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Fact of the Day - GREENLAND SHARKS

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Did you know... There are probably Greenland sharks alive right now that are older than the United States.
When we think of animals with long life spans, tortoises usually come to mind first. But even Jonathan, a roughly 189-year-old giant tortoise who resides in St. Helena, would seem positively young compared to the average Greenland shark. Somniosus microcephalus (“sleepy small-head”) can live as long as 400 years or more, meaning there are probably some of them swimming the depths right now who predate the United States — or Sir Isaac Newton, for that matter. The deep-sea dwellers, most commonly found in the Arctic Ocean and North Atlantic, are the world’s longest-living vertebrates

 

In addition to their longevity, they’re also quite, well, long: Greenland sharks can reach a length of 23 feet and weigh over 2,000 pounds, though the average specimen isn’t quite that imposing. Despite also being among the world's slowest sharks — they’ve been observedalmost immobile” while “practically hovering” above the sea floor — they’re capable of quick bursts of speed that allow them to target fast-moving seals, Greenland halibut, Atlantic cod, and other marine creatures. As for how and why Greenland sharks live so long, it’s partially explained by their preferred environs: Cold-blooded animals in cold environments tend to have slow metabolic rates, which are associated with longevity (although scientists are still teasing out why) and “deep and cold equals old.”

 

Greenland shark meat is poisonous.

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The flesh of Greenland sharks contains an unusually high concentration of urea and the compound trimethylamine oxide (TMAO), which protect against cold temperatures and high water pressure. Should one choose to dine on Greenland shark meat that hasn't been dried or soaked, one will experience an intoxicating effect that's been referred to as both “shark sick” and “shark drunk.” That hasn’t stopped it from becoming an Icelandic delicacy, however. Hákarl is Greenland shark that has been fermented and hung to dry for as long as five months, resulting in a pungent, ammonia-like smell and cheesy texture. Though beloved by some (though certainly not all) Icelanders, it was described by Anthony Bourdain as “the single worst, most disgusting and terrible-tasting thing” he ever ate. (Interesting Facts)

 

Cool Facts About the Greenland Shark
By Erin McCarthy | December 18, 2014

 

This week, video popped up of a researcher freaking out after he spotted a rare Greenland shark on footage he had downloaded from a remote camera in the Russian arctic (you can watch the hilarious video above). Here are a few things you might not have known about this elusive deep sea denizen.

 

1. The first part of its scientific name, Somniosus microcephalus, roughly translates to “sleep,” because of the shark’s slow swimming; the second part of its name means “small head” (pretty self explanatory). In addition to Greenland shark, it’s sometimes called a sleeper shark or a ground shark, and it goes by a number of other names as well: In Greenland, its names include ekaluggsup piara, ekaluksuak, eqalussuak, and eqalusuak; in the Netherlands, South Africa, and Turkey, it’s called hakaring; in Italy, it's called squalo di groenlandia lemargo; and it’s referred to as tiburon boreal in Spain.

 

2. It’s one of the largest living sharks. At 6.5 feet long, the one seen above was probably very young; on average, they grow to 14 feet, and can get as large as 21 (or maybe 24) feet. But they grow slowly, at an average rate of a quarter-inch a year. The females are bigger than the males. 

 

3. Greenland sharks might live as long as 200 years!

 

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4. Its meat is toxic—at least if you eat it fresh. Its flesh contains high concentrations of trimethylamine oxide (TMAO), which “helps stabilize [the shark’s] enzymes and structural proteins against the debilitating effects of cold and extreme pressure,” according to the ReefQuest Center for Shark Research. In mammals, though, TMAO gets broken down during digestion and causes a number of horrible symptoms, including “stiff movements, hyper-salivation, vomiting, explosive diarrhea, conjunctivitis, muscular twitching, respiratory distress, convulsions, and—in severe cases—death.”  It also makes people appear as though they’re drunk, which is why, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History, natives of Greenland say that people who are drunk are “shark-sick.” The Greenland shark’s flesh is so toxic that it earned a spot in Guinness World Records 2011, but it can be consumed if it’s prepared properly: It either needs to be boiled with several changes of water, or buried for as long as 12 weeks so that it freezes and thaws several times, then hung up to dry for a few months. The resulting snack is called hákarl; according to the Wall Street Journal, chef Anthony Bourdain called it "the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing" he's ever eaten.

 

5. The Greenland shark will eat pretty much anything, dead or alive. Though it mostly feeds on other fish—including small sharks, eels, lumpfish, and flounder—some specimens have been found with entire reindeer in their stomachs. One was found containing a juvenile polar bear's jaw, and this shark was found choking on a moose hide.

 

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6. In the deep ocean where the Greenland shark typically lives—it’s been spotted as deep as 7220 feet—it doesn’t need great vision. And that’s a good thing, considering that these sharks are hosts for Ommatokoita elongata, a 2-inch-long parasitic copepod that attaches itself to the shark’s eyes, causing lesions that can lead to blindness. According to Daily Parasite,

 

The adult female copepod attaches herself to the shark's eye with an anchoring structure call the bulba, and grazes on the surface of the cornea. … There are two possible reasons for the copepod's attachment site. Shark skin is covered in microscopic, teeth-like structures call denticles which can make it difficult for parasites to attach themselves to skin (though some species of parasitic copepods manage). Secondly the eye is considered to be a "immunologically benign environment" for parasites, thus such an attachment is less likely to illicit an immune response.

 

It sounds gruesome, but the sharks don’t seem to mind; some even have copepods in both eyes.

 

7. It has crazy teeth. On the top jaw, they’re thin and pointed, without serration. The teeth on the lower jaw are broad, square, and interlocking with short, smooth, outward-pointing cusps. The top teeth serve as anchors while the bottom teeth do the cutting.

 

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Source: Facts About Greenland Sharks  |  Greenland Shark Facts

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Fact of the Day - FOLK TALE HEROES

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Did you know... Folk tales serve as a cultural binder of sorts, bringing people together with a fomented sense of shared identity. They’re also used as explainers, similarly to how mythology worked for ancient Greeks. American folk heroes are richly textured and many-layered: Contemporary characters like Paul Bunyan explained the creation of America’s rivers and lakes and served as inspiration for workers exposed to grueling conditions while carving a way West and extracting resources for trade or infrastructure. Other tales, like those of Sacagawea and Pocahontas, served as scapegoats for a version of American history that sidesteps the Native American genocide enacted by early colonists, Western explorers, and even the U.S. government. For enslaved African Americans, folklore provided subjugated people with heroic tales of bravery, defiance, and escape from Br’er Rabbit to Stack-O-Lee. Native Americans had hundreds of stories rooted in folklore from the Sleeping Ute Mountain to Kokopelli. Many folk heroes such as Hugh Glass and Annie Oakley are based on actual people, while others are pure fiction such as the Maid of the Mist and Bud Billiken. These tall tales come in the form of nursery rhymes, children’s tales, mascots, and cautionary myths and speak to us of strength, perseverance, and the celebrated intrepidness of rugged American individualism. (Nicole Caldwell | January 16, 2020)

 

Heroes of American Tall Tales and Their True Origin Stories

by Interesting Facts

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Paul Bunyan

You’ve read about them. You’ve sung about them. You’ve watched movies about them. For centuries, American folklore has sent our imaginations into overdrive with the tales of men who conquered the dangers of the wild terrain with their strength, wits, and superhuman gifts. Some were based on the archetype of a character, others were embellishments of real people, but all served to entertain and inspire by displaying abilities beyond the reach of normal mortals. Here are eight hyperbolized heroes who outlived the confines of their era to survive as legends for later generations to admire.

 

1. Paul Bunyan

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Few creations can match the prowess of Paul Bunyan, the titan of the North Woods who palled around with Babe the Blue Ox and was responsible for the formation of landmarks such as the Grand Canyon and the Great Lakes. For all the obvious hyperbole, the character may have been based on the real-life French Canadian lumberjacks Bon Jean and Fabian Fournier, the latter better known by the workers who traded tales at logging camps in the late 1800s. Bunyan stories first appeared in print just after the turn of the century, but it was a marketing campaign by the Red River Lumber Company that introduced the behemoth woodsman to the masses during World War I. Collected stories soon appeared in book form, establishing a mythical mainstay that remains larger than life through the monuments in his honor that populate the northern landscape.

 

2. Davy Crockett

There's no question that Davy Crockett, a three-term U.S. congressman from Tennessee, was a real man, if not the "half horse, half alligator" he allegedly claimed to be. Regardless, the folksy, bear-hunting lawmaker with scant formal education was an anomaly among his well-bred peers and was already a celebrity by the time the first Davy Crockett's Almanack appeared in print in 1835. The legend received another jolt when he was killed at the famed 1836 Battle of the Alamo, and by the 1840s, the Almanack was featuring more outlandish stories of its hero handily fighting off bears and alligators. Still, Crockett may well have faded into memory, were it not for his mid-1950s revival by way of the Disney TV series and movies that had children everywhere wearing coonskin caps and singing about the "king of the wild frontier."

 

3. Johnny Appleseed

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The black sheep of the American folklore canon, Johnny Appleseed achieved immortality not through acts of cunning or bravery, but by way of his ragtag clothing and peaceful rapport with all living creatures as he scattered his wares across the land. Ironically, the man behind the myth — John Chapman — did display immense courage, fortitude, and resourcefulness by traipsing thousands of miles across the eastern wilderness and establishing orchards to aid settlers in the first half of the 1800s. A zealous proponent of the Church of the New Jerusalem who had no permanent home and largely refused to sleep indoors, the eccentric Chapman was already famous by the time he died in 1845. But his fame lived on through the exaggerations that became associated with his memory via the written "recollections," poems, and children's stories that circulated in the decades afterward.

 

4. Mike Fink

Another flesh-and-blood man who saw his celebrity swell as the frontier mythos gained steam, Mike Fink earned renown as a keelboatman on the mighty Mississippi River in the early 1800s. Tall and powerful, he allegedly boasted he could "outrun, outshoot, throw down, drag out, and lick any man in the country," though his brashness and heavy-drinking ways may well have contributed to his death in 1823. Five years later, the first Fink tale appeared in The Western Souvenir, giving rise to several decades' worth of stories that focused more on his reputation for practical jokes than shows of strength. While his legend dimmed by the end of the century, Fink also received a lifeline from Disney when he was presented as the arch-foe-turned-ally in 1956's Davy Crockett and the River Pirates.

 

5. Pecos Bill

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The personification of the rough-and-tumble cowboy who tamed the Old West, Pecos Bill supposedly was raised by coyotes, single-handedly invented the modern methods of ranching, and could be seen riding a cyclone when not astride his bucking horse, the Widow-Maker. Such an indomitable character was no match for any enemy, though at least one account says the end came after he saw a Yankee dressed as a cowboy and laughed himself to death. The first published Pecos Bill stories appeared around World War I from the hand of Edward O'Reilly, who insisted he heard the outlandish tales as a child, though historians have since thrown that claim into doubt. Whatever his origin, Pecos Bill's adventures are more than wild enough to earn him a distinguished place in the tall-tale pantheon.

 

6. John Henry

One of the few Black heroes of American folklore, John Henry was said to be the strongest steel driver toiling on the construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway in the 1870s. When a steam-powered drill was introduced, Henry took it as a challenge to demonstrate man's superiority over machine, winning the duel but working himself to death in the process. As with other legends, historians have sought to uncover the source of the tale, with some claiming to have pinpointed a real John Henry and others determining that he was a composite of the anonymous hands who undertook the backbreaking labor. Regardless, his story struck a chord with audiences through the printed page and screen, and especially through the African American blues tradition that gave rise to work songs like "The Ballad of John Henry."

 

7. Old Stormalong

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A Bunyanesque character for the seafaring set, Old Stormalong stood 30 feet tall, according to some accounts, tangled with the Kraken of Norse mythology, and commanded a ship so large it had hinged masts to avoid colliding with the moon. It's unknown who — if anybody — served as the model for the character, whose origins trace back to North Atlantic sea shanties of the 1830s and '40s. While those early work songs presented "Old Stormy" as more of an everyman sailor, it was Frank Shay's Here's Audacity! American Legendary Heroes (1930) that brought him to life as a titanic superman of the surf, clearing the decks for his inclusion among the famous outsized figures of the genre.

 

8. Big Mose

As opposed to his rural counterparts, Big Mose was a hero of urban origins: A firefighter in New York City's Bowery district, he supposedly stood 8 feet tall, boasted hands the size of Virginia hams, and uprooted streetcars and lampposts with ease. Once again, this was a character inspired by a legitimate person, a volunteer fireman, printer, and brawler named Moses Humphreys. And while the oral recounts were codified through the works of Ned Buntline, the Mose legend took root through a series of wildly popular stage plays in the 1840s and '50s. Big Mose may not be as well known today as Davy Crockett and Johnny Appleseed, but his myth was every bit as formidable as the others’ during his pre-Civil War heyday.

 

Source: Folk Heroes and Stories Behind Them  |  Facts About Tall Tales and Their Origins

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Fact of the Day - COAST REDWOOD

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Did you know... Coast redwood trees are the tallest beings in the world.
With a narrow range stretching for about 450 miles, from Big Sur to southern Oregon, coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) are the tallest living beings in the world — and one in particular surpasses them all. Named after a titan in Greek mythology and found in California’s Redwood National Park, Hyperion stands 380 feet tall. That’s 65 feet taller than London’s Big Ben and 10 feet taller than the previous record holder, another coast redwood. A redwood’s size is only one of its many fascinating features. Their root systems are relatively shallow (only 6–12 feet deep), but can grow more than 100 feet outward from the trunk, giving them stability against heavy winds and flooding. They’re also old — really old — with some redwoods alive today estimated at more than 2,000 years old. That means they were around during the Roman Republic (sempervirens means “always flourishing,” after all). In fact, their age may be one reason these trees can grow so tall. And today, redwoods are more important than ever, because they soak up more CO2 than any other tree on Earth. A typical coast redwood removes 250 tons of carbon from the atmosphere during its lifetime, compared to just one ton for a typical tree. That’s why scientists are now finding ways to clone some of the oldest coast redwoods that have ever lived, in the hopes of combating climate change.

 

Sequoias are named after a famous member of the Cherokee Nation.
In 1847, Austrian botanist Stephan Endlicher decided that redwoods were a different genus than originally believed, so he gave them a new scientific name. Today, many believe he was inspired by the Cherokee polymath Sequoyah (circa 1775-1843), who created the Cherokee writing system, thus giving his people the same “talking leaves” — or words on paper — that Europeans used. Sequoyah likely never laid eyes on what would one day be his namesake, but like Sequoia sempervirens, he remains a towering figure in history. (Interesting Facts)

 

Facts About Redwood Trees

by Sempervirens

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Sequoia sempervirens is the sole living species of the genus Sequoia in the cypress family Cupressaceae. Common names include coast redwood, coastal redwood, and California redwood. It is an evergreen, long-lived, monoecious tree living 1,200–2,200 years or more. This species includes the tallest living trees on Earth, reaching up to 115.9 m (380.1 ft) in height (without the roots) and up to 8.9 m (29 ft) in diameter at breast height. These trees are also among the oldest living things on Earth. (Wikipedia)

 

1. Tallest Tree on Earth

Coast redwood trees are the tallest trees on the planet. They can grow to 300 feet high or more, as compared to the tallest pine tree at 268 feet or the tallest tanoak at 162 feet. The tallest recorded redwood tree in the Santa Cruz Mountains is Big Basin Redwoods State Park’s “Mother of the Forest” at 329 feet high which is just 50 feet shy of the tallest tree on earth, the redwood known as “Hyperion”. All this magnificence in height, and yet a typical redwood’s root system is only 6 to 12 feet deep. Redwoods create the strength to withstand powerful winds and floods by extending their roots outwards, up to 100 feet wide from the trunk, and living in groves where their roots can intertwine. A redwood can’t grow to be the tallest tree on earth alone. It needs the support and protection of other trees in the forest to grow tall—holding carbon and providing plant and wildlife habitat every inch of the way. That’s why it’s so important to protect and connect forest lands so the trees can thrive together.

 

2. Almost as Old as the Dinosaurs
The earliest redwoods showed up on Earth shortly after the dinosaurs – before flowers, birds, spiders… and, of course, humans. Redwoods have been around for about 240 million years2, and in California for at least 20 million years, compared to about 200,000 years for “modern” humans3. However, in just the last 150 years, human impacts have drastically reduced the number of these ancient trees through clear-cut logging and development. Only 5% of old-growth redwood forests remain. Today, Sempervirens Fund protects and restores thousands of acres of redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains so they can continue to provide habitat, clean air, and awe for generations to come.

 

3. They Live for Thousands of Years

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Officially, the oldest living coast redwood has been alive for at least 2,200 years, but foresters believe some coast redwoods may be much older4. Their bark helps them survive many hardships that other trees cannot—it can be at least a foot thick and contains lots of tannins, a compound that makes redwoods resistant to insects, fungus and diseases. Their bark has very little resin which is one of the ways redwoods are fire resilient. Although a redwoods’ ability for a long lifespan contributed to its Latin name, Sequoia sempervirens—sempervirens means "evergreen" or "everlasting” in Latin—most of the remaining redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains are “second-growth”, about 50-150 years old. When you walk or ride through the Santa Cruz Mountains, you are in a nursery of young redwoods that, if protected, can live for 2,000 years cleaning carbon from the air, providing habitat for wildlife, and inspiring people for generations to come. That’s how our founders named our nonprofit organization working to protect, expand and care for the local redwood forests “Sempervirens” in 1900. Learn more about Sempervirens Fund’s history protecting redwoods.

 

4. Redwoods Take Care of Each Other
A redwood’s shallow but widespread roots, help them survive by intertwining with the roots of other trees around them. Intertwined root systems provide stability to these mighty trees during strong winds and floods - quite literally holding one another down. Their shallow roots can also sprout and support new redwood trees far more successfully than from their cone seeds. Redwoods can often be seen growing in circles, known as “fairy rings” or “family circles”, because they sprouted from the roots of a parent tree.  The parent tree helps to nourish the sprouts with water and sugars through its well-established root system while they grow. When the parent trees die, the young redwoods continue to grow in the circle shielding, stabilizing, and nourishing each other through their roots. Redwoods will help each other even if they aren’t “family”. Trees in the ring aren’t always genetically identical or clones of the parent tree. Some of the redwoods in a ring can also grow from seedlings. Redwoods take care of one another supporting each other with nutrients through their interconnected roots including their young, sick and old. We’re also just beginning to learn about how trees like redwoods communicate and work together. It takes a forest to raise a mighty redwood. Redwoods are stronger together. By protecting and connecting redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains, we can help redwoods thrive together so they can grow tall, clean the most air, and provide habitat and awe for thousands of years.

 

5. They Make Rain

Redwoods can make it rain. Redwood trees prefer a moist environment to get all of the water they need for their gigantic size. They have adapted to help form their own habitat. A redwood’s leaves can both absorb moisture from fog right from the air and can also condense fog into drops and rain them down to soak the soil around them. But that’s not all. From their leaves, redwoods can release terpenes which help condense moisture in the air into clouds that cool the forest. Redwoods can also transpire moisture back into the air to help keep the forest cool and moist during dry months for themselves and the plants around them. You can read more about the role redwoods play in the water cycle here.

 

6. Entire Ecosystems Live in Their Branches

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Entire ecosystems can live within redwood branches high off the ground. Because redwoods can grow so large and old, their shed leaves collect together with dust and water on their branches and eventually become soil mats that create mini-ecosystems. Hundreds of plants including ferns, moss, lichen, huckleberries, and even other full-sized trees have been found living in the canopies of redwoods. These plants provide food for wildlife living in the redwood’s soil mats including insects and amphibians. While many more species of birds and small mammals such as bats and squirrels nest and find food growing on redwoods, some species like wandering salamanders live their entire lives in the canopy of a single redwood tree.

 

7. Wild Animals Thrive Here
The redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains are near the end of the largest temperate rainforest in the world which stretches up the north Pacific Coast and supports hundreds of species of wildlife. Wild, endangered creatures like mountain lions, Coho salmon and marbled murrelet depend on our local redwood forests to survive. Wildlife need large, connected areas of diverse habitat to get the food, water, shelter, and potential mates to thrive. Although some species like the Strobeen’s parnassian butterfly have already disappeared from the Santa Cruz Mountains due to habitat loss15, other species like endangered coho salmon are making a comeback thanks to habitat protection and restoration efforts. Protecting and connecting habitat for wildlife is especially critical for their survival as our communities continue to grow into natural places that once provided them refuge. When we protect habitat for threatened and endangered species, often the most sensitive or specialized creatures, all wildlife in and near the habitat benefit.


8. Redwoods are Climate Change Heroes
While all trees are crucial to maintaining a stable, human-friendly climate, redwoods are climate change heroes. Studies show that coast redwoods capture more carbon dioxide (CO2) from our cars, trucks and power plants than any other tree on Earth. Thanks to their large size, long lifespan, and rot-resistant wood, redwood trees can pull and hold at least three times more carbon from the air, thereby cleaning more air and helping to keep temperatures from rising, than the average tree. In fact, redwoods can be so large that new studies measuring them more effectively with the use of lasers and computer modeling to better estimate their size show that redwoods may be 30% larger than previously thought thereby holding even more carbon. More research is being done to see how redwood trees can help to decrease the effects of climate change. In the meantime, protecting the redwood forests we have now is crucial particularly as the effects of climate change itself including higher temperatures, drought, and much hotter and more frequent wildfires threaten them. As the climate changes, the redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains are one of very few places that can provide a refuge for local plants and animals to survive, because the area has many microclimates, is cooled by coastal summertime fog and is still largely unpaved. Read more about Redwoods and Climate Change.

 

9. Last Natural Habitat

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Coast redwood’s only natural habitat is right here on the Pacific Coast from Big Sur to southern Oregon. Once redwoods had a much wider range across the Northern Hemisphere, including western North America and the coasts of Europe and Asia. The coastal fog in this area has helped supply enough water to support the redwood giants through all of the seasons for the last 20 million years. Although coast redwoods have been established by people in other places of the world like New Zealand, the oldest and tallest coast redwoods are in their natural habitat where they have rain, fog, and forests of neighboring redwoods, fungi, and creatures like banana slugs helping to support them. Protecting their last remaining natural habitat is crucial so redwoods can reach their full potential as the tallest trees on the planet and our awe-inspiring climate change heroes.

 

10. Only 5% of Redwoods are Left
Only 5% of the original old-growth coast redwood forests that flourished on the Pacific Coast are left. Because redwoods are extremely resistant to insects, fire and rot, they are treasured for building and 95% of them have been cut down since the 1850s. The survival of several redwood buildings from the 1906 fire in San Francisco launched a flurry of demand for redwood lumber in the rebuilding of the city and elsewhere. By 1900, logging spurred a group of concerned people to form Sempervirens Club, now known as Sempervirens Fund, and start the redwood conservation movement which has successfully preserved thousands of acres of redwood forest. However, there is much more land still at risk.  In 2011, the International Union for Conservation of Nature listed redwoods as endangered. Today, we have a rare chance to re-establish the once-vast and vibrant local redwood forest into a magnificent, life-giving world between Silicon Valley and the Pacific Ocean. Although many old-growth redwoods have been cut down, younger second-growth redwoods have resprouted since then, some even of the same genetic stock of their massive predecessors. By protecting redwood forests and helping to restore ideal conditions through careful stewardship, old-growth redwood forests can grow again. With a little help from us to get started, the redwood forest can recover from the massive logging and fragmentation that took place during the last 150 years. Once protected and restored, the redwood forest will take care of itself – providing plant and wildlife habitat, clean air, and inspiration for thousands and even millions of years to come.

 

 

Source: Facts About Coast Redwood  |  Top Facts About Redwood Trees

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Fact of the Day - CINNAMON

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Did you know.... Cinnamon used to be more valuable than gold.
The woody, warming spice we sprinkle with abandon on top of holiday cookies, baked goods, and seasonal coffees is native to Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and India. But very few people knew where cinnamon came from when merchants first began selling spices throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa as far back as 3,000 years ago — and spice traders capitalized on that lack of knowledge to charge high prices. Harvested from the inner bark of Cinnamomum trees, cinnamon has been used for thousands of years as medicine, for religious practices and funerals, and in cuisine, but with a big price tag: It was once considered more precious than gold.

 

In an effort to conceal cinnamon’s origins from competitors and explain the extravagant markup to wary customers, spice traders of the past provided elaborate backstories. By some fifth-century accounts, cinnamon traders asserted that collecting the spice was a dangerous task thanks to angry “winged creatures” that lived in the trees; cinnamon harvesters supposedly donned protective outerwear made of thick hides and risked their personal safety to collect a few measly pieces of cinnamon bark. Other vendors claimed cinnamon was transported from far-off lands by birds who used it as nesting material (in this tale, harvesting cinnamon sticks from nests required a cow sacrifice to provide the birds with a meaty distraction). Yet another story declared that cinnamon grew in dangerous, snake-infested valleys. Cinnamon’s origins remained an enigma for centuries, but luckily for chefs and bakers today, the secret eventually got out thanks to global exploration brought on by a surging interest in spices. Now, the flavoring is a low-cost mainstay in modern pantries.

 

Scientists have recreated a cinnamon perfume Cleopatra may have worn.

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What did our ancestors smell like? Archaeologists and historians have pieced together how numerous cultures ate, dressed, relaxed — in short, lived — but it’s generally been harder to tell how people once smelled. Thanks to one archaeological find, however, we have a clue as to how Egyptians may have perfumed themselves, perhaps even Cleopatra — a royal known for a cinnamon-laced scent so seductive, it’s credited with attracting Julius Caesar. In 2012, archaeologists unearthed ruins north of Cairo suspected to be an ancient Egyptian perfume factory; that dig inspired a team of historians and perfume experts to recreate fragrances that hadn’t been worn in nearly 2,000 years. Using recipes from ancient Greek texts that may have borrowed from Cleopatra’s own formulas — a book of recipes that no longer exists, but was often referenced by other perfumers — researchers blended cinnamon, myrrh, and other herbs with olive oil to create a viscous fragrance akin to what ancient Egyptians once donned. While we’ll never know for sure if Cleopatra wore this specific scent, the experiment gives us an olfactory link with history. (Interesting Facts)

 

Unique Facts That You Didn't Know About Cinnamon

by Jake Kilroy | Sep 24, 2016

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You think of cinnamon as some fun spice you toss around, from the disaster that is Fireball Whiskey to the even bigger disaster that is the “Cinnamon Challenge.” Maybe it’s something you sprinkle on your toast when you’re sick or place around the house in stick form to ensure your wintry pad is more festive than your neighbor (Karen, ugh). But cinnamon is way more powerful of a food entity and you’re not showing it the proper respect. Here’s a few things you didn’t know about cinnamon.


1. There are actually two kinds of cinnamon, and the more common type is the dangerous one.

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Yeah, that’s what’s up. Right off the bat, cinnamon is already rattling your world. Americans are used to the “Cassia” variety (from Indonesia and China), even though the “Ceylon” plant is considered the real, true spice (from Sri Lanka, Madagascar and the Seychelles), which is popular for tea. A key difference between the two is that Cassia has much, much more coumarin in it than Ceylon. This toxic chemical compound is what makes consuming cinnamon in large quantities such a terrible and dangerous idea, and actually, what makes cinnamon in general kind of a risky move for pregnant women.

 

2. A Roman emperor burned a whole lot of cinnamon because he felt bad for killing his wife.
Supposedly, during a petty argument about him spending too much time at the races, Roman emperor Nero kicked his wife in the gut so hard that it led to her death. To atone for the accidental murder, he torched as much cinnamon as he could find at the funeral pyre, since it was a much rarer commodity than it is today. In some twisted logic, Nero thought this would suffice in showing his dead wife how sorry he was.

 

3. Cinnamon oil will prevent bugs from feasting on you.

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Cinnamon oil, which sounds like a delicious addition to anything, destroys the hell out of mosquito larvae, as it turns out. So think of cinnamon as an environmentally friendly pesticide in a way by adding a few drops or sprinklings to your sunscreen or lotion.

 

4. You can lighten your hair with cinnamon.

Mixing a few spoonfuls of cinnamon into a paste — with honey or actual conditioner — will lighten your hair once applied and allowed sunshine to get at it.

 

5. Cinnamon used to be at least 15 times more expensive than silver.

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Back in the day — talking the first century A.D. here — cinnamon carried an ungodly price tag, especially in Rome. It was considered a precious commodity, given its high demand and low supply. Once the regularity of foreign exploration kicked in, the spice became more available and therefore more affordable.

 

6. Cinnamon was an ingredient in embalming and blessings in ancient times.

Though you may think of cinnamon as a light, fun taste, it has some heavy background. It helped preserved the dead in ancient Egypt (with a nice scent to boot) and Moses, according to the Old Testament, added it to holy oil for anointing.

 

7. Cinnamon can regulate your blood sugar (and do a whole lot more).

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According to analysis and studies, cinnamon has been proven to be beneficial for those concerned with diabetes. There's also been studies that suggest cinnamon can lower lipid levels, such as LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

 

 

Source: Fun Fact About Cinnamon  |  Cinnamon Facts

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Fact of the Day - FRAGRANCES

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Did you know.... We as humans have been always fascinated with our history since history teaches us about our past, our culture, and who we are today. When it comes to the history of perfume, one shouldn’t be surprised that it also goes back to ancient times as well. I’m always interested in learning new things such as perfume ingredients, perfume history, and raw materials that make modern perfumes, and modern perfumery. After doing thorough research based on this topic, I have made a compact article which I believe you’ll enjoy, and learn something new without having to read through a wall of text filled with dry information. (Marin Kristic | January 27, 2021)

 

The History of 6 Bestselling Fragrances From the 20th Century

by Interesting Facts

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Not all fragrance companies have the staying power of Chanel. For example: Chaqueneau, a New Jersey-based perfume company, made headlines in the 1950s for selling their perfumes only to men. “After all, there ought to be something a man can buy for a woman that she can’t buy for herself,” read a Saks Fifth Avenue brochure for one of the aforementioned scents, Chaqueneau-K. “Chaqueneau-K will never be sold to a woman.” For obvious reasons, the brand lacked staying power. But Chaquenau’s story is by no means indicative of the booming billion-dollar fragrance industry, which is expected to be valued at more than $40 billion annually by 2025.

 

1. Chanel No. 5 by Chanel (1921)
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A vacation to the South of France changed Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s young business forever. During her trip, she met Russian Frenchman Ernest Beaux, a second-generation perfumer. Instead of joining the market of mere floral and fruity scents, Chanel desired “an artificial perfume” that was constructed, like a couture gown. Beaux’s mixture contained a healthy pour of soapy-smelling aldehydes; some think this ingredient reminded Chanel of her mother, a laundress she lost at age 12. Each ounce of the fragrance also boasts the essence of 1,000 jasmine flowers and 12 roses, both sourced from the same 50-acre field in Pégomas, France. The first Chanel No. 5 ad featured a flapper-era Chanel sketched by the caricaturist Sem, while the designer was photographed for a 1937 follow-up. For many women, owning Chanel No. 5 remains a rite of passage — a bottle is sold every 30 seconds.  

 

2. Shalimar by Guerlain (1921)

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Favored by Rita Hayworth and Mad Men’s Joan Holloway (played by Christina Hendricks), Shalimar takes its name from the Sanskrit word meaning “abode of love.” The direct inspiration for Guerlain’s signature scent comes from gardens commissioned by 17th-century royalty. India’s Shalimar Gardens were masterminded by Mughal Emperor Jahangir, while his son Shah Jahan — overseer of the Taj Mahal’s construction — had a royal refuge built with around 450 fountains in Pakistan. Thus Shalimar’s Baccarat crystal bottle is designed to mirror an Eastern garden basin. The fragrance’s notes include bergamot, leather, and vanilla, a blend that earned praise from Chanel No. 5 architect Beaux. “If I had used that much vanilla, I would have ended up with sorbet or custard,” said Beaux. “But Jacques Guerlain created a masterpiece, Shalimar!” As of 2017, 108 bottles were purchased around the globe every hour.    

 

3. Miss Dior by Dior (1947)

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Ginette “Catherine” Dior had a life worthy of a biopic. A member of the French Resistance during World War II, she was arrested and deported to Germany, where she labored in a concentration camp and factories supporting the Axis effort. Once free, she returned to France to farm flowers. In between, the British and French governments bestowed Catherine with honors for bravery. But the most sentimental accolade might have come from her older brother, Christian, when his fashion house named Miss Dior perfume after her. Featuring notes of narcissus, iris, and orris root, the fragrance was crafted by Jean Carles and Paul Vacher — after Carles lost his sense of smell (amazingly, he worked from memory). Natalie Portman has fronted the scent since 2010.  

 

4. Charlie by Revlon (1973)

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When model-actress Shelley Hack posed for the debut Charlie ad, she wore a three-piece suit, loafers, and a bowtie. Another campaign featured a woman toting a briefcase as she pats a man’s bottom. Revlon targeted liberated women seeking to buy their perfume with their own wages. Oprah Winfrey was so riveted that she brought Hack on her show in 2008 to discuss “the Charlie girl.” “I wanted to stride like her with confidence,” Winfrey said. “I wanted to be this fabulous.” Among the scent’s notes are lily of the valley, geranium, and coriander, and its golden bottle is in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. While the fragrance predated Charlie’s Angels by three years, Hack eventually co-starred in 25 episodes.  

 

5. Opium by Yves Saint Laurent (1977)

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In the late ‘70s, would-be customers for Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium perfume were known to pocket samples and yank posters when a store sold out. They yearned to sniff the cinnamon, sandalwood, and patchouli fragrance feted by Cher and Truman Capote at Studio 54. Yet for decades, Opium’s name and campaign imagery earned condemnation on multiple continents. A 1980 commercial followed supermodel Linda Evangelista’s search for the scent in a crowded Chinese marketplace, wielding a fan of cash. Twenty years later, London’s British Advertising Standards Authority forced YSL to take down Opium billboards that displayed writhing model Sophie Dahl — wearing only shoes and jewelry — when the photo generated more than 900 complaints. Nonetheless, the label never apologized. The Musée Yves Saint Laurent celebrated its late founder with a 2018 exhibition called “Yves Saint Laurent: Dreams of the Orient.”

 

6. White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor (1991)

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The most successful celebrity perfume empire is a tale of two Lizes: Screen legend Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011) partnered with Elizabeth Arden on a line that bloomed into 16 scents. To promote the first, “Passion,” future-dame Taylor embarked on a month-long American tour in 1987. Then the two-time Best Actress Oscar winner made her love of precious gems accessible to mall-goers with White Diamonds (notes: Egyptian tuberose, jasmine, and carnation). Along with the launch came “White Diamonds: The Movie,” a lilac-hued commercial from the '90s, where Taylor offered her earrings to help a strapped poker player, saying, “These have always brought me luck.” The fragrance’s lifetime sales surpassed $1 billion in 2013, and a portion of earnings from each of the star’s perfumes supports the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

 

 

Source: History Of Perfume: 24 Interesting Facts And Insights  |  Fact About Bestselling Fragrances

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Fact of the Day - LONGEST-RUNNING TV SHOWS

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'Sesame Street' has been entertaining, and educating, kids since 1969.

Did you know.... Television is a competitive industry, so any TV series that gets picked up past its first season should consider itself lucky. It's rare when a series is popular enough to survive casting changes, cultural shifts, and disruptions in the media landscape. From daytime soap operas to late-night comedy programs, these are the 45 longest-running TV shows in history. (Michele Debczak | May 31, 2021 | Updated: Jul 22, 2022)

 

Longest-running TV Shows
By: Jesslyn Shields  |  Updated: Dec 3, 2021

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The Queen's Messenger (1928)

Before Netflix was turning out binge-able content by the truckload, we had television shows. They're still around, of course, but since the first television drama aired in 1928, things have changed. Sometimes shows are only meant to last one season — or three. But since the concept of the TV show really took off after World War II some, TV programs have shown some real staying power. Although many news programs and soap operas have lasted longer, here's a list of the longest-running dramas and sitcoms in United States television history.

 

 1: "The Simpsons" (1989-present)

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Who would have thought that an animated sitcom featuring a family of severely jaundiced-looking, accident-prone oddballs would have made it this far! The AVClub has called it "the best animated series of all time, and television’s crowning achievement regardless of format." With more than 700 episodes in the can, its longevity is leagues ahead of any other show.

 

2: "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" (1999-present)

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If you like a good crime drama, "Law and Order: SVU" is probably on your guilty pleasures list. It’s also the only live-action primetime television show that debuted in the 20th century and is still running. Over the course of over 500 episodes, main character Olivia Benson, played by Mariska Hargitay, has investigated sex crimes of all kinds, and has been promoted up the NYPD's 16th precinct’s ranks, from detective to captain. "Law and Order: SVU" has made Olivia Benson the longest-running main character in any live-action primetime show.

 

3: "Gunsmoke" (1955-1975)

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"Gunsmoke" tops the list as the longest-running dramatic series in network television history with 635 episodes. Set in Dodge City, Kansas, during the 1870s, "Gunsmoke" began as a radio program in 1952, switched to the land of visual entertainment in 1955, and finally ended its 20-year run in 1975.

 

4: "Law and Order" (1990-2010; 2022)

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Unlike its spinoff "Law and Order: SVU", "Law and Order" had an undeniably good run, but not without interruptions. This successful police procedural sired six spinoffs and a made-for-TV movie, and lasted an incredible 20 seasons and 456 episodes. In 2010, after 20 years on air, NBC cancelled "Law and Order," and after an unsuccessful attempt to shop it around to three networks, "Law and Order" became a thing of the past. Until 2021, when NBC announced "Law and Order" would come back with a new season in 2022.

 

5: "Family Guy" (1999-present)

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It seems Americans love animated sitcoms about dysfunctional families. "Family Guy" premiered in 1999, and 20 seasons and almost 400 episodes later, we're still turning in to find out what kind of trouble a diabolical baby and an anthropomorphic dog will get into.

 

6: "Lassie" (1954-1972)

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Running for 588 episodes, "Lassie" centered around a loyal canine companion who rescued her human family from various predicaments. Over the years, Lassie was portrayed by nine different male dogs, all descendants of the original Lassie, whose real name was Pal. During the show's run, Lassie had various owners, most notably Timmy and Jeff. Only three dogs have a star on the Hollywood Walk of FameLassie, Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart.

 

7: "NCIS" (2003-present)

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A blend of police procedural and military drama, "NCIS" follows a team of criminal investigators for the Navy, solving everything from poisonings to terror attacks. Premiering in 2003, "NCIS" is approaching 450 episodes.

 

8: "Grey's Anatomy" (2005-present)

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If you have ever received medical advice from someone who was not a health care professional, it's possible they've been watching "Grey's Anatomy" for a couple of decades. Premiering in 2003, its ABC's longest-running scripted primetime show, and after all these years remains one of the most watched shows on broadcast television. After 18 seasons and almost 400 episodes, we still can't wait to find out what's going to happen once the surgical interns, residents and attending physicians scrub in.

 

9: "American Dad!" (2005-present)

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Since its debut in 2005, "American Dad!" has served up 18 seasons of the animated family sitcom chuckles America loves. Republican dad with a humongous chin? Check! Existentially addled teenaged children? Check! Pet goldfish that thinks it’s a German elite athlete? Check? Neurotic alien pet? Well, you get the idea.

 

10: "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (2000-2015)

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"Somebody in Las Vegas has been murdered! But who did it and how?!" That’s the basic premise of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." Consult a gas spectrometer and recruit an exotic dancer into the police force as blood splatter specialist and you’ve got yourself a forensic crime drama! CSI ran for 15 seasons and produced 337 episodes of grizzly who-done-its.

 

 

Source: Longest-Running TV Shows of All Time  |  Facts About Some of the Longest-Running TV Shows

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Fact of the Day - LEFTIES IN HISTORY

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Did you know... It's not always easy being a left-handed person in a right-handed world. In fact, only around 10 percent of the population is left-handed, which means that most things are designed for righties, often leaving lefties to fend for themselves. But being left-handed doesn't have to stand in the way of anyone's success. Actually, some of the world's most accomplished people—including guitarist Jimi Hendrix, superstar Lady Gaga, and former President Barack Obama—are lefties. Find out who else is in the club with our list of the most famous left-handed people in history. (by DESIRÉE O | JANUARY 26, 2021)

 

Famous Lefties in History

by Interesting Facts

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At only about 10% of the global population, left-handed people are definitely in the minority. But even though left-handers are few and far between, some of society's most notable figures have written, thrown a ball, or played an instrument with their left hand. There are even some famous fictional characters who are avowed southpaws, including Ned Flanders from The Simpsons, who runs a store, the Leftorium, catering to left-handed people. As we celebrate International Left Handers Day — a holiday that falls each August 13 — let's get to know a little more about some of the most prominent lefties throughout history.

 

1. Leonardo da Vinci

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Though there's some argument over whether Leonardo da Vinci was exclusively a lefty or actually ambidextrous, his peers referred to him by the term "mancino," which is Italian slang for a left-hander. Leonardo was known for a unique style of taking notes, referred to as "mirror writing," in which he wrote from right to left. (One theory is that the method was meant to avoid ink smudges with his left hand.) His left-handedness also now plays a key role in authenticating his drawings, as experts often look for signs of left-handed strokes and slants in order to confirm whether a piece is a genuine Leonardo da Vinci work. While the Renaissance polymath embraced being a lefty, one of his contemporaries defied it — Michelangelo actually retrained himself to write and draw with his right hand instead of accepting his natural left-handedness.

 

2. Babe Ruth

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Known for being arguably the greatest baseball slugger of all time, the left-handed-hitting Babe Ruth began his career as one of the most dominant southpaw pitchers of the 1910s. Ruth switched to the outfield after being sold from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees, where his lefty power stroke earned him nicknames like the "Great Bambino" and "Sultan of Swat." All told, Ruth socked 714 homers during his illustrious career, good enough for third place behind the scandal-plagued Barry Bonds and legendary Hank Aaron. On rare occasions, Ruth would experiment with batting right-handed, though his success from that side was limited.

 

3. Jimi Hendrix

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Revered as one of the greatest guitar virtuosos in rock history, Hendrix made the unique choice to play a right-handed guitar upside down in order to accommodate his left-handed proclivities (although he also performed some tasks with his right hand). His father, Al, forced Jimi to play guitar right-handed, because he believed that left-handedness had sinister connotations (a belief that was once common — the word “sinister” comes from Latin meaning “on the left side”). While Jimi did his best to oblige his father when Al was present, he would flip the guitar as soon as his dad left the room, and he also had it restrung to more easily be played left-handed. Hendrix isn't the only legendary lefty rocker: Paul McCartney of the Beatles and Nirvana's Kurt Cobain also strummed their guitars with their left hands.

 

4. Marie Curie

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Given the fact that men are more likely to be left-handed than women, this list has been sorely lacking thus far in terms of famous females. One of history's greatest left-handers, however, was none other than the groundbreaking scientist Marie Curie. A Nobel Prize winner, Curie helped to discover the principles of radioactivity and was the matriarch of a family full of lefty scientists; her husband Pierre and daughter Irene also possessed the trait. Left-handedness is surprisingly common among well-known scientists even outside of the Curie family — Sir Isaac Newton and computer scientist Alan Turing were southpaws too.

 

5. Neil Armstrong

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According to NASA, more than 20% of Apollo astronauts were lefties, which makes them more than twice as likely to be left-handed compared to the average person. Neil Armstrong was no exception to this statistical oddity — the first man to walk on the moon was indeed left-handed. Needless to say, Armstrong's left-handedness was truly out of this world.

 

6. Barack Obama

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The 44th President of the United States was the eighth left-handed individual to hold said office, though prior to the 20th century, only President James Garfield is known to have been a lefty. Lefties were elected to the presidency more frequently beginning in 1929 with Herbert Hoover: Six Presidents since have been left-handed, including a run of three straight with Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. While signing his first executive order in 2009, Obama quipped: "That's right. I'm a lefty. Get used to it." Presidential left-handedness may not be a coincidence — some experts believe that lefties have a stronger penchant for language skills, which could help their rhetoric on the campaign trail.

 

7. Queen Victoria (And Other Members of the Royal Family)

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England's great monarch Queen Victoria (who ruled 1837-1901) was known for her left-handedness. Though she was trained to write with her right hand, she would often paint with her natural left. She's just one of a few members of the royal family with the trait. Victoria's great-grandson, King George VI — as well as George's wife, Elizabeth — were also regal lefties, and George's left-handedness was often prominently on display while playing tennis, one of his favorite hobbies. Two current heirs to the throne and presumed future kings are also proud lefties: Prince William has joked that "left-handers have better brains," and his young son George has shown a penchant for using his left hand while doing everything from clutching toys to waving at adoring fans.

 

 

Source: Famous Left-Handed Celebrities in History  |  Facts About Famous Lefties

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Fact of the Day - DEEPEST CAVES

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Did you know... The four deepest caves in the world are all found in the same region.
Tucked away in the Western Caucasus mountains where Europe meets Asia is a hidden geological wonder. Thousands of feet below the limestone surface, enormous caves stretch downward like the hollow roots of some gigantic tree. Called the Arabika Massif, this area is home to the four deepest caves in the world, including the very deepest, Veryovkina. Would-be spelunkers may have to use their imaginations, though: The mountainous terrain is less than hospitable, and the caves themselves are located in fraught political territory. All are within the borders of Abkhazia, a breakaway state recognized by much of the world as part of Georgia but with increasing ties to Russia. The location of Arabika Massif’s limestone, its thickness, and its gentle slope toward the Black Sea create the perfect conditions for these huge caves, and the world record holder isn’t set in stone — pun intended. It was only in 2018 that speleologists (cave scientists) discovered that Veryovkina was actually deeper, at 7,257 feet, than its rival Krubera’s roughly 7,215 feet. Veryovkina may not hold onto its record forever, though, as speleologists plunge ever deeper into the world’s caves in search of unknown species and the secrets of Earth’s geological past. Yet based on the current rankings, it seems like a fair bet that the deepest-cave crown won’t leave the mountains of Abkhazia any time soon.

 

Many animals that live in caves don’t have eyes.

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Vision is useless in most cave environments because sunlight can’t penetrate into the depths of these natural rocky fortresses. Evolution has thus slowly eliminated vision from many animals living in caves, sometimes by completely removing their eyes. For example, a variety of the blind cave fish (Astyanax mexicanus), native to Mexico, evolved to lose its eyeballs after leaving open waters for the comfort of limestone caves. Instead, these fish “see” by sucking in water and sensing the magnitude of the pressure changes as the water flows around them and surrounding objects. Other animals, like some amphibians, spiders, and scorpions, have similarly lost their vision as they’ve adapted to the gloomy interiors of their lightless world. (Interesting Facts)

 

What Are the 5 Deepest Caves in the World?

by Rob | StartCaving

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While European caves ruled the depth-hit-charts for a long time, from 2001 onwards Georgia has been the unbeatable champion. Four out of five of the deepest caves in the world are located in Georgia – two of them being over 1.24 m (or 2 km) deep. Impressive. However, the charts change often. Cavers and speleologists regularly explore these cave systems further, setting new record highs (or lows). Especially in the last decades a lot of progress has been made, with cavers going deeper evermore. But for now, these are the numbers.

 

The 5 Deepest Caves in the World

  1. Veryovkina – At 2,212 m or 7,257 ft, this is the deepest cave in the world. It’s located in Abkhazia, Georgia.
  2. Krubera – For a moment, the Krubera was the deepest known cave, at 2,198 m or 7,208 ft. Can be also found in Abkhazia, Georgia.
  3. Sarma – The Sarma cave is 1,830 m or 6,004 ft deep. Also situated in the southwestern Caucasus Mountains, Georgia.
  4. Snezhnaya – Georgia truly seems to be the deepest country on earth. The ‘snow cave’ is 1,760 m or 5,774 ft deep.
  5. Gouffre Mirolda – This French cave is the deepest European cave. It’s 1,733 m or 5,686 ft deep.

 

Locations of the caves

The three deepest caves in the world (Veryovkina, Krubera, Sarma) are all located in the Arabika Massif in Georgia. If you want to learn more on this special region, I encourage you to read my previous article on caves in Georgia.

I’ve compiled all the data in the table below. I wasn’t able to find the GPS coordinates of the Snezhnaya cave. I hope to update it later.

 

Let’s Put Them on a Map
On this map, you’ll find the 10 deepest caves on Earth. The five deepest (actually, four) are in blue. Number 5 – 10 are in yellow.

 

More About Each Cave
1. Veryovkina

Discovered in 1968, the Veryovkina cave is the deepest cave of the world. It’s one of two known caves deeper than 2,000 m. It’s actually 2,212 m, or 7,257 ft deep, and runs for 13,500 m. It’s located in Georgia, or Abkhazia (see map). It’s part of the Arabika Massif in the Greater Caucasus Mountains. This area has amazing speleological potential. In fact, it’s home to three of the deepest caves on earth.  The Veryovkina shaft leads to a massive underground system, of at least 6 km long. The entire cave is accessible without diving. Unfortunately, there are no good photos available, but I’ve found this expedition video. You can turn on English auto-captions (skip to the middle for an impression of the cave):

 

 

 

Exploration
The full exploration and mapping of Veryovkina were done by the Perovo-speleo team from Moscow. Initially, they explored the cave from 1983 – 1986 up to a depth of 1,444 ft (440 meters). From 2000 – 2015, they did not succeed to discover new shafts. In 2015 however, they uncovered a new shaft, which led the way to a series of discoveries. In February of 2017 the cave became the second deepest in the world; in August 2017 the Veryovkina cave became the deepest in the world, at 7,203 ft (2,204 m).

 

2. Krubera

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The Krubera Cave actually was the deepest cave from 2004 – 2017. It extends for 16 km. It is named after Alexander Kruber, who studied the cave in 1909. Before, it was called Voronya cave. This is the second known cave that reaches beneath 2 km. The cave was explored in the 1960s but never surpassed the 1,444 ft (440 m) mark, until the late 2000s. In 2010, the deepest point was 5,610 ft (1,710 meters). In 2012 the explorations passed the 6,562 ft (2,000 m) mark, making it the first cave deeper than 2 km.

The expedition beyond the 2,000 m marks was led by the Ukrainian Speleological Association. They are responsible for the majority of the explorations in the last decades.

 

3. Sarma

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Sarma cave is the third deepest cave in the world at 1,830 m or 6,004 ft. It’s about 19 km long. The current depth originates from 2012 when a team led by Pavel Rudko measured it. It’s also located in the Gagra District, Georgia.

 

4. Snezhnaya

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The Snezhnaya shaft reaches up to 1,760 m or 5,774 ft deep. Apart from being deep, it’s also the longest cave on this list: 32 km (or 20 miles). Snezh is Russian for ‘snow’ – so this cave is actually called ‘Snowy shaft’. It’s part of the Snezhnaya-Mezhennogo-Illyuziya cave system, a large underground water system that also contains a cave river. This huge system is still to be explored further.

 

5. Gouffre Mirolda

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This French cave is 1,733 m or 5,686 ft deep. It’s located in Samoëns, France, and is part of the Giffre limestone massif. For about a year (from early 2003 – 2004), the cave was the deepest known in the world. Then it lost its title to the Krubera cave in Georgia, which is currently the second deepest. It was originally discovered in 1971 by a young shepherd (Marc Degrinis).

 

Other Impressive Caves

 

The Problem With Exploring Deep Caves

Deep caves like these are in another ballpark. It’s just a different kind of cave from the large chambers you can leisurely stroll through. Our mental image of caves is way off base here. Usually, a very deep cave consists of long (vertical) shafts, with very narrow passages, that will in some case be prone to flooding, or underwater altogether. So they are not easy to explore. This is another kind of caving. Exploring these caves involves a lot of squeezes, crawling, and heroic, claustrophobia-inducing maneuvers. The Krubera, for example, was impossible to explore without the help of very experienced cave divers. They needed to squeeze their bodies through passages – underwater! Risking to damage their equipment. So it’s very dangerous.

 

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Why Does the Longest Cave Change So Often?

We find new caves every day. It’s estimated that we have explored about 1% of all caves on Earth. So it’s no wonder longer and deeper caves are discovered regularly. But it also has to do with new explorations in existing caves.  Each expedition tries to find new passages and then push through. You never know what to expect on the other side of a new passage. Sometimes, a long shaft all of a sudden connects to a massive system. This is what makes caving so exciting. Sometimes, a new exploration finds that two long caves are actually one, making it the new champion. This happened with the Lamprechtsofen-Vogelschacht cave when explorers discovered a connection between a known vertical shaft and a known horizontal shaft. If you take a close look at the exploration timeline of the current champion Veryovkina, you see that it sometimes takes decades to connect the dots.

 

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In Conclusion
There are still large underground systems left to explore. There are even some areas where cavers expect these systems, but they are not yet accessible. We will find longer, deeper, and larger caves as we continue to explore new passages and systems. There is plenty left to explore. It’s unlikely that we have penetrated the Earth’s crust to the deepest point; we have probably only just started to scratch the surface. New to caving, and want to know what to expect? I encourage you to check out our Beginner’s Guide here.

 

 

Source: Facts About the Deepest Caves  |  Deepest Caves Facts

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Fact of the Day - UNEXPLAINED MYSTERIES

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Copper Scroll

Did you know... There are some historical mysteries that may never be solved, from the date that Jesus was born to the identity of Jack the Ripper to the location of Cleopatra's tomb. Sometimes, that's because the relevant excavated material has been lost or an archaeological site has been destroyed. Other times, it's because new evidence is unlikely to come forward or the surviving evidence is too vague to lead scholars to a consensus. The lack of answers only makes these enigmas more intriguing. Here, Live Science takes a look at 14 of these historical questions that may never have definitive explanations. (Owen Jarus | July 2022)

 

Unexplained Mysteries Around the World

by Interesting Facts

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To travel is to embark on new adventures, and the places we visit are often steeped in history, folklore, and legends. For example, many have long been fascinated by the unexplained disappearance of planes and ships in the Bermuda Triangle. But the Triangle only scratches the surface of the many travel-related mysteries that exist around the world. From a debated ascent of Everest in 1924 to a European castle erected over the supposed “gateway to hell,” here are five mysteries for you to debunk — or just revel in.

 

 

1. The Depopulation of Easter Island

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The remote Rapa Nui (Easter Island) lies 2,300 miles west of Chile. No written historical records exist concerning the island; however, it's commonly agreed that seafaring Polynesians settled there sometime between 800 and 1200 CE. The island is famous for a collection of around 900 moai statuesstone-carved figures that stand in rows on cliffs, hillsides, and shorelines, most of them with their backs to the sea. The average moai is 13 feet tall and weighs 14 tons; the tallest is a whopping 72 feet high. Archaeologists believe that the colossal statues portray gods and tribal leaders, and it’s thought that ropes and trees were used to move and position the statues upright. While the moai have long intrigued researchers, the rapid demise and depopulation of Easter Island has puzzled them. When Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen arrived here in 1722, he encountered 3,000 or more islanders living in a flourishing and developed society. In 1774, Captain James Cook visited the island and reported around 700 islanders. By 1877, only 111 inhabitants remained. Deforestation, cannibalism, the introduction of the Polynesian rat, warfare, and the slave trade are all possible theories for the dramatic change in fortune; however, anthropological, archaeological, and historical research has yet to uncover the truth.

 

2. Houska Castle and the Gateway to Hell

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One of the Czech Republic’s best-preserved Gothic castles, Houska Castle stands on a clifftop surrounded by dense forests about 40 miles north of Prague. Built in the 13th century by Bohemian King Ottokar II, the castle subsequently passed between the hands of several aristocratic families. While it appears like a noble mansion from the outside, the structure has a number of peculiarities that have inspired spine-tingling folklore. It has fake windows, no water supply, no fortifications, and is far removed from any notable trade routes. It also had no known occupants at the time of completion. So why make the effort to erect a castle that serves no obvious purpose? According to historians, Houska Castle was built by Ottokar II as an administrative center, yet local villagers might tell you otherwise. As the legend goes, the castle was instead built to trap demons, and it stands over a hole that is believed to be the gateway to hell — so deep that it’s impossible to see the bottom. During construction, prisoners were offered pardons if they consented to being lowered to the bottom to document their findings. Reports of half-human, half-animal creatures climbing out of the hole were common, as were black-winged beasts that dragged people into the abyss. Consequently, the castle chapel was built to cover the supposed demonic gateway and prevent evil from escaping. This, however, hasn’t stopped claims of screams and scratching claws coming from the castle floors — making the site one of the most haunted places in Europe.

 

3. Australia’s Morning Glory Cloud

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Located along the Gulf of Carpentaria in a remote corner of North Queensland is the outback town of Burketown, Australia. For much of the year, this coastal settlement of just a few hundred residents is visited by anglers in search of Australian barramundi (also known as Asian sea bass). That changes in September and October, when crowds gather instead to witness a spectacular meteorological phenomenon called the Morning Glory Cloud. It’s a wavy and snake-like roll cloud that can reach heights of up to 1.2 miles and stretch over 600 miles long. Meteorologists have studied this mystical atmospheric wave extensively, but still aren’t exactly sure what causes it — or why it’s only regularly observed in this remote stretch of Australia. One possible explanation is that it occurs when a humid easterly front of the Coral Sea converges with a warm westerly front from the Gulf of Carpentaria. It can take the form of a single cloud or appear as up to 10 individual clouds passing eerily above the skies of Burketown.

The Indigenous Gangalidda Garawa peoples call the cloud Mabuntha Yipipee and believe that it was created by Walalu, the aboriginal Rainbow Serpent. Daredevil pilots from the region also worship the cloud and take to the skies to ride the wave when it comes around. They gather at the Burketown Pub in the hope of seeing the bizarre signs that signal the cloud is on its way — the pub’s fridges reportedly frost over and the table corners curl upwards. Whatever explanation they believe, the cloud attracts thrill-seekers  who can see it from above: A local aviation company offers cloud flights and the chance to ride the wave on a hang-glider.

 

4. Mallory and Irvine’s Everest Ascent

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In May 1953, New Zealand mountaineer Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay reached the top of Mount Everest. Their groundbreaking climb to the 29,035-foot summit made them the first people to officially stand atop the world’s tallest mountain. Rewind to 1924, however, and the fatal expedition of British climbers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine leaves open the question of the date of the first Everest ascent. Mallory and Irvine were last sighted by fellow climber Noel Odell on June 8, 1924 at the Second Step, just 820 vertical feet from the summit. About an hour later, an intense snow squall obscured Odell’s view, and the mountaineers were tragically never seen alive again. Did they make it to the top? Why did they vanish without trace? How did they scale the infamous Second Step, which wasn’t officially climbed until 1960 with far more advanced equipment? A breakthrough in this Everest mystery was the discovery of Mallory’s body in 1999 during an expedition to search for the missing mountaineers. The corpse showed signs of injuries from a fall that would have left him unable to continue on foot. His rib cage was compressed by a rope, thus suggesting that Mallory and Irvine were attached at the time of the fall. Gone from the body was a photo of Mallory’s wife, Ruth Dixon Turner, that he had promised to leave at the summit. Despite rumored sightings, Irvine’s body is yet to be found. Also missing are two Kodak Vest Pocket cameras owned by Mallory and Irvine. If discovered, the cameras could once and for all confirm what the mountaineering world has waited almost a century to know.

 

5. The Disappearance of Amelia Earhart

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On May 20, 1932, Amelia Earhart took off from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, in her Lockheed Vega 5B aircraft and flew for almost 15 hours to Derry, Northern Ireland. In doing so, she became the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Almost three years later, she was the first to fly solo from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Oakland, California. Fueled by her success, Earhart began making preparations to circumnavigate the globe — what was supposed to be a 29,000-mile world record. Following a failed first attempt, Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan departed from Miami on June 1, 1937. On June 29, they landed in Lae, New Guinea, after flying almost 22,000 miles. They took off from Lea three days later on the first leg of the 7,000-mile journey across the Pacific to the U.S., but Earhart and Noonan tragically disappeared en route to Howland Island. Despite extensive search parties and millions of dollars in funding, the Lockheed Elektra wreckage has never been found. The most likely explanation is that extreme weather conditions and a lack of fuel forced the plane to crash-land and sink in the Pacific. However, conspiracy theories abound — some say Earhart was taken hostage by the Japanese, while others believe she worked as a spy for President Roosevelt and later returned to the U.S. under an alias. In 1991, an aluminum map case thought to be debris from the aircraft washed up on Nikumaroro, an atoll of the tiny South Pacific island nation of Kiribati. Could Earhart and Noonan have perished on the uninhabited island after living as castaways? The lack of any real evidence only adds to the mysterious legacy of one of the world’s greatest aviators.

 

 

Source: Historical Mysteries That Will Probably Never Be Solved  |  Facts About Unexplained Mysteries

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Fact of the Day - PALM TREES

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Did you know... Palm trees are not native to Los Angeles.
There are an estimated 75,000 palm trees in Los Angeles, all of which have one thing in common: They aren’t native there. Despite being an L.A. icon on par with the Hollywood sign and Dodger Stadium, the tropical tree is no more a native Angeleno than, well, the Dodgers. Not unlike the Hollywood sign, palms were originally a marketing technique for developers hoping to attract newcomers to the area in the late 19th century. They got the idea from the French Riviera — another area palms aren’t actually native to — where like-minded developers had successfully used them just a few decades before to cultivate an image of glitz and glamour. In addition to being beautiful, palms are surprisingly easy to uproot and transport from their native tropical and sub-tropical environments in the Middle East, Mexico, and elsewhere, so tens of thousands of them were planted all across the California city that had once been desert scrubland. It seems fitting that one of Los Angeles’ most enduring symbols was essentially a branding strategy chosen for its aesthetic appeal, doubly so because palm trees’ association with the city was (and is) further cemented by their ubiquity in the many films shot there. After all, most of the directors, actors, and studio executives who made Hollywood what it is today weren’t originally from the City of Angels either.

 

Palm trees were a symbol of victory in ancient Rome.

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Romans who emerged victorious in battle or athletic contests didn't just receive the admiration of their peers — they also received palm branches, which were a symbol of victory and triumph in the Roman Empire. So close was the association that the Latin word palma was nearly synonymous with victory, and generals would wear a special toga known as the tunica palmata after successful campaigns. The garment, which had a purple background embroidered with gold thread, was loaned to the generals for special ceremonies and was later worn exclusively by the emperor. (Interesting Facts)

 

Shocking Facts You Probably Don’t Know about Palm Trees

by Xcalak Mexico

 

Sure, you know palm trees represent tropical bliss; but what do you really know about this gentle plant? Probably not as much as you think. Here are 5 facts about Xcalak palm trees that you don’t know. Watch the video or read on, whatever you’re into.

 

1. Palm Trees Aren’t Trees
One of the first palm trees in Xcalak you’ll meet, is the coconut palm. And unless you’re an expert on the Arecaceae plant family, you probably assumed that because it’s called a “palm tree” that it’s a tree.

 

Not so!

 

A palm tree is actually a type of grass. Two key differences:

  • a palm tree does not create rings as it grows – it’s yearly growth isn’t marked on the tree
  • a palm tree does not grow bark – it’s basically the same on the inside as the outside

 

Calling a palm tree “palm grass” is technically correct. But with a trunk, a crown of leaves, and everyone in the English-speaking world calling them “palm trees”, don’t change your vocabulary now.

 

2. Palm Trees Live Longer Than You

Unless you’re unusually long-lived, a palm tree will probably outlast you. The palm trees in Xcalak live around 100 years or more.

 

Of course, as you already learned, palm trees don’t have growth rings like regular trees. This makes it tough to determine their age, right? Luckily, scientists can use other methods to estimate a palm tree’s life. One species was estimated to live up to 740 years old!

 

Although a coconut palm lives longer than you, it takes about as long to mature – palms take around 5 years to grow a trunk and another 15 years to produce coconuts. So a coconut palm tree only starts its real job once it hits its 20’s. Just like a human! Also like a human, the trees production slows down as it ages and stops about age 70. What does palm tree retirement look like? Well, it’s all the fun stuff (waving in the breeze, providing shade) without the work (growing coconuts). And coconut palms don’t even have to worry about which tropical location to move to, because they’re already in a great location (especially Xcalak palm trees).

 

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3. There are 2,600 Species of Palm Trees

That’s right, there are more types of palm trees then there are flavors of hot sauce in Mexico. OK, I can’t actually validate that statement. But with nearly three thousand different species of palms, you’ve got to admit that’s a lot. After all, how many species of human are there?

 

Oh right. One.

 

Anyways, back to palm trees. Some have fan-leaves, some have feather-leaves, and some grow fruit. Some grow tall, some stay small; some only grow outdoors, some can grow indoors.

 

Check out this small list of palm tree species and you’ll see some pretty interesting names. Here’s a sampler:

 

In Xcalak, palm trees are mostly coconut palms because the area used to be a coconut plantation. That is, until the Hurricane Janet came along and wiped out the plantations. During your visit, look around and see which other kinds of palm trees you can spot.

 

4. Palm Trees Grow More than Coconuts

The gentle palm tree provides the world with more than coconuts for serving tropical drinks. Many trees grow edible fruit, while some provide other valuable crops.

 

Popular tasty treats that grow on palm trees include:

 

Yes, the power-health ambassador, the acai berry, grows on a palm tree! Unfortunately, it’s not an easy palm tree to grow so don’t get your hopes up about saving money by growing your own acai berries. Palm oil is another reason to start a palm tree farm – palm oil is popular throughout the world (even if it isn’t the healthiest). Now you know palm trees grow more than coconuts, but in Xcalak you’ll see plenty that do. Be sure to enjoy their delicious bounty during your visit.

 

Safety Tip: Don’t a nap under a coconut tree – the heavy nuts fall without warning!

 

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5. Palm Trees Can Grow in the Snow

Surprise! Palm trees don’t just belong on sandy beaches or in tropical jungles. They can handle sub-zero temperatures too.

 

But not every kind of palm tree can survive a freeze-thaw cycle. Xcalak’s palm trees are definitely warm-weather plants. Types that can weather cold weather (see what I did there?) best are small palm trees, notably the Windmill palm, Needle palm and the Mazari palm. When a palm tree is considered ‘cold hardy’, it means that the plant can tolerate the cold, but not forever. When a plant is subjected to cold weather photosynthesis stops and the tree’s leaves start to die off. Without warm daytime temperatures, a palm tree’s stem starts freezing, then the crown, and finally the trunk. A that point, you’ve got a frozen tree statue that will never grow again. While tough palm trees can withstand the cold, they get tired of it, like you and me. But unlike you and me, they don’t can’t catch a flight to Mexico to thaw out.

 

So while you’re in Xcalak enjoying the shade of the many palm trees, take a moment to appreciate these amazing plants – they’re more than a pretty backdrop for your postcard.

 

 

Source: Facts About Palm Trees  |  Facts You Might Not Know About Palm Trees

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Fact of the Day - THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW

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Did you know... The Mary Tyler Moore Show is a 1970s sitcom starring Mary Tyler Moore (b. December 29, 1936 – d. January 25, 2017), one of America’s most beloved actresses.

Despite the show’s title that was based on Moore’s real name, she played the lead character otherwise named as Mary Richards — a 30-ish single and independent career woman who experiences ups and downs, but not without their bone-tickling moments. While the show seems dated to today’s standards, there’s no doubt that the The Mary Tyler Moore Show was one of the most progressive and groundbreaking TV sitcoms at the time. More importantly, it radically changed the society’s perceptions towards working single women. Such type of women were not usually portrayed (or were not portrayed favorably, more likely) in those days, so the show’s concept centering on an unattached and career-driven female was quite novel in the 1970s TV-landia.  The Mary Tyler Moore Show is pretty much a feminist sitcom, which inspired more women to take charge of their own lives, loves and careers. (Mental Itch)

 

Enduring Facts About “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”

by Interesting Facts

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The Mary Tyler Moore Show is one of the most influential and groundbreaking sitcoms in the history of television. The series follows Mary Richards, played by Mary Tyler Moore, as a 30-something working as an associate producer on a local news series and navigating single life in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Its portrayal of an unmarried working woman finding satisfaction outside of home and family — and openly enjoying sex and dating — was unheard of in the early 1970s, but it’s not just the show’s forward-thinking writing that made it a classic. Its heartfelt relationships, witty writing, and relatable conflicts made the sitcom a hit with audiences and critics alike and cemented Moore (already an established TV star when the show debuted) as an enduring cultural icon. It went on to win 29 Emmy awards during its seven-season run on CBS. Here are eight things you might not know about the sitcom.

 

1. Lou Grant Was Ed Asner’s First Comedic Role — And He Almost Blew It

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The late Ed Asner is remembered now as a strong, versatile actor, but at the time, some CBS executives questioned whether he’d be up for a prominent role in a comedy series, according to Jennifer Keisin Armstrong’s 2013 book Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted. Although he was casting director Ethel Winant’s first choice, the producers had kicked around some other choices before signing on, like The Odd Couple’s Jack Klugman, fellow cast member Gavin McLeod, and Second City alum Shelley Berman, who later had a small role as one of Mary’s dates. Winant pointed to Asner’s role as a journalist in the political drama Slattery’s People as evidence that he had the right vibe. With everybody on board, they brought Asner in for an audition — and he completely biffed it, hitting the famous line, “You’ve got spunk… I hate spunk,” with a dramatic fervor that turned everybody off, according to Armstrong. The decision had already been made not to cast him when Asner, rather than getting in his car and leaving, turned around and walked right back into the studio. “You just sat there on your asses and let me bomb like that?” he said. “I was terrible. And you know it was terrible and you were too polite to tell me. Don’t be so f******g polite. Tell me what you want in this character.” They worked through the character for half an hour, then did a second try at the reading. He’d won everyone over except for Moore, but according to Asner, producers boldly told her, “That’s your Lou Grant,” and she was sold.

 

2. Mary Was Originally Supposed To Be a Divorcée Working for a Gossip Columnist

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When the show was in development in the late 1960s, producers James L. Brooks and Allan Burns had pitched Mary as a recent divorcée, writes Armstrong. Moore, who had gone through a divorce herself, was on board. The original vision differed in another major way, too: Mary was supposed to be the assistant to a snappy gossip columnist in Los Angeles. They were less attached to the Los Angeles idea, so that was quickly scrapped for a news show in Minneapolis. As for the divorcée bit, Brooks and Burns considered throwing in the towel but didn’t like the optics of quitting, so they went back to the drawing board and came up with a concept they felt played to Mary’s strength: She was setting off to the big city on her own after a big breakup rather than a doomed marriage.

 

3. Producers Loved the Fashion Possibilities of Minneapolis

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While re-evaluating the show’s premise and setting, Brooks and Burns landed on Minneapolis for a few reasons, according to Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: It stood out against the New York- and Los Angeles- dominated media environment, they loved the dynamic of the city being huge for Mary and tiny for New Yorker Rhoda, and the bad weather could provide plot points and unique visuals. Another thing Minneapolis could provide: coats, and lots of them. The costume department certainly took full advantage, because Mary’s coats went on to become iconic.

 

4. Betty White Was Supposed to Be in Only One Episode

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One of the series’ most beloved roles didn’t come around until season four, and it was only supposed to be temporary. Betty White played Sue Ann Nivens, an outwardly sweet host of a show called “The Happy Homemaker,” with an aggressive, sex-crazed side. In her first episode, she wantonly tries to seduce Phyllis Lindstrom’s (Cloris Leachman) husband, leading to escalating tension as Phyllis and Sue Ann film a cooking segment about a chocolate soufflé. White was a longtime friend of Moore — and a big fan of the show — before being offered the role, and the episode was such a hit that she was brought on as a regular. The morning after that first episode, according to Armstrong, Moore came to White’s doorstep with a real-life soufflé.

 

 

5. It’s Likely the First American Sitcom to Feature Birth Control Pills

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On The Dick Van Dyke Show, which Moore starred in from 1961-1966, the actress and her on-screen husband, Dick Van Dyke, slept in separate beds and couldn’t say the word “pregnant.” However, just a few years later on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, not only did Mary have sex out of wedlock, she openly took birth control pills. In a 1972 episode — the same year that a supreme court decision made birth control available to unmarried women in all states — Mary is having dinner with her father when her mother shouts, “Don’t forget to take your pill!” Mary and her father both yelled, “I won’t,” and the embarrassed look on Mary’s face shows that she doesn’t just take a pill, but The Pill. Its realistic portrayal of the sex lives of women in the 1970s walked a fine line for the audiences of the time, with a lot of it hiding in quips like that one. But the series was still open about what it was doing. “I’m hardly innocent,” Mary says in one episode. “I’ve been around. Well, maybe not around, but I’ve been nearby.”

 

6. Valerie Harper Almost Didn’t Get the Role of Rhoda Because She Was Too Pretty

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Rhoda Morgenstern, Mary’s Bronx-born sidekick, was the last major role to be cast in the series, with more than 50 actresses reading opposite Moore for the part. Valerie Harper nailed her audition as Rhoda and even brought her own cloth for washing Mary’s apartment window in her first scene. But the producers weren’t sure she matched their vision. “She was something we never expected the part to be… which is someone as attractive as she was,” Burns said in Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted. “But you’ve got to go with the talent.” Director Jay Sandrich felt strongly Harper was right for the role and suggested she not wear any makeup for her callback. Producers immediately changed their minds when they brought Moore in to read a scene with Harper. Rhoda’s character switched gears a little bit — rather than being unattractive, which is subjective anyway, Rhoda just felt like she was unattractive. “Rhoda felt inferior to Mary, Rhoda wished she was Mary,” Harper later recalled. “All I could do was, not being as pretty, as thin, as accomplished, was: ‘I’m a New Yorker, and I’m going to straighten this shiksa out.’”

 

7. The Real Owner of Mary’s Apartment Building Displayed Political Banners to Keep Producers From Coming Back

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The 1892 home that provided the exteriors for Mary’s apartment became so famous that the owners were inundated with visitors and tour buses, and eventually, they’d had enough. When they got word that the crew was coming back to film more exterior shots in 1972, owner Paula Giese displayed a large “Impeach Nixon” banner prominently across the front. (She was a prominent political activist, so it was a two-for-one deal.) It worked. They didn’t get their new shots, and Mary eventually ended up moving.

 

8. The Character Ted Baxter Was Based on News Anchor Jerry Dunphy

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Jerry Dunphy was a legendary news anchor in the Los Angeles market, known for his head of white hair, and his signoff: “From the desert to the sea to all of southern California.” His style became so well-known in broadcast journalism that he often played a small role as a newscaster in movies, too. He inspired the egotistical, dim-witted Ted Baxter (Ted Knight), although Dunphy had a better head on his shoulders — and much better ratings. Dunphy also inspired the character Kent Brockman on The Simpsons.

 

Source: Facts About The Mary Tyler Moore Show  |  More Facts About The Mary Tyler Moore Show

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Fact of the Day  - DUNCAN HINES

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Did you know... Duncan Hines was a real person.
Stroll through the baking aisle at any grocery store, and you’ll likely find instant cake mixes and containers of frosting emblazoned with the Duncan Hines name. But unlike other boxed mix competitors (looking at you, Betty Crocker), Hines was a real-life food personality whose name was once synonymous with fine dining. For a man who couldn’t cook, Hines became a surprisingly well-trusted authority on American cuisine for nearly three decades, all thanks to an iron stomach and fearless forays into restaurant kitchens. 

 

Born in Kentucky in 1880, Hines worked as a traveling salesman from the ’20s through the ’40s, a life that didn’t allow for regular home-cooked meals. While putting anywhere from 40,000 to 60,000 miles on the road each year, he kept a meticulous journal of his dining experiences, listing noteworthy restaurants that provided budget-friendly dishes. But Hines didn’t just review meals — at a time when health codes and food inspections weren’t yet standard, he went so far as to audit kitchens himself, monitoring food safety practices, cleanliness, and even examining the garbage. 

 

Flooded with requests from fellow travelers, Hines attached a list of 167 restaurants to his 1935 Christmas card. A year later, he self-published Adventures in Good Eating, a comprehensive compendium of U.S. eateries that was updated annually until 1962. With each edition, Hines solidified his reputation for honest critiques, in part because he refused payment for good reviews (though he did profit from renting signs bearing his stamp of approval to restaurants, and once accepted a gifted Cadillac from a happy restaurant owner). By 1949, Hines had teamed up with businessman Roy Park to launch Hines-Park Foods, which sold under the Duncan Hines label — moving the reviewer’s name from print to the containers of more than 250 grocery items. The brand’s iconic boxed cake mixes debuted in July 1951 in just two flavors  — vanilla and devil’s food. Today, the cake mixes are beloved by many, even if the man who originally helped create them has been forgotten.

 

The first cake mix was invented during the Great Depression.

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Duncan Hines’ cake mixes were a hit with home cooks, but the idea for easy-to-prepare baked desserts wasn’t at all original — another company had created and sold instant cake mixes almost two decades before Hines’ name graced grocery store aisles. P. Duff and Sons, a Pittsburgh molasses company, launched the first commercially available mixture in 1930 out of necessity; the company experienced a molasses surplus and sought out a creative way to boost sales. By combining flour and molasses (along with powdered eggs, spices, and more), Duff and Sons created instant cake blends in popular flavors such as devil’s food and spice cake, along with a line of muffins and breads. While launching a new product during the Great Depression might seem like a gamble, the company sold its tins at 21 cents (today’s equivalent of $3.64), marketing them as a cost-efficient way for cooks to provide a tasty dessert without the expense of buying individual ingredients. Even so, it wouldn’t be until after World War II that boxed cake mixes became grocery store standards, as flour companies and others served a burgeoning market once the G.I.s returned home. (Interesting Facts)

 

Facts about Duncan Hines

by The Chocolate Priestess  |  March 26, 2020

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When I think Duncan Hines, I think cake mixes, do you? But the brand came from a man named Duncan Hines and today, March 26, in 1880, he was born. Some folks believe he would change several aspects of the culinary world. Keep reading if you'd like to learn more about him.

 

#1: Hines was a traveling salesman who could barely cook.

When would he have had time to become a cook let alone a chef while traveling across America in the 1920s through the 1940s? He did, however, need to eat, and that meant he ate at a lot of restaurants. However, he needed to watch his costs while he kept up his energy and his health. Given the decades of his work, this meant he had to deal with the Great Depression, too, which must have only made his job more difficult on all levels.

 

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#2: Hines (with his wife's help) published guides for travelers.

As he traveled in the early 20th century, he kept a list of where he ate and where he stayed. In 1936, he out a little booklet entitled Adventures in Good Eating that sold so well that he published an updated version each year until 1954.

 

#3: Food safety was a prime concern for Hines.

He kept a notebook with him and said that he checked the kitchens of places that he ate. I wonder how he managed to get chefs and owners to let him back there but given the decades maybe they welcomed any attention and didn't want to risk losing a customer by saying "no". He also claimed that he checked the garage for the restaurants.

 

#4: In 1938, he wrote a book...

focused on hotels called Lodging for a Night that help hotels and motels to the same standards for travelers. His wife, Florence died that same year.

 

#5: Even though he was not a cook,

in 1939, his Adventures in Good Cooking (Famous Recipes) and the Art of Carving in the Home was published. The recipes came from the various restaurants in his guide. You can check it out here.

 

#6: "Recommended by Duncan Hines"

became a badge of pride for hotels and restaurants and they hung up signs declaring that they were in his guides. Yes, Hines charged places a fee to hang these signs as well as selling the signs themselves.

 

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#7: In 1946,

Life ran an article about him and the changes his persona was helping to push in American homelife. I think WWII and the gender challenges it created also played a bit role, too.

 

#8: In the late 1940s,

he partnered with Roy H. Park to form the Duncan-Hines company that started putting Hines' face and name on various new types of food items that were popping up in grocery shops across the country. While Hines brought his experiences with restaurants and hotels, Park brought in his marketing expertise.

 

#9: The first successful Duncan Hines product was Ice Cream!

Within the first few years, Hines' name and image was on about 250 types of convenience foods and cake mixes weren't among them!

 

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#10: When Duncan Hines cake mixes were introduced,

that type of packaged mix had been around for some time. What made their brand different was that it required fresh eggs. It was so popular, that it quickly captured half of the market.

 

#11: Hines-Park quickly focused on baking mixes

because of the cake mix success and followed it with pancake and muffin mixes.

 

#12: Hines may have targeted the housewife

with his mixes and food items, but he wasn't a great guy according to his words and reports from his three wives. His nasty streak was purely sexist because he also had a bad reputation from men who worked with and for him as well.

 

#13: In 1957,

Hines-Park sold their business to Procter & Gamble. As of 2018, Hines' brand is owned by Conagra Brands.

 

#14: Hines died

on March 15, 1959. While he was born into poverty in 1880, he died a very wealthy man.

 

 

Source: Interesting Facts About Duncan Hines  |  Facts About Duncan Hines

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Fact of the Day - SUBWAY SYSTEMS

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Did you know.... Whether they're commuting to work or exploring a new city, many people around the world travel via subway. From Paris, France, to Delhi, India, here's what subway systems are like in 16 places across the globe. (Zoë Miller | December 5, 2018)

 

Fascinating Facts About Subway Systems Around the World

by Interesting Facts

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Scratch the surface of urban centers around the globe and you’ll likely find an underground transportation system filled with a storied history. From abandoned stations and secret bunkers to long escalators and short tracks, here are some of the most fascinating facts on the rails.

 

1. New York City’s First Station Was Abandoned

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City Hall seemed like an obvious place for the first New York City subway station — and indeed, 15,000 passengers hopped aboard on opening day on October 27, 1904. But over the next four decades, the 28-station system grew into 472 stations and the stunningly ornate station — with skylights and classic chandeliers — started falling out of use. Many passengers opted for the nearby Brooklyn Bridge station, which had express service and didn’t require going up and down so many stairs; newer trains also didn’t fit the old City Hall station. The curved platform created gaps between the train and platform, and since the station was so rarely used, the city closed its doors to the public on December 31, 1945. (However, there are occasional tours.)

 

2. The First Voice of London’s “Mind the Gap” Had to Be Recast

The world’s oldest underground train system, in London, started using the terms “Mind the Gapin 1969 because it was a short phrase that could be used both in audio and visual warnings to remind riders to beware of the space between the platform and train door. To ensure the most effective reading of the three words, they hired an actor. However, “his agent was demanding royalties, which London Underground said it couldn't afford,” Mark Mason, author of Walk the Lines: The London Underground, Overground told the BBC in 2013. So sound engineer Peter Lodge recorded the phrase and became the first voice of the train. Over the years, the voice actors Tim Bentinck, Phil Sayer, and Oswald Laurence also recorded the iconic announcement.

 

3. Pac-Man Is Hidden on Some Stockholm Metro Metal Gratings

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While Stockholm is known for its artsy subway stations, riders started noticing familiar figures on the metal grating of the new C30 trains on the metro lines in 2019 — Pac-Man being chased by three ghosts.

These figures symbolize in a playful way the Swedish gaming industry which has grown so big,” transportation company SL’s spokesperson Elin Lindström told The Local after the debut. And this wasn’t the first nod to the Namco video game icon: A ramp in the Thorildsplan Station is also decorated with the game’s characters.

 

4. A Garbage Train Used to Run on Toronto’s Tracks

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) used to have a garbage train that collected all the trash along the Yonge-University-Spadina and Bloor-Danforth lines during the late night hours each day. Dubbed the Tokyo Rose, the train was purchased from Japan’s Nippon Sharyo company. With larger doors so that trash could be quickly tossed inside, the unpainted train looked more like a submarine than a subway car because of its round windows. After 22 years in service, the Tokyo Rose was replaced by old Gloucester subway cars in 1990 and later H1 cars by the end of the decade. Nowadays, garbage collection is outsourced.

 

5. Buenos Aires’ Train Cars Ran for Almost 100 Years

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Buenos Aires’ Subte was the first subway system in South America when it launched December 1, 1913 — and many of the original train cars that were running along the first 2.1 miles of the tracks were used for just shy of a century. The wooden interiors were a throwback to times gone by, but unfortunately that also meant many of the parts required to maintain the vehicles were hard to find. In January of 2013, the Belgian-made cars, called La Brugeoise, were retired after 99 years and a month in use and replaced with wagons made in China. Today the Subte is home to the world’s most crowded transit line, the Urquiza line.

 

6. Professional “Pushers” Shove Passengers into Tokyo’s Trains

As the busiest metro in the world, with 3.4 billion riders annually, Tokyo subways have hired oshiya, or pushersattendants specifically tasked with shoving people into the cars before the doors close. While they might seem, well, pushy, the hired professionals are dressed to the nines in uniforms, complete with white gloves and dainty hats.

 

7. There’s No Eating or Drinking Allowed on Any of China’s 33 Subway Systems

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With 33 cities in China having subway lines, the nation enacted countrywide laws on April 1, 2020, to ensure proper etiquette on board. Specifically, eating, drinking, lying down, standing on the seats and blasting music is banned — along with “uncivilized behavior” of any kind. The only exception to the eating and drinking law is young children and those with medical conditions.

 

8. Budapest’s Underground Railway Has a Secret Bunker

Hidden 128 feet underground in the center of Budapest between the platforms at Kossuth tér and Deák Ferenc tér is a 37,674-square-foot bunker, commissioned by Mátyás Rákosi, who was the Communist prime minister from 1945 to 1956. In case of a nuclear attack, the space, called F-4 Object, could hold up to 2,200 people and had a passage leading from the Hungarian Parliament so that the government officials could escape using the Keleti train station. The mega-sized panic room was never actually used, but it was kept on-call through the 1970s — and its existence was finally revealed to the public in the 1990s.

 

9. One of the Smallest Subway Systems Is in Israel

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Just over a mile long, the Carmelit is one of the world’s smallest subway systems. Located in the Israeli city of Haifa, the train runs up and down Mount Carmel (technically making it an underground funicular), and ascends 899 feet with six stops. It carries 2,000 to 3,000 passengers a day on its eight-minute trip. Opened in 1959, the diagonal train was shut down from 1986 to 1992 for repairs and then again for four months in 2015 to fix a cable.

 

 

Source: What it's Like to Travel on the Subway in 16 Cities Around the World  |  Subway System Facts

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Fact of the Day - DOLLY PARTON

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Did you know.... Dolly Parton wrote “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” in one day.
Is there a word for the opposite of writer’s block? If there isn’t, Dolly Parton should get to coin it, since the country music legend says she penned “I Will Always Love You” and “Jolenein one day. “That was a good writing day” is how the ever-humble fan favorite described the process of writing the two eventual Billboard Country Music No. 1 hits in 1972. They remain two of her best-known songs a full half-century later, with “I Will Always Love You” taking on a second life when Whitney Houston covered it for the 1992 blockbuster The Bodyguard. Parton, who used some of her royalties from the cover to invest in a Black neighborhood in Nashville, is a fan of Houston’s version and has said she “would’ve loved” to perform a duet with Houston even though “she’d have outsung me on that one for sure.”

 

"Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” aren’t the only megahits in history that were written quickly, of course. It took Mariah Carey and songwriter Walter Afanasieff just 15 minutes to co-write “All I Want for Christmas,” while the Beatles’ “Yesterday,” Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance,” the Guess Who’s “American Woman,” and several other famous tunes were all put together in around 10 minutes. Sometimes when inspiration strikes, it really strikes.

 

Dolly Parton is Miley Cyrus’ godmother.

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By the time Miley Cyrus was born in 1992, Dolly Parton had been a country music icon for more than two decades. Thanks to Parton’s close friendship with Miley’s dad, “Achy Breaky Heart” singer Billy Ray Cyrus, she was chosen as Miley’s godmother. “When Miley came along, I said, ‘She’s got to be my fairy goddaughter,’” Parton recalled in an interview. Parton has also said that the “Wrecking Ball” singer “just had a light about her” from a young age. The relationship is both personal and professional, and Parton appeared on Hannah Montana with her goddaughter several times. And though Cyrus has elicited occasional controversy throughout her career, Parton has vowed to “never, ever bad-mouth Miley, no matter what she does. I just always hope she comes out the other end alright.” (Interesting Facts)

 

Fun Facts About Dolly Parton That You Might Not Know

by YourCabin | MAY 4, 2021

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We all know that Dolly Parton is a woman of many talents. She’s a singer, a songwriter, an actress, a businesswoman, and so much more. But even though we know all these things about her, there are some things that only the biggest Dolly fans would know. Check out these 6 fun facts about Dolly Parton that you might not know:

 

1. Her first crush was Johnny Cash.
Dolly Parton’s first crush was on Johnny Cash. When she was a young teenager, she was given the opportunity to perform at the Grand Ole’ Opry in Nashville, TN. That’s when she first saw Johnny Cash perform. Years later, she got to know Johnny Cash, and he became someone who was special to her and supportive of her career. One of Dolly’s favorite songs of his is “I Walk the Line.”

 

2. She won’t ride the rides at Dollywood.
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That’s right — Dolly Parton refuses to ride the rides at her own theme park! It’s not because the rides aren’t safe or that she doesn’t think they’re fun; she’s just extremely afraid of roller coasters and has motion sickness. She said she even used to get sick on the school bus when she was a kid!

 

3. She once lost a Dolly Parton lookalike contest.
Who better to win a Dolly lookalike contest than the country queen herself? At least that’s what she thought when she saw the contest on Santa Monica Boulevard. One Halloween, Dolly saw a group of guys dressed up as her, so she said she just over-exaggerated her look a little and walked up in stage. Unfortunately, she didn’t even come close to winning!

 

4. Her parents paid for her birth with a sack of oatmeal.
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It’s no secret that Dolly didn’t grow up with a lot of money. The Smoky Mountain hometown hero has been very open about her family’s struggles during her childhood. They were so poor that her parents could not afford to pay the doctor who birthed her. Instead, her father gave the doctor a bag of oatmeal for his services because it was all they had.

 

5. She turned Elvis down.
We’ve all heard the song “I Will Always Love You,” but did you know that Elvis wanted to sing it? After Dolly made her own hit out of the song, Presley’s manager reached out to her in hopes of having Presley cover it. However, part of the deal required Dolly to surrender half of the publishing rights to the song, and the singer didn’t like the sound of that very much. She said something in her heart was telling her not to do it. Later on, Whitney Houston covered the song for the soundtrack of “The Bodyguard.” Dolly has said she is so thankful to have said no to Elvis and yes to Whitney.

 

6. “Jolene” was written about a bank teller.
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Everyone loves Dolly’s hit song, “Jolene,” but do you know the inspiration behind it? The song was actually written about a redheaded bank teller who used to flirt with her husband, Carl Dean. She said he just loved going to the bank because the woman paid him so much attention, and it became a running joke between the couple when Dolly would say, “You’re spending a lot of time at the bank. I don’t believe we’ve got that kind of money.” 

 

BONUS INFO

 

 

 

Source: Facts About Dolly Parton  |  Fun Facts About Dolly Parton

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Fact of the Day - FAMOUS TEACHERS

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Did you know... A new school year means new possibilities and new opportunities for students and for teachers. While students might be busy getting their new school materials ready, September often brings teachers a chance to reflect on their goals for the coming year. That’s because the influence educators can have is profound. Of course, teachers teach, but they also change lives and – you never know – maybe even change the world for the better in the process. As classrooms reopen for the academic year, we celebrate famous teachers in history (and living today!) who have done just that. Their efforts in the classroom have pushed students to aim higher, think in new ways, and imagine futures that they did not know existed before.  In doing so they have inspired and empowered other educators in the world to do the same.  We all know teachers are important, but in the business of the school day, we sometimes lose sight of just how game-changing the job can be. Read on for a reminder.  “When I say no to violence, I pass it on to the student without them noticing it. We must teach children that our only weapon is knowledge and education.” – Hanan Al Hroub, 2016 Global Teacher Prize 2016 winner (Joanna York | September 8, 2021)

 

History’s Most Famous Teachers

by Interesting Facts

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Most of us can recall at least one teacher who made the classroom fun, inspired a love for learning, and provided sincere encouragement. While these wonderful educators are remembered by those who benefited from their lessons, they are often unheralded in the bigger picture. After all, the best teachers tend to keep the focus on their students, rather than themselves. Nevertheless, the legacies of some teachers have endured through time thanks to their groundbreaking contributions to the classroom — and beyond. Here are nine who truly deserved every apple placed on their desks.

 

1. Socrates

Cutting a distinct figure in fifth century BCE Athens with his unkempt clothing and long hair, Socrates conducted his “classes” in the marketplace and other public areas by engaging passersby in discussions designed to winnow out the truths of existence from popular wisdom and ingrained assumptions. Ironically, he claimed he wasn't a teacher during his trial for corrupting the minds of Athenian youth, though that may have been part of what was ultimately a failed attempt to stave off execution. Socrates is remembered today as a towering figure in the formation of Western philosophy, while his “Socratic method” survives as a proven tool for fostering debate in the classroom. His method also lived on in his most famous student: Plato.

 

2. Anne Sullivan

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Rendered partially blind by disease and orphaned at an early age, Anne Sullivan had already faced numerous challenges by the time she agreed to teach a 6-year-old deaf and blind girl named Helen Keller. Sullivan famously penetrated her student's shell by holding one of Keller's hands under running water and tracing the word "water" on the other, commencing a series of accomplishments that remain awe-inspiring more than a century later. With Sullivan — who is often referred to as the “Miracle Worker” — at her side, Keller went on to publish an autobiography in 1903, graduate from Radcliffe College in 1904, and embark on a career as a world-famous humanitarian. As Bishop James E. Freeman eulogized at Sullivan's funeral in 1936, "The touch of her hand did more than illuminate the pathway of a clouded mind; it literally emancipated a soul."

 

3. William Holmes McGuffey

William Holmes McGuffey served as a professor and college president at several schools from the late 1820s into the early 1870s. But his greatest contribution to academia came with McGuffey’s Eclectic Readers, the first textbooks to enjoy widespread use as the common school system found its footing in a rapidly developing nation. Expanding to a series of six books after the first two volumes appeared in 1836, the Readers progressed from the basics of the alphabet to advanced lessons in literacy, science, and history, eventually selling more than 100 million copies by 1900. McGuffey's Bible-based works largely disappeared from classrooms within a few decades, though they remain in print for those with a homeschool curriculum in mind.

 

4. Emma Willard

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Born in Connecticut in 1787, Emma Willard saw her intellectual curiosity fostered by the progressive men in her life. Her father enrolled her at a local girls' school, and a nephew later provided instruction from his college geometry and philosophy courses. Willard sought to pass along similar educational opportunities to other girls, starting with the launch of the Middlebury Female Seminary from her Vermont home in 1814. Seven years later, she opened the Troy Female Seminary, the nation's first higher-education institution for women, in upstate New York. Willard stepped away from its day-to-day management in 1838, but the school, which opened with 61 boarding and 29 day students, continued its steady growth. By 1872, more than 12,000 students had passed through its doors. Now known as the Emma Willard School, it retains the lofty goals of its founder as one of the elite girls' college preparatory schools in the country.

 

5. Savitribai Phule

Like Willard, India's Savitribai Phule was fortunate to find others willing to nurture what was a gifted, ambitious mind. Married at age 9, she learned to read and write from her husband, Jyotirao Phule, before pursuing a formal education that made her India’s first female teacher. Phule teamed with her husband to open a rare school for girls in 1848 — a move that ignited controversy in a country with strict societal codes but also garnered accolades from the British government. Although she eventually opened 18 schools, Phule's accomplishments as an educator form just one component of her outsized legacy. She also famously set up support systems for India's "untouchables," child brides, widows, and abused women as part of efforts to spark widespread social reform.

 

6. Maria Montessori

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Already a distinct figure as one of Italy's first female physicians, Maria Montessori channeled her interest in childhood development into the launch of a daycare center in Rome in early 1907. She subsequently fine-tuned the "Montessori method," in which kids essentially learn subjects for themselves through immersion in preferred activities and adult guidance. Her schools spread to Europe and then the United States in 1911, before falling out of favor across the Atlantic by the 1920s. Montessori nevertheless continued writing and lecturing until she died in 1952, shortly before American educators began rediscovering the benefits of her methodology. Today, there are approximately 20,000 Montessori schools worldwide, with Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and former Amazon chief Jeff Bezos among the accomplished alumni.

 

7. Toru Kumon

Amid a steady career as a high school math teacher in Osaka, Japan, Toru Kumon discovered that his young son was struggling to keep pace in his own math class. Kumon subsequently designed a series of worksheets for his son and, upon seeing notable improvement, began instructing other children around the city. In 1968, he retired from teaching to focus on his burgeoning educational service, which hit American shores in 1974. Unlike some of the other educators on this list, Kumon left little room for improvisation in a system that stressed the importance of rote memorization for his carefully detailed worksheets. But his Kumon Centers topped a total of 2 million enrolled students around the world before his death in 1995.

 

8. James Naismith

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The first full-time athletics instructor at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, James Naismith went on to spend four decades as a professor, coach, and athletic director at the University of Kansas. Of course, he's best known for his stint at the Springfield, Massachusetts YMCA International Training College in the early 1890s, during which time he was asked to develop a winter activity for the students. Naismith devised a game in which two teams of players scored points by lofting a ball into peach baskets fastened at opposite ends of the gym. His “basket ball” quickly caught on to the point where college teams were competing against one another by the mid-1890s, en route to expanding into a global sport with an estimated 450 million participants by the early 21st century.

 

9. Jaime Escalante

A Bolivian immigrant who had to rebuild his educational credentials from scratch, Jaime Escalante wound up teaching remedial math at Garfield High in East Los Angeles in the mid-1970s. Unwilling to accept the low expectations the school placed on their students, Escalante launched an advanced placement (AP) calculus course in 1979, and alternately pushed, cajoled, and charmed his troubled students into becoming college-ready scholars. In an incident dramatized in the 1988 movie Stand and Deliver, all 18 of Escalante's students passed the AP calculus exam in 1982. However, many of the students made similar errors, which the Educational Testing Services assumed was them cheating. Eventually, the students were allowed to retake the difficult exam and again passed. By the time the famed teacher left Garfield High in 1991, a whopping 600 students at the once-underperforming school had accepted the challenge to take AP courses across a wide range of subjects.

 

 

 

 

Source: Famous Teachers in History Who Made a Difference  |  Facts About Some of Histories Famous Teachers

 

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Fact of the Day - REMOTE PLACES

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Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland, is a great place to see the Northern Lights

Did you know.... If you're looking to avoid touristy spots for your next vacation, you might want to try visiting one of the most isolated places on Earth — some of which can only be accessed by boat or plane. A number of these remote locations feature gorgeous tropical climates, while others require braving Arctic temperatures or relentless deserts. The adventure is yours to choose. (Talia Lakritz | Updated Jan 16, 2019)

 

Interesting Facts About the World’s Most Remote and Inaccessible Places

by Interesting Facts

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Few things intrigue avid travelers like the unknown. Some of the world’s least-traversed destinations require a difficult journey — whether that’s a 30-mile hike through dense forest or two weeks at sea — while others are completely off-limits to visitors or have never been reached by humans. Wondering what lies beneath the most remote part of the Pacific Ocean? Or in what tiny locale you can find the world’s smallest flightless bird? Here are eight interesting facts about some of the most isolated, inaccessible, and hard-to-reach places on the planet.

 

1. A Colombian City Was Completely Forgotten by Outsiders for 400 Years

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For centuries, Ciudad Perdida (“Lost City” in Spanish) — located in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains of Colombia — was a thriving urban center for the Tairona people. But the site was mysteriously abandoned after the 16th century, along with any knowledge of its existence as far as the outside world was concerned. Despite a detailed archeological survey of the area, it was a group of treasure hunters who ultimately rediscovered the city in the 1970s. Archaeologists soon uncovered a vast network of stone structures and tiered terraces, some dating back to the seventh century. Around 80 of the site’s 400 acres are now open to the public, but visiting is no easy feat: It requires a four- to six-day round-trip hike through 30 miles of steep terrain and humid, mosquito-laden tropical forests. Hiring a local guide is required. While there isn’t vehicle access, the good news is that visitors will find campsites, water stations, and even snack stands (at least one with Wi-Fi) along the way, many run by the Indegenous Kogi people who live in the area. Another upside to the grueling trek? The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region is a UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserve, with a wide variety of flora and fauna, including nearly 630 bird species — many of which you won’t find anywhere else on Earth.

 

2. There’s a Space Junk Graveyard in the Remote Pacific Ocean

In 1992, a survey engineer named Hrvoje Lukatela discovered the Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility, the spot in the ocean farthest away from any land. More familiarly known as Point Nemo, the pole is located nearly 1,700 miles from three roughly equidistant islands: Ducie Island in the Pitcairn Islands to the north, Easter Island to the northeast, and Maher Island in Antarctica to the south. To put its remoteness into perspective, the closest humans to this remote stretch of the Pacific Ocean are those aboard the International Space Station, which orbits about 250 miles above the Earth. The discovery of Point Nemo didn’t have much usefulness, at least for most people on Earth. Not only is the area extremely difficult to get to, but it’s also within the South Pacific Gyre, a region that resists nutrient-rich waters. Point Nemo is, however, widely used for one purpose: disposing of space junk. Since the 1970s, the South Pacific Gyre has been the preferred spot for the United States, Japan, Russia, and several countries in Europe to drop their decommissioned equipment, since debris is less likely to hit the human population. When the International Space Station is retired in 2030, it will join more than 200 abandoned pieces of space equipment surrounding Point Nemo.

 

3. There’s Another North Pole — And It’s Even Harder to Visit

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There’s the geographic North Pole, which is the northernmost point of the Earth's axis of rotation, and then there’s the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility, a spot at the center of vast ice fields about 400 miles away from the geographic North Pole. Similar to the Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility, this is the point in the Arctic Ocean that is farthest away from the nearest landmass. Despite being first discovered in 1909, nobody has actually managed to reach the Northern Pole of Inaccessibility in the past 100-plus years — although the most intrepid adventurers keep trying. Making matters more complicated: The pole is also a moving target, shifting around as new islands are discovered, and researchers anticipate more movement due to rising sea levels. A British team led by explorer Jim McNeill has made several attempts to reach the pole over the last two decades. However, they have faced numerous challenges: A 2003 mission never left basecamp after McNeill fell ill with a flesh-eating bacterial infection, and in 2006, McNeill made it 168 miles away from land before falling through disintegrating ice, forcing the team to retreat. The team’s most recent attempt was in 2019. The Southern Pole of Inaccessibility, the corresponding point in Antarctica farthest from the nearest landmass in the Southern Ocean, has proved to be much more accessible. In the late 1950s, the Soviet Union built a meteorological research station there, along with a bust of Vladimir Lenin to mark the exact spot.

 

4. St. Helena Island Is Home to the World’s Oldest Tortoise

St. Helena — a remote British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic best known as the location of Napoleon’s final exile in 1815 — has another (more current) claim to fame: Jonathan, a Seychelles tortoise who is Earth’s oldest known living land animal, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Now believed to be 190 years old, Jonathan was at least 50 years old when he was gifted to Sir William Grey-Wilson, a future governor of the island, in 1882. He still lives at the governor’s residence (31 governors later), along with fellow giant tortoises Emma, David, and Fred. “While wars, famines, plagues, kings and queens, and even nations have come and gone, he has pottered on, totally oblivious to the passage of time,” Joe Hollis, Jonathan’s caregiver told the Washington Post in early 2022. Tortoises were a popular diplomatic gift at the time because they were easy to transport, since they were stackable and could go without food and water for an extended period. They were also considered a delicacy — a fate which Jonathan fortunately avoided. It’s much easier to get to St. Helena than it was in Napoleon’s time, but it’s still fairly difficult. One of the most remote inhabited islands in the world, St. Helena is located about 1,200 miles west of Angola and 2,500 miles east of Brazil. Until 2017, visitors needed to board a five-day boat trip from South Africa, but with the opening of the island’s first airport, you can now catch the six-hour flight from Johannesburg every other Saturday.

 

5. The Planet’s Smallest Flightless Bird Is Endemic to a Tiny, Remote Island

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About 1,300 miles south of St. Helena, the island of Tristan da Cunha is also a British Overseas Territory, but much more difficult to reach. While St. Helena now has an airport, visiting Tristan da Cunha still requires a weeklong ocean journey from Cape Town (which can sometimes take even longer, depending on the weather). Tourists also need permission from the Island Council to visit. “Tristan da Cunha” also refers to a group of islands. About 25 miles off the southwest coast of the island of Tristan da Cunha is the aptly named Inaccessible Island. Totaling just 5.4 square miles, the tiny island is surrounded by steep cliffs, making it difficult to even land a small boat there. That has resulted in a uniquely pristine ecosystem, which has allowed the world’s smallest extant flightless bird, the Inaccessible Island rail, to evolve and thrive. (At only about 5 or 6 inches big, it’s a little smaller than a dollar bill.) Current estimates place the island’s population around at least 9,000 birds. The Inaccessible Island rail’s closest relatives are two South American bird species that are able to fly, but when their common ancestor landed on the island, it evolved in an entirely different direction. The birds developed longer bills and sturdier legs, and their wings turned stubby, with much smaller feathers. Since the birds could get most of their prey on the ground — such as moths, seeds, berries, and worms — and predators were scarce, flying became less of a priority. The island doesn’t even have any mice or rats that could pose a risk to chicks.

 

6. Australia’s Tallest Mountain Is a Remote Volcano Named Big Ben

Located in the Southern Ocean about 2,500 miles southwest of Perth, Heard Island is home to one of Australia’s two active volcanoes and the country’s only glaciers. If you thought the sea journey to Inaccessible Island was arduous, expect a journey to this remote spot to take two weeks, depending on weather, through notoriously rough waters. While 7,310-foot Mount Kosciuszko is the tallest mountain on the Australian mainland, Big Ben, covering much of Heard Island, is the country’s tallest mountain overall — over 9,000 feet above sea level. Because of the remote location and harsh conditions, very few people have attempted to summit Big Ben. Only three parties have ever completed the ascent: two expedition groups in 1965 and 1983, and one mountaineering club associated with the Australian Army in 1999/2000. Not only is the journey to reach Heard Island lengthy, but actually landing a vessel there is also quite challenging. For this reason, few tourist groups visit the island. Most visitors are researchers in fields such as volcanology, ecology, and oceanography, along with environmental management organizations.

 

7. The World’s Northernmost Settlement Requires Radio Silence

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With a latitude of 78.55 degrees north, Ny-lesund, Norway, is the world’s northernmost year-round settlement, located just north of Longyearbyen, in the Svalbard archipelago. The town is home to approximately 40 permanent residents, who can send mail from the world’s northernmost post office. While Ny-Ålesund does welcome visitors, there are some unique rules tourists must follow. The most important of these is to turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on all devices. The former mining town, established in 1916 and still owned by the King’s Bay mining company, has doubled as a research station since the 1960s, and surrounding it are finely tuned instruments that measure the Earth’s slightest movements. As smartphones can interfere with their measurements, visitors must observe radio silence while visiting. They should also avoid approaching the town’s dog yard; the dogs here are trained to alert the town at the first whiff of a polar bear (although you can observe them from a safe distance). Ny-Ålesund doesn’t have overnight accommodations for tourists, but it does offer a free museum and the world’s northernmost gift shop, along with many cultural artifacts, including remnants of the mining town, and stunning glacier views. The town is part of the icy Svalbard archipelago, known for its five-month-long polar night and excellent opportunities to view the northern lights. Most visitors stay in Longyearbyen, which has a significantly higher population of about 2,400, along with schools, churches, a grocery store, and a few breweries. Longbearyen also offers various lodging options, from luxury hotels to remote cabins. However, visiting can be logistically challenging — flights typically run to Longyearbyen from Oslo only three days per week, and flights from there to Ny Alesund run twice weekly.

 

8. A Remote Egyptian Oasis Has Its Own Language

To reach the Siwa Oasis and its 200 springs and thousands of palm and olive trees, you’ll have to travel 350 miles through the desert southwest of Cairo, Egypt. Despite Siwa being a well-established — albeit somewhat hard to reach — tourism destination, the culture and language that evolved in this isolated location is dominant among the local Berber peoples. Around 20,000 people speak the Siwi language, a dialect of the Tamazight language spoken across North Africa, and it is much more common in homes than Arabic. However, Siwa is not taught in schools, to the concern of Siwa residents and language preservationists. (The U.N. has also classified the language as “endangered.”) It can take up to 12 hours to reach the Siwa Oasis by car or bus from Cairo, or three hours from the nearest Egyptian airport, Mersa Matruh. There’s plenty to see once you arrive: Cleopatra’s Spring, a large stone pool with surrounding cafes, is the most famous of the many springs in the oasis. The remains of the Temple of the Oracle, built in the sixth century BCE, are also a must-see. Visitors can rent bikes or even go sandboarding on the surrounding dunes.

 

 

Source: The 20 Most Isolated {laces on Earth  |  Facts About the Most Remote and Inaccessible Places

Edited by DarkRavie
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Fact of the Day - SNAPPLE

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Did you know.... A shipment of carbonated apple juice accidentally fermented in the company’s warehouse, sending bottle caps flying. Seeing the humor in the incident, not to mention an opportunity, the founders combined the distinct sound (“snappy”) with the fruit, and voila, “Snapple” was born. (Jeff Wells | Sep 9, 2015)

 

Facts About Snapple to Quench Your Thirst for Knowledge

by Interesting Facts

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"Unadulterated Food Products" may sound like a pretty boring company, but since undergoing a slight rebrand in the 1980s, they've developed into a globally recognized phenomenon that's celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022. We're talking about Snapple, whose refreshing beverages have been flying off grocery shelves ever since they manufactured their first explosive (and we mean that literally) flavor. Snapple claims to be made from "the best stuff on Earth," but there's more to their story than just quality ingredients. Keep reading to learn more facts about Snapple that will hopefully quench your thirst for knowledge.

 

1. The Name "Snapple" Is a Portmanteau

The brand name Snapple is a portmanteau of two words — "snappy" and "apple." When the company began in 1972, founders Leonard Marsh, Hyman Golden, and Arnold Greenberg (who ran a health food store in New York City's East Village) aimed to sell fruit juice-based soft drinks. One early product was a carbonated apple soda called "Snapple." That original product wasn't without its issues, however: Some of the bottles would ferment, sending the caps flying. That didn't deter the trio, who went on to become some of the first to sell soft drinks made with natural ingredients. They officially changed the company's name from Unadulterated Food Products to "Snapple" in the early 1980s.

 

2. The Snapple Lady Was an Actual Employee

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Wendy Kaufman was hired in 1991 to work in Snapple's shipping department. A hardworking, dedicated employee, she noticed the fan mail piling up in the mail room and made it her mission to answer the letters personally, writing or even calling fans back to thank them for their devotion to the brand. Kaufman ultimately rocketed to stardom after being cast as "Wendy the Snapple Lady," a character who appeared in 37 commercials between 1993 and 1995. The commercials featured a fictionalized version of Wendy doing what she did best — reading and answering fan mail — and some of the ads even involved filming at the homes of fans who had written letters.

 

3. Howard Stern Used to Advertise Snapple

Part of Snapple's boom in popularity can be attributed to the controversial shock jock Howard Stern. By some accounts, Snapple's founders were big fans of Stern's radio show (by other accounts, it was their ad agency's idea), and decided to pay him for 30 seconds of airtime starting in the 1980s — though Stern would often shoot well past that number. The company also advertised on fellow shock jock Rush Limbaugh's radio show after learning that he was a huge fan of Diet Snapple. Due to various controversies, however, both spokesmen were eventually canned by the company, though their role in helping introduce Snapple to a larger national audience is undeniable.

 

4. Snapple Was Once the Exclusive Beverage of New York City

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In a move decried by nutritionists but beloved by those in the city's accounting department, Snapple became the exclusive beverage of New York City in 2003, part of a $166 million deal. It wasn't the first time a beverage brand had signed with a major city — San Diego once had an exclusive deal with Pepsi, and Coca-Cola had a deal with the city of Oakland, California. During Snapple's five-year agreement with New York City, they were the sole provider of drinks in vending machines at city offices, police stations, and schools. While the deal offered an undeniable financial benefit for the city — $8 million a year for the education department alone — Snapple's drinks had more calories and grams of sugar than the sodas they were replacing.

 

5. Snapple Briefly Sold a Line of Sports Drinks

It was no Gatorade, but in 1990, Snapple introduced a line of sports drinks called Snap-Up, which came in four flavors. Two years later, they introduced a tea-flavored version, the same year they expanded into every major U.S. city. Though little is known or remembered about the short-lived Snap-Up, the company did sign major sponsorship deals with several high-profile tennis stars around the same time, including Jennifer Capriati and Ivan Lendl, the latter of whom was part of a $2 million advertising campaign.

 

6. Snapple's Apple Juice Once Contained No Apple

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Though they've since updated the ingredients to list both apple and pear concentrate, there was a time when Snapple's apple juice drink didn't contain a single drop of real apple juice. Instead, the company used pear juice flavored to taste like apple, perhaps because the flavor of altered pear concentrate more closely resembled what the public expected out of an apple drink than did apple juice itself.

 

7. Snapple's "Real Facts" Aren't Always True

In 2002, Snapple began including short facts, known as "Real Facts," on the underside of their bottle caps. Despite the company's claims that these tidbits are vigorously fact-checked, many of them have been disproved or are otherwise complicated. For instance, fact #868 claims that Thomas Jefferson invented coat hangers, despite Monticello's own website stating otherwise. And though Snapple claims elephants sleep only two hours a night, they actually get between three and seven hours of shut-eye, at least in zoos. So the next time you're amazed by a "Real Fact," you might want to double-check it before believing it.

 

 

Source: Real Facts About Snapple  |  Snapple Facts

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Fact of the Day - LIGHTHOUSES

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Did you know... There’s only one staffed lighthouse left in the U.S.
The United States has more lighthouses than any other country — around 700 of them — but only one of them is still regularly staffed instead of being automated. That would be Boston Light, which can be found on Little Brewster Island in the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. Before the advent of electric lights, “keeping a good light” required lighthouse keepers to tend to the actual lamp (which generally burned oil or kerosene), watch out for fog and sound fog signals, and perform housekeeping duties that included cleaning the lens. Today, lights are automatic, monitored by a remote control center and built with backup components that come online automatically if any portion of the system fails. 

 

Built in 1716 and standing some 60 feet high, Boston Light has undergone significant changes throughout its 306-year tenure, but thanks to a law passed by the Senate at the behest of Massachusetts’ own Senator Ted Kennedy in 1989, it will remain staffed by a human in perpetuity. The law followed Boston Light being named a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. Such protections and distinctions are warranted: Boston Light is actually the first lighthouse built in the United States. It saw significant damage during the Revolutionary War, with the British occupying it (as well as Boston itself) from July 1775 until June 1776 — a siege that included several fires lit by patriots to undermine the British position, and culminated in the British blowing it up. Massachusetts rebuilt the structure in 1783, and it has stood ever since.

 

The first known lighthouse was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

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The Lighthouse of Alexandria, also known as the Pharos of Alexandria, was the tallest human-made structure in the world when it was built in approximately 270 BCE — only the Great Pyramid of Giza, also in Egypt, rose higher. It’s considered the archetype of all lighthouses built in the thousands of years since, and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World along with the Great Pyramid, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, and Colossus of Rhodes. Designed by the Greek architect Sostratos during Ptolemy II's reign, it’s believed to have stood about 380 feet tall and was destroyed by a series of earthquakes between 956 and 1323 CE. Of the original Seven Wonders, only the Great Pyramid remains. (Interesting Facts)

 

Illuminating Facts about Lighthouses and Their History

by Christopher McFadden | May 17, 2020

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Tower of Hercules

Unless you are a sailor, you probably never give the humble lighthouse a second thought. But they actually have a very interesting and amazing history -- not to mention role. Here are some of the most notable milestones and facts about these amazing structures.

 

1. It all started with the Pharos of Alexandria

The Pharos of Alexandria, commonly known as the Lighthouse of Alexandria, is widely believed to have been the world's first lighthouse. Built sometime in the 3rd Century BC, this monolithic construction would become renowned around the ancient world. Prior to its construction, proto-lighthouses consisted of simple burning beacons at the entrances to harbors. There is also some evidence of smaller stone proto-lighthouses being built in ancient Greek harbors prior to the great lighthouse itself.  One of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World, it is thought to have been between 100 and 140 meters tall. It was designed by Sostratus of Cnidus, and it stood for many years before being progressively ruined by earthquakes. Today, the parts of the lighthouse still remain where the Egyptian Sultan Qaitbay built a citadel on the same site around 1480 AD.

 

2. The "Tower of Hercules" in Spain is one of the world's oldest intact lighthouses

During the height of the Roman Empire, lighthouses were built around much of the empire's important waterways. One of which was built on a peninsula of A Coruna, Galicia in Spain. Built sometime in the 2nd Century AD, the tower stands at 55 meters tall and overlooks the North Atlantic coast of Spain. Known to the Romans as "Farum Brigantium," it is more commonly known as the "Tower of Hercules."  It was renovated in 1791 AD and remains one of the oldest lighthouses in the world. It is today, a national monument of Spain, and was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June of 2009.

 

3. After the fall of Rome, many lighthouses fell into disuse, but some new ones were built

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After the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, many of its former lighthouses fell into disuse. While some rare examples did survive, like "The Tower of Hercules," most others were lost forever. However, some lighthouses were built during the Medieval period, like the "Hook Lighthouse" in County Wexford, Ireland. Today, another example of one of the world's oldest lighthouses is the second oldest after the aforementioned "Tower of Hercules" in Spain.  It is thought to date to around the 12th Century AD, but local folklore attests that a local missionary, Dubhan, had used the site as a beacon many centuries before. Whatever the case, the current structure is well over 800-years-old and ticking.

 

 4. The Transatlantic boom in trade led to the lighthouses we know and love today

Modern lighthouses of the kind we are all familiar with, began to appear in around the 18th Century. This corresponded with the growth in transatlantic commerce, and an ever-increasing need to keep trade ships safe from being wrecked along coastlines rather than to mark the entrances to harbors. Advances in structural engineering and newer and better lighting technology enabled countries to build bigger and better lighthouses over time. Initially, solid fuels like wood or coal, or liquid ones like whale oil were used as the light source until the invention of the revolutionary Argand Lamp in the 1870s.  Other improvements, like the first "catoptric" mirror reflector and "dioptric" lens system, were later added to many lighthouses in the late-1700s and early-1800s. 

 

5. The world's first lightship was established in the 1730s

The world's first dedicated lightships, or lightvessels, were the first established in the early-1730s. Called the Nore lightship, it was put to work at the mouth of the River Thames in England.  While there are some hints of fire beacons on ships during Roman times, the first modern "true" lightship was invented by Robert Hamblin in about 1734. Advancements in land-based lighthouse construction, and numbers for that matter, eventually led to the decline in favor of lightships towards the end of the 19th century.

 

6. Have you heard of Eilean Mor Lighthouse Mystery?

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There is a story of a time when all three lighthouse keepers on the remote island of Eilean Mor disappeared in a single evening. The three men were the only inhabitants on the island. The lighthouse keepers' disappearance was discovered when a relief lighthouse keeper arrived at the island on the 26th of December 1900. Later investigation of their logs detailed that a brutal storm had overwhelmed the island that lasted for several days. But, what is even stranger, is that occupants on a neighboring island, that had a clear view of the lighthouse, reported perfectly calm weather. Their bodies were never found, and to this day their disappearance is a complete mystery. The tale was later dramatized in the 2018 film "The Vanishing." 

 

7. Bishop Rock off the coast of Cornwall is a record-breaker

Bishop Rock is a tiny little island off the coast of Cornwall in England. The only man-made structure on it is a single lighthouse. Its diminutive size, relative to the size of its lighthouse, has earned the island the Guinness World Record of "world's smallest island with a building on it." The current lighthouse was built around 1858, but there was an earlier iron-construction building that was never completed. It was washed away by violent seas before it could be completed. 

 

8. Russia has a score of nuclear-powered lighthouses

During the era of electrification that swept the world at the beginning of the 20th Century, many existing lighthouses were converted to electrical lighting. While most tend to be powered using combustion-engined generators, some are actually powered by nuclear reactorsSome of the most notable can be found in Russia. During the Soviet-era, a chain of nuclear-powered autonomous lighthouses was built along the Northern Shipping Route. Running along the Northern coast of Russia, this part of the world has little to no daylight for a portion of the year. Before the advent of GPS, this was historically a very dangerous route to take for many ships. To combat this, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union embarked on building a chain of new lighthouses to make the route that much safer. Being so remote in places, many of these were powered by a lightweight small atomic reactor. After the fall of the Soviet Union, many of there lighthouses, and their reactors, fell into disuse and disrepair. 

 

9. Have you heard of the time that Finland built a lighthouse in Sweden by mistake?

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And finally, there was a time that Finland accidentally built a lighthouse in Swedish territory. While this might sound like a pretty serious oversight, the reasoning behind it is actually fairly understandable. Part of the border between the two countries crosses one island in an unusual way. Called Märket, the island was divvied up under the 1809 Treaty of FredrikshamnBack in 1885, Finland erected a lighthouse on the highest part of the island, which was thought to be a no man's land by the builders. Sadly, under the treaty, this happened to have been on the Swedish side of the island. Since then, in the mid-1980s, an agreement was made to change the border to ensure the lighthouse is now in Finnish territory.

 

 

Source: Facts About Lighthouses  |  Facts about Lighthouses and Their History

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Fact of the Day - FLYTING

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Did you know... Medieval Scotland had a practice similar to modern battle rap, called “flyting.”
Today, sharp-tongued verbal jousting primarily exists in the art form known as battle rap, in which two rappers take lyrical aim at each other with intricate (and often devastating) rhymes. During these battles, no insult — artistic or otherwise — is off-limits, and that’s a sentiment that 15th- and early 16th-century Scottish poets might have shared. Medieval Scottish men of words linguistically barbed each other in a practice known as “flyting” (based on the Old English word flītan, meaning “to quarrel”), often as entertainment for the Scottish king and his royal court. The most famous of these “battles” that still survives, known as “The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie,” featured Scottish poets William Dunbar and Walter Kennedy entertaining the court of James IV in the early 16th century. Among its many famous attributes, it’s the first recorded moment of scatological humor. (One of the more family-friendly examples of its insults, translated from Middle Scots, reads: “Grovel for grace, dog-face, or I shall chase you all winter; Howl and yowl, owl.”) The biting lyricism of flyting wasn’t restricted to Scotland, of course. Ancient Irish professional poets, called filid, were also known for their insults, and a form of flyting can be found in Old English literature as well as the famous Norse text the Poetic Edda (in which the trickster god Loki goes on the verbal offensive against his fellow deities). Similar art forms can be found in Japan, Nigeria, parts of the Middle East, and elsewhere. Although flyting didn’t survive the Middle Ages, its influence can be seen in works ranging from Shakespeare to James Joyce. Thankfully, the birth of the rap battle in the 1980s once again provided a much-needed venue for settling serious artistic beef — and it’s been a fixture of hip-hop culture ever since.

 

The first major rap battle, in 1981, was a transformative moment in hip-hop.

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In December 1981, at the Harlem World club in New York City, hip-hop emcee Busy Bee Starski finished a set by bragging about his superior lyrical skills compared to other popular hip-hop artists at the time. Unknown to Busy Bee, one of those artists was in the crowd — another emcee named Kool Moe Dee. The dissed emcee took to the stage and dished a lyrical attack right back at Starski. His sharp, biting freestyle juxtaposed with Busy Bee’s simpler, more comedic technique sent rap in a new direction, in which emcees became more focused on serious lyricism rather than the typical party persona. Kool Moe Dee’s “battle” was recorded and became an influential mixtape that found its way onto the radio, and around the world. (Interesting Facts)

 

Flyting Was Medieval England’s Version of an Insult-Trading Rap Battle
BY TAO TAO HOLMES | JANUARY 14, 2016

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Flyting from Norse Folklore and Old England should be incorporated into American politics

 

Imagine a world that had swapped its guns for puns and its IEDs for repartees. Such a planet is possible if only those in power would manage their conflicts with flyting, the time-honored sport of verbal jousting. Flyting is a stylized battle of insults and wits that was practiced most actively between the fifth and 16th centuries in England and Scotland. Participants employed the timeless tools of provocation and perversion as well as satire, rhetoric, and early bathroom humor to publicly trounce opponents. The term “flyting” comes from Old English and Old Norse words for “quarrel” and “provocation.” ‘Tis a form of highly poetic abuse, or highly abusive poetry—a very early precursor to MTV’s Yo Mama and Eminem’s 8 Mile.

 

Court flyting” sometimes served as entertainment for royals such as Scottish kings James IV and James V. The most famous surviving exchange is The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie, which was performed in the early 16th century by William Dunbar and Walter Kennedy for the court of James IV. A medieval rap battle between two clever men, it featured the first recorded instance of poop being used as an insult. The moment Kennedy called Dunbar a “shit without a wit,” he ushered in a whole new era of scatological humor.

 

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James V, pictured on the left, was known to enjoy some good flyting.

 

Some choice lines from Dunbar and Kennedie, translated from the Middle Scots, include:  

 

“Gray-visaged gallows-bird, out of your wits gone wild,

Loathsome and lousy, as wet as a cress,

Since you with worship would so fain be styled,

Hail, Monsignor! Your balls droop below your dress.”

 

Those are just four lines of 128—it’s well worth checking out the rest if you want to up your insult game.

 

Of course, flyting was not humanity’s first foray into competitive insults. The popular 1938 book Homo Ludens, written by Dutch historian and theorist Johan Huizinga, makes the basic argument that the dawn of civilization was the moment when people started insulting each other rather than (or in addition to) physically attacking each other. There appear to be forms of verbal jousting in pretty much all cultures; for example, one finds similar rituals in Japanese Haikai, naqa’id in Arabic poetry, the Mande practice of Sanankuya and the Nigerian game Ikocha Nkocha. 

 

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This is the frill-necked lizard’s version of flyting.

 

Forms of ritualized combat exist not only across cultures but also across species and spiritual universes. Gods in Norse literature have been known to flyte, and the concept behind flyting exists in the animal kingdom with agonistic behavior, when creatures establish dominance over each other without actually fighting. Flyting lacks much written history, but flute-like exchanges of insults exist in early classics such as the epic Old English poem Beowulf and Shakespeare’s King Lear, in which Kent describes Oswald as, among other things:

 

“A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a

base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited,

hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a

lily-livered, action-taking knave, a whoreson,

glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogue”

 

The obvious modern-day equivalent of flyting is the rap battle, but it’s unclear whether the two forms of verbal combat have common ancestry. One academic, the late Ferenc Szasz, was convinced of a clear link between flyting and rap battles, applying his theory that American slaves adopted the tradition from Scottish slave owners. The overlap of European and African culture in the South, and the question of how much European influence went into the rap battle, is a contentious issue, says Wald, author of The Dozens: A History of Rap’s Mama. “The fact is, there are much stronger survivals of deep African traditions than most people realize,” he says. “But, there also has been an amazing ability of African American culture to adapt and reuse stuff they’ve picked up from European culture.” One of the major examples, says Wald, is rhyme. “There is no history of rhyme in any African language,” he says. “And that continues to be true in African American culture—right up until the 1880s or 1890s, well after the Civil War, virtually the only rhyme that you find in African American culture is from people trying to do European forms.”

 

 

 

By the 1930s and 1940s, however, rhyme was inseparable from and central to black hip culture. Part of this shift came in the form of “The Dozens,” a battle of insults tracing back to America’s 1920s and 1930s, customarily played out in front of an informal audience that keeps going until one person concedes. For young African American men, the Dozens was a rite of passage. “The Dozens can be tricky, aggressive, offensive, clever, brutal, funny, inventive, stupid, violent, misogynistic, psychologically intricate, deliberately misleading—or all of that at once, wrapped in a single rhyming couplet,” writes Wald in his book. “Yo Mama” jousts, popularized by MTV, are a successor of the Dozens. Regardless of whether flyting and the rap battle have an official link, they are ultimately part of the same art. We don’t necessarily need to bring back flyting; we just need to give the rap battle flyting status by making it part of political protocol. The hit musical Hamilton has recently proven that when politicians do rap battles in cabinet, everyone wins. Time to spit a rhyme, powerful people.

 

 

Source: Facts About Flyting  |  Facts About Medieval Flyting

Edited by DarkRavie
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