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Posts posted by DarkRavie

  1. What's the Word? - ESCHEW

    pronunciation: [əs-cho͞o]


    Part of speech: verb

    Origin: Late middle English, 14th century


    meaning: 1. To avoid as a point of habit --- 2. To shun or abstain from something for moral reasons


    "She eschews alcohol and drugs in favor of a healthy, low-key lifestyle."

    "Many religious figures in history have eschewed basic comforts to get closer to the noble truths they pursue."


    About Eschew

    Many religious faiths around the world require the eschewing of certain foods, activities, or lifestyles as a sign of respect or reverence towards their god or gods. Judaism is among the most famous of these, with strict adherents eschewing fish without fins or scales, shellfish, and pigs.


    Did you Know?

    What does eschewing something from your life have to do with being shy? Their relationship is etymological, as both words originally came from an Old German verb that meant "to frighten off."

  2. Fact of the Day - MONTH OF SEPTEMBER


    Did you know... that September was the seventh month of the original Roman calendar?  This is where it got its name which means seventh.  Later, when January and February were added to the calendar it became the ninth month.

    When the British changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar in 1752, they needed to adjust some days to get the seasons aligned with the months. They took 11 days from the month of September jumping directly from September 3rd to the 14th. Now it's as if the days between September 3 and 13 during 1752 never happened in British history.  


    • September 2, 1666: The Great Fire of London was started, completely destroying the old city located within the ancient Roman Walls. It was believed to have started in a bakery and took three days to put out.
    • September 1, 1715: Louis XIV, known as the Sun King, died at the age of 76, after ruling France since the age of five. He was succeeded by Louis XV and Louis XVI, who was executed during the French Revolution in 1789, thus ending the reign of monarchical rule in France.
    • September 5, 1774: The 1st Continental Congress was called to order. Comprised of delegates from all 13 American colonies, it served as the governing body during the American Revolution, from 1774 to 1789. Two years later, on September 9, it changed the name of the United Colonies to the United States.
    • September 22, 1862: President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery in the territories held by the Confederacy, effective January 1, 1863. In spite of the ruling, the Civil War would not end for another year and a half after that.
    • September 14, 1901: President William McKinley was shot on September 6, 1901 while attending the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition in New York. He passed away eight days later. 
    • September 1, 1939: In the early morning hours of this day, Hitler invaded Poland, starting World War II in Europe. Der Führer called the move a "defensive" retaliation against the persecution of Germans in Poland.
    • September 5th, 1961: President John F. Kennedy signed a hijacking bill, making air piracy a federal crime. Punishment ranged from a $10,000 fine to 20 years in prison; if a deadly weapon was used, the perpetrator(s) could receive life in prison or even death. 
    • September 8, 1974: President Gerald Ford gave an unconditional pardon to former president Richard M. Nixon, for his role in the infamous "Watergate" fiasco.
    • September 9, 2006: Typhoon Ketsana hit the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand, resulting in 750 fatalities and over $1.09 billion in damages.


    On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, members of the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners as part of a series of coordinated attacks against targets in the United States.  The Twin Towers in New York City were hit by one plane each, American Airlines Flight 11 and Flight 175, while American Airlines Flight 77 was crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.  The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, is thought to have been headed for the White House, but passengers overtook the hijackers and the plane crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania.


    More than 3,000 people lost their lives during what the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil to date.  Property and infrastructure damage amounted to over $10 billion. The attack is thought to have been ordered by Osama bin Laden, who was finally located and killed in Pakistan by U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six in May 2011.  The 9/11 Memorial Museum occupies the sites where the Twin Towers once stood.

  3. Fact of the Day - PRETZELS


    Did you know... that there are numerous unreliable accounts regarding the origin of pretzels, as well as the origin of the name; most assume that they have Christian backgrounds and were invented by European monks?  A common origin story of pretzels is that they were created by a monk around 610 in Italy.  According to The History of Science and Technology, the monk baked strips of dough that he folded into a shape resembling a child crossing its arms in prayer.  He would give these treats, to children who had memorized their prayers.  Unfortunately- and not surprisingly- there’s no documented evidence from the 600s to confirm this story. 


    Another source locates the invention in a monastery in southern France.  


    In Germany, there are stories that pretzels were the invention of desperate bakers held hostage by local dignitaries.  The first pretzels were baked as a soft, squishy bread, like the soft pretzels of today. Some say they were originally called “bracellae,” the Latin term for “little arms,” from which Germans later derived the word “bretzel.”  According to others, the earliest pretzels were dubbed “pretiolas,” meaning “little rewards” , and handed out by the monks when their young pupils recited their prayers correctly.  The pretzel has been in use as an emblem of bakers and formerly their guilds in southern German areas since at least the 12th century.


    During the Middle Ages, monks gave away pretzels to the poor as a religious symbol that additionally provided literal sustenance.  Because of this, the twisted snack caught on as a sign of fulfillment, good fortune and prosperity.  By the 17th century, the interlocking loops of the pretzel had come to symbolize undying love as well.  Pretzel legend has it that in 1614 in Switzerland, royal couples used a pretzel in their wedding ceremonies (similar to how a wishbone might be used today) to seal the bond of matrimony, and that this custom may have been the origin of the phrase “tying the knot.”  


    Pretzels made their way across the Atlantic with German immigrants who were later to be known as the Pennsylvania Dutch in the 1700s.  Many pretzel bakeries popped up in Pennsylvania around this time, and Pennsylvania continued to be the seat of American pretzel production and consumption; around 80% of pretzels made in America are made in Pennsylvania today.  In 1861, Julius Sturgis created the first commercial pretzel bakery in Lititz, Pennsylvania. It’s believed that his factory was the first to develop hard pretzels.  These crunchy, salty snacks lasted longer in an air tight environment than soft pretzels did, allowing them to be sold in stores far away from the bakery and kept on shelves much longer.


    In the 20th century, soft pretzels became popular in other regions of the United States. Cities such as Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York became renowned for their soft pretzels.  Landscape architecture and sculpture memorialized the strong identity that the city of Philadelphia had with pretzel cuisine of local bakers and popularity in Philadelphia.  The Philadelphia Recreation Department renamed in 2004 a facility formerly identified as Manayunk Park, located on the 4300 block of Silverwood Street as “Pretzel Park.” The re-designed park includes pretzel-like looped pathways and a public art statue in the shape of a pretzel sculpted by Warren C. Holzman.


    Although not as popular as among German speakers and Americans, the looped pretzel is known in other European countries and in other countries around the world.


    The largest pretzel weighs 783.81 kg (1,728 lb) and was achieved by Industrias La Constancia with its brand Pilsener (El Salvador) at CIFCO in San Salvador, El Salvador, on 25 October 2015.  The pretzel measured 8.93 m (29 ft 3 in) long by 4.06 m (13 ft 3 in) wide.


    In the United States, April 26 is often celebrated as National Pretzel Day, in which people celebrate the rich history of pretzels.


  4. What's the Word? - MAGNANIMOUS

    pronunciation: [maɡ-nan-ə-məs]


    Part of speech: adjective

    Origin: Latin, 16th century


    meaning: 1. Quick and willing to forgive --- 2. Noble and fair, as in a ruler or leader


    "The magnanimous king abolished taxes and was beloved throughout the land."

    "The battle was over when the king offered a magnanimous gesture of peace to his rival."


    About Magnanimous

    A magnanimous action is one that extends forgiveness. A 2014 study found that people are much more likely to be magnanimous and forgiving if the party that did them wrong offers an apology or similar gesture. That may seem obvious, but the study explored the psychological implications of conflict management and group living.


    Did you know?

    What does being magnanimous have to do with animals? They both share Latin roots with animus, which refers to things that are alive or lively. A person who is magnanimous is said to have a particularly lively spirit of goodness within them.



  5. Now, here's a fact I did not know about.


    Fact of the Day - APOLOGY ACT


    Did you know... that Canadians love to say ‘sorry’ so much, we had to make this law?  There’s nothing quite like the classic Canadian apology.  You won’t find people in any other country in the world who will say the word “sorry” to someone who is clearly in the wrong.  This is a uniquely Canadian phenomenon.  So unique, in fact, that the term carries legal weight in the province of Ontario.


    The “Apology Act“, passed in 2009, is a direct result of Canada’s overuse of the word “sorry”.  See, once upon a time, lawyers in court were probably able establish guilt quite easily.  All they would have to do is prove someone apologized at the time of the incident and presto! the verdict would swing in their favour.  Of course, in Canada, such a trend would create massive problems, as everyone says sorry whether they are at fault or not.  That’s why lawmakers cleared it up, stipulating that an apology of any kind “means an expression of sympathy or regret” and not “an admission of fault or liability in connection with the matter to which the words or actions relate.”  Only in Canada would such a law be necessary.  Only in this country can you be rear-ended, exit your car and apologize to the person who just hit you.


    “Sorry for getting in your way, friend. You must be in a hurry!” you’d say.  Before the act was passed, that statement could technically be seen as an admission that the accident was your fault.  That’s why the Apology Act is the best thing to happen to Ontario, because now we can say “sorry” without fear.


    Guy just walked directly into you? “Sorry!” 


    Someone dropped their wallet and you returned it to them? “Super sorry!”


    Someone blocking a bus seat with their backpack? “I’m so, so sorry!”


    Fast-food cashier got your order wrong? “PLEASE SORRY THANKS MAPLE SYRUP MOOSE.”


    Because every Canadian knows, deep down, that half the time we apologize, we’re apologizing for the incompetence of the other person.


    Sorry about that.

  6. What's the Word? - EPHEMERAL

    pronunciation: [ə-fem-ər-əl]


    Part of speech: adjective

    Origin: Greek, 16th century


    meaning: 1. Fleeting or short-lived --- 2. Lasting for a singe day


    "My ephemeral romance lasted only through the summer, but I'll always treasure it."

    "Fads are ephemeral — they're popular for a short time before the masses move on to the next big thing."


    About Ephemeral

    You might think of a 'jiffy' as a generally ephemeral — or short-lived, non-permanent — measurement of time, but did you know it's an actual, measurable unit? It accounts for the time it takes for light to travel the distance of a single nucleon.


    Did you Know?

    While ephemeral has come to describe anything fleeting or not lasting, it comes from a Greek word that specifically means "lasting a day." We now think of ephemeral things as lasting far less time, often just a passing moment.


  7. Fact of the Day - CINCO DE MAYO


    Did you know... that misconceptions abound about the Cinco de Mayo holiday?  It's celebrated every year on May 5th and many see it as the day of the year to celebrate Mexican culture, food, and drink, but the origins of the holiday are not what you may think.  Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day.  Mexican Independence is celebrated every year on September 16.  That date commemorates when Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla called the people of Mexico to rise up against Spanish rule in 1810, 52 years before the event that Cinco de Mayo celebrates took place.


    In 1862, a contingent of Mexican soldiers led by General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated a larger, better equipped, and better trained French military force.  This battle took place in the city of Puebla at the Fort of Guadalupe.  Zaragoza commanded a force of some 4000 soldiers, as well as some local indigenous Zapotecs and Mixtecs who joined in the fight, possibly armed only with machetes.  They faced a French force of about double that size.  The victory was short-lived, as the French went on to capture both Puebla and Mexico City by the following month. However, the May 5th victory was symbolic and provided a morale boost that inspired Mexican pride and unity.


    Cinco de Mayo is not a major holiday in Mexico.  It is a day off for students, but besides some parades and civic events, celebrations are generally low-key.  In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is not, as it is in the United States, a general celebration of Mexican culture and history or even a time to imbibe substantial amounts of tequila (at least not more so than any other day of the year).  In the city of Puebla, where the May 5th battle took place, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated to a greater extent than in the rest of Mexico, with a battle re-enactment and a major parade and fireworks.  The parade winds its way along Cinco de Mayo Boulevard, to the area of the Forts of Guadalupe, just north of the city, where there are fireworks and general celebrations.


    Cinco de Mayo is really more of a Mexican-American holiday than a Mexican one.  The first celebrations of Cinco de Mayo took place in California in 1863 as a way to honor the brave Mexicans who fought so valiantly against the French in the battle that day.  Keeping in mind that the United States was engaged in the Civil War at the time of the Battle of Puebla, we can see that a Mexican defeat of the French helped to keep them from becoming involved and supporting the Confederate Army.  In Los Angeles Cinco de Mayo is celebrated with a huge street fair as well as smaller celebrations in different neighborhoods.

  8. What's the Word? - LOGORRHEA

    pronunciation: [lȯ-gə-ˈrē-ə]


    Part of speech: noun

    Origin: Greek, early 20th century


    meaning: 1. Uncontrollable talkativeness --- 2. A tendency toward overly complex wordiness in speech or writing


    "His speech started out strong, but devolved into incoherent logorrhea that was hard to follow."

    "When writing a term paper, avoid unnecessary logorrhea and stick to the point."


    About Logorrhea

    A good editor can help any writer transform confusing logorrhea into something more coherent and easy to read. That’s a step in the writing process author Lucy Ellmann might have skipped — her 1,000-plus-page book “Ducks, Newburyport” is mostly one single sentence. Clearly she did something right, though: the novel is nominated for the prestigious Booker Prize for 2019.


    Did you know?

    The Ancient Greek word logos means "word" or "utterance." It's also the root for English words like logo, logotype, and logolatry, the worship of words.



  9. Fact of the Day - THE GREAT FIRE OF LONDON


    Did you know... that the Great Fire of London was an inferno of such all-consuming proportions that it left 85 per cent of the capital’s population homeless?  Striking on 2 September 1666, it raged for nearly five days, during which time its destructive path exposed London’s makeshift medieval vulnerability.  The fire tore through the city’s densely packed wooden buildings with such ease that the task of rebuilding the city demanded a modernizing vision.  The Great Fire was a transformative moment for London – devastatingly destructive but also, in many ways, a catalyst for changes that have come to define the city we know today.


    Thomas Farriner’s bakehouse, located in Fish Yard off Pudding Lane in the City of London, was the source of the blaze.  It is thought that the fire ignited when a spark from the oven fell onto a pile of fuel at around 1am.  

    Far from leveling the city, the Great Fire of London scorched the skin and flesh from the city’s buildings – but their skeletons remained.  The ruins of many of London’s buildings had to be demolished before rebuilding work could begin.  A sketch from 1673 by Thomas Wyck shows the extent of the ruins of St Paul’s Cathedral that remained.  John Evelyn described the remaining stones as standing upright, fragile and “calcined”.  What’s more, the burning lasted months, not days: Pepys recorded that cellars were still burning in March of the following year.  With plenty of nooks and crannies to commandeer, gangs operated among the ruins, pretending to offer travelers a ‘link’ (escorted passage) – only to rob them blind and leave them for dead.  Many of those who lost their homes and livelihood to the fire built temporary shacks on the ruins of their former homes and shops until this was prohibited.


    The Great Fire of London was predicted?  A few weeks before the fire, one Mr Light claimed to have been asked by a “zealous Papist”: “You expect great things in ’66, and think that Rome will be destroyed, but what if it be London?”  Meanwhile, five months before the fire Elizabeth Styles claimed to have been told by a Frenchman that at some point between June and October there would not be “a house left between Temple Bar and London Bridge”.  In 1651, an astrologer named William Lilly created a pamphlet entitled Monarchy or No Monarchy that contained illustrative predictions of the future state of England.  The images depicted not only a city blazing with fire, but scenes of naval warfare, infestations of rodents, mass death and starvation.  Unsurprisingly, Lilly was called in for questioning following the fire of 1666.



    The Great Fire wasn’t the only blaze in London in 1666.  London was thrown into a panic during the evening of 9 November when a fire broke out in the Horse Guard House, next to Whitehall Palace.  It was believed that the blaze had been caused by a candle falling into some straw.  According to Samuel Pepys, the whole city was put on alarm by the “horrid great fire” and a lady even fell into fits of fear.  With drums beating and guards running up and down the streets, by 10pm the fire was extinguished, with little damage caused.

  10. What's the Word? - SUBMONTANE

    pronunciation: [səb-män-tān] 


    Part of speech: adjective

    Origin: Late Latin, 19th century


    meaning: 1. Passing under mountains --- 2. At or near the base of a mountain


    "The submontane village enjoyed mild weather; it was shielded from major storms by the mountain range that towered above it."

    "This beautiful submontane area hosts abundant wildlife, making it the perfect place for hiking and bird-watching."


    About Submontane

    A submontane village in Norway, situated in the shadow of a high mountain range, came up with a novel solution for increasing the amount of sunlight they received. They built a giant mirror to reflect sunlight down into the village.


    Did you know?

    The breakdown of submontane is quite easy to see. Sub as a prefix generally means "under" or "beneath." Montane is less common, but it is used to describe things having to do with mountainous areas. Knowing that, you can see how the state of Montana is suitably named.

  11. What's the Word? - OMPHALOS

    Part of speech: noun

    Origin: Greek, 19th century


    meaning: 1. A central point or hub --- 2. A rounded stone (especially that at Delphi) representing the navel of the earth in ancient Greek mythology


    "The omphalos of his speech was a story about his rough childhood growing up in Ukraine."

    "Can you get to the omphalos of all this before I lose patience?"


    About Omphalos

    The filibuster is a legally-protected form of avoiding the omphalos of a discussion in Congress. It's used to delay votes by allowing a Senator to refuse to yield their speaking time. Some filibusters have lasted longer than 24 hours.


    Did you know?

    Omphalos refers to the center of activity, and, in Greek, it derives from the center of the human body—the navel, or umbilicus. It shares the same roots with what we call the umbilical cord.



  12. Fact of the Day - SPACE SHUTTLE ENTERPRISE


    Did you know... that Space Shuttle Enterprise was the first orbiter of the Space Shuttle system?  Rolled out on September 17, 1976, it was built for NASA as part of the Space Shuttle program to perform atmospheric test flights after being launched from a modified Boeing 747.


    Enterprise, the first space shuttle orbiter, was originally to be named Constitution, in honor of the Constitution of the United States.  However, "Star Trek" fans started a write-in campaign urging the White House to instead select the name of the starship that James T. Kirk captained in the original TV series.  Although President Gerald Ford did not mention the campaign, he directed NASA officials to change the name, saying he was "partial to the name" Enterprise.


    In recognition of their namesake, "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry and most of the principal cast of the original series were on hand when the shuttle Enterprise was rolled out of Rockwell's Air Force Plant 42, Site 1, Palmdale, Calif., assembly facility on Sept. 17, 1976.


    Enterprise was built for NASA to perform test flights in the atmosphere; lacking engines or a functional heat shield, it was not capable of actual spaceflight.  NASA planned to eventually outfit Enterprise for spaceflight and to make it the second space shuttle to fly, after Columbia, but final design plans for the fuselage and wings of the orbiters changed during the construction of Columbia, and refitting Enterprise in accordance with the new plans would have required significant effort: Entire sections would have to be dismantled and shipped across the country to subcontractors.  Instead it was deemed less expensive to build the space shuttle Challenger from existing materials.


    Once NASA completed its critical tests of Enterprise, the shuttle was retired from flight and partially stripped of certain components for use on other orbiters.  It then went on an international tour, and in 1985 it was transported to Washington, D.C., where it was brought into the Smithsonian Institution's hangar at Washington Dulles International Airport for restoration.  It was then installed at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at the airport, where it was the museum's centerpiece until it was replaced by the space shuttle Discovery on April 19, 2012.  Enterprise is now bound for its new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City.

  13. What's the Word? - PROPITIOUS

    Part of speech: adjective

    Origin: Late middle English, 15th century


    meaning: 1. Auspicious or advantageous --- 2. Indicative of good fortune --- 3. Kind, gracious


    "My new car is a propitious sign that I'm on the right track."

    "The Queen's propitious behavior made her much beloved by the people."


    About Propitious

    Talk about a propitious occurrence: On October 14, 1912, Teddy Roosevelt was leaving a Milwaukee hotel for a campaign stop when he was shot in the chest. The bullet was propitiously slowed by the 50-page speech Roosevelt had in his pocket. He was able to deliver the speech that same day, saying "It takes more than that to kill a bull moose."


    Did you know?

    Though propitious and auspicious are very similar in meaning, there are some subtle differences between them. The former is generally used to describe things that help us achieve success, while the latter is more commonly used when foreshadowing success to come.


  14. Fact of the Day - MAGNETS


    Did you know... that magnets always have two poles -- even if you cut them in half?  Magnetic monopoles do not exist --as far as we know.  Magnets will always have two poles, a magnetic north and a magnetic south.  If you don’t believe us, take a bar magnet and cut it in half.  The two remaining pieces will still have a north and a south.  You can cut it dozens of times and the results will be the same.  The most powerful magnet in the universe is actually a star called a magnetar.  These are stars that have died off and had a supernova explosion.  The magnetars are what is left over, and they are strong enough to destroy small planets if they get close enough.  Luckily, there are only a dozen of these according to scientists, and they are far far far away from Earth.  


    Strong rare earth magnets can turn some metals into magnets.  Ferromagnetic materials like iron can be magnetized with a strong permanent magnet.  You can try it for yourself by rubbing a magnet on a screwdriver.  The screwdriver will be able to pick up magnetic objects.  The Earth is like one big bar magnet. It has a magnetic north and a magnetic south, which is what the needle on a compass points to.  However, this is geographically different than the actual north and south poles. Invisible magnetic field lines run from the north to south poles.


    Magnetic resonance imaging machines use magnets, and they generate stronger fields than the Earth.  In fact, it is about 60,000 times stronger than the Earth’s.  Some animals are affected by magnets.  Magnets have been used to study bee communication patterns, migratory cycles and several other animal behaviors.  This is because many animals can sense magnetic fields.  For instance, some sharks are repelled by them and birds and turtles navigate by them.


    Magnets are ancient. Well, today’s man-made magnets may not be so ancient, but the Chinese are said to have used lodestone, a natural magnet as far back as date.  In fact, ancient mariners are said to have used lodestones to help them navigate.  There are magnetic hills, said to pull cars and other large magnetic objects towards certain locations.  However, researchers have found out that these are not really a magnetic anomaly as much as a topographical illusion.

  15. What's the Word? - HUBRIS

    Part of speech: noun

    Origin: Greek, 19th century


    meaning: 1. Excessive pride and arrogance --- 2. Overconfidence leading to an eventual downfall


    "His hubris would not allow him to read the instructions. Consequently, his new TV fell off the wall an hour after he installed it."

    "Some professional athletes suffer from hubris and assume that their money will last forever."


    About Hubris

    One of the most famous examples of hubris, or excessive pride and self-confidence, is told in John Milton's "Paradise Lost," in which Lucifer's pride in seeing himself as wiser than God results in him being cast out into Hell and becoming the devil.


    Did you know?

    In Ancient Greece, seeing oneself as above the Gods was the greatest crime—one that inevitably led to downfall.  Eventually, this concept of such extreme and fatal arrogance was given a name: hubris.


  16. Fact of the Day - SNOW GLOBES


    Did you know... that it is thought that snow globes originated in France in Europe, with the first known record being a globe of water and white powder, with a man holding an umbrella, which was on display at the Paris Universal Expo in 1878?  It was an Austrian man named Erwin Perzy who is widely considered to be its proper “inventor,” albeit accidentally.  In 1900, while living outside Vienna, where he ran a medical instrument–supply business, Perzy was asked by a local surgeon to improve upon Thomas Edison’s then-new lightbulb, which the surgeon wanted made brighter for his operating room.  Drawing upon a method used by shoemakers to make quasi-“spotlights,” Perzy placed a water-filled glass globe in front of a candle, which increased the light’s magnification, and sprinkled tiny bits of reflective glitter into the globe to help brighten it.


    But the glitter sank too quickly, so Perzy tried semolina flakes (commonly found in baby food) instead.  They didn’t quite work, either, but the appearance of the small, white particles drifting around the globe reminded Perzy of snowfall—and he quickly filed the first official patent for a snow globe, or Schneekugel.  By 1905, he was churning out dozens of handmade snow globes—often featuring small church figurines made from pewter—through his company, Firm Perzy.  They became so popular among well-to-do Austrians that in 1908, Perzy was officially honored for his treasured item by Emperor Franz Joseph I.


    Indeed, the snow globe appeared at a time when upper-middle-class families, newly wealthy following the Industrial Revolution, began collecting intricate, artistic objects and displaying them in their homes.  Though it’s unclear exactly how much these early globes cost, they were expensive due to the amount of time necessary to paint, mold, and assemble them.  After World War I concluded in 1918, a boost in tourism led to greater demand for eye-catching souvenirs—especially snow globes.


    Gradually, news of the whimsical trinket reached America.  In 1927, a man from Pittsburgh named Joseph Garaja applied for the first snow globe patent there, and with it, he introduced a radical new method: underwater assembly.  This ensured that each globe would be fully filled with liquid and saved a significant amount of time and money—transforming the snow globe from an expensive indulgence into the affordable commodity we know today.  


    To read more, go to: A Brief History on the Snow Globe

  17. What's the Word? - SYZYGY

    Part of speech: NOUN

    Origin: Greek, 17th century


    meaning: 1. The arrangement of three celestial bodies in a straight line --- 2. The metaphorical alignment of two people, ideas, or events


    "During an eclipse, Earth, the moon, and the sun are in perfect syzygy." 

    "For the first time, I found myself and my coworkers in perfect syzygy regarding how we should proceed next."


    About Syzygy

    Syzygy, or a celestial alignment, between the sun and moon is responsible for tidal variations in the oceans. When the sun and moon are in a state of syzygy, their tidal forces compound on each other. This causes the ocean to both rise higher and fall lower than average. This occurrence happens twice each month.


    Did you Know?

    The word syzygy is used in a range of academic settings, from mathematics and medicine to psychology and zoology. In all of these disciplines, the word generally relates to the concept of two (or more) things relating or fusing together.

  18. Fact of the Day - PLASMA BALLS


    Did you know.... that a plasma ball (also sometimes called a plasma globe, lamp, dome, or sphere) is a clear glass ball filled with a mixture of noble gases with a high-voltage electrode at its center?  Plasma filaments extend from the electrode to the glass when electricity is supplied, creating fascinating beams of colored light.  The plasma ball was invented by Nikola Tesla when he was experimenting with high-frequency electric currents in a glass vacuum tube.  That’s why the electrode at the center of a plasma ball is also often known as a Tesla coil.  The modern plasma balls popular as novelty and educational items today were first designed by Bill Parker.  William P. (Bill) Parker is an artist, scientist, and entrepreneur, best known for inventing the modern design of the plasma lamp.  The invention occurred in 1971, when Parker was working as a student in a physics laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and accidentally filled a test chamber to a greaterthan-usual pressure with ionized neon and argon.  


    Modern plasma balls are manufactured with a mix of various noble gases such as xenon, neon, and krypton.  With various shapes in the glass globes, computerized circuits, and the gas combinations, the plasma balls can create electric tentacles that create various shapes and patterns in different colors.  You can also find USB plasma balls which are powered from the USB port of for computer.  They are a safer version, due to the low current from the PC.  However, the voltage is still very high, and can cause harmful EMF radiation.


    Plasma balls are high voltage devices. Therefore one has to take precautions while using them.

    • The plasma sphere can emit certain frequencies, which interfere with Wi-Fi signals and cell phones. So they must be kept away from such areas.
    • These spheres also radiate electromagnetic waves. This can affect electric devices, hence they should be kept away from people with pacemakers.
    • While using metal objects to create electric and fire tricks with the plasma globe, precautions such as protective clothing and insulation should be used.
    • Never bring any flammable item near the globe.
    • Magnets are usually good conductors of electricity. Hence, bringing plasma balls and magnets together create a potential for shocks and burns.
    • Operating plasma balls for long periods of time can cause the formation of ozone gas, which is harmful to the body when you breathe it in.

  19. What's the Word? - KERFUFFLE

    Part of speech: noun

    Origin: Scottish, 19th century


    meaning: 1. A commotion or noise --- 2. A chaotic scene caused by an altercation


    "Once the fight broke out, I lost my watch in the ensuing kerfuffle."

    "An argument over a boyfriend caused quite a kerfuffle in the high school cafeteria."


    About Kerfuffle

    More than a mere kerfuffle, but not quite an epic saga, the Anglo–Zanzibar War of 1896 is the shortest recorded war in history. While its duration has been the subject of debate, historians generally say it lasted only 38 minutes.


    Did you know?

    Kerfuffle is just one of many funny-sounding words to describe a noisy commotion. Others include brouhaha, hubbub, skirmish, and hullabaloo.

  20. Fact of the Day - LAURA SECORD


    Did you know... that Laura Secord (née Ingersoll; 13 September 1775 – 17 October 1868) was a Canadian heroine of the War of 1812?  She is known for having walked 20 miles (32 km) out of American-occupied territory in 1813 to warn British forces of an impending American attack.  Her contribution to the war was little known during her lifetime, but since her death she has been frequently honoured in Canada.  Though Laura Secord had no relation to it, most Canadians associate her with the Laura Secord Chocolates company, named after her on the centennial of her walk.  


    Laura Secord's father, Thomas Ingersoll, lived in Massachusetts and fought on the side of the Patriots during the Revolutionary War (1775–1783).  In 1795 he moved his family to the Niagara region of Upper Canada after he had applied for and received a land grant. Shortly after, Laura married Loyalist James Secord, who was later seriously wounded at the Battle of Queenston Heights early in the War of 1812.  While he was still recovering in 1813, the Americans invaded the Niagara Peninsula, including Queenston.  During the occupation, Secord acquired information about a planned American attack, and stole away on the morning of 22 June to inform Lieutenant James FitzGibbon in the territory still controlled by the British.  The information helped the British and their Mohawk warrior allies repel the invading Americans at the Battle of Beaver Dams.  Her effort was forgotten until 1860, when Edward, Prince of Wales awarded the impoverished widow £100 for her service on his visit to Canada.


    The story of Laura Secord has taken on mythic overtones in Canada.  Her tale has been the subject of books, plays, and poetry, often with many embellishments.  Since her death, Canada has bestowed honours on her, including schools named after her, monuments, a museum, a memorial stamp and coin, and a statue at the Valiants Memorial in the Canadian capital.

  21. What's the Word? - GREGARIOUS

    Part of speech: adjective

    Origin: Latin, 17th century


    meaning: 1. Highly sociable --- 2. Associating with others of the same group or type --- 3. Living or growing in a group or colony


    "My gregarious neighbor always sets up block parties and get-togethers."

    I"'m not that gregarious — I avoid big crowds and large events."


    About Gregarious

    Gregarious comes from a word referring to flocks or herds of animals. So what's the largest flock ever witnessed? That distinction is said to belong to the red-billed quelea bird of Africa, which was captured in a flock over 1.5 billion strong.


    Did you know?

    Gregarious comes from Latin words referring to herds or flocks. Even today, in more scientific uses, the word is used to refer to animals or plants that live in social groups.

  22. Fact of the Day - WATERFALLS


    Did you know... that a waterfall is a place where water flows over a vertical drop or a series of steep drops in the course of a stream or river?  They often form in the upper stages of a river where it flows over different bands of rock.  It erodes soft rock more quickly than hard rock and this may lead to the creation of a waterfall.  Sometimes, the land formation causes a waterfall. If there is a cliff or ledge naturally, rushing river waters will simply fall over the edge.  Waterfalls also occur where meltwater drops over the edge of a tabular iceberg or ice shelf.  Waterfalls can have a wide range of widths and depths, and this diversity is part of what makes them such a charismatic and interesting natural phenomenon.


    Waterfalls are classified into 10 different types depending on the way they descend:
    • Plunge: Water descends vertically, losing contact with the bedrock surface.
    • Horsetail: Descending water maintains some contact with bedrock.
    • Cataract: A large, powerful waterfall.
    • Multi-step: A series of waterfalls one after another of roughly the same size each with its own sunken plunge pool.
    • Block: Water descends from a relatively wide stream or river.
    • Cascade: Water descends a series of rock steps.
    • Segmented: Distinctly separate flows of water form as it descends.
    • Tiered: Water drops in a series of distinct steps or falls.
    • Punchbowl: Water descends in a constricted form and then spreads out in a wider pool.
    • Fan: Water spreads horizontally as it descends while remaining in contact with bedrock


    Some waterfalls freeze. It happens like this: the water in the river/stream that supplies water to the waterfall supercools (when water experiences a temperature less than its freezing point without becoming a solid) when the temperature dips below the freezing point (around -6 degrees Celsius).  This results in a gradual slowing down of the flow as water molecules begin to stick to each other and form tiny, solid particles of ‘frazil ice’.  Frazil ice, which has an oily appearance when seen on the surface of water, is a cluster of loose, randomly-oriented ice crystals shaped like tiny needles.  It usually forms in rivers, lakes, oceans, and other water bodies containing turbulent, open and supercooled water.


    Because waterfalls are so dramatic and dangerous, thrill-seekers like to perform stunts or events on or around them.  People cross waterfalls on tightropes, in canoes, and even in barrels, which provide more protection.  Many of these stunts, such as jet-skiing over Niagara Falls, do not go off as planned, and many daredevils have plunged to their deaths.  Only two people are known to have survived a plunge from Niagara Falls without any protection.  Those two men sustained serious injuries.

  23. What's the Word? - OBSEQUIOUS

    Part of speech: adjective

    Origin: Latin, 15th century


    meaning: 1. Obedient or submissive --- 2. Attentive and compliant to the point of excess


    "His obsequious attitude meant he was always eager to please his superiors."

    "The hotel's butler was positively obsequious, constantly opening the door, carrying luggage, and calling a car for us."


    About Obsequious

    Often used as the ultimate metaphor for blind following, lemmings have long been believed to commit mass suicide by following each other obsequiously off of cliffs.  The truth is that this behavior has never been naturally observed, and stems from a manipulated scene in a 1958 nature documentary from Disney.


    Did you know?

    Obsequious, a word used to describe followers, shares its Latin roots with words like sequel (a story that follows the first) and sequence (a series of numbers that follow each other.)

  24. Fact of the Day - FINGERPRINTS


    Did you know... that almost everyone has fingerprints?  While your fingerprints are similar to those of other people's, no two people have the same fingerprints.  Scientists have studied fingerprints, handprints, and other body prints, including the patterns on people's tongues.  Biometrics is the science of studying human body characteristics.  Fingerprints develop before babies are born.  Your fingerprints are made of several layers of twisted skin that formed prior to your birth.  These ridges of skin make patterns.  Scientists studying fingerprints identified three main patterns of ridges: loops, whorls, and arches.  Everyone's fingerprints are a combination of these patterns.  While very, very rare, some people are born without fingerprints.


    Because of the raised skin patterns on our fingertips and palms, we are able to hold on to things.  The ridges of the skin help you get a grip on objects that you are trying to grasp.  Without them, things would slide right out of your hands!  In the millions of fingerprints that have been collected and examined, no two identical sets of fingerprints have been found!  Believe it or not, even identical twins have different fingerprints.  This is why fingerprints are used to identify criminals.


    As people get older, their appearance may change - hair may turn gray or white or fall out, and the shape of the face might change.  People grow mustaches or change hairstyles to alter their appearance.  But one thing that does not change is their fingerprint pattern.  Your fingerprints stay the same for your whole life.  Many people think that the use of fingerprints for identification is a fairly new approach, but that isn't true. Archaeologists, or scientists who study history by digging up artifacts and bones have found that people in ancient Babylon used fingerprints.  Babylonians who lived thousands of years ago put their fingerprints on clay tablets.

  25. What's the Word? - BLATHERSKITE

    Part of speech: noun

    Origin: Scottish English, 17th century


    meaning: 1. nonsense --- 2. A person who is prone to speaking nonsense


    "I don't want to hear your blatherskite — I need you to speak clearly about things that really matter."

    "The teacher had great insights, but he was such a blatherskite that his students never understood them."


    About Blatherskite

    William Shakespeare's play, "Much Ado About Nothing," features a character named Dogberry who is a bit of a blatherskite — he speaks in nonsense throughout much of his time onstage.


    Did you know?

    We have the Scots to thank for this word, which originated from a slightly profane term. Thanks to its appearance in a Scottish song that was popular during the Revolutionary War, blatherskite lost its edge and became commonly used in American English.