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  1. What's the Word: CONCINNITY pronunciation: [kən-SIN-ih-tee] Part of speech: noun Origin: Latin, 16th century Meaning: 1. The skillful and harmonious arrangement or fitting together of the different parts of something. 2. Studied elegance of literary or artistic style. Example: "The combined effect of the performances, stage sets, and dazzling lighting made the Broadway show a model of concinnity." "Masha seeks out art that displays a complex concinnity of African influences." About Concinnity “Concinnity” is based on the Latin “concinnitās” (meaning “skillfully put together”). Did you Know? Year after year, critics rate the 1972 film “The Godfather” as one of the finest movies ever made. Perhaps its concinnity elevates Francis Ford Coppola’s classic film above all other gangster movies. The film's masterful script contains memorable and easily quotable lines, and it’s also legendarily well acted by Marlon Brando, as the titular Godfather, and Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, and James Caan, among others. The film is carefully shot to exude a unique aesthetic that creates a world of its own — and the soundtrack is likewise notably memorable. The concinnity of these forces is at the root of the success of “The Godfather.”
  2. Fact of the Day - ACCIDENTAL INVENTIONS Did you know.... While many inventions are the outcome of tireless effort and incredible insight, a little luck never hurts. Some inventions — from Post-it Notes to penicillin — are amazing examples of good fortune as well as curiosity and tenacity. After all, it’s not enough for an accident to reveal some incredible new advancement; it also needs to be witnessed by an inquisitive person prepared to understand its significance. Here are seven world-changing inventions that were discovered by accident, by people who made sure that these serendipitous moments didn’t go unnoticed. 1. Post-Its In 1968, scientist Spencer Silver was working at the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, also known as 3M. Founded in 1902, 3M quickly evolved beyond mining, and by the mid-20th century, the company had expanded into the adhesives game. At the time, Silver was trying to make “bigger, tougher, stronger” adhesives, and thus considered one of his creations, known as acrylate copolymer microspheres, a failure. These microspheres could retain their stickiness but could also be removed easily — not exactly big, tough, or strong. While Silver believed this light-hold adhesive could have some sort of use (he patented it just to be safe), he couldn’t put a finger on what that use was, exactly, until one day when fellow 3M scientist Art Fry was in search of a bookmark that could stick to pages without damaging the paper. Fry immediately thought of Silver’s microspheres, and the two scientists soon found themselves writing each other messages around the office on the world’s first Post-it Notes. “What we have here isn't just a bookmark," Fry once said. "It's a whole new way to communicate." 2. Microwave Ovens Today 90% of American households have a microwave oven — and it’s all thanks to magnetron expert Percy Spencer. In the mid-1940s, Spencer was working at the aerospace and defense company Raytheon when he took a step in front of an active radar set. To his surprise, the candy bar in his pocket melted. Spencer conducted a few more experiments, using popcorn kernels and eggs, and realized that microwaves could vibrate water molecules, causing them to produce heat and cook food. Raytheon patented the invention in 1945, and released the first microwave oven, called the “Radarange,” the next year. It weighed 750 pounds and cost $5,000 (about $52,000 today). It wasn’t until the 1970s that both the technology and price reached that consumer sweet spot, and microwave ovens became a must-have appliance in every U.S. home. 3. Penicillin If you ever need to stress to your boss the importance of vacation, share the tale of penicillin. On September 3, 1928, Scottish physician Alexander Fleming returned to his laboratory at St. Mary’s Hospital in London after a vacation of more than a month. Sitting next to a window was a Petri dish filled with the infectious bacteria known as staphylococcus — but it’s what Fleming found in the dish alongside the bacteria that astounded him. Inside the Petri dish was a fungus known as penicillium, or what Fleming at the time called “mould juice.” Whatever the name, this particular fungus appeared to stop staphylococcus from spreading, and Fleming pondered whether this fungus’s bacteria-phobic superpowers could be harnessed into a new kind of medicine. Spoiler: It could, and in the coming years, Fleming developed the world’s first antibiotic, winning the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1945 for his accidental yet world-changing discovery. “I did not invent penicillin. Nature did that,” Fleming once said. “I only discovered it by accident.” 4. X-Rays In November 1895, German scientist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was hard at work studying cathode radiation in his Würzburg laboratory when a chemically coated screen 9 feet away began to glow. What followed was seven weeks of what Röntgen’s wife, Bertha, later described as a “dreadful time.” Röntgen worked tirelessly, obsessed with discovering the secrets of the phenomenon he called “X-rays” (named because the rays were unknown, as in “solving for x”) — often coming home in a bad mood, and eating silently before immediately retreating back to his lab. Eventually, he even moved his bed to his lab so he could work around the clock. As Röntgen would later put it, “I didn’t think; I investigated.” The result of this investigation was a paper published in late December that same year, titled “On a New Kind of Rays.” The work detailed how these X-rays could penetrate objects, and the medical applications for such an invention were immediately apparent. Within a month or two, the first clinical uses of X-rays occurred in Hanover, New Hampshire, and Röntgen became the recipient of the first Nobel Prize in physics in 1901. 5. Vulcanized Rubber On its own, natural rubber isn’t immensely useful — it melts in warm weather, cracks in the cold, and adheres to basically everything. But once rubber undergoes a process known as “vulcanization,” in which natural rubber is mixed with sulfur (or some other curative) and heated to between 140 to 180 degrees Celsius, it gains immense tensile strength and becomes resistant to swelling and abrasion. Although creating this kind of tough rubber is a relatively complicated process, evidence suggests that an ancient Mexican people known as the Olmecs (which means “rubber people”) used some type of vulcanization. But modern vulcanization didn’t arrive until 1839, when American inventor Charles Goodyear accidentally dropped India rubber mixed with sulfur on a hot stove. Recognizing that the rubber held its shape and also gained strength and rigidity, Goodyear soon patented his discovery. Alas, protecting those patents from infringement proved impossible, and Goodyear died in 1860 some $200,000 in debt. However, Goodyear still saw his life as a success, once writing: “I am not disposed to complain that I have planted and others have gathered the fruits. A man has cause for regret only when he sows and no one reaps.” Thirty-eight years later, American entrepreneur Frank Seiberling started a company to supply tires for the nascent automobile industry. Because creating tires capable of handling the rough terrain of dirt roads relied entirely on the process of vulcanization, Seiberling named his enterprise after the man who made it all possible — calling it the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. 6. Velcro Amazing inventions come to curious minds, and that’s certainly the case for Swiss engineer George de Mestral. While on a walk in the woods with his dog, de Mestral noticed how burrs from a burdock plant stuck to his pants as well as his dog’s fur. Examining the burrs under a microscope, de Mestral discovered that the tips of the burr weren't straight (as they appeared to the naked eye), but instead contained tiny hooks at the ends that could grab hold of the fibers in his clothing. It took nearly 15 years for de Mestral to recreate what he witnessed under that microscope, but he eventually created a product that both stuck together securely and could be easily pulled apart. In 1954, he patented a creation he dubbed “Velcro,” a portmanteau of the French words velours (“velvet”) and crochet (“hook”). 7. Synthetic Dye For most of human history, dyes and pigments were sourced from natural resources such as metals, minerals, and even bat guano. It was an expensive process, and one of the most costly colors to create was purple, which had to be sourced from a particular mollusk along the coast of Tyre, a city in modern Lebanon. In fact, the dye was so expensive that the color was reserved for royalty, with monarchs like Queen Elizabeth even passing laws to ensure as much. Then came 18-year-old British chemist William Henry Perkin. In 1856, Perkin was working in a lab, where he was trying (and failing) to produce a synthetic form of quinine, a compound found in the bark of cinchona trees and used to treat malaria. While washing out the brown sludge of one failed experiment with alcohol, the mixture turned a brilliant purple. Calling his creation “mauveine,” Perkin soon realized that not only was this dye cheap to produce, but it also lasted longer than dyes derived from natural sources, which tended to fade quickly. Perkin’s discovery kick-started a chain reaction of chemical advances that brought cheap, colorful dyes to the fashion industry. Within six years of Perkin’s happy accident, even Queen Victoria herself began wearing colorful garments of bright mauveine. Source: Major Inventions That Were Created by Accident
  3. What's the Word: LUFF pronunciation: [luhf] Part of speech: verb Origin: Old French, 13th century Meaning: 1. Steer a yacht nearer the wind. 2. Obstruct (an opponent in yacht racing) by sailing closer to the wind. Example: "The ship luffed up as it turned out to sea." "Unfortunately, the most direct route home required us to luff up." About Luff “Luff” is based on the Old French “lof,” likely based on the Middle Dutch “loef,” meaning “the windward side of a sail.” Did you Know? Over its long history in English, “luff” has meant many things, including a noun that referred to the edge of a sail closest to the wind. This is connected to “luff” as a verb, which usually appears as a phrasal verb with “up” (“to luff up”), describing the action of turning a sailing ship into the wind. Luffing up is a difficult sailing technique that risks sapping the ship of its power, but it's sometimes necessary to make a direct trip.
  4. Fact of the Day - FAVORITE FOODS Did you know.... Not all countries are agriculturally equal, and a handful of places — China, the U.S., India, and Brazil — dominate global food production and exports. Yet smaller players also contribute to stocking the shelves with our favorite foods, thanks to native plant species, environmental factors, and infrastructure investments. Take, for instance, Canada’s abundance of lentils or Peru’s booming quinoa industry. Here are 13 foods and their top-producing countries. Do you know where your favorite snack comes from? 1. Turkey: Hazelnuts Turkey is the world's leading hazelnut producer, by a large margin. The transcontinental country, which straddles Asia and Europe, accounts for about 72.9% of the total global supply. By comparison, Italy, the second-highest hazelnut-producing country in the world, yields just 20% of the world’s supply each year. About 60% of Turkey’s crop comes from the Eastern Black Sea region; the persistent rainfall, moderate temperatures, and hospitable soil on the steep hills create the perfect growing conditions for the nut. It’s likely you’ve sampled Turkey’s supply and not even realized: Companies like Nestlé, Ferrero, and Godiva primarily source hazelnuts for their candy bars, Nutella spread, and decadent chocolates from the region. 2. Indonesia: Coconuts Coconuts have created a heated agricultural competition between Indonesia and the Philippines over the past several years. In 2019, Indonesia edged out the Philippines as the top producer in the world, growing around 19 million tons versus the Philippines’ 14 million tons. (The Philippines, however, remains the world’s top producer of coconut oil.) The coconut is a resilient fruit, and while the palm tree it grows on doesn’t require a specific soil, a high amount of rainfall is needed to properly sustain growth. The trees thrive in humid coastal areas; India, Brazil, Sri Lanka, and Thailand also rank among the world’s major coconut producers. The coconut is extremely versatile; everything from the tree’s leaves and wood to the fruit’s water, meat, and shell can be used, giving the palm tree its nickname, the “Tree of Life.” 3. Madagascar: Vanilla If you love the smell and taste of vanilla, you can thank Madagascar. Though it originated in Mexico, 80% of the enduringly popular spice is now grown in the East African country. Anyone who has ever sought natural vanilla extract or beans knows that the prices are not always consumer-friendly, but it’s for good reason: Vanilla isn’t an easy crop to grow. Vines take anywhere from two to four years to mature, pollination is done artificially by hand (flowers open only one day a year, and the plant’s natural pollinator, the Melipona bee, is found only in Mexico), and the beans take nine months after pollination to be ripe for picking. It then takes many more months of preparing and drying the vanilla beans in the sun for their aromatic appeal to be just right, meaning the process from pollination to shipment takes about one year. 4. Costa Rica: Pineapples Although pineapples are native to South America, Costa Rica leads the world in pineapple production and exports. The small Central American country leans heavily on the crops, which generate an estimated $1 billion USD a year for their economy. While the crops are bountiful for the country (as well as for Brazil and the Philippines), they require a significant amount of time and effort to produce fruit — one plant typically produces only one or two pineapples every 18 to 24 months. In an effort to speed up the growth, some producers have used artificial fertilizers, but not without criticisms and concerns over the toxicity to the famously environmentally forward country. In response, the Costa Rican pineapple industry is working toward implementing regulations to ensure more sustainable practices. 5. Mexico: Avocados Avocados have become so ubiquitous in food culture that their consumption was once cited as a reason for Millennials not being able to buy homes. But before they became a so-called luxury grocery item for hip young people, avocados were a long-running staple of the Mexican diet, and to this day, Mexico is the leading avocado producer and exporter in the world. Avocados weren’t always so popular outside of their native land, though — it wasn’t until a PR campaign and Super Bowl commercial in the early 1990s that guacamole became a game-day staple. Today, a staggering 87% of the U.S. supply comes from Mexico, where the avocado industry provides 40,000 jobs and 70,000 seasonal jobs during harvest. 6. Peru: Quinoa In the mid-to-late 2000s, quinoa enjoyed a huge popularity surge in Europe and the U.S., where it was touted for its health benefits. Since 2015, Peru — the native region for the Andean plant — has emerged as the largest quinoa producer and exporter in the world. The “superfood” is a grain crop, the edible seeds of which are high in protein, amino acids, fiber, iron, and antioxidants. The ancient grain is so revered that it even received a special honor from the United Nations General Assembly, who named 2013 the International Year of Quinoa. The popularity and production boom has been financially beneficial to Peruvian farmers, who previously grew quinoa primarily for their own family’s use. Click the link below to read more on what country your favorite foods comes from. Source: Which Country Produces the Most of Your Favorite Foods?
  5. What's the Word: EMMETROPIA pronunciation: [em-ih-TROH-pee-ə] Part of speech: noun Origin: Latin, 19th century Meaning: 1. The normal condition of the eye. Example: "The ophthalmologist told Lesley she had emmetropia and wouldn’t need glasses." "Emmetropia is a prerequisite for a number of jobs, including firefighter and air traffic controller." About Emmetropia “Emmetropia” was coined by joining the ancient Greek “ἔμμετρος” (“émmetros,” meaning “in measure”) with the suffix‎ “-opia” (meaning “vision”). Did you Know? Pioneering Dutch ophthalmologist Franciscus Donders coined the term “emmetropia” in the mid-19th century to describe a state of perfect vision in the eye. Today, perfectly clear vision is a condition for a variety of jobs, most notably in aviation. While standards vary from country to country, and between commercial and military pilots, a general rule of thumb is that pilots must have 20/20 vision (meaning they can see clearly and accurately from a distance of 20 feet). Pilots need not have emmetropia naturally, however — in the U.S. and many other countries, pilots can wear corrective eyewear to achieve 20/20 vision.
  6. Fact of the Day - NO EXPIRATION DATE Did you know.... It’s easy to lose track of items in the back of a dark pantry, which is why expiration dates can be so helpful in determining when to toss old foods. However, the “best by” dates we rely on aren’t always a true picture of how long a food is shelf-stable. Food dating is mostly a voluntary process for grocery manufacturers, who often just estimate when their products will no longer be at their best quality. Luckily, there are some foods — like the six listed below — that are safe to keep using even if their expiration date has long passed. 1. Vinegar Most foods produce a noxious smell when they’ve spoiled, but vinegar always smells pretty potent, so it may be hard to use the old-fashioned sniff test to guess at its quality. Luckily, you don’t have to, since vinegar doesn’t expire. Vinegar is a fermented product, created when yeast consume sugars or starches to create alcohol; that byproduct is then exposed to oxygen and a bacteria called Acetobacter, which continues fermenting to create the final acidic product. That acidity actually makes vinegar self-preserving, which is why it generally doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Over time, vinegar can become hazy or develop sediment, particularly a gelatinous substance called “mother,” though that doesn’t mean you need to toss it — in fact, vinegar mothers (aka a colony of healthy bacteria that forms in fermented liquids) can even be used to create a new batch of the multipurpose solution. 2. White Rice Comedian Mitch Hedberg once joked that rice is the perfect meal if you’re “really hungry and want to eat 2,000 of something.” It’s also a great food for long-term storage. White rice — which starts as brown rice but is milled to remove its exterior husk, bran, and germ — keeps best, so long as it’s properly stored away from moisture and pets. At temperatures under 40 degrees Fahrenheit, white rice’s life span pushes upwards of 25 to 30 years, but even when stored at warmer temperatures, it can last up to 10 years if packed with oxygen absorbers. However, not all rice keeps long-term; opened bags should be used within two years, and brown rice lasts about six months at room-temperature storage because of its naturally occurring oils, which can go rancid. 3. Sugar Sugar has a particularly sweet characteristic: It doesn’t really go “bad.” Granulated sugars (along with some syrups, like corn syrup) are so inhospitable for bacteria that they’re often the primary ingredient used to preserve jellies, jams, and canned fruits. However, like all long-stored pantry staples, helping sugar maintain a long shelf-life means keeping it away from any source of condensation or moisture, which is easily absorbed and can leave behind a hardened block. Even with its ability to last indefinitely, food storage experts say sugar is best consumed within two years of opening — just another reason to mix up a batch of fresh cookies. 4. Salt Vegetable, animal, or mineral? Salt falls in the latter category, which is one reason it can enjoy an indefinite stay in your pantry without spoiling. Salt has been used to preserve foods (especially meats) for centuries because it’s so effective at inhibiting bacteria; the mineral is able to break down enzymes that help germs grow while also dehydrating food and removing water that bacteria needs to thrive. Its ability to repel water keeps salt unlimitedly useful, though there are some kinds of processed salt that are more likely to deteriorate in quality over time — specifically those with additives such as iodine or anti-caking agents (these kinds are best used in under five years). As for plain salt — it can last forever, especially if kept in a cool, dry place. 5. Vanilla Extract Pure vanilla extract can be a grocery store splurge, but if your oven is known for taking a hiatus between bursts of baking, it could be worth the extra cost. That’s because real vanilla extract doesn’t spoil thanks to its high alcohol content — over time, it can actually develop a deeper flavor. Imitation vanilla extract, however, has a drastically shorter shelf-life. While real vanilla is created by soaking vanilla beans in alcohol (which acts as a preservative), the flavoring dupe is made from vanillin, a manufactured substance that replicates the sweet and syrupy flavor. On the shelf, imitation vanilla lasts just six to 12 months before beginning to degrade and losing its flavor. 6. Honey Humans have risked bee swarms for thousands of years in the hopes of collecting a little honey. Beyond its use in cooking, the substance has also been used for healing wounds and even as a natural preservative — because the insect-produced food is one of the few that rarely expires. Honey’s indefinite shelf-life is thanks to its sugar-dense composition, with less than 20% of its makeup coming from water. The nectar also has two other preserving factors: It has an acidic pH level that is unsuitable for bacteria, and its viscous state creates an oxygen barrier that prevents pathogens from growing. However, there is a catch: To maintain these properties, honey must be stored in a sealed container safe from humid conditions. Even then, the USDA suggests honey is at its best when consumed within a year. Source: Foods That Never Expire
  7. What's the Word: PALUDAL pronunciation: [pə-LOOD-l] Part of speech: adjective Origin: Latin, 19th century Meaning: 1. (Of a plant, animal, or soil) Living or occurring in a marshy habitat. Example: "Ducks generally prefer to nest in a paludal area." "At the base of the hill was a paludal spot full of bulrushes." About Paluda “Paludal” is based on the Latin “palus,” meaning “marsh.” Did you Know? When “paludal” was coined in the early 19th century, it didn’t describe marshes or swamps or the creatures that live in them. Rather, it was used as a medical adjective to describe malaria, which was often contracted in swamps. However, because the term was based on a Latin root referring directly to marshes, over time “paludal” has come to describe anything to do with marshes and marshy habitats, and is no longer a medical term at all. In modern use, “paludal” describes plants and animals native to marshy habitats.
  8. Fact of the Day - RAIN Did you know... Rain — and by extension the Earth’s water cycle — is an essential planetary process that makes all life possible. Rain supports crops, fills lakes, and tops off reservoirs. And because salt remains behind during evaporation, rain is also a major source of fresh water. Here are six fascinating facts about rain to provide some new perspective when the next rainy day comes your way. 1. The Smell of Rain After a Dry Spell Has a Name Water itself is odorless, of course, but rain, particularly after a dry spell, produces a pleasant, earthy scent, known as “petrichor.” The word is a combination of two Greek words — petros, meaning “stone,” and ichor, referring to the mythological fluid that fills the veins of the Greek gods. This name is actually an apt description for where the smell originates, because when rain hits porous soil or rock, microorganisms called actinobacteria release an organic compound called geosmin into the air, which contributes to the odor we associate with petrichor. Humans are better at sniffing out this compound than sharks are at smelling blood in water, and some scientists theorize that this particular nasal sensitivity helped our hunter-gatherer ancestors find water sources. 2. Nearly All Rain Starts as Snow What we perceive as rain is actually water vapor at the end of a long journey. Precipitation forms when water vapor condenses into water droplets along the surface of certain aerosols that serve as “condensation nuclei.” As these droplets begin their journey toward Earth, they often freeze to form ice crystals at high altitudes, falling as snow. It’s only when the snow meets warmer air at lower elevations that the precipitation becomes hail or rain. (Freezing rain occurs when snow meets a pocket of warm air, melts, and then encounters freezing temperatures near the surface. Because the precipitation doesn’t have time to reform as snow, the rain instead freezes on contact with the ground, creating one of the most dangerous types of wintry conditions.) 3. There’s a Place in Antarctica Where It Never Rains The largest desert in the world isn’t the Sahara, the Arabian, or the Gobi. In fact, those three deserts combined don't make up the entire surface area of the Antarctic polar desert. (Although many of us associate deserts with sand dunes and cacti, they’re actually categorized as such based on their arid climates.) Antarctica as a whole receives very little precipitation, but the driest place by far is an area called the McMurdo Dry Valleys. Thanks to a phenomenon known as katabatic wind, which occurs when gravity pulls cold, dense mountain air downhill, this extremely parched region likely hasn’t seen any rain for an estimated 2 million years. In part because of this, though, it serves as a good analog for the Martian surface, a planet-wide desert in its own right that hasn’t seen precipitation in billions of years. 4. The Rain on Venus Is Sulfuric Acid Mars might be dry as a bone, but Earth’s other planetary neighbor is another story. Thanks to large amounts of sulfur dioxide in Venus’ atmosphere, the planet experiences precipitation in the form of extremely corrosive sulfuric acid. Acids and bases are measured by the pH scale, with “0” being a strong acid and “14” being a strong base. Earth’s rain, for example, typically has a slightly acidic pH of around 5.6, but during powerful volcanic eruptions, as more sulfur dioxide is injected into the atmosphere, the resulting acid rain can have a pH as low as 2.5 (similar to vinegar). The acid rain on Venus, meanwhile, is estimated to have a pH of 1 or even lower, which is extremely hostile to any sort of life. Of course, this rain never actually reaches the planet’s surface, which is a roiling 900 degrees Fahrenheit. (Sulfuric acid evaporates at around 572 degrees Fahrenheit.) In any case, you should probably scratch Venus off of your solar system bucket list. 5. Raindrops Don’t Look Tear-Shaped At All When kids draw raindrops, they’re often big, blue, and tear-shaped. In reality, however, a raindrop doesn’t look anything like a tear. While hovering in clouds, water droplets take on a spherical shape. As a droplet increases in size, it eventually falls to Earth, colliding with other droplets along the way. The bottom of the water droplet faces wind resistance as air also rushes past its sides, forming a jelly bean shape (though NASA describes it as a hamburger bun). Then, when the raindrop grows to about 4 millimeters in diameter, the pressure from the wind resistance flattens the droplet even further into a thin, umbrella shape before it eventually splits it into smaller spherical droplets. This may seem like a nitpicky fact, but knowing the exact shape of raindrops helps radar instruments on orbiting satellites monitor precipitation levels more accurately. 6. 1 Inch of Rain on 1 Acre of Land Weighs More Than 100 Tons One inch of rain may not sound like a lot — especially when you consider that some places get more than 460 inches of rain per year — but all that water adds up. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), 1 inch of rain over 1 acre of land is equal to 27,154 gallons and weighs around 113 tons. To put that into perspective, 1 square mile contains 640 acres, which means 1 inch of rain in 1 square mile is more than 17 million gallons of water. If you continue to scale up, 1 inch of rain over the entire United States is equal to more than 61 trillion gallons. The stats are even more mind-boggling when you consider that the contiguous U.S., for example, experiences enough rain in one year to cover the entire Lower 48 in 30 inches of water — which works out to 1,430 cubic miles of water weighing approximately 6.6 billion tons. By some accounts, an average of 1 billion tons of rain falls on the Earth every minute. Of course, this could shift with climate change. A warmer planet means more water will evaporate in the atmosphere, and that extra moisture could lead to more frequent “heavy precipitation,” which causes soil erosion and increases flood risk. Heavy precipitation doesn’t necessarily mean areas will see an increase of average rainfall; rather, it refers to the nature and intensity of dramatic, storm-filled events. Like so many of Earth’s natural processes, rain will not escape the reality of our warming world. Source: Amazing Facts About Rain
  9. What's the Word: OPPIDAN pronunciation: [OP-ih-dən] Part of speech: noun Origin: Latin, 16th century Meaning: 1. A resident of a town. Example: "Our car broke down on the outskirts of town, but an oppidan saw our lights and came to help us." "The lake is largely unknown, except by a few oppidans of the nearby town who hike the surrounding trails." About Oppidan “Oppidan” is based on the Latin “oppidānus” (meaning “townspeople”), from the term “oppidum” (meaning “town”). Did you Know? The word “oppidan” can be used as a noun or an adjective to refer to a resident of a town, but historically it had a very specific usage in English boarding schools. Dating back to the 16th century at Eton College, an oppidan was a student who boarded in town rather than at the school itself. At Westminster School, an oppidan lived with his family in Westminster rather than at the school. The common theme here is that the oppidan lived in town.
  10. Fact of the Day - NAMED AFTER Did you know.... One of the perks of discovering a new plant or animal is getting to name it whatever you want (although there are some rules around making sure the name is unique and not a personal insult or cuss word). While each species needs to have a two-part Latin name, in which the first part is the organism’s genus and the second is its species name, scientists can get pretty creative with the latter. Many choose names that reflect the organism’s physical appearance — for example, the giant panda’s Latin name, Ailuropoda melanoleuca, means “black and white cat foot.” Other scientists commemorate a mentor or national leader. Yet some discoverers notice a quirk in a new species and immediately think of movie stars, musicians, or other celebrities. Here are just a handful of those examples. 1. Agromyza Princei Freelance naturalist Charles Eiseman found an unusual track, made by the larvae of a fly called a leaf miner, on a black raspberry plant in Connecticut in 2016. When the adult fly emerged from the leaf, Eiseman realized it was a new species. His colleague Owen Lonsdale asked him to name it, and, as Eiseman wrote on his blog, “Prince’s ‘Raspberry Beret’ popped into my head, so I decided to call it Agromyza princei.” 2. Grouvellinus Leonardodicaprioi Citizen scientists on a “bioblitz”-style expedition discovered this shiny black water beetle in Borneo’s Maliau Basin in 2018. They named it for Leonardo DiCaprio, but not because of his Oscar-winning performance in The Revenant or his timeless turn in Titanic — instead, the team wanted to honor the actor and his foundation for “promoting environmental awareness and bringing the problems of climate change and biodiversity loss into the spotlight.” 3. Carcinonemertes Conanobrieni Researchers named this parasitic marine worm, a species that seems to feed on the eggs of the Caribbean spiny lobster, for Conan O’Brien, after noticing some traits in common with the ginger-haired comedian. “The physical similarities between the new species and Mr. O'Brien are remarkable,” they wrote in a 2017 paper. “Both exhibit a long and pale [body] with slight tints of orange.” 4. Conobregma Bradpitti Actor Brad Pitt appears to have no physical similarities to C. bradpitti, a brownish wasp from South Africa that resembles a medjool date with legs. Its discoverer, Dr. Buntika A. Butcher, spent long hours studying the new species in the lab under the benevolent gaze of a poster of Pitt, and she decided in 2016 to name the insect for her favorite movie star. 5. Gaga This new genus of lacy tropical ferns resembles outfits worn by Lady Gaga, according to the team that discovered it in 2012 — but there’s a genetic link to the pop star, too. As researcher Fay-Wei Li confirmed these plants’ unique genetic signature, he found the arrangement of DNA base pairs spelled GAGA. Two of the 19 species in the genus also hail Gaga: G. germanotta (echoing her last name) and G. monstraparva (a nod to her fans, known as “little monsters”). 6. Hypotrachyna Oprah Oprah Winfrey may not be the first person you think of when you hear the phrase “new species of lichen,” but James C. Lendemer and Jessica L. Allen readily named the greenish-gray organism after the icon. They cited its bright glow under UV light and its habitat in the Deep South, two traits it shares with Oprah — who was born in Mississippi and has been in the spotlight for decades as a journalist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. 7. Gormaniella Terricola Gaga wasn’t Fay-Wei Li’s only discovery, nor his only ode to a celebrity. In 2020, he and his colleagues stumbled on a new species of green algae and debated what to name it. “It was a very dark time,” Li explained, referencing the coronavirus pandemic, and his team wanted to focus on hope. They chose to honor Amanda Gorman and her inspiring 2021 inauguration poem, “The Hill We Climb.” “I have an algae named after me — I think your girl has officially made it,” Gorman tweeted. 8. Nannaria Swiftae Derek A. Hennen and his colleagues at Virginia Tech launched an ambitious project to find new millipede species from specimens that had been languishing in museum collections without proper identification. After comparing the museums’ millipedes with live ones, they discovered 17 species that were new to science, including one they named for Taylor Swift in 2022. “Her music helped me get through the highs and lows of graduate school, so naming a new millipede species after her is my way of saying thanks,” Hennen said. 9. Aptostichus Barackobamai In 2012, prolific species-discoverer Jason Bond at the University of California, Davis named a new type of trapdoor spider after Barack Obama, the “first African American President of the United States and reputed fan of spiders.” But that’s not the only organism named for our 44th POTUS. Obama is the eponym for a blood fluke, a lichen, a diving beetle, a bee, a fish commonly called the spangled darter, and even a species of puffbird, not to mention several extinct creatures. Former First Lady Michelle Obama also has her own eponymous organism, a “smiley-faced spider.” Source: Animals and Plants Named After Celebrities
  11. What's the Word: SISYPHEAN pronunciation: [sis-ə-FEE-ən] Part of speech: adjective Origin: Latin, 17th century Meaning: 1. Denoting or relating to a task that can never be completed. Example: "Trying to keep my cats from getting into the bag of treats feels like a Sisyphean challenge." "Beach cleanup days can feel Sisyphean, but preserving the ecosystem is a worthwhile project." About Sisyphean “Sisyphean” is adapted from the name “Sisyphus,” based on the ancient Greek “Σίσυφος” (“Sísuphos”). Did you Know? According to ancient Greek myth, Sisyphus was said to have cheated death twice, which made Hades — the god of the dead — angry. To punish Sisyphus, Hades sentenced him to spend eternity rolling an enormous stone to the top of a hill, only to have it roll down to the bottom again. For hundreds of years, the adjective “Sisyphean” has described tasks and labors that feel futile, endless, incessant, and frustrating — even those on a much smaller scale than those of the Greek gods. Keeping one's sock drawer organized may be a Sisyphean endeavor, for example.
  12. Fact of the Day - MOTHER'S DAY Did you know.... Mother’s Day is here, which means it’s time for children of all ages to think of ways to give thanks to these special women in our lives, or to honor the memory of those no longer with us. But before you get going on making the restaurant reservations, here are six fun facts about the history of the holiday and its celebrations around the world. 1. The First Official Mother’s Day Celebrations Happened in 1908 The modern, American version of Mother’s Day came into existence largely through the efforts of Anna Jarvis, who sought to honor her own beloved mom’s passing in 1905. Her extensive letter-writing campaign to politicians and prominent businessmen fueled the first official Mother’s Day celebrations in West Virginia and Philadelphia in 1908, and within four years the occasion was being commemorated in some form in every state. On Saturday, May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made the proceedings official by proclaiming the following day, and the second Sunday of every May that followed, to be nationally observed as Mother’s Day. 2. Calls for a Day to Honor Mothers Predate the Official Holiday Anna Jarvis was hardly the first to conceive of a day set aside for those who bear and raise children. Her own mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, oversaw “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” meant to improve local public health and sanitation, and spearheaded a “Mothers’ Friendship Day” that promoted peace and reconciliation after the Civil War. Famed writer and suffragist Julia Ward Howe also promoted a “Mother’s Peace Day” in the 1870s as a means for healing following the Civil War and Franco-Prussian War. And in 1904, former University of Notre Dame football coach and national president of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Frank Hering made a public pitch for maternal recognition; the Fraternal Order of Eagles now claims credit for helping to found Mother's Day. 3. The Founder of Mother's Day Eventually Disowned the Holiday It didn’t take long for Jarvis to channel her energy from launching Mother’s Day toward fighting the entities that sought to profit from the holiday. In the 1920s, she called for a boycott of florists who raised the prices of white carnations (a flower she had promoted at early Mother’s Day celebrations) every May, and made headlines for disrupting events held by organizations she felt were distorting her intentions for the day. Jarvis even criticized First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt the following decade for using Mother’s Day as part of fundraising efforts to combat high maternal and infant mortality rates. Shortly before her death in 1948, her inheritance spent on the numerous lawsuits waged in protection of her creation, Jarvis reportedly told a journalist that she was “sorry she had ever started Mother’s Day.” 4. A Mother’s Day Stamp Was Partially Designed by FDR Heeding a request to create a stamp honoring the nation’s mothers in early 1934, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt whipped up a conceptual sketch based on James McNeill Whistler’s “Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1” (aka “Whistler’s Mother”). Although a more accurate reproduction of the painting was eventually used, the FDR inscription “In Memory and in Honor of the Mothers of America” survived the final edits to appear on the printed product in time for Mother’s Day that spring. 5. Mother's Day Is a Booming Business Despite the best efforts of Jarvis, numerous businesses now look forward to the profits annually netted in the name of dear old mom. Some 113 million greeting cards are bought every year, while the Society of American Florists notes that Mother’s Day accounts for around 25% of all holiday sales. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers were expected to spend a record $31.7 billion to celebrate the day in 2022. 6. Mother’s Day Is Celebrated at Different Times Around the World Mother’s Day is said to be observed in some manner in more than 50 countries, although the dates and cultural customs differ. The Mexican Mother’s Day, held every May 10, kicks off with children waking up mamá by singing traditional songs like “Las Mañanitas.” In Thailand, kids kneel to pay respect to their moms on the designated date of August 12, in honor of the Queen Mother Sirikit. And in Ethiopia, the celebrations take the form of a three-day festival known as “Antrosht” at the end of the rainy season, which typically arrives around October. Source: Fascinating Facts About Mother’s Day
  13. What's the Word: GLEBE pronunciation: [gleeb] Part of speech: noun Origin: Latin, 14th century Meaning: 1. Land; fields. 2. A piece of land serving as part of a clergyman's benefice and providing income. Example: "The community maintains the glebe behind the old church in the same state it has always been in." "This neighborhood is called “Glebe,” but it’s been over a century since the town was built on the original glebe." About Glebe “Glebe” is a loanword from Old French, where it was based on the Latin “glaeba,” meaning “lump of earth.” Did you Know? In its earliest forms, “glebe” simply described soil or cultivated farmland; however, it was also used in the 14th century as a term for church lands, or land set aside for the clergyman overseeing the church. As a result, “Glebe” is a commonly occurring place name. Across Ireland, there are more than 100 towns named “Glebe,” and similarly named towns, villages, suburbs, and neighborhoods are found across Canada, Barbados, and Australia.
  14. Fact of the Day - SEINFELD Did you know.... For a show about nothing, it sure was something. The NBC sitcom Seinfeld charmed viewers for 180 episodes throughout nine seasons from 1989 to 1998 by leaning into the banal realities of the everyday. During its run, Seinfeld averaged a staggering 30 million viewers each week, with more than 76 million people tuning into the finale. The brainchild of comedian Jerry Seinfeld and writer-producer Larry David, the original idea was to create a 90-minute special meant to air in Saturday Night Live’s time slot. But as the two got to work, they realized that was a long time to sustain their idea about a show about a comedian, so it turned into a half-hour sitcom. “The pitch for the show, the real pitch, when Larry and I went to NBC in 1988, was we want to show how a comedian gets his material,” Seinfeld said in a Reddit AMA in 2014. “The show about nothing was just a joke in an episode many years later, and Larry and I to this day are surprised that it caught on as a way that people describe the show, because to us it’s the opposite of that.” However it’s described, much of the lovability of the show rests in its strong characters — Seinfeld playing a fictionalized version of himself, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as his sarcastic ex Elaine Benes, Jason Alexander as his insecure best friend George Castanza, and Michael Richards as his oddball neighbor Cosmo Kramer. Here, we look back at 10 facts about the groundbreaking sitcom. 1. Elaine Wasn’t in the Pilot Episode The first episode was missing a significant part of the famous foursome: Elaine. However, there was another female character: a waitress named Claire who worked at the diner where Jerry and George would hang out. Even with Claire in the pilot, it’s widely reported that Elaine came to be because the first episode was “too male-centric.” While Rosie O’Donnell, Patricia Heaton, and Megan Mullaley were all considered for the part, it was Louis-Dreyfus’ close ties to David during their joint time at Saturday Night Live that led to the gig. When David came to her with the Seinfeld character, Louis-Dreyfus was “immediately intrigued” by the writing. “It was unlike anything on television at the time,” she said. 2. Kramer’s Name Was Originally “Kessler” In season four, during the whole show-within-a-show plot, there’s a storyline in which Kramer will only let himself be depicted if he can play himself. As it turns out, that was based on a real situation that Seinfeld dealt with at the start of the show. The comedian had based the wacky character of his real neighbor Kenny Kramer, who would only let him use his name if he could play himself. So in the pilot episode, Richards’ character is referred to as “Kessler.” After it was worked out — and the real Kramer was paid $1,000 — the name was switched. 3. The Theme Song for Each Episode Is Different For the first seven seasons, every episode started with Seinfeld doing a stand-up routine. But what only eagle-eared listeners will notice is that the theme song was made to match those monologues, which means every single episode had a slightly different one. Composer Jonathan Wolff used instruments like the bass — plus his fingers and mouth to improvise the sounds — and synced them to Seinfeld’s stand-up timing to build a simple melody that could easily start and stop for jokes. “I have no idea how many themes we did for Seinfeld…” he told Great Big Story. “The timing, the length, had to be adjustable in a way it would still hold water and still sound like the Seinfeld theme.” 4. Elaine’s Hair Was Inspired by Helena Bonham Carter Elaine’s curls were one of her most distinctive features, and Louis-Dreyfus had gotten the idea from an unusual place: Helena Bonham Carter in the 1985 film A Room with a View. “I thought it was incredibly beautiful, and it was,” Louis-Dreyfus said. “I thought, that’s how I’m going to do my hair, it’s so incredible. That’s where that thing came from, the big wall of hair. And it kept growing and growing.” 5. Jerry Stiller Wasn’t Always George’s Dad So much of George’s character is enveloped by his parents, played by Estelle Harris and Jerry Stiller, but Stiller wasn’t the elder Constanza from the start. In the first appearance of the character in season four, he was played by veteran TV, film and theater actor John Randolph. While Alexander says he adored Randolph, he thought that “John actually looked more like my grandfather than my father.” After one episode, they moved on to a second actor who “wasn’t noteworthy” before Stiller officially came along in season five. “He’s my favorite character on the show,” Alexander said. “He doesn’t even know how good he is.” He added that Stiller often had trouble remembering his lines, but that worked out for the best. “The lines would come back to him in little stutter steps, so they would come out in little stutter steps — what you were seeing was his own growing anxiety and frustration with his own memory that got translated into the disdain for the world that Frank Constanza had.” Click the link below to read more about Seinfeld. Source: Amazing Facts You Might Not Know About “Seinfeld”
  15. What's the Word: HECTARE pronunciation: [HEK-tair] Part of speech: noun Origin: French, 19th century Meaning: 1. A metric unit of square measure, equal to 100 ares (which equals 2.471 acres or 10,000 square meters). Example: "A hectare is equivalent to two U.S. football fields aligned vertically." "Along with the house, Megan inherited an operating 3-hectare beet farm." About Hectare “Hectare” is a loanword from French, where it was created by merging the ancient Greek “ἑκατόν” (“hekatón,” meaning “hundred”) with “are,” from the Latin for “piece of level ground” (“area”). In English, “are” is a historical unit of measure equivalent to 100 square meters. Did you Know? A hectare is equal to 10,000 square meters or 2.471 acres, but that’s not an easy measurement to visualize. Here's a better way to understand it: An American football field is roughly half a hectare, so a hectare is like two football fields side by side, with no room in the middle for fans, concessions, or sidelines. Bringing the stadium into the equation changes things. While its football field is only half a hectare, Michigan Stadium at the University of Michigan (nicknamed “The Big House”) occupies more than 5 hectares in total.
  16. Fact of the Day - GEOGRAPHY Did you know.... You probably know many famous European landmarks, such as Big Ben in London (technically called Elizabeth Tower), the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and the Colosseum in Rome. Yet Europe has a lot more to offer, including lesser-known geographical features and astounding geographical facts — like the five below. They just might change the way you look at the continent. 1. The Mediterranean Sea Was Once a Desert If you've spent any time on the shores of the Mediterranean, you might find it hard to believe the picturesque seascape was once a desert. Scientists believe the sea dried up about 5 million years ago as a result of upward movement by the Earth's crust. This movement caused the Straits of Gibraltar to act as a dam and seal off the Mediterranean from the Atlantic Ocean. This epoch is also referred to as "The Messinian Salinity Crisis." Before the sea was blocked off, saltwater from the Atlantic rushed into the sea and couldn't escape. When the water dried up, layers of salt created a mile-high salt wall, and all sea life died. 2. Europe Is Larger Than Australia Maps distort our perception of the world, especially in terms of country and continent size, because it's difficult to project the circular globe onto a flat surface with total accuracy. For example, the common Mercator map has been criticized for exaggerating the size of countries closer to the poles, while downplaying the size of countries and continents closer to the equator. When you look at the map, Australia appears quite large, making Europe the obvious candidate for the "Smallest Continent Award." To be fair, Australia is a large landmass (it would qualify as the largest island in the world if it wasn't a continent), yet Europe is larger than Australia by about 30%. 3. Greenland Is Not Its Own Country The days of Spanish exploration, the Great British empire, and European geographic colonization are gone, with many countries fighting for independence from their motherland. Yet, some overseas territories still do exist, and Greenland is one of them. Technically, Greenland is an autonomous territory of Denmark, and also the world's largest island — three times the size of Texas. 4. Europe Has a Rainforest The thought of a rainforest conjures up images of gorgeous, endless flora and fauna found in the Amazon and other tropical locations; it's likely Europe doesn't cross your mind when you hear the term. Yet if you travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina, you will find Perucica, a rainforest and one of two remaining old-growth forests in Europe. The forest lies within Sutjeska National Park and remains protected. Nicknamed "the Lungs of Europe," Perucica is home to more than 170 species of trees and bushes, including beech, fir, spruce, and mountain maple, as well as more than 1,000 species of herbaceous plants. Visitors especially enjoy the panoramic views from Vidikovac, a lookout point for Skakavac Waterfall, which falls 246 feet into a forest-covered valley. 5. Europe Is Home to the Second-Most Active Volcano in the World Mt. Etna, located in Sicily, is the second-most active volcano in the world behind Hawaii's Kilauea volcano. Etna has regular volcanic ash eruptions but hasn't had a major eruption since the winter of 2008 and 2009. In 2013, Mt. Etna made the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. Those who visit undoubtedly want to hike to the craters, which can be accessed from the north and south side of Mt. Etna with an experienced tour guide. When Etna's activity isn't high or causing earthquakes, adventure seekers can explore the volcano's ancient lava flows, caves, and active fumaroles as they hike along the sides of the volcano. Source: Geography Facts That Might Change the Way You Look at Europe
  17. What's the Word: COMPEER pronunciation: [kəm-PEER] Part of speech: noun Origin: Middle English, 15th century Meaning: 1. A person of equal rank, status, or ability. Example: "The company founder met her lawyer in New York along with his compeer from a firm in Los Angeles to discuss moving the head office to the West Coast." "Richard was a compeer of my mother’s from her office, but I had no idea he’d once been famous as a folk singer." About Compeer “Compeer” is based on the Middle English “comper,” from the Latin “compater,” meaning “first cousin” or “good friend.” Did you Know? “Compeer” is a term with many equivalents, most notably the Spanish “compadre,” meaning “friend or companion”; the Sicilian “cumpari,” meaning “buddy”; and the modern American term “goombah.” This last term, meaning “pal” or “associate,” is the product of English speakers mishearing the Southern Italian pronunciation of “cumpari,” which does not emphasize the final syllable. “Goombah” has a close relative in Peru, Chile, and Argentina, where “cumpa” means “buddy.” The English “compeer” builds on the Middle English “comper” by adding the term “peer,” so that the term denotes a close companion of equal standing.
  18. Fact of the Day - HUMPHREY BOGART Did you know.... Humphrey Bogart’s parents wanted him to be a doctor. It didn’t work out that way, to the benefit of moviegoers everywhere. Instead, he became a top box-office attraction in the 1940s and 1950s, playing tough guys opposite actresses such as Lauren Bacall (whom he married in 1945), Ingrid Bergman, and Katharine Hepburn. Today, he’s often remembered for his role as Morocco nightclub owner Rick Blaine in the all-time classic Casablanca. Read on for a few fascinating facts about Bogie’s childhood, his favorite pastime, and the star who unwittingly helped pave his way. 1. Humphrey Bogart Was a Christmas Baby Bogart was born on December 25, 1899, in New York City. His father, a surgeon and heart and lung specialist, descended from New York’s first Dutch colonial settlers. As an adult, Bogart displayed the family coat of arms on his wall. His mother, known as “Lady Maud” for her imperious manner, was a suffragette known for standing on street corners selling balloons with the slogan “Votes for Women.” She worked as an illustrator and a portrait painter, and later as a magazine art director. 2. His Mother Dressed Him in Elaborate Clothing as a Child Lady Maud liked to dress her son in Little Lord Fauntleroy suits she made herself. The outfit, named for a character in a novel, included velvet jackets and matching pants with a fancy blouse and a lace or ruffled collar. In his early teens, he wore white kid gloves and patent-leather pumps dancing at formal parties. His mother used him as a model for her drawings, but reportedly was not affectionate, and he was mainly taken care of by servants. 3. Bogart Was Expelled From Prep School Young Bogart attended the elite Trinity School in New York City, where he earned poor grades and didn’t participate in social activities. For his last year of high school, his parents sent him to Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, a prep school his father had also attended. His parents hoped he would next study medicine at Yale. But Phillips expelled him for his poor academic performance and all-around bad attitude, and Bogart joined the U.S. Naval Reserve instead. 4. Bogart Loved Chess Bogart famously plays chess in Casablanca, and the scenes may have been written into the script to please him. In real life, as a young man, he was said to hustle players for dimes and quarters in New York parks and at Coney Island. Bogart was also a chess tournament director, and active in a Hollywood chess club. In a June 1945 interview, he said that he played chess almost daily, and described the game as one of his main interests. 5. Bogart Lived in the Shadow of Another Actor A better-known actor at the time rejected the scripts for Dead End, High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon, and Double Indemnity, giving Bogart the chance to develop the roles in these future classics. The man who overshadowed Bogart back then? George Raft, hardly a household name today. At one point, Raft refused to accept Bogart as his co-star, in the 1941 film Manpower. Ironically, Raft, unlike Bogart, knew the world of tough guys firsthand. He was also born in New York, but in Hell’s Kitchen, then a violent slum. It’s even sometimes said that Raft turned down the chance to play Rick Blaine in Casablanca, but it’s more likely that the studio never offered it to him — despite him campaigning for it. Source: Fast Facts About Humphrey Bogart
  19. What's the Word: LAPIDARY pronunciation: [LAP-ih-der-ee] Part of speech: adjective Origin: Middle English, 14th century Meaning: 1. Relating to stone and gems and the work involved in engraving, cutting, or polishing. 2. (Of language) Engraved on or suitable for engraving on stone and therefore elegant and concise. Example: "The jewelry box contained a small but impressive display of Suzanne’s lapidary obsession." "The jeweler learned the lapidary arts from his father and grandfather before him." About Lapidary “Lapidary” is based on the Middle English “lapidarie,” meaning “stone.” This is based on the Latin “lapidārius,” meaning “of stones.” Did you Know? “Lapidary” is based on the Latin “lapidārius,” meaning “of stones,” but it is also related to the Latin “lapis,” meaning “stone.” This term is still associated with the semiprecious stone lapis lazuli, which is a vivid and striking blue color. During the Middle Ages, lapis lazuli was ground into ultramarine, an expensive deep-blue pigment that was used throughout the Renaissance in oil paintings and frescoes, notably on Johannes Vermeer’s painting “Girl With a Pearl Earring.”
  20. Fact of the Day - ELEANOR ROOSEVELT Did you know.... Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the most widely influential women of the 20th century — so much so that serving the longest-ever term as First Lady (1933 to 1945), during World War II no less, is only one bullet point on her resume. As an educator, activist, political adviser, and journalist, Roosevelt touched lives all over the world, helped change the course of history, and clearly spoke her mind, even when her views were bolder than those of her husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. After her death in 1962, she left behind an incredible legacy of social justice, taking forward-thinking stances on issues such as school integration, women in the workplace, and immigrants’ rights. Her personal life is almost as interesting, including her untraditional marriage to FDR. What was her first connection to the Roosevelt family? How did she enter social service? Just how thick was her FBI file? These six facts about Eleanor Roosevelt might teach you something new about the national icon. 1. Eleanor Roosevelt Was Teddy Roosevelt’s Niece Eleanor had presidential connections far before her marriage to FDR, and when the time came, she didn’t even have to worry about taking his last name (she was born Anna Eleanor Roosevelt). She was Theodore Roosevelt’s niece; her father was Teddy’s younger brother Elliott. In case you’re wondering, FDR comes from a different branch of the Roosevelt family. He was Teddy’s fifth cousin (and fifth cousin once removed to Eleanor). The family was split into two distinct clans, both based in New York and each with its own distinct culture and ethos; FDR came from the Hyde Park Roosevelts, while Teddy (and Eleanor) came from the Oyster Bay Roosevelts. 2. Eleanor Roosevelt’s First Career Was Teaching Public service was deeply meaningful to Eleanor throughout her life, including in her younger days. Not long after turning 18, she started teaching at the Rivington Street Settlement House, a social services facility serving New York City’s Lower East Side, particularly its immigrant population. She continued teaching even as her family’s political responsibilities increased. In 1926, she, along with suffragist Marion Dickerman, bought a K-12 private school for girls called the Todhunter School, also in New York City. Eleanor was a popular teacher, and covered a variety of subjects: history, current events, literature, and drama. After her husband was elected governor of New York in 1929, she continued to teach, even though the position required living in Albany. She commuted back and forth between the capital and the city several days a week. 3. Her Marriage Wasn’t Strictly Monogamou Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s marriage started out, at least from the outside, as pretty ordinary. They were married in 1905, and had six children between 1906 and 1916. In 1918, however, Eleanor found out that Franklin was having an affair with Lucy Mercer, her former social secretary, which was devastating — at least, at first. The pair remained married as close, supportive partners — Eleanor was hugely supportive of Franklin’s continued political career after he was stricken with polio, and the pair even retained their pet names for one another — but pursued romantic relationships elsewhere, although biographers aren’t sure how physical those relationships got. Franklin continued seeing Mercer, and was even with her when he died in 1945. Eleanor, meanwhile, found relationships with both men and women. 4. She Wrote a Newspaper Column for Nearly 30 Years Starting at the very end of 1935 and continuing until her death in 1962, Eleanor kept a regular, nationally syndicated newspaper column called “My Day.” Eventually, it appeared in 90 different U.S. newspapers, detailing both her actions of the day and causes she supported — including ones that perhaps diverged a little from FDR’s views. After her husband’s death, she spoke even more freely about her viewpoints, and chose to keep advocating through her writing instead of running for office herself. Some newspapers dropped her column after she advocated for the election of Adlai Stevenson II in his run against Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, leading United Features Syndicate to instruct her to limit her support for candidates, which she did not do. For the majority of the run, Eleanor published six columns a week; only after her health began to decline in the last couple of years of her life did she cut that down to three. 5. She Publicly Resisted Racial Segregation Eleanor’s lifetime overlapped with some particularly dark chapters in America’s treatment of its Black citizens, and by 1939, she was using her platform to loudly and publicly speak against racism and segregation. In 1939, she resigned from the Daughters of the American Revolution, announcing her departure in her column, after the group refused a venue to prominent African American musician Marian Anderson. She and some other presidential advisers, as well as NAACP Executive Secretary Walter White, took the issue to FDR, and Anderson eventually appeared at a much bigger venue — the Lincoln Memorial — performing for a crowd of 75,000. Even as FDR remained more tepid in opposing segregation, Eleanor kept swinging. When she learned in 1938 that a series of public meetings in Alabama called the Southern Conference for Human Welfare was split down the middle and segregated by race, she tried to sit in the Black section. When a police officer threatened to remove her, she moved her folding chair to the center of the aisle between the white and Black sections, where she stayed for the rest of the conference. Even after facing staunch criticism from conservatives after the Detroit Race Riots of 1943 — she had supported integrating the local housing project at its center — she kept going, and even led civil rights workshops in schools. She was far from perfect, and even opposed a proposed 1940s march on Washington for racial equality, although she did arrange a meeting between organizers and FDR. But she continued to speak out against segregation for the rest of her life, including strongly advocating for school integration in both her column and in person, especially around the time of Brown v. Board of Education. Her last column before her death emphasized the connection between school integration and aggressive police tactics. 6. The FBI Investigated Eleanor Extensively for Communist Activity Between her support for civil liberties and doing stuff like inviting a student advocacy organization accused of communist connections to crash at the White House while they waited to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, Eleanor was pretty unpopular with J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI. It didn’t help that she called Hoover’s tactics “Gestapo-ish,” either. She was the subject of one of the largest single files from the era, adding up to around 3,000 pages. In addition to investigating her friends, family, and colleagues, the FBI tracked the existence of supposed “Eleanor clubs,” which white Southern segregationists claimed were secret organizations planning uprisings that would cause their Black domestic employees to turn against them. It turned out that, of course, they were just rumors started by segregationists, who expressed fear of having to work in the kitchen or pay higher wages. Source: Interesting Facts About Eleanor Roosevelt
  21. What's the Word: RUBESCENT pronunciation: [roo-BES-ənt] Part of speech: adjective Origin: Latin, 18th century Meaning: 1. Reddening; blushing. Example: "My fair skin means I turn rubescent at the slightest hint of embarrassment." "Sugar maple leaves turn rubescent in the fall." About Rubescent “Rubescent” is based on the Latin “rubescens,” meaning “I am reddening.” Did you Know? Blushing, the experience of rubescent skin, is something many people experience with embarrassment, although there are many emotions that can cause flushed cheeks. There is no concrete explanation of the relationship between embarrassment and rubescent skin, but scientists believe blushing may be an involuntary demonstration to others during awkward moments — making it a sort of physiological apology. Others believe embarrassment triggers the fight-flight-freeze response, meaning a person who freezes still gets the adrenaline and raised heart rate they would have needed for fight or flight, and this is visible on their rubescent face.
  22. Fact of the Day - COLOR PURPLE Did you know.... The color purple is many things — a quirk of human biology, a spectral anomaly, and a symbol of power and prestige that stretches back into time immemorial. These six facts explore the amazingly rich, scientifically complicated history of that intriguing mix of blue and red we call purple. 1. The Word “Purple” Is Related to the Greek Name for a Specific Mollusk The origins of the word “purple” lie in the ancient Greek porphura, which also means “purple.” However, the word is also a reference to a particular mollusk — a sea snail, to be precise. Known as the purpura mollusk (Stramonita haemastoma), this sea snail and another known as the dye murex (Bolinus brandaris) were the primary means by which the ancient Phoenicians of the Levant developed a purple dye known as Tyrian purple (named after the city of Tyre, where it was manufactured). Starting possibly as far back as the 16th century BCE, Phoenicians (whose name derives from a Greek word for “purple”) derived the dye from dehydrated mucus glands behind the creature’s rectum. Each mollusk yielded extremely limited amounts of dye, requiring a staggering 12,000 mollusks to produce just one gram of the stuff. 2. The Color Purple Technically Doesn’t Exist Our eyes perceive color in the visible spectrum due to particular wavelengths: Red is the longest wavelength, at 700 nanometers, whereas violet is the shortest, at 380 nanometers. This is why the invisible wavelengths just below this threshold are known as ultraviolet, or UV rays (and why wavelengths directly above 700 nanometers are known as “infrared”). The color purple, however, is what physicists call a “nonspectral color,” meaning it isn’t represented by a particular wavelength of light, but is instead a mixture of them as perceived by our brain. While some people use violet and purple interchangeably, the two colors are distinct; violet (which is part of the visible spectrum) has a more bluish hue, whereas purple is more red. The cones in our eyes receive inputs, and our brain uses ratios of these inputs to represent subtleties of color. Purple is therefore a complete construction of our brain, as no wavelength represents the color naturally. But purple isn’t alone — the same can be said for other colors such as black and white, as well as particular hues mixed with grayscale, such as pink and brown. 3. Only One National Flag in the World Contains Purple Expert vexillologists (people who study flags) have noticed a strange color conundrum: Only one national flag in the world contains the color purple, and that flag belongs to the small Caribbean island nation of Dominica. The flag, adopted on November 3, 1978, after the country gained independence from Great Britain, features a green field representing the island's forests, accompanied by yellow, white, and black crosses. At its center is a red disk with 10 stars (for the 10 parishes on the island) — all encircling the purple plumage of the sisserou parrot (Amazona imperialis), the country’s national bird. Although Nicaragua and El Salvador do feature rainbows on their flags, purple technically isn’t found in a spectral rainbow (see above), so the flag of Dominica stands alone in its purple splendor. 4. Carrots Used to Be Purple Your average supermarket orange carrot originally evolved thanks to the Dutch during the 16th century. But when the cultivated carrot first appeared some 5,000 years ago in Central Asia, it’s thought that they were often a bright purple rather than the orange we know today. An unsupported myth suggests that the Dutch purposefully cultivated orange carrots to honor their national hero William of Orange, but the more likely reason is that the orange-hued varieties tasted better, stained less, and were overall well adapted to the country’s mild, wet climate. Although you’ll likely have to hunt farther afield than your local Piggly Wiggly, some varieties of carrots today still retain the original purple hue. 5. In Elizabethan England, It Could Be Illegal To Wear Purple From ancient times until as recently as the 19th century, the color purple was closely associated with royalty — often because they were the only class that could afford such luxury, which was extremely expensive to produce in the days when the color was still made from sea snails. Persian kings and Egyptian rulers wore the illustrious hue, and Julius Caesar similarly donned a purple toga, setting a 1,500-year-long trend for subsequent emperors in Rome and Byzantium. The color was so intimately tied with the ruling class that the children of kings, queens, and emperors were said to be “born to the purple.” By the 16th century, however, things slowly began to change, as a wealthy merchant class began snatching purple-dyed garments of their own. In 1577, fearing that such lavish spending on “unnecessary foreign wares” could bankrupt the kingdom, Queen Elizabeth I passed sumptuary laws that essentially outlined a strict dress code based on class. Of course, the color purple (and crimson) was reserved for her majesty and her extended royal family, “upon payne to forfett the seid apparel.” 6. The First Synthetic Dye Was Purple Royals and the super-wealthy might have retained their grip on the color purple if not for an 18-year-old British chemist named William Henry Perkin. In 1856, Perkin failed to create a synthetic form of quinine, a compound used to treat malaria. When cleaning out the brown sludge in his beaker with alcohol, he noticed the mixture from the failed experiment turned a brilliant purple — a color he eventually called “mauveine.” This happy accident was the world’s first synthetic dye, and Perkin quickly discovered that his serendipitous creation was immensely cheaper to produce, and lasted longer, than the naturally occurring alternative. The exclusionary tyranny of royal purple was over, and even Queen Victoria herself soon began wearing garments dyed in the brilliant synthetic purple. Source: Amazing Facts About Purple
  23. What's the Word: SABULOUS pronunciation: [SAB-yə-ləs] Part of speech: adjective Origin: Latin, 17th century Meaning: 1. Sandy or gritty. Example: "Guava has a sweet and fragrant taste combined with a sabulous texture." "A sabulous substance such as crushed gravel is useful for traction on snowy roads." About Sabulous “Sabulous” is based on the Latin adjective “sabulosus,” itself based on “sabulum,” meaning “sand.” Did you Know? As its name implies, sandpaper has a sabulous (sandy and gritty) texture. However, sandpaper itself isn’t usually made of sand: The highest-quality sandpaper of the 19th century was glass paper, made with actual crushed glass. In the 20th century, a number of substances give sandpaper varying degrees of sabulousness, including crushed metals, precious stones, and even diamonds.
  24. Fact of the Day - DIGITAL-ERA ACRONYMS Did you know.... When it comes to the many acronyms used in texting and online, IYKYK (if you know, you know), but if you don’t, things can get confusing quickly. Made popular by fast-paced digital communication, these acronyms may be here to stay (although the lexicon is constantly growing). We might remember with fondness the simple days of LOL and BRB, but we’ve since moved on to more elaborate initialisms such as “ELI5” and “PEBKAC.” So, DYK (do you know) some of the most popular acronyms of today? If not, DW (don’t worry) — you will soon. 1. YMMV “Your mileage may vary.” This is a clever way to say that the results, opinions, or experiences are different for everyone. The original phrase dates back to the 1970s and ’80s when auto manufacturers would promote their estimated mileage. Ads would state, “Your mileage may vary.” Today, the acronym can be seen on online reviews and chat forums. For example, “The battery life on my wireless headphones lasts through the work day, but YMMV.” 2. ELI5 For when you have no idea what’s going on: “ELI5,” or, “explain like I’m 5.” Literally, explain this to me as if I am a child. Aside from inserting some humor into what might be a frustrating situation, it’s a request for a simple explanation instead of a lengthy, complicated one. Like so many popular acronyms of today, ELI5 was born on Reddit (r/explainlikeimfive). 3. PEBKAC The office IT support will be able to tell you that this one means, “problem exists between keyboard and chair,” meaning, the problem is the user. This is also a good way to poke fun at yourself after misreading an email or having a slow start to your Monday. (Another variation of this is “PIBKAC,” or “problem is between keyboard and chair”). 4. ICYMI As a favorite among journalists and social media gossip accounts, “ICYMI” means “in case you missed it.” This initialism is usually used with a sense of enthusiasm, as in, “ICYMI — The Biggest Wins on the Red Carpet.” 5. IIRC “If I recall correctly.” This handy abbreviation has been recorded online since at least the early 1990s, but is making a resurgence thanks to Reddit and other online forums. (A variation of this is “if I remember correctly”). 6. IMHO This is a useful one for maintaining friendships. “IMHO” means “in my humble opinion.” The related, and slightly better known, “IMO” stands for “in my opinion,” but that one might come off a little brash at times. It can also help determine facts from opinions in chat situations. (“In my honest opinion” is another variation of this). 7. AFAIK “As far as I know,” the budget meeting is still tomorrow. “AFAIK” is useful office lingo, but don’t mix it up with “AFAIC.” While equally useful, “as far as I’m concerned” has a much different context. 8. TL;DR Here’s the rare instance where punctuation is inserted into the internet abbreviation for the message that reads, “Too long; didn’t read.” This handy acronym can be used as an interjection or at the end of a very lengthy message or article, just before a summary. For example, “TL;DR — We will be moving our weekly meetings to Tuesday.” In this usage, it’s easy for readers to skim down to a summary, but it’s also been adopted as a snarky response to an overly long explanation. 9. FTFY “Fixed that for you.” This one can come off as genuine or rude, depending on its context. For example, if a friend tells the group chat, “The Beatles are the best band,” and you reply, “The Eagles. FTFY,” it’s generally understood that it’s good-natured teasing. This can also be used more literally when giving a coworker something that you revised, for example. Tread lightly with this acronym — it can sometimes be seen as aggressive, especially when correcting someone’s work. 10. TFW TFW it’s Friday! “That feeling when” is also related to “MFW,” or “my face when.” It’s a snappy and easily relatable intro for situations ranging from pre-vacation excitement to the dog chewing up a new pair of shoes. Typically, the acronym will be accompanied by an image, GIF, or emoji. Source: DYK These 10 Digital-Era Acronyms?
  25. What's the Word: JONGLEUR pronunciation: [JONG-gler] Part of speech: noun Origin: French, 18th century Meaning: 1. An itinerant minstrel. Example: "After high school, Travis hit the road with his guitar as a modern-day jongleur." "Our town is so small, we don’t get jongleurs passing through, let alone an annual fair." About Jongleur “Jongleur” is a loanword from French, in which it means “juggler.” Did you Know? While “jongleur” is a literal translation of “juggler,” the word in medieval England referred to a lower class of traveling minstrel. A jongleur was not always a family-friendly character, and sometimes sang rude numbers, but in general he played the role of a party-starter who livened people’s spirits. Jongleurs often didn’t write the songs and jokes they performed, but learned them from the troubadours who wrote songs. Because they were working with secondhand material, a jongleur often performed additional acts, such as juggling (as the name implies), acrobatic feats, or sleight of hand.
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