any permanent changes to the standard deck of cards, which by this time already enjoyed a long and storied history, and had become more and more standardized. However the United States has become important in producing playing cards. Besides the above mentioned companies, other well-known names of printers from the late 19th century include Samuel Hart and Co, and Russell and Morgan, the latter eventually becoming today's industry giant: the United States Playing Card Company. American manufacturers have been printing special purpose packs and highly customized decks of playing cards throughout their history, but the USPCC's Bicycle, Bee, and Tally Ho brands have become playing card icons of their own. The USPCC has absorbed many other playing card producers over more than a century of dominance, and they are considered an industry leader and printer of choice for many custom decks produced today. The true history of playing cards is a long and fascinating journey, one that has been enmeshed with many romantic interpretations over time, not all of which have a historical basis. What will the future hold for the fate of the humble playing card, and what will be the lasting contribution of our own era be to the shape and content of a "standard" deck? Only time will tell, but meanwhile you can enjoy a modern deck today, knowing that it has striking similarities with the playing cards of 15th century Europe, and that playing cards have been an integral part of life and leisure across the globe for more than 600 years! Source: The History of Playing Cards: The Evolution of the Modern Deck | Wikipedia - Playing Card
  13. What's the Word? - PINOCHLE pronunciation: [PEE-nək-əl] Part of speech: noun Origin: Unknown, mid-19th century Meaning: 1. A card game for two or more players using a 48-card deck consisting of two of each card from nine to ace, the object being to score points for various combinations and to win tricks. 2. The combination of queen of spades and jack of diamonds in this game. Example: "Let's get a group together to play some pinochle this weekend." "I held back a smile as I looked at the double pinochle in my hands." About Pinochle Pinochle is a noun for a card game played with a special double deck. Within the game, you can also hold a combination of cards called a pinochle — the queen of spades and jack of diamonds. Gather both, and you have a double pinochle. Did you know? A French deck of cards contains trèfles (clubs), carreaux (diamonds), cœurs (hearts), and piques (spades). There are three face cards — the valet (jack), the dame (queen), and the roi (king). A standard deck contains 52 cards, but depending on the game, you might drop certain numbers, bringing the deck down by 4s. Pinochle is played with a 48-card deck, containing two of each card from nine to ace.
  14. Fact of the Day - LAWN MOWERS Did you know... that a lawn mower (or lawnmower) is a machine that uses blades to cut a lawn. There are different types of lawn mowers. The smallest are pushed by a human, they are good for small lawns and gardens. Ride-on mowers are good for larger lawns. The largest are pulled behind a tractor, they are made for grass at places like golf courses and parks. Always wear safety equipment while working with these machines. A lawn mower functions by spinning either a thin blade, or a small piece of cable, to cause lacerations on the stems of grass & other plants. Severing the plant and reducing the height of the plant to a more pleasing appearance. Cylinder Mowers The first gasoline-powered lawn mower, 1902. The first lawn mower was invented by Edwin Beard Budding in 1827 in Thrupp, just outside Stroud, in Gloucestershire. Budding's mower was designed primarily to cut the lawn on sports grounds and expensive gardens, as a superior alternative to the scythe, and was patented in 1830. It took ten more years and further innovations to create a machine that could be worked by animals, and sixty years before a steam-powered lawn mower was built. In an agreement between John Ferrabee and Edwin Budding dated May 18, 1830, Ferrabee paid the costs of development, obtained letters of patent and acquired rights to manufacture, sell and license other manufacturers in the production of lawn mowers. Commercial lawn mower in use April 1930 in Berlin. Thomas Green produced the first chain-driven mower in 1859. Manufacture of lawn mowers began in the 1860s. By 1862, Farrabee's company was making eight models in various roller sizes. He manufactured over 5000 machines until production ceased in 1863. In 1870, Elwood McGuire of Richmond, Indiana designed a human-pushed lawn mower, which was very lightweight and a commercial success. John Burr patented an improved rotary-blade lawn mower in 1899, with the wheel placement altered for better performance. Amariah Hills went on to found the Archimedean Lawn Mower Co. in 1871. Around 1900, one of the best known English machines was the Ransomes' Automaton, available in chain- or gear-driven models. JP Engineering of Leicester, founded after World War I, produced a range of very popular chain driven mowers. About this time, an operator could ride behind animals that pulled the large machines. These were the first riding mowers. Horse drawn lawn mower. The rise in popularity of lawn sports helped prompt the spread of the invention. Lawn mowers became a more efficient alternative to the scythe and domesticated grazing animals. James Sumner of Lancashire patented the first steam-powered lawn mower in 1893. His machine burned petrol and/or kerosene as fuel. After numerous advances, the machines were sold by the Stott Fertilizer and Insecticide Company of Manchester and later, the Sumner's took over sales. The company they controlled was called the Leyland Steam Motor Company. Numerous manufacturers entered the field with gasoline-driven mowers after the turn of the century. The first grass boxes were flat trays but took their present shape in the 1860s. The roller-drive lawn mower has changed very little since around 1930. Gang mowers, those with multiple sets of blades, were built in the United States in 1919 by a Mister Worthington. His company was taken over by the Jacobsen Corporation, but his name is still cast on the frames of their gang units. Rotary mowers Rotary mowers were not developed until engines were small enough and powerful enough to run the blades at a high speed. Many people experimented with rotary blades in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and Power Specialties Ltd. introduced a gasoline-powered rotary mower. One company that produced rotary mowers commercially was the Victa company, starting in 1952: these mowers were lighter and easier to use than the mowers that came before. Victa mower (1952) Click the link below to learn more on the history of Lawn Mowers. Source: Kids Encyclopedia - Lawn Mowers | Wikipedia - Lawn Mower | Did you Know Homes - History of Lawn Mowers
  15. That was interesting.
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