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  1. Fact of the Day - CINNAMON Did you know.... Cinnamon used to be more valuable than gold. The woody, warming spice we sprinkle with abandon on top of holiday cookies, baked goods, and seasonal coffees is native to Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and India. But very few people knew where cinnamon came from when merchants first began selling spices throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa as far back as 3,000 years ago — and spice traders capitalized on that lack of knowledge to charge high prices. Harvested from the inner bark of Cinnamomum trees, cinnamon has been used for thousands of years as medicine, for religious practices and funerals, and in cuisine, but with a big price tag: It was once considered more precious than gold. In an effort to conceal cinnamon’s origins from competitors and explain the extravagant markup to wary customers, spice traders of the past provided elaborate backstories. By some fifth-century accounts, cinnamon traders asserted that collecting the spice was a dangerous task thanks to angry “winged creatures” that lived in the trees; cinnamon harvesters supposedly donned protective outerwear made of thick hides and risked their personal safety to collect a few measly pieces of cinnamon bark. Other vendors claimed cinnamon was transported from far-off lands by birds who used it as nesting material (in this tale, harvesting cinnamon sticks from nests required a cow sacrifice to provide the birds with a meaty distraction). Yet another story declared that cinnamon grew in dangerous, snake-infested valleys. Cinnamon’s origins remained an enigma for centuries, but luckily for chefs and bakers today, the secret eventually got out thanks to global exploration brought on by a surging interest in spices. Now, the flavoring is a low-cost mainstay in modern pantries. Scientists have recreated a cinnamon perfume Cleopatra may have worn. What did our ancestors smell like? Archaeologists and historians have pieced together how numerous cultures ate, dressed, relaxed — in short, lived — but it’s generally been harder to tell how people once smelled. Thanks to one archaeological find, however, we have a clue as to how Egyptians may have perfumed themselves, perhaps even Cleopatra — a royal known for a cinnamon-laced scent so seductive, it’s credited with attracting Julius Caesar. In 2012, archaeologists unearthed ruins north of Cairo suspected to be an ancient Egyptian perfume factory; that dig inspired a team of historians and perfume experts to recreate fragrances that hadn’t been worn in nearly 2,000 years. Using recipes from ancient Greek texts that may have borrowed from Cleopatra’s own formulas — a book of recipes that no longer exists, but was often referenced by other perfumers — researchers blended cinnamon, myrrh, and other herbs with olive oil to create a viscous fragrance akin to what ancient Egyptians once donned. While we’ll never know for sure if Cleopatra wore this specific scent, the experiment gives us an olfactory link with history. (Interesting Facts) Unique Facts That You Didn't Know About Cinnamon by Jake Kilroy | Sep 24, 2016 You think of cinnamon as some fun spice you toss around, from the disaster that is Fireball Whiskey to the even bigger disaster that is the “Cinnamon Challenge.” Maybe it’s something you sprinkle on your toast when you’re sick or place around the house in stick form to ensure your wintry pad is more festive than your neighbor (Karen, ugh). But cinnamon is way more powerful of a food entity and you’re not showing it the proper respect. Here’s a few things you didn’t know about cinnamon. 1. There are actually two kinds of cinnamon, and the more common type is the dangerous one. Yeah, that’s what’s up. Right off the bat, cinnamon is already rattling your world. Americans are used to the “Cassia” variety (from Indonesia and China), even though the “Ceylon” plant is considered the real, true spice (from Sri Lanka, Madagascar and the Seychelles), which is popular for tea. A key difference between the two is that Cassia has much, much more coumarin in it than Ceylon. This toxic chemical compound is what makes consuming cinnamon in large quantities such a terrible and dangerous idea, and actually, what makes cinnamon in general kind of a risky move for pregnant women. 2. A Roman emperor burned a whole lot of cinnamon because he felt bad for killing his wife. Supposedly, during a petty argument about him spending too much time at the races, Roman emperor Nero kicked his wife in the gut so hard that it led to her death. To atone for the accidental murder, he torched as much cinnamon as he could find at the funeral pyre, since it was a much rarer commodity than it is today. In some twisted logic, Nero thought this would suffice in showing his dead wife how sorry he was. 3. Cinnamon oil will prevent bugs from feasting on you. Cinnamon oil, which sounds like a delicious addition to anything, destroys the hell out of mosquito larvae, as it turns out. So think of cinnamon as an environmentally friendly pesticide in a way by adding a few drops or sprinklings to your sunscreen or lotion. 4. You can lighten your hair with cinnamon. Mixing a few spoonfuls of cinnamon into a paste — with honey or actual conditioner — will lighten your hair once applied and allowed sunshine to get at it. 5. Cinnamon used to be at least 15 times more expensive than silver. Back in the day — talking the first century A.D. here — cinnamon carried an ungodly price tag, especially in Rome. It was considered a precious commodity, given its high demand and low supply. Once the regularity of foreign exploration kicked in, the spice became more available and therefore more affordable. 6. Cinnamon was an ingredient in embalming and blessings in ancient times. Though you may think of cinnamon as a light, fun taste, it has some heavy background. It helped preserved the dead in ancient Egypt (with a nice scent to boot) and Moses, according to the Old Testament, added it to holy oil for anointing. 7. Cinnamon can regulate your blood sugar (and do a whole lot more). According to analysis and studies, cinnamon has been proven to be beneficial for those concerned with diabetes. There's also been studies that suggest cinnamon can lower lipid levels, such as LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Source: Fun Fact About Cinnamon | Cinnamon Facts
  2. What's the Word: CONTRADISTINCTION pronunciation: [kan-trə-de-STINK-shən] Part of speech: noun Origin: English, 17th century Meaning: 1. Distinction made by contrasting the different qualities of two things. Example: "Porpoises and dolphins are so similar they sometimes require contradistinction to highlight the differences between them." "On St-Jean Baptiste day, we ate poutine and other Quebec foods in contradistinction to our usual meals." About Contradistinction “Contradistinction” combines the Latin prefix “contra-” (meaning “against”) with the Middle English term “distinction” (originally “distinccioun”). “Distinction” itself is related to the Latin “distinguo,” meaning “I distinguish.” Did You Know? Most readers know the noun “contradiction,” which is built on similar ideas as “contradistinction.” However, the difference between the two is notable: In “contradiction,” one factor denies or refutes another. In “contradistinction,” two factors are presented together so the distinction between their differences may be discerned clearly. For example, seals and sea lions are easily confused animals. Only through contradistinction — considering the two species of animals together to identify how they differ from one another — is it possible to show one’s distinct differences from the other.
  3. Fact of the Day - COAST REDWOOD Did you know... Coast redwood trees are the tallest beings in the world. With a narrow range stretching for about 450 miles, from Big Sur to southern Oregon, coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) are the tallest living beings in the world — and one in particular surpasses them all. Named after a titan in Greek mythology and found in California’s Redwood National Park, Hyperion stands 380 feet tall. That’s 65 feet taller than London’s Big Ben and 10 feet taller than the previous record holder, another coast redwood. A redwood’s size is only one of its many fascinating features. Their root systems are relatively shallow (only 6–12 feet deep), but can grow more than 100 feet outward from the trunk, giving them stability against heavy winds and flooding. They’re also old — really old — with some redwoods alive today estimated at more than 2,000 years old. That means they were around during the Roman Republic (sempervirens means “always flourishing,” after all). In fact, their age may be one reason these trees can grow so tall. And today, redwoods are more important than ever, because they soak up more CO2 than any other tree on Earth. A typical coast redwood removes 250 tons of carbon from the atmosphere during its lifetime, compared to just one ton for a typical tree. That’s why scientists are now finding ways to clone some of the oldest coast redwoods that have ever lived, in the hopes of combating climate change. Sequoias are named after a famous member of the Cherokee Nation. In 1847, Austrian botanist Stephan Endlicher decided that redwoods were a different genus than originally believed, so he gave them a new scientific name. Today, many believe he was inspired by the Cherokee polymath Sequoyah (circa 1775-1843), who created the Cherokee writing system, thus giving his people the same “talking leaves” — or words on paper — that Europeans used. Sequoyah likely never laid eyes on what would one day be his namesake, but like Sequoia sempervirens, he remains a towering figure in history. (Interesting Facts) Facts About Redwood Trees by Sempervirens Sequoia sempervirens is the sole living species of the genus Sequoia in the cypress family Cupressaceae. Common names include coast redwood, coastal redwood, and California redwood. It is an evergreen, long-lived, monoecious tree living 1,200–2,200 years or more. This species includes the tallest living trees on Earth, reaching up to 115.9 m (380.1 ft) in height (without the roots) and up to 8.9 m (29 ft) in diameter at breast height. These trees are also among the oldest living things on Earth. (Wikipedia) 1. Tallest Tree on Earth Coast redwood trees are the tallest trees on the planet. They can grow to 300 feet high or more, as compared to the tallest pine tree at 268 feet or the tallest tanoak at 162 feet. The tallest recorded redwood tree in the Santa Cruz Mountains is Big Basin Redwoods State Park’s “Mother of the Forest” at 329 feet high which is just 50 feet shy of the tallest tree on earth, the redwood known as “Hyperion”. All this magnificence in height, and yet a typical redwood’s root system is only 6 to 12 feet deep. Redwoods create the strength to withstand powerful winds and floods by extending their roots outwards, up to 100 feet wide from the trunk, and living in groves where their roots can intertwine. A redwood can’t grow to be the tallest tree on earth alone. It needs the support and protection of other trees in the forest to grow tall—holding carbon and providing plant and wildlife habitat every inch of the way. That’s why it’s so important to protect and connect forest lands so the trees can thrive together. 2. Almost as Old as the Dinosaurs The earliest redwoods showed up on Earth shortly after the dinosaurs – before flowers, birds, spiders… and, of course, humans. Redwoods have been around for about 240 million years2, and in California for at least 20 million years, compared to about 200,000 years for “modern” humans3. However, in just the last 150 years, human impacts have drastically reduced the number of these ancient trees through clear-cut logging and development. Only 5% of old-growth redwood forests remain. Today, Sempervirens Fund protects and restores thousands of acres of redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains so they can continue to provide habitat, clean air, and awe for generations to come. 3. They Live for Thousands of Years Officially, the oldest living coast redwood has been alive for at least 2,200 years, but foresters believe some coast redwoods may be much older4. Their bark helps them survive many hardships that other trees cannot—it can be at least a foot thick and contains lots of tannins, a compound that makes redwoods resistant to insects, fungus and diseases. Their bark has very little resin which is one of the ways redwoods are fire resilient. Although a redwoods’ ability for a long lifespan contributed to its Latin name, Sequoia sempervirens—sempervirens means "evergreen" or "everlasting” in Latin—most of the remaining redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains are “second-growth”, about 50-150 years old. When you walk or ride through the Santa Cruz Mountains, you are in a nursery of young redwoods that, if protected, can live for 2,000 years cleaning carbon from the air, providing habitat for wildlife, and inspiring people for generations to come. That’s how our founders named our nonprofit organization working to protect, expand and care for the local redwood forests “Sempervirens” in 1900. Learn more about Sempervirens Fund’s history protecting redwoods. 4. Redwoods Take Care of Each Other A redwood’s shallow but widespread roots, help them survive by intertwining with the roots of other trees around them. Intertwined root systems provide stability to these mighty trees during strong winds and floods - quite literally holding one another down. Their shallow roots can also sprout and support new redwood trees far more successfully than from their cone seeds. Redwoods can often be seen growing in circles, known as “fairy rings” or “family circles”, because they sprouted from the roots of a parent tree. The parent tree helps to nourish the sprouts with water and sugars through its well-established root system while they grow. When the parent trees die, the young redwoods continue to grow in the circle shielding, stabilizing, and nourishing each other through their roots. Redwoods will help each other even if they aren’t “family”. Trees in the ring aren’t always genetically identical or clones of the parent tree. Some of the redwoods in a ring can also grow from seedlings. Redwoods take care of one another supporting each other with nutrients through their interconnected roots including their young, sick and old. We’re also just beginning to learn about how trees like redwoods communicate and work together. It takes a forest to raise a mighty redwood. Redwoods are stronger together. By protecting and connecting redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains, we can help redwoods thrive together so they can grow tall, clean the most air, and provide habitat and awe for thousands of years. 5. They Make Rain Redwoods can make it rain. Redwood trees prefer a moist environment to get all of the water they need for their gigantic size. They have adapted to help form their own habitat. A redwood’s leaves can both absorb moisture from fog right from the air and can also condense fog into drops and rain them down to soak the soil around them. But that’s not all. From their leaves, redwoods can release terpenes which help condense moisture in the air into clouds that cool the forest. Redwoods can also transpire moisture back into the air to help keep the forest cool and moist during dry months for themselves and the plants around them. You can read more about the role redwoods play in the water cycle here. 6. Entire Ecosystems Live in Their Branches Entire ecosystems can live within redwood branches high off the ground. Because redwoods can grow so large and old, their shed leaves collect together with dust and water on their branches and eventually become soil mats that create mini-ecosystems. Hundreds of plants including ferns, moss, lichen, huckleberries, and even other full-sized trees have been found living in the canopies of redwoods. These plants provide food for wildlife living in the redwood’s soil mats including insects and amphibians. While many more species of birds and small mammals such as bats and squirrels nest and find food growing on redwoods, some species like wandering salamanders live their entire lives in the canopy of a single redwood tree. 7. Wild Animals Thrive Here The redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains are near the end of the largest temperate rainforest in the world which stretches up the north Pacific Coast and supports hundreds of species of wildlife. Wild, endangered creatures like mountain lions, Coho salmon and marbled murrelet depend on our local redwood forests to survive. Wildlife need large, connected areas of diverse habitat to get the food, water, shelter, and potential mates to thrive. Although some species like the Strobeen’s parnassian butterfly have already disappeared from the Santa Cruz Mountains due to habitat loss15, other species like endangered coho salmon are making a comeback thanks to habitat protection and restoration efforts. Protecting and connecting habitat for wildlife is especially critical for their survival as our communities continue to grow into natural places that once provided them refuge. When we protect habitat for threatened and endangered species, often the most sensitive or specialized creatures, all wildlife in and near the habitat benefit. 8. Redwoods are Climate Change Heroes While all trees are crucial to maintaining a stable, human-friendly climate, redwoods are climate change heroes. Studies show that coast redwoods capture more carbon dioxide (CO2) from our cars, trucks and power plants than any other tree on Earth. Thanks to their large size, long lifespan, and rot-resistant wood, redwood trees can pull and hold at least three times more carbon from the air, thereby cleaning more air and helping to keep temperatures from rising, than the average tree. In fact, redwoods can be so large that new studies measuring them more effectively with the use of lasers and computer modeling to better estimate their size show that redwoods may be 30% larger than previously thought thereby holding even more carbon. More research is being done to see how redwood trees can help to decrease the effects of climate change. In the meantime, protecting the redwood forests we have now is crucial particularly as the effects of climate change itself including higher temperatures, drought, and much hotter and more frequent wildfires threaten them. As the climate changes, the redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains are one of very few places that can provide a refuge for local plants and animals to survive, because the area has many microclimates, is cooled by coastal summertime fog and is still largely unpaved. Read more about Redwoods and Climate Change. 9. Last Natural Habitat Coast redwood’s only natural habitat is right here on the Pacific Coast from Big Sur to southern Oregon. Once redwoods had a much wider range across the Northern Hemisphere, including western North America and the coasts of Europe and Asia. The coastal fog in this area has helped supply enough water to support the redwood giants through all of the seasons for the last 20 million years. Although coast redwoods have been established by people in other places of the world like New Zealand, the oldest and tallest coast redwoods are in their natural habitat where they have rain, fog, and forests of neighboring redwoods, fungi, and creatures like banana slugs helping to support them. Protecting their last remaining natural habitat is crucial so redwoods can reach their full potential as the tallest trees on the planet and our awe-inspiring climate change heroes. 10. Only 5% of Redwoods are Left Only 5% of the original old-growth coast redwood forests that flourished on the Pacific Coast are left. Because redwoods are extremely resistant to insects, fire and rot, they are treasured for building and 95% of them have been cut down since the 1850s. The survival of several redwood buildings from the 1906 fire in San Francisco launched a flurry of demand for redwood lumber in the rebuilding of the city and elsewhere. By 1900, logging spurred a group of concerned people to form Sempervirens Club, now known as Sempervirens Fund, and start the redwood conservation movement which has successfully preserved thousands of acres of redwood forest. However, there is much more land still at risk. In 2011, the International Union for Conservation of Nature listed redwoods as endangered. Today, we have a rare chance to re-establish the once-vast and vibrant local redwood forest into a magnificent, life-giving world between Silicon Valley and the Pacific Ocean. Although many old-growth redwoods have been cut down, younger second-growth redwoods have resprouted since then, some even of the same genetic stock of their massive predecessors. By protecting redwood forests and helping to restore ideal conditions through careful stewardship, old-growth redwood forests can grow again. With a little help from us to get started, the redwood forest can recover from the massive logging and fragmentation that took place during the last 150 years. Once protected and restored, the redwood forest will take care of itself – providing plant and wildlife habitat, clean air, and inspiration for thousands and even millions of years to come. Source: Facts About Coast Redwood | Top Facts About Redwood Trees
  4. What's the Word: VIATOR pronunciation: [vi-EY-tawr] Part of speech: noun Origin: Latin, 16th century Meaning: 1. A traveler or wayfarer Example: "A viator appeared at the door just before the desk clerk was about to leave the inn for the night." "At the conference, viators from many different nations ate together in the dining room." About Viator “Viator” draws directly on the Latin “viator,” whose basis is “via,” meaning “road” or “path.” Did You Know? While “viator” is rare, “aviator” is a more recognizable word also referring to a kind of traveler, yet the two terms are unrelated. “Viator” refers to someone who travels a road or path (called a “via” in Latin), while “aviator” is based on the French term “aviateur,” which combines the Latin “avis,” meaning “bird,” and the suffix “-ation,” indicating an activity. The “via” in “aviator” does not refer to the Latin root suggesting a path, but rather the similarity to birds. A viator travels along a road or path, while an aviator travels the skies.
  5. Fact of the Day - FOLK TALE HEROES Did you know... Folk tales serve as a cultural binder of sorts, bringing people together with a fomented sense of shared identity. They’re also used as explainers, similarly to how mythology worked for ancient Greeks. American folk heroes are richly textured and many-layered: Contemporary characters like Paul Bunyan explained the creation of America’s rivers and lakes and served as inspiration for workers exposed to grueling conditions while carving a way West and extracting resources for trade or infrastructure. Other tales, like those of Sacagawea and Pocahontas, served as scapegoats for a version of American history that sidesteps the Native American genocide enacted by early colonists, Western explorers, and even the U.S. government. For enslaved African Americans, folklore provided subjugated people with heroic tales of bravery, defiance, and escape from Br’er Rabbit to Stack-O-Lee. Native Americans had hundreds of stories rooted in folklore from the Sleeping Ute Mountain to Kokopelli. Many folk heroes such as Hugh Glass and Annie Oakley are based on actual people, while others are pure fiction such as the Maid of the Mist and Bud Billiken. These tall tales come in the form of nursery rhymes, children’s tales, mascots, and cautionary myths and speak to us of strength, perseverance, and the celebrated intrepidness of rugged American individualism. (Nicole Caldwell | January 16, 2020) Heroes of American Tall Tales and Their True Origin Stories by Interesting Facts Paul Bunyan You’ve read about them. You’ve sung about them. You’ve watched movies about them. For centuries, American folklore has sent our imaginations into overdrive with the tales of men who conquered the dangers of the wild terrain with their strength, wits, and superhuman gifts. Some were based on the archetype of a character, others were embellishments of real people, but all served to entertain and inspire by displaying abilities beyond the reach of normal mortals. Here are eight hyperbolized heroes who outlived the confines of their era to survive as legends for later generations to admire. 1. Paul Bunyan Few creations can match the prowess of Paul Bunyan, the titan of the North Woods who palled around with Babe the Blue Ox and was responsible for the formation of landmarks such as the Grand Canyon and the Great Lakes. For all the obvious hyperbole, the character may have been based on the real-life French Canadian lumberjacks Bon Jean and Fabian Fournier, the latter better known by the workers who traded tales at logging camps in the late 1800s. Bunyan stories first appeared in print just after the turn of the century, but it was a marketing campaign by the Red River Lumber Company that introduced the behemoth woodsman to the masses during World War I. Collected stories soon appeared in book form, establishing a mythical mainstay that remains larger than life through the monuments in his honor that populate the northern landscape. 2. Davy Crockett There's no question that Davy Crockett, a three-term U.S. congressman from Tennessee, was a real man, if not the "half horse, half alligator" he allegedly claimed to be. Regardless, the folksy, bear-hunting lawmaker with scant formal education was an anomaly among his well-bred peers and was already a celebrity by the time the first Davy Crockett's Almanack appeared in print in 1835. The legend received another jolt when he was killed at the famed 1836 Battle of the Alamo, and by the 1840s, the Almanack was featuring more outlandish stories of its hero handily fighting off bears and alligators. Still, Crockett may well have faded into memory, were it not for his mid-1950s revival by way of the Disney TV series and movies that had children everywhere wearing coonskin caps and singing about the "king of the wild frontier." 3. Johnny Appleseed The black sheep of the American folklore canon, Johnny Appleseed achieved immortality not through acts of cunning or bravery, but by way of his ragtag clothing and peaceful rapport with all living creatures as he scattered his wares across the land. Ironically, the man behind the myth — John Chapman — did display immense courage, fortitude, and resourcefulness by traipsing thousands of miles across the eastern wilderness and establishing orchards to aid settlers in the first half of the 1800s. A zealous proponent of the Church of the New Jerusalem who had no permanent home and largely refused to sleep indoors, the eccentric Chapman was already famous by the time he died in 1845. But his fame lived on through the exaggerations that became associated with his memory via the written "recollections," poems, and children's stories that circulated in the decades afterward. 4. Mike Fink Another flesh-and-blood man who saw his celebrity swell as the frontier mythos gained steam, Mike Fink earned renown as a keelboatman on the mighty Mississippi River in the early 1800s. Tall and powerful, he allegedly boasted he could "outrun, outshoot, throw down, drag out, and lick any man in the country," though his brashness and heavy-drinking ways may well have contributed to his death in 1823. Five years later, the first Fink tale appeared in The Western Souvenir, giving rise to several decades' worth of stories that focused more on his reputation for practical jokes than shows of strength. While his legend dimmed by the end of the century, Fink also received a lifeline from Disney when he was presented as the arch-foe-turned-ally in 1956's Davy Crockett and the River Pirates. 5. Pecos Bill The personification of the rough-and-tumble cowboy who tamed the Old West, Pecos Bill supposedly was raised by coyotes, single-handedly invented the modern methods of ranching, and could be seen riding a cyclone when not astride his bucking horse, the Widow-Maker. Such an indomitable character was no match for any enemy, though at least one account says the end came after he saw a Yankee dressed as a cowboy and laughed himself to death. The first published Pecos Bill stories appeared around World War I from the hand of Edward O'Reilly, who insisted he heard the outlandish tales as a child, though historians have since thrown that claim into doubt. Whatever his origin, Pecos Bill's adventures are more than wild enough to earn him a distinguished place in the tall-tale pantheon. 6. John Henry One of the few Black heroes of American folklore, John Henry was said to be the strongest steel driver toiling on the construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway in the 1870s. When a steam-powered drill was introduced, Henry took it as a challenge to demonstrate man's superiority over machine, winning the duel but working himself to death in the process. As with other legends, historians have sought to uncover the source of the tale, with some claiming to have pinpointed a real John Henry and others determining that he was a composite of the anonymous hands who undertook the backbreaking labor. Regardless, his story struck a chord with audiences through the printed page and screen, and especially through the African American blues tradition that gave rise to work songs like "The Ballad of John Henry." 7. Old Stormalong A Bunyanesque character for the seafaring set, Old Stormalong stood 30 feet tall, according to some accounts, tangled with the Kraken of Norse mythology, and commanded a ship so large it had hinged masts to avoid colliding with the moon. It's unknown who — if anybody — served as the model for the character, whose origins trace back to North Atlantic sea shanties of the 1830s and '40s. While those early work songs presented "Old Stormy" as more of an everyman sailor, it was Frank Shay's Here's Audacity! American Legendary Heroes (1930) that brought him to life as a titanic superman of the surf, clearing the decks for his inclusion among the famous outsized figures of the genre. 8. Big Mose As opposed to his rural counterparts, Big Mose was a hero of urban origins: A firefighter in New York City's Bowery district, he supposedly stood 8 feet tall, boasted hands the size of Virginia hams, and uprooted streetcars and lampposts with ease. Once again, this was a character inspired by a legitimate person, a volunteer fireman, printer, and brawler named Moses Humphreys. And while the oral recounts were codified through the works of Ned Buntline, the Mose legend took root through a series of wildly popular stage plays in the 1840s and '50s. Big Mose may not be as well known today as Davy Crockett and Johnny Appleseed, but his myth was every bit as formidable as the others’ during his pre-Civil War heyday. Source: Folk Heroes and Stories Behind Them | Facts About Tall Tales and Their Origins
  6. What's the Word: CONCOMITANT pronunciation: [di-ER-əs-əs] Part of speech: noun Origin: Latin/Greek, 17th century Meaning: 1. A mark (¨) placed over a vowel to indicate that it is sounded in a separate syllable, as in naïve, Brontë. 2. The division of a sound into two syllables, especially by sounding a diphthong as two vowels. Example: ""The New Yorker" is known for using a dieresis on words with a repeated vowel, such as “reënter.”" "Luanne and Sally chose to use a dieresis in place of a hyphen when naming their store “Coöperative.”" About Dieresis “Dieresis” comes directly from both the Latin “diæresis” and the nearly identical Greek “διαίρεσις,” meaning “division” or “split.” Did You Know? The dieresis is sometimes confused with its identical-in-appearance relative, the umlaut, yet the two serve different functions. Both appear as the same two dots over a letter, however, a dieresis is specifically used to indicate that the pronunciation of vowels in a word is split. A dieresis is the reason the word “naïve” is pronounced as two syllables. Without the dieresis, it might rhyme with “rave” or “cave.” On the other hand, umlauts appear only in German, and their job is either to change the sound of a vowel, or to modify the word in some way (for example, by making it plural).
  7. Notice I will be back posting What's the Word on Monday, August 8th. (going on vacation!)
  8. Fact of the Day - GREENLAND SHARKS Did you know... There are probably Greenland sharks alive right now that are older than the United States. When we think of animals with long life spans, tortoises usually come to mind first. But even Jonathan, a roughly 189-year-old giant tortoise who resides in St. Helena, would seem positively young compared to the average Greenland shark. Somniosus microcephalus (“sleepy small-head”) can live as long as 400 years or more, meaning there are probably some of them swimming the depths right now who predate the United States — or Sir Isaac Newton, for that matter. The deep-sea dwellers, most commonly found in the Arctic Ocean and North Atlantic, are the world’s longest-living vertebrates. In addition to their longevity, they’re also quite, well, long: Greenland sharks can reach a length of 23 feet and weigh over 2,000 pounds, though the average specimen isn’t quite that imposing. Despite also being among the world's slowest sharks — they’ve been observed “almost immobile” while “practically hovering” above the sea floor — they’re capable of quick bursts of speed that allow them to target fast-moving seals, Greenland halibut, Atlantic cod, and other marine creatures. As for how and why Greenland sharks live so long, it’s partially explained by their preferred environs: Cold-blooded animals in cold environments tend to have slow metabolic rates, which are associated with longevity (although scientists are still teasing out why) and “deep and cold equals old.” Greenland shark meat is poisonous. The flesh of Greenland sharks contains an unusually high concentration of urea and the compound trimethylamine oxide (TMAO), which protect against cold temperatures and high water pressure. Should one choose to dine on Greenland shark meat that hasn't been dried or soaked, one will experience an intoxicating effect that's been referred to as both “shark sick” and “shark drunk.” That hasn’t stopped it from becoming an Icelandic delicacy, however. Hákarl is Greenland shark that has been fermented and hung to dry for as long as five months, resulting in a pungent, ammonia-like smell and cheesy texture. Though beloved by some (though certainly not all) Icelanders, it was described by Anthony Bourdain as “the single worst, most disgusting and terrible-tasting thing” he ever ate. (Interesting Facts) Cool Facts About the Greenland Shark By Erin McCarthy | December 18, 2014 This week, video popped up of a researcher freaking out after he spotted a rare Greenland shark on footage he had downloaded from a remote camera in the Russian arctic (you can watch the hilarious video above). Here are a few things you might not have known about this elusive deep sea denizen. 1. The first part of its scientific name, Somniosus microcephalus, roughly translates to “sleep,” because of the shark’s slow swimming; the second part of its name means “small head” (pretty self explanatory). In addition to Greenland shark, it’s sometimes called a sleeper shark or a ground shark, and it goes by a number of other names as well: In Greenland, its names include ekaluggsup piara, ekaluksuak, eqalussuak, and eqalusuak; in the Netherlands, South Africa, and Turkey, it’s called hakaring; in Italy, it's called squalo di groenlandia lemargo; and it’s referred to as tiburon boreal in Spain. 2. It’s one of the largest living sharks. At 6.5 feet long, the one seen above was probably very young; on average, they grow to 14 feet, and can get as large as 21 (or maybe 24) feet. But they grow slowly, at an average rate of a quarter-inch a year. The females are bigger than the males. 3. Greenland sharks might live as long as 200 years! 4. Its meat is toxic—at least if you eat it fresh. Its flesh contains high concentrations of trimethylamine oxide (TMAO), which “helps stabilize [the shark’s] enzymes and structural proteins against the debilitating effects of cold and extreme pressure,” according to the ReefQuest Center for Shark Research. In mammals, though, TMAO gets broken down during digestion and causes a number of horrible symptoms, including “stiff movements, hyper-salivation, vomiting, explosive diarrhea, conjunctivitis, muscular twitching, respiratory distress, convulsions, and—in severe cases—death.” It also makes people appear as though they’re drunk, which is why, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History, natives of Greenland say that people who are drunk are “shark-sick.” The Greenland shark’s flesh is so toxic that it earned a spot in Guinness World Records 2011, but it can be consumed if it’s prepared properly: It either needs to be boiled with several changes of water, or buried for as long as 12 weeks so that it freezes and thaws several times, then hung up to dry for a few months. The resulting snack is called hákarl; according to the Wall Street Journal, chef Anthony Bourdain called it "the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing" he's ever eaten. 5. The Greenland shark will eat pretty much anything, dead or alive. Though it mostly feeds on other fish—including small sharks, eels, lumpfish, and flounder—some specimens have been found with entire reindeer in their stomachs. One was found containing a juvenile polar bear's jaw, and this shark was found choking on a moose hide. 6. In the deep ocean where the Greenland shark typically lives—it’s been spotted as deep as 7220 feet—it doesn’t need great vision. And that’s a good thing, considering that these sharks are hosts for Ommatokoita elongata, a 2-inch-long parasitic copepod that attaches itself to the shark’s eyes, causing lesions that can lead to blindness. According to Daily Parasite, The adult female copepod attaches herself to the shark's eye with an anchoring structure call the bulba, and grazes on the surface of the cornea. … There are two possible reasons for the copepod's attachment site. Shark skin is covered in microscopic, teeth-like structures call denticles which can make it difficult for parasites to attach themselves to skin (though some species of parasitic copepods manage). Secondly the eye is considered to be a "immunologically benign environment" for parasites, thus such an attachment is less likely to illicit an immune response. It sounds gruesome, but the sharks don’t seem to mind; some even have copepods in both eyes. 7. It has crazy teeth. On the top jaw, they’re thin and pointed, without serration. The teeth on the lower jaw are broad, square, and interlocking with short, smooth, outward-pointing cusps. The top teeth serve as anchors while the bottom teeth do the cutting. Source: Facts About Greenland Sharks | Greenland Shark Facts
  9. What's the Word: CONCOMITANT pronunciation: [kən-KAM-əd-ənt] Part of speech: adjective Origin: Latin, 17th century Meaning: 1. Naturally accompanying or associated. Example: "Arthur enjoys a big Sunday meal and the concomitant nap that follows." "I like highway driving, but I don’t like the concomitant stress of driving in the city." About Concomitant “Concomitant” entered English from the Latin “concomitant,” meaning “accompanying.” Did You Know? McDonald’s Happy Meals, a children’s meal sold with a concomitant toy, debuted in 1979. However, over the years critics have argued offering toys and other concomitant gifts alongside fast food encourages unhealthy eating. As a result, San Francisco banned the sale of unhealthy meals featuring toys or games in 2010, in the hope of forcing meals featuring concomitant gifts for children to meet minimum nutritional standards. Companies found they could skirt this ban by offering the toys for sale at a very low price, rather than having them concomitant to the meal.
  10. Thanks, I plan to!
  11. NOTICE I will not be posting Fact of the Day on Saturday, July 30th, 2022. I will be back to posting FOTD August 8th, 2022. (Going on vacation)
  12. Fact of the Day - ELIZABETH TAYLOR Did you know.... Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor DBE was a British and American actress. She began her career as a child actress in the early 1940s and was one of the most popular stars of classical Hollywood cinema in the 1950s. She then became the world’s highest paid movie star in the 1960s, remaining a well-known public figure for the rest of her life. In 1999, the American Film Institute named her the seventh-greatest female screen legend of Classic Hollywood cinema. (Wikipedia) Timeless Elizabeth Taylor Facts by Interesting Facts Headline maker. Timeless beauty. Academy Award winner. Tireless activist. Savvy businesswoman. Global icon. These are only a few of the many phrases to describe Golden Age movie star Elizabeth Taylor Born in London in February 1932 to American parents, Taylor and her family packed up and moved to the United States in 1939, where the actress soon began her film career. Taylor made her big-screen debut with a small role in 1942’s There’s One Born Every Minute but gained popularity after scoring the lead role as a horse-crazed girl in 1944’s National Velvet. Throughout her illustrious career, Taylor starred in more than 50 movies, and was never afraid to take a chance in both her personal and professional lives. “I feel very adventurous. There are so many doors to be opened, and I’m not afraid to look behind them,” she once said. Read below to learn how Taylor’s life was as epic as the roles she played. 1. Taylor Had “Violet” Eyes and a Double Set of Eyelashes In 1970, when Hollywood Reporter film critic Todd McCarthy first met Taylor, he was stopped in his tracks by “a pair of eyes unlike any I’ve ever beheld, before or since; deep violet eyes of a sort withheld from ordinary mortals.” However, while Taylor’s eyes are typically credited as violet, they were more likely a deep blue with an uncommon amount of melanin in the irises, which made them appear violet when she wore specific colors. This inspired her to often wear black eyeliner with blue, purple, or dark brown eyeshadow to bring out her trademark color. Framing those famous eyes were Taylor’s double row of eyelashes, known as distichiasis, the result of a mutation of FOXC2, a gene responsible for embryonic tissue development. While this heavy, second set of eyelashes can cause complications for some, they quickly became a notable part of Taylor’s beauty at a young age. When she was filming Lassie Come Home (1943) at the age of 9, Taylor was accused of wearing too much mascara, and when production members tried to clean it off, they realized the dark shade was her own eyelashes. As Taylor’s Lassie co-star Roddy McDowall remembered, “Who has double eyelashes except a girl who was absolutely born to be on the big screen?” 2. Taylor Was Married Eight Time The star famously said “I do” eight times to seven different men: Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, Michael Wilding, Michael Todd, Eddie Fisher, Richard Burton (twice), John Warner, and Larry Fortensky. While many of these marriages seemed out of a movie, it was her first wedding that was a direct part of a Hollywood production. In 1950, at the age of 18, Taylor — who had already been engaged twice before — wed hotel heir Hilton at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills. Taylor wore a $3,500 gown gifted by MGM as part of a promotional effort for her film Father of the Bride, which premiered the following year. Designed by MGM’s chief costume designer Helen Rose, the high-collared, long-sleeved gown was covered with pearls and with a 15-foot train. MGM added more movie magic by selecting studio stock players as Taylor’s bridesmaids, and set designers decorated the church. In attendance were 700 guests including Gene Kelly, Ginger Rogers, and Fred Astaire, and waiting outside were 3,000 cheering fans. Lauded as the social event of the year, MGM boasted that at the wedding were “more stars than there are in heaven.” No matter the fairy-tale event, the tumultuous marriage lasted less than nine months. 3. Taylor Was the First Actress To Earn $1 Million Taylor was the first actress to earn more than $1 million for a single movie, for 1963’s Cleopatra. When the movie was first planned, her $1 million salary was half of the original budget. As the film’s budget boomed to $31 million, Taylor’s paycheck did as well — to $7 million (around $54 million in 2022). From her youth, Taylor had been a bold negotiator and wasn’t afraid to ask for what she was worth or to end a negotiation that wasn’t going her way. Originally, she had little interest in starring in Cleopatra, which inspired her bold pay request of $1 million and 10% of the box office gross, thinking there was no chance 20th Century Fox would agree to her terms. To everyone’s surprise, they did. As she would later say, “If someone is dumb enough to offer me a million dollars to make a picture, I’m certainly not dumb enough to turn it down.” 4. Taylor Popularized Celebrity Perfumes When Taylor’s debut fragrance, Passion, hit shelves in 1987, it was not the first celebrity fragrance — but it was the start of the first celebrity perfume franchise in a line ultimately made up of 16 perfumes. Her most popular scent, White Diamonds, generated more than $1.5 billion in the 25 years after it appeared on the market in 1991. With a $20 million marketing budget, White Diamonds was launched with a cross-country tour, lavish magazine ads, and a cinematic black-and-white commercial that aired both on television and in movie theaters. Featuring Taylor at a high-stakes poker game where she tosses one of her diamond earrings into the pot, the actress improvised the now-iconic line: “These have always brought me luck.” 5. Taylor’s a Dame One of the most legendary stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Taylor was nominated for four Academy Awards, won two — for Butterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf — and ranks as the seventh-greatest female American screen legend by the American Film Institute. Her star power was felt across the pond in her native U.K. and in 2000, the actress was designated Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) by Queen Elizabeth II. Considering it one of the great honors of her life, Taylor humorously said of the event, "Well, I've always been a ‘broad.' Now it's a great honor to be a dame!" 6. Taylor’s Jewelry Collection Was Worth More Than $100 million Taylor loved jewelry and had a deep knowledge of the pieces in her collection. Despite W magazine naming her collection the third-most important in the world, as she once explained, "I’ve never thought of my jewelry as trophies. I’m here to take care of it and to love it, for we are only temporary custodians of beauty.” The icon died in March 2011, age 79, from congestive heart failure. Her famed jewels were auctioned by Christie’s that same year for $115.9 million and broke the record for the most valuable private collection of jewels sold, with 26 pieces selling for more than $1 million and six for more than $5 million. Many of the pieces were given to Taylor by her seven husbands. Among the record-breaking highlights was Taylor’s 19th-century tiara given to her by third husband, Mike Todd. The sparkling headpiece was worn several times in 1957 and became a cherished object to her after his fatal plane crash in 1958. Additionally, Taylor’s Cartier pearl necklace, named La Peregrina, sold for more than $11 million, setting the record for the most valuable pearl sold at auction at that time. Given to her as a Valentine’s Day gift by her most legendary love, Richard Burton, the 1-inch long natural pearl is one of the world’s most famous, once belonging to Spanish monarchs and appearing in portraits by Peter Paul Rubens and Diego Velázquez. Source: Wikipedia - Elizabeth Taylor | Facts About Elizabeth Taylor
  13. What's the Word: ATARAXY pronunciation: [AD-ə-rak-see] Part of speech: noun Origin: Greek, 17th century Meaning: 1. A state of serene calmness. Example: "Many people achieve ataraxy through exercise and meditation." "Upon arriving home and petting my dog, I was filled with ataraxy." About Ataraxy “Ataraxy” is based on the Greek “ἀταραξία,” meaning “impassiveness” or “lack of disturbance.” It entered English from the French “ataraxie” in the early 1600s. Did You Know? “Ataraxy” is sometimes used as a synonym for “deep relaxation” or “serenity.” However, the idea was developed by Stoic philosophers in ancient Greece who used “ataraxy” to describe a state of emotional balance that resulted from living in harmony with nature. The Stoics also thought ataraxy could be achieved by abandoning passions in favor of reason. While today ataraxy might be associated with a pleasant evening at home, Stoics encouraged soldiers entering battle to cultivate ataraxy, since mental stillness would help protect them in combat.
  14. Fact of the Day - INSPIRING LYRICS Did you know.... Theatre is a wild and wacky industry? Some will make you gasp, some will make you laugh, some you simply won't believe. (Ben Hewis | January 2019) Theatre folk are a superstitious breed! There are several well-known traditions still observed today, here are their origins… (History) The Stories Behind 9 Strange Theater Traditions by Interesting Facts Theater is filled with storied traditions, developed and preserved over its centuries-long history, which dates back to the playwright Aeschulys in 472 BCE. While some of these customs seem to be rooted in some degree of practicality, others have become outdated or simply never had any grounding in “reality” in the first place. But no matter if it's a local stage show or a major Broadway production — or if it's a comedy, musical, or drama — these long-held theater traditions and superstitions are still going strong. 1. Telling Performers to "Break a Leg" Ironically, wishing someone "good luck" in the theater is actually, well, bad luck. Instead, it's common practice to tell entertainers to "break a leg." That may seem like an odd way to wish them well before a show, but the tradition is rooted in superstition. Many believe that spirits, like ghosts and fairies, may inhabit theaters and be looking to cause trouble. If they hear "break a leg," they'll actually do the opposite, meaning good will come from the wish. But that's not the only explanation, according to Playbill. A different theory suggests that the "leg" in question is not a limb but a curtain that hangs in the wings, so "breaking" it means making it onto the stage. And yet another explanation dates back to Elizabethan England, when audiences used to throw money on the stage to show their appreciation, so when actors "broke" the line of their leg, they were actually bending down to collect their earnings. 2. Always Leaving a Ghost Light On If you ever find yourself in an otherwise empty theater in the middle of the night, you'll likely see a single bare bulb glowing onstage. All the intricate sets and props can make navigating a stage feel like winding through a maze, so it makes sense that a night light of sorts is left on when everything else goes dark. But the fact that the light is called a "ghost light" hearkens to a different explanation. "The superstition around it is that theaters tend to be inhabited by ghosts, whether it's the ghost of old actors or people who used to work in the building," stage manager Matt Stern, who has worked on Broadway in shows including Wicked and The Phantom of the Opera, told Atlas Obscura. "[G]host lights are supposed to keep those ghosts away so that they don't get mischievous while everyone else is gone." Other explanations relate to the historical need to relieve pressure on gas valves in old theaters, or legend of a thief falling in the dark, breaking his leg (literally this time!), and suing the theater. 3. Never Saying "Macbeth Shakespeare's shortest tragedy is the Voldemort of the theater world. Many people believe the play is cursed, since so many mishaps have happened in its 400-year history. Legend has it that for the very first performance circa 1606, William Shakespeare himself had to go on as Lady Macbeth because the actor playing the role suddenly died, according to History.com. Another actor was supposedly killed onstage in Amsterdam in the 17th century, when a prop dagger was replaced by a real one. Riots have also plagued the play at times, with the most tragic being a New York production in 1849 when 22 died and more than 100 were injured. As even a mere mention of the title may bring similar disasters, the play that shall not be named is often referred to as "The Scottish Play" or "The Bard's Play" instead. Of course, not everyone believes in the so-called curse — after all, a play that has been performed regularly for so many centuries is bound to suffer some misfortune. For those who do buy into it, though, there are ways to reverse the bad luck: According to the Royal Shakespeare Company, you have to leave the theater, spin in a circle three times, spit, curse, and then knock to be let back in. 4. Hoping for a Bad Dress Rehearsa You might think that the final rehearsal before opening night, when everyone onstage is dressed as if it's a real performance, should be when everything goes off without a hitch. But thespians believe the opposite: "Bad dress, good opening." Although the exact origins of the superstition are unknown, according to Backstage, performers swear by the phrase. It makes sense, in a way: The odds of things going spectacularly wrong two nights in a row are slim, especially if a cast and crew have time to address and prepare for those contingencies between a rehearsal and the performance. And if things are going to go wrong, it's better that they go wrong without an audience. 5. Not Whistling Backstage As far back as the 17th century, before stage managers became standard, productions had people called prompters, whose job it was to make sure everything flowed smoothly during the course of the show, Playbill explains. In the days before electricity, these prompters needed a way to indicate to folks backstage that a scene was changing, so they would use a bell or whistle. To avoid confusion, everyone else was strictly prohibited from whistling, lest they trigger an unintended (and potentially dangerous) set transition. When electricity came along, flashing lights and intercoms took over. Yet the tradition remains — this is one occupation where you shouldn't whistle while you work. 6. Avoiding Wearing Blue As Broadway Direct explains, blue dye used to be among the most expensive, so producers claimed it was bad luck in an effort to keep costs down. But that deception led to another, Playbill adds: Some theatrical troupes would splurge on blue costumes to make it seem like they were doing better than they were. To one-up them, troupes that were actually doing well added silver, which was even more difficult to afford. Thus, unadorned blue ensembles became a symbol of false success. 7. Banning Peacock Feathers and Mirrors From the Stag Any good prop master knows to keep peacock feathers far away from the stage. The natural design of the feathers contains an "evil eye" pattern that is thought to bring bad luck in the form of technical failures and chaos, History UK explains. The eye's curse (which is not unique to the theater) can be traced back to Plato and even the Bible, while the fear of the feathers themselves has existed since at least 1242, when they were linked to Mongols who advanced into Europe. Another item to avoid? Mirrors. While it's a widely believed superstition that breaking a mirror causes seven years of bad luck, even unbroken mirrors should be kept offstage in the theater, since they can mess with the lighting design. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule — most notably in the staging of "The Music and the Mirror" from A Chorus Line. 8. Giving Flowers After a Show, Never Before First do the work, then receive the appreciation. It makes sense to present flowers to performers after they've graced the stage, but according to Playbill, this tradition is about more than just rewarding someone for a job well done. Superstition dictates that it's actually bad luck to give flowers before the show, for fear that something will go wrong to make the performance unworthy of beautiful blooms. Another (now less-common) floral tradition was to give the director and leading lady a bouquet stolen from a graveyard when a show closed, representing the death of the production. 9. Sing "Happy Trails to You" at the End of a Run Whether it's the end of a particular actor's run or the entire close of a show, it's tradition for the cast and crew to gather to sing Roy Rogers and Dale Evans' 1950s tune "Happy Trails." While the origins of the tradition are unknown, according to the Lincoln Center Theater, it endures today as a way to bid a fond adieu and wish your castmates well: "Happy trails to you / Until we meet again / Happy trails to you / Keep smiling until then." Source: Facts About Theatre That You Won't Believe are True | Facts About Theatre Traditions Explained | THEATRICAL TRADITIONS AND WHERE THEY COME FROM
  15. What's the Word: CARAPACE pronunciation: [KER-ə-pays] Part of speech: noun Origin: French, 19th century Meaning: 1. The hard upper shell of a tortoise, crustacean, or arachnid. 2. Something regarded as a protective or defensive covering. Example: "The trickiest part of eating a lobster is removing the meat from the carapace." "Humor can serve as a carapace to protect someone from their more complex and private emotions." About Carapace “Carapace” comes directly to English from the French “carapace,” as well as the Spanish “carapacho,” which refers to the shell covering the back of a turtle. Did You Know? While “carapace” originally referred to tough outer shells on certain animals and insects, it also has a more modern symbolic use. As a metaphor, “carapace” describes some means of defense. For example, actor Hugh Jackman plays the character Wolverine with a carapace of aggressive hostility, but he has a soft spot for helping underdogs, and Jackman himself is known for his well-mannered gentleness.
  16. Fact of the Day - STREET NAMES Did you know... that In Nova Scotia, Canada, you can stand on the corner of "This Street" and "That Street." Drive down the highway in Nova Scotia, Canada, some 30 minutes northeast of Halifax, and you’ll run into a trio of odd street names. Just down the street from the Porters Lake Community Center, at the tip of a peninsula jutting out into nearby Porters Lake, are This Street, That Street, and The Other Street, obviously referencing the well-worn idiom “this, that, and the other.” Strange as these street names may seem, the 3,200 or so residents of Porters Lake would find common ground with Americans in Culver, Oregon, who named two of their streets “This Way Lane” and “That Way Lane.” (Meanwhile, in a somewhat similar vein, attendees of the Tennessee music festival Bonnaroo have to Abbott & Costello their way around What Stage, Which Stage, This Tent, That Tent, and The Other Tent.) Canada is known for places with unusual monikers. For example, in Iqaluit, the capital city of Nunavut, there’s a street called the “Road to Nowhere.” In Ottawa, there’s Scully Way and Mulder Avenue, a nod to the hit TV series X-Files; the neighborhood even held a block party for the show’s 20th anniversary in 2013. Also in the pop culture realm, the Alberta town of Vulcan leans heavily into its Star Trek connection with a visitor’s center that looks like a space station, and even received a visit from Mr. Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, who led a parade there in 2010. Then there’s Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, Québec — reportedly the only town in the world with two exclamation points in its name. The reason for the exclamation points is far from clear, although by one (dubious) account the French trappers who founded the town exclaimed “Ha! Ha!” in joy when they discovered its beautiful scenery. Nova Scotia is home to the highest tides in the world. Not every tide is created equal. Take, for example, the Bay of Fundy, which separates the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Due to the bay’s funnel-esque shape and a geographical anomaly called “tidal resonance,” where a wave pushing in from the ocean to a bay takes the same amount of time to hit the farthest shore and return to the ocean as your typical tidal period (around 12.5 hours), the Bay of Fundy experiences extraordinary tidal extremes. Whereas your typical average for an ocean tidal range — the difference between low and high tide — is about 3 feet, in the Bay of Fundy the difference is upwards of 56 feet (and during storm surges, it can be even higher). Because of this enormous difference, more than 160 billion tons of water enter and exit the bay with every tide. That’s more flowing water than all the world’s freshwater rivers combined. (Interesting Facts) The Weirdest & Funniest Street Names In Canada That Are Totally Real by Colin Leggett | October 15, 2019 | December 20, 2021 Canada is a huge country with plenty of unique cities to visit. Of course, finding your way around a new city can be a bit difficult at first, especially if you don't know all the street names. Luckily, Canada's street names can often be pretty easy to remember, especially the ones that are so weird and hilarious, that it's kind of hard to miss them. There are streets all over the country with silly, weird, and downright strange names. Visitors to these places might even do a double-take at some of the oddly named roads where they find themselves. Canada has roads named after food, bands, and even nothing in particular. People who live in the towns with these roads probably wouldn't think twice about them, but the truth is that they are pretty strange. Imagine finding yourself on Ragged Ass Road, or Buttertubs Drive. You might start to wonder if you've fallen into the Bizarro version of Canada, but nope. You're still in the real world, and these streets are all a part of it. These are nine of the funniest, weirdest, and in one case, coolest street names from across the country! This Street, That Street, and The Other Street, Porters Lake, NS This is like the "Who's on First" of street names. There must be a lot of confusion when people get any of these addresses for the first time. "Where do you live?" "This Street." "The street we're on right now?" "No, I said I live on This Street, not this street!" "...What?" Queen's Bush Road, Wellesley, ON Wellesley may not be a well-known Ontario town, but it is home to one of the cheekiest street names that you'll ever see. If Queen's Bush Road doesn't get an immature giggle from you, we don't know what will! Buttertubs Drive, Nanaimo, BC It kind of makes sense that a town known for its own decadently sweet dessert might have a street named after tubs of butter, right? Ragged Ass Road, Yellowknife, NT We don't know how this street got such a colourful name, and frankly, we don't want to know. Road to Nowhere, Iqaluit, NU This street name is either kind of fantastical and charming or just really pessimistic, depending on what kind of mood you're in. The Tragically Hip Way, Kingston, ON While some people might think it's kind of funny to name a street after a band, they should understand that The Tragically Hip are beloved in their hometown of Kingston and across the country. The street name also serves as a special memorial to the late Gord Downie. Avenue Road, Toronto, ON Torontonians never think twice about how weirdly named Avenue Road really is. Yes, the Toronto street is well known, but what if it was called Street Road? This is basically the same! Ha Ha Creek Road, Wardner, BC This street just straight up tells you that it's funny. Who named it? Nelson from The Simpsons? Hill O' Chips, St John's, NL This street is just called Hill O' Chips. That's it. Not Hill O' Chips Street, Way, or Road. Just Hill O' Chips. Source: Unusual Street Names | Facts About Weird Canadian Street Names
  17. What's the Word: HELIACAL pronunciation: [hə-LIH-ə-kəl] Part of speech: adjective Origin: Latin, 17th century Meaning: 1. Relating to or near the sun. Example: "The morning heliacal view is best seen on the beach." "The heliacal movements are more obvious in the fall and spring when the hours of daylight are changing dramatically." About Heliacal “Heliacal” is based on the English word “heliac,” meaning “pertaining to the sun.” This word is based on both the Latin “hēliacus,” and also the Greek “ἡλιακός,” both meaning “sun.” Did You Know? The astronomical expression “heliacal rising” refers to a star or planet coming into view in the east before sunrise, becoming a “morning star” before the sun comes into view. Prior to a heliacal rising, a star or planet has spent a season hidden behind the sun. In ancient Egypt, each summer’s heliacal rising of the star Sirius—the “Dog Star”—was an indicator the Nile would soon flood and nourish adjacent farmland to begin farming season. The English expression “the dog days of summer” refers to the idea that summer is at its hottest after Sirius’s heliacal rising.
  18. Fact of the Day - THE RINGLING BROTHERS Did you know... The Big Top. Three rings of non-stop entertainment with trapeze artists, lion tamers, fire-eaters, acrobats, jugglers, knife throwers, and magicians. And of course, the clowns. Trained elephants and other exotic animals. A midway with shows promising sights never before seen by those who bought a ticket and went in to be entertained. The circus arrived in town by train, with gaudily painted and decorated cars carrying its performers and equipment. Watching the tents being erected using the power of the show’s elephants was part of the entertainment. For decades, one of the dreams of American children was to run away and join the circus. There were many traveling circuses in the United States, but the greatest and most famous of them all was the combined Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey, which somewhat immodestly billed itself as The Greatest Show on Earth. From 1871 to 2017 the circus crisscrossed the country, though over time the tents erected on the outskirts of town were replaced with performances inside America’s indoor arenas and showplaces. When it finally succumbed to the combined effects of high operating costs, the protests of animal rights activists, and competition from other forms of entertainment, it had awed audiences for nearly a century and a half. Here is its story. (Larry Holzwarth | June 21, 2019) Ringling Bros. Circus takes final bow: 10 unusual facts about the 'Greatest Show on Earth by Abigail Elise | May 20, 2017 The Ringling Bros. circus will close Sunday after nearly 150 years of operation, owner Feld Entertainment said in a press release. The Florida-based production company has owned the "greatest show on earth" since 1967. "After much evaluation and deliberation, my family and I have made the difficult business decision that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey' will hold its final performances in May of this year," the company's CEO Kenneth Feld said in January. "Ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop. This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company." Here are 10 facts you may not know about the Ringling Bros. circus: 1. Ringling Brothers The Ringling brothers were born in Iowa and raised in Wisconsin. There were seven of them, and their original last name was "Rungeling." 2. First Performance The family's first performance was held in 1882 in Mazomanie, Wisconsin. It was dubbed the "Ringling Bros. Variety Performance." 3. Barnum and Bailey Five of the seven Ringling brothers purchased the Yankee Robinson Circus in May of 1884. This caught the attention of James Anthony Bailey, co-owner of Barnum and Bailey's Circus. Bailey met with the Ringlings and the competitors agreed to a division of areas. This prevented the Ringlings from performing at NYC's Madison Square Garden. Bailey died in 1905, and the brothers purchased the Barnum and Bailey's Circus two years later. 4. The Greatest Show on Earth The Ringlings ran the Barnum and Bailey's Circus and the Ringling Bros. Circus shows separately until 1919. 5. Merge of Two Great Circuses The brothers merged the two shows in March of 1919. Charles Edward Ringling and John Nicholas Ringling were the only two remaining family members of the five circus founders. They debuted the joint venture in New York City. 6. Charles Ringling John Ringling relocated the show's headquarters to Sarasota, Florida in 1927 after the death of his brother Charles in 1926. 7. Circus Fire The Hartford Circus Fire took place on July 6, 1944 in Hartford, Connecticut, one of the worst fires in US history. The cause of the blaze remains unknown, but approximately 167 people were killed and up to 700 injuries reported. 8. Feld Entertainment Feld Entertainment purchased the circus for $8 million with backing from Blum Capital founder Richard C. Blum in 1978. 9. Freak Shows Irvin Feld canceled the freak show portion of the circus because he didn't want to capitalize on exploiting others' appearances. He also made the performances more family-friendly. 10. The Elephants In 2015, Feld Entertainment announced it would phase it its elephant shows by 2018. The date was moved forward to May 2016. Source: Fascinating Facts About the Ringling Bros., Barnum and Bailey Circus | Facts About the Ringling Brothers
  19. What's the Word: NOTIONATE pronunciation: [NO-shuh-nit] Part of speech: adjective Origin: English, 19th century Meaning: 1. Notional. Existing as or based on a suggestion, estimate, or theory; not existing in reality. 2. Given to fanciful thinking or exaggerated imagination. Example: "Elves, gnomes, and fairies are all notionate, but many people are fascinated by them." "My father claimed he’d been visited by gnomes, but he was a notionate fellow." About Notionate The term is a combination of the English word “notion,” from the Lation “nōtiō,” with the suffix “-ate,” with creates an adjective based on “notion.” Did You Know? “Notionate” has been overtaken in English by its synonym “notional,” and exists today mainly as a regional expression in the Southern U.S., Northern Ireland, and in Scotland. In nearly all contexts, the term has been used to describe a state of exaggerated imagination. For example, a person describing their grandfather as “old-fashioned and notionate” might be implying that the man is very superstitious and believes in ghosts, elves, or other notionate creatures.
  20. Fact of the Day - THE YEAR WITHOUT A SUMMER Did you know... The year 1816 is known as the Year Without a Summer because of severe climate abnormalities that caused average global temperatures to decrease by 0.4–0.7 °C. Summer temperatures in Europe were the coldest on record between the years of 1766–2000. This resulted in major food shortages across the Northern Hemisphere. (Wikipedia) Amazing Facts About "The Year Without a Summer" By Dennis Mersereau | Jan 15, 2016 | Updated: Jul 21, 2022 The history of natural disasters is peppered with storms, floods, and even asteroids, but some of the most fascinating disasters have come from deep within the Earth itself thanks to volcanoes. Eruptions like the one that buried Pompeii, Italy, are prominently featured in grade school history lessons, but few volcanoes had such a dramatic and devastating impact as that of Mount Tambora. This volcano produced such a violent eruption in 1815 that it shielded the Earth from the sun's radiation, cooling the Northern Hemisphere and making 1816 “The Year Without a Summer.” 1. Mount Tambora's eruption lasted nearly two weeks. Before it blew in April 1815, Tambora was a 14,000-foot peak at the center of an Indonesian island named Sumbawa. During the eruption, the volcano ejected billions of tons of gas and debris into the atmosphere. Much of the heavier ash and debris fell on the islands and sea around Tambora, but a significant amount wound up in the atmosphere, spreading around the world and partially blotting out the sun for months after the event. The eruption itself killed tens of thousands—if not hundreds of thousands—of people in the resulting pyroclastic flows, choking ashfalls, and tsunamis. 2. Tambora's explosion was worse than some better-known eruptions. Indonesia is home to some of the busiest geological activity in the world. The eruption of Indonesia’s Krakatoa on August 27, 1883, is one of the most infamous volcanic disasters in recorded history, killing tens of thousands of people and affecting weather around the world for months after the eruption. However, just a few decades before it, Mount Tambora unleashed an eruption worse than Krakatoa, Washington’s Mount St. Helens, and even Pompeii’s Vesuvius. Tambora registered a VEI-7 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index, a metric that measures the size of volcanic eruptions on a scale from VEI-0 (non-explosive) to VEI-8 (megacolossal). Krakatoa measured a VEI-6, while Mount St. Helens and Vesuvius both rated a VEI-5. 3. It caused a volcanic winter. We’re familiar with the greenhouse effect, where certain gases and particulates in the atmosphere can trap heat and cause global temperatures to tick upward, but volcanic eruptions can cause the opposite effect. There are two main mechanisms for this: the first is that the particulates ejected by volcanoes can reflect sunlight, allowing less solar radiation to reach the surface, keeping global temperatures lower than they would be under normal conditions. The result is a volcanic winter, similar to the much-feared “nuclear winter” that served as a major theme in 20th-century science fiction. But particulates only last in the atmosphere for a couple of days. Far more important is the sulfur dioxide that also comes with eruptions. Sulfur dioxide gets converted into sulfuric acid, which then forms aerosols high up in the atmosphere that also block incoming solar radiation for several years after the eruption. 4. Tambora's eruption caused a snow day in June. The volcanic winter that followed Mount Tambora’s historic eruption devastated communities around the world. Ironically, the volcanic winter effect was noticed during the summer months, especially in eastern North America. Residents reported heavy snow falling as late as the middle of June in the northeastern United States, with one account citing half a foot of snow on June 6, 1816. 5. The cold killed crops across Europe and Asia. The sudden drop in temperatures wreaked havoc on agriculture around the world. In addition to heavy frosts and freezes all but destroying crops in the United States, cold and wet conditions also killed the harvest in Europe and Asia. The widespread crop failures around the world led to famine in many regions of the world, costing countless lives. 6. Diseases spread around the world. Not only did the eruption leave weather disasters and famine in its wake, but the combination of the two effects also produced an undesirable result: disease. The disruption of the normal monsoon in India led to a drought and likely allowed the water-borne cholera bacterium to mutate into a more virulent form. The pathogen spread around the world and caused frequent epidemics throughout the 19th century. Millions of people died, but the scourge helped bring us much closer to modern medicine. 7. Mount Tambora's eruption gave us Frankenstein ... The gloomy weather in Europe during the Year Without a Summer prevented tourists from enjoying a pleasant vacation. One group of literary legends—including Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (later Mary Shelley), Lord Byron, and John Polidori—took a trip to Lake Geneva in the summer of 1816 and wound up indoors most of the time due to the chilly, rainy conditions. It was during this outing-turned-staycation that Mary Shelley started her classic novel Frankenstein; or: The Modern Prometheus, and John Polidori was inspired to write The Vampyre, which later influenced Bram Stoker's Dracula. 8. ... and epic sunsets. Chichester Canal (1828) by J. M. W. Turner Brilliant sunsets are often the result of sunlight refracting through moisture in the atmosphere, leading to vivid displays of warm colors that often balance against a darkening sky. Particulates in the atmosphere such as dust and volcanic ash can create even more vivid sunrises and sunsets, the latter causing these phenomena to linger for many months after such an eruption. Art historians believe these dazzling sights in 1816 inspired the diffuse, luminous color technique of British painter J.M.W. Turner. Source: Wikipedia - Year Without a Summer | Facts About The Year Without a Summer
  21. What's the Word: SERIO-COMIC pronunciation: [seer-ee-oh-KAH-mik] Part of speech: adjective Origin: English, 18th century Meaning: 1. Combining the serious and the comic; serious in intention but jocular in manner or vice versa. Example: "Serio-comic movies can feel more realistic than straight comedies or dramas because of how they mix familiar emotions." "The 1985 film “The Breakfast Club” is a serio-comic classic, contrasting the solemnity of some of its moments with delightful humor." About Serio-comic The compound “serio-comic” combines “serio-“ and “comic,” each of which is an English root. At the same time as the term came into use in English, similar forms were being used in French (“sério-comique”) and in Italian (“serio-comico”). Did You Know? Historically, the term “serio-comic” is associated with a surprising concept: satirical maps. In the mid-19th century, with various wars breaking out across Europe, artists like Fred W. Rose created serio-comic maps of Europe featuring cartoonish depictions of the various countries engaged in war. These serio-comic maps often depicted countries as animals, such as turkeys, lions, bears, and greedy octopi, as a means of finding humor in their very serious military campaigns and aims.
  22. Fact of the Day - COFFEE Did you know.... There are people who can’t start their day without having a freshly brewed cup of coffee. They love coffee so much that sometimes they call themselves “coffee addicts”. And we understand that all too well. However, drinking your daily cup(s) of coffee isn’t necessarily a bad habit. On the contrary, it’s proven to be healthy, scientists say. Your daily morning coffee provides you with more than just an energy boost. It’s also shown to protect us against Type 2 diabetes and liver diseases as well as lowering the risks of heart failure. Besides the effect on our health, here are some of the more interesting facts about coffee. (Agiboo | March 2018) Stimulating Facts About Coffee by Interesting Facts Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, and Americans are no exception. In 2020, the average American coffee drinker downed more than three cups per day, and Americans overall drank 517 million daily cups. First introduced to America in the mid-17th century, coffee grew in popularity after the Boston Tea Party of 1773, which encouraged patriots to swap over-taxed tea for coffee. In the time since, soldiers have relied on coffee to boost morale overseas, children of U.S. Presidents have founded their own coffee houses, and American coffee brands have expanded across the globe. Can’t get enough coffee? Discover six amazing facts you might not know about this beloved morning beverage. 1. Coffee Beans Aren’t Actually Beans It turns out that the name you’re familiar with for those tiny pods that are ground and brewed for a fresh cup of joe is a misnomer. Coffee “beans” are actually the seeds found within coffee cherries, a reddish fruit harvested from coffee trees. Farmers remove the skin and flesh from the cherry, leaving only the seed inside to be washed and roasted. Coffee farming is a major time investment: On average, a tree takes three or four years to produce its first crop of cherries. In most of the Coffee Belt — a band along the equator where most coffee is grown that includes the countries of Brazil, Ethiopia, and Indonesia — coffee cherries are harvested just once per year. In many countries, the cherries are picked by hand, a laborious process. 2. Decaf Coffee Is Still a Tiny Bit Caffeinated Decaf coffee has helped coffee drinkers enjoy the taste of coffee without (much of) the jolting effects of caffeine, but its creation was entirely accidental. According to legend, around 1905 German coffee merchant Ludwig Roselius received a crate of coffee beans that had been drenched with seawater. Trying to salvage the beans, the salesman roasted them anyway, discovering that cups brewed with the beans retained their taste (with a little added salt) but didn’t have any jittery side effects. Today, the process for making decaf blends remains relatively similar: Beans are soaked in water or other solvents to remove the caffeine, then washed and roasted. However, no coffee is entirely free of caffeine. It’s estimated that 97% of caffeine is removed during preparation, but a cup of decaf has as little as 2 milligrams of caffeine — compared to regular coffee’s 95 milligrams. 3. Bach Wrote an Opera About Coffee Johann Bach is remembered as one of the world’s greatest composers, known for orchestral compositions such as the Brandenburg Concertos. But one of Bach’s lesser-known works is Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht (“Be Still, Stop Chattering”) — a humorous ode to coffee popularly known as the Coffee Cantata. Written sometime in the 1730s, Bach’s opera makes light of fears at the time that coffee was an immoral beverage entirely unfit for consumption. In the 18th century, coffee shops in Europe were known to be boisterous places of conversation, unchaperoned meeting places for young romantics, and the birthplaces of political plots. A reported lover of coffee, Bach wrote a 10-movement piece that pokes fun at the uproar over coffee. The opera tells the story of a father attempting to persuade his daughter to give up her coffee addiction so that she might get married, but in the end, she just becomes a coffee-imbibing bride. 4. The First Webcam Was Invented For a Coffee Pot We can credit coffee-craving inventors for creating the first webcam. In the early 1990s, computer scientists working at the University of Cambridge grew tired of trekking to the office kitchen for a cup of joe only to find the carafe in need of a refill. The solution? They devised a makeshift digital monitor — a camera that uploaded three pictures per minute of the coffee maker to a shared computer network — to guarantee a fresh pot of coffee was waiting the moment their mugs emptied. By November 1993, the in-house camera footage made its internet debut, and viewers from around the globe tuned in to watch the grainy, real-time recording. The world’s first webcam generated so much excitement that computer enthusiasts even traveled to the U.K. lab to see the setup in real life. In 2003, the coffee pot sold at auction for nearly $5,000. 5. Coffee Was Frequently a Staple in the Oval Office Coffee has a long political history in the U.S. — colonists who tossed heavily-taxed tea into the Boston Harbor switched to drinking the caffeinated brew as part of their rebellion. But even after the Revolutionary War’s end, American leaders held an enduring love for the beverage. George Washington grew coffee shrubs at his Mount Vernon estate (though because of climate, they likely never produced beans), while Thomas Jefferson loved coffee so much that he estimated using a pound per day at Monticello during retirement. Similarly, Theodore Roosevelt reportedly consumed an entire gallon of coffee each day, and George H.W. Bush was known for imbibing up to 10 daily cups. 6. Your Genes Might Determine How Much Coffee You Drink If you can’t get through the day without several cups of coffee, you may have your genes to blame. A 2018 study suggests inherited traits determine how sensitive humans are to bitter foods like caffeine and quinine (found in tonic water). Researchers found that people with genes that allow them to strongly taste bitter caffeine were more likely to be heavy coffee drinkers (defined as consuming four or more cups daily). It seems counterintuitive that people more perceptive to astringent tastes would drink more coffee than those with average sensitivity — after all, bitter-detecting taste buds likely developed as the body’s response to prevent poisoning. But some scientists think that human brains have learned to bypass this warning system in favor of caffeine’s energizing properties. The downside? Constant coffee consumers are at higher risk of developing caffeine addiction. Source: Most Interesting Facts to Know About Coffee | Coffee Facts
  23. What's the Word: OCTOTHORPE pronunciation: [AHK-tə-thorp] Part of speech: noun Origin: American, 20th century Meaning: 1. Another term for the pound sign (#). Example: "The octothorpe is sometimes used as an “Enter” key for a phone system and is dialed at the end of a command." "My grandfather was confused by why so many words online were preceded by an octothorpe." About Octothorpe The origin of the word “octothorpe” is uncertain, though the term was in use at Bell Telephone Labs by the early 1970s, and most believe the term was invented by Bell Labs employee Don MacPherson. “Octothorpe” combines the Latin prefix “octō-,” meaning “eight,” with the proper name Thorpe, which many suspect MacPherson chose in homage to American gold-medal Olympian and football player Jim Thorpe. In a competing theory, one former Bell Labs insider claimed “octothorpe” began as the nonsense word “octatherp.” Did You Know? Whether it’s called an “octothorpe,” or a “pound” or “hashtag” or “number” sign, the # symbol began life as an abbreviation “lb” for the Latin “libra pondo,” or “pound weight.” Those handwriting “lb” quickly were often left with a messy symbol that looked like four crossed lines, from which the octothorpe was developed as a simple representation. The octothorpe became a technological standard in 1968 when AT&T added it to its touch tone telephone, along with the asterisk (*), in order to make the keypad square.
  24. Fact of the Day - RUSSIAN BLUE CATS Did you know.... Unlike the common Orange Tabby cat, the Russian Blue cat is actually its own unique breed. They are absolutely striking with their soft, blue gray coats and bright green eyes. In fact, they are on Insider’s list of Most Beautiful Cat Breeds! It is no secret that Russian Blues are gorgeous, so we have put together a list of the more interesting facts about them here. (Pet Adventures) Facts About Russian Blue Cats By Kirstin Fawcett | September 2, 2016 | Updated: July 21, 2022 We’ve ogled the British blue shorthair and admired the plush gray fur of the Chartreux from France. Now, it’s time for a crash course on Russia’s sleekest, most aristocratic-looking feline: the Russian blue. 1. The Russian blue likely hails from Northern Russia. The Russian blue’s ancestral roots are lost in time. Some people speculate that they’re descended from the pet cats of Russian czars, but there’s probably more truth to the claim that the breed originated in northwest Russia. According to legend, the gray kitties lived in the wilderness and were prized—and sadly hunted—for their dense, warm fur. Today, it’s said that gray cats resembling the Russian blue still live in the country's coldest regions. It’s believed that sailors brought the Russian blue from the port city of Arkhangelsk—which sits on the Northern Dvina River in the northwestern part of the country—to Great Britain and Northern Europe in the 1860s. The city was one of the most important ports in the Russian Empire. Its name means Archangel in English, which may explain why the Russian blue was once known as the Archangel blue. (Other early monikers include the Maltese and Foreign blue.) 2. Russian blues were shown at one of the world's first cat shows. The “Archangel Cat” made an appearance at one of the world’s first cat shows, held at London’s Crystal Palace in 1875. The breed reportedly drew praise from one writer in attendance, who described it as "a very handsome cat, coming from Archangel … particularly furry …. They resemble mostly the common wild gray rabbit." Sadly, the Russian blue didn’t win any prizes: Harrison Weir—the show’s founder who’s today remembered as “the father of the cat fancy”—grouped all the short-haired blue cats into one category, and he preferred the stockier, round-faced British blue. 3. The Russian blue nearly disappeared during World War II. Britain’s Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) recognized the Russian blue as a distinct breed in 1912. The cat was often referred to as a "Blue Foreign type” or the "Foreign blue." But World War II eventually broke out, and many breeders no longer had the resources to continue the kitty's bloodline. The Russian blue dwindled in number, but after the war ended, cat lovers in countries including Britain, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark saved the blue by crossbreeding it with other feline types. Today, the Russian blue's appearance varies around Europe. Scandinavians mated the cat with Siamese cats, resulting in a longer, more angular look. And in Britain, the kitty was crossbred with Bluepoint Siamese cats and British blues, so they developed a stockier silhouette. Russian blues first arrived in America sometime in the 1900s, but it wasn't until much later that the country's cat enthusiasts started breeding them in earnest. They imported Russian blues from Scandinavia and England, and over time, combined their unique features into the blue-furred, green-eyed cat we know and love today. 4. A Russian blue inspired Nyan Cat. A Russian blue cat helped inspire the internet’s most famous 8-bit animated feline. Nyan Cat—the YouTube video-turned-viral Internet-meme of a cat-Pop Tart hybrid flying through space, leaving a rainbow trail in its wake—was created in 2011 by then-25-year-old illustrator Christopher Torres, who owned a Russian blue named Marty. Torres was participating in a Red Cross donation drive, and received conflicting suggestions on what to draw. One person wanted him to sketch a cat; another, a Pop Tart. Torres ended up drawing a hybrid of both, but if you look closely, you'll notice that the feline portion of Nyan Cat strongly resembles Torres's beloved cat. This wasn't a coincidence: Marty, who was named after Marty McFly from Back to the Future, “heavily influenced a lot of my comics and the creation of Nyan Cat,” Torres tweeted after his cat died in 2012. 5. The Russian blue isn't totally hypoallergenic. Some people say that the Russian blue is a good pet for people with allergies. It doesn’t shed a lot, plus the gray kitty allegedly produces lower levels of Fel d 1 protein, the allergenic protein in cat saliva and skin secretions that makes your skin itch and eyes water. But even small amounts of Fel d 1 can cause you to suffer an allergic reaction—plus, Russian blues still have dander. There are plenty of reasons to want the gray cat; just keep in mind that it won't be the solution to your allergy woes. 6. The Russian blue is different from other "blue" cats. With its slate-colored fur, the Russian blue resembles other “blue” short-haired cats like the Chartreux and the British blue. But if you look closely, you’ll see subtle differences between the three breeds. For one, the Russian blue has green eyes, whereas the Chartreux has brilliant orange pupils, and the British blue’s are gold, copper, or blue-green. Also, the Russian blue and Chartreux have round faces and stocky (if not slightly chunky) bodies, while the Russian blue is much more elongated and lithe, with a wedge-shaped head. Finally, the Russian blue's dense, double-layered coat is silky to the touch. In contrast, the British blue's plush fur feels slightly crisp, and the Chartreux's is tufted and wooly. 7. The Russian blue is a loving (but shy) feline. If you're looking for a calm cat with a pleasant disposition, consider the Russian blue. The kitty is shy around strangers, but affectionate with owners. It enjoys sitting quietly by the side of its favorite humans—but it's also down for a playful game of fetch. 8. The Russian blue gets its hue from a unique gene. The Russian blue gets its silvery fur from a diluted version of the gene that's responsible for black hairs. If you mate two Russian blues together, they'll produce a litter of all-gray kittens. But if the Russian blue is bred with another cat type, the black Russian Shorthair, the union will result in a mix of blue and black kittens. (Mate the Russian blue with a white feline, and their children will be white, blue, and black.) Source: Russian Blue Cat Facts | Elegant Facts About Russian Blue Cats
  25. What's the Word: ILK pronunciation: [ilk] Part of speech: noun Origin: Old English, 12th century Meaning: 1. A type of people or things similar to those already referred to. Example: "Charlene stopped the song to say she loved Billie Eilish and anyone of her ilk." "My father sought out local artisans and their ilk on his travels." About Ilk “Ilk” is a very old word with many roots, among them the Old English “ilca,” meaning “same,” and the Proto-Germanic “ilīkaz,” also meaning “same.” Did You Know? The expressions “of that ilk” and “of his ilk” refer to “type” or “sort,” which is the product of a misunderstanding. The expression “of that ilk” originated in Scotland, but the Scottish meaning of the phrase meant “of the same name and place.” Some traditionalists feel, therefore, that English speakers shouldn’t use “of that ilk” to refer to similarities in kind and type. Nonetheless, using “of that ilk” to refer to types and sorts of people or things is part of standard English and is the only common use for the expression today.
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