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DarkRavie

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  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. Fact of the Day - DOLLHOUSE Tara’s Palace, Ireland Did you know... Ever since my childhood, I’ve been a little fascinated with dollhouses. There is something magical about seeing a slice of everyday life shrunk down into miniature. And the more details there are, the more magical it becomes. Here are five amazing dollhouses from around the world that are on my bucket list to see, plus one I’ve already seen. (Julie Shenton Peters | April 7, 2017) Amazing Dollhouses From Around the World By Bess Lovejoy | Nov 16, 2015 While we now think of dollhouses as kids’ stuff, for the wealthy Germans and Dutch of the 16th and 17th centuries they were more like cabinets of curiosities, filled with precious woods and metals and hand-crafted items made by skilled artists. The European tradition influenced British and American dollhouses, which are still being made with astounding levels of detail, not to mention an astounding concentration of resources. Below, eight of the most amazing from around the world: 1. ASTOLAT DOLLHOUSE CASTLE Designed by Colorado miniaturist Elaine Diehl in the 1980s, this miniature home was modeled after the castle in Lord Alfred Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shallot.” Valued at $8.5 million—and said to be the most expensive dollhouse ever—the tiny castle features 29 rooms filled with thousands of perfectly-wrought shrunken items, including rare books, miniature cars, pieces of jewelry, musical instruments, and even a mini-Dalmatian snoozing by the front entrance. It even has its own ballroom and wine cellar. And it’s now on view in New York City. 2. TITANIA'S PALACE Located in the magnificent Egeskov Castle in Denmark, Titania's Palace was created by the British army officer Sir Nevile Wilkinson as a gift for his daughter, Gwendolen, to serve as a home for the fairies she claimed to have seen in the garden. The dollhouse features 18 rooms, including a throne room, a nursery, a chapel complete with organ, and a royal dining room. Gwendolen was an adult by the time the dollhouse was completed, but Wilkinson exhibited the dollhouse (which was built by Irish craftsmen) around the world to raise funds for children’s charities. You can watch a 1928 video of Wilkinson presenting the palace. 3. SARA ROTHÉ DOLLHOUSE Wealthy Amsterdam merchant’s wife Sara Rothé created this 11-room dollhouse in 1:10 scale, offering a glimpse of the furniture and decoration you might find inside a real 18th-century canal-side mansion. It’s now on display at the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, Netherlands—also home to a dollhouse “collage” exhibit featuring 71 rooms from 17th and 18th century dollhouses. A second dollhouse Rothé constructed is on display at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. 4. CHATEAU ANTOINETTE Architectural historians and miniaturists Kevin Mulvany and Susie Rogers created this 6-room, 16th-century dollhouse for a Californian collector with a passionate interest in Marie Antoinette. Only 42 inches high, the chateau is a pastiche of places associated with Antoinette during her life, and is filled with furniture and decorations made of crystal, gold, and silver. The larger chandeliers cost over a thousand British pounds. Mulvany and Rogers have also miniaturized Versailles, Buckingham Palace, Hogwarts, Sans Souci, and several other astonishing buildings from around the globe. 5. HUGUETTE CLARK’S JAPANESE DOLLHOUSE Reclusive heiress Huguette Clark collected dolls by the hundreds, and commissioned tiny dollhouse models of Japanese temples, castles, teahouses, cake shops, and other buildings. (She also collected Japanese artifacts, an interest that led to an FBI investigation during WWII.) She specified that her dollhouses should have detachable roofs so she could see the furnishings inside. According to Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr.'s book Empty Mansions, one of Clark’s Japanese dollhouses required special permission from the Japanese government to use a rare cedar generally reserved for imperial buildings and castles. That same dollhouse cost $80,000 and took three years to build. 6. TARA’S PALACE Tara’s Palace at the Powerscourt Estate in Wicklow, Ireland, is a Georgian Palace built in 1:12 scale, featuring 24 rooms filled with miniature furniture and books, as well as treasures such as a 17th-century house in a bottle. The ceilings are hand-painted, and the tiny floors of wood and marble were all built by hand. 7. QUEEN MARY’S DOLLHOUSE Built for Queen Mary by British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens between 1921 and 1924, this miniature townhouse on a 1:12 scale features thousands of objects made by leading artists, designers, and craftsmen of the 1920s. There’s a well-stocked library and wine cellar, a garden, a toy theatre, and about 1000 works of art, as well as running water, electric lighting, working elevators, flushing toilets, and a miniature working bicycle. 8. BOSDYK DOLLS HOUSE Now housed at the Powerhouse Museum in Australia, the Bosdyk Dolls House was created by Frans and Christina Bosdyk in the grand tradition of 17th century Dutch dollhouses. The five-level, 20-room house took about a decade to create, and incorporates elements from Dutch and Australian life from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Frans Bosdyk, an electrical instrument maker, even constructed his own tiny hand tools to make the pieces. The rooms include a sewing room, gaming room, library, and kitchen. Source: Amazing Dollhouses | Facts About Dollhouses Around the World
  4. What's the Word: DUNNAGE pronunciation: [DUN-ij] Part of speech: noun Origin: Dutch, 15th century Meaning: 1. A person's belongings, especially those brought on board a ship. 2. Loose wood, matting, or similar material used to keep a cargo in position in a ship's hold. Example: "After disembarking the ship, Sidney waited for his dunnage to be brought out." "Knowing she’d be at sea for a month, Naomi made sure she packed everything she might need in her dunnage." About Dunnage “Dunnage” was based on the Dutch “denne,” which referred to a room below a ship’s deck, with the suffix “-age” used to indicate it is a noun. Did You Know? Dunnage can mean belongings brought on board a ship, but the term also refers to loose objects and materials used to secure cargo in a ship’s hold and prevent it from moving during the voyage. In the past, this dunnage could be low-value items, scraps, and garbage. A modern form of dunnage is a range of inflatable paper and fabric pouches known as “dunnage bags.”
  5. Fact of the Day - PIZZA Did you know.... Pizza is a dish of Italian origin consisting of a usually round, flat base of leavened wheat-based dough topped with tomatoes, cheese, and often various other ingredients, which is then baked at a high temperature, traditionally in a wood-fired oven. A small pizza is sometimes called a pizzetta. (Wikipedia) Mouthwatering Facts About Pizza By Anna Green | Aug 28, 2019 | Updated: Jan 12, 2020 If you live in the United States, it’s statistically likely you’ll eat around 6000 slices of pizza over the course of your life. But how much do you actually know about that delicious combo of dough, cheese, and sauce? Where did pizza come from? What makes a great slice? Whether you’re a fan of thin crust, deep dish, or the New York slice, here are 50 facts that’ll tell you everything you need to know about pizza. 1. The word pizza dates back to 997 CE. The word pizza dates back over a thousand years; it was first mentioned in a Latin text written in southern Italy in 997 CE. 2. The Three Musketeers author Alexandre Dumas was one of the first people to take note of the pizza trend. In 1835, Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers, traveled to Naples, where he observed that the Neapolitan poor ate nothing but watermelon during the summer and pizza during the winter. 3. America's first pizza parlor is still operating today. The first pizza place in America was Lombardi’s in New York City. Originally opened as a grocery store, Lombardi’s started selling pizza in 1905. 4. Pizza's popularity in the United States began with Italian immigrants. During the first few decades of the 20th century, pizza was predominantly eaten and sold by working class Italian immigrants. 5. GIs were partly responsible for building pizza to America. But after World War II, American GIs came home from Italy with a craving for pizza, bringing the food to a broader consumer base for the first time. 6. America's pizza craze began on the east coast. The first American cities to start selling pizza were New York; Boston; New Haven, Connecticut; and Trenton, New Jersey. All four of these cities had an influx of Southern Italian immigrants around the turn of the century. 7. Pizzas were originally only sold by the pie. At first, pizzas were sold exclusively by the pie. But in 1933, Patsy Lancieri (of Patsy's Pizzeria in New York City) started selling pizza by the slice—a trend that was quickly picked up by other pizzerias. 8. Dogs love pizza, too. Humans aren’t the only ones who love the taste of pizza: There’s even a mini pizza for dogs called the “Heaven Scent Pizza” made of flour, carrots, celery, and parmesan cheese. 9. Chicago's Pizzeria Uno invented the deep dish pizza The first-known Chicago deep dish pizzas were created in 1943 by the restaurant that later became the Pizzeria Uno chain. 10. The founder of Domino's is one of only three people with a degree in "Pizza-ology." Domino’s was founded in 1960. The restaurant chain’s founder, Tom Monaghan, is one of three people in the world who hold an advanced degree in "Pizza-ology” from the “Domino’s College of Pizza-ology”—a business management program he founded in the 1980s. 11. Domino's "30 Minutes or Less" guarantee led to unsafe driving conditions. Domino’s dropped its “30 minutes or less” guarantee in 1993 after a series of lawsuits accused the company of promoting unsafe driving. 12. That 30-minute guarantee is still good in some places around the world. The Domino's delivery offer is still good in some places around the world. The guarantee has been great for business in Turkey, for instance. Source: Wikipedia - Pizza | Facts About Pizza
  6. What's the Word: EXEMPLAR pronunciation: [ig-ZEM-plər] Part of speech: noun Origin: French, 14th century Meaning: 1. A person or thing serving as a typical example or excellent model. Example: "Albert Pujols is an exemplar of baseball’s home-run boom." "The Toyota Prius was the exemplar of electric cars with consumer appeal." About Exemplar Borrowed from the French “exemplair,” which itself was based on the Latin “exemplum,” meaning “sample.” Did You Know? The original meaning of “exemplar” referred to a model or prototype upon which something else was built or made, but over time that meaning has reversed. Rather than refer to the model after which many things were designed, today, an “exemplar” is a single example of a thing that represents the nature of that thing far better than other versions of that same thing.
  7. Fact of the Day - MINIATURE HORSES Did you know... Everyone knows that miniature is better. There are mini cupcakes, mini gingerbread houses, mini champagnes—the list goes on. Bite-size versions of our favorite food and drink are not alone though; this love proclamation of all things tiny holds true with animals, too. And so we say just two words to you: Miniature. Horses. These pint-sized equines are enough to make your voice go up an octave in excitement and wish you were pint-sized once more yourself to enjoy just one more pony ride. Even if you're already familiar with mini horses, there's a lot more to them than their small size suggests. Here are all the adorable mini horse facts your heart could ever desire. (BY LAUREN ADHAV | JAN 29, 2016) Things You've Always Wondered About Miniature Horses By Hannah Keyser | May 13, 2015 You know they're tiny, adorable and popular with the citizens of fictional Pawnee, Ind., but here are some things you might still be wondering about miniature horses. 1. HOW LONG HAVE THEY BEEN AROUND? Despite some persistent myths to the contrary, mini horses are not directly related to the ancient eohippus, which stood just 1 to 2 feet tall. Those, and other prehistoric precursors to the horse, have been extinct for many millions of years. Instead, the modern miniature horse was specifically bred for its size several times throughout history, with the first known example dating to the 1650s when King Louis XIV of France kept mini horses in his menagerie at Versailles. In other instances, the smallest horses have been bred to one another for the sake of creating circus novelties, workhorses for the narrow mines of both England and America, and most recently as popular pets. The first recorded mention of a mini in America came in 1888, when a lone mini measuring just 31 inches tall at the withers (the top of the shoulder) was discovered amongst a heard of Shetland ponies. He was given the name Yum Yum. 2. WHAT CONSTITUTES A "MINI" HORSE, AND WHY AREN'T THEY "PONIES" RATHER THAN "HORSES"? Technically, any member of Equus caballus under 14 hands 2 inches (a hand is four inches) is classified as a pony. But because most minis display a typical horse phenotype with physical features like longer, thinner legs, they are classified as horses and not ponies. The height cutoff for a mini is 38 inches for the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) and 34 inches for the American Miniature Horse Registry (AMHR). Anything taller than 38 inches is a Shetland pony. And at exactly 38 inches? He can be registered in both AMHR and American Shetland Pony Club (ASPC). There is no bottom limit for their size, although many of the most extreme examples have their growth stunted by a form of dwarfism that can cause significant medical complications. The smallest living horse, as recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2006, is Thumbelina, a miniature sorrel brown mare from St. Louis, Mo. who measures 17.5 inches. 3. WHAT ARE SOME ADVANTAGES TO THEIR VERTICALLY-CHALLENGED STATURE? Thumbelina - a Dwarf mare Just like smaller dogs tend to live longer than larger breeds, mini horses, on average, outlive their normal-sized brethren. Their average lifespan is around 30 years old, and the oldest known mini was a dwarf named Angel, who was just under 2 feet tall and lived to be over 50. Plus, they need less food and require less space than normal-sized horses. 4. WHAT DO PEOPLE DO WITH MINI HORSES? Plenty of people keep them as pets. They can't be ridden by anyone except a small child, but they are able to pull carts and buggies with adult drivers. Because of their compact size, mini horses are potential candidates for serving as guide animals. In addition to appealing to horse-lovers, using minis in place of dogs has several benefits, including their longer life spans, which means they can serve as a guide and companion for over 30 years. Not every mini has what it takes to be a guide horse, however. Even before training can begin, the horses must pass an intelligence test to ensure that they have potential. Other minis have found work as volunteers in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. There are several horses owned and employed by the Sheriff’s Department, where their job is to accompany officers to events at schools and libraries to help ease the introduction of law enforcement to children. Another popular use for minis is to visit hospitals as a therapy animal. 5. AND WHAT ABOUT LI'L SEBASTIAN FROM PARKS AND RECREATION? WHAT'S HIS DEAL? Unlike many animal roles, Li'l Sebastian was played by a single miniature horse named Gideon, who has also appeared in Hart of Dixie, Daddy Day Care and a slew of commercials. When he's not working, he lives on a 150-acre ranch in Piru, Calif. Gideon's trainer, Morgan Bateman of A-List Animals, still has the eulogy and funeral pamphlet—full of actual Li'l Sebastian trivia—following the fictional horse's memorial service. Now, Gideon's living on a ranch with other movie horses, waiting for another call from Hollywood. Source: Miniature Horse Facts | Brief Facts About Miniature Horses
  8. What's the Word: PARAPH pronunciation: [PER-əf] Part of speech: noun Origin: Late Middle French, 15th century Meaning: 1. A flourish after a signature, originally as a precaution against forgery. Example: "My father’s signature was recognizable because of his ostentatious paraph." "I recognized the paraph rather than the signature itself." About Paraph Borrowed from the French “paraph,” meaning “paragraph,” with both words based on the Latin “paraphus,” meaning “short horizontal stroke.” Did You Know? Adding a paraph to one’s signature was an early means of attempting to avoid forgery, since the more ornate one’s paraph, the harder the full signature would be to copy. When a notary signs a document of obligation, such as a mortgage or note referring to money owed, the notary’s signature is called a “paraph.” In this context, a paraph is different from a simple signature, because it certifies the document as legitimate.
  9. Fact of the Day - THUMBS Did you know... that Thumbs have their own pulse. If you’ve ever seen someone track their pulse (in real life or on a crime drama), you’ll notice that the index and middle finger are always pressed on the neck’s carotid artery, which is responsible for transporting blood to the brain. There’s a reason why doctors (and actors who play doctors on TV) use these fingers and not, say, their thumbs. While your thumb is good for many things, taking your pulse isn’t one of them. Unlike the other four digits, the thumb has its own exclusive artery, the princeps pollicis, which makes it biologically unreliable as a pulse reader — because you’ll feel it pulse instead of the artery in your neck. Among the 34 muscles, 29 bones, and three major nerves in the hand, there are also two key arteries supplying blood to the area: the ulnar and the radial. The ulnar artery branches at the wrist into a network of blood supply vessels called the superficial palmar arch, which then branches to supply blood to the top four fingers. The radial artery, meanwhile, branches at the wrist into the deep palmer arch, which then branches into the princeps pollicis artery, sending blood to the thumb. But today, there are more modern methods of tracking your pulse that use technology in lieu of touch. The Apple Watch, one of the most popular consumer fitness-tracking devices, relies on a process called “photoplethysmography,” which leverages the fact that blood reflects red light and absorbs green light. The watch uses green LED lights that flash hundreds of times per second, as well as light-sensitive photodiodes that help measure the amount of green-light absorption, and thus blood flow and pulse — no fingers (and definitely no thumbs) required. Thumbs gave humans a significant evolutionary advantage. Of the many biological advantages human evolution has brought us, two of the biggest are our brains and our thumbs. While the utility of our brain is pretty obvious, it’s our opposable thumbs that do much of the work of day-to-day life. In fact, some scientists credit our thumbs as a driving force behind human culture. Around 3 million years ago, early hominids such as Australopithecines used primitive tools — basically just sticks and rocks — and possessed hands similar to a chimp’s. A million years later, as our early ancestors began migrating out of Africa, increased manual dexterity thanks to improved opposable thumbs gave rise to more complex culture, because of the variety of tools these early species could now manipulate. Eventually, starting some 300,000 years ago or so, Homo sapiens began grasping all the tools that make modern life possible — whether a philosopher’s quill, a carpenter’s hammer, a warrior’s weapon, or a TikToker’s iPhone. (Interesting Facts) Facts About the Thumb By Jordan Rosenfeld | Jul 19, 2017 When it comes to the fingers on your hand, the thumb definitely does its own thing. Thumbs only have two bones, so they're obviously shorter, and they play a very important role that no other finger can claim; thanks to their unique saddle-like joint shape, and a little muscle known as the abductor pollicis brevis, you can bend and stretch your thumbs opposite your fingers to grip things. This is why they're known as "opposable thumbs." To bring you these 11 facts about the thumb, Mental Floss spoke with three experts on this unique digit: Barbara Bergin, an orthopedic surgeon in Houston; Loren Fishman, medical director of Manhattan Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, in NYC; and Ryan Katz, attending hand surgeon at the Curtis Hand Center, located at the Medstar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore. 1. OPPOSABLE THUMBS MAY HAVE FREED UP OUR ANCESTORS' MOUTHS FOR LANGUAGE. The evolution of a thumb helped our ancestors evolve to be better at defense, allowing for throwing and clubbing activities. Moreover, Fishman says, it may have even contributed to our cognitive function. "Some say this is why we have language," he says, "because we can hold things in our hands and [therefore] use our mouths for something else—such as discussing the functions of the thumb." 2. THUMBS HAVE THEIR OWN PULSE. You might have noticed that medical professionals take a pulse with the middle and index finger. The reason is because there's a big artery in the thumb, the princeps pollicis artery, and arteries pulse, making it difficult to feel a pulse in a neck if you're using your thumb. 3. THE THUMB SEPARATES US FROM OTHER ANIMALS. MOSTLY. "The thumb is wonderful. It evolved in such a way that we can use it to do so many amazing things, and it's one of the things that separates us from other animals," Bergin says. A handful of other animals, mostly primates, have opposable thumbs, or toes, as the case may be. These include orangutans, chimpanzees, a phylum of frogs known as phyllomedusa, some lemurs, and giant pandas—although their thumb-like apparatus is really just an extra sesamoid bone that acts like a thumb. 4. TOES CAN BECOME THUMBS. If you should lose a thumb, fear not, says Katz. "It can be rebuilt by surgeons using your big toe." This specialized surgery uses microvascular surgery techniques to transfer your big toe to your hand, where it will function almost exactly as your thumb did. "The toe is then brought to life by sewing together small arteries and veins under a microscope," Katz says, a complicated surgery that has become vastly more sophisticated over the years. The second toe can be used too, as you can see in this medical journal, but we warn you: It's not for the faint of heart. 5. … BUT IS A THUMB WORTH LOSING A TOE OVER? It may not seem like a big deal to lose one thumb—after all, you've got another one. But Katz cites the American Medical Association's "Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment" [PDF], which states your thumb is so important that a complete amputation "will result in a 40 percent impairment to the whole hand." In fact, they claim that it would take "a complete amputation of the middle, ring, and small fingers to equal the impairment of an amputated thumb." 6. IT'S BETTER THAN HAVING YOUR HAND SEWN TO YOUR FOOT. Katz also points out that "there used to be a common surgical procedure for thumb reconstruction, where the patient's hand was sewn to their foot for a period of time." This procedure was called the Nicoladani procedure, after the German surgical innovator Carol Nicoladoni. "It was a precursor to transplant surgery and plastic or reconstructive surgery as we know it today," he says. 7. YOUR THUMB MAKES AN ASTONISHINGLY WIDE VARIETY OF MOTIONS. Other than pinching and grasping, Katz points out that the thumb "translates, rotates, and flexes all at once." This coordinated set of motions provides strength and dexterity. "Thus it's the thumb that allows us to easily pen an essay, turn a nut, pick up a coin, or button a shirt." 8. THAT DEXTERITY ALSO MAKES IT FRAGILE. The thumb may appear to only have two knuckles, but it actually has a third, right above the wrist. This is called the first carpometacarpal joint. If that starts to hurt, or gets big enough to look like a bump or a mass, you may have carpometacarpal joint disorder (CMC), a common condition that is partly genetic and partly from repetitive use, according to Bergin. "You can get arthritis in the other joints, too, but this one is the most debilitating," she says. "First it becomes painful, and then you lose the ability to use it." Surgery can help with the pain, but it won't restore full mobility. 9. PAIN IN YOUR THUMB MAY REQUIRE LIFESTYLE CHANGES. Bergin suggests small lifestyle changes so you don't need to grip anything too hard can make a huge difference, such as buying milk jugs with handles or using an electric toothbrush. "There are a lot of things we can do [to help] on a daily basis that shouldn't affect our quality of life," she suggests. 10. SWIPING RIGHT MIGHT BE DANGEROUS. While we generally associate thumb arthritis with older people, Bergin says she now sees it in people in their forties and even thirties. Other studies have suggested that frequent phone use can be damaging. "There must be a genetic component to premature wearing of the thumb," she says. If it runs in your family, it's a good idea to be proactive and try to avoid repetitive gripping activities. 11. WHAT IT MEANS IF YOUR THUMB IS NUMB. If instead of pain you're experiencing numbness of the thumb that extends to your index and middle fingers, you may be showing early symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Fortunately, this isn't an emergency. "The condition takes a long time to become a big problem" Bergin says. People can sometimes help the condition by wearing wrist braces and getting physical therapy. If you just can't take it, "you can get surgery at any point if you failed to improve with bracing," she says. The surgery can reduce mobility, but it should take away the numbness and pain. Source: Facts About Our Thumb | Thumb Facts
  10. What's the Word: SMORZANDO pronunciation: [smort-SAN-do] Part of speech: adverb Origin: Italian, 18th century Meaning: 1. (music, especially as a direction) in a way that dies away. 2. (adjective, of music) dying away. Example: "The cellist alternated between playing loudly and playing smorzando." "One way for musicians to end a song is smorzando, as an alternative to a sudden stop." About Smorzando Smorzando is a direct translation of the Italian “smorzare,” meaning “extinguishing.” Did You Know? In its original Italian, “smorzando” is specifically used to describe putting out a fire (“smorzare il fuoco”) but also diluting spicy sauce (“smorzare il piccante”). However, those two meanings refer to extinguishing a fire completely, or watering down spicy food. By contrast, “smorzando” in music (often noted on sheet music as “smorz”) often has the effect of increasing the intensity of the performance by focusing audience attention on the clarity of dying notes. Piano music is most closely associated with the smorzando effect; the name for a piano’s damper pedal in Italian is “Il smorzatore.”
  11. Fact of the Day - MOUNT KILIMANJARO Did you know.... Mt. Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most iconic and recognizable mountains. This Tanzanian giant has featured prominently in explorers’ accounts, literature, and films. (by Nick | December 6, 2021) Things You Might Not Know About Mount Kilimanjaro by Interesting Facts Towering 19,340 feet above sea level, Mount Kilimanjaro is not only the highest mountain in Africa, but also the highest freestanding mountain in the world (meaning it is not part of a larger mountain range). This mighty, snow-capped landform — rising dramatically from the plains of Tanzania in East Africa — was declared a national park in 1973 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Given these stats, it’s no surprise that Kilimanjaro is popular with climbers — around 30,000 people attempt to reach the summit each year. Mount Kilimanjaro may be one of the planet’s most famous peaks, but here are eight facts you might not know. 1. Mount Kilimanjaro Is Formed of Three Volcanoes Mount Kilimanjaro actually consists of three stratovolcanoes running from northwest to southeast, and its three peaks are volcanic cones. Kilimanjaro’s highest peak, Uhuru, is found on one of these cones, named Kibo. Though the other two cones, Mawenzi and Shira, are extinct, Kibo is technically dormant. Volcanologists believe the last major eruption of Kilimanjaro took place several thousands of years ago in the Pleistocene era, but fumarolic activity within some of Kibo’s summit craters proves that there’s still a slim chance of a future eruption. 2. Mount Kilimanjaro Is Where You’ll Find Africa’s Tallest Tree In 2016, New Scientist reported that a 267-foot-tall Entandrophragma excelsum tree was discovered in a remote valley on Kilimanjaro, making it the tallest known tree in Africa. Fertile volcanic soils coupled with warm temperatures and ample rainfall have allowed the specimen, and others near it, to thrive. Though it’s dwarfed by the tallest trees in North America and Australia, such heights aren’t the norm in Africa. Scientists are now advocating that territory covered by nearby Kilimanjaro National Park be expanded to include the valley, to better protect the extraordinary trees from threats such as logging. 3. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro Is Part of the Seven Summits Challenge Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the Seven Summits — the highest peaks on each continent, which form the basis of one of the world’s most prestigious mountaineering challenges. American businessman Richard D. Bass became the first person to summit all seven on April 30, 1985, when he conquered his seventh peak, Mount Everest. Climbers have been trying to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro since the late 19th century, and a German man named Hans Meyer and his Austrian climbing partner Ludwig Purtscheller made the first documented successful climb to the summit by a European. It was Meyer’s second attempt — two years before that record-breaking climb, a wall of ice prevented him from reaching the top. Together with local guide Yohani Kinyala Lauwo, the two climbers made history at Kilimanjaro’s summit on October 6, 1889. 4. Summiting Mount Kilimanjaro Is Arduous, but Not as Technical as You Might Think There’s no question that reaching the top of Mount Kilimanjaro is difficult, but the level of difficulty depends on the path you choose. There are seven routes to the top: Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit, and Umbwe. Marangu’s popularity stems from its relatively gentle gradient and the availability of accommodations on the trail. Lemosho is considered a much tougher climb, but many say that the scenery is better along the way. Umbwe is short at just 23 miles, but steep. On the other hand, the Northern Circuit covers 56 miles. If you are reasonably fit, Kilimanjaro is not as technical a climb as some of the world’s taller mountains, though you’ll still need to tackle a diverse range of environments — including forest, moorland, scree slopes, and rock faces — as you ascend. 5. The Fastest Climb to the Top Was Just Under Seven Hours Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro typically takes between five and 10 days, though it’s often much quicker for elite athletes. In fact, the current record holder is Swiss-Ecuadorian climber Karl Egloff, who managed the round-trip journey to the summit in an incredible 6 hours and 42 minutes. However, racing to the top is not recommended — the risk of debilitating altitude sickness is significantly reduced for those who trek more carefully. And for most people, it’s no walk in the park. Many have failed in their attempts to reach the top, among them former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and tennis legend Martina Navratilova. 6. Ernest Hemingway Never Actually Climbed Kilimanjaro In The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Ernest Hemingway opens with the words: “Close to the western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.” But Hemingway only viewed Kilimanjaro from its base. His inspiration for this short story came from a photograph taken by a prolific climber named Richard Reusch. In 1926, Reusch stumbled across the animal Hemingway describes at about 18,500 feet above sea level on the crater rim, and captured the moment in a famous photograph. Today, the part of the crater where the creature was spotted is nicknamed Leopard Point. 7. Kilimanjaro Has Hosted Several Record-Breaking Sporting Events In September 2014, a group of international cricketers set a world record for the highest-altitude cricket match when they played at Kilimanjaro’s Crater Camp. Among the players who participated were fast bowler Makhaya Ntini, who represented South Africa during his career, and former England spinner Ashley Giles. A few years later, women’s soccer reached new heights with a game played at 18,700 feet above sea level. The 30 players — hailing from 20 different countries — carried goal posts and nets up the mountain and marked out the pitch with flour to minimize harm to the mountain’s precious ecosystem. The 90-minute game ended in a goalless draw. 8. The Mountain Has Hosted Many Other Stunts, Often for Charitable Causes To advertise the opening of the first Pizza Hut in Tanzania in 2016, pepperoni pizza was delivered to employees and guides waiting at the summit of Kilimanjaro. The pizza was cooked in a Dar Es Salaam restaurant and flown to a local airport before being carried up the mountain on foot. An official representing Guinness World Records approved the feat as the highest-altitude pizza delivery ever made. Even straightforward climbs of Kilimanjaro haven’t always been, well, straight forward. Sanjay Pandit from Nepal reached the summit and returned to the foot of the mountain walking backward the entire way. More importantly, climbing Kilimanjaro can be an effective way of highlighting worthy causes in the media and raising money for charity, particularly when celebrities are involved. Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, climbed dressed as a rhino to raise awareness for the Save the Rhino Foundation. And each year, members of Wings of Kilimanjaro climb Kilimanjaro and paraglide back down to raise money for causes such as digging wells and building schools in Tanzania. Source: Interesting Facts About Mt. Kilimanjaro | Mount Kilimanjaro, What You Might Not Know
  12. What's the Word: POTSHERD pronunciation: [POT-SHərd] Part of speech: noun Origin: Middle English, 14th century Meaning: 1. A broken piece of ceramic material, especially one found on an archaeological site. Example: "Charlotte was surprised to find potsherds in the lower depths of her backyard garden." "The archaeological dig revealed only rocks until Dr. Jones discovered a potsherd." About Potsherd “Potsherd” is an English compound merging “pot,” from the Latin “pottis,” meaning “pot,” and “shard,” from the Old English “sceard,” meaning “notched” or “broken.” Did You Know? Hunting for ancient potsherds remains a popular pastime in England, where pieces of Roman pottery have been found dating as far back as 400 BCE. Britons often find potsherds while “mudlarking,” a term for searching the mud of riverbanks for valuable artifacts. Mudlarking has always been popular in London, because the water level of the river Thames fluctuates daily. This shifting water line provides easy access to a riverbed that has been the site of more than 2000 years of continuous human activity. As a result, the Thames riverbed is a rich source of potsherds, as well as other archaeological artifacts.
  13. Fact of the Day - VIKINGS Did you know.... Vikings didn’t wear horned helmets. Forget almost every Viking warrior costume you’ve ever seen. Sure, the pugnacious Norsemen probably sported headgear, but that whole horn-festooned helmet look? Depictions dating from the Viking age don’t show it, and the only authentic Viking helmet ever discovered is decidedly horn-free. Painters seem to have fabricated the trend during the 19th century, perhaps inspired by descriptions of northern Europeans by ancient Greek and Roman chroniclers. Long before the Vikings’ time, Norse and Germanic priests did indeed wear horned helmets for ceremonial purposes. (JENNIE COHEN | UPDATED: SEP 4, 2018 | ORIGINAL: FEB 18, 2013) Unknown Facts About the Vikings by Interesting Facts The Vikings are mostly known as a group of aggressive invaders who pillaged and plundered their way from Scandinavia to other European nations from about the eighth to the 11th century. In fact, the word "Viking" means “pirate invader” in the Old Norse language. Though they were a fearsome lot, the Vikings were also skilled boatbuilders and seafarers who sailed to other lands for many reasons, seeking riches and profitable trade routes. Historians have uncovered former Viking sites as far away as Iceland, Greenland, and Canada that reveal fascinating history about historic civilizations. Here are six things about the Vikings you might not know. 1. Not All Vikings Came From Scandinavia Sweden, Norway, and Denmark receive most of the attention regarding Viking history, but a group of warriors known as the Oeselians lived on a large island called Ösel. Known as Saaremaa today, the island is located off Estonia’s coast in the Baltic Sea. According to 13th-century Estonian documents, Oeselians built merchant ships and warships that could carry about 30 men each. In 2008, workers inadvertently discovered a burial ground in the town of Salme that included human remains, along with swords, spears, knives, axes, and other weapons. Archaeologists excavated the site (and later a second site nearby) and found the remains of two Swedish ships dating to about 750 CE. One ship contained neatly ordered remains and the other more haphazard, indicating battles had taken place. Archaeologists believe the two ships likely carried Swedish Vikings who met their end while attacking the Oeselians. 2. Latvian Vikings Were Known as the “Last Pagans” Another tribe of fierce Viking warriors, the Curonians, lived along the Baltic coastline of modern-day Latvia starting around the fifth century CE. The Curonians were referred to as Europe’s last pagans, since they resisted all attempts to convert to Christianity long after neighboring nations did so — by some accounts, they practiced ancient rituals into the 19th century. They frequently raided Swedish settlements and attacked merchant ships, often forming alliances with other groups, including the nearby Oeselians. The Curonians were also among the region’s wealthiest groups, primarily due to the trade of amber (precious fossilized tree resin). The Baltic region contains vast amounts of amber, nicknamed “the gold of the North,” and Baltic amber was once traded all over Europe and northern Africa. One of the Curonians’ primary settlements, Seeburg, was along the Baltic coast in modern-day Grobina. There, you can visit the Curonian Viking Settlement, an attraction that immerses visitors in folklore and activities such as archery, boat trips, and excursions to visit historical sites. 3. Vikings Established the Kingdom of Dublin Ireland once contained many wealthy monasteries, since it had been a Christian nation for about three centuries before the first Vikings’ arrival late in the eighth century CE. At first, the Vikings either traded with or marauded Irish monasteries and set up temporary camps. Around 840 CE, they established a year-round settlement and built a wooden fort (called a longphort) along the River Liffey bank in modern-day Dublin. The Vikings used the settlement as a base to raid inland settlements and obtain timber to build ships. Over the next three centuries, they formed alliances and fought battles with local rulers, establishing the Kingdom of Dublin. Dublin became a strategic and bustling trading port and one of the longest-lasting Viking settlements outside Scandinavia. Construction workers initially discovered two extensive Viking settlements in Dublin, one at Wood Quay and the other at Christ Church Cathedral. Dublin embraces its Viking history, and one of the best ways to experience it is by visiting Dublinia, a museum and historic area that hosts festivals. The National Museum of Ireland also houses many artifacts and a Viking Age exhibit. 4. Normandy Is Named for the Vikings According to medieval Latin documents, Normandy (a province in northwestern France) is named for the Vikings that pillaged, plundered, and later settled here beginning around 790 CE. The Latin name for them was Notmanni, which means “men of the North.” Defenseless monasteries were often their first targets, and a Danish Viking expedition even sailed up the Seine River to raid and occupy Paris in 845 CE. After a French king ceded land to him in 911 CE, a Viking leader named Rollo established a permanent settlement in the region, which became known as the Duchy of Normandy. The Normandy territory expanded over the next several hundred years as Scandinavian Vikings colonized the area. They eventually gave up their paganism for Christianity and integrated into society. Rollo’s descendants built a stronghold and, later, around 927 CE, a palace in Fecámp, which you can visit today. Fecámp overlooks a protected harbor (the likely site where Rollo first came ashore), making it easy to visualize a fleet of Viking ships bobbing on anchors. 5. Vikings Settled Iceland Unsurprisingly, when these medieval seafaring raiders invaded an area, they encountered resistance from the Indigenous populations. But when Norwegian Vikings arrived in Iceland in 870 CE, the only inhabitants they found were a small group of Irish monks, who left soon after. The Vikings discovered Iceland by accident when they were blown off course during storms. Once word reached Norway that Iceland was open for the taking, settlers descended on the island, bringing with them enslaved peoples from the British Isles. DNA testing and genealogy studies have shown that early Icelanders were about half Norse (from Norway and Sweden) and half Gaelic (from Ireland and Scotland). By 930 CE, the settlers had divided Iceland into 36 principalities, formed the Althing (assembly of free men), and adopted a Norwegian law code to establish a commonwealth. Two surviving texts from the 12th and 13th centuries, the Íslendingabók (Book of the Icelanders) and the Landnámabók (Book of the Settlements), detail these early activities. Surprisingly, the Norse language hasn’t changed much over the centuries, and Icelanders today can still understand their Viking ancestors' language. You can find historic and replicated Viking sites, artifacts, and festivals all over Iceland if you visit today. 6. Greenland’s Vikings Disappeared A Norwegian Viking known as Erik the Red was the first European to settle in Greenland in 983 CE. Two years later, he led an expedition of Icelandic settlers to Greenland, about 900 miles away. The settlers established two communities, the East Settlement near present-day Qaqortoq and the West Settlement near Nuuk. For the next 300 years or so, the settlers successfully farmed, fished, raised cattle, and hunted caribou, seals, walruses, polar bears, and other Arctic animals. However, Greenland couldn’t provide all the resources (such as timber and iron) they needed, so Greenlanders relied on trade with European nations. During this time, Europeans began importing ivory, which they used to decorate churches and make chess pieces and other trinkets. Greenland’s walrus population was plentiful at the time, and Greenlanders collaborated in groups to hunt walruses for their skins and tusks. The island nation’s success was mostly due to a bustling ivory trade. Then a series of events in the 13th century led to the demise of Greenland’s Viking settlements. Greenland winters became harsher and storms more frequent, making it exceedingly dangerous to hunt and export ivory in treacherous seas. The longer winters shortened the already short farming season, creating food scarcities. Meanwhile, African elephant tusks became a competing source for ivory, collapsing the Greenland market. On top of that, the Black Plague was sweeping across Europe, further reducing the ivory demand and disrupting Greenland’s ability to survive. Archaeologists and historians believe that many of Greenland’s impoverished inhabitants died over time (many drowned at sea), and the others simply left and went to North America, Iceland, or Europe. By the end of the 14th century, the Norse settlements were vacant. Source: Things You May Not Know About the Vikings | Facts About Vikings
  14. What's the Word: CHARETTE pronunciation: [shə-RET] Part of speech: noun Origin: Old French, 15th century Meaning: 1. A meeting in which all stakeholders in a project attempt to resolve conflicts and map solutions. Example: "After attending the charette on the plans for the park, residents were enthusiastic about the fundraising." "A charrette on the redesign of city hall brought together the city’s architects, community leaders, and residents." About Charette From the Old French “charrette,” meaning “cart” or “carriage.” Did You Know? Using “charrette” to describe a meeting of many stakeholders is a modern redeployment of a very old word. “Charette” (meaning “cart”) entered English from Old French in the 15th century, but by the 17th century the word had been replaced by terms like “carriage” and “wagon.” In the mid-20th century, American architects took up the term to describe collaborative group projects, making reference to the carts (“charrettes”) that 19th-century Parisian architecture schools sent out to collect students’ work for assessment.
  15. Fact of the Day - CAROLBURNETT SHOW Did you know... The Carol Burnett Show is an American variety/sketch comedy television show that originally ran on CBS from September 11, 1967, to March 29, 1978, for 279 episodes, and again with nine episodes in fall 1991. It starred Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, and Lyle Waggoner. In 1975, frequent guest star Tim Conway became a regular after Waggoner left the series.[2] In 1977, Dick Van Dyke replaced Korman but it was agreed that he was not a match and he left after 10 episodes. (Wikipedia) Fun Facts About The Carol Burnett Show By Kara Kovalchik | Apr 26, 2018 After a short stint in the New York theater world, comedienne Carol Burnett landed a job as a regular on The Garry Moore Show in 1959. She caught the attention of CBS executives, who offered her her own series in 1967. With her husband Joe Hamilton at the helm, Burnett broke new ground as the first female host of a TV variety show. The Carol Burnett Show ran for 11 seasons and earned a handful of Emmy Awards in the process. To celebrate the legendary comedienne's 85th birthday, here are some fun facts about the show and the folks who made it so side-splittingly hilarious. 1. CAROL BURNETT’S MOTHER WANTED HER TO BE A WRITER. As Carol Burnett painfully recalled later in life, whenever she’d expressed an interest in a career in the theater as a teen, her mother would always dissuade her and recommend that she would have better luck studying to become a writer. “You can always write, no matter what you look like,” she would add. 2. A TOTAL STRANGER HELPED TO LAUNCH BURNETT’S CAREER. As she was nearing graduation from UCLA, Burnett and several fellow drama students were invited to a departing professor’s house to perform at his bon voyage party. She performed a scene from the musical Annie Get Your Gun and later that evening, while she was standing in the buffet line, a man she’d never seen before approached her and complimented her performance. He then inquired what she planned to do with her life. She confessed that she dreamed of going to New York one day for a career on the stage, but seeing that she barely had enough gas money to drive back to Los Angeles that evening, it would be a very long time before she’d make it to Broadway. The man told her he’d be happy to lend her $1000 to get her started, with three conditions: that she repay him without interest in five years, that she was never to reveal his identity, and that once she was successful she must pass a similar kindness along to another person in need. (After pondering the offer over the weekend and consulting her mother and grandmother—who advised her to steer clear of the strange man who was probably involved in human trafficking or something worse—she took a chance and accepted his check.) 3. VICKI LAWRENCE CAUGHT BURNETT’S ATTENTION BY WRITING HER A FAN LETTER When Vicki Lawrence cut her hair in a short “pixie” cut as a high school senior, many of her classmates commented on her resemblance to Carol Burnett. Lawrence’s somewhat overbearing stage mother encouraged her to write Burnett a letter, which she did, enclosing a photo and a newspaper article that mentioned her upcoming appearance in the Inglewood, California Miss Fireball Contest. To her surprise, a seven-months-pregnant Burnett showed up at the pageant to cheer her on. When Burnett had her baby, Lawrence took some flowers to the hospital, thinking she’d just drop them off. But when the nurse on duty saw her, she immediately mistook her for Burnett’s real-life half-sister Chrissie and exclaimed, “Wait until you see the baby!” and ushered her into Carol’s room. 4. LAWRENCE ENDED UP PLAYING BURNETT’S SISTER ON THE SHOW. When they were casting The Carol Burnett Show, the star remembered the teen and hired her despite her lack of experience. At first her only role was in the recurring “Carol and Sis” sketch, in which Lawrence played “Chrissie,” Burnett’s younger sister. Lawrence recalled in her 1995 autobiography that Burnett was very nurturing to all her co-stars, making sure everyone got their share of the best jokes, but it was Harvey Korman who took her under his wing in the beginning and taught her about timing, dialects, and working with props. 5. THE Q&A AT THE BEGINNING WAS BURNETT’S HUSBAND’S IDEA. Joe Hamilton was not only Carol Burnett’s husband, he was also the show’s executive producer. It was traditional at the time (and still is, in some cases) to have a stand-up comic step onstage before a show to tell some jokes and “warm up” the audience. Hamilton was wary of going that route, however; as Burnett later recalled, “He worried, ‘What if the guy is funnier than the rest of you?’” He thought it would be a good ice-breaker if Burnett herself went out front before the proceedings to welcome the audience and answer a couple of questions. Over the next 11 seasons, the question that she was asked the most was “Can you do your Tarzan yell?” 6. BURNETT ONCE USED HER TARZAN YELL AS A FORM OF IDENTIFICATION. While shopping for nylon stockings at New York City’s Bergdorf Goodman one day, the saleswoman recognized Burnett and asked for her autograph for her grandchildren. When it came time to check out, Burnett realized that she didn’t have her credit card or driver’s license in her wallet. She inquired if she could write a check. “I’ll have to see some ID,” replied the woman who’d requested an autograph just moments before. The floor manager intervened and told Burnett that she’d accept her check if Burnett would do her Tarzan yell. Burnett complied, prompting a security guard to kick open a nearby door, burst in and point his gun at her. 7. LYLE WAGONNER WAS THE FIRST CENTERFOLD IN PLAYGIRL MAGAZINE. Joe Hamilton was looking for a handsome, “Rock Hudson-type” when casting the announcer for his wife’s show. Former encyclopedia salesman Lyle Waggoner landed the job not only due to his devastating good looks, but also because he had a good sense of humor about how pretty he was. He was even good-natured about the teasing he got from his castmates after posing for the centerfold of Playgirl magazine’s premiere issue in 1973. 8. HARVEY KORMAN WAS THE FIRST CAST MEMBER HIRED. The producers wanted a “Harvey Korman-type” for Burnett’s second banana, but didn’t bother to actually ask Korman if he was interested in the job because he was already a regular on The Danny Kaye Show, and most likely he wouldn’t leave a steady job for an unproven new show. Burnett herself spotted Korman in the CBS parking lot one day and “practically threw him over the hood of a car” begging him to join her show. Unbeknownst to her, Kaye’s show was about to get the axe after a four-year run, so Korman cheerfully accepted her offer shortly after that first meeting. 9. TIM CONWAY RARELY FOLLOWED HIS SCRIPT. Conway had been a frequent guest star on the show, and when Lyle Waggoner decided to leave the show in 1974 (he felt that he was being “underused”), Conway was hired to replace him the following year. Conway was legendary for veering off-script and ad-libbing for lengthy stretches, to the amusement of some of his co-stars (Korman) and annoyance of others (Lawrence, who sometimes resented Conway’s disruptions and spotlight-hogging). Lawrence finally slipped her own ad-lib in on one memorable occasion, as Conway rambled on and on about an elephant during a “Family” sketch. Her NSFW remark brought the rest of the cast to their knees and was said to be Dick Clark’s favorite all-time outtake on his Bloopers and Practical Jokes TV show. 10. MRS. WIGGINS WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN AS AN ELDERLY WOMAN. Conway created the Mr. Tudball/Mrs. Wiggins characters and wrote (or ad-libbed) many of their sketches. His original concept had Mrs. Wiggins being ancient, slow, and forgetful. But costume designer Bob Mackie decided that Burnett had played too many “old lady” characters on the show and designed a very voluptuous look for her instead. He explained at the time that he had certain “ditzy” CBS secretaries in mind when he stitched the curvy costume together. 11. THE SHOW THAT BECAME MAMA’S FAMILY STARTED OUT AS A MUCH DARKER ONE-OFF SKETCH. A sketch called “The Reunion,” which originally aired in March of 1974, featured the characters that eventually became known as “The Family.” In this initial installment, Roddy McDowall played Phillip Harper, the successful younger brother of Eunice, returning home for a visit after winning a Pulitzer Prize. The family members were far crankier and more argumentative (and perhaps more representative of actual family life as they talked over one another and changed topics as soon as a thought occurred to them) than the cartoonish characters they eventually came to be on the syndicated series Mama’s Family. The piece proved to be so popular that 30 more “Family” sketches appeared over the next four seasons, with such guest stars as Alan Alda and Betty White turning up as members of the extended Harper family. 12. IT WAS BURNETT’S IDEA TO MAKE EUNICE AND HER FAMILY SOUTHERN. The creators of "The Family" sketch were The Carol Burnett Show staff writers Jenna McMahon and Dick Clair. McMahon hailed from Kansas City, Missouri, and envisioned the Harpers to be of typical Midwestern stock, but as Burnett read the initial script she heard her own Texan and Arkansan family members speaking. She started speaking the lines with a pronounced Southern drawl, and Vicki Lawrence soon followed suit. 13. DICK VAN DYKE WAS A REGULAR FOR A SHORT TIME. Harvey Korman left The Carol Burnett Show at the end of season 10 to star in his own sitcom on ABC. (The Harvey Korman Show was cancelled after five episodes.) Dick Van Dyke was brought in as a replacement, but he was never a very good fit. As Burnett commented after the fact, “When Harvey put on a wig and a dress, he became a woman; when Dick Van Dyke did it, he was Dick Van Dyke in a wig and a dress.” Van Dyke wasn’t overjoyed with the job, either; he lived in Arizona at the time and the monthly 4000-mile commute was exhausting. He was released from his contract in November 1977. 14. BURNETT’S “WENT WITH THE WIND” CURTAIN ROD DRESS WAS BOB MACKIE’S BRAINSTORM. Burnett’s Gone with the Wind parody has made many “funniest shows of all time” lists over the years, and one of the defining moments of the sketch was when Carol (as "Starlett O’Hara”) descends the stairs at Tara wearing the green velvet drapes with the curtain rod still in them and admits, “I saw it in a window and I couldn’t resist.” The original script called for Burnett to have the curtains tossed haphazardly over her shoulders, but Mackie decided that it would be funnier to create an actual dress and leave the hanger intact across her shoulders. He is slightly bitter all these years later that of all his magnificent creations, that “joke” dress has become his signature piece; of all the memorable glamorous gowns he’s created for celebrities over the decades, that curtain rod dress is the one that hangs in the Smithsonian. 15. CONWAY’S FAMOUS “DENTIST” SKIT WAS BASED ON AN ACTUAL INCIDENT. When Conway was in the Army having some work done on his teeth, the dentist accidentally injected his own thumb with Novocain. Conway exaggerated the experience to hilarious effect in a classic skit that left Harvey Korman struggling to contain his laughter. During a 2013 interview, Conway told Conan O’Brien that Korman actually wet himself from laughing so hard. 16. THERE WAS ONLY ONE CELEBRITY GUEST THAT BURNETT WAS NEVER ABLE TO BOOK. Over the 11 seasons the show ran, a veritable “Who’s Who” of the entertainment industry did a guest turn, from Steve Martin to Julie Andrews to then-governor Ronald Reagan to Robin Williams to Ethel Merman. The only guest who Burnett dearly wanted to have but never did get was Bette Davis. Davis was willing to appear but demanded more money that the show had budgeted. Joe Hamilton advised his wife that if they gave in to Davis’s demand, it would set an unpleasant precedent. Source: Wikipedida - The Carol Burnett Show | Fascinating Facts About The Carol Burnett Show
  16. What's the Word: TONY pronunciation: [TOH-nee] Part of speech: adjective Origin: American English, late 19th century Meaning: 1. (Informal North American) Fashionable among wealthy or stylish people. Example: "Jon and Erica lived in an elite, tony neighborhood." "The up-and-coming designer used tony, luxurious fabrics." About Tony This is an American English slang term, stemming from the Old French “ton,” meaning "musical sound, speech, words." This is from the Latin “tonus,” or "a sound, tone, accent." Did You Know? Tony! Toni! Toné! was an American R&B group that was popular in the early to mid-1990s. Fans often asked how the trio came up with their band name, and one of the founding members, D'Wayne Wiggins, told an interviewer it all came from a playful saying. “Our name for the group, Tony! Toni! Toné!, was a nickname that we had for how we used to get dressed to go out partying. When we used to put on our clothes and get fly, we would say, ‘Yeah. Tony! Toni! Toné!’”
  17. Fact of the Day - BABY IN THE MAIL? Did you know... You used to be able to send children through U.S. mail. You can send a lot of things in the mail, but you can’t send a person — at least not anymore. There was nothing preventing people from mailing their own children in the early days of the U.S. Postal Service’s parcel post service, and at least seven families took advantage of it. That includes the Beagues, an Ohio couple who in 1913 paid 15 cents in postage to mail their newborn son to his grandmother’s house a mile down the road. Beyond the novelty of it — when the parcel post service began on January 1, 1913, some were eager to see which packages they could get away with sending — it was a surprisingly practical way of getting one’s kiddo from point A to point B. To start with, many people in rural areas knew their postal carriers fairly well, which meant the children were simply walked or carried on often-short trips. In other instances, children traveled on trains as Railway Mail, but with stamps instead of (usually more expensive) train tickets. The longest known trip of a child through the mail occurred in 1915, when a six-year-old was sent 720 miles from Florida to Virginia — a lengthy trip that cost just 15 cents. Fortunately, there are no reports of children being injured by being sent through the mail. (Pictures of children in literal mailbags were staged.) The practice ended, as so many do, when certain higher-ups became aware of the loophole and decided to close it, also around 1915. The world’s oldest working post office is in Scotland. First opened more than three centuries ago, the Sanquhar Post Office is the oldest working post office in the world. It’s been serving the people of Sanquhar, Scotland, since 1712 — just five years after Scotland and England unified. It remains popular among tourists, who enjoy having their letters marked with a “World’s Oldest Post Office” stamp. The future of the site is in doubt, however, as the current owners are looking to retire, and a new owner had yet to be found at the time of writing. The Sanquhar post office predates the entire United States Postal Service by 63 years; the USPS was established by the Second Continental Congress on July 26, 1775. (Interesting Facts) When People Used the Postal Service to Mail Their Children In the early days of U.S. parcel service, there weren’t clear guidelines about what you could and couldn’t mail. by BECKY LITTLE | UPDATED: AUG 21, 2020 | ORIGINAL:JUN 13, 2018 In January 1913, one Ohio couple took advantage of the U.S. Postal Service's new parcel service to make a very special delivery: their infant son. The Beagues paid 15 cents for his stamps and an unknown amount to insure him for $50, then handed him over to the mailman, who dropped the boy off at his grandmother’s house about a mile away. Regulations about what you could and couldn’t send through the mail were vague when post offices began accepting parcels over four pounds on January 1, 1913. People immediately started testing its limits by mailing eggs, bricks, snakes and other unusual “packages.” So were people allowed to mail their children? Technically, there was no postal regulation against it. “The first few years of parcel post service—it was a bit of a mess,” says Nancy Pope, head curator of history at the National Postal Museum. “You had different towns getting away with different things, depending on how their postmaster read the regulations.” Pope has found about seven instances of people mailing children between 1913 and 1915, beginning with the baby in Ohio. It wasn’t common to mail your children, yet for long distances, it would’ve been cheaper to buy the stamps to send a kid by Railway Mail than to buy her a ticket on a passenger train. In addition, people who mailed their children weren’t handing them over to a stranger. In rural areas, many families knew their mailman quite well. However, those two viral photos you might have seen online of postal workers carrying babies in their mailbag were staged photos, taken as a joke. A mailman might have carried a swaddled child who couldn’t walk, but he wouldn’t have let a diaper-wearing baby sit in a pile of people’s mail. May Pierstorff, who was sent through the mail. (Credit: Smithsonian National Postal Museum) In the case of May Pierstorff, whose parents sent her to her grandparent’s house 73 miles away in February 1914, the postal worker who took her by Railway Mail train was a relative. The Idaho family paid 53 cents for the stamps that they put on their nearly six-year-old daughter’s coat. Yet after Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson heard about this incident—as well as another inquiry someone had made that month about mailing children—he officially banned postal workers from accepting humans as mail. Still, the new regulation didn’t immediately stop people from sending their children by post. A year later, a woman mailed her six-year-old daughter from her home in Florida to her father’s home in Virginia. At 720 miles, it was longest postal trip of any of the children Pope has identified, and cost 15 cents in stamps. In August 1915, three-year-old Maud Smith made what appears to be the last journey of a child by U.S. post, when her grandparents mailed her 40 miles through Kentucky to visit her sick mother. After the story made the news, Superintendent John Clark of the Cincinnati division of the Railway Mail Service investigated, questioning why the postmaster in Caney, Kentucky, had allowed a child on a mail train when that was explicitly against regulations. “I don’t know if he lost his job, but he sure had some explaining to do,” Pope says. Though Maud seems to be the last successfully mailed child, others would later still tried to mail their children. In June 1920, First Assistant Postmaster General John C. Koons rejected two applications to mail children, noting that they couldn’t be classified as “harmless live animals,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Source: Sending Children Through the Mail | Facts About Mailing Children
  18. What's the Word: EUNOMY pronunciation: [YOO-nə-mee] Part of speech: noun Origin: Ancient Greek, date unknown Meaning: 1. Equal law, or a well-adjusted constitution of government. Example: "The new government has a sense of eunomy and stability." "An equal number of men and women in government tends to result in eunomy." About Eunomy This word comes from the ancient Greek “eu-,” meaning “well, good” and “-nomy,” rooted in the Greek “nómos,” meaning “law or custom.” Did You Know? The word “eunomy” can easily be mistaken for “euonym” because they are anagrams for each other. While the former means “equal law,” the latter is “a name well suited to the person, place, or thing named.” Both have the Greek suffix “eu-” that means “good.” The “-onym” in “euonym” is the Greek root for “name.”
  19. Fact of the Day - LOUIS ARMSTRONG Did you know.... With his infectious smile and raspy voice, Louis Armstrong (who actually pronounced his own name "Lewis") won over fans worldwide. To untold millions, every note that he let loose made the world feel a bit more wonderful, and his music is still being discovered by new generations of fans. Here are 10 facts about the life of one of the 20th century's most important jazz musicians. (By Mark Mancini | Jul 6, 2018 | Updated: Aug 4, 2020) Fascinating Facts About Louis Armstrong by Interesting Facts Louis Armstrong changed the face of jazz in the 20th century, with enduring hits such as “West End Blues,” “Hello, Dolly!” and “What a Wonderful World.” Born in 1901, the influential trumpeter and vocalist started playing gigs as a child in New Orleans, and long after his death in 1971, remains a giant of the genre. Satchmo (as he was lovingly nicknamed) had a long and rich career, but was he always a singer? Which enduring hit went unnoticed for decades? And how did he revolutionize the trumpet? Take a journey through the “wonderful world” of Louis Armstrong with these seven amazing facts about his life. 1. Louis Armstrong’s Childhood Nickname Was “Dippermouth” Long before “Satchmo” came along, Armstrong was known in his childhood home in the Storyville district of New Orleans as “Dippermouth,” or “Dipper” for short. He supposedly got the moniker from his wide smile as a child, although the nickname later came to be associated with his embouchure (the way a player puts their mouth around an instrument). Armstrong’s mentor, King Oliver — a fixture in the Storyville jazz scene during Armstrong’s youth — recorded a song in 1923 called “Dippermouth Blues,” which he co-wrote with Armstrong. Dipper himself would later go on to record his own version in 1936. 2. Armstrong Honed His Skills in a “Waif’s Home” After firing off six blanks at a New Year’s Eve party in New Orleans in 1912, 11-year-old Armstrong was arrested and sent to the Colored Waif’s Home for Boys, a facility that was part juvenile detention facility, part orphanage, and part reform school. It was his second stay at the home — according to recently uncovered records, Armstrong did a brief stint there when he was only nine, after he and five of his friends were arrested for being “dangerous and suspicious characters,” a charge used often at the time to detain people without cause. By the time of his second stay, the Waif’s Home had hired a music teacher and started a band program. Under the tutelage of instructor Peter Davis, Armstrong learned the bugle and the coronet, and spent some time as the bandleader. Early on, he showed a skill for harmonizing and improvising that seemed beyond his years. It was far from his first exposure to the instruments, but it was the first time he received proper training. Armstrong started playing gigs after his release from the home in 1914. 3. Armstrong Didn’t Start Out as a Trumpet Player While he is remembered today for his distinctive voice and rich trumpet solos, the trumpet wasn’t Armstrong’s original instrument of choice — even years into his career. Satchmo rose to prominence in his mid-teens playing the cornet, which is similar to a trumpet but smaller and with a few subtle differences. For example, a trumpet is a cylindrical brass instrument, meaning the tube stays the same diameter throughout, but a cornet’s tube tapers off on its way to the mouthpiece, giving it a mellower tone. From the 1800s to the mid-1900s, the cornet was a standard part of a brass or jazz ensemble, as well as a popular solo instrument. While trumpets were also played, they weren’t typically solo instruments. Armstrong, however, has been credited with reinventing the trumpet in the public consciousness. In the mid-1920s, as Armstrong tells it, the bandleader of an orchestra he played with said he “looked funny… with that stubby cornet.” The band’s other brass player played the trumpet, and Armstrong thought the sound of two trumpets sounded better. He started playing the trumpet as he would the cornet, with extensive improvisation and crowd-pleasing solos. He wasn’t the only jazz musician doing this, but as he rose to national prominence, his inventive style helped change public opinion about what a trumpet could sound like. 4. He Used to Play in a Silent Movie Orchestra In the mid-1920s, Armstrong played with Erskine Tate’s Vendome Orchestra — the same band that inspired him to pick up a trumpet. The Big Band ensemble was one of the early players on Chicago’s jazz scene and performed at the Vendome Theatre in Chicago, providing accompaniment and intermission entertainment for silent films. Armstrong not only played jazz solos, but also performed operatic arias. 5. Lip Injuries Were a Common Ailment for Armstrong There was one bad habit Armstrong picked up at the Waif’s Home: a poor embouchure that proved unsafe for his face. Bad form is especially dangerous with brass instruments, including cornets and trumpets, because shifting one’s embouchure is fundamental to playing a melody, requiring near-constant lip and tongue movement. According to Armstrong, the damage started early in his career. “In my teens, playing in that honky tonk all night long, I split my lip wide open,” Armstrong recalled in a 1966 Life interview. “Split my lip so bad in Memphis, there’s meat still missing. Happened many times. Awful. Blood run all down my shirt.” While some of his peers sought professional help and even plastic surgery, Satchmo treated his lips using home remedies. He had a special salve he’d apply to his lips, and when callouses built up, he’d shave them down himself with a razor and take some time away from performing. One particularly nasty split in 1935 took him offstage for a year. While embouchure overuse syndrome can be common among brass players, it’s perhaps associated with Armstrong more than any other musician. Some doctors even use the term Satchmo syndrome for a tear in the lip muscle. 6. Armstrong Insisted on Adding Singing to His Act Armstrong is almost as well known today for his distinctive, gravelly singing voice as he is for his trumpet skill. While he formed a vocal quartet with other kids in his neighborhood and sang in a choir at the Waif’s Home, Satchmo built his early career on the cornet and later the trumpet, not singing. In 1924, he joined the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, then a big name in the New York City music scene, for an engagement at the Roseland Ballroom. Armstrong asked repeatedly to sing, yet recalled that Henderson wasn’t interested. But according to jazz drummer Kaiser Marshall, Satchmo found a way to sneak it in anyway: Roseland would host a Thursday revue of amateur performers (similar to an open mic), and one night Armstrong went on stage and performed “Everybody Loves My Baby,” both on cornet and vocals. Marshall recalled that “the crowd surely went for it … from then on they used to cry for Louis every Thursday night.” 7. “What A Wonderful World” Took 20 Years to Reach the U.S. Charts Armstrong’s most popular song, “What a Wonderful World,” topped the British music charts upon its 1967 release, staying at No. 1 for 13 weeks. The inspiring tune was a hit elsewhere in Europe and South Africa, too, but because the president of Armstrong’s record company, Larry Newton, disliked the song, the record was never actually promoted in the United States. According to the song’s co-writer and producer Bob Thiele, it didn’t even crack 1,000 copies in the U.S. after its initial release. But in 1987, 16 years after Armstrong’s death, “What a Wonderful World” was featured in the film Good Morning Vietnam. Only then did the song reach the Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at No. 33. The original album was re-released and certified gold. Armstrong was drawn to the song because it reminded him of Corona, Queens, where he and his last wife Lucille settled down permanently in 1942. “Lucille and I, ever since we’re married, we’ve been right there in that block,” Armstrong said in 1968, according to the Louis Armstrong House. “And everybody keeps their little homes up like we do and it’s just like one big family. I saw three generations come up on that block. And they’re all with their children, grandchildren, they come back to see Uncle Satchmo and Aunt Lucille. That’s why I can say, ‘I hear babies cry/I watch them grow /they’ll learn much more/than I’ll never know.’ … So when they hand me this ‘Wonderful World,’ I didn’t look no further, that was it.” Since then, the song has become a timeless classic, featured in many other films and shows and covered by artists such as Rod Stewart and Stevie Wonder. Source: Facts About Louis Armstrong | About Louis Armstrong
  20. What's the Word: GUSTO pronunciation: [GUS-toh] Part of speech: noun Origin: Italian, 17th century Meaning: 1. Enjoyment or vigor in doing something; zest. Example: "We tore into the basket of fresh cherries with gusto." "The guests ate with gusto, devouring plates of food as fast as we could serve them up." About Gusto “Gusto” entered English in the mid-1600s directly from the Italian “gusto,” meaning “taste.” The Italian word derives from the Latin “gustus,” also meaning taste. Did You Know? While “gusto” can refer to anything done with passionate enjoyment, the word is often associated with the act of eating, thanks to the Italian root word translating to “taste.” The words “gustatory,” meaning “concerned with tasting,” and “gustation,” meaning “tasting,” derive from the same root. However, the noun “gust,” describing a strong, brief wind, is taken from the Old Norse “gust,” meaning “gush,” rather than from the Latin for “taste.”
  21. Fact of the Day - HOMER SIMPSON Did you know... Homer Simpson’s “D’oh” is trademarked by 20th Century Studios. Homer Simpson’s famed grunt has been ubiquitous both on the long-running animated series The Simpsons (which debuted in 1989) and in the collective imagination for decades now, with “D’oh!” getting its own Wikipedia article, YouTube compilations, and even a book. Yet not many people know the sound is actually a protected trademark owned by 20th Century Studios. Technically, it’s a sound mark, which the United States Patent and Trademark Office explains “identifies and distinguishes a product or service through audio rather than visual means” and "create in the hearer's mind an association" between a sound and a good or service. 20th Century Studios filed papers to trademark the sound (registration number: 3411881) in July 1002. Other examples od sound marks include the noise Darth Vader makes while breathing and that instantly recognizable Law and Order "chung chung" sound effect. Homer's utterance is hardly the only iconic Simpsons catchphrase — “¡Ay, caramba!” and “Okily dokily!” come to mind as well — but “D’oh!” may be the most enduring. The channel TV Land placed it sixth on a list of the 100 greatest quotes and catchphrases in television history, ahead of such heavyweights as Fred Flintstone’s “Yabba dabba do!” and Seinfeld’s “No soup for you!” It also isn’t going anywhere any time soon: Although some fans may believe the show’s Golden Age has long since passed, The Simpsons has already been renewed for a 34th season. The true location of Springfield has never been revealed. What state do the Simpsons live in? According to one chalkboard gag, “The true location of Springfield is in any state but yours.” Despite creator Matt Groening once saying that the town was partially based on Springfield, Oregon, the show itself has made a joke of never revealing its actual location. There have been clues along the way, most of which contradict each other, but it’s likely that there will never be a definite answer. “I don't want to ruin it for people, you know?” Groening has said of the phenomenon. “Whenever people say it's Springfield, Ohio, or Springfield, Massachusetts, or Springfield, wherever, I always go, ‘Yup, that's right.’” (Interesting Facts) 10 Hidden Details About Homer Everyone Missed BY PHILIP ETEMESI | PUBLISHED FEB 26, 2021 Homer Simpson might be lazy, unintelligent, immature, overly-aggressive, and incompetent at work, but he can rest easy knowing he is a legend. Homer sits at second place on the list of "Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time" and several other publications have also listed him as one of the best TV characters of all time. Alongside Lisa, he is one of only two characters to appear in every episode of the animated sitcom (695). He is also the only one who speaks in all episodes. Fans of the show are well aware of Homer's drinking exploits at Moe's Tavern and his struggles at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, but some tiny details might be hard to notice. 1. Conflicting Blood Types Homer once volunteers to donate blood to Mr. Burns, with the intention that the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant boss will reward him when he gets better. At this point, Burns has been diagnosed with "hypohemia" and needs a double-O-negative donor. Unfortunately for Homer, he doesn't qualify as a donor since his blood is Type A. However, there are different details mentioned about his blood type later on. When Marge wants a fourth baby, she and Homer try to have one. Sadly, Homer has become infertile. But there is a lucky break when it's revealed that Homer was once a sperm donor and his sperm donor profile (under the name Thad Supersperm) shows his blood type to be AB. 2. His Favorite Song Homer's favorite song is the 1982 classic It's Raining Men by The Weather Girls. In Season 6, he gets unfairly banned from Moe's Tavern for pulling a harmless prank on Moe. Prior to that, Carl, Lenny, and Barney pull life-threatening pranks on Moe, including burning him with fire, but no punishment is given to them. As he gets kicked out, a copy of Homer's favorite song is removed from the jukebox and thrown outside. It then lands in a random car and the driver is thrilled to have it. 3. He Had Diabetes At Some Point Relationships go through several tests. Early in their relationship, Homer and Marge almost part ways for good. This happens when Marge falls for Springfield University's Professor, Stefane August. In an effort to get Marge back, Homer composes a song for her. When Marge finally breaks up with August, she goes looking for Homer and finds him holed up in his house. He has a needle with him so Marge thinks he has started doing drugs to ease his pain. Homer then clarifies that the needle is for his insulin. Interestingly, he is never seen taking the insulin again, so hopefully his condition got better. 4. His Year Of Birth Since the animated sitcom uses a floating timeline, the characters never really age. To avoid messing up the continuity, the characters' years of birth are never mentioned. For example, Bart's birthday is April 1st, while Lisa's birthday is revealed as May 9th, but the years of birth are left out. Homer's birthday remained a secret for most of the sitcom run. That's until his driver's license popped up. Tiny writing on his license shows his birthday as May 12, 1956. This means he'd be 64 today if the floating timeline wasn't used. The license also shows that he s a certified Class C driver. 5. He Has Died A Total Of 22 Times Homer has died 20 times in the "Treehouse Of Horror" Halloween segments, which are considered non-canon. In the main show's continuity, he has died two times. He first dies of a heart attack when Mr. Burns tells him he is poor at his job. Mr. Burns then decides to send a ham to Marge as consolation for Homer's death. When Homer's soul hears the word "ham," it rushes back into his body. He also dies while wondering whether to tell Marge about his lottery win. His soul realizes it has made a mistake and returns to his body. 6. The Reason He Constantly Eats Homer once confesses that the reason he eats all the time is due to childhood trauma. As a child, he accompanied Carl, Moe, and Lenny to a quarry to have a swim. Upon jumping into the muddy water, a man's corpse fell on his lap. It turned out the corpse belonged to Waylon Smithers, Sr. The experience had several effects on Homer. It made him hit puberty early and also gave him a desire to eat all the time. Mr. Burns later explains that Smithers died while trying to save the town from a nuclear meltdown. 7. His IQ For most of his life, Homer has had a low IQ of 55. This detail emerges when Homer takes up a job at a medical testing center. Initially, his low IQ is thought to because of the hereditary "Simpson Gene," but when the doctors at the testing center scan his brain, they see a crayon lodged inside. Apparently, the crayon has been in his brain ever since he was six years old. The doctors decided to remove it and when it's finally out, his IQ shoots to 105. He is thus able to bond with Lisa, who has the second-highest IQ in the Simpson family (159) after Maggie (167). His newfound intelligence makes him unhappy, so he asks for the crayon to be reinserted. 8. He Just Might Be A Billionaire In the world of the Simpsons, Homer is the proud owner of the popular American football team, the Denver Broncos. According to Forbes, the value of the sports team is $3.2 billion. Since he has never sold or passed over the team's assets to another person, Homer qualifies as a billionaire. How does Homer get to own the Denver Broncos? Wealthy evil genius Hank Scorpio gifts the team to Homer after he helps the Globex Corporation in their evil schemes. Homer is upset that he wasn't gifted the Dallas Cowboys, but he settles for the Broncos anyway. The team is last seen in season 11. 9. He Has An Email Address After Homer gives Lisa a personalized movie instead of a diary for her birthday, she becomes devastated. She claims that her dad has never understood her (which is somewhat true) and shuts him off. Desperate to impress his daughter, Homer follows Moe's advice to have Lisa followed by a private investigator so that he can learn about her likes and dislikes. He gives the PI his email address so that he can reach him easily and it's seen on his computer as "[email protected]" 10. He Is An Animal Whisperer This becomes evident when the family dog, Santa's Little Helper, impregnates Dr. Hibbert's dog. Since Dr. Hibbert has no intention of caring for the puppies, he gives them to the Simpsons. Lisa soon learns that Homer had once taken Santa's Little Helper to be neutered, but decided against it. This is because Homer communicated with Santa's Little Helper and the dog told him he didn't want to be neutered. While Lisa, an animal lover, agrees with Homer's actions, other members of the family feel that the puppies could have been avoided if he did what he was supposed to do. Source: Facts About Homer Simpson | Hidden Details About Homer Simpson
  22. What's the Word: INCONNU pronunciation: [in-kə-NOO] Part of speech: noun Origin: French, early 19th century Meaning: 1. An unknown person or thing. 2. An edible predatory freshwater whitefish related to the salmon, native to Eurasian and North American lakes close to the Arctic Circle. Example: "Noah is an inconnu to many who know him." "Jim smoked the inconnu to enhance its flavor." About Inconnu This French loanword translates literally as “unknown.” Did You Know? The inconnu fish goes by many names, including sailfish, nelma, sheefish, and the affectionate “connie.” Inconnu is the only predatory member of the whitefish group in Northern America and is a highly sought-after sport fish. Inconnu have earned the nickname “Eskimo tarpon” because of their silver coloring and ability to leap high out of the water when caught.
  23. Fact of the Day - MICHELIN STARS Did you know... Michelin stars were originally connected to an effort to boost tire sales. In the restaurant business, there is no greater honor than the Michelin star. Awarded on a ranking from one to three, Michelin stars are the standard of greatness when it comes to fine dining. Chefs pin their reputations on them, and having (or not having) them can make or break a business. So it might seem strange to discover that this culinary accolade is intimately entwined with… car tires. The story starts back in 1900, when brothers Andre and Edouard Michelin, founders of the Michelin tire company, created the Michelin Guide — a booklet full of useful information for French motorists. The free Michelin Guide included maps, lists of nearby gas stations and amenities, basic tire maintenance information, and various road-ready adventures. The hope was that these guides would inspire longer journeys at a time when the automotive age was just beginning, which in turn would mean selling more tires. But the Michelin Guide might be a forgotten relic if not for two events — one big, one small. The first event was World War I, which ravaged France and forced the Michelin brothers to stop publishing for a few years. The other was when Andre Michelin visited a tire shop around the same time and saw his free Michelin Guides doing the undignified work of propping up a bench. To help raise the guide’s prestige (and also help motorists explore Europe again following the war), the brothers reintroduced the handbooks in 1920, featuring more in-depth hotel and restaurant information — and instead of being free, they now cost seven francs. Within a few years, Michelin also recruited “mystery diners” to improve its restaurant reviews (they still work undercover), and in 1926, they began handing out single Michelin stars to the very best restaurants. Five years later, Michelin upped the amount of possible stars to three, and they have continued searching for the world’s best food in the nearly a century since. Today, the guides — and stars — cover more than 30 territories across three continents. Michelin made a tire that never goes flat. Tires haven’t changed much over the course of a century. Recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) and types of rubber have come and gone, but the basic equation has remained the same: air + rubber. Yet contrary to popular wisdom, Michelin and other tire brands are reinventing the wheel by making a tire that never goes flat. The idea, borrowed from designs used on smaller machines like riding lawn mowers, is an airless tire that uses flexible spokes rather than air to carry the load. Because these tires operate sans inflation, they’re impervious to punctures, uneven wear, and many other air-centric failures. Michelin estimates that these futuristic tires could save 20% (or about 200 million) tires from ending up in landfills each year. The biggest hurdle? They’re expensive — so it might be a while before everyone’s zipping around on these futuristic wheels. (Interesting Facts) Five Facts about the Michelin Star by redletterdaysuk | September 2, 2016 With the new Michelin Guide coming out 29th September, thousands of chefs around the world are holding their breath as they wait to see which restaurants have gained or lost 1, 2, or 3 of the world’s most coveted stars. How much do you know about the Michelin Star system? Whether a self-confessed foodie or just a fan of great flavours, you might be surprised by the history of this world-famous gastronomic rating system… Read on! What is a Michelin Star? A well-regarded, critical opinion of a quality dining experience. In 1926, the Michelin Guide introduced a ‘star’ system, whereby a star could be displayed next to a restaurant’s entry to signal high quality. In 1931, an upgrade to the more sophisticated maximum 3 star system emerged, which remains in place to this day. FACT: You can’t give back a Michelin Star, although some celebrity chefs have claimed to. It’s a rating, rather than a physical award. Who started the Michelin Guide, and why? Ever wondered whether the Michelin Guide has anything to do with Michelin tyres? You aren’t the only one, and it’s a valid question. The Michelin Guide was, in fact, created in 1900 by brothers Andre and Edouard Michelin – the now-famous tire manufacturers with the smiley white tire man logo. The guide was an early piece of marketing genius. It highlighted places to eat and sleep around France, with the aim of boosting car (and tire) sales, as at the time, there were fewer than 3,000 cars in France! Handed out for free, it also contained useful info for car drivers, like maps, instructions for changing tires and lists of petrol stations. FACT: During WW1 and WW2, publication of the Michelin Guide was put on hold. But in 1945, the British Army requested re-prints of the 1939 guide to give soldiers, as it was the best available map and guide to France. Is a Michelin Star awarded to a chef or a restaurant? The Michelin Star (or Michelin Stars) are awarded to the restaurant, not the chef. However, the chef in charge of the kitchen generally gets the credit! FACT: Marco Pierre White was the youngest chef ever to receive his 3rd star, aged 33. He has also trained other Michelin-starred chefs, including Gordon Ramsay. How are Michelin Stars judged? The rating system is very simple. There are three grades of restaurant: Anonymous inspectors are sent in to eat, drink, and to decide which grade a restaurant should receive, if any. All meals are paid for by Michelin. No-one knows how many inspectors there are, but there are a lot of restaurants! FACT: As in the Bradley Cooper film Burnt (2015), no-one knows who Michelin inspectors are or how to recognise them, but there are theories and rumours galore. Does décor count when awarding a Michelin Star? No-one is entirely sure. Japanese sushi restaurant Saito is basically a large white room with white benches, set in a multi-storey car park building and is also the proud owner of 3 stars, so probably not. The guide does give a hint as to luxuriousness, with its pictorial fork and spoon rating from 1 to 5. FACT: A Hong Kong dim-sum eatery called Tim Ho Wan was the cheapest restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star in 2009, serving dishes at just over $1. Does a Michelin Star really affect a restaurant’s popularity and success? Yes. Michelin-starred restaurants become not just eateries, but destinations for everyone from food critics to celebrities to royalty. Many travel internationally to sample dishes at newly-awarded restaurants. Chefs can get famously disappointed and angry when stars aren’t awarded or are taken away, even closing down landmark restaurants. FACT: Gordon Ramsay famously cried when his New York restaurant lost its 2nd star in 2013, but is also the owner of one of London’s only 3 Michelin-starred restaurants, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay… Cheer up Gordon! We’ve dined at a Michelin Restaurant – have you? Why not taste the creations of celebrity chefs Marco Pierre White or Gordon Ramsay? Source: Facts About Michelin Stars | About Michelin Star
  24. What's the Word: STERNUTATION pronunciation: [stərn-yə-TAY-shən] Part of speech: noun Origin: Latin, 16th century Meaning: 1. The action of sneezing. Example: "Jenna wanted to speak, but she was caught in a fit of sternutation." "I spend half my time in the attic in sternutation thanks to the decades of dust up there." About Sternutation “Sternutation” is from the Latin “sternūtātiō,” meaning “sneezing.” Did You Know? A single sternutation (or sneeze) can travel more than 100 mph with a range of up to five feet. Sternutation has many common causes — dust, pollen, pet hair, cold air, spicy foods, colds and flus — but there are a variety of less common factors that may provoke a spell of sternutation. Some people sneeze after plucking eyebrows or other sensitive facial hair, while others sneeze while exercising, or after particularly heavy meals.
  25. Fact of the Day - THE GREAT LAKES Did you know... The Great Lakes hold more than 20% of the world's surface freshwater. It takes some audacity to be named the Great Lakes. After all, there are millions of lakes on planet Earth. But when it comes to North America's fascinating freshwater system, the adjective “great” is well-earned. Consisting of five lakes — Huron, Erie, Superior, Ontario, and Michigan — the Great Lakes stretch some 94,600 square miles, making them one of the largest surface freshwater systems in the world. In fact, these lakes are so big that they include more than 20% of the world’s surface freshwater, or 6 quadrillion gallons of it. That’s so much water that if you spilled the entire contents of the Great Lakes throughout the Lower 48, the entire contiguous U.S. would be submerged in nearly 10 feet of water. With such an abundance of freshwater and natural resources, the Great Lakes have been a hotbed for human habitation. But over the years, increasing activity around the lakes has led to an onslaught of industrial, urban, and other pollutants, as well as more than 100 non-native and invasive species that have damaged their ecosystems. Because less than 1% of the water in the Great Lakes leaves the system each year, pollution can linger for a very long time. Today, environmental organizations and government agencies in both the U.S. and Canada are working together to make sure the Great Lakes stay “great.” Titan, one of Saturn's 82 moons, is the only other world with surface-level lakes, but they’re filled with methane — not water. As far as we know, there are only two places in our solar system where you’ll find a lake: Earth and Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. At first glance, the two worlds couldn’t be more different. Titan’s mass is 1/45th of Earth’s, its surface temperature hovers around -292 degrees Fahrenheit, and one day on Titan lasts nearly 16 Earth days. But there are a few similarities. One is that, like Earth, Titan has a weather system that seems to involve rain pouring from clouds and pooling into oceans, rivers, and lakes — and some of these lakes can be absolutely huge. Titan’s lake Kraken Mare, for example, is nearly the size of all the Great Lakes combined and could be up to 1,000 feet deep. But instead of water in this massive lake, Kraken Mare (like all of Titan’s other lakes) is filled with liquid ethane and methane. While methane exists as a gas on Earth, it’s a liquid on Titan, thanks to the freezing temperatures, as is its fellow hydrocarbon ethane. But you probably don’t want to try swimming on Titan’s lakes, even if you could somehow withstand the temperatures — methane is less dense than water, which means if you cannonballed into Kraken Mare, you’d sink like a rock. (Interesting Facts) Deep Facts About the Great Lakes By Benjamin Lampkin | Jan 31, 2016 The Great Lakes of North America, which span 750 miles from east to west, form the largest fresh water system on Earth. Here are 10 facts about Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario. 1. LAKE SUPERIOR IS BY FAR THE BIGGEST AND DEEPEST. The numbers for the world’s largest freshwater lake (in terms of surface area), which straddles the U.S.-Canada border and touches Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, are staggering: 31,700 square miles of surface water; 350 miles wide and 160 miles long; 2,726 miles of shoreline; an average depth of nearly 500 feet, with a maximum depth of 1,332 feet; and a volume of 2,900 cubic miles, more than enough to fill all the other Great Lakes combined. 2. ONTARIO AND ERIE ARE THE SMALLEST. Lake Erie, which borders Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, measures 241 miles across and 57 miles long, larger than Lake Ontario’s 193-mile-by-53-mile footprint. But Erie’s average depth is just 62 feet and has a volume of around 119 cubic miles, much smaller than Ontario’s average depth of 283 feet and volume of 395 cubic miles. The two lakes are connected by the 35-mile long Niagara River. 3. ONLY ONE OF THE LAKES IS LOCATED ENTIRELY IN THE U.S. As its name suggests, Lake Michigan and its 1180 cubic miles of water, 22,300 square miles of surface water, and 1600 miles of shoreline is the only one of the Great Lakes that lies entirely within American borders. It is the second-largest of the Great Lakes by volume and is connected to Lake Huron by the Straits of Mackinac between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas. 4. YOU CAN TAKE A 6500-MILE DRIVE AROUND THE LAKES. The Great Lakes Commission established the Circle Tour in 1988 as a scenic tourist drive around the five lakes and through the eight states (and Ontario) that make up the GLC. Just to navigate Lake Michigan’s 900-mile Circle Tour alone would take approximately 14½ hours without any stops. 5. A FIRE PAVED THE WAY FOR MASSIVE ENVIRONMENTAL REFORMS. A fire on the Cuayahoga River in June 1969, and the iconic image that was published thereafter, helped spur a number of environmental regulations aimed at cleaning up the waterway that feeds Lake Erie, as well as America’s lakes and rivers in general. Amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, known as the Clean Water Act, were enacted in 1972 regulating water pollution and discharge, and gave the Environmental Protection Agency broader pollution control powers. In addition, the United States and Canada signed the Great Lakes Water Quality Act in 1972 to “restore and protect the waters of the Great Lakes.” 6. THE LAKES CONTAIN MORE THAN 35,000 ISLANDS. Of the thousands of islands scattered throughout the lakes, the largest is Manitoulin in Lake Huron. It is the largest freshwater lake island in the world at 1068 square miles and has a population of around 12,600. Georgian Bay, also on Lake Huron, includes about 17,500 islands, while the archipelago in the St. Lawrence River known as the Thousand Islands actually houses around 1,800 islands. 7. EACH LAKE NAME IS DERIVED FROM EITHER NATIVE AMERICAN LANGUAGES OR FRENCH. Lake Erie is named after the Erie Tribe, which occupied the southern shores of the lake. Michigan comes from a French version of the Ojibwa word michigami. Huron is named for the Huron tribe. The Iroquois lent their language to the naming of Ontario, which means “beautiful lake.” French explorers called the great body of water above Lake Huron “le lac superieur,” or upper lake. 8. SHIPPING STILL DOMINATES. The Canadian and U.S. lake fleets, made up of carriers, tankers, bulk freighters (“lakers”), tugs, and barges, haul upwards of 125 million tons of cargo a year. About 40 percent of the cargo is iron ore and other mined products like coal, salt, and stone, while another 40 percent is wheat, corn, oats, soybeans, and other agricultural products. Other cargo includes steel, scrap metal, iron products, fuel, and chemicals. 9. THE LARGEST FISH IN THE LAKES CAN WEIGH OVER 200 POUNDS. Fishing is a revered pastime on the Great Lakes, one of the largest freshwater fisheries in the world. Some of the most common catches include trout, salmon, walleye, perch, herring, and bass. Lake sturgeon are the biggest species of fish found in the lakes, and they can weigh over 200 lbs. 10. LAKE SUPERIOR HAS CLAIMED A NUMBER OF SHIPS AND LIVES. While the wreck of the famed SS Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior has generated a hit song, memorials, and conspiracies surrounding its sinking, a number of other commercial ships have sunk and perished through the years in the area around Whitefish Bay near Whitefish Point, Michigan. A wooden steamer called the Vienna of Cleveland sank in 1892 on Lake Superior and is a popular spot for divers; the Comet also sank on Lake Superior and took 11 lives with it in 1875; the John M. Osborn collided with the Alberta in 1884 and drowned four men; and on just its second voyage, the SS Cyprus sank near Deer Park, Michigan in 1907, killing 22 of its 23 crewmembers. The dangerous stretch of water on southern Lake Superior between Munising, Michigan and Whitefish Point has been called the “Graveyard of the Great Lakes,” and “Shipwreck Coast,” as hundreds of ships have been lost in the area. It is estimated that 6000 ships have sank in the Great Lakes, with a loss of nearly 30,000 lives. Source: Facts About the Great Lakes | The Great Lakes, the Facts
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