Wednesday, February 27, 2013

English words derived from Greek mythology
Atlas = condemned to carry the heavens upon his shoulders - atlas = book of maps
Ceres = goddess of agriculture - cereal = food made from grains
Clotho = the Fate who spun the thread of life - cloth = material made by weaving
Cronos = keeper of time - chronology = events in order of time
Erôs = god of love and sexual desire - erotic = sexual in nature
Fortuna = goddess of luck - fortune = chance or luck
Hypnos = god of sleep - hypnosis = a sleep-like state of consciousness
Hêlios = God of the sun and guardian of oaths - heliotrope = plant that turns towards the sun
Jove - another name for Jupiter - jovial = jolly, merry
Khaos = the nothingness from which all sprang - chaos = confusion, disorder
Mars = god of war - martial = relating to or about war
Mercury = messenger to the gods - mercurial = fast or changingMuses = goddesses of music - musical = of or like music
Narcissus = a very vain god who fell in love with his own reflection - narcissism = extreme love of self
Nectar = drink of the gods - nectar, nectarine = fruit juice or sweet plant secretion
Nymphe = beautiful maidens, lesser deities who cared for plants and animals = nymph = beautiful woman
Ôkeanos = God of the river Oceanus, the source of all the Earth's fresh-water - ocean = large body of water
Typhon = father of all monsters - typhoon = huge rotating tropical storm
Vulcan = god of fire - volcano = opening in the earth through which lava erupts
Zephyrus = god of the west wind - zephyr = gentle west wind

Pronunciation guide for mythological names, including Greek, Norse, Roman, Islamic, Celtic, Japanese and Egyptian among others.

David Haussler (born 1953) is an American bioinformatician known for his work leading the team that assembled the first human genome sequence in the race to complete the Human Genome Project and subsequently for comparative genome analysis that deepens understanding the molecular function and evolution of the genome.  David Haussler’s research combines mathematics, computer science, and molecular biology.  As a collaborator on the international Human Genome Project, his team posted the first publicly available computational assembly of the human genome sequence on the Internet on July 7, 2000.  Following this, his team developed the UCSC Genome Browser, a web-based tool that is used extensively in biomedical research and serves as the platform for several large-scale genomics projects.  These include NHGRI’s ENCODE project to use omics methods to explore the function of every base in the human genome (for which UCSC serves as the Data Coordination Center), NIH’s Mammalian Gene Collection, NHGRI’s 1000 genomes project to explore human genetic variation, and NCI’s Cancer Genome Atlas project to explore the genomic changes in cancer. 

The Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year, originally known as the Diagram Group Prize for the Oddest Title at the Frankfurt Book Fair, commonly known as the Diagram Prize for short, is a humorous literary award that is given annually to the book with the oddest title.  The prize is named after the Diagram Group, an information and graphics company based in London, and The Bookseller, a British trade magazine for the publishing industry.   Originally organised to provide entertainment during the 1978 Frankfurt Book Fair, the prize has since been awarded every year by The Bookseller and is now organised by the magazine's diarist Horace Bent. The winner was initially decided by a panel of judges, but since 2000 the winner has been decided by a public vote on The Bookseller's website.  Find a list of  awards given since 1978 at:  NOTE that while browsing in a public library in Traverse City, Michigan, I found the 1980 winner and it was just what I was looking for. 

David Patterson, computer science professor at the University of California Berkeley, is building a software pipeline for cancer genomics using the Cancer Genome Atlas, a repository of five petabytes of data containing the genetic sequencing of thousands of cancer tumors.  The goal is that doctors will be able to prescribe a personalized targeted to stop a cancer's growth--or cure it.  Paul Hyman  Communications of the ACM  February 2013 

The smallest unit of measurement used for measuring data is a bit.  A single bit can have a value of either 0 or 1.  It may contain a binary value (such as On/Off or True/False), but nothing more.  Therefore, a byte, or eight bits, is used as the fundamental unit of measurement for data.  Find ten units, including petabyte (PB) at: 

Feb. 26, 2013  Sequestration, sometimes called the sequester, is a process that automatically cuts the federal budget across most departments and agencies.  Congress included the threat of sequestration in the Budget Control Act of 2011 as a way to encourage compromise on deficit reduction efforts.  Congress couldn’t agree on a budget by the deadline set in the Budget Control Act, so mandatory budget cuts were scheduled to go into effect on January 2, 2013.  Congress stopped the cuts from happening by passing the American Taxpayer Relief Act on January 2.  This law pushed the budget cuts back until March 1, 2013.  If Congress cannot agree on a budget to reduce the deficit by March 1, then sequestration would happen and $85 billion in spending cuts would go into effect. 

meld 1 verb   To declare or display (a card or combination of cards in a hand) for inclusion in one's score in various card games, such as pinochle.
v.intr.   To present a meld.
n.   A combination of cards to be declared for a score.
[Probably German melden, to announce, from Middle High German, from Old High German meld n.]
meld 2 verb  To cause to merge.
v.intr.  To become merged.
n.  A blend or merger
[Perhaps blend of melt and weld.]

Monday, February 25, 2013

Lois Lenski was born in Springfield, Ohio on October 14, 1893.  She completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and received a teaching certificate from Ohio State University in 1915.  She attended Westminister School of Art in London, England.  In the following years, she moved to New York City, and later to London and Italy to study art and work as an assistant to artist Arthur Covey, whom she eventually married.  After becoming a successful illustrator, publishers encouraged her to write to go along with her drawings, and Lenski began to write and illustrate children’s books, starting with Skipping Village in 1927.  A noted author and artist of children's books, Lois Lenski received numerous literary awards for her work, including the John Newberry Medal for Strawberry Girl in 1946.  She illustrated all of her own works, and she illustrated 57 children's books by other authors. 

Tarmac (short for tarmacadam, or tar-penetration macadam) is a type of road surfacing material patented by Edgar Purnell Hooley in 1901.  The term is also used, with varying degrees of correctness, for a variety of other materials, including tar-grouted macadam, bituminous surface treatments and even modern asphalt concrete.  Babylon, in 625 BCE, was the first city to have its streets paved with tar.  More than 2,000 years later, John Loudon McAdam invented a road construction method called macadamisation.  These roads were adequate for use by horses and carriages or coaches, but they were very dusty and subject to erosion with heavy rain.  Later on, they did not hold up to higher speed motor vehicle use.  Methods to stabilise macadam roads with tar date back to at least 1834, when John Henry Cassell, operating from Cassell's Patent Lava Stone Works in Millwall, patented "Pitch Macadam".  This method involved spreading tar on the subgrade, then placing a typical macadam layer and then sealing the macadam with a mixture of tar and sand.  Tar-grouted macadam was also in use well before 1900, and involved scarifying the surface of an existing macadam pavement, spreading tar and re-compacting.  Although the use of tar in road construction was known in the 19th century, it was little used and was not introduced on a large scale until the motor car arrived on the scene in the early 20th century.

true blue  True blue, meaning faithful and steadfast, comes from the color of a fabric manufactured in Coventry, England during the Middle Ages.  The cloth had a reputation for having a durable blue dye which resisted fading.
blue blood  Blue bloods, the aristocrats, came into English from Spanish . The Spanish nobles of the Kingdom of Castile were stereotyped as having fair skin which revealed the blue veins underneath.
blue collar  The term “blue collar” in reference to trades jobs was in 1924 in a newspaper in Alden Iowa.  During the 1950s, blue collar came to refer to the millions of factory and trade workers.
blue ribbon  Blue ribbon originally referred to the ribbon worn below the left knee of a fourteenth-century British knight who had been admitted into the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

Use a baking stone for a great crust and oven spring.  They are heavy and take a long time to heat up but baking stones help create a brick oven atmosphere for the bread.  The crust does not crack on the bottom and the bread can bake through without over browning.  With or without a baking stone, I have found that heating the oven for 1/2 an hour with no stone or 1 hour with a stone is essential for professional-looking and tasting results.  Breads may need lower temperatures when your baking stone is properly preheated.  If you don't have an oven thermometer and want to fix an overly dark loaf today, turn your oven down by 25°F.  And I have the best results when I turn my oven to 450°F, not 500°F as they say in some books.  Let the bread cool before slicing.  Let it cool two hours before slicing. Find tips for getting the type of crust you want at:

umbrage  noun
1.  displeasure or resentment; offence (in the phrase give or take umbrage)
2.  the foliage of trees, considered as providing shade
3.  Rare shadow or shade
4.  Archaic a shadow or semblance
[from Old French umbrage, from Latin umbrāticus relating to shade, from umbra shade, shadow]

Iceland  is a Nordic European island country situated at the confluence of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.  The country has a population of about 320,000 and a total area of 103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi), which makes it the most sparsely populated country in Europe.  The capital and largest city is Reykjavík, with the surrounding areas in the southwestern region of the country being home to two-thirds of the country's population.  Iceland is volcanically and geologically active.  The interior consists mainly of a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains and glaciers, while many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands.  Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle.   According to both Landnámabók and Íslendingabók, Celtic monks known as the Papar lived in Iceland before the Norse settlers arrived, possibly members of a Hiberno-Scottish mission.  Recent archaeological excavations have revealed the ruins of a cabin in Hafnir on the Reykjanes peninsula, and carbon dating indicates that it was abandoned somewhere between 770 and 880, suggesting that Iceland was populated well before 874.  The first known permanent Norse settler was Ingólfur Arnarson, who built his homestead in present-day Reykjavík in the year 874.  The Danish-Icelandic Act of Union, an agreement with Denmark signed on 1 December 1918 and valid for 25 years, recognized Iceland as a fully sovereign state in a personal union with Denmark.  On 31 December 1943, the Danish-Icelandic Act of Union expired after 25 years.  Beginning on 20 May 1944, Icelanders voted in a four-day plebiscite on whether to terminate the personal union with Denmark, abolish the monarchy, and establish a republic.  The vote was 97% in favour of ending the union and 95% in favour of the new republican constitution.  Iceland formally became a republic on 17 June 1944, with Sveinn Björnsson as its first president.

Eleven people have won all four major annual American entertainment awards, the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony.  Doing so may be abbreviated EGOT, or sometimes GATE ("A" for "Academy").  These awards honor outstanding achievements in, respectively, television, music or other audio recording, film, and theater.  Winning all four awards has been referred to as winning the Grand Slam of show business.  The acronym EGOT was invented by actor Philip Michael Thomas.  It has since gained popularity because of its use as a plot device by the TV series 30 Rock.  A particular subset of the EGOT is the 'Triple Crown of Acting', for winning an award in the singular (non-group/ensemble/company) acting categories of all three of the Emmy, Oscar and Tony awards.   Of the 11 EGOT winners, two — Marvin Hamlisch and Richard Rodgers — have also won the Pulitzer Prize.  Find list of winners and link to Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony official sites at:,_Emmy,_Grammy,_and_Tony_Awards

Oscar nominees

Oscar winners

Lists of highest-grossing films, highest-grossing films adjusted for inflation, high-grossing films by year, and highest-grossing franchises and film series


Friday, February 22, 2013

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg
Why do we have silent letters?  Well, it's a long story.  A story as long as the history of the English language.  Ultimately, the English spelling is a reflection of thousands of years of hodge-podge that brought it where it is today.  Some letters that are quiet now were not as shy to speak up in the past.  Their sounds just fell off over time.  For example, the letter k in the word knee was pronounced in the beginning, but English speakers dropped the initial k (and g) sound in a word when followed by the letter n.  In German they still pronounce it -- their word for knee, Knie, is pronounced with the k sound, for example.  Some words were deliberately manipulated.  The letter b was inserted into the word debt (in Middle English it was det) to show its classical ancestry -- because Latin debit had a b.  But we continued with the same pronunciation.  The word island has a sad story.  We added the letter s to iland (literally, watery land) because we erroneously believed it was derived from French isle.  The French word has dropped its s to become île, but we are still carrying that misbegotten s.  The word psychology, which we got from Greek has its p pronounced in Greek. We don't have the initial ps or pt combinations in English so we ignore the p sound.  Words with silent letters: 
pteridology  (ter-i-DOL-uh-jee)  noun:  The study of ferns.  
From Greek pterido (fern) + -logy (study).  Ultimately from the Indo-European root pet- (to rush or fly), which also gave us feather, petition, compete, perpetual, propitious, pinnate, and lepidopterology.  Earliest documented use:  1855.
gnathic  (NATH-ik)  adjective  Of or relating to the jaw. 
From Greek gnathos (jaw).  Ultimately from the Indo-European root genu- (jawbone, chin), which is also the source of chin, prognathous , and Sanskrit hanu (jaw).  Earliest documented use:  1882.
chthonic  (THON-ik)  adjective  Of or relating to the underworld.  
From Greek chthon (earth).  Ultimately from the Indo-European root dhghem- (earth), which also sprouted human, homicide, humble, homage, chameleon, chamomile, inhume, exhume, and Persian zamindar (landholder).  Earliest documented use:  1882.

Feedback to A.Word.A.Day  Subject:  Silent letters
When one of my sons moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, I helped him with a home project.  We ran into the need for a tool we didn't have.  Said John, "I'll just pick one up at Mart."  "Don't you mean, "K-Mart"?" I asked.  "No, Dad," he said.  "In Knoxville, the K is silent."
Do you know about the silent alphabet?

Words with a silent T:  thistle, whistle, castle; Christmas, fasten, listen and often 
Find words with the silent letters B-E, G, Gh, H, K, L N, P, S-U and W at: 

Q:  I read that the Harbaugh brothers, the two Super Bowl coaches, grew up in the Toledo area.  Where did they go to high school?  Were they football stars?
A:   John, 50, of the Baltimore Ravens, was born in Toledo and graduated from Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Mich., where his father was an assistant to Michigan coach Bo Schembechler.  John played defensive back for Miami University, but he did not play in the NFL.   Jim, 49, of the San Francisco 49ers, was born in Toledo and graduated from Palo Alto (Calif.) High School while his father was an assistant coach at Stanford University.  Jim was a quarterback for the University of Michigan, and five NFL teams during 15 seasons, ending in 2001.  By the way, parents Jack and Jackie met at Bowling Green State University and married in 1961, making them "Falcon Flames."  various sources,2013,Feb,11&c=c_13  NOTE that Toledo brothers Joe Guerrero (Bowsher boys basketball coach) and  Gil Guerrero (Start boys basketball coach) faced each other for a City League championship on Feb. 21, 2013.  Gil, 62, and Joe, 59, both graduated from Waite, and each played basketball there for coach Jack O’Connell.  Gil, a 1968 grad, earned All-City honors as a senior, when he led the league in scoring.  He later played at Syracuse University. Joe, a 1971 grad, went on to Ohio Northern University, where he was a baseball pitcher for the Polar Bears.  He later pitched professionally in the Mexican League and in the Carolina League. 

The ninth annual Seed Swap in Toledo will be noon to 3 p.m. Feb. 23 at a new location:  Woodward High School, 701 E. Central Ave.  Attendees will receive five seed packets for free, and pay 50 cents for additional packs.  People who bring labeled packets of seeds not older than 2011 will receive additional tickets for free seeds.  No plants, bulbs, or garden paraphernalia will be accepted.  Free workshops will be Getting Started in Vegetable Garden Design at 12:15 p.m. with Matt Ross; To Bee or Not To Bee, all about bees with Karen Wood, at 1:15 p.m., and Plant to Plate, growing and preserving food, with Lee Richter and Patrice Powers Barker, at 2:15.  The afternoon includes children’s activities, informational tables, and a silent auction.  Woodward’s concession stand will sell snacks.  “The swap is a wonderful gathering that serves not only the Toledo Grows community gardeners, but all home and backyard gardeners in the city and surrounding area,” says Dani Kusner, manager of Toledo Grows, an outreach program of Toledo Botanical Garden.  Information: and 419-536-5588. 

Feb. 22, 2013  Patricia Cornwell is conjuring a "grisly" scene in her next thriller as a way of dealing with her fury at her financial managers, who were ordered this week to pay her $US50.9 million in damages after she accused them of mismanaging her money.  "I would dare say that there's a very good possibility that in Dust (Cornwell's 21st crime novel), Scarpetta is going to deal with something grisly that happens to financial people," she said yesterday.  "I think that will happen. I've already been thinking about that as I've been sitting in court every day.  "That's how I process things.  I capitalise on the emotion and use it in my wording.  That's how writers deal with a lot of stuff.  I'm not sure I'd call it revenge as such.  It's just how I deal with things, but there may be a bit of revenge."  The writer and her partner, Staci Gruber, sued the American wealth management company Anchin, Block & Anchin for "gross mismanagement" of their money over 4 1/2 years.  The firm's lawyer blamed Cornwell's losses on the recession and the author's extravagant lifestyle--including her spending on Ferraris and helicopters--but the jury at the federal court in Boston, Massachusetts, found for the author and awarded punitive damages. 

On Feb. 19, 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court said it will address campaign finance laws once again, examining the constitutionality of limiting how much individual donors can give to political campaigns and committees.  The court's last decision on campaign finance came in 2010 with Citizens United, when it ruled independent campaign spending from corporations and unions can't be limited.  The case is being brought by Shaun McCutcheon of Alabama and the Republican National Committee, who argue that the existing two-year limits on personal contributions are unconstitutional.  McCutcheon didn't have a problem with current regulations restricting individual contributions, which are set at $30,800 per year to national party committees, $10,000 per year to state party committees, and $5,000 per year to other political committees; and $2,500 per election to federal candidates.  Instead, he objected to separate limits of how much an individual can give aggregated over a two-year period, which currently cap contributions to candidates at $46,200 and contributions to groups at $70,800. 

Muse reader, seeing the article on Room to Read, mentions working with the same girl for several years as part of the Power Lunch program.  Power Lunch is a lunchtime literacy and mentoring program that brings groups of adult volunteers into low-income elementary schools for one-on-one read aloud sessions with students.  On the same day each week, volunteers forgo their lunch breaks to travel to a nearby elementary school for one hour of one-on-one reading with a low-income student.   EVERYBODY WINS! provides 100-150 recommended, age-appropriate books from which students and volunteers can choose.  For the one hour session, the pairs promote both the skills and love of reading by reading aloud to each other, sharing favorite stories and talking about books.  Unlike many literacy programs, Power Lunch offers a one-on-one mentoring component, cultivating a rare rapport that transcends generations and socio-economic classes.  Volunteers commit to Power Lunch and their student for one year and are encouraged to continue the mentoring relationship, often “graduating” with the student throughout his/her elementary years.  In order to establish consistency but still allow schedule flexibility, many volunteers partner with a coworker to read with their shared student on alternate weeks.  Founded in Manhattan in 1991, EVERYBODY WINS! Power Lunch has grown from five volunteers in one classroom to more than 7,800 volunteers nationwide.  More than 600 companies and organizations participate.

Mashed Parsnips and Turnips 
Cook peeled and cubed parsnips and turnips until done.  Add a little reserved cooking water, milk or cream when mashing.  If desired, add one or more of the following ingredients:  salt, pepper, maple syrup, butter, soft cheese.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sometimes called the "Master of Menace," actor Vincent Price was born on May 27, 1911, and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri.  His father served as the president of a candy company, and he had a cultured upbringing.  Price was educated in private schools, and toured Europe at the age of 16. At Yale University, Price studied art history and English. He then traveled to England to pursue the fine arts at University of London.  In 1935, Price landed his first major stage role, playing Prince Albert in a London production of Victoria Regina.  The play moved to Broadway, with Helen Hayes as Price's co-star, and it became a big hit.  Before long, Price made his way to the silver screen.  Price enjoyed success in many arenas outside of cinema; he made numerous television appearances, ranging from The Brady Bunch to the TV series Batman.  In the 1980s, he hosted the PBS series Mystery.  He also added an ominous air to the Michael Jackson's 1983 "Thriller" video, by delivering an opening monologue.  Price also worked with rocker Alice Cooper. 

The Associated Press has been breaking news since it was created in 1846.  That year, five New York City newspapers got together to fund a pony express route through Alabama in order to bring news of the Mexican War north more quickly than the U.S. Post Office could deliver it.  In the decades since, AP has been first to tell the world of many of history’s most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.  When it was founded, words were the only medium of communication.  The first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale, AP delivered news by pigeon, pony express, railroad, steamship, telegraph and teletype in the early years.  In 1935, AP began sending photographs by wire.  A radio network was formed in 1973, and an international video division was added in 1994.  In 2005, a digital database was created to hold all AP content, which has allowed the agency to deliver news instantly and in every format to the ever expanding online world.  Often called the “Marine Corps of journalism”—always first in and last out—AP reports history in urgent installments, always on deadline.  AP staff in 300 locations in more than 100 countries deliver breaking news that is seen or read by half the world’s population on any given day.  It remains a not-for-profit cooperative, owned by 1,500 U.S. newspapers, which are both its customers and its members.

The playing field for North American football is marked with solid, parallel lines that form a grid.  These lines appear every 5 yards (about 4.6 m) for the entire length of the field, which is 100 yards (91.44 m) in American football and 110 yards (about 100.6 m) in Canadian football.  Sidelines mark the edges of the field, and at each end is an end zone.  There also are hash marks that appear at 1-yard (about 0.9-m) intervals near the center of the field and near the sidelines.  The solid lines and hash marks on the field are collectively called yard lines, and they are used to mark the location of the ball.  The team that is in possession of the ball, the offense, must advance 10 yards (9.14 m) within a certain number of plays to maintain possession of the ball. This is why the exact location of the ball is important . In addition, the cost of committing a penalty usually includes having the ball moved a certain number of yards either forward or backward, depending on which team committed the penalty.  The yard lines also aid in the keeping of various statistics, such as the number of yards that a player or team gains by running or passing the ball.  North American football is derived from the sport of rugby and originally had no lines on the field other than those that marked the boundaries.  In 1882, a football coach named Walter Camp instituted a rule requiring the offense to gain at least 5 yards (4.57 m) within three plays; this was later changed to 10 yards (9.14 m) within four plays for American football and within three plays for Canadian football.  To facilitate the enforcement of this rule, yard lines were added to the field at 5-yard (4.57-m) intervals.  The lined field's resemblance to a cooking gridiron was quickly noted, and the use of the term to refer to the field became common.

Room to Read is an award-winning non-profit organization for improving literacy and gender equality in education in the developing world.  Headquartered in San Francisco, California and founded on the belief that World Change Starts With Educated Children, the organization focuses on working in collaboration with local communities, partner organizations and governments.  Room to Read develops literacy skills and the habit of reading among primary school children, and supports girls in completing secondary school with the relevant life skills to succeed in school and beyond.  Room to Read is currently serving communities in ten countries in Asia and Africa: South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.  John Wood, founder and board co-chair, launched Room to Read in 1999 after a trek through Nepal where he visited several local schools.  He was amazed by the warmth and enthusiasm of the students and teachers, but also saddened by the shocking lack of resources.  Driven to help, John quit his senior executive position with Microsoft and built a global team to work with rural villages to build sustainable solutions to their educational challenges.  See also: 

Why do we keep books, spend money on books, and keep looking after them in libraries?  Venessa Harris comments on the value of books at: 

Peter Blauner (1959- ) is the author of six novels, including Slow Motion Riot, which won the 1992 Edgar Award for Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America and was named an International Book of the Year by The Times Literary Supplement.  His novel The Intruder was a New York Times bestseller and a bestseller in England as well.  His early literary influences ranged from writers like Raymond Chandler, Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O'Connor, and Philip Roth to film directors like Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, Sidney Lumet, and Werner Herzog.  He studied at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and won the Paul Horgan prize for best short fiction by a student.  He started in journalism as an assistant to writer Pete Hamill before reporting for the Newark Star-Ledger in New Jersey and the Norwich Bulletin in Connecticut.  He reported on crime for New York magazine but found inspiration for his first novel at the New York Department of Probation saying that it was a "virtual social microcosm."  See also:

Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal, 100 in February 2013, has an opal-faced clock (a century old and valued at more than $10 million), flawless marble staircases (modeled on those in the Paris Opera House), gleaming chandeliers (fitted with 35,000 custom-designed, low-energy light bulbs) and the deepest basement in new York City--200 feet.  Read its fascinating history at:

From 1892 to 1954, over twelve million immigrants entered the United States through the portal of Ellis Island, a small island in New York Harbor.  Ellis Island is located in the upper bay just off the New Jersey coast, within the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.  Through the years, this gateway to the new world was enlarged from its original 3.3 acres to 27.5 acres mostly by landfill obtained from ship ballast and possibly excess earth from the construction of the New York City subway system.  Before being designated as the site of the first Federal immigration station by President Benjamin Harrison in 1890, Ellis Island had a varied history.  The local Indian tribes had called it "Kioshk" or Gull Island.  Due to its rich and abundant oyster beds and plentiful and profitable shad runs, it was known as Oyster Island for many generations during the Dutch and English colonial periods.  By the time Samuel Ellis became the island's private owner in the 1770's, the island had been called Kioshk, Oyster, Dyre, Bucking and Anderson's Island.  In this way, Ellis Island developed from a sandy island that barely rose above the high tide mark, into a hanging site for pirates, a harbor fort, ammunition and ordinance depot named Fort Gibson, and finally into an immigration station.  From 1794 to 1890 (pre-immigration station period), Ellis Island played a mostly uneventful but still important military role in United States history.  When the British occupied New York City during the duration of the Revolutionary War, its large and powerful naval fleet was able to sail unimpeded directly into New York Harbor.  Therefore, it was deemed critical by the United States Government that a series of coastal fortifications in New York Harbor be constructed just prior to the War of 1812.  After much legal haggling over ownership of the island, the Federal government purchased Ellis Island from New York State in 1808.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A verb that agrees in person and number with the subject of a clause, by conjugation.   Conjugation is a form of inflection.  Example:  They listen to the concert.   

Inflection  noun 
1 Grammar  a change in the form of a word (typically the ending) to express a grammatical function or attribute such as tense, mood, person, number, case, and gender:  a set of word forms differing only in respect of inflections  [mass noun] the process or practice of inflecting words.
2 [mass noun] the modulation of intonation or pitch in the voice: she spoke slowly and without inflection [count noun]:  the variety of his vocal inflections  the variation of the pitch of a musical note.  
3 chiefly Mathematics  a change of curvature from convex to concave at a particular point on a curve: the point of inflection of the bell-shaped curve

Casey Stengel was an above-average ballplayer who later became a great manager.  As a player, Stengel played for five teams in a 14-year career.  Although he became famous later in life as an American League manager, his whole career as a player was spent in the National League.  He broke in with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and greatly admired teammate Zack Wheat's ability.  Stengel's best year in baseball was 1914 with Brooklyn, when he was fifth in the league in batting, first in on-base percentage, and seventh in slugging.  He had spent the spring of 1914 as the baseball coach at the University of Mississippi.  In 1916, Brooklyn won the pennant, but lost the World Series 4 games to 1.  In 1918, he left Brooklyn, and although he was to play eight more years, in only two of those eight years did he play in 100+ games.  He was with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies first, but landed with John McGraw's New York Giants towards the end of the 1921 season.  Although he is most famous for managing the New York Yankees, he actually started his major league managing career with two of his old teams, Brooklyn (1934-1936) and Boston (1938-1943), never finishing higher than 5th in the league, before coming to the Yankees in 1949.  Stengel also managed for years in the minors, mostly in Toledo (his team won the Junior World Series in 1927) but also in Milwaukee and Worcester - and, most famously, in Oakland.   See his year-by-year managerial record at: 

Joe Blundo's Feb. 14, 2013 column   on the woman who said her Buckeye leaf decal got her pulled over by Tennessee cops prompted reader Keith Crabtree of Reynoldsburg to write with a similar story.  I have MS and navigate with a motorized scooter.  When I got my first scooter in 2004, the only models on the showroom floor were blue or yellow. I politely asked if they had any red and gray models.  They brought out a red one, and the "Brute Scoot" was born.  I adorn it with a Buckeye leaf every time OSU wins a ballgame and have the OSU logo proudly displayed on the front.  I'm on my second Brute Scoot now.  Several years ago, I was coming through the Denver airport when security pulled me out of the line.  Several agents gathered around the scooter and proceeded to start dismantling it.  After several minutes, another agent came by and noticed what was happening.  He asked what they were doing and one of the agents responded, "Those are marijuana leaves.  We think he's smuggling dope." At which point, the new agent responded, "No, they're not, you idiots.  Those are Buckeye leaves.  He's from Ohio!" At this point, they quietly put the Brute Scoot back together and let me proceed, but without an apology.  I laughed most of the way back to Columbus. I love the story. And it's worth pointing out that there's absolutely nothing illegal about displaying a Buckeye leaf decal--or a marijuana leaf decal -- on your vehicle.

Buckeye leaf picture  See also pictures of tree, seed pods, flower, bark, bud and buckeyes

Feb. 12, 2013  Last week ended with San Francisco librarian Luis Herrera reciting Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven," the work that inspired the football team's name, to make good on his losing Super Bowl bet with the Enoch Pratt Free Library of Baltimore.  If the Niners had won, Enoch Pratt Free Library CEO Carla Hayden would have recited George Sterling's "The Cool, Grey City of Love" in her city's Central Library Main Hall while donning a Niners jersey.  But instead, there was Herrera, a good sport in Ray Lewis' purple No. 52 over a light purple dress shirt, perched on a rocking chair in front of a stoic choir.  "Congratulations Baltimore, and gooo Niners!" he declared at the end.  Albert Samaha

LIMA  Feb. 17, 2013  The recent discovery of a ceremonial fireplace believed to be more than 5,000 years old sheds light on one of the oldest populated sites in the Americas.  The fireplace, dubbed the Temple of Fire, was discovered within the El Paraiso archeological complex in the Chillon valley, located just outside the bustling Peruvian capital.  Archeologists say the site is comparable in age to Caral, the oldest pre-Columbian site in the Americas that was inhabited between 2,600 - 2,100 BC. Caral is located some 200 kilometers (125 miles) to the north and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The fireplace was found when archeologists discovered a narrow entrance on a wing of El Paraiso's central pyramid in January, when they were removing sand and stones.  The entrance, measuring some 48 centimeters (19-inches) wide, leads to a chamber measuring eight by six meters (26 by 20 feet) where shellfish, grains, flowers and fruit were burned as offerings.  The stone walls inside "were covered with a fine coating of yellow soil, with traces of red paint," head archeologist Marco Guillen said.  "The smoke allowed the priests to connect with the gods."  The temple has four levels, "each one older than the other," Guillen said.  The central pyramid is the only building uncovered in El Paraiso. Experts say there are 10 "architectural units" at the site that include temples, plazas and residences.  Archeologists believe that the central pyramid had a communal use, while two other structures -- which at a glance look like sandy hills -- include buildings that appear to be homes. 

The moon and the dazzling planet Jupiter pair up for another prime time showing Feb. 18, 2013.  If you saw the moon and Jupiter yesterday–on Sunday–you may notice that the moon has moved eastward relative to Jupiter and the background stars.  Everyone in the world’s Eastern Hemisphere– Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand–will see the moon and Jupiter closer together than we will in the Americas.    Whereas the moon only stays in front of Taurus (or any constellation of the Zodiac) for 2 to 3 days a month, Jupiter lights up any constellation of the Zodiac for roughly a year.  Jupiter takes about 12 years to go full circle through the Zodiac.  So every year, you can use this brilliant world to learn a different constellation of the Zodiac.  When the moon drops out of the evening sky in late February and early March, let the moon be your guide to the constellation Taurus the Bull.  By this time next year, you can use Jupiter to find the constellation Gemini the Twins.  See images at: