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Fact of the Day - CHECKERS


Did you know... that many people do not realize how old the game of checkers really is. Scholars believe that the game may have developed from a similar type of game that was played as early as 1400 B.C. The ancient game was called Quirkat or Alquerque and was played in Rome, Egypt, India, and Greece. It used 2 sets of flat round pieces that were different colors. The board for the game was 5 by 5 and there were 10 pieces on each side and the object of the game was to capture the opposing pieces. Click on the banner in order to access the page that gives you privileged access to multiple casino games and promotions. You will have plenty of game options once you're on the site. In fact, the jeu de dames en ligne games are neatly divided into several categories. 


The next stage of development in the game of checkers seems to come from southern France during the 13th century. The board was expanded to an 8 by 8 chess board and the name was changed to Fierges. The pieces of the game were called ferses, which is also the name of the queen in the game of chess. The game changed names again in the 15th century to the name Jeu De Dames and was often shortened to just Dames. This game became very popular throughout France by the 16th century. There were several versions of the game including a capture version. In this game the player needed to capture their opponent's piece as opposed to making another move. This version was called Jeu Force.

The game Jeu Force was brought to England and the English renamed the game draughts. It was also brought over to the United States where they called the game checkers. The original game of Dames remained popular throughout France and was changed to use a 10 by 10 grid with 20 pieces during the 18th century. This game did not use the forced capture and is still popular today and is called continental or international draughts. 

The first draughts tournament happened in 1847. Since that time there have been many international tournaments for draughts/checkers as well as for international draughts. There are still several versions of the game played today. Many people have their own house rules that they play the game of checkers by. Chinese checkers is not a variant of the game. Ironically, the game of Chinese checkers does not have anything to do with the country of China. In fact, the game was created in Germany during the early part of the 1900s. The game was named Chinese checkers as a way to capitalize on the familiarity of the game of checkers throughout the world and to provide the game with an oriental flavor in order to make it more appealing. Both of these are simply marketing ploys.

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Fact of the Day - CAMERAS


Did you know... that a camera is an optical instrument to capture still images or to record moving images, which are stored in a physical medium such as in a digital system or on photographic film? A camera consists of a lens which focuses light from the scene, and a camera body which holds the image capture mechanism.


The word camera comes from the latin phrase “camera obscura,” which translates to “dark chamber.”  The first one to record the concept of “camera obscura” was a Han Chinese philosopher Mozi. This phenomenon occurs when a certain image of a scene at the other side of a screen (wall, for example) is projected through a tiny hole in that screen, creating an inverted image on an opposite surface.


The first semi-successful photograph ever was made in 1816 by Nicéphore Niépce, using a camera he created and a piece of paper that was coated with silver chloride.  The oldest known photograph with a human in the shot dates back to 1838. It was taken in Paris.


The first ever color photograph was taken in 1861 by a physicist James Clark Maxwell.  It wasn’t until the invention of photographic film that cameras and photography started gaining traction. George Eastman not only pioneered photographic film, but he also created and started selling his first camera called “Kodak” in 1888. Fast forward to 1976, and Kodak owned 90% of photographic film market share in the United States.


An important day for photography was the invention of SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras. Back in 1933, Ihagee Exakta, a compact SLR that used 127 rollfilm was released.


The next revolution came with the release of digital cameras. The first ever digital camera was designed by Kodak in 1975. It weighed 8 pounds and was able to record black and white photos at the resolution of 0.01 MP. We’ve definitely came a long way since then.


In 1986, Kodak teamed up with Canon to release the first DSLR camera ever. It used a 1.3 MP image sensor developed by Kodak and Canon F-1 film SLR body.  During the 1990s and 2000s, numerous camera manufacturers entered the DSLR market, including Canon, Fuji, Pentax, Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, Sigma and more.


The latest evolution in digital cameras came with the release of a first mirrorless camera, which lacks a mirror and optical viewfinder found in DSLRs, allowing for many benefits including a more compact body design, in-body image stabilization, continuous autofocus and more. Due to this, there’s a good chance that mirrorless cameras will become a new standard and companies like Sony, Panasonic, Olympus and Fujilim are currently on the forefront when it comes to sales.


Did you know that there are 12 very expensive Hasselblad cameras on Moon’s surface? They were used during first moon landing, but had to be left there, so the astronauts could carry back rock samples.


Today, people capture as many photos in less than two minutes than the entire population did during the 1800s.  The most expensive camera ever sold is 1923 Leica O-Series. It went for $2.8 million at auction in Vienna.  If you think that amusing photos of cats is a phenomenon that started on the internet, you’re definitely wrong.


English photographer Harry Pointer was the first person to start photographing cats in amusing positions and he did it during the 1870s! He started by taking natural photos of cats, but it wasn’t long before he realized that he had much more success selling photographs of cats in ridiculous poses.  The biggest SLR lens ever made is the Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar 1700mm. It weighs 564 pounds or 256 kg! It was custom-built for an anonymous wildlife photographer.


Recent estimates say the human race has taken more than 3.8 trillion photos so far and the numbers are raising rapidly.


Dills Parekh from Mumbai,India is the owner of the largest camera collection in the world. He owns more than 4,425 cameras and has been collecting them since 1977.

Edited by DarkRavie
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Fact of the Day - DICTIONARIES


Did you know... that at first glance, the dictionary seems pretty straightforward. Words are listed alphabetically, and you simply locate the right page and scan until you find the word you’re looking for. But there’s a lot you might not know about the dictionary, such as how new words are added and why Noah Webster learned Sanskrit to write his dictionary. So without further ado, read on to discover a dozen things you might not know about various dictionaries.


When people use a word or phrase frequently enough that it appears in widely read print and online publications, lexicographers take notice. First, they collect citations of the word, documenting the source it appeared in and recording its contextual meaning. Then, lexicographers conduct database research, searching for evidence that people from diverse backgrounds have used the word over a period of time. Finally, dictionary editors review the evidence and decide whether or not to include the new word in an upcoming edition of the dictionary. Thanks to this lengthy process, you can now find modern words such as manspreadpresstitute, and athleisure in several dictionaries.


We think of dictionaries as comprehensive tomes containing everything from antelope and apple to zeitgeist and zootrophy, but early English dictionaries didn't contain any simple, common words. In the 16th and 17th centuries, thanks in part to the Renaissance's classical influence, English doubled its vocabulary by incorporating words from other languages. People needed to consult word lists to look up these new, difficult words that they hadn't heard before. In 1604, a teacher named Robert Cawdrey compiled a list of words into A Table Alphabeticall, which defined difficult English words borrowed from Latin, Greek, French, and Hebrew. Throughout the 17th century, other English men published lists of hard words with easy to understand definitions, and people turned to the dictionary to learn these words.


Although Noah Webster wasn't the first American to produce a dictionary, his name has become synonymous with the American dictionary. Hoping to help create a uniquely American lexicon, with Americanized spelling and pronunciation of words, Webster wrote An American Dictionary of the English Language. To thoroughly research word origins and sources, Webster got serious about becoming an etymology expert. He learned 26 languages, including Sanskrit and Old English, to write his dictionary. Published in 1828, it contained 70,000 entries and included the first definitions of "American" words such as chowder and skunk.


After Webster died in 1843, George and Charles Merriam bought the rights to revise Webster's An American Dictionary of the English Language, Corrected and Enlarged. The two brothers printed and sold books in Springfield, Massachusetts, and their intellectual property purchase paid off. In the fall of 1847, the Merriams issued the first revised Webster dictionary for six dollars. The book sold well, and the G. & C. Merriam Co. was eventually renamed Merriam-Webster, Inc. in 1982. Merriam-Webster continues to publish popular print and electronic dictionaries today.


In 1857, the Philological Society of London first called for a comprehensive English language dictionary, including words from the 12th century to the present. In 1879, the Philological Society joined forces with Oxford University Press, and work commenced. In 1884, Oxford University Press published the first part of the dictionary (A to Ant), and the final volume was published in 1928. Called A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles, the dictionary listed more than 400,000 words and phrases. Today, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is one of the most respected and widely used dictionaries.


Want to know more about Dictionaries? Click here.

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Fact of the Day - SUNDIALS


Did you know.... that our daily lives run based on time and schedules, and people often take telling time for granted, as it is easy to look at a watch or a clock and find out what time it is? But long ago, telling time wasn’t so convenient. Shadows played a big part in time telling, based on how the shadows reflected on the earth. Sundials are an important part of time-telling history.



The gnomon is the pointer on a sundial that casts the shadow. It is a word that comes from ancient Greek and means "indicator." Gnomons can vary in size and style, depending on the sundial. When sundials were first made, the gnomons stood vertically, so people could observe the altitude of the sun.



People first learned about time by watching the sun rise and set. From this knowledge, they developed a way to tell time based on how the sun rose and how it set. They noticed that objects would cast unique shadows based on where the sun was located. They could plan their days based on the shadows. Sundials changed and evolved throughout history. They began as large objects, but were later downsized so that they could be carried around.



Sundials can be divided into two basic types, altitude dials and directional dials.


An altitude dial allows for determination of time using the sun's distance above the horizon. In all cases, these must be oriented to a compass direction, while in others the sun itself is a reference point. Selected kinds include plane dials, cylinder dials, scaphe dials and ring dials.


A directional dial relies on azimuth (compass direction) and on the angle of the sun as it nears the meridian at noon. Subtypes include horizontal, polar vertical, azimuthal and equinoctal dials.

In all cases, you can imagine the sun rising and casting a wide shadow from one side that gradually narrows to a line as noon approached and then repeats the "movie" in reverse on the other side of the dial plate until sunset occurs.


How Sundials Work

Sundials work by the sun casting a shadow on the sundial’s gnomon. When the sun is at it highest point of the day, or midday, the shadow is the shortest. When the sun is lower, in the afternoon, the shadow is the longest. It is important to keep in mind that the sun’s height is also affected by the seasons. Sundials are usually well marked with daylight hours, and there are some that have all 24 hours marked on them.


Parts and Operation of a Sundial

The gnomon has already been mentioned. It needs to have two characteristics: It must point toward the celestial pole and it must be inclined at an angle to the horizon exactly equal to the observer's latitude. It is often made in the shape of a fin.


The dial plate is the surface onto which the sun's shadow is projected. It can be cylindrical or flat, and marked into whatever divisions its maker chooses as long as these align with accurate time.


Hour lines are found for self-evident reasons on virtually all sundials, and mark exact (though arbitrarily selected, in some sense) points in time.


The nodus is a a notch in the gnomon that allows for the determination of an exact, sharp position along the line of the shadow, which might otherwise be fuzzy.


Want to know more about Sundials? Click here.

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Fact of the Day - VIKING LONGSHIPS


Did you know... that the Viking ship was perhaps the greatest technical and artistic achievement of the European dark ages. These fast ships had the strength to survive ocean crossings while having a draft of as little as 50cm (20 inches), allowing navigation in very shallow water.  Ships were an important part of Viking society, not only as a means of transportation, but also for the prestige that it conferred on her owner and skipper. Their ships permitted the Vikings to embark on their voyages of trading, of raiding, and of exploration.  Images of ships show up on jewelry, on memorial stones, and on coins from the Viking age. Some people were buried in ships, or ship-like settings made of stones (below), during the Viking age.




The picture above shows a sketch of the side view and hull section, and a photo of a 9th century ship that was recovered early in the 20th century in Oseberg. The ship was part of a very rich burial and is now on display near Oslo.  The Oseberg ship was once thought to be more representative of a royal yacht, rather than a true war ship, but more recent research suggests she was quite capable of sailing in open ocean.  In the 1970's, five 11th century ships were found and recovered from the Skuldelev narrows in Denmark, giving us more examples of the variety of ships used in the Viking age. These ships had been intentionally scuttled, probably to block the channel during a raid.


Two different classes of Viking era ships were found: warships called langskip (left) and merchant ships called knörr (right).




Typically, a warship is narrower, longer, and shallower than a knörr, and is powered by oars, supplanted by sail. The warship is completely open and is built for speed and maneuverability. In contrast, a knörr is partially enclosed and powered primarily by sail. Cargo carrying capability is the primary concern.  The two Skuldelev warships are narrower and less spacious than the Oseberg ship. A sketch of the smaller of the two ships is shown to the right. She is 17.4m long (57 ft) and 2.6m broad (8.5 ft). These ships are probably more typical of the kind of vessel that was used by the Vikings on their raids.  A typical warship might have had 16 rowers on each side.


The crew's shields may have been arrayed along the gunwales, held in place by a shield rack outboard of the ship. This kept them out of the way, but also provided some slight additional protection against wind and waves.  The photos show the Íslendingur, a replica ship that sailed from Iceland to North America in the year 2000.


Both coins and pictures stones from the Viking age depict shields arrayed along the gunwale of a Viking ship. Additionally, the sagas say that shields were displayed. In Brennu-Njáls saga (ch. 84), Kári and his ten ships rowed hard to join a sea battle, with row after row of shields on display along the sides of the ships.  Several pieces of evidence suggest that shields were not routinely displayed while underway. On some ships, the shields interfere with the oarholes, preventing the oars from being used. Shield racks, to which the shields were fastened, were not robust, and probably were incapable of holding the shields securely in rough seas. Last, modern sailors of replica ships say they are very impractical.


Click here to learn more about Viking Longships.

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Fact of the Day - INTERNET HYSTORY


Did you know... that unlike technologies such as the light bulb or the telephone, the internet has no single “inventor?” Instead, it has evolved over time. The internet got its start in the United States more than 50 years ago as a government weapon in the Cold War. For years, scientists and researchers used it to communicate and share data with one another. Today, we use the internet for almost everything, and for many people it would be impossible to imagine life without it.


On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the world’s first manmade satellite into orbit. The satellite, known as Sputnik, did not do much: It relayed blips and bleeps from its radio transmitters as it circled the Earth. Still, to many Americans, the beach-ball-sized Sputnik was proof of something alarming: While the brightest scientists and engineers in the United States had been designing bigger cars and better television sets, it seemed, the Soviets had been focusing on less frivolous things—and they were going to win the Cold War because of it.


After Sputnik’s launch, many Americans began to think more seriously about science and technology. Schools added courses on subjects like chemistry, physics and calculus. Corporations took government grants and invested them in scientific research and development. And the federal government itself formed new agencies, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), to develop space-age technologies such as rockets, weapons and computers.


The Birth of the ARPAnet

Scientists and military experts were especially concerned about what might happen in the event of a Soviet attack on the nation’s telephone system. Just one missile, they feared, could destroy the whole network of lines and wires that made efficient long-distance communication possible.   In 1962, a scientist from M.I.T. and ARPA named J.C.R. Licklider proposed a solution to this problem: a “galactic network” of computers that could talk to one another. Such a network would enable government leaders to communicate even if the Soviets destroyed the telephone system.  In 1965, another M.I.T. scientist developed a way of sending information from one computer to another that he called “packet switching.” Packet switching breaks data down into blocks, or packets, before sending it to its destination. That way, each packet can take its own route from place to place. Without packet switching, the government’s computer network—now known as the ARPAnet—would have been just as vulnerable to enemy attacks as the phone system.



On October 29, 1969, ARPAnet delivered its first message: a “node-to-node” communication from one computer to another. (The first computer was located in a research lab at UCLA and the second was at Stanford; each one was the size of a small house.) The message—“LOGIN”—was short and simple, but it crashed the fledgling ARPA network anyway: The Stanford computer only received the note’s first two letters.


The Network Grows

By the end of 1969, just four computers were connected to the ARPAnet, but the network grew steadily during the 1970s. In 1971, it added the University of Hawaii’s ALOHAnet, and two years later it added networks at London’s University College and the Royal Radar Establishment in Norway. As packet-switched computer networks multiplied, however, it became more difficult for them to integrate into a single worldwide “internet.”


By the end of the 1970s, a computer scientist named Vinton Cerf had begun to solve this problem by developing a way for all of the computers on all of the world’s mini-networks to communicate with one another. He called his invention “Transmission Control Protocol,” or TCP. (Later, he added an additional protocol, known as “Internet Protocol.” The acronym we use to refer to these today is TCP/IP.) One writer describes Cerf’s protocol as “the ‘handshake’ that introduces distant and different computers to each other in a virtual space.”


The World Wide Web

Cerf’s protocol transformed the internet into a worldwide network. Throughout the 1980s, researchers and scientists used it to send files and data from one computer to another. However, in 1991 the internet changed again. That year, a computer programmer in Switzerland named Tim Berners-Lee introduced the World Wide Web: an internet that was not simply a way to send files from one place to another but was itself a “web” of information that anyone on the Internet could retrieve. Berners-Lee created the Internet that we know today.


Since then, the internet has changed in many ways. In 1992, a group of students and researchers at the University of Illinois developed a sophisticated browser that they called Mosaic. (It later became Netscape.) Mosaic offered a user-friendly way to search the Web: It allowed users to see words and pictures on the same page for the first time and to navigate using scrollbars and clickable links. 


That same year, Congress decided that the Web could be used for commercial purposes. As a result, companies of all kinds hurried to set up websites of their own, and e-commerce entrepreneurs began to use the internet to sell goods directly to customers. More recently, social networking sites like Facebook have become a popular way for people of all ages to stay connected.

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Fact of the Day- PSYCHIC


Did you know... that the word "psychic" is derived from the Greek word psychikos ("of the mind" or "mental"), and refers in part to the human mind or psyche (ex. "psychic turmoil"). The Greek word also means "soul". In Greek mythology, the maiden Psyche was the deification of the human soul. The word derivation of the Latin psȳchē is from the Greek psȳchḗ, literally "breath", derivative of psȳ́chein, to breathe or to blow (hence, to live).  French astronomer and spiritualist Camille Flammarion is credited as having first used the word psychic, while it was later introduced to the English language by Edward William Cox in the 1870s.


Early seers and prophets

Elaborate systems of divination and fortune-telling date back to ancient times. Perhaps the most widely known system of early civilization fortune-telling was astrology, where practitioners believed the relative positions of celestial bodies could lend insight into people's lives and even predict their future circumstances. Some fortune-tellers were said to be able to make predictions without the use of these elaborate systems (or in conjunction with them), through some sort of direct apprehension or vision of the future. These people were known as seers or prophets, and in later times as clairvoyants (French word meaning "clear sight" or "clear seeing") and psychics.

Seers formed a functionary role in early civilization, often serving as advisors, priests, and judges. A number of examples are included in biblical accounts. The book of 1 Samuel (Chapter 9) illustrates one such functionary task when Samuel is asked to find the donkeys of the future king Saul. The role of prophet appeared perennially in ancient cultures. In Egypt, the priests of the sun deity Ra at Memphis acted as seers. In ancient Assyria seers were referred to as nabu, meaning "to call" or "announce".


The Delphic Oracle is one of the earliest stories in classical antiquity of prophetic abilities. The Pythia, the priestess presiding over the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi, was believed to be able to deliver prophecies inspired by Apollo during rituals beginning in the 8th century BC.[14] It is often said that the Pythia delivered oracles in a frenzied state induced by vapors rising from the ground, and that she spoke gibberish, believed to be the voice of Apollo, which priests reshaped into the enigmatic prophecies preserved in Greek literature. Other scholars believe records from the time indicate that the Pythia spoke intelligibly, and gave prophecies in her own voice. The Pythia was a position served by a succession of women probably selected from amongst a guild of priestesses of the temple. The last recorded response was given in 393 AD, when the emperor Theodosius I ordered pagan temples to cease operation. Recent geological investigations raise the possibility that ethylene gas caused the Pythia's state of inspiration.


One of the most enduring historical references to what some consider to be psychic ability is the prophecies of Michel de Nostredame (1503–1566), often Latinized to Nostradamus, published during the French Renaissance period. Nostradamus was a French apothecary and seer who wrote collections of prophecies that have since become famous worldwide and have rarely been out of print since his death. He is best known for his book Les Propheties, the first edition of which appeared in 1555. Taken together, his written works are known to have contained at least 6,338 quatrains or prophecies, as well as at least eleven annual calendars. Most of the quatrains deal with disasters, such as plagues, earthquakes, wars, floods, invasions, murders, droughts, and battles – all undated.


Nostradamus is a controversial figure. His many enthusiasts, as well as the popular press, credit him with predicting many major world events. Interest in his work is still considerable, especially in the media and in popular culture. By contrast, most academic scholars maintain that the associations made between world events and Nostradamus' quatrains are largely the result of misinterpretations or mistranslations (sometimes deliberate) or else are so tenuous as to render them useless as evidence of any genuine predictive power.


In addition to the belief that some historical figures were endowed with a predisposition to psychic experiences, some psychic abilities were thought to be available to everyone on occasion. For example, the belief in prophetic dreams was common and persistent in many ancient cultures.


To read more on Psychic, click here.

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Did you know... that the first proposal for space travel in English history was made by Oliver Cromwell’s brother-in-law?  

Theologian and natural philosopher John Wilkins (1614–72), who married Cromwell’s youngest sister Robina, was a polymath of great learning and curiosity, and would be one of the founders of the Royal Society. In two books he explored the possibility of “flying chariots” to carry men to the moon.  He believed, as did many others, that the moon and planets were inhabited, and that we should meet these people and trade with them. People were anchored to the earth by a type of magnetism, and if it were possible to reach an altitude of just 20 miles, travellers would be free to fly, or rather sail, though space. Breathing wouldn’t be a problem as the astronauts would soon grow accustomed to the purer air breathed by angels.  Wilkins appears to have experimented in building flying machines with Robert Hooke, in the gardens of Wadham College, Oxford, in the 1650s. Some years later, however, with growing understanding of the nature of vacuums, he realised that space travel was much more complicated than expected.  While his Cromwellian connections reduced him to poverty after the return of the monarchy, Wilkins’s fortunes were gradually restored and he ended his life as Bishop of Chester.


There were ‘more than 600’ plots against Fidel Castro

The former director of Cuba’s intelligence service claims that there were more than 600 attempts to kill or destabilise Cuban dictator Fidel Castro (1926-2016). These were backed by various opponents of the regime, most notably the United States, often operating at a distance by using gangsters or anti-Castro Cuban exiles.  These have included using thallium to make his famous beard fall out, or LSD to make him sound mad during a radio broadcast. Then there was the poisoned diving suit, the exploding cigar, and the femme fatale who was to seduce him – in the latter case Castro claimed he uncovered her intentions, offered her a pistol and told her to kill him, but she didn’t have the nerve.  There was also a tide-line of exploding seashells, which went off 40 minutes after Fidel’s visit to the beach, but which did succeed in fusing Havana’s traffic lights. There are also bizarre tales of a plan to beam a holographic image of the Virgin Mary, which was supposed to inspire Catholic Cubans to shun communism, though it doesn’t appear to have been tried.  A lot of these plots are impossible to substantiate properly, though there can be no question that many people wanted Castro dead. “If surviving assassination attempts were an Olympic event, I would win the gold medal,” he said.


A pedestrian collected rocks to build a house

A historical, topographical and descriptive view of the county palatine of Durham, Eneas Mackenzie & Metcalf Ross, dated 1834:  “Simeon Ellerton died here [Crayke, North Yorkshire] January 3, 1799, at the advanced age of 104. He was a noted pedestrian, and was often employed by gentlemen in the neighbourhood on commissions to London and other places, which he always executed on foot with fidelity and diligence. He lived in a neat stone cottage of his own building; and what was remarkable, he had literally carried it upon his head!  “It being his practice to bring home from every journey the properest stone he could pick up on the road, until he had accumulated a sufficient quantity to erect his habitation, by which time, although the motive had ceased, this practice had grown so much into a habit, that he imagined he could travel the better for having a weight upon his head and he seldom came home without some loading. If any person inquired his reason, he used facetiously to answer, ‘’Tis to keep on my hat’.”


A one-legged man reassured London’s first escalator users

The first escalator on the London Underground system went into operation at Earl’s Court in 1911. On its first day of operation, passengers who had never seen such a thing before were naturally apprehensive. To calm their fears, it is said that a one-legged Underground employee, William ‘Bumper’ Harris, rode up and down to demonstrate its safety – although there are suspicions that this story may be a myth.  Harris was later clerk of works on the project to install escalators at Charing Cross when the remains of an ancient oak tree were discovered during the excavations. This was used to make furniture for the admiralty, but also an ornamental walking stick for Harris, which was presented to him in 1913. The stick and Harris’s pocket watch are now housed in the London Transport Museum.


Boston witnessed a ‘toffee-apple’ tsunami

On Wednesday 15 January 1919 in Boston, Massachusetts, a 90-foot wide cast iron tank containing two-and-a-half million gallons of crude molasses (for rum manufacture) exploded, probably because its contents had expanded during a rapid overnight rise in temperature.  The tank, belonging to the United States Industrial Alcohol Company, was set 50 feet above street level; its entire contents spilled within a few seconds and with no warning. The resulting thick, sticky “wall of molasses”, which at times was up to 15 feet high, ran through the streets, reaching a speed of 35mph.

It demolished buildings, tearing them from their foundations; it carried off vehicles and drowned horses. People who tried to outrun the wave were engulfed and drowned where they fell. In all, 21 people were killed and 150 injured (arriving at hospital, according to eyewitnesses “looking like toffee-apples”). The clean-up took weeks, and for decades afterwards the locals claimed they could distinctly smell molasses in hot weather.


Want to read more about Weird Historical Facts?  Click here.

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Fact of the Day - MONTH OF OCTOBER (Sunday's Fact)


Did you know... that the name of the month of October comes from the Latin “octō”, meaning “eight”, because in the Roman calendar October was the eighth month of the year?  With the adding of January and February at the beginning of the calendar after the Julian calendar reform, October became the tenth month of the year, as we know it today.


The Anglo-Saxons called October “Wintirfyllith”, meaning “fullness of winter” because it had the first full moon of the winter season.  Another fun fact about October is that, according to folklore, if the deer have a gray coat in this month you should expect a hard winter.  The holiday of Halloween, celebrated in October, comes from “All Hallows’ Eve” or the night before “All Hallows” day (“All Saints” day) as in old English “hallow” means “to sanctify”.  The zodiac signs for October are Libra (September 23 – October 22) and Scorpio (October 23 – November 21).


Famous people born in October include Angela Lansbury, Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Julie Andrews, Hugh Jackman, Katy Perry, Alfred Nobel, Anne Rice, Arthur Miller, Auguste Lumière, Friedrich Nietzsche, Christopher Columbus, Johannes Vermeer, John Keets.  The birthstones for October are the tourmaline and the opal. Tourmalines display a wide spectrum of colors, such as yellow, pink, blue, red, green, black or brown and they are believed to help you stay calm under pressure, bring peace and tranquility and defeat emotions like anger and jealousy. Opals exhibit different colors (green, white, yellow, blue, pink etc.) depending on the conditions under which they were created. Opal gemstones are believed to cure eye infections, strengthen memory, calm nerves and enhance creativity.


The traditional flower of the month of October is the calendula, symbolizing comfort, healing, protection and grace.  Special holidays in October include Halloween (October 31st), Columbus day (the second Monday of October), Yom Kippur, Diwali, International Peace Day (October 2nd).

Edited by DarkRavie
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Fact of the Day - PUMPKINS


Did you know... that  in the United States, pumpkins go hand in hand with the fall holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving. An orange fruit harvested in October, this nutritious and versatile plant features flowers, seeds and flesh that are edible and rich in vitamins. Pumpkin is used to make soups, desserts and breads, and many Americans include pumpkin pie in their Thanksgiving meals. Carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns is a popular Halloween tradition that originated hundreds of years ago in Ireland. Back then, however, jack-o’-lanterns were made out of turnips or potatoes; it wasn’t until Irish immigrants arrived in America and discovered the pumpkin that a new Halloween ritual was born.


Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family, which includes cucumbers, honeydew melons, cantaloupe, watermelons and zucchini. These plants are native to Central America and Mexico, but now grow on six continents.  The largest pumpkin pie ever baked was in 2005 and weighed 2,020 pounds.  Pumpkins have been grown in North America for five thousand years. They are indigenous to the western hemisphere.  In 1584, after French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence region of North America, he reported finding “gros melons.” The name was translated into English as “pompions,” which has since evolved into the modern “pumpkin.”


Pumpkins are low in calories, fat, and sodium and high in fiber. They are good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, potassium, protein, and iron.  The heaviest pumpkin weighed 1,810 lb 8 oz and was presented by Chris Stevens at the Stillwater Harvest Fest in Stillwater, Minnesota, in October 2010.  Pumpkin seeds should be planted between the last week of May and the middle of June. They take between 90 and 120 days to grow and are picked in October when they are bright orange in color. Their seeds can be saved to grow new pumpkins the next year.

Edited by DarkRavie
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Did you know... that Tragedy begins in ancient Greece, of course, and the first great tragedies were staged as part of a huge festival known as the City Dionysia? Thousands of Greek citizens – Greek men, that is, for no women were allowed – would gather in the vast amphitheatre to watch a trilogy of tragic plays, such as Aeschylus’ Oresteia. Going to the theatre in ancient Greece was, socially speaking, closer to attending a football match than a modern-day theatre.


Because audiences were so vast, actors wore masks which symbolised their particular character, so even those sitting towards the back of the amphitheatre could tell who was who. In Latin, the word for such a mask was persona, which is to this day why we talk about adopting a persona whenever we become someone else – we are, metaphorically if not literally, putting on a mask. This is also the reason why the list of characters in a play is known as the ‘Dramatis Personae’. The Romans were the first civilisation we know of to allow women to act in plays. Although women would not be allowed on the English stage until after the Restoration in 1660, the Romans got there first. In Roman plays, the colour of characters’ robes would often signify their role, so a yellow robe signified that a character was a woman, a purple robe that he was a young man, a white robe an old man, and so on. However, the Romans are more celebrated for their comedies – witness the very different styles of Terence and Plautus – than for their tragedies.


The City Dionysia in Greece possibly grew out of earlier fertility festivals where plays would be performed, and a goat would be ritually sacrificed to the god of wine, fertility, and crops, Dionysus – the idea was that the sacrificial goat would rid the city-state of its sins, much like the later Judeo-Christian concept of the scapegoat. Tragedy, then, was designed to have a sort of purging effect upon the community – and this is even encoded within the word tragedy itself, which probably comes from the Greek for ‘goat song’.


However, tragedy is, perhaps surprisingly, not the earliest of all literary genres. Nor is comedy: instead, a third genre of drama, known as the satyr play, is thought by some critics (such as Oscar Brockett in his History of Theatre) to have been the first of all literary genres, from which comedy and tragedy both eventually developed. Satyr plays were bawdy satires or burlesques which featured actors sporting large strap-on penises – the phallus being a popular symbol of fertility and virility, linked with the god Dionysus. Only one satyr play survives in its entirety: written by the great tragedian Euripides, Cyclops centres on the incident from the story of Odysseus when the Greek hero found himself a prisoner in the cave of Polyphemus, the one-eyed monster (we won’t make a phallus joke here).


One of the most celebrated tragedies of ancient Greece was Oedipus Rex, Sophocles’ play about the Theban king who unwittingly had killed his father and married his mother. This story gave Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis, the idea for his ‘Oedipus complex’, where every male child harbours an unconscious desire to do what Oedipus did. The child has to repress this, but is often only partly successful (Hamlet, for instance, doesn’t fully manage it, according to Freud’s reading of Shakespeare’s play).


In terms of genre, tragedy requires a tragic hero (and usually it is a man): one who is usually tempted to perform a deed (frequently, though not always, a murder), after which the hero’s fortunes eventually suffer a decline, ending with his death (or her death, as in the case of Antigone – though whether Antigone is the tragic ‘hero’ of Sophocles’ play remains a moot point). When viewed this way, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is not really the tragedy of Julius Caesar at all: he is merely the character who is killed by the real tragic hero of the play, Brutus. It would be like calling the story of Macbeth Duncan, after the victim. Brutus is the one who is tempted to perform a murder (of Caesar himself), after which event his fortunes suffer a catastrophe (or ‘downturn’), eventually ending in his death near the end of the play. (We’ve got more interesting Shakespeare facts here.)


More recently, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen created the definitive tragic heroine of modern theatre, Hedda Gabler, in his 1890 play of that name. Hedda has been called ‘the female Hamlet’, because it is the ‘Holy Grail’ role which actresses want to take on. Recently, star of the West End (and many television dramas and comedies) Sheridan Smith offered her interpretation of Hedda. Hedda is the ‘female Hamlet’ in other ways, too: like Hamlet, she is uncomfortable with femininity, both in herself and others (she dislikes the feminine qualities of her husband, such as his fondness for slippers and his clucking aunts), and, like Hamlet, she is ‘haunted’ by the ‘ghost’ of her father (whose presence looms large in the play, and whose portrait hangs in the living room throughout).


And while we’re on the subject of women and Hamlet, it’s worth noting that the first ever Hamlet recorded on film was a woman, Sarah Bernhardt, in 1900. The first radio Hamlet was probably a woman, too – Eve Donne, in 1923. Since the seventeenth century a whole host of actresses have been attracted to the role of the Danish Prince. Tony Howard, author of the excellent Women as Hamlet and a professor at the University of Warwick, has even stated that the best Hamlet he has ever seen was played by a woman. You can see him talking about women playing Hamlet here.



In 1949, US playwright Arthur Miller wrote ‘Tragedy and the Common Man’, an essay in which he justified the concept of having an ordinary person as the central character of a tragic play. This was something of a revolution, since many tragic heroes prior to this had been exceptional people, princes or kings, and Miller’s decision to take an ordinary salesman as his central figure was viewed by some as inappropriate for the subject of tragedy. He wrote his essay in response to hostile reviews which his play Death of a Salesman had received.


Horace Walpole, inventor of the Gothic novel, once opined that ‘The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.’ More recently, Mel Brooks said: ‘Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.’

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Fact of the Day - RAINFORESTS


Did you know... that rainforest is described as tall, hot and dense forest near the equator and is believed to be the oldest living ecosystems on Earth which gets maximum amount of rainfall?  If you don’t know too much about tropical rainforests, then you will probably be surprised to find that there are a few little known facts out there about them. This type of habitat is very different, in comparison to many of the other habitats that you are used to being around.


Rainforests only cover around 2 percent the total surface area of the Earth, but really about 50 percent of the plants and animals on the earth live in the rainforest.  They are the forests that receive high amount of rainfall.  You can find rainforests in many countries, not just in South America. They can be found in Alaska and Canada, as well as Asia, Africa and Latin America.  Rainforests are found on all of the different continents, except for Antarctica because it is far too cold there for the environment to be conducive.  There are two different types of rainforests, and they include both temperate and tropical. The tropical rainforests are the ones that are most commonly found around the world.  Rainforests help to regulate the temperatures around the world and the weather patterns as well.


A fifth of our fresh water is found in tropical rainforests, the Amazon Basin to be exact.  Rainforests help to maintain our supply of drinking water and fresh water, so they are critical in the sustainability of the earth.  About 1/4 of natural medicines have been discovered in rainforests.  Within four square miles of tropical rainforest, you will find 1500 flowering plant species, 750 types of trees, and many of these plants can be helpful in combating cancer.  70% or more of the plants that are used to treat cancer are found only in the tropical rainforests on the planet.  Over 2000 types of plants that you find in the rainforest can be used to help aide in cancer treatment because they have anti cancer properties.  The Amazon rainforest is the largest tropical rainforest in the world.  Less than one percent of the species of plants in the tropical rainforests have actually been analyzed to determine their value in the world of medicine.


Rainforests are threatened each and every day, especially by practices such as agriculture, ranching, logging and mining.  There were around 6 million square miles of rainforest in the beginning, but now because of deforestation, there are really only less than half of that still found in the world.  If the rainforests continue to decline in the way that they have been, then about 5-10 percent of their species will go extinct every ten years.   90% of the world's forests are in the underdeveloped or developed countries around the world.  Every second there is part of the rainforest that is cut down. In fact, you probably lose over 80,000 football fields worth of rainforest each and every day.  There are a lot of different types of animals that can be found in the rainforest, and most of them cannot live anywhere else because they depend on the environment of the rainforest for their most basic needs. About 90% of 1.2 billion people living in poverty worldwide depend on rainforests for their daily needs.


A lot of the oxygen supply that we have throughout the world is supplied by the tropical rainforests, even though they are miles and miles away. This may come as a shock to some people.  The average temperature of the tropical rainforest remains between 70 and 85° F.  Timber, coffee, cocoa and many medicinal products are few of the products produced by rainforests, including those used in the treatment of cancer.  Rainforests are constantly being destroyed by multinational logging companies, land owners and state government to make way for new colonies, industrial units.


Trees in tropical rainforests are so dense that it takes approximately 10 minutes for the rainfall to reach the ground from canopy.  About 80% of the flowers found in Australian rainforests are not found anywhere in world.  More than 56,000 square miles of natural forest are lost each year.  Insects make up the majority of living creatures in the tropical rainforest.  Due to large scale deforestation worldwide, only 2.6 million square miles remain.


A slice of rainforest, approximately equivalent to size of rainforest is destroyed each second which is equivalent to 86,400 football fields of rainforest each day which is equal to 31 million football fields of rainforest each year.  Variety of animals including snakes, frogs, birds, insects, cougars, chameleons, turtles, jaguars and many more are found in tropical rainforests.  At the current rate of depletion, it is estimated that 5–10 percent of tropical rainforest species will be lost per decade.  Most of the tropical rainforests, approximately 57 percent, are located in developing countries.  About 70% of the plants identified by the U.S. National Cancer Institute which can be used in the treatment of cancer are found only in rainforests.

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Fact of the Day - DIABETES


Did you know... that the earliest known written record that likely referred to diabetes was in 1,500 B.C in the Egyptian Ebers papyrus?  It referred to the symptoms of frequent urination.  Diabetes symptoms such as thirst, weight loss, and excess urination were recognized for more than 1,200 years before the disease was named.  The Greek physician Aretaeus of Cappodocia (81-133 A.D) was credited with coining the term "diabetes" (meaning "flowing through" in Greek). He described a disease with symptoms of constant thirst, excessive urination, and weight loss.  


Dr. Thomas Willis (1621-1675) called diabetes the "pissing evil" and described the urine of people with type 2 diabetes as "wonderfully sweet, as if it was imbued with honey or sugar." He was also the first to describe pain and stinging from nerve damage due to diabetes.  In ancient times, doctors would test for diabetes by tasting urine to see if it was sweet. People who tasted urine to check for diabetes were called "water tasters." Other diagnostic measures included checking to see if urine attracted ants or flies.


In the late 1850's, a French physician named Priorry advised his patients with diabetes to eat large quantities of sugar. Obviously, that method of treatment did not last, as sugar increases blood sugars.  The role of the pancreas in diabetes was discovered by Josef von Mering and Oskar Minkowski in Austria in 1889, opening the door to research about the hormonal causes of the disease.


In 1969-1970, the first portable blood glucose meter was created by Ames Diagnostics. It was called the Ames Reflectance Meter (ARM). Ames later became a part of Bayer. The device looked a lot like the tricorder devices used in the original Star Trek series. They cost about $650 and were only for doctors to use in their practices or hospitals. Portable blood glucose meters for home use by patients were not sold in the U.S. until the 1980's.


Dr. Richard Bernstein, author of the popular book Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution, was the first person to use a portable meter to check his blood sugar levels at home. He was an engineer at the time and in bad health due to type 1 diabetes. He obtained an ARM meter meant only for physicians. Since he wasn't a physician at the time, he talked his wife (who was a psychiatrist) into obtaining the device for him. His diabetes condition drastically improved. He then campaigned for portable home blood glucose meters for patient use at home. He was unable to get medical journals to publish his studies, so at 43 years old he went to medical school and became an endocrinologist.


Dr. Elliott P. Joslin, founder of the Joslin Diabetes Center, was the first doctor to specialize in diabetes and to encourage self-management. He became interested after his aunt was diagnosed and was told there was no cure and little hope. She died of diabetes complications not long after. His mother was diagnosed the year he started his practice in 1898 (a few years after the death of his aunt). He helped her manage her diabetes and she lived 10 more years which was quite a feat for the times.  Dr. Elliot P. Joslin said diabetes is "the best of the chronic diseases" on account of it being "clean, seldom unsightly, not contagious, often painless and susceptible to treatment."


In 1916, Dr. Frederick M. Allen developed a hospital treatment program that restricted the diet of diabetes patients to whiskey mixed with black coffee (clear soup for non-drinkers). Patients were given this mixture every two hours until sugar disappeared from the urine (usually within 5 days). They were then given a very strict low-carbohydrate diet. This program had the best treatment outcome for its time. Allen's work drew the attention of Dr. Elliot P. Joslin who used it as a basis for calorie-restricted diet study and treatment.


Dr. Priscilla White pioneered treatment for diabetes in pregnancy. She joined the practice of Dr. Elliott P. Joslin in 1924 when the fetal success rate was 54%. By the time of her retirement in 1974, the fetal success rate was 90%.  In 1921, Canadian scientists Frederick Banting and Charles Best discovered insulin and, with the aid of biochemist James Collip, were able to purify it for use in treating diabetes. Before 1921, starvation or semi-starvation was the treatment of choice.


Type 1 and type 2 diabetes were officially differentiated in 1936. However, the difference had been noted in the 1700's when a physician noted some people suffered from a more chronic condition than others who died in less than five weeks after onset of symptoms.  Back in the day, there were no blood glucose meters; blood sugar tests were performed exclusively with urine. In 1941, Ames Diagnostics used Clinitest effervescent urine sugar testing tablets to test urine. This meant mixing urine and water in a test tube and adding a little blue pill that caused a chemical reaction that could cause a severe physical burn injury due to extreme heat. The color of the liquid would indicate whether there was glucose in the urine.  In 1942, the first oral type 2 diabetes medication was identified, a sulfonylurea (a medication that stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin).


In 1963 the first prototype of a an insulin 'pump' that delivered glucagon as well as insulin was similar to a backpack and was developed by Dr Arnold Kadish.  Today, there are more than 7 classes of oral medicines to help manage and treat type 2 diabetes.  People with type 2 diabetes can also use non-insulin injectables, GLP-1 agonists for the treatment and management of Type 2 diabetes.


In 2016, the Federal Drug Administration approved the first closed loop insulin delivery system called Minimed 670G system.   In 2017, the first glucose meter without a finger stick hit the U.S. market. The Freestyle Libre System uses the latest technology to provide real time glucose readings every minute using a pre-calibrated sensor (you do not have to calibrate it with a finger stick, this is done in the factory).  In 2018, the FDA approved the use of a new GLP-1 agonist, Novo Nordisk's Ozempic (semaglutide), as an adjunct to diet and exercise for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in adults. Semaglutide is the seventh GLP-1 agonist to be approved in the United States and the fourth once-weekly injectable to receive approval.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the largest numbers of people with diabetes were estimated for the South East Asia and Western Pacific Regions, accounting for approximately half the diabetes in the world.  According to the WHO, around 422 million people are living with diabetes worldwide, nearly doubling the prevalence from 4.7 percent in 1980 to 8.4 percent in 2014. In the United States alone, an estimated 29.1 million adults and children are affected.

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Fact of the Day - FOX HUNTING


Did you know... that for a long time, people have used horses and dogs to chase foxes through the woods and across plains as a way to entertain themselves, to make money, and to scare off pesky foxes?  Let's learn some more about this activity by reading about how it started, how it works, who participates, and whether or not it is legal.  Fox hunting is most popular in America and Europe, and it has been around for hundreds of years. People in Europe historically used dogs with strong senses of smell, called scent hounds, to chase and kill animals like foxes. These people wanted to remove foxes from their property because they would kill farm animals, like chickens. People also liked to hunt foxes for their beautiful fur, which they could sell to make money.  Historians think that the first time that a fox was hunted by trained dogs that were followed by men on horses was in Norfolk, England, in 1534.


In some ways, fox hunting has not changed too much since it began. A group of foxhounds, a type of scent hound, are released into a hunting area. These dogs use their noses to search for a fox. People on horses follow the dogs until they find a fox. Once the fox is found, it is chased by the people and the dogs.  But there are some ways in which fox hunting today is different than it was in 1534. First, fox hunting has become a sport. This means that fox hunting is something that people do for fun, instead of for the purposes of killing problem animals or hunting for fur.  Part of the sport is a formal uniform. You can recognize people on a fox hunt by looking for tall black boots, white riding pants, a long, bright red coat, and a black riding helmet. This hunting gear is useful. Tall boots can protect riders from being scratched by trees and bushes while riding through the woods, and coats and helmets also serve as protection from the weather and from injury.


Years of anti-hunt campaigning led to a Government inquiry into hunting with dogs in 1999. Called the Burns Inquiry after Lord Burns, the chair, it failed to make firm recommendations but did note that hunting with dogs “seriously compromises the welfare of the fox”.  Eventually fox hunting (as well as hare coursing and other forms of chasing wild mammals with dogs) was banned in Scotland under the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002, and in England and Wales under the Hunting Act 2004. It is still permitted in Northern Ireland.


Why was fox hunting banned? 

It was deemed to be cruel. In particular, hunted foxes are dismembered by the hounds, and if they escape into unblocked holes terriers are sent after them. The ensuing underground battles result in severe injuries.


Was the ban the end of the matter?

No. While the act states that, “a person commits an offence if he hunts a wild mammal with a dog”, it continues: “unless his hunting is exempt”. The last five words (and the exemptions) make it almost impossible to enforce. Indeed, the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) – the governing body representing 176 active packs in England and Wales and 10 in Scotland – states on its website that “foxhunting has been restricted by the Hunting Act 2004”.


So fox hunting never stopped? 

Officially, fox hunts abide by but exploit the law to its limits, but animal welfare campaigners complain that many operate illegally by, for example, using trail hunting – where hounds simply follow a fox-based scent – as a smokescreen.


Is hunting needed to control fox numbers?

The jury is still out on whether foxes need to be culled (for instance, they provide a service by controlling rabbits) and there are experts who say culling rarely works. When foxes are killed, others simply move into the vacated territory or more cubs are born to make up the numbers.  That aside, fox hunting is, in my opinion, the least efficient and one of the most inhumane ways of culling and – tellingly – many hunts have been caught breeding foxes to ensure adequate supply.


Why is fox hunting back in the news?

Prime Minister Theresa May said, during the General Election campaign, that she has “always been in favour of fox hunting” and would give MPs a vote on repealing the Hunting Act. This could also affect other forms of hunting with dogs. However, a 2016 opinion poll carried out by Ipsos-MORI, found that 84 percent of people in England and Wales want a ban to stay.

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Did you know... that the Golden Retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S. The breed’s friendly, tolerant attitude makes them fabulous family pets, and their intelligence makes them highly capable working dogs.  Golden Retrievers excel at retrieving game for hunters, tracking, sniffing out contraband for law enforcement, and as therapy and assistance dogs. They’re also natural athletes, and do well in dog sports such as agility and competitive obedience.  These dogs are fairly easy to train and get along in just about any home or family. They’re great with kids and very protective of their humans. If you want a loyal, loving, and intelligent companion, consider adopting a Golden Retriever into your pack.


Despite their titled heritage, Golden Retrievers didn't win breed recognition until the 1920s.  Golden Retrievers were developed starting in 1850 by the Scotsman Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, the Lord of Tweedmouth. Hunting birds was popular at the time, both as sport and as a practical way of obtaining food. Marjoribanks sought a medium-sized bird dog to support the hunt. The breed was developed by crossing a Retriever with a Water Spaniel, then crossing their offspring with Bloodhounds, Irish Setters, the St. John's Water Dog, and other Retrievers. Golden Retrievers were first shown in 1908, at the U.K.'s Crystal Palace. They were entered as "flat coats (golden)" rather than the name we know them by today.  It took until 1925 for the breed to win official American Kennel Club (AKC) recognition. Today, Golden Retrievers are still used for hunting and field trials, and they also perform obedience and guide dog work.


There are three types of Golden Retrievers.  While you might think all Golden Retrievers look very similar, the breed actually has three different colors -- golden, light golden, and dark golden -- as well as three different types -- English, Canadian, and American. There are subtle differences between the types of Goldens, but they all fall under the same breed.  How do you know what type of Golden Retriever you've got? Check their build and coloring. Canadian and American Golden Retrievers tend to have the same build; however, Canadians have a thinner coat than the Americans. English Golden Retrievers have a stockier build than the other types, and also tend to have a light golden to white color. To get an idea of what color coat your Golden Retriever puppy will have when it matures, take a look at its ears. The tip of the ears usually show what color the pup will be after they lose their puppy coat. No matter which type of Golden you have, they'll have an even, enjoyable temperament. Goldens are renowned for their calm, playful, and friendly disposition.


Two Presidents enjoyed Golden Retrievers as pets while in the White House.  Both President Ford and President Reagan enjoyed Golden Retrievers while in office. President Reagan's Golden Retriever, Victory, was one of six dogs the president owned. President Reagan also enjoyed a stable full of horses at his ranch.  President Ford had a Siamese cat and a mixed-breed dog in addition to Liberty the Golden Retriever and Liberty's puppy, Misty. Goldens are also popular as celebrity pets. Celebs who own Golden Retrievers include Miranda Lambert, Jimmy Fallon, Emma Stone, Adam Levine, and Oprah.


Golden Retrievers are so popular in movies due to their obedient nature.  Golden Retrievers are often featured in movies and television shows, including Air Bud and Homeward Bound. While the breed is certainly cute, it's not their beauty that gets Goldens so many television spots. It's their mellow nature, combined with their trainability.  Golden Retrievers are easy to train, and they perform reliably and consistently. That's what makes them such popular guide dogs, and it's also what led the breed to take first in AKC obedience trials when they were introduced in 1977.


Golden Retrievers also make great working dogs.  It's not all fame and fortune for these pets. Many Golden Retrievers work as search and rescue dogs. Their tracking abilities and strong sense of smell help them find missing people. Perhaps the most well-known use of Golden Retrievers as rescue dogs was during 9/11, when a two-year-old trained rescue dog named Bretagne helped search for survivors. Bretagne went on to aid in the search and rescue efforts during Hurricanes Rita and Katrina as well.


Golden Retrievers are record holders.  A couple of Golden Retrievers have made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. An Australian Golden holds the world record for the loudest bark, measured at 113.1 decibels -- 3 decibels louder than a buzzing chainsaw. Another Golden Retriever holds the record for the most tennis balls held in the mouth, at five tennis balls.  Golden Retrievers are an impressive bunch, as any Golden lover knows. It's no wonder they are the third most popular dog breed in the U.S.  While you can't predict when your pet is going to get sick or injured, you can protect yourself from expensive veterinary bills. Embrace Pet Insurance gives you the freedom to do what’s best for your pet without stressing over the cost. Easily personalize your coverage to fit your budget and your pet’s needs, then visit any vet for nose-to-tail coverage. 

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Fact of the Day - PORCUPINES


Did you know.... that porcupines are large rodents with coats of sharp spines, or quills, that protect them against predators? The term covers two families of animals: the Old World porcupines of family Hystricidae, and the New World porcupines of family Erethizontidae.  Roughly 30,000 quills cover the whole body except for the stomach, nose and bottom of their feet. The porcupine has a small face, small ears, short legs and a thick, small tail. Its flat feet and sharp, rounded claws make it well adapted to climbing trees. Porcupines rely heavily on smell as they are short-sighted.  Some quills can get up to a foot (30 centimeters) long, like those on the Africa's crested porcupine, according to National Geographic. 


They are found on every continent except Antarctica. Scientists group porcupines into two groups: Old World porcupines, which are found in Africa, Europe and Asia; and New World porcupines, which are found in North, Central, and South America. The North American porcupine is the only species found in the United States and Canada.  Porcupines use the quills as a defense. They make shake them, which makes them rattle, as a warning to potential predators. If that doesn't work, they may charge backwards into the predator. The quills are loosely attached but cannot be thrown or projected, according to the Animal Diversity Web. Some quills have scales or barbs that make them very hard to remove. Once a quill is lost, it isn't lost forever. They grow back over time. 


The largest porcupine is the North African crested porcupine. It grows up to 36 inches (90 centimeters) long. The smallest is the Bahia hairy dwarf porcupine. It grows up to 15 inches (38 cm) long. Porcupines weigh 2.5 to 77 lbs. (1.2 to 35 kilograms), depending on species, and their tails can grow up to 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm), according to the San Diego Zoo.  The length of quills varies by type. New World porcupines have small quills that are around 4 inches (10 cm) long, while Old World porcupines have quills that can grow up to 20 inches (51 cm) long, though there are some exceptions.


In general, porcupines live in just about any terrain, including deserts, grasslands, mountains, rainforests and forests. Dens in tree branches or tangles of roots, rock crevices, brush or logs are the porcupine's home.  

Porcupines are nocturnal, which means they are active during the night and sleep during the day. During the night, they forage for food. New World porcupines spend their time in the trees, while Old World porcupines stay on the ground.   Porcupines aren't really social. Both types of porcupines are typically solitary, though New World porcupines may pair up. A mother and her young is considered a family group called a prickle.


Porcupines are herbivores. This means they eat mostly vegetation. Some porcupines love wood and eat a lot of bark and stems. They also eat nuts, tubers, seeds, grass, leaves, fruit and buds.  Though they don't eat meat, porcupines chew on bones to sharpen their teeth. Bones also give them important minerals, like salt and calcium, to keep them healthy. Porcupines are also known to eat bugs and small lizards every now and then.


Female porcupines carry their young for a gestation period of 16 to 31 weeks, depending on species, and give birth to one to three babies at a time. Baby porcupines are called porcupettes.   Porcupettes are about 3 percent of mother's weight at birth, according to the San Diego Zoo. At birth, they have soft quills, which harden in a few days. Porcupettes mature at 9 months to 2.5 years, depending on species and can live up to 15 years in the wild.


New World porcupines make up the Erethizontidae family, which comprises four genera and 12 species. There are 11 species, in three genera, of Old World porcupines in the Hystricidae family. 


This is the classification of the North American porcupine, according to Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS):

Kingdom: Animalia Subkingdom: Bilateria Infrakingdom: Deuterostomia Phylum: Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata Infraphylum: Gnathostomata Superclass: Tetrapoda Class: Mammalia Subclass: Theria Infraclass: Eutheria Order: Rodentia Suborder: Hystricomorpha Infraorder: Hystricognathi Family: Erethizontidae Subfamily: Erethizontinae Genus: Erethizon Species: Erethizon dorsatus, with seven subspecies.   Porcupines are listed as least concern or as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), depending on the species. Species listed as vulnerable include the Phillipine porcupine and the bristle-spined porcupine. There are currently no species listed as endangered, though some species don't have enough data to come to decision on its status. 


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Did you know.. that arguably one of the most important inventions in the history of home entertainment; the record player has brought music into the home for over a century?  For many years it was thought of a long and dead technology. Made obsolete by CD’s and later digital downloads. Yet this relic that was doomed to a fate of collecting dust in a basement or attic has risen from the ashes to become king once again.  This technology has quite the storied history. Record players have evolved across numerous iterations, starting with the early phonautograph, morphing to the turntable and reaching the modern vinyl version.  There has been a renewed interest in record players as vinyl music has grown in popularity over the last decade. Many covet analog music as it generates high-quality uncompressed audio. Others use their record players as it provides them with a feeling of nostalgia.


The first version of the turntable was created by Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville. He created the phonautograph in France way back in 1857. Yet this device could not play sound back. Rather, it inscribed airborne noise onto paper for visual study. The phonautograph was mainly used in lab settings.  Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877 and thus was known for who invented the record player. This device recorded sound and also played sound. It inscribed audio to tinfoil wrapped along a cardboard cylinder for subsequent playback. Alexander Graham Bell added wax to Edison’s phonograph design in order to record waves of sound. The result was referred to as the graphophone.


Emile Berliner took record players to the next level. He dubbed his creation the “gramophone” and secured a patent for the device in 1887. The gramophone was made of hard rubber and shelac before being constructed with vinyl. The gramophone is the basis of the contemporary record player. It interpreted grooves on flat discs instead of a cylinder. This is the point in time when records became necessary. The first record player released to the masses in 1895. This gramophone record player was quite popular until the rise of radio. Though radio didn’t kill the record player, it certainly stole the spotlight for a while. Record players sold well in the 30s and 40s but didn’t quite hit a mainstream tipping point until a couple decades later.


Record players became extremely popular in the 60s and 70s when Dual released the first turntables to provide stereo playback. High-fidelity sound reproduction hit the scene and motivated countless people to add a record player to their home. The automatic high-fidelity turntable was an immediate hit in the early 60s. This was the golden age of record players. It was during this era that Electrohome released its famous space-aged Apollo Record Player along side their classic wooden stereo consoles.




Hip-hop DJs used record player turntables in a new and creative way through the 80s, 90s and beyond. They connected audio mixers to record players, guided their hands along the records so they scratched against the needle and produced a new rhythmic instrument of sorts. Though some people still use record players to play music, plenty of modern day hip-hop artists use record players in unison with mixers to add a rhythmic element to their music.


After years of the vinyl industry being sustained by hardcore enthusiasts and niche music audiences, vinyl has come back into the mainstream. Now being sold at major department stores, grocery stores and even giving rise to the birth of new independent record stores. Most major artists are now releasing their latest albums as LPs allowing generations young and old to experience this 100 year old technology in their homes today.  This increased interest in vinyl has resulted in a need for modern day record players. Many music enthusiasts or casual music listeners want to experience music on vinyl, while also wanting some more modern features such as USB recording, or connecting their smartphones and tablets to music systems so they can enjoy their entire music collection.  It’s clear that record players are here to stay.



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Fact of the Day - PIÑATAS


Did you know.... that Although piñatas are uniquely thought of as a fun activity for parties nowadays, they have a long, rich history. There is some debate but it appears that their origin is not Spanish but Chinese. The Chinese version was in the shape of a cow or ox and used for the New Year. It was decorated with symbols and colors meant to produce a favorable climate for the coming growing season. It was filled with five types of seeds and then hit with sticks of various colors. After the piñata was broken, the remains were burned and the ashes kept for good luck.  he tradition arrived in Europe in the 14th century where it was associated with the Christian celebration of Lent; in Spain, the first Sunday of Lent, "Piñata Sunday", became a celebration known as the Dance of the Piñata. As the word's Italian origin indicates, pignatta (also pignata and pignàta) meaning "earthenware cooking pot", the Spanish initially used a plain clay container, before starting to decorate it with ribbons, tinsel and colored paper. The origin of the Italian word is thought to be linked to the Latin word pinea, "pine cone".


The European piñata tradition was brought to Mexico in the 16th century; however, there was a similar tradition in Mesoamerica already. The Mayan tradition was similar to the modern piñata tradition, including blindfolding the participant hitting the piñata. The Aztec tradition commemorated the birthday of Huitzilopochtli. Priests would decorate a clay pot with colorful feathers. When the pot was broken with a stick or club, the treasures inside would fall to the feet of the idol as an offering. According to local records, the piñata was first used for the purposes of evangelism in 1586, in Acolman, in the modern State of Mexico, just north of Mexico City. The Augustinian monks there modified European piñatas and created the Las Posadas tradition to co-opt the celebration of the birth of Huitzilopochtli, which was celebrated in mid December.


The Mexican Catholic interpretation of the piñata rested on the struggle of man against temptation. The seven points represent the seven deadly sins. The pot represents evil and the seasonal fruit and candy inside the temptations of evil. The person with the stick is blindfolded to represent faith. The turning, singing and shouting represent the disorientation that temptation creates. In some traditions, the participant is turned thirty three times, one for each year of Christ's life. These interpretations were given to the piñata for catechism purposes. As the participant beats the piñata, it is supposed to represent the struggle against temptation and evil. When the piñata breaks, the treats inside then represent the rewards of keeping the faith.


However, since this time the piñata has all but lost its religious significance and has become popular in many types of celebrations, not just during December's Las Posadas. The clay pot has been replaced with a papier-mâché container. The creation of piñatas has even taken on an artistic aspect in some areas. David Gamez and Cecilia Meade sponsored a showing of piñatas as art rather than just as a party favor. The event was called Piñatarama, with 25 piñatas made of papier-mâché at the Vértigo Galería in Mexico City, all original works of art by graphic illustrators, from 23 countries including Australia. Some of the illustrators who participated include 1000 Changos, Allan Sieber, Apak, Ben Newman, Cecy Meade, Cristian Turdera, Cupco and Daniel Berman. In Tepatitlán, the world's largest traditional seven-pointed piñata was created in 2010. It measures 11.2 meters, is made of fiberglass and weighs 350 kilograms. It surpasses the former Guinness record holder which was made in 2008 in Pennsylvania.


The piñata is most strongly identified with Mexico. The art of making modern piñatas falls under the Mexican craft heading of "cartonería", which refers to the making of items from paper and cardboard. This puts piñatas in the same category as amate paper craft, Judas figures and Mexico City style alebrijes. The Museo de Arte Popular held the first "Concurso de Piñatas Mexicanas" (Mexican Piñata Contest) in 2007 with prizes of 15,000, 10,000 and 5,000 pesos. The purpose of the contest is to help retain this tradition and help it to be continued to be valued. The Museo del Caracol in Mexico City held a workshop on how to make traditional piñatas, as part of its outreach program to the public.


While the religious significance has been mostly lost, the ceremony that occurs with it has remained mostly intact. Piñatas remain most popular during Las Posadas with birthday parties coming in second. Each participant, usually a child, will have a turn at hitting the piñata, which is hung from above on a string. The participant is blindfolded, given a wooden stick, and then spun a number of times. As the participants works to hit the piñata, another moves it to make it harder to hit. There is a time limit to any one person's attempts, which is marked out by the singing of a traditional song.  Clay pots specially made for the creation of piñatas


Piñatas were traditionally made with a clay pot base and many artisans make a living selling just the pot for people to decorate as they wish. However, clay pot piñatas have mostly been replaced by those made with cardboard and paper mache, usually fashioned over balloons. One reason for this is that broken pot pieces can be dangerous to children. These are then decorated with crepe paper, other colored paper and other items. Piñatas today come in all shapes and sizes, with many representing cartoon or other characters known to most children. Popular shapes today can include Batman, Superman, Spider-Man or characters based on popular movies and television shows such as Nemo, the Lion King and more. For Christmas, the traditional style with the points is popular as it is associated with the Star of Bethlehem.[1][9] However, for the most part, piñata designs have been completely commercialized. Courtyard of the Government Palace of Chihuahua decorated for Christmas.


Traditionally in Mexico, especially at Christmas, piñatas are filled with fruit and candies such as guavas, oranges, jicamas, pieces of sugar cane, tejocotes and wrapped candies. Some piñatas are "traps" filled with flour, confetti or water. Special baskets of treats may be given to children who come up empty handed after a piñata is broken. These are called colaciónes and are given to prevent hurt feelings. There are a number of localities in Mexico that specialize in the making of piñatas for sale. Acolman, the origin of piñatas, along with neighboring Otumba are one.[8] Acolman hosts an annual National Piñata Fair. This event includes cultural events, workshops on the making of piñatas, piñata contests and traditional Posadas. The event has attracted as many as 100,000 visitors over the days that it is held, many of whom come from Mexico City.


About 400 families in the town of San Juan de la Puerta, in the south of the Cuerámaro municipality in Guanajuato, are dedicated to the creation of piñatas, and produce about 16,000 pieces each month. The making of piñatas supports about half of the people in the town. It is the second most important economic activity after agriculture. This tradition began in 1960 by Juan Remigio Anguiano, who brought the craft to the town after living in Mexico City. Today, piñatas from the town are sold in various parts of the state.


In the penal facility of Huajuapan de León, prisoners make piñatas to sell. This began when several prisoners brought the craft with them when they were incarcerated about twenty years ago. These piñatas have become traditional for the population of the city for Christmas.  The busiest time for the sale of piñatas in Mexico is December for posadas. During bad economic times, sales of piñatas can fall as much as thirty percent as they did in 2008.  Store in Tabasco selling both traditional star-shape and contemporary design piñatas.


The star shape, or ball with points, still remains popular for the Christmas season, but for other events, traditional designs for children such as donkeys, have almost entirely been replaced by cartoon characters based on U.S. movies and television shows. However, most of the piñatas produced based on these images are not done following copyright law, which has caused problems. Copyright holders such as Marvel Comics have complained about infringement by piñata makers in Mexico. Federal authorities have responded by seizing such merchandise in stores in various areas of Mexico City. Vendors complain that they have sold these pinatas for decades and never have had problems. Those who have run into problems with copyright law state that it is difficult to sell other types as most customers prefer to buy those based on popular characters. Mexico exports piñatas to the United States and other parts of the world,) but copyright has been an issue here as well. Piñatas based on Disney and other characters have been seized at the border for violating U.S. copyright law. Some have also been seized and destroyed by customs agents under suspect of hiding drugs.


One niche market for piñatas in Mexico is of those themed for adults. These include political figures, especially those who are not particularly liked.[1][15] Another type for the adult market are sexually-themed piñatas, mostly those in the form of exotic dancers and strippers. Of the female of this type, the most popular are blondes. For the male, darker shades are preferred. These piñatas will be filled with adult items such as condoms in addition to candy.  Piñatas are similarly popular in a number of other Latin American countries as well

Edited by DarkRavie
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Fact of the Day - HANNA-BARBERA


Did you know... that before the rise of basic cable and syndication, Saturday mornings for many children in America consisted of watching cartoons on TV on one of three available channels? From 1958 through the 1980s, a vast majority of those cartoons bore the Hanna-Barbera (1957-2001) imprint. Creating hit shows such as The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, Jonny Quest, Super Friends, and The Smurfs, Hanna-Barbera was an animation powerhouse.


Hanna-Barbera Productions was formed in 1957 by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, who had been partners in animation at MGM Studios where they created the memorable Tom and Jerry shorts. They left MGM when the studio stopped production on animated films. Hanna and Barbera achieved immediate success on television with The Huckleberry Hound Show in 1958, followed later by the highly popular prime-time series, The Flintstones. Through the next thirty years, Hanna-Barbera produced an astonishing 249 individual cartoon series for television—totaling over 1,200 hours of original episodes. 


When Cartoon Network was formed in 1992, Hanna-Barbera supplied most of the cartoons. Hanna-Barbera was eventually absorbed by Warner Bros., but the cartoons remain available in syndication and on DVD.

The impact of Hanna-Barbera’s cartoons is evident in today’s popular culture, from Fred Flintstone hawking Fruity Pebbles cereal to numerous parodies on TV's Family Guy cartoon to the live-action Smurfs films to the continued creation of new Scooby-Doo television series, comic books, and animated and live-action movies.


A partial list of television programs created by Hanna-Barbera:

The Huckleberry Hound Show (1958-1962)

The Flintstones (1960-1966)

Top Cat (1961-1962)

The Jetsons (1962-1963)

Jonny Quest (1964-1965)

Space Ghost and Dino Boy (1966)

Frankenstein Jr. and The Impossibles (1966-1968)

Birdman and the Galaxy Trio (1967-1969)

The Herculoids (1967-1968)

Fantastic Four (1967-1968)

The Banana Splits Adventure Hour (1968-1970)

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? (1969-1970)

Josie and the Pussycats (1970-1971)

Speed Buggy (1973)

Super Friends (1973-1974)

Inch-High Private Eye (1973-1974)

Hong Kong Phooey (1974)

Clue Club (1976-1977)

Jabberjaw (1976-1978)

The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang (1980-1981)

The Smurfs (1981-1989)

Shirt Tales (1982-1984)

The Berenstain Bears (1985-1987)

The Pirates of Dark Water (1991-1993)

Johnny Bravo (1997-2004)

The Powerpuff Girls (1998-2005)


Want to read more about this duo? Click here.

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Fact of the Day - WIGS


Did you know... that the word “wig” was adapted from the original English word “periwig”, which was a wig worn by judges and aristocrats?  It is estimated that the word “wig” was used starting around the year 1675.  The use of wigs has dated back to ancient Egyptian times, where wigs were worn to protect the shaved heads of the Egyptians. 

  • “The Virgin Queen”, Queen Elizabeth I, was known for owning at least 150 wigs.
  • The Oxford English Dictionary has the definition of a wig as either a “kind of bun” or a “small cake made from fine flour.”
  • Mozart had to wear wigs because of a deformity to his left ear.
  • The term “bigwig” originated during colonial times when it was mandatory that officials and aristocrats had to wear wigs. The bigger your wig, the higher your reputation.
  • During 1765, a petition was created and signed by wig makers. The petition was to ask George the Third to make it a law that specific professions must wear wigs.
  • Britain government officials still wear wigs to show respect for the office in which they serve.
  • The Lord of the Rings the Two Towers is the winner for most wigs ever made for a single movie.
  • The most expensive wig ever auctioned off was one that belonged to Andy Warhol, which sold at $10,800.

While the exact origin of wigs is unclear, it’s well-documented that ancient Egyptian men and women frequently shaved their heads to survive the desert heat. Slaves, however, were not allowed to shave or wear wigs at all. Those who belonged to the upper class would wear wigs to express their style, class, and reputation.  Aside from establishing class, wigs gave these men and women a little shade and scalp protection from the hot sun. Depending on your wealth and class level, Egyptian wigs were either made of human hair, wool, or palm tree fibers. These strands were then mixed with beeswax to keep the wig in place. And just like today, most Egyptian men still kept their wigs shorter than those women!


Jumping ahead to 1600s France, wigs were still quite the status symbol. The bigger the wig (or “periwig,” as it was first termed), the better—leading to the familiar term “bigwig.” Only the upper class could afford to have and maintain such large, complex wigs that were often filled with various ornaments like bows. One of Marie Antoinette’s infamous wigs supposedly featured a large ship! So if you’re ever worried that your wig doesn’t look natural, just remember that back in the day, unnatural was totally in.


Aside from women in the aristocracy, women hardly wore wigs for most of human history. Many men had to wear a wig for their chosen profession. Others simply wanted to follow the given model of a wide variety of male monarchs. Today, as I’m sure you already know, it’s completely flipped. Ever since the resurgence of wigs during the 1950s, out of all wig-wearers, women are nine times more likely to wear wigs than men!


From the women who sell their hair, to those who gather it, to the temples who can sell it for $700 per pound, human hair is worth its weight in gold. It’s even sometimes referred to as black gold in India. In 2014 fashion companies bid almost $14 million in just one temple’s hair auction. It’s worth so much that some salons have been burglarized, and the burglars are not after the cash register or the safe- it’s the wigs and hair extensions. The hair business is worth billions per year.


Women with long, blonde hair in Russia can often get $50-hundreds for their hair, and there have been cases where women have been flown out to wigmakers for their hair. One woman from Indiana was paid $1,500 for hers. Although that’s nothing compared to what someone paid for the wig made out of it. Hmm… maybe a quick way to make some cash if you’re lucky to have lush, long, golden locks? (Sorry… natural blondes only).


That $1,500 of blonde hair was made into a wig which sold for $8,000! Where a synthetic wig might cost $250, a comparative real human hair wig would cost $1,500. Even extensions can be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. One of the most expensive wigs ever sold at auction was the one that belonged to famous painter Andy Warhol, best known for his pop art paintings of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe. The wig sold for $10,800 (although that number seems a bit low, really, considering how much they can cost normally!). Michael Jackson’s also fetched a hefty sum.


There are two main types of human hair wigs: the traditional machine stitched weft wig and the hand tied lace wig. The machine stitched wigs are the most popular, and made more quickly, ensuring a bit of a degree of affordability, but hand tied lace wigs are much more realistic, as it gives the illusion that hair is growing from the scalp. These are made with a lace base to which each strand is individually stitched, meaning huge effort and time (and money).


Want to learn more about Wigs?  Click here.

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