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Fact of the Day - WONDERS OF THE WORLD

 

Did you know... that various lists of the Wonders of the World have been compiled from antiquity to the present day, to catalogue the world's most spectacular natural wonders and manmade structures? (Wikipedia)

 

Great Wall of China
The original wall built under the rule of Emperor Qin Shi Huang of the Qin Dynasty took around 20 years to finish. This awe-inspiring structure is a belt of around 21,196 kilometers from east to west, witnessing the highlands, landscapes, plateaus, and other charms of China. This wall was constructed to protect the Chinese Empire from the assaults and invasions of the nomadic groups. The credit for the brawniness of this archeological grandeur goes to the robust stones, bricks, soil, wood, and other materials used for its construction. This monument symbolizes the strength and dexterity of the artisans in the bygone times. Being swarmed by its admirers from every nook of the world, the Great Wall of China stands tall to inspire the generations to come.

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Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
The statue of the God of the Christians in Brazil, has a towering height of 98 feet. Being an embodiment of the Brazilian Christianity, this wonder of the world is the most groovy structure in Rio de Janerio, Brazil. The reason behind the unconventional strength of this structure is the adoption of reinforced concrete and soapstone for its construction. You would be astounded to know that this stupendous edifice was engineered in pieces and then taken on the top of a mountain for compilation. The statue of Jesus Christ embracing the entire world is venerated not only by the Christians, but the people belonging to other religions as well.

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Petra, Jordan
This man-made marvel was erected out of pink-colored sandstones, due to which it has been designated as the Rose City. This structure, in fact is evidence that the Middle East was the most influential region of the world in the Middle Ages. But this place wasn’t given its due for a long time—did you know that Bedouin of the Arabian Desert destroyed some of the most priceless carvings on the Treasury’s walls? They used the carvings as target during their shooting practice. Being established as early as 312 BC, Petra is regarded as half as old as time. Undoubtedly, Petra is one of the most treasured attractions in Jordan. This wonder of the world houses a number of tombs and temples, which are profusely revered by the wayfarers. Petra has also won a position in the Smithsonian Magazine, as one of the 28 places to see before you die. The jaw-dropping architecture of Petra will surely leave you in awe of the creators.

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Machu Picchu, Peru
One of the most famous lost cities of the world, Machu Picchu, also known as the Lost City of the Incas, was built in 1450 and abandoned a hundred years after that. Declared as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1983, the structure is built completely out of dry-stone walls. Many of the stones that were used to build the city were more than 50 pounds in weight, but it is said that no wheels were used to transport these rocks up the mountain. In fact it is alleged that hundreds of men pushed the heavy rocks up the steep mountain side. Hemmed in the midst of the beauteous hillocks and glittering meadows, the Lost City of the Incas, a.k.a Machu Picchu, dates back to the 15th century. The mind-bending structure of this one of the most amazing seven wonders of the world is composed of the dry-stone walls. The preeminent structures of the Machu Picchu comprise of the Inti Watana, The Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows. To beckon the tourists and bestow a better picture regarding the origination of this wonder, most of the structures have been revamped by the year 1976.

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Colosseum, Italy
Built between 70 AD and 82 AD by Emperor Titus Vespasian, the Colosseum in Rome is the most iconic, ancient amphitheatre in the world. Seating over 50,000 spectators, the amphitheatre was built for public spectacles like the infamous gladiator fights, animal hunts, executions, and dramas. It is said that the events that took place at the Colosseum were graphic and brutal—during certain games around 10,000 animals would be killed in a single day. The center of the Rome accommodates the spectacular structure of the largest amphitheatre in the world, a.k.a., The Colosseum. It depicts the finesse of the engineering works during the Roman Empire. This otherworldly edifice took 9 years to get completed. If we think of mastering a structure of such massive expanse with all the contemporary methods, wistfully, we would fail to meet the deadlines confronted by the adept architects of those times. This amphitheatre witnessed a plethora of capital punishments and battles, that led to the death of around 400,000 people inside this structure. This structure has been a beholder of several events, shows, contests, and much more. And Mr. Moviebuff, you would be amazed to know that the climax scene of the epic movie Gladiator was shot nowhere else than The Colosseum.

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Chichen Itza, Mexico
Chichen Itza translates to “At the mouth of the well of Itza”. Believed to be the largest Mayan city ever built, the centre of the Chichen Itza comprises El Castillo, also known as the Temple of Kukulcan. Many travellers aver that the sites in Chichen Itza are known for their unusual sounds. If you clap once from one end of the Ball Court, it reverberates and creates nine echoes in the middle of the court. A clap in front of the Kukulkan Pyramid creates an echo resembling the serpent’s chirp. The step-pyramid structure of Chichen Itza is a treat to the eyes of the admirers of the archeology. This historical site it tyrannized by the Temple of Kukulcan, stationed at its center. This four-sided pyra mid subsumes a total of 365 steps. Globe-trotters from miles away, travel to Mexico specially for covering one of the seven wonders of the world. This Maya City encompasses some of the most popular buildings, like The Warriors Temple, El Castillo, and the Great Ball Court. The nights of this city are illuminated by the crowd-pleasing light & sound shows.

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Taj Mahal, India

Nestled on the banks of the Yamuna river, Taj Mahal was constructed by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in reminiscence of his most endeared wife Mumtaz Mahal. Being shattered by the death of his beloved wife, Shah Jahan decided to construct a domicile for the entombed. The grief of this Shah Jahan led to the formation of the glorious monument of Taj mahal. This ivory-white structure is thronged by its admirers from all over the world. Taj Mahal is an epitome of love, the beauty of which is more arresting during the sunrise and on a full moon night. Being built with the skillfulness of around 20000 artizans, Taj Mahal is the pinnacle spot in the city of Agra, India.

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Fact of the Day - CREDIT CARD

 

Did you know... that credit cards were originally like today’s department store cards — offered by individual stores and only for use at those stores? The first one to be used at multiple locations was offered by The Diner’s Club in the US in 1950 – it was good for use in 27 restaurants in New York City.

 

To fully appreciate the modern convenience of credit cards, simply insert your chip card, pause while it processes, and consider what it replaced.

 

Prior to plastic, money as a means of exchange for goods and services was cumbersome, if not outright dangerous. Beginning as far back as 9000 B.C. with cattle and camels, currency took some truly odd shapes, from cowrie shells, bronze and copper imitation cowrie shells and gold and silver nuggets to Chinese deerskin notes and Native American stringed wampum beads.

 

From the beginning, credit cards offered significant advantages over all forms of money: They’re pocket size, easily portable, relatively secure and have no intrinsic value in themselves. What’s more, true credit cards buy you time to pay your bill, typically with a modest fee attached.

 

The dawn of credit cards
According to historian Jonathan Kenoyer, the concept of using a valueless instrument to represent banking transactions dates back 5,000 years, when the ancient Mesopotamians used clay tablets to conduct trade with the Harappan civilization. While still cumbersome, a slab of clay with seals from both civilizations certainly beat the tons of copper each would have had to melt down to produce the coins of that era.

 

Fast-forward to America circa the 1800s. During westward expansion, merchants would use credit coins and charge plates to extend credit to local farmers and ranchers, allowing them to forgo paying their bills until they harvested their crops or sold their cattle.

 

In the early 1900s, a few U.S. department stores and oil companies took credit one step further by issuing their own proprietary cards, the precursor to modern-day store cards. Such cards were accepted only at the issuing merchant and designed less for convenience than to promote customer loyalty and improve service.

 

Bank-issued charge cards originated in 1946 when a Brooklyn banker named John Biggins launched the Charg-It card. Charg-It purchases were forwarded to Biggins’ bank, the middleman that reimbursed the merchant and obtained payment from the customer in what came to be known as the “closed-loop” system. Purchases could only be made locally and only bank customers could obtain a Charg-It card. Five years later, New York’s Franklin National Bank followed suit, issuing its first charge card to its loan customers.

 

With postwar America on the go, two dining and entertainment charge cards quickly followed.

 

The Diners Club Card, which debuted in 1950, was inspired a year earlier by an “a-ha” moment when a customer named Frank McNamara forgot his wallet while attending a business dinner at New York’s Major’s Cabin Grill. Months later, McNamara and his partner, Ralph Schneider, returned to the restaurant with a small cardboard card and a proposal that resulted in the Diners Club Card.

 

Used mainly for travel and entertainment, the Diners Club Card claims the title of the first credit card in widespread use. Although its purchases were made on credit, Diners Club was technically a charge card, meaning the bill had to be paid in full at the end of each month. By 1951, Diners Club had 20,000 cardholders.

 

The American Express card, which launched in 1958, had an altogether different provenance. Formed in 1850 as a competitor to the U.S. Postal Service, American Express had introduced money orders in 1882, invented traveler’s checks in 1891, and contemplated a travel charge card as early as 1946, before Diners Club beat it to the punch.

 

American Express would soon claim milestones of its own by expanding its reach to other countries and introducing the first plastic card in 1959, replacing cardboard and celluloid. Within five years, 1 million American Express cards were in use at 85,000 merchants, foreign and domestic.

 

Bank cards and revolving credit
Major banks would soon launch their own consumer cards, but with a welcome twist. Instead of users having to settle their bill in full each month, bank cards would truly become credit cards by offering revolving credit, which allowed cardholders to carry their monthly balance forward for a nominal finance charge.

 

Bank of America was first out of the gate in 1958, mailing unsolicited BankAmericard credit cards to select California markets. In 1966, BankAmericard went national to become the nation’s first licensed general-purpose credit card. It would be renamed Visa a decade later to acknowledge its growing international presence.
 

Also in 1966, a group of California banks formed the Interbank Card Association (ITC), which would soon issue the nation’s second major bank card, MasterCard. Now known as Mastercard Worldwide, the nation’s first card association competes directly with a similar Visa organization, both of which are run by boards comprised primarily of high-level executives from their member banks.

 

Unlike their non-bank competitors, the bank card associations operate in an “open-loop” system that requires interbank cooperation, as well as transfers of funds. While banks initially had to choose between the Visa and MasterCard association, changes to association bylaws have since allowed banks to join both associations and issue both types of cards to their customers.

 

Want to learn more about Credit Cards?  Click here.

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Fact of the Day - VIOLET KING HENRY

 

Did you know... that Violet Pauline King Henry, lawyer (born 18 October 1929 in Calgary, AB; died 30 March 1982 in New York, NY). King was the descendant of Black settlers from the United States. Her life consisted of several important milestones. She was the first Black Canadian to obtain a law degree in Alberta, the first Black person admitted to the Alberta Bar and the first Black woman to become a lawyer in Canada. She was also the first woman appointed to an executive position with the YMCA in the United States. (The Canadian Encyclopaedia)

 

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Violet King, the first Black woman admitted to the Alberta Bar, and to practise law in Canada. E.J. McCormick, with whom she articled, shakes her hand, 2 June 1954.

 

 

Early Life
Violet King was born 18 October 1929 in Calgary, Alberta. Her paternal grandparents moved to Keystone (now Breton), Alberta, from Oklahoma in 1911. They were drawn to Canada after discovering the federal government’s campaign to entice American farmers to immigrate to the country. However, the Canadian government didn’t expect Black farmers to also answer this call. The government quickly moved towards discouraging Black  immigration and thus limited the total number of Black immigrants to the Canadian Prairies to only about 1,000 by 1912 (see Order-in-Council P.C. 1911-1324 — the Proposed Ban on Black Immigration to Canada).

 

King’s parents, John and Stella, moved to Calgary in 1919 and lived in the community of Hillhurst-Sunnyside. John worked as a sleeping car porter with the  Canadian Pacific Railway and Stella worked as a seamstress. They had four children together, Violet, Vern, Lucille and Ted, who launched a legal challenge against a Calgary  motel’s  discriminatory policy in 1959.

 

Violet King attended Crescent Heights High School and became president of the Girls’ Association in Grade 12. At a young age, King knew she wanted to pursue a legal career. Her Grade 12 yearbook caption read: “Violet wants to be a criminal lawyer.”

 

DID YOU KNOW?
Violet King’s brother Ted was the president of the Alberta Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (1958-61). In 1959, Ted King launched a legal challenge against a Calgary motel’s discriminatory policy, decades before human rights protections existed throughout Canada. The case made it to the Alberta Supreme Court. Though it was not successful, King’s case exposed legal loopholes innkeepers could exploit in order to deny lodging to Black patrons.

 

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Ted King, centre, is met by his parents on his return to Calgary, Alberta. From left to right: John King, Della Mayes, Ted King, Stella King, and Violet King. Photo dated 21 March 1946.

 

Higher Education
Violet King attended the University of Alberta in 1948. To finance her studies, she taught piano lessons in Edmonton. Out of 142 students, King was one of only three women in the Faculty of Law. She was a member of the Blue Stocking Club — a discussion group for women with an emphasis on history and public affairs. The club was likely inspired by the Blue Stockings Society, an informal group of intellectual women who discussed timely topics and issues in 18th-century England. She was vice-president of the students’ union and representative of the students’ union to the National Federation of Canadian University Students.

 

In 1951-52, during her undergraduate studies, King was selected as class historian and served as the 1952 Alberta representative to the International Student Services Conference held in Hamilton, Ontario. That same year, King was one of four students to receive an Executive “A” gold ring during Colour Night, an annual event to celebrate students’ contributions to the University of Alberta. The other three students to receive the honour were Peter Lougheed, the future premier of Alberta (1971–85), Ivan Head, advisor to Pierre Trudeau, and Garth Fryett, a prominent Edmonton lawyer.

 

King obtained a bachelor of arts degree in 1952 and received her LLB degree in 1953. She was the first Black person to graduate from law school in Alberta and the only woman in her graduating class (see Women and the Law).

 

Legal Career
Following graduation, Violet King articled in the Calgary firm of Edward J. McCormick, QC, a well-known criminal trial lawyer (see Criminal Law). King later recalled working on five murder trials during her year articling with McCormick, a substantial caseload. King was called to the Alberta Bar on 2 June 1954 and became the first Black female lawyer to practise law in Canada. Her admission made headlines in several local newspapers. Two Calgary publications described it as a milestone in Canadian history. (It was not until nearly 10 years later that Lionel Jones was admitted to the Alberta Bar in 1963 — the second Black lawyer in the province.) King was also treasurer for a local labour union, the Calgary Brotherhood Council.

 

Just after being called to the Bar, the International Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids, the first labour union organized by African-Americans to be affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, recognized her achievements (see also  Sleeping Car Porters in Canada). The president and a vice-president travelled from New York and Detroit to make a presentation to King in Calgary.

 

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Violet King presented with a purse by the Calgary local of the International Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (IBSCP), June 1954. Left to right: King, Philip Randolph (president of the IBSCP), Bennie Smith (second vice-president of the IBSCP) and Roy Williams.

 

DID YOU KNOW?
Railway porters took care of passengers on trains. This was one of the few occupations available to Black Canadian men from the 1870s to the First World War. Black porters had to fight to form their own union, The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, after being denied representation by the White union. Violet King’s father and brother Ted both worked as porters.

 

King practised law in Calgary for several years. She worked at a firm headed by A.M. (Milt) Harradence, QC, a Canadian criminal lawyer and later a judge of the Court of Appeal of Alberta (see Courts of Law in Canada).

 

King spoke publicly about racism in the workplace at least once. In a speech delivered at the Beta Sigma Phi sorority banquet in Calgary, in November 1955, she remarked, “It is too bad that a Japanese, Chinese or colored girl has to outshine others to secure a position.” She also described the challenges women had faced in the work force to that point, and expressed hope that in future greater focus would be placed on a person’s ability and less on one’s race or gender (see Prejudice and Discrimination).

 

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Violet King was guest speaker at the Beta Sigma Phi pledge banquet in November 1955.

 

Canadian Citizenship and Immigration
King eventually moved to Ottawa to work with the federal department of Citizenship and Immigration (see Citizenship). Her role with the department included travelling the country to meet with leaders of different service and community organizations. To take on this role, in April 1956, she changed her status to become a non-practising member of the Law Society of Alberta. King worked in the department for seven years; her roles included executive assistant to the chief of the Liaison Branch of Canadian Citizenship and Immigration, and directing programs with the Canadian Citizenship Council.

 

DID YOU KNOW?
Ellen Fairclough, the first woman appointed to a federal Cabinet position in Canada, was Minister of Citizenship and Immigration from 1958 to 1962.

 

YMCA
In 1963, King moved to New Jersey to become executive director of the Newark YMCA’s Community Branch. This role involved assisting Black applicants who were actively seeking employment opportunities.

 

In 1965, King married Godfrey C. Henry, who later received an MA in Political Science from Columbia University and a Law degree from Rutgers. In 1966, the couple gave birth to their only child, Jo-Anne Henry.

 

In 1969, King moved to Chicago to become director of planning, and later became director of manpower, planning and staff development with the YMCA. In 1976, she was appointed executive director of the National

Council of YMCA’s Organizational Development Group, making her the first woman named to an executive position with the national organization.

 

Legacy and Significance
King passed away from cancer in New York, NY. She died 30 March 1982, at age 52.

 

King shattered glass ceilings and broke down colour barriers to pave the way for future generations. Her hard work and drive to excel in all facets of her career are an inspiration for those who also aspire to do great things in their field.

 

In 1998, King was inducted to the National YMCA Hall of Fame.

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Fact of the Day - THE WIZARD OF OZ

 

Did you know... that In the original 1900 Wonderful Wizard of Oz novel, written by author L. Frank Baum, the titular magic man revealed that his full name was actually much longer: Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs?  In the story, Oz, as he calls himself, explains, "It was a dreadfully long name to weigh down a poor innocent child, and one of the hardest lessons I ever learned was to remember my own name. When I grew up I just called myself O.Z., because the other initials were P-I-N-H-E-A-D; and that spelled 'pinhead,' which was a reflection on my intelligence."

 

It was the quintessential Golden Age of Hollywood film: Lovable characters (yes, even the bad guys), catchy song-and-dance numbers, and a story that still makes audiences cry 80 years after its initial release. The Wizard of Oz is an often-imitated but never-duplicated cinematic treasure (in this age of the multiple remake, that’s saying something) that remains an integral part of childhood decades after it first enchanted audiences in theaters.

 

Based on L. Frank Baum's wildly popular 1900 children’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the iconic MGM film from 1939 is still a gift that keeps on giving with its innumerable catchphrases (“There’s no place like home,” “It’s a twistah! It’s a twistah!” “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog, too!”), and timeless songs like “Over the Rainbow” and “We’re Off to See the Wizard.”

 

Many movies have tried to top that magical, life-changing moment when farm girl Dorothy Gale (a 16-year-old Judy Garland) opens the door to Munchkinland and trades her drab, sepia-toned Kansas life for one of boundless Oz Technicolor—and none has yet succeeded. But as with any other classic movie, The Wizard of Oz has its share of triumphs, tragedies, and trivia. Read on for some of some insights into this venerated Hollywood masterpiece.

 

1. More so than the braids, the toy Toto, or even the blue-and-white gingham dress, those sparkly ruby-red shoes are the key to any Dorothy Gale costume. But one of the most important images of the enduring Wizard of Oz mythos did not come from the mind of author L. Frank Baum, but instead from Oz screenwriter Noel Langley. In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz book series, Dorothy’s shoes were made of silver. However, Langley recommended the slippers be changed to ruby for the film due to the fact that the bright red hue would show up much better against the Technicolor yellow brick road.  The silver shoes did make a comeback nearly 40 years later, when The Wiz was adapted for the big screen and Diana Ross’s Dorothy kicked it old-school for her Oz footwear.

 

2. Victor Fleming may be the one officially credited onscreen, but The Wizard of Oz can boast four directors. The first, Richard Thorpe, was fired after less than two weeks. George Cukor was brought in next, but he was summoned away to go work on—of all projects!—Gone With the Wind. Then Fleming stepped in, until he too was called over to assist with Gone With the Wind, and King Vidor was hired to complete the movie.

 

3. And he wasn’t too happy about it. Ray Bolger felt his signature, loose-limbed dancing style would be stifled as the rusted-stiff Tin Man (“I’m not a tin performer. I’m fluid,” said Bolger of the part). So he managed to convince the actor cast as the Scarecrow, Buddy Ebsen, to switch roles. Considering Ebsen was so easygoing about the change, it seemed like this was all meant to be. Or not ...

 

4. Nine days into production on The Wizard of Oz, Ebsen found himself in the hospital, unable to breathe from the aluminum-powder makeup he wore as the Tin Man (cue the “Nice going, Bolger,” here). "My lungs were coated with that aluminum dust they had been powdering on my face," Ebsen explained in the book The Making of The Wizard of Oz. The actor, who would go on to star in The Beverly Hillbillies TV show in the 1960s, was subsequently replaced by Jack Haley (whose Tin Man makeup was tweaked from a powder to a paste).

 

5. Ebsen wasn’t the only one who had a near-fatal experience with his Oz cosmetics. Actress Margaret Hamilton, who played the green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West, suffered a second-degree burn on her face and a third-degree burn on her hand while filming her character’s dramatic, fiery exit from Munchkinland. Hamilton learned after the fact that her makeup was copper-based (read: toxic), and that if it hadn’t been removed immediately, she may not have lived to tell the tale.

 

6. Judy Garland’s Dorothy will always be remembered for her simple farm-girl look (and the subtle Emerald City makeover later in the movie), but when production first began on The Wizard of Oz, Garland was given the traditional Hollywood treatment. That meant a bouncy, blonde wig and tons of makeup. Fortunately, for the film’s legacy, Glam Dorothy didn’t last long. It was interim director George Cukor who did away with the wig and cosmetics, turning Dorothy back into what she was all along: A girl from the Kansas prairie.

 

7. Most of the main actors in The Wizard of Oz played two roles: A Kansas character and his or her Oz counterpart. This meant Ray Bolger (Scarecrow), Jack Haley (Tin Man), and Bert Lahr (Cowardly Lion) doubled as farmhands, and Margaret Hamilton got wicked in both Kansas (Miss Gulch) and Oz (the Witch). But Frank Morgan, who portrayed the shady Professor Marvel in the Kansas scenes (and was only billed for that role in the credits), not only showed up in Oz as the Wizard, but also as the uppity Doorman to the Emerald City, the Horse-of-a-Different-Color-owning Cabbie, and the snippy (later, sobbing) Wizard’s Guard.

 

8. In 1975, former kindergarten teacher Margaret Hamilton was a guest on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. On this episode, Hamilton spoke with Fred Rogers at length about her celebrated—albeit frightening—role, as a way to help children watching at home understand that her playing the Wicked Witch, in the words of a familiar Neighborhood term, was all “make-believe.”  Hamilton discussed how kids could better sympathize with the Witch’s perspective by explaining her misunderstood nature: “She’s what we refer to as ‘frustrated.’ She’s very unhappy because she never gets what she wants.” (A prescient Hamilton was also hitting on the concept for the novel—and subsequent musical—Wicked here, 20 years before its publication.) The actress then ended her visit with Mr. Rogers in the coolest way possible: Dressing up in a Wicked Witch of the West costume (sans green makeup) and briefly slipping into her mischievous cackle.

 

9. Back in 1910, a 13-minute silent film called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was produced. By today’s standards, it’s delightfully creepy, but 105 years ago, it was probably a revelation for audiences. The movie also took a lot of liberties with Baum’s original story, which can be discombobulating for modern viewers. In this version, Dorothy and the Scarecrow are already pals by the time they’re both swept up in the (very primitive-looking) cyclone for their journey to Oz. The movie also ends with Dorothy ditching Kansas and opting instead to stick around this far more exciting magical land. “There’s no place like–Oz?”

 

 

Another silent film, also called The Wizard of Oz, was released in 1925 and featured a young Oliver Hardy in the role of the Tin Woodsman. It, too, deviated significantly from the book.

 

10. Ay one point, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin man and the Cowardly Lion were doing a 1939 dance craze: The Jitterbug.  But you never got to see it, because the entire sequence was cut from Oz for time (plus there’s the theory that producers felt inserting an up-to-the-minute dance craze would date the film). Right before the Wicked Witch’s Flying Monkeys descend upon Dorothy and her friends in the Haunted Forest, the group was supposed to be attacked by an insect (“The Jitterbug”) that would make them dance uncontrollably. In fact, at the start of the clip above, you can still hear the Witch comment to one of her monkeys, “I’ve sent a little insect on ahead to take the fight out of them” (continuity be damned). Full audio of the “Jitterbug” song still exists, as well as some very raw footage. The “Jitterbug” song-and-dance number has also been reinstated in some stage versions of The Wizard of Oz (including a 1995 high school production that featured the writer of this piece).

 

11. Margaret Pellegrini, who portrayed one of the Munchkins in the film, said that she was paid $50 a week to work on Oz. In 1939, that was a decent wage for a working actor. Trouble was, Dorothy’s canine companion was pulling in a whopping $125 a week. That had to make things awkward on set.

 

12. One day after Germany invaded Poland (thus beginning the Second World War), Iowa’s Mason City Globe Gazette ran an article heralding The Wizard of Oz’s run at the local movie house. As a way to both increase morale and ticket sales, Oz was billed as the perfect escapist fantasy for those worried about the events overseas. The actual headline read: “War Nerves? See The Wizard of Oz for a Genuine Rest.” Glinda the Good Witch and her cohorts may not have been able to solve the problem of encroaching Nazism, but at least they provided a couple hours’ worth of comfort away from the horrors of the real world.

 

13. Another casualty of the cutting room floor, this extended “If I Only Had a Brain” sequence showcased Ray Bolger’s deft control over his seemingly elastic body. It is also extremely trippy and gave the Scarecrow the inexplicable ability to fly—which wasn’t going to gel with the rest of the movie (if the Scarecrow could fly, then why didn’t he go one-on-one with the Wicked Witch?). Luckily for Berkeley, the decision to delete this part of the scene in no way hurt the legendary director-choreographer’s place in the annals of movie musical history.

 

14. It’s not easy being green, as Margaret Hamilton can attest. The Wicked Witch actress’ sorry excuse for a dressing room was a canvas tent that, in Hamilton’s words, was “simply awful.” But Billie Burke, who portrayed Glinda the Good Witch, had her own thin slice of pink-and-blue-hued heaven on the MGM lot that was probably decorated by Glinda herself (in reality, Burke was the widow of vaudeville impresario Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. and knew a thing or two about glamorous living). “She had a pink and blue dressing room,” said Hamilton in The Making of The Wizard of Oz. “With pink and blue powder puffs and pink and blue bottles filled with powder and baby oil. And pink and blue peppermints.” So on days Burke wasn’t on set, Hamilton admitted to eating her lunch in her co-star’s palace-like inner sanctum.

 

15. At 10 years old, Shirley Temple fit the little-girl profile of Dorothy Gale much more than the teenaged Judy Garland. She was also a box office sensation who could guarantee packed movie houses. So it made good business sense that some of The Wizard of Oz's producers were considering the child star for the role. But the official reason for why Temple ultimately didn’t end up as Dorothy remains a part of Hollywood lore: it could have been because 20th Century Fox wouldn’t loan her to MGM for the film, or because Temple was supposedly part of an inter-studio trade with Clark Gable and Jean Harlow that fell through upon Harlow’s death in 1937. Also, while Temple may have charmed movie audiences with her cherubic renditions of “On the Good Ship Lollipop,” she didn’t stand a chance when going up against a vocal powerhouse like Garland.

 

16. Today, it would be considered abuse and grounds for immediate dismissal. But 76 years ago, slapping your star across the face was not only condoned, it actually produced results. When Judy Garland couldn’t get her giggles under control when Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion made his big entrance, director Victor Fleming didn’t have time to play games.He took Garland aside, whacked her on the cheek, and then ordered her to “Go in there and work.”

 

17. When Dorothy and her friends arrive in the Emerald City, they take a scenic tour around the fun-filled town courtesy of a cabbie and his Horse of a Different Color. In order to achieve the horse’s purple, then red, then yellow hue, the production team created a Jell-O-based tint that wouldn’t be harmful to the animals on set (yep, the ASPCA was involved). The gelatin powder worked wonders, except for the fact that the horses couldn’t stop licking its sugary sweetness off their coats!

 

18. After Disney’s first-ever feature-length animated movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, did gangbusters at the box office following its 1937 release, MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer was determined to follow in Uncle Walt’s fairy-tale-to-screen footsteps. And once Mayer was in production on The Wizard of Oz, the Snow White influences were hard to avoid. Actress Gale Sondergaard was tested as the Wicked Witch of the West, with the intention that the character would be a sultry villainess à la Snow White’s Evil Queen. But even though producers ultimately decided that “Bad witches are ugly”—and Sondergaard lost out on the part—Snow White still literally managed to sneak into the picture unseen: Adriana Caselotti, who voiced Snow White in the Disney movie, sang the line“Wherefore art thou, Romeo?” during the Tin Man’s lament, “If I Only Had a Heart.”

 

 

 

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Fact of the Day - VALENTINE'S DAY

 

To all Kametsu members, Happy 💝 Valentine's Day! Enjoy the Flowers 💐 and chocolates🍫!!!

 

Did you know... that Valentine's Day, also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14? (Wikipedia)

 

Valentine’s Day is celebrated every February 14 as couples across the globe honor their spouses, partners and sweethearts. Hundreds of years of traditions and customs have made it into the holiday that we observe today. Here are nine interesting facts about the holiday dedicated to love.

 

Ah, the most important of Valentine’s Day facts: why it’s celebrated on the 14th of February. February 14 is the feast of St. Valentine, a Catholic saint who was executed by Roman Emperor Claudius II on that date sometime during the third century A.D. Many legends surround the reason for his death sentence. The most popular one says he was a priest who married young couples after Claudius outlawed marriage for young men (apparently they were better soldiers when they weren’t romantically attached). Another says he helped save Catholics who were imprisoned for their religious beliefs. However, the holiday may have been promoted to overshadow the pagan festival Lupercalia. Between February 13 and 15, Romans celebrated by sacrificing a goat and a dog and whipping women with their hides. Crude as it may seem, people believed this made women more fertile, and women actually lined up to get slapped with bloody hides. In the fifth century, Pope Gelasius I outlawed Lupercalia and officially declared February 14 Valentine’s Day. 

 

Every year, thousands of romantics send letters addressed to Verona, Italy to “Juliet,” the subject of the timeless romantic tragedy, “Romeo and Juliet.” The city marks the location of the Shakespearean tale, and the letters that reach the city are dutifully answered by a team of volunteers from the Juliet Club. Each year, on Valentine's Day, the club awards the "Cara Giulietta" ("Dear Juliet") prize to the author of the most touching love letter.

 

The Valentine’s Day tradition of giving a box of candy was started in the 19th century by Richard Cadbury, a scion of a British chocolate manufacturing family. With a new technique recently established at the company to create more varieties of chocolate, Cadbury pounced on the opportunity to sell the chocolates as part of the beloved holiday. If you get a box of chocolates this Valentine’s Day, thank Richard Cadbury. After he and his brother took over his family’s chocolate manufacturing business, he discovered a way to extract pure cocoa butter from whole beans and added it to the company’s chocolate drink. The process produced more cocoa butter than expected, so he put it in “eating chocolate” as well. Then, in a business ploy that would change the industry, Cadbury started designing beautiful boxes for his new chocolates, including special Valentine’s Day ones with cupids and roses. It’s believed that he made the first heart-shaped candy box, even though he didn’t patent it. 

 

History’s first valentine was written in perhaps one of the most unromantic places conceivable: a prison. Charles, Duke of Orleans wrote the love letter to his second wife at the age of 21 while captured at the Battle of Agincourt. As a prisoner for more than 20 years, he would never see his valentine’s reaction to the poem he penned to her in the early 15th century.

 

Don’t worry, there’s a good reason we call our sweethearts the name of a beheaded priest. Legend has it that when St. Valentine was in prison, he prayed with the daughter of one of his judges and cured her blindness. Before his execution, he wrote her a letter, signing it “From your Valentine.” Whether or not this was a romantic gesture is up for debate. Nevertheless, the signature caught on and is still used to show affection.

 

During the Victorian Era, those who didn’t want the attention of certain suitors would anonymously send “vinegar valentines." These cards, also called penny dreadfuls, were the antithesis of customary valentines, comically insulting and rejecting unwanted admirers. They were later used to target suffragettes in the late 19th and early 20th century.  Back in the Victorian era, people expressed their emotions through floriography, or the language of flowers. Giving a certain kind of flower conveyed a specific message, and red roses meant romance. Today, they carry that same symbol of romance—and they’re really cheap. The United States buys huge quantities from large farms in Colombia and Ecuador, where the cost of labor is low. Then they’re transported on refrigerated planes and arrive stateside in just three or four days. The reason these summer flowers bloom in February? Growers control what temperature they’re stored at to make them open in time for Valentine’s Day. In need of more Valentine’s Day facts? Here’s what different rose colors mean.

 

The term “wearing your heart on your sleeve” may have origins in picking a valentine. Smithsonian reports that during the Middle Ages, men would draw the names of women who they would be coupled with for the upcoming year while attending a Roman festival honoring Juno. After choosing, the men wore the names on their sleeves to show their bond during the festivities. 

 

The iconic chalky heart-shaped candies that have been passed out lovingly every Valentine’s Day started out as lozenges. According to the Food Business News, pharmacist and inventor Oliver Chase created a machine that would quickly create the lozenges before switching to using the machine to create candy—later known as Necco Wafers. 

 

Chase’s brother came up with the idea to print messages on the candy in 1866, and the candies got their heart shape in 1901, appealing specifically to Valentine’s Day sweethearts. In 2019, the Sweetheart brand of conversation hearts was suspended for a year as the candy’s new owner, Spangler Candy Co., needed time to make a supply of the hearts for Valentine’s.

 

The chubby baby with wings and a bow and arrow that we call Cupid has been associated with Valentine’s Day for centuries. However, before he was renamed Cupid, he was known to the ancient Greeks as Eros, the god of love. Eros, the son of Greek goddess Aphrodite, would use two sets of arrows—gold to make people fall in love and lead to make people hate each other—to play with the emotions of his targets. It wasn’t until stories of his mischief were told by the Romans added him to their mythology as Cupid, the son of Venus, who was the goddess of love. He was considered somewhat of a sex symbol since he could woo humans and gods with his unnaturally good looks. During the Renaissance, artists painted Cupid as a putto, a cherub that resembled a naked child. Unfortunately for Cupid, that depiction stuck and went on to become a popular image for Valentine’s Day. 

 

The idea of using a kiss to sign off on valentines also has a long history, according to the Washington Post. The use of “X” came to represent Christianity, or the cross, in the Middle Ages. During the same time, the symbol was used to sign off on documents. After marking with an X, the writer would often kiss the mark as a sign of their oath. As the gesture grew among kings and commoners to certify books, letters and paperwork, these records were described as having been “sealed with a kiss.”

 

If we were anatomically correct when we drew hearts, the result would be a complex clump of valves and muscles. While the shape we’re more familiar with is a lot easier to draw, no one really knows the origin of the heart shape. One possibility is that it resembles the now-extinct plant silphium. Once found in the African city-state Cyrene, the plant was used as food coloring, a cough syrup, and most notably, a contraceptive. The shape’s association with sex eventually turned into one of love. The other suggestion is actually anatomical in nature. Some have thought the shape to be a representation of breasts, buttocks, sexual organs, or an inaccurate depiction of a real heart.

 

Red has long been considered the color of passion and sexuality, and science can now confirm it. A study by University of Rochester psychologists found that men viewed women wearing red or standing in front of a red background as significantly more attractive and sexually desirable than women wearing or standing in front of different colors. Women felt the same way about men wearing red. The color also symbolizes confidence, spontaneity, and determination—all important factors in a romantic pursuit. 

 

 

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Fact of the Day - ARCHERY

 

Did you know... that Archery is the practice of using a bow to propel an arrow through the air, with the intention of hitting a target? Throughout history the bow are arrow has been used as a method of hunting and as a weapon in combat. In recent times archery has become more commonly used as a competitive sport and for recreation. Many mythical heroes and figures were archers, such as Apollo, Cupid, Robin Hood and Wilhelm Tell. Archers even appear in many Chinese myths, African myths, as well as Greek, Roman and German myths. Today there are many types of bows, including compound bows, cable-backed bows, longbows and flatbows. Arrows can be made of wood, bamboo, fiberglass, aluminum, and composite materials. Archery is even a sport in the Summer Paralympic Games.

 

The first known use of bows and arrows in combat was in 2340BC by the Babylonians. It is believed that bows and arrows have been used for at least 25,000 years based upon the discovery of arrowheads in Africa. Archery is considered to be one of the oldest sports in the world. (Archery Facts - SoftSchools)

 

Archery has been one of the most important inventions in history. Though today it is practiced primarily as a sport, archery formed nations (and destroyed some others). Once it was adapted to warfare, generals and kings demanded their citizens be trained at archery to be ready at a moment’s notice if other armies invaded. Once their archers took to horseback, they became lethal weapons which made invading armies think twice.

 

Archery has seen a recent revival across the world, including in pop culture through expert sharpshooter Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. It continues to be a fixture at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In fact, the 1992 Olympic torch was lit by a flaming arrow fired from a Paralympic archer. 

 

  • The first official Paralympic Games were held in Rome in 1960. Eight sports debuted, including archery. Though the sport began for veterans with World War II spinal cord injuries, it has opened up over time to include all athletes.
  • Archery is the national sport of Bhutan, a mountainous Himalayan country just north of India. Almost every village has an archery range, but, since it’s a Buddhist country, archery is only for sport.
  • Famous do-gooder Robin Hood was reputed to be an expert at the bow. Legends of the bowman have become so popular that splitting an arrow with another is now referred to as a Robin Hood.
  • The astrological sign Sagittarius is named after its constellation of the same name (not to be confused with the constellation Sagitta, “the arrow”). This Zodiac sign is depicted as a centaur pulling back on a bow, ready to fire its arrow.
  • Archery began in Ancient Babylon and Egypt as a hunting tactic but was soon adopted in warfare. Once it spread to Asia and the Middle East, its purpose broadened into sport.
  • Mounted archery – the use of bows and arrows while atop a mount such as a horse – gained prominence during the Iron Age. It was a much more efficient killing method than the chariots used during the Bronze Age.
  • It took centuries for archery to advance beyond its basic roots. In the early 20th century, a group of scientists and engineers used high-speed photography to analyze different bow and arrow designs. The culmination was the 1947 book “Archery: The Technical Side” which led to new innovations such as fiberglass bows and making the bow grip more like a pistol handle.
  • When an arrow hits the line between two circles, points are awarded for the higher score. This situation is called a line breaker.
  • A toxophilite is the name for an archer, coming from the Greek words for “lover of the bow”. Toxophily is the study of archery and Toxophilus was the first book written on archery, in 1545 by Roger Ascham.
  • Though archery may look easy to the uninitiated, scoring within the central gold ring is the equivalent to hitting a beer coaster – seven bus lengths away.
  • Archery has long been featured in the mythology of many cultures, from the gods Artemis and Apollo for the Greeks to Osoosi for the West African Yorubas to Arjuna and Shiva for the Hindus.
  • Archers participating in the 1900 Olympic Games used live pigeons as targets.
  • Archery was the first Olympic sport in which women were allowed to compete. Eliza Pollack, a one-time gold and two-time bronze medalist in archery, is the oldest female Olympic medalist, having won in 1904 when she was 63 years old.
  • Archery was revered so highly in Ancient Tahiti that it was considered a sacred sport; only high-ranking Tahitians were allowed to play.
  • Archers shoot with their dominant eye, not their dominant hand. Thus, even if an archer is right-handed, he/she may shoot with their left-hand.
  • Archery was one of the Ancient Chinese Six Noble Arts: the basis of education which also included mathematics, music, and charioteering. Men who perfected the six arts were known as a junzi: “a perfect gentleman”. Over the past few years, archery has experienced renewed popularity in China.
  • Legend has it that King James II banned the sport of golf in Scotland in 1457. Why? He thought men were wasting time playing golf when they could instead be practicing their archery skills. Over a century before, King Henry VIII decreed all men had to practice their archery skills after Sunday church service.
  • With the rise of guns, the use of bows and arrows has declined in hunting. A new field of archery, 3D archery, forgoes the old weapons and has hunters fire at life-sized animal models.
  • If 3D archery wasn’t cool enough on our list of awesomely accurate archery facts, have you heard of ski archery? While skiing cross-country, archers shoot at targets along the trail while slaloming.
  • Modern-day archery has become quite advanced. Nowadays, archers can choose from electronic sights which help them hone in on a target, stabilizers which dampen user movement while shooting, and compound bows where the string’s tension is achieved through a system of pulleys.
  • Most archery competitions require a sharpshooter to carve or engrave their name into their arrows.
  • A long bowman in the Middle Ages could fire an arrow every five-to-six seconds. That’s a rate of up to 12 arrows per minute! This skill helped England trounce the French at the Battle of Crecy (1346) where 2,000 French soldiers were killed compared to 50 Englishmen. It seems the kings’ insistence on archery really took off.
  • The French blame their defeat at the Battle of Crecy on leaving their crossbows out in the rain. They’ve since learned their lesson and are now the country which has competed the most times in Olympic archery.
  • Katniss Everdeen, the sharpshooting archer in The Hunger Games, was taught by five-time U.S. Olympic archery champion Khatuna Lorig.
  • Antonio Rebollo, a Spanish Paralympic archer, lit the Olympic flame at the 1992 Olympics Games in Barcelona by firing a flaming arrow into the cauldron.

 

Edited by DarkRavie
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Fact of the Day - CHING SHIH

 

Did you know... that Ching Shih, was a Chinese pirate leader who terrorized the China Seas during the Jiaqing Emperor period of the Qing dynasty in the early 19th-century? She commanded over 300 junks (traditional Chinese sailing ships) manned by 20,000 to 40,000 pirates—men, women, and even children. (Wikipedia)

 

The high seas weren't just ruled by male rogues; in fact, there were always plenty of female pirates who reigned supreme in oceans around the world. So, who were the most notorious sea queens of history? One of the baddest was certainly Ching Shih, AKA Cheng I Sao, one of the most successful women pirates to ever pirate.  One of the fiercest pirates from China to ever set sail, Ching Shih began life as a sex worker and negotiated her own marriage to a pirate king. After his passing, she ruled over 70,000 sailors, creating a ruthless band of aquatic warriors. 

 

Ching Shih didn't start out her career as a pirate; in fact, she began it in a brothel. Called a "flower boat," or floating house of prostitution, the brothel-ship where she worked offered sex galore on the South China Sea. These were also called huafang, and they were places where customers feasted and were treated to theatrical performances before doing the deed.

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Ching Shih wasn't a sex worker for long before she married a pirate lord named Cheng I in 1801. The conditions of her marriage? She'd have joint control over his pirate fleet.  Her lifestyle quickly became that of sea-going royalty. Four years after her wedding, the pair already controlled most of the waters in southern China. But just two years later, in 1807, Cheng I kicked the bucket, leaving his maritime empire up for grabs... and our favorite pirate queen was not about to let anyone else take over what was rightfully hers.

 

After her husband's passing, she controlled numerous fleets, called the Red Flag Squadron.  By making allegiances with powerful members of her husband’s crew and appointing a loyal commander of the squadron, this pirate queen commanded up to 70,000 men, including 400 ships.

 

After her husband passed, Ching Shih eventually moved on and took a lover: her adopted son with her late spouse! This son was the second-in-command of the pirate fleet. According to Dian Murray’s article, Cheng I kidnapped the boy, Chang Pao, when he was a teen and initiated him into the pirate gang "by means of a homosexual liaison." The couple eventually adopted Chang Pao and raised him as a member of their family. After Cheng I passed, Ching Shih started a sexual relationship with the 21-year-old Chang Pao. They later married.

 

With the help of her adopted son/lover, Ching Shih created a legal system for her tens of thousands of followers to abide by. These laws regulated the sharing of booty between pirates and put forth a penal code. This penal code was reportedly quite harsh. If you disobeyed a supervisor or took booty from the pirates' pooled treasure stash, you could be executed. All booty had to be registered and inspected before a pirate could keep some of it; the guy who'd captured it typically got about 20% of what he took. Perhaps most interestingly, one of Ching Shih’s major actions as pirate queen was the code of rules that she imposed on the pirates under her command. Among other things, pirates couldn’t disobey orders, they couldn’t steal from their own allies, they couldn’t rape captives, and if they took captives as their wives, they couldn’t abuse or cheat on their new wives. Punishments for breaking the rules included floggings, beheadings, and bodily harm.

 

According to Richard Glasspoole, a British officer of the East India Company that she captured along with seven other British sailors in 1809, "the laws of discipline and civil government are equally enforced on board his (the chief’s) junk, and any transgressions from them immediately punished."

 

Eighteenth- and 19th-century pirate gangs in China weren't only outlaws; they also formed their own political entities, sort of mini-states, in contrast to weakened political structures on the mainland. They were culturally diverse, had their own law codes, and followed their own rulers. But these pirate confederations weren't innocent: they captured rival territory and vessels, took others' cargo, and set up protection rackets.

 

Having had enough of her encroachment on their booty and territory, the Chinese government tried to take Ching Shih down. They enlisted the British to help, but try as they might, no one could capture her. Fed up, in 1810, the government offered their rogue enemy amnesty - a pardon! - if she'd give up her pirate lifestyle. So Ching Shih’s career as a pirate queen came to an end after an intense series of battles with the Portuguese Navy. Surrendering to the Portuguese, Ching Shih was then offered a deal by the Qing Dynasty in China. If the pirates surrendered their weapons, amnesty would be granted to the thousands of pirates under her command, with fewer than 300 of those pirates receiving any sort of punishment for their actions. Ching Shih decided that she’d enough fun over the two years as pirate queen, and accepted the deal to keep her wealth and position.

 

Ching Shih took the offer of pardon from the Chinese government and used her organizational prowess to set up a wealth-making operation of her own.  She lived on shore and opened a proto-casino - a gambling house - and bootlegged opium into China until her passing in 1844. 

 

Remember Mistress Ching, one of the pirate lords from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise? Well, she was inspired by none other than Ching Shih.  Similar to the real-life pirate queen, Mistress Ching had close ties to a brothel (but she ran one) and was an astute and fierce leader. In addition, both women hailed from or eventually lived in Canton.

 

In 2015, actress Maggie Q starred in a Hong Kong drama series titled Captain of Destiny. In this series loosely based on history, Q portrayed a character who was very obviously based on Ching Shih, though the details of her life were liberally adapted. It wasn’t the first time that Q was set to channel Ching Shih’s spirit for the silver screen. The previous year, she’d been set to star as Ching Shih for the limited series Red Flag.

 

After years of taking on the Chinese government, the East India Company, and the Portuguese Navy, it might have baffled some people to think that Ching Shih died peacefully. But that’s exactly what she did in 1844 at the age of 69, surrounded by her surviving family.

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Fact of the Day - HELLHOUNDS

 

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Did you know... that a hellhound is a supernatural dog in folklore. A wide variety of ominous or hellish supernatural dogs occur in mythologies around the world? Features that have been attributed to hellhounds include mangled black fur, glowing red eyes, super strength and speed, ghostly or phantom characteristics, and a foul odor. (Wikipedia)

 

Hellhounds have been said to be as black as coal and smell of burning brimstone. They tend to leave behind a burned area wherever they go. Their eyes are a deep, bright, and almost glowing red. They have razor sharp teeth, super strength, and speed, and are commonly associated with graveyards and the underworld.

 

If you’re traveling through the countryside at night, a whiff of brimstone or a blood-chilling howl can alert you to the presence of a Hellhound—but we don’t recommend that you look around for the beast. As soon as you lay eyes on one of these dark specters, your days are numbered; you will soon die.

 

What is a Hellhound?
A Hellhound is a monstrous dog, leashed to the spiritual world. Nicknamed “Bearer of Death” in some parts of the world, they can often be found guarding the entryways to the afterlife or skulking in the shadows behind a person who is doomed to die soon.

 

Characteristics
 

Physical Description
The Hellhound’s appearance varies from region to region, but wherever they pop up, they strike fear into the hearts of witnesses.

 

These phantom canines are considerably larger than a normal dog. A small Hellhound is about the size of a mastiff, while a large one can dwarf horses and bears. Their hair is black as coal, and their eyes glow like angry red or green flames. The most terrifying individuals may have multiple heads or, eerier still, have no head at all.

 

Spotting a Hellhound can be difficult, since they are mostly nocturnal creatures, and their black hair blends in with the darkness of the night. Still, if you keep alert, you might smell a sulfurous odor as the beast gets closer, or you might notice a trail of scorched ground where his path crosses yours.

 

Personality
Despite their ferocious appearance, most Hellhounds are more mysterious than hostile. They rarely attack humans unless they are provoked. In fact, even if you wanted to fight one of these monsters (unlikely), it would probably run away or disappear into the mist or shadows before you had time to launch an attack.

 

In some stories, Hellhounds are valiant and devoted guardians. They might be assigned to guard a treasure or sacred ground, in which case they will spend an eternity glowering over their charge. Again, the beasts will only attack if they are provoked—but if you put one toe too close to their treasure, it might be the last move you ever make. Unlike their free cousins, a guardian Hellhound will never back down or run away from a fight.

In a few rare cases, Hellhounds have been seen escorting women through the night or escorting souls on their way to the afterlife, to protect them from other monsters that might be lurking in the dark. These accounts seem to show that the canines are soft-hearted and benevolent. However, other rare cases have documented the hounds attacking churches or other religious gatherings, which paints them in a nastier light.

 

Special Abilities
The hounds have many supernatural skills that make them both powerful allies and fearsome enemies. To begin with, they have incredible speed and strength, even for large predatory animals like themselves. They can outstrip a cheetah in a race and rip down trees with their claws. They are also masters of disguise, able to conjure up cloaks of mist, shapeshift into various forms, or even vanish into thin air.

In cultures that associate fire with hell, the hounds are also able to play tricks with flames. They scorch the ground where they walk, and their claws are as hot as flames when they lash out. They are brilliant at dramatic entrances and exits, conjuring up pillars of fire to transport themselves.

 

Overall, the Hellhound’s most dreadful ability is his uncanny sense for death. If you see a Hellhound, your odds of denying in the next year skyrocket. If you see him three times, you are definitely a goner. It is unclear whether these black specters appear merely as omens of death or if seeing them actually causes death. Either way, they are not a welcome sight!

 

Cultural Representation
 

Greek Mythology
According to ancient Greek mythology, Hades, the god of the underworld, kept a monstrous Hellhound named Cerberus at the mouth of the underworld to prevent dead souls from escaping back into the world above. Cerberus, had three heads, with ferocious jaws and eyes, and the tail of a snake. At one point in history, he was captured by Heracles and removed from the underworld, which caused him so much distress (possibly because he was anxious about abandoning his post as a guardian and possibly because he was unused to sunlight) that he vomited poison and howled with grief. Eventually, he was returned to his home.

 

Eastern Folklore
In China, a huge black demon-dog, named Tiangou, is blamed for causing eclipses by eating the sun or the moon. In Japan, a wolf-like demon, called Okuri-inu, is said to follow men and women who travel by night. If the traveler has a worthy heart, the Okuri-inu will protect him from other monsters. If, however, the traveler displays cowardice or clumsiness (usually by tripping or falling), the hound will devour him.

 

English Folklore
England is haunted by more Hellhounds than any other country. From bustling coastal towns to lonely estates on the moor, each region has its own incarnation of the hound.

 

The Barghest belongs to the Yorkshire area in northern England. He is noted for his talent as a shapeshifter, frequently appearing as a headless woman or a white cat or rabbit, as well as the traditional black dog. He is also less shy than other Hellhounds, and he is quite comfortable loping into a town square.

 

Black Shuck belongs to the coastal areas of Norfolk, Essex, and Suffolk. He is distinguish by an unusual physical trait: he has only one eye, glowing in the center of his forehead. Generally Black Shuck is one of the gentlest Hellhounds, choosing to spend his time protecting women and young girls when they have to travel at night. However, in the sixteenth century, he made an infamous attack on two churches, killing two people and causing the steeple to fall through the roof.

 

The Cŵn Annwn belongs to Wales. Unlike other Hellhounds, who generally travel alone, the Cŵn Annwn travels with a collection of other supernatural characters called the Wild Hunt. When they aren’t joining in the sport of the Wild Hunt, they spend their time guiding lost souls to the Otherworld, a paradise that can be reached after death.

 

The Yeth Hound belongs to Devon. Like some other Bearers of Death, this hound is headless. He rarely interacts with humans, but his wailing cry can be heard by night travelers and is frequently interpreted as an omen of death.

 

The Black Dog of Bouley belongs to England’s channel islands. It is the fastest of all Hellhounds, and it likes to terrify travelers by galloping in circles around them. Sometimes, this monstrous beast can run so fast that it actually creates a storm. The hound is known to wear a broken chain draped around its body, but no explanation of this chain has been given.

 

Scandinavian Folklore
In early Norse culture, the god Odin was said to be accompanied by one or two monstrous wolves, who helped protect him from danger. In one epic poem, Odin rides to Hel, the Viking underworld, and encounters a “hound” there who may be guarding the entryway. It’s believed that Odin’s wolves or these hounds may have inspired many of England’s stories about Hellhounds.

 

Long after the Vikings had passed into the pages of history, Scandinavia continued to be haunted by “church grims.” These spectral black dogs guard the churches where they live, protecting it from evil spirits who might try to invade the sacred ground.

 

Native American Folklore
The indigenous people of Mexico and Central America have many legends about the Cadejo, a spirit dog that is often seen by travelers, especially at night. Cadejos come in two colors, white and black. The white spirits are benevolent and will protect travelers from harm, but the black spirits are evil and will kill travelers if they have the chance. Both versions of this hound have goat hooves and sometimes horns. They also have a unique gift: they can speak with humans. However, if you listen to them, you will probably go insane.

 

Modern Incarnations
The Hellhound is an enormously popular character in today’s fantasy stories. He has appeared in some of the bestselling books of our time: The Hound of Baskervilles, by Arthur Conan Doyle, Percy Jackson, by Rick Riordan, Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet, and Harry Potter, by JK Rowling. He is also a popular character in video games, including Call of Duty and Final Fantasy.

 

Most fantasy writers stick closely to the traditional legends about hellhounds; after all, this mysterious and complex creature gives them plenty of raw material to work with!

 

Edited by DarkRavie
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Fact of the Day - THE TYPEWRITER

 

Did you know... that the first machine known as the typewriter was patented on 23rd June 1868, by printer and journalist Christopher Latham Sholes of Wisconsin? Though it was not the first personal printing machine attempted—a patent was granted to Englishman Henry Mill in 1714, yet no machine appears to have been built—Sholes’ invention was the first to be practical enough for mass production and use by the general public. With the help of machinist Samuel W. Soulé and fellow inventor Carlos Glidden, Sholes had spent the summer of 1867 developing his machine, and by September of that year was able to type his name in all capital letters.

 

That was just the beginning, as the typewriter’s societal and cultural impacts are still felt today. We’ve gathered these fascinating facts about this remarkable device, from its effect on women in the workforce to its direct influence on computers over a century later.

 

1. Christopher Latham Sholes (1819-1890) had produced 50 machines by 1873, but was unable to sell them; that year, he sold the production rights to gun manufacturer Philo Remington (1816-1889). By 1874, the first Remington-made typewriter was sold by E. Remington & Sons. In 1878, the first typewriter to offer upper and lowercase letters, the Remington No. 2, debuted.

 

2. In the 1890s, Remington competitor John Thomas Underwood (1857-1937) bought the rights to a more practical “front-stroke” machine from inventor Franz Xavier Wagner. The US Navy ordered 250 Underwood typewriters in 1897, solidifying his place in the market, and by 1915, the company employed 7,500 workers and produced 500 typewriters daily.


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Image credit: Drawing for a Typewriter, 06/23/1868. This is the printed patent drawing for a typewriter invented by Christopher L. Sholes, Carlos Glidden, and J. W. Soule. From the National Archives. Brian0918, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
 

3. Even though he had been unsuccessful in the marketing of his invention, Sholes was aware that the typewriter would be vital in helping women achieve entrepreneurial freedom, saying it was a means for women to “more easily earn a living.” Typewriting led to a separation of the authorship and the writing up of documents, which provided a new social avenue for women, especially in business and politics.

 

4. Mark Twain was the first author to submit a book manuscript in typed copy, having bought a typewriter in 1874. The typewriter became a symbol of a certain type of writer, and many are still preserved in the estates or museums of well-known authors such as Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, George Bernard Shaw, and Ian Fleming.

 

5. In 1909, G. C. Mares described a hypothetical situation that would allow “a man sitting at his Zerograph [another early typewriter] in London…to hold written converse with his correspondents in the furthermost parts of the globe, without the intervention of any physical connection”—a process that sounds very similar to email.

 

6. The original typewriter’s most ubiquitous impact on modern society, seen all around the world on computer keyboards and mobile phones, is its key layout known as QWERTY. Christopher Latham Sholes originally tried an alphabetical layout in his prototypes, but the keys would jam; his solution shifted three of the most commonly used letters (E, T, and A) to the left hand, resulting in a design that slowed typists down and avoided jamming on the earliest machines.

 

7. In 1932, William Dealey and August Dvorak introduced the Dvorak keyboard, which was designed to make typing faster and less fatiguing; studies showed it increased accuracy and speed by about 70%. However, it never caught on because QWERTY had become too entrenched in society. It had been the sole layout when Remington cornered the market at the beginning, and by the 1930s, manufacturers, typists, and typing schools had too much invested in the status quo to change, even to a more efficient format.

 

8. Famed polymath and horologist Rupert T. Gould (1890-1948) was fascinated with typewriters his entire life; by the 1940s, he had one of the largest collections in existence—at least 71—and wrote the first independent history of the machine, called The Story of the Typewriter in 1949.

 

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Image credit: Fig. 1: Machines with one character per key. Fig. 2: Machines with two characters per key. Fig. 3: Machines with three characters per key. Larousse mensuel illustré, 1911, Public Domain via (Wikimedia Commons).

 

9. It has been argued that the typewritten page was an influence in the move in book designs from justified lines to even-spacing between words and the uneven right-hand margins this causes. Artists in the 1950s also used the typewriter to experiment with the placement of text to create “concrete poetry.” Poet Aram Saroyan wrote:

 

"I write on a typewriter, almost never in hand … and my machine—an obsolete red-top Royal Portable—is the biggest influence on my work. This red hood hold [sic] the mood, keeps my eye happy. The type-face is a standard pica; if it were another style I’d write (subtly) different poems. And when a ribbon gets dull my poems I’m sure change."

 

 

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Fact of the Day - RAINFORESTS

 

Did you know... that rainforests are forests characterized by high and continuous rainfall, with annual rainfall in the case of tropical rainforests between 2.5 and 4.5 metres and definitions varying by region for temperate rainforests? (Wikipedia)

 

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.

Tropical_Rainforest.jpg

 

Rainforests are essential to life on Earth. Not only do they provide air, water, medicine, food, and shelter to a multitude of living beings, they are also one of our best natural defenses against climate change because of their capacity to absorb greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

 

When the founders of the Rainforest Alliance set out more than thirty years ago to save the world’s rainforests, we quickly learned that in order to do so, we’d have to transform the agricultural sector (the number one driver of deforestation worldwide), as well as forestry and tourism. From the beginning, our approach has been to work with farmers and indigenous and forest communities to cultivate sustainable rural livelihoods that incentivize conservation.

 

Rainforests are a powerful natural climate solution.

Not only do they regulate global temperatures, they also cool and regulate local micro-climates and limit the Earth’s reflectivity—which in turn stabilizes ocean currents, wind, and rainfall patterns. In a 2017 analysis published in the scientific journal PNAS, climate scientists concluded that natural climate solutions, including forest conservation/restoration and sustainable agriculture, could provide more than one-third of the global climate mitigation necessary to stabilize warming to below 2 °C.

 

Tropical forests have become a net carbon emitters.
In a distressing development, a 2017 study published in the journal Science reveals that tropical forests that once served as the Earth’s carbon sinks now emit more carbon than they absorb, because of deforestation and forest loss caused by humans. However, we cannot afford to give up on tropical forests. Restoring them and their ability to sequester carbon is one of several critical steps we must take to address our global climate crisis.

 

Tropical rainforests cover less than 3% of Earth's area, yet they are home to more than half our planet's terrestrial animal species.

Bengal tigers, mountain gorillas, orangutans, jaguars, and blue poison dart frogs are just a few of the magnificent animals found in rainforests. Sadly, many of these species are on the brink of extinction, and their continued existence is crucial to maintaining the balance of marvelously efficient—but delicate—rainforest ecosystems.

 

Rainforests play an essential role in maintaining the Earth’s limited supply of fresh water.

Rainforests add water to the atmosphere through the process of transpiration, by which plants release water from their leaves during photosynthesis. Deforestation reduces the moisture released into the atmosphere, causing rainfall to decrease. This is why the loss of forests often leads to drought. Forests are also natural water filters, keeping pollution and debris from flowing into water supplies and slowing the movement of rainwater so it flows into underground reserves. Scientists estimate that about 15% of the world’s freshwater flows from the Amazon Basin alone.

 

Rainforest plants are used in some of the world's most important, life-saving medicines.

More than 60% of anticancer drugs originate from natural sources, including rainforest plants, according to research published in the International Journal of Oncology. Because rainforests are so rich in biodiversity, they hold enormous potential for future discoveries. Compounds in rainforest plants are already used to treat malaria, heart disease, bronchitis, hypertension, rheumatism, diabetes, muscle tension, arthritis, glaucoma, dysentery, and tuberculosis, among other health problems. And many commercially available anesthetics, enzymes, hormones, laxatives, cough mixtures, antibiotics, and antiseptics are also derived from rainforest plants and herbs.

 

A swath of rainforest the size of 40 football fields disappears each minute.

According to Global Forest Watch, our planet loses tropical forestland equivalent to the size of Bangladesh is every year. In 2017 alone, we lost 15.8 million hectares of tropical forests; all told, humans have destroyed nearly half of the world’s original forest cover.

 

1 out of 4 people worldwide depend on forests for their livelihoods.

Nearly 1.6 billion people—more than 25% of the world’s population—rely on forest resources for their livelihoods, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and most of them (1.2 billion) use trees on farms to generate food and income. Generating sustainable, forest-based livelihoods that incentivize conservation is a proven approach to saving the world’s forests.

 

You can help conserve rainforests by choosing products that bear the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal (Hint: just #FollowTheFrog!).

The Rainforest Alliance’s Sustainable Agriculture Standard includes requirements designed to protect standing forests, including native forest set-asides for large farms and practices that nurture soil health and increase productivity on existing farmland (thereby reducing pressure to expand by cutting down forests). Added benefit: the shade requirements for Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee and cocoa farms also contribute to better quality crops.

 

Working in partnership with rural communities is an effective, proven approach to keeping forests standing and conserving natural resources.

The Rainforest Alliance works hand-in-hand with indigenous, forest, and farming communities to advance sustainable development initiatives that cultivate rural prosperity, which is key to the successful conservation of standing forests and other natural resources. Since 2011, the rural producers and indigenous communities participating in these initiatives have earned $191 million in revenue while protecting their natural resources.

 

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Fact of the Day - ROLLER COASTERS

 

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Loop the Loop at Coney Island, 1903 (Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

 

Did you know... that A roller coaster is a type of amusement ride that employs a form of elevated railroad track designed with tight turns, steep slopes, and sometimes inversions? People ride along the track in open cars, and the rides are often found in amusement parks and theme parks around the world. (Wikipedia)

 

On August 16, 1898, Edwin Prescott, a roller coaster designer from Massachusetts, was granted a patent for an improvement to roller coasters that ride enthusiasts have come to take for granted—the vertical loop. While the roller coaster depicted in the patent’s illustration, and later realized as the Loop the Loop coaster at Coney Island, wasn’t the first to invert riders in a loop, it did usher in the safer, more comfortable and now prevailing elliptical-shaped loop.

 

Prescott’s Loop the Loop was surprisingly unsuccessful—mostly due to the fact that only one car with four passengers could ride the coaster at a time. It closed in 1910 after only nine years in operation. But the inventor’s pioneering spirit is honored every August 16 on National Roller Coaster Day.

 

1. The American roller coaster was invented to save America from Satan.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/videos/category/history/the-rollercoaster-was-invented-to-save-ameri/?jwsource=cl

 

It may be hard to believe with roller coasters named Dare Devil Dive, Steel Vengeance and The Beast, but the rides were initially developed as a distraction from Satan’s temptations.

 

In 1884, disgusted with the uprise of hedonistic amusements like saloons and brothels, LaMarcus Adna Thompson invented the Switchback Gravity Railway, a patented coaster that visitors to Brooklyn’s Coney Island could ride for just five cents. Because it was situated at Coney Island, Thompson is often referred to as the “Father of the American Rollercoaster” for establishing its connection to amusement parks. His initial invention, however, isn’t like the thrill-inducers we know today.

 

These were gravity-powered, slow-moving cars that faced outward, rather than forward, so one could enjoy a constructed scene as the car coasted at less than six miles per hour. These scenes would often be built to emulate beautiful landscapes around the world; Thompson constructed one of the Swiss Alps, for instance, and another of Venetian canals.

 

2. One of the earliest coasters in America carried coal before it carried thrill seekers.

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Mount Pisgah with the Mauch Chunk and Summit Hill Switchback Railroad, 1846-47 (Wikipedia)

 

Predating Thompson’s Satan-distractor by a few decades was a railway that served dual purposes: a coal carrier in the morning and a joy ride in the afternoon. The Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway was a gravity railway built in 1827 to haul coal about nine miles between coal mines. Gravity forced the cars carrying one-and-a-half tons of coal downhill, which were later brought back up by mules when emptied. With that much weight behind them, they could reach 50 miles per hour through the Lehigh Valley. As any curious human would ponder when gazing upon such a zippy device, tourists saw this and naturally thought: “I want to go to there.” In 1873, at its peak, Mauch Chunk carried 30,478 adrenaline-rushed passengers—each for just 75 cents.

 

3. “Russian mountains” predated roller coasters—and Catherine the Great improved them.

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"Russian mountains" helped to inspire early roller coasters of Europe, like the Promenades Aeriennes that opened in Paris in 1817. (Wikipedia)

 

In the 15th century, Russians really upped the ante on sledding, building giant, wooden slides—some up to 70 feet tall and 100 feet in length—that they covered in slick ice. Mounted on an ice block with a straw seat, riders could reach up to 50 miles per hour.

 

Popularized in upper class circles, Catherine II of Russia had one installed on her property—but hers wasn’t limited to winter enjoyment. It had wheels that fit into grooved wooden rails, putting the “roller” in roller coaster and allowing the thrill to continue into summer months, as Wired reports. Some say her clout gave roller coasters the credibility to spread into Europe by the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

 

4. Roller coaster loops are never circular.

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Visitors ride the roller coaster "Big Loop" in Heide-Park in Soltau, Lower Saxony, Germany. (Hauke-Christian Dittrich/picture alliance via Getty Images)

 

Sure, some roller coasters can loop-the-loop, but have you ever noticed it’s never perfectly circular? To oversimplify things, the loop isn’t a circle itself, it’s roughly the part where two circles hypothetically overlap, sort of like the middle of a Venn diagram.

 

Secondly, some physics: Centripetal force is what holds keeps you from falling out of roller coaster while it’s upside down. Simply speaking, this means when you’re traveling on a curved path and velocity is pushing you forward, you’re also being pulled toward the curve’s central point. When roller coasters are designed, the engineers’ first job is to establish how fast they want you to go. Taking centripetal force into consideration will dictate the shape and size of the loop. (For numbers folks out there, you can find a very in-depth mathematical breakdown on Gizmodo.)

 

5. Riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disney World could help dislodge kidney stones.

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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Wikipedia)
 

You just found out you have kidney stones, what’s next? Go to Disney World! Prescribing patients prone to the condition a trip to the amusement park as a form of preventative care sounds like a pretty wild idea, but wild enough that it works.

 

While wearing a backpack containing a transparent, 3D-printed kidney with a fake stone inside, researchers rode Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad coaster about 20 times to study how the stone would move with all those ups and downs, according to a 2016 study in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. (The “work” won them a beloved Ig Nobel Prize.) About two-thirds of the time, the kidney stone passed—as long as the rider was seated at the back of the coaster.

 

6. You can thank inventor Phillip Hinkle for that clanking, anxiety-inducing powered chain lift that allows roller coasters to climb their first big inclines.

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(USPTO)
 

We no longer have to climb up a steep hill or stairs to board coasters because, in 1884, Phillip Hinkle patented a powered chain lift to pull the cars up that first incline before letting gravity do the rest of the work. Because of this, Hinkle coasters—like Coney Island’s Gravity Pleasure Road, also known as the Oval Coaster—could be built on elliptical paths, rather than from point A to point B. (The Mauch Chunk coal-mine coasters used mules to bring cars back to the top of a straight path, if you recall.)

 

7. The tallest roller coaster in the world is Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey.

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Riders approach the summit of the "Kingda Ka" roller coaster 19 May, 2005, at Six Flags amusement park in Jackson, New Jersey. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)
 

Interested in riding 465 feet straight toward the sky and then descending at a rapid clip? Then the Kingda Ka roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, is for you. It goes from zero to 128 miles per hour in only 3.5 seconds in order to speed you up the rails 45 stories high at a 90-degree angle, according to the website. The rest of the ride is a spiraling 50.6 second blur.

 

8. The fastest roller coaster is Formula Rossa at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.

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Formula Rossa (Wikipedia)

 

So, you want to go fast? Hop on the Formula Rossa roller coaster at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. This baby goes from zero to 149 miles per hour in just 4.9 seconds. You’ll peak at a maximum height of 170 feet and get an adrenaline rush worth 4.8Gs, according to their website. It’ll leaving you feeling like a real race car driver. Or maybe it’ll just leave you sick.

 

9. The longest roller coaster is Steel Dragon 2000 at Nagashima Spa Land in Japan.

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Steel Dragon 2000 (Paul Gerrard/Getty Images)
 

When it opened on August 1, 2000, the Steel Dragon 2000 was the fastest, tallest and longest in the world. Others have stolen the fastest and tallest crowns, but the Dragon is still the longest. At 1.5 miles long, you’ll be on this coaster for four minutes. And what will you be doing in that time?


According to Coasterpedia:

After the chain lift hill is an initial drop of 306.8 foot and a 252 foot camelback hill. The train subsequently rises up and into the figure-eight shaped helix. The train then passes through a mid-course brake run and over six more camelback hills, passing through two tunnels along the way before reaching the final brakes.

 

10. Fabio may have killed a goose with his face on a roller coaster.
If you’ve ever been suspicious of boarding a roller coaster because that’s awfully close to where birds are zooming around, your fears are not unfounded. In 1999, Fabio Lanzoni—a dashing Italian-American actor and model known to grace many covers of romance novels in the ‘80s and ‘90s—was allegedly struck in the face by a goose when debuting the Apollo’s Chariot at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The moment lives on as a single sentence in his Wikipedia page—and several other blog posts. Lanzoni himself, however, claims a different version of events: The goose didn’t strike him; it struck a video camera that then struck him.

 

11. Whether or not you enjoy roller coasters may have to do with your brain chemistry.

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A teenage girl screams during rollercoaster ride in an amusement park on July 26, 1957. (Hy Peskin/FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
 

The loops, hills, turns, speed, dips, drops and spirals of today’s coasters aren’t for everyone—and the chemical makeup of your brain might be the reason for your preference. Higher levels of dopamine, which are neurotransmitters associated with reward-motivated behavior, are linked to sensation-seeking activities. Another study that focused on bungee jumpers found that higher levels of endorphins led to increased feelings of euphoria, which would explain why some people dig the thrill so much.

 

12. The future of roller coasters promises cars that rotate and roller coaster-water slide mashups.

 

Roller coasters of the future are bound to be wild. Last fall, in just one day, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published five patent applications from Universal for amusement park technologies. Two patents laid out ways for coaster cars to change direction while the coaster was moving, turning sideways as well as forward while the ride is in motion. Disney similarly applied for a patent that would allow a car’s seat to move while the coaster is cruising. But spinning cars aren’t the only thing coming. This spring, a German rollercoaster manufacturer shared conceptual renderings for what it called the "world's first hybrid roller coaster and waterslide," according to Orlando Weekly. Others are after that title too—a Canadian company plans to open a water-coaster, called the Cheetah Chase, in Indiana in 2020.

 

13. One of the most famous roller coaster designers had a “bad motion sickness problem.”
Ron Toomer is an American engineer credited with pioneering steel rollercoasters. He designed the Runaway Mine Ride at Six Flags Over Texas in 1966 known for its “tubular track” and the “inverted helix-shaped” Corkscrew, which sprung up at number of parks, in 1975. The first suspended coasters—where the car hangs like a swing—are Toomer’s too.

 

Just one problem: he had a really miserable motion sickness problem and rarely rode any of his rides. “They’ve gotten too big. And the bigger they are, the sicker I get. Just the thought of riding on one makes me queasy. I’d much rather sit at my drafting table and draw them,” he told People magazine in 1989.

 

14. There is a wooden roller coaster still in operation that was built in 1902.

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Leap-the-Dips (Wikipedia)
 

If you like your coasters rickety, then Leap-The-Dips in Altoona, Pennsylvania, is the ride for you. The wooden rollercoaster was built in 1902, and, yes, 117 years later, it’s still in operation. It goes ten miles an hour and doesn’t have seatbelts, lapbars or headrests.

 

Leap-the-Dips was quite the innovation for its time. It is what’s called a side friction coaster, meaning it has weight-bearing road wheels underneath the cars to guide it and side-friction wheels off to the side that employ friction to keep cars on the track. (These types of coasters lack the now industry standard underfriction, or up-stop, wheels that keep speedy coasters from lifting off their tracks.) And the ride’s apparently still inspiring inventors today. Elon Musk’s Loop, a traffic solution that could be used to move vehicles at speeds of 150 miles per hour, is essentially a side friction coaster on steroids.

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Fact of the Day - P.T. BARNUM

 

Did you know... that Phineas Taylor Barnum was an American showman, politician, and businessman remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and for founding the Barnum & Bailey Circus? (Wikipedia)

 

Barnum was an entrepreneur from an early age.
Barnum’s knack for moneymaking first manifested during his youth in Bethel, Connecticut. The future showman sold snacks and homemade cherry rum during local gatherings, and by age 12, he had made enough money to purchase his own livestock. By 21, his holdings also included a general store, a small lottery and even his own newspaper called the “Herald of Freedom.”

 

He first rose to prominence by engineering a famous hoax.
In 1835, Barnum launched his career in entertainment by purchasing Joice Heth, a blind slave touted as being the 161-year-old former nurse of George Washington. After billing Heth as “the most astonishing and interesting curiosity in the world,” Barnum put her on display in New York and took her on a small tour of New England. Visitors lined up to gawk at her withered body and hear her tales of “dear little George,” and Barnum helped fuel popular interest by spreading a rumor that she was actually an automaton controlled by a ventriloquist. The truth about Heth didn’t emerge until after her death in February 1836. During a public autopsy—staged by Barnum at the price of 50 cents for admission—it was revealed that she was most likely no older than 80.

 

Barnum didn’t go into the circus business until relatively late in life.
Barnum is best known for his traveling three-ring circuses, but he didn’t make his first forays under the big top until he was 60 years old. Before then, he was better known as the owner of the Manhattan-based American Museum, a sprawling collection of historical artifacts, aquariums, animal menageries, zoological curiosities and freak shows. Some of the museum’s most notable exhibits included General Tom Thumb, a child dwarf who Barnum famously brought to audience with Queen Victoria of Britain; and the “Fejee Mermaid,” which was actually the upper half of a monkey sewn to the bottom of a fish. Barnum only launched his traveling circus after his museum was twice destroyed by fire. He later teamed with his famed partner James Bailey in 1881, and the two went on to make a fortune running their “Greatest Show on Earth.”

 

He helped popularize opera in the United States.
Despite his association with sideshow acts like the Nova Scotia Giantess and Zip the Pinhead, Barnum was also responsible for introducing many Americans to high culture. In 1850, he inked a deal that brought the European opera singer Jenny Lind to the United States on a multi-city tour. Lind was largely unknown before her arrival—Barnum himself had never heard the soprano—but he cultivated her celebrity with a media blitz and a nationwide contest to write a song for her to sing onstage. With his help, the “Swedish Nightingale” became an overnight sensation. Barnum reportedly netted a staggering $500,000 on the tour, and Lind’s popularity helped make opera a mainstay in American theaters.

 

Barnum never said “there’s a sucker born every minute.”
Barnum is often credited with having coined the phrase “there’s a sucker born every minute” in reference to his gullible customers, yet there is no proof of him ever using it. The quip’s precise origins are unclear, though some claim one of Barnum’s rivals may have first said it after seeing crowds queued up for one of his exhibits. For his part, Barnum always maintained that his patrons were not “suckers” but willing participants in his lighthearted pranks and hoaxes. “The people like to be humbugged,” he once said.

 

His famous elephant “Jumbo” is the mascot of Tufts University.
In 1882, Barnum purchased a gargantuan 6-ton African elephant named “Jumbo” from the London Zoological Society. The sale proved controversial in Britain, where the animal was a cherished national treasure, but it marked the start of “Jumbomania” in the United States. People turned out to Barnum’s circus in droves and bought Jumbo postcards, hats and other souvenirs. The elephant’s fame even helped popularize the word “jumbo” as a synonym for “large.” Jumbo’s reign came to an abrupt end in 1885, when he was accidentally struck by a freight train and killed during a performance in Ontario. Barnum had Jumbo’s hide stuffed and later donated it to Massachusetts’ Tufts University, a school where he served as a trustee. The pachyderm was a popular campus monument until it burned in a fire in 1975, but it remains both the school’s mascot and the inspiration for its nickname, the “Jumbos.”

 

Barnum once used his circus animals to test the strength of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Shortly after the Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883, rumors that it was structurally unsound sparked a human stampede that left a dozen people dead. The bridge’s owners had previously turned down a $5,000 offer from Barnum to let him parade his circus animals across it as a publicity stunt, but they changed their minds after the accident. On the night of May 17, 1884, he marched 21 elephants and 17 camels over the bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn. The famous Jumbo was part of the procession, as was “Toung Taloung,” a white elephant Barnum had recently acquired from Thailand. The parade was a priceless piece of advertising for Barnum’s circus, and the combined weight of the elephants—many of which tipped the scales at over 10,000 pounds—helped put to rest any worries about the bridge’s stability.

 

He was a famous supporter of the temperance movement.
While Barnum enjoyed the occasional tipple of wine or scotch in his younger days, he swore off alcohol entirely after attending a lecture by a pro-temperance reverend in the late-1840s. He would remain an avid teetotaler and prohibition advocate for the rest of his life, and regularly gave speeches on the evils of liquor. Drinking was forbidden in his American Museum, and visitors to its lecture room were treated to performances of “The Drunkard,” a cautionary play about alcoholism. Barnum liked to say that both he and his circus animals drank “nothing stronger than water,” but his famed elephant Jumbo reportedly loved beer and was known for his ability to down a full keg in a single sitting.

 

Barnum also served as a politician.
Barnum first dipped his toes in the political waters in 1865, when he won a seat in the Connecticut General Assembly as a Republican. Despite his past ownership of the slave Joice Heth, he quickly distinguished himself as one of the legislature’s most impassioned advocates of African American equality and voting rights. He later tried to run for the U.S. Congress—ironically, against a distant relative also named Barnum—but lost in a heated campaign. Following a stint as mayor of his adopted hometown of Bridgeport, Connecticut, Barnum later returned to the Connecticut Legislator in the late 1870s and became a leading advocate for pro-temperance reforms and the abolition of the death penalty.

 

He spent years writing and updating his autobiography.
Along with his reputation as the “Prince of Humbugs,” Barnum owed much of his fame to the runaway success of his autobiography. “The Life of P.T. Barnum, Written by Himself” was first released in 1854 and was then continuously re-edited and re-issued over the following decades. New editions and appendices appeared on a near-annual basis, and Barnum helped increase sales by putting the book in the public domain and allowing anyone to publish it. He even instructed his widow to write a new chapter that chronicled the events of his 1891 death. All told, the book sold more than 1 million copies during Barnum’s lifetime.

 

Source: Evan Andrews

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Fact of the Day - AUSCHWITZ

 

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Did you know... that Auschwitz was a German Nazi concentration camp during World War II that was in operation from 1940 to 1945? It was a network of concentration and extermination camps built by the Nazis in Poland. Auschwitz I was built to house political prisoners from Poland but soon Auschwitz II was being used to exterminate Jewish prisoners and prisoners of other nationalities. Of the estimated 1.1 million prisoners who died at Auschwitz it is believed that 90% were Jewish. The camp was staffed by approximately 7,000 German SS. The Allied Powers did not bomb the camp because they didn't believe reports of the mass murders being committed in the gas chambers.

 

The Nazis performed cruel experiments
Starvation, exposure to toxic substances, hypothermia and electroshocks are just some of all the experiments carried out here.   Joseph Mengele was the main camp doctor, and he was obsessed with experimenting on twins. 

 

1/6 of all Jews killed in the Holocaust died here
The number of deaths in Auschwitz was larger than the British and American deaths combined. It is estimated that around 1.1 million people died at the concentration camps in Auschwitz. 

 

It was first constructed for political prisoners from Poland
The first Polish political prisoners arrived in Auschwitz in May 1940, and that was the main reason for why it was built, but it quickly expanded and became an extermination camp to fit the ideology of Hitler and his “final solution”. 

 

Auschwitz-Birkenau was the part with the gas chambers
This photo was taken after the liberation and it’s from the inside of one of the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Many of the gas chambers were destroyed before after an order from SS chief Heinrich Himmler to destroy the evidence. 

 

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The slave labor at Auschwitz generated about 60 million Reichsmarks
Many of the prisoners were used for labor, and some of the largest companies in the world today used slaves from the German concentration camps.  The slave labor in Auschwitz alone generated 60 million Reichsmarks, which would be worth $163 million in today’s value. 

 

Rudolf Höss was the camp commandant
Rudolf Höss subordinated the camp from 1940 to 1943 and was later arrested in 1946 and convicted of murder.   Höss confessed that 2.5 million persons had been killed, and half a million more died from diseases and starvation during the time that he was the Commandant in the Nazi army between June 14, 1940, and December 1, 1943.

 

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It wasn’t only Jews that got killed here
Reports state that some 22 000 Romani and 150 000 Polish people were killed in addition to the Jews. 15,000 Soviet war prisoners and 400 Jehovah’s witnesses are said to been killed as well. 

 

Every prisoner received a camp number
Every person who was sent to Auschwitz or other concentration camps was marked with a unique number. 

 

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The prisoners received three meals during the day
Every morning, half a liter of water with a substitute of coffee was served. Later the prisoners were served 1 liter of soup, and for supper, they got to eat 300 grams of black bread with 25 grams of topping.

 

A SS guard fell in love with a Jewish prisoner and saved her
Franz Wunsch was a SS guard who fell in love with the Jewish prisoner Helena Citronova. He was in charge of the gas chambers and fell in love with her after she was brought in to sing birthday songs for him.  Helena didn’t reciprocate the feelings, but over time she somehow developed mutual feelings. Perhaps because Franz saved her and her sister from being sent to the gas chambers several times.  She later told that they slept together and thirty years after liberation, Franz was put to trial for his crimes, but Helena and her sister defended him in the trials.

 

There are still survivors alive today
On 27 January in 1945, about 7000 prisoners were liberated from Auschwitz concentration camps. Most of them have since died from age or from starvation problems caused after the liberation, but there are still many survivors that were children or younger adults. 

 

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Tadeusz Wiejowski was the first person to escape
In 1940, the Polish Tadeusz Wiejowski became the first person to escape Auschwitz, but he was caught a year later and was executed.

 

4 Poles successfully escaped in 1942
Kazimierz Piechowski, Stanisław Gustaw Jaster, Józef Lempart and Eugeniusz Bender fled after successfully breaking into the SS Magazine and stole both weapons and SS uniforms. They managed to steal a car and escaped the concentration camp on June 20 in 1942. 

 

Anne Frank’s father survived the Death Camp
The father of Anne Frank survived Auschwitz and later died of lung cancer in 1980. Anne Frank, however, wasn’t as lucky, and she contracted typhus after being transferred to Bergen-Belsen. 

 

Just 196 people escaped from Auschwitz
928 prisoners attempted to escape of which 50 were women and 878 men. In addition to the 196 prisoners that managed to escape successfully, there are reports of 25 more prisoners who escaped but was later caught and brought back to the camp. Most of the failed attempts to escape ended in the prisoners being shot. 

 

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5 x Horror Facts about Auschwitz

  • Joseph Mengele’s experiments included genetic tests, sterilization, hypothermia, electroshocks, and testing of toxic substances
  • The Zyklon B gas was used to kill people in the gas chambers
  • The prisoners lived under horrific conditions
  • There is a room full of all the shoes from 80,000 victims
  • There were at least 40 subcamps, and Auschwitz-Birkenau was by far the largest.

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5 x Auschwitz Facts for kids

  • The Nazis operated the camp between May 1940 and January 1945.
  • Over 232,000 children under the age of 18 years were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.
  • Arbeit Macht Frei means “Work makes you free”. 
  • Today, more than 2 million people visit the concentration camps in Oświęcim.
  • The Jewish boxer named Salamo Arouch was imprisoned and forced to fight for his survival for more than 2 years, and 200 fights against other prisoners.

 

Here is some more general information that might be interesting to know if you’re looking for Auschwitz facts. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. 

  • Name in Polish: Oświęcim.
  • Operational years: 1940 to 1945.
  • Number of inmates: At least 1.3 million
  • People killed: 1.1 million
  • Founding commandant: Rudolf Höss

Source: Alex Waltner

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Fact of the Day - CANADIAN CULTURE

 

Did you know... that the culture of Canada embodies the artistic, culinary, literary, humour, musical, political and social elements that are representative of Canada and Canadians? (Wikipedia)

 

Every place in the world has its own unique and fascinating history that makes the location’s culture some kind of special. Canada is no different! Learning interesting facts about Canadian culture is a great way to determine if you would like to live there or not.  In fact, the expansive size of Canada results in different regions having their own original story and facts meaning unique cultures are born across the nation. Because of the unique features of all the regions, everyone can find a place where they fit in and are happy to live.

 

There are some definite characteristics of Canadian culture that are evident everywhere. The following are eight interesting facts about Canadian culture:


1. Canadians are apologetic and polite.

A common Canadian stereotype is being apologetic and saying sorry a lot. It may seem strange at first, although, there is something friendly, polite and welcoming about people who want you to feel comfortable and never at fault!  What you may not have known is that Canadians are so apologetic that they actually have an Apology Act. The Act was passed in 2009 and made apologies inadmissible in court. Essentially, in Canada, an apology is interpreted as a sympathetic or regretful expression as opposed to an admissible, legal apology in court under this Act. Who knew such an legal act would be necessary!

 

2. Canadians have a love for maple syrup.

The stereotype is true! Canadians have a deep love for maple syrup, perhaps it is because maple trees can be found around every corner. Part of Canada’s culture is the food, maple syrup is a must try if you visit or move to Canada!  This may not be surprising, but Canada is the largest exporter of maple syrup. Approximately 71% of the world’s maple syrup comes from Canada, 91% of which comes from Quebec alone. Canadians are definitely serious about their maple syrup!

 

3. Canadians have a passion for hockey.

Despite the polite and friendly nature of Canadians, they have a passion for one of the most brutal sports on planet Earth, hockey. As a matter of fact, hockey is Canada’s national sport for the winter and lacrosse is their national summer sport. Don’t be surprised if your Canadian friends are playing or watching hockey in their spare time!

 

4. Canadians are connected to nature.

Many are familiar with the fact that Canada is quite large and is composed of ample natural features. Within Canada, you can find huge forests, mountains, beaches and rolling plains. About 30% of Canada is covered in thick and dense forest. The natural surroundings in Canada have made citizens quite appreciative of nature.  Canadians often take pride in their national parks because of their passion and dedication to nature. Some of the national parks are actually bigger than countries! The second largest park in the world is Wood Buffalo National Park which is larger than Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

 

5. Canadians are passive about the military.

Canada is not as military focused as their neighbours, the United States or other countries. Canadians are not as fixated on guns either, guns are mainly used in Canada for recreational hunting. These cultural factors make Canada a little more laid back than other countries that are heavily influenced by military and guns.  A lot of countries spend a significant amount of money on their military resources, but not the Canadian economy. Canada’s passiveness about military shines through at their border between Canada and the United States. This border is the longest non-military border in the world.

 

6. Canadians are accepting of other cultures.

Canada is one of the most multicultural places in the world since they are so welcoming to immigration. Canadians are often very interested to learn about other individual’s origins and culture to expand their own experiences and knowledge. This can provide newcomers with a warm feeling as they sense they’ve found a home away from home.  People often assume that Canadians are British or French, however, this is false. To demonstrate Canada’s diversity, more than 140 languages are spoken in Toronto and about 50% of the population was born outside of Canada.

 

7. Canadians have progressive attitudes.

In many places around the world, people may be judged for things that are out of their control, such as their gender or sex, nationality and religion. In Canada, not only do people not have to worry much about being judged for these things, political parties, organizations and individuals have made an active, progressive effort to make everyone feel accepted and welcome.  The progressive nature of Canada’s culture and society trickles down into nearly every aspect of life. This includes social relationships, workplace environments and much more.

 

8. Safety is a priority for Canadians.

Canada has very low crime rates compared to other places in the world. Because of the low crime rates, Canada is a safe and secure place to live. Perhaps the safe and secure nature of Canada stems from the polite, friendly and welcoming nature of many Canadians.

 

In 2017, there's another good reason to visit Canada: this year marks the country's 150th birthday, and celebrations are planned for the entire 12 months. Events such as Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day (June 24), Canadian Multiculturalism Day (June 27), and Canada's national day (July 1) will provide something extra for visitors.

 

They're not American

Although  their country boasts some truly beautiful scenery, most Canadians' favourite geographical feature is the border that separates them from the US. Canadians are different to Americans, and they don't enjoy being mistaken for their southern neighbours.

 

They're extremely friendly

Stand around looking confused in any Canadian city for a few seconds and someone will offer to help you. You'll see strangers striking up conversations on public transport. You'll find you walk into a bar and immediately have friends. Canadians are like that.

They're outdoorsy

You'll find most Canadians seem to have at least one passion that allows them to enjoy the great outdoors, from skiing and snowboarding to hiking, mountain-biking, rock-climbing, camping, canoeing and snow-shoeing.

 

Their coffee is terrible

There's an increasing focus on good, locally sourced food in Canada via the "100-Mile Diet"; however, their coffee is uniformly terrible. Canada's most popular coffee shop is Tim Hortons, a chain founded by a former ice-hockey star that dishes up a very average brew.  (It may be average, but I like it.  I find it tastes great, especially Tim's mocha coffee; they make it with real fresh whipped cream (not the one that comes out the aerosol can) and fresh hot chocolate mixed with the coffee and let's not forget the chocolate syrup drizzle on top of the cream.  mmmm good!

 

Their capital city is Ottawa

In a similar way to the fact most people don't seem to have ever heard of Canberra, many are taken by surprise when they discover Canada's capital: Ottawa. It's not exactly a tourism hub, but it will be popular during Canada's 150th birthday. 

 

They're just like us

One of the most important things you notice about Canadians is that, essentially, they're just like Australians: similar values, similar traditions, similar history, similar ideals. It makes Canada a very easy place to visit. 

  

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Fact of the Day - KOALAS

 

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Did you know... that Koalas have fingerprints. Chimpanzees and gorillas have human-like fingerprints and so do koalas. In fact, koala prints are very similar to human fingerprints, even to expert crime scene investigators. As of yet, no koalas have framed humans for their crimes, but now we know it's not impossible…

 

Koalas aren't bears as many people are led to believe. They aren't even related to bears.  The koala is related to the kangaroo and the wombat. The koala is a marsupial mammal.  The reason the koala is called a koala bear is because the koala looks like a teddy bear.

 

The koala's scientific name is Phasclarctos Cinereus.  Now there are only 2,000 to 8,000 koalas in the wild! Although not officially classified as endangered, the population of Australian koalas has dropped by 90% in less than a decade. This is due to the destruction of the koala's natural habitat, a narrow crescent on the eastern coast of Australia.

 

Habitat
Logging, agriculture and urban development have not only reduced the area available to them, but added other dangers. The koala's habitat has been criss crossed by roads, resulting in many road kills and attacks by neighboring pet dogs are frequent.  Disease, too, has taken its toll on the koala.

 

Koala fur
Koalas fur is different in different parts of Australia. In the southern parts of Australia it is longer and shaggier than in the north in order to keep them warm in the cold southern winters. The closest relative of the koala is the wombat. They both have pouches which open towards the rear. This is fine for the wombat, but koalas need strong muscles ringing the pouch to keep the young one from falling out.

 

Some facts

  • The koala's nickname is a Native Bear.
  • The koala is a marsupial mammal.
  • They are warm-blooded.
  • The word 'koala' is thought to mean 'no drink' or 'no water' in the Aboriginal language.
  • The koala's young is called a joey.
  • The koala's young are born while still at the embryonic stage, weighing only 0.5 g.
  • Koalas drink milk from the mother.
  • The koala breathes oxygen from the air.
  • The koala might look cuddly but the koala has very sharp teeth and very sharp claws.
  • The koala has white fur on the underside and gray on the rest of its body.
  • The koala has big ears and a big nose.
  • The mother has a pouch.
  • The koala has very thick fur.
  • The adult koala generally grows to 25 - 30 inches long.
  • The koala is very small when it's just born.
  • After 1 month the cub is 1 cm. long.
  • The koala weighs 15 to 30 pounds.
  • One cub is born at a time.
  • The koala cub stays in the mother's pouch for 5 months.
  • The koala cub is blind when it's born.
  • Koalas breed in the summer.
  • Koalas live for 20 or more years.
  • The koala can run as fast as a rabbit.
  • Koalas sleep for up to 19 hours.
  • Koalas live on the East coast of Australia.
  • They live and sleep in the eucalyptus trees. It's hot, light and dry here.    
  • Aboriginal names for the koala include Kaola, Koalo, Koolewang, Koobor, Colah, Coola and Cullawine.               

The koala's territory is getting smaller because people are cutting down trees and making farms on them. Koalas can only live in one place in the world, Australia. The koala only eats Eucalyptus leaves and it eats so many leaves, it smells like the leaves.  The koala hops from tree to tree and climbs the trees to get the leaves. The koala will eat 2.5 pounds of food a day.  It uses its claws to get the branches and get the leaves.  The koala used to be endangered because people would kill the koala for its fur. 

 

Threats
Over 2 million koalas were killed between 1908 and 1927. Occasionally koalas are taken by Goannas, Eagles, and Owls. Humans are koala's worst enemies. Dingoes will kill the koala. The koala does not have very many enemies. Koala young are hunted by large birds of prey. Their Behavior is clumsy but they are strong swimmers.  They live in loose-knit groups if enough suitable trees are present, but only one animal per tree.  Males express territoriality during the breeding season, bellowing and grasping the base of a tree while rubbing their chest against it, thus leaving a scent marking with their chest gland. Females bellow as well during this time but are not territorial. 

 

Note:
The koala's closest living relative is the wombat, which is a stationary burrower rather than a nomadic arboreal like the koala. One clue to this relationship is the common design of the pouch, which opens to the rear in both animals. 

 

mother-and-baby-koala-cubs.jpg

Life History
Mating occurs Nov-Feb in the south, Sep-Jan further north. Gestation about 35 days; single young weigh about 1/5 oz. and are about 3/4 inches long. Newborn crawls from cloaca to pouch and attaches to a nipple to complete its development. The koala Leaves the pouch first at about 5.5 months, permanently at about 8 months. The young joey then clings to it's mother's back or stomach, sticking it's head into the pouch to feed.

 

During weaning the joey eats partially-digested eucalyptus that merges from mother's cloaca, thus receiving bacteria needed for digestion as well as food. Life span 12+ yrs (wild) 16+ yrs (captivity).The largest koalas weigh over 10 kg and are found in Victoria while the smallest live in North Queensland and weigh only 5.5 kg. Koalas are found between these two areas, but only where enough suitable trees have been left. Koalas also communicate with each other by making a noise like a snore and then a belch, known as a "bellow". Koalas usually only have one cub per year. Older females will usually have one every two years. Koala babies are known by several names. "pouch young", "back young", "joeys" and "cubs". When koalas are born they are only 2 centimeters long, which is about the same as a jellybean. 

 

Special Adaptations

  • Extra thick fur, especially on the neck and shoulders, helps protect the koala from even the worst weather.
  • Koalas do not build nests.
  • Pear-shaped body provides stability while the koala sits in trees.
  • Opposable thumbs and toes allow for a tight grip when climbing.
  • Rough pads on undersurface of hands and feet increase traction while the koala is climbing.

Note
Rough pads on undersurface of hands and feet increase traction while the koala is climbing.  Large nose with sensitive hairs enables the koala to detect differences in smell between different eucalyptus leaves, ensuring that its diet consists of only the best of the bunch. Cheek pouches allow animal to store food not yet chewed while moving to a safer or more protected location. The Koala cools itself by licking its arms and stretching out as it rests in the trees (koalas have no sweat glands).   The biggest problem for koalas is that their bushland (or "habitat") is being cut down to make way for houses.  Koalas are protected by law but their homes and food aren't.

 

cute-koala-in-tree.jpg

 

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Fact of the Day - INDIAN CULTURE

 

Did you know... that India's culture is among the world's oldest; civilization in India began about 4,500 years ago? Many sources describe it as "Sa Prathama Sanskrati Vishvavara" — the first and the supreme culture in the world, according to the All World Gayatri Pariwar (AWGP) organization.

 

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Map of India (Image credit: pavalena Shutterstock)

 

Western societies did not always see the culture of India very favorably, according to Christina De Rossi, an anthropologist at Barnet and Southgate College in London. Early anthropologists once considered culture as an evolutionary process, and "every aspect of human development was seen as driven by evolution," she told Live Science. "In this view, societies outside of Europe or North America, or societies that did not follow the European or Western way of life, were considered primitive and culturally inferior. Essentially this included all the colonized countries and people, such as African countries, India, and the Far East."

 

However, Indians made significant advances in architecture (Taj Mahal), mathematics (the invention of zero) and medicine (Ayurveda). Today, India is a very diverse country, with more than 1.2 billion people, according to the CIA World Factbook, making it the second most populous nation after China. Different regions have their own distinct cultures. Language, religion, food and the arts are just some of the various aspects of Indian culture. 

 

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Colorful reliefs of Hindu gods adorn a temple at Meenakshi, India (Image credit: jaume Shutterstock)

 

Language
India has 28 states and seven territories, according to the World Health Organization. There is no official language in India, according to a Gujarat High Court ruling in 2010, though Hindi is the official language of the government. The Constitution of India officially recognizes 23 official languages. 

 

Many people living in India write in Devanagari script. In fact, it is a misconception that the majority of people in India speak Hindi. Though many people speak Hindi in India, 59 percent of India residents speak something other than Hindi, according to The Times of India. Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil and Urdu are some other languages spoken in the country.  

 

Sanskrit, an ancient Indo-European language usually referred to in action movies, came from Northern India. How the language started has been a point of argument amongst linguists. It shares many similarities with English, French, Farsi and Russian languages. New DNA research in 2017 found that an Aryan invasion may have introduced the beginnings of Sanskrit. "People have been debating the arrival of the Indo-European languages in India for hundreds of years," said study co-author Martin Richards, an archaeogeneticist at the University of Huddersfield in England. "There's been a very long-running debate about whether the Indo-European languages were brought from migrations from outside, which is what most linguists would accept, or if they evolved indigenously." [Aryan Invasion May Have Transformed India's Bronze-Age Population]

 

Religion
India is identified as the birthplace of Hinduism and Buddhism, the third and fourth largest religions. About 84 percent of the population identifies as Hindu, according to the "Handbook of Research on Development and Religion," edited by Matthew Clarke (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2013). There are many variations of Hinduism, and four predominant sects — Shaiva, Vaishnava, Shakteya and Smarta.

About 13 percent of Indians are Muslim, making it one of the largest Islamic nations in the world. Christians and Sikhs make up a small percentage of the population, and there are even fewer Buddhists and Jains, according to the "Handbook."

 

The CIA cited similar figures. According to its World Factbook, around 80 percent of the population is Hindu, 14.2 percent is Muslim, 2.3 percent is Christian, 1.7 percent is Sikh and 2 percent is unspecified.

 

Food
When the Moghul Empire invaded during the sixteenth century, they left a significant mark on the Indian cuisine, according to Texas A&M University. Indian cuisine is also influenced by many other countries. It is known for its large assortment of dishes and its liberal use of herbs and spices. Cooking styles vary from region to region.

 

Wheat, Basmati rice and pulses with chana (Bengal gram) are important staples of the Indian diet. The food is rich with curries and spices, including ginger, coriander, cardamom, turmeric, dried hot peppers, and cinnamon, among others. Chutneys — thick condiments and spreads made from assorted fruits and vegetables such as tamarind and tomatoes and mint, cilantro and other herbs — are used generously in Indian cooking.

 

Many Hindus are vegetarian, but lamb and chicken are common in main dishes for non-vegetarians. The Guardian reports that between 20 percent and 40 percent of India's population is vegetarian.

 

Much of Indian food is eaten with fingers or bread used as utensils. There is a wide array of breads served with meals, including naan, a leavened, oven-baked flatbread; and bhatoora, a fried, fluffy flatbread common in North India and eaten with chickpea curry. 

 

Architecture and art

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The Taj Mahal was built between 1631 and 1653. (Image credit: saiko3p Shutterstock)


The most well-known example of Indian architecture is the Taj Mahal, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to honor his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It combines elements from Islamic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Indian architectural styles. India also has many ancient temples.

 

India is well known for its film industry, which is often referred to as Bollywood. The country's movie history began in 1896 when the Lumière brothers demonstrated the art of cinema in Mumbai, according to the Golden Globes. Today, the films are known for their elaborate singing and dancing. 

 

Indian dance, music and theater traditions span back more than 2,000 years, according to Nilima Bhadbhade, author of "Contract Law in India" (Kluwer Law International, 2010). The major classical dance traditions — Bharata Natyam, Kathak, Odissi, Manipuri, Kuchipudi, Mohiniattam and Kathakali — draw on themes from mythology and literature and have rigid presentation rules.

 

A study published in April 2016 in the Journal of Indian Ocean Archaeology found that some Indian horns have many similarities with horns made in Ireland. This research may suggest that the two countries may have exchanged ideas and techniques in making musical instruments during the Bronze Age. "Some horns are frankly shockingly similar, to the point where it is like witnessing time travel," study author Billy Ó Foghlú, an archaeologist and doctoral student at the Australian National University in Canberra, told Live Science. "If I were to find one of these modern Indian instruments in an Irish archaeological excavation and I didn't know what I was looking at, I would likely assume it was a Late Bronze Age Irish artifact." [Surprising Echo of Ancient Irish Horns in Indian Instruments]

 

Clothing
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Indian women in saris (Image credit: rastoe Shutterstock)

 

Indian clothing is closely identified with the colorful silk saris worn by many of the country's women. A traditional piece of clothing for men is the dhoti, an unstitched piece of cloth that is tied around the waist and legs. Men also wear a kurta, a loose shirt that is worn about knee-length. For special occasions, men wear a sherwani or achkan, which is a long coat that with a collar having no lapel. It is buttoned up to the collar and down to the knees. A shorter version of a sherwani is called a Nehru jacket. It is named after Jawaharlal Nehru, India's prime minister from 1947 to 1964, but Nehru never wore a Nehru jacket. He preferred the achkan, according to Tehelka, an Indian newspaper. The Nehru jacket was primarily marketed to Westerners.

 

Customs and celebrations
Diwali is the largest and most important holiday to India, according to National Geographic. It is a five-day festival known as the festival of lights because of the lights lit during the celebration to symbolize the inner light that protects them from spiritual darkness. Holi, the festival of colors, also called the festival of love, is popular in the spring. The country also celebrates Republic Day (Jan. 26), Independence Day (Aug. 15) and Mahatma Gandhi's birthday (Oct. 2).

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Fact of the Day - HARLEY-DAVIDSON

 

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Did you know... that Harley-Davidson, Inc., H-D, or Harley, is an American motorcycle manufacturer founded in 1903 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin? It was one of two major American motorcycle manufacturers to survive the Great Depression, along with Indian. The company has survived numerous ownership arrangements, subsidiary arrangements, periods of poor economic health and product quality, and intense global competition to become one of the world's largest motorcycle manufacturers and an iconic brand widely known for its loyal following. There are owner clubs and events worldwide, as well as a company-sponsored, brand-focused museum. (Wikipedia)

 

Whether you're a die hard Harley rider or you wouldn't be caught pushing one around a deserted parking lot, there is no denying that few motorcycle companies have achieved the success that Harley-Davidson has over their 112 year history. But who were the visionaries behind this iconic brand?  Most would guess that it was probably some guy named Harley and his partner Davidson, which would be pretty close to the truth. A more complete version is that Harley-Davidson was founded by William Harley and the three Davidson brothers: Arthur, William and Walter.

 

The Motor Company can trace its beginnings all the way back to the late 1800's to a house on Ninth Street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. To be fair, it would actually be two houses on Ninth Street, the first belonging to the Harley family and the second belonging to the Davidson family. William Harley and Arthur Davidson were only one year apart in age and growing up just a handful of houses away from each other made for the beginnings of a lifelong friendship.

 

Like most boys of that era, they were both entranced by that hot new form of two wheeled transportation called the bicycle. William was so intrigued by bicycles that he took a job at a Milwaukee-based bicycle factory at the age of 15.

 

Little did he know that this had set him on the path of building the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

 

By the turn of the century, William had worked his way up from cycle fitter to draftsman and soon left the bicycle company to work as a draftsman for the Barth Manufacturing Company. It was during this time that he designed his first internal combustion engine based on the French de Dion-Bouton engine, which was widely used (and widely copied) by early motorcycle manufacturers. With the help of Arthur, a fellow draftsman at Barth and a mutual friend whose father owned a lathe, William spent the next couple years trying to complete a prototype machine in his spare time.

 

That first machine never materialized, but William was already putting his skills as a draftsman to use designing a second prototype by 1903. William and Arthur realized that what they really needed in order to build a complete motorcycle was a competent machinist, so they hatched a plan to enlist the help of Arthur's older brother Walter. Walter was an experienced machinist who had worked for the Milwaukee Railroad, but was living Parsons, Kansas at the time. 

 

According to the Harley-Davidson archives, the two sent Walter a letter claiming that they had built a motorcycle and were saving the first ride for him. Walter took the bait and when he arrived, he found that there was not even a partially assembled motorcycle—just a pile of parts. Still, something about the idea of a two wheeled self propelled machine appealed to Walter and he decided to stay in Milwaukee to help William and Arthur build their first motorcycle.

 

That same year, William enrolled in the School of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Also around that time, the oldest Davidson brother named William had caught wind of what his brothers and William Harley were up to and he came to join the group too. William was an mechanic and tool room foreman for the West Milwaukee shops (another railroad company), and his skill set was a definite asset in building their first motorcycle.

 

With the "dream team" now together, construction of the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle began in earnest in a small wooden shed located in the backyard of the Davidson family home.

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Harley-Davidson's first factory and headquarters. (Photo courtesy of the HD Archives)

 

 

Most of the motorcycles on the roads during the early 1900's were essentially just motorized bicycles. Even their soon to be rival, the Indian Motorcycle Company, used a bicycle style frame with a small, under-powered motor mounted in it. William took note of this and also looked at the loop frame design used by fellow Milwaukee motorcycle manufacturer Merkel. Basing his own designs heavily on the Merkel frame, the first Harley-Davidson prototype was built using a loop frame and 440cc single cylinder motor.

 

With William away at engineering school and everyone else working full time, things moved slowly at first.  A second prototype was completed around 1904, and it still survives today. It's known as Harley-Davidson Serial #1, and can be seen at the HD Museum in Milwaukee. It also was the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle to be documented as participating in a motorcycle race, which they unfortunately lost to another rider on a Mitchell motorcycle.

 

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Harley-Davidson Serial #1. (Photo courtesy of the HD Archives)

When Harley-Davidson incorporated in 1907, middle brother Walter was selected to be the first president of the company. Arthur took on the positions of general sales manager and secretary while older brother William became the works manager. By then, William Harley had completed engineering school and took on the obvious role of chief engineer as well as treasurer. With these four at the helm, Harley-Davidson tripled their production for 1907 by producing 150 machines.

 

At this point, you're probably wondering why the company was named Harley-Davidson when there were three Davidson brothers and only one Harley. It turns out that the original idea for building a motorized bicycle came from William Harley, so everyone agreed that his name should be first. That was a good choice, as Davidson-Harley just doesn't have the same ring to it...

 

Perhaps one secret to the success of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company was that all four founders were true motorcycle enthusiasts. Whether it was participating in racing and endurance runs, or just taking a motorcycle down to the lake for a day of fishing, Harley and the Davidson brothers lived and breathed motorcycles.  All four of the founders continued to work for Harley-Davidson up until their deaths, with Arthur Davidson out living all of them until he passed away in 1950.

 

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The founders of Harley-Davidson left to right: William Davidson, Walter Davison, Arthur Davidson, William Harley. (Photo courtesy of HD Archives)

 

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Fact of the Day - WRIGLEY'S SPEARMINT GUM

 

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Did you know... that by all accounts, William Wrigley (1861-1932) is the "father of chewing gum?" He transformed a small business selling soap into the top chewing gum manufacturer in the world. Although he did not invent chewing gum, it was his company that brought it to the world.

 

William Wrigley Jr. was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on September 30, 1861. His parents, William and Mary A. Ladley were second generation Americans. The Wrigley family traced its roots back to Saddleworth, a manufacturing town north of Yorkshire in England. The boy's great-grandfather, Edmund, was a woolen manufacturer in the "City of Brotherly Love," while his father went on to greater success as a soapmaker. In 1870, William Sr. founded and served as president of the Wrigley Manufacturing Company. The main product was Wrigley's Scouring Soap.

 

The younger Wrigley took an immediate interest in his father's soap business, which opened as the public began viewing soap as a consumer good. A year after the plant opened, the boy went out into the streets of Philadelphia and sold soap from a basket. Catching the sales bug, Wrigley and a friend ran away to New York a year later. Wrigley supported himself by doing a number of odd jobs and selling newspapers.

 

In the late 19th century rough and tumble New York City was no place for small little boys. The two returned home a few weeks later. Constantly in trouble at school, Wrigley left permanently (by some reports he was expelled) and went to work in his father's factory. He stirred a vat of liquid soap for $1.50 a week. As he learned the business, he moved into a regional sales job, either traveling by train throughout the Eastern states or selling soap from a bright red wagon with four horses and bells.

 

Wrigley again tried to establish himself away from his father's business at the age of 18. He went West, but lost his railroad ticket in Kansas City. Eventually, he made it back to Philadelphia and William Sr.'s factory. He continued in the business for more than a decade before leaving again.

 

In 1891, after working in the soap business for 20 years, Wrigley moved to Chicago at the age of 29 with his wife, Ada, and young daughter, Dorothy, to go into business for himself. He planned to sell soap in Chicago for his father's company and offer baking powder as a premium. For the rest of his business life, Wrigley advocated giving a bonus with each purchase. "Everybody likes something extra, for nothing," he often said.

 

Wrigley produced a number of different flavored gums, including Sweet Sixteen Orange and his iconic spearmint gum. His immediate goal was to end the stereotype that chewing gum was for children and women. Men should also be able to enjoy the habit of chewing gum.

 

Although Wrigley arrived in Chicago with only $32 dollars in his pocket, he secured a $5,000 loan from an uncle on the condition that his cousin become Wrigley's business partner. When he realized that customers were more interested in getting the baking powder than soap, Wrigley and his partner quickly switched to the baking powder business. Looking for another premium to offer, Wrigley turned to chewing gum. This product had become popular in the 1860s after New York inventor, Thomas Adams, introduced chicle to the United States after a visit with the former Mexican dictator Santa Anna, who chewed the stuff while they spoke.

 

Wrigley gave away two packages of chewing gum with each baking soda purchase until he once again grasped that the premium was more popular than the product. In 1892, Wrigley Chewing Gum offered its first two brands: Lotta Gum and Vassar. Gradually, he phased out baking powder and soap and concentrated on chewing gum.

 

The chewing gum business was highly competitive in the late 1800s. There were at least a dozen companies pushing their wares. In 1899, the six largest companies merged to form "the chewing gum trust." Although a newcomer to the industry, Wrigley was offered a place in the trust, but he refused. Under relentless competition, Wrigley teetered on the verge of bankruptcy several times, but plowed ahead nonetheless.

 

A natural promoter, Wrigley realized the power of advertising. Much of his company's budget focused on selling the product through advertisements and gimmicks. Wrigley himself did much of the selling in the early days and had a knack for understanding the customers' needs. He expanded his premium offers, giving away items ranging from lamps and razors to cookbooks and fishing tackle. The premium system worked so well that Wrigley even published premium catalogs to help customers choose what they wanted.

 

Wrigley used every form of advertising at his disposal. In his company's ads, Wrigley repeatedly told people about the benefits of the product. He bought space in newspapers, magazines, and even outdoor posters. His motto was "tell em quick and tell em often."

 

In 1893 and 1894, Wrigley introduced the flavors that would make the company eternal: Juicy Fruit and Wrigley's Spearmint. The enterprising Wrigley even designed the logo on the Spearmint package. He decided the company would concentrate on popularizing Spearmint, which no company had been able to achieve. The general public did not accept Spearmint at first. However, Wrigley believed in it and pushed it relentlessly. In 1907, a depression year, Wrigley spent $284,000 in advertising, mostly on Spearmint and with that much was able to buy over $1.5 million worth of advertising in cash-strapped New York. The gamble paid off when sales jumped dramatically. Company revenue topped $1.3 million in 1909 and a year later, Wrigley's Spearmint was the top selling gum in the United States. He introduced Doublemint gum in 1914.

 

In short order, Wrigley became the biggest gum manufacturer in the world. He bought Zero Company in 1911, which had been making Wrigley's gum since 1892. From that point forward, the newly named William Wrigley Jr. Company manufactured its own products. Even as the company grew into a major corporation, Wrigley emphasized quality. He often recited his basic philosophy: "Even in a little thing like a stick of gum, quality is important."

 

Wrigley also moved quickly into foreign nations. He established gum companies in Canada in 1910, then followed that factory with ones in Australia (1915), Great Britain (1927), and New Zealand (1939). Still relying heavily on advertising, Wrigley sold gum in nations around the world in 30 separate languages. By the time of his death in 1932, the global sales pushed company revenues to $75 million with a profit of $12 million. Countries abroad had different tastes than in the United States, so Wrigley introduced flavors that would appeal to local customers. The most successful product outside America was a pellet-shaped gum sold under the "P.K." brand name.

 

A lifelong baseball fan, Wrigley loved to watch the hometown Chicago Cubs play. He spent many afternoons at the ballpark, joking with friends, drinking beer, and even handing out cigars to Cub players. Wrigley began buying stock in the team in 1916. Five years later, he had gained a controlling interest. In 1921, he also bought the Los Angeles Baseball Club and a team in Reading, Pennsylvania.

 

After Wrigley bought the Cubs, the famous ballpark became known as Cubs Park. It was officially renamed Wrigley Field in 1926, in honor of its owner. Over the years, Wrigley invested more than $5 million in the team. He started renovations at "The Friendly Confines" (the ballpark's unofficial name since Wrigley took over), which permitted installation of permanent bleacher seating and expanded box seats. Wrigley also supervised the building of an upper deck.

 

Wrigley's money did not stop at rebuilding Wrigley Field. He brought in quality ballplayers like Hack Wilson and Rogers Hornsby. By 1929, the team won its first pennant since 1918 and the first of four they would win over the next decade. Sadly, the team did not win a World Series in those trips to the championship. The team continued its success into the 1930s. Wrigley, however, passed away in 1932 and full control of the team passed to his son Philip Knight "P.K." Wrigley.

 

In 1919, Wrigley bought Catalina Island, off the coast of California. He turned it into a family retreat and one of the most famous resorts in the country. Wrigley imported birds from all over the world to the island and kept them in a huge flying cage. He also mined on Catalina, finding rich reserves of silver, copper, and zinc.

 

Wrigley played a key role in the development of the island. With great enthusiasm and determination, he brought many improvements, including public utilities, steamships, a hotel and casino. He was also responsible for the planting of numerous trees, shrubs, and flowers. A Wrigley Memorial was built in 1933 and 1934 as a tribute to Wrigley's love for the island. His wife, Ada, came up with the idea for a massive garden on the island showcasing plants from around the world. The garden stretches for over 37 acres and is a tribute to the Wrigley's concern for conservation.

 

In Chicago, he built the Wrigley Building in 1924, now on the National Register of Historic Places as part of a historic district. The Wrigley Building was an instant hit in Chicago, featuring a 27-story clock tower modeled on the Giralda Tower in Seville. It is actually two buildings, connected by a sky-bridge, where Michigan Avenue intersects with the Chicago River. Wrigley's wish was to create an impressive headquarters for his company. The building symbolizes Chicago for many people and has been seen in countless movies and television shows.

 

In 1930, Wrigley bought the Arizona Biltmore, a winter resort outside Phoenix, inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. The Wrigley family owned the resort for over four decades before selling it in May 1973.

 

When Wrigley died on January 26, 1932, The New York Times reported it was "of acute indigestion, complicated by apoplexy and heart disease." He passed away in a home he built near the Arizona resort. His simple philosophy was summed up, "To be always pleasant, always patient, always on time, and never to argue." He set the tone for the company by constantly telling his son, "We are a five-cent business, and nobody in this company can ever afford to forget it."

 

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Fact of the Day - OWLS

 

Eastern_Barn_Owl_(Tyto_javanica_stertens

 

Did you know.... that owls have three sets of eyelids? One is used when blinking, another for sleeping, and a third, called the nictitating membrane, is to clean the surface of the eye.

 

Owls are birds from the order Strigiformes, which includes about 200 species of mostly solitary and nocturnal birds of prey typified by an upright stance, a large, broad head, binocular vision, binaural hearing, sharp talons, and feathers adapted for silent flight. (Wikipedia)

 

Owls are intriguing birds that easily capture the attention and curiosity of birders. These facts may help clear up a bit of their mystery and reveal what a hoot owls really are.

Many owl species have asymmetrical ears. When located at different heights on the owl’s head, their ears are able to pinpoint the location of sounds in multiple dimensions. Ready, aim, strike.
 
The eyes of an owl are not true “eyeballs.” Their tube-shaped eyes are completely immobile, providing binocular vision which fully focuses on their prey and boosts depth perception.
 
Owls can rotate their necks 270 degrees. A blood-pooling system collects blood to power their brains and eyes when neck movement cuts off circulation.
 
A group of owls is called a parliament. This originates from C.S. Lewis’ description of a meeting of owls in The Chronicles of Narnia.
 
Owls hunt other owls. Great Horned Owls are the top predator of the smaller Barred Owl.

 

In fact, owls are insanely good hunters. 

 

The tiniest owl in the world is the Elf Owl, which is 5 - 6 inches tall and weighs about 1 ½ ounces. The largest North American owl, in appearance, is the Great Gray Owl, which is up to 32 inches tall.
 
The Northern Hawk Owl can detect—primarily by sight—a vole to eat up to a half a mile away.
 
In fat years when mice are plentiful, usually monogamous Boreal Owls are apt to be promiscuous. Because easy prey means less work for parents feeding their young, males have been caught mating with up to three females, while females have been seen with at least one beau on the side.
 
Barn Owls swallow their prey whole—skin, bones, and all—and they eat up to 1,000 mice each year.

 

Northern Saw-whet Owls can travel long distances over large bodies of water. One showed up 70 miles from shore near Montauk, New York.
 
Not all owls hoot! Barn Owls make hissing sounds, the Eastern Screech-Owl whinnies like a horse, and Saw-whet Owls sound like, well, an old whetstone sharpening a saw. Hence the name. 
 
Owls are zygodactyl, which means their feet have two forward-facing toes and two backward-facing toes. Unlike most other zygodactyl birds, however, owls can pivot one of their back toes forward to help them grip and walk.

Edited by DarkRavie
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Fact of the Day - HATTIE MCDANIEL

 

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Did you know... that Hattie McDaniel becomes first African American actress to win Oscar? 

 

On February 29, 1940, Gone with the Wind is honored with eight Oscars by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. An epic Southern romance set during the hard times of the Civil War, the movie swept the prestigious Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Cinematography, Art Direction, Film Editing, and Actress categories. However, the most momentous award that night undoubtedly went to Hattie McDaniel for her portrayal of “Mammy,” a housemaid and former enslaved woman. McDaniel, who won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award, was the first African American actress or actor ever to be honored with an Oscar.

 

Born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1895, McDaniel demonstrated her talents as a singer and actress while growing up in Denver, Colorado. She left school while a teenager to become a performer in several traveling minstrel groups and in 1924 became one of the first African American women to sing on U.S. radio. With the onset of the Great Depression, she was forced to take work as a ladies’ washroom attendant in a Milwaukee club. The club, which hired only white performers, eventually made an exception and let her sing, and she performed there for a year before setting her sights on Hollywood.

 

In Los Angeles, she won a small role on a local radio show called The Optimistic Do-Nuts and before long had become the program’s main attraction. In 1932, she made her film debut as a Southern house servant in The Golden West. In American movies at the time, African American actors and actresses were generally limited to house servant roles, and McDaniel apparently embraced this stereotype, playing the role of maid or cook in nearly 40 films in the 1930s. Responding to criticism by groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that she was perpetuating stereotypes, McDaniel responded that she would rather play a maid on the screen than be one in real life. Furthermore, she often subverted the stereotype by turning her maids into sassy, independent-minded characters who sometimes made white audiences shift uncomfortably in their seats.

 

Her most famous role was as Mammy in the 1939 film Gone with the Wind. Directed by Victor Fleming and based on the best-selling Margaret Mitchell novel of the same name, the movie remains the highest-grossing movie of all time when inflation is taken into account. Although she was honored with an Oscar, liberal African Americans sharply criticized McDaniel for accepting a role in which her character, a former slave, spoke nostalgically about the Old South.

 

McDaniel’s film career declined in the late 1940s, and in 1947 she returned to radio as the star of the nationally broadcast The Beulah Show. In the program, she again portrayed an effervescent Southern maid but in a markedly un-stereotypical manner that won praise from the NAACP. In 1951, while filming the first episodes of a television version of the popular show, she had a heart attack. She recovered to do a few more radio programs but in 1952 died of breast cancer at the age of 57.

 

Here are a few things you may not know.

As she famously quipped “I’d rather play a maid than be one,” McDaniel’s Oscar win in 1940 didn’t save her from being forced to play subservient roles in a Hollywood that was, still, not ready to break through its shackles of racism. In fact, not only was McDaniel not allowed to attend the film’s premiere in deeply segregated Atlanta, GA., (a fact that made her co-star and friend, Clark Gable, hit the roof with anger) but the 12th Academy Awards ceremony was held at Los Angeles’ Cocoanut Grove ballroom at the Ambassador Hotel where no blacks were allowed.
 

Gone with the Wind’s producer David O. Selznick had to finagle a way to break the rules: he was able to get the Ambassador to allow McDaniel to seat at the furthest possible table in the back so as not to disturb the white audience. (In fact, it wasn’t until 1959 that racial segregation was outlawed in California.)

 

 

 

But what she was able to accomplish with the scraps given her is nothing short of remarkable, often upstaging the biggest actors in Hollywood — even if only for a few moments. That’s because Hattie McDaniel wasn’t just an actor…she was a force of nature. Her talents far transcended the roles offered her, and it’s an intriguing film history treasure hunt to comb through her work and piece together the true scope of her talents. Here at Warner Archive, we have two films that offer a compelling case for the depths of McDaniels’ talents: George Washington Slept Here and Thank Your Lucky Stars.
 

George Washington Slept Here is Jack Benny comedy from 1942. It stars Ann Sheridan as an inveterate antique collector who falls in love with a house in upstate New York in which George Washington once spent a night. It needs polish, but she loves it. But her husband, (Benny), finds only suffering when the couple leaves his beloved NYC for what he considers a ramshackle bungalow in the wilderness. Hattie McDaniel is, of course, the housemaid — still solidly within the same character that won her the Best Supporting Actress Oscar just 2 years earlier. A stern, no-nonsense maid who rules the roost with a quick tongue and iron fist. While McDaniel is not allowed to in any way play an equal to her white co-stars, she’s still an unabashed scene-stealer, running away with better one-liners than Jack Benny himself.

 

 

 

Thank Your Lucky Stars is an all-star, feel-good confection of good old fashioned Hollywood hullaballoo. The story is … well, that’s really not important. Basically, it’s just Eddie Cantor putting on a show filled with as many Hollywood stars as possible. And in this feast of A-List talent, one of the most memorable moments features a fun and feisty Hattie McDaniel. “Ice Cold Katie” is the name of this swingin’ number, and in it McDaniel shows off her deep, bluesy vocal prowess. She’d displayed the talent in films before, most notably in the first film adaptation of Show Boat, but this is by far her splashiest number.

 

 

She Fought for the 14th Amendment
What’s interesting about watching Hattie in this number, dressed to the nines in an obviously African American community, is that in real life, she pushed the boundaries of segregation. In fact, McDaniel went to court over her right to live in a certain Los Angeles neighborhood: a number of blacks in the entertainment industry had begun to drift into a neighborhood called Sugar Hill, which made some white residents uneasy.

 

McDaniel fought it, and won, the judge ruling “It is time that members of the Negro race are accorded, without reservations or evasions, the full rights guaranteed them under the 14th Amendment to the Federal Constitution. Judges have been avoiding the real issue too long.”

 

Unfortunately, McDaniel’s premature death at age 57 from breast cancer resulted in another residency issue. In her will, she’d expressed her wishes to be buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery: the final resting place for countless classic film actors, directors, producers and writers. Hollywood Forever, however, just like The Ambassador, was Whites Only. The Oscar winning actress was forced to be laid to rest elsewhere. A memorial would eventually be placed at the Hollywood Forever … 40 years after her passing.

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