Friday, May 31, 2013


Characters in disguise appear in the 1926 operetta The Desert Song (originally titled Lady Fair), The Shadow, Batman, Spiderman, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Zorro, and Superman.  Characters switching identities:  The Prince and the Pauper and Trading Places.  Some authors disguise their names by using pseudonyms.

Ten of the best disguises in literature by John Mullan  http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/sep/25/ten-best-disguises-literature 


Liberty Bell facts
Location:  Liberty Bell Center, Market Street & 6th, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Bell Originally Cast:  Whitechapel Foundry 1752
Bell recast:  Pass & Stow Philadelphia 1753 and again later that year
The yoke weighs 200 pounds and is made of American elm a.k.a. slippery elm.  Read more at:  http://www.ushistory.org/libertybell/facts.html

Imply means to state indirectly (for instance, to include a suggestion in a message).
Infer
means to deduce (for instance, to extract a suggestion from a message).
http://www.grammar-monster.com/easily_confused/imply_infer.htm
Impute means to:
1.  attribute or ascribe
2.  attribute or ascribe (something discreditable) to someone or something.
3.  attribute (righteousness, guilt, etc.) to a person or persons vicariously.
4.  charge (a person) with fault.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/impute

Poor eyesight can no longer be an excuse for not playing Scrabble at the Highland Public Library.  Vincent Alcorn, a senior at Lakeland High School in White Lake, Michigan made sure of that, creating a giant Scrabble set for the library for his Eagle Scout project.  “I worked along with librarian Dawn Dittmar to come up with the idea,” Alcorn said.  Alcorn, part of the Highland library's Teen Advisor Board, said he brainstormed various ideas for projects and since he was so active at the library, it seemed logical to come up with a project to benefit the library.  And soon after, the larger-than-life Scrabble idea was raised.  “So many different sections of the library could use it,” Alcorn said.  “It has a word theme, so it fits.”  The folding, hinged wooden board measures five feet by five feet and is complete with all necessary labels to play a game.  The Scrabble letter tiles are 3'ªø1‚-2-inch squares, complete with point values.  Accompanying giant replica tile racks complete the set.  The large Scrabble set joins the library's jumbo Jenga set and is being used in both the adult and teen services areas.  http://www.hometownlife.com/article/20130509/NEWS11/305090410/Scout-creates-giant-Scrabble-set-Highland-library 

Elmhurst. a neighborhood in Queens
One of the first European towns in Queens was present-day Elmhurst.  Its original name in 1652 was Middleburg, and then in 1662 New Towne (soon just Newtown).  When Queens became part of New York City in 1898, the name changed to Elmhurst, at the bequest of Cord Meyer developers, in order to distance it from polluted Newtown Creek.  Elmhurst is in western Queens. Roosevelt Avenue is the neighborhood's northern boundary with Jackson Heights.  To the east is Corona at Junction Boulevard. Woodside is to the west along 74th Street and the LIRR tracks.  Elmhurst dips south of Queens Boulevard to the Long Island Expressway (and Rego Park, Middle Village, and Maspeth).  The area below Queens Boulevard, especially south of the LIRR tracks, is a sleepy area of row houses, multi-family homes.  The neighborhood used to go further south to Eliot Avenue, but a zip code change added a sliver of "South Elmhurst" to Middle Village.  For a student of architecture or diversity, the neighborhood's religious buildings are fascinating.  You can find: Christian churches with roots in the colonial-era whose congregation is Taiwanese; historic St. Adalbert Church, the main Thai Buddhist temple in NYC, a Jain temple, a Chinese Chan Buddhist hall; and the beautiful Geeta Hindu temple.  A lively, diverse population makes Elmhurst one of the most interesting New York City neighborhoods for food.  The zip code is considered the most diverse in NYC, with some 57 languages spoken according to the NYC Department of Education.  http://queens.about.com/od/neighborhoods/p/elmhurst-ny.htm 

Health insurance subsidy calculator  This tool illustrates health insurance premiums and subsidies for people purchasing insurance on their own in new health insurance exchanges (or “Marketplaces”) created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Beginning in October 2013, middle-income people under age 65, who are not eligible for coverage through their employer, Medicaid, or Medicare, can apply for tax credit subsidies available through state-based exchanges.  Additionally, states have the option to expand their Medicaid programs to cover all people making up to 138% of the federal poverty level (which is about $33,000 for a family of four).  In states that opt out of expanding Medicaid, some people making below this amount will still be eligible for Medicaid, some will be eligible for subsidized coverage through Marketplaces, and others will not be eligible for subsidies.  With this calculator, you can enter different income levels, ages, and family sizes to get an estimate of your eligibility for subsidies and how much you could spend on health insurance.  As premiums and eligibility requirements may vary, contact your state’s Medicaid office or exchange with enrollment questions.  http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/ 

If you haven't heard, the future is wearable computing.  But how that future—seen through Google Glass specs—will go mainstream is still out of focus.  At the D11:  All Things Digital conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. this week—here, the tech elite buzzed about the promise of microcomputers that attach onto humans.  They opined not just about fitness-tracking bands, which are already becoming ubiquitous, but also about multipurpose mobile gadgets that we can strap onto our wrists, heads or other body parts.  Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc., which is reported to be working on a watch-like device, said wearable computers will likely be "another key branch" of the Apple tree.  But in reference to competitor Google Inc.'s Glass headgear, Mr. Cook said high-tech eyeglasses would be "difficult" to pull off as a mainstream product.  On stage, he wore a Nike+ FuelBand bracelet that tracks physical activity.  Mary Meeker, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, said wearable computing would be the star of the "third cycle" of the Web.  In her annual report on the state of the Internet, she said the world was already entering a cycle of "wearables, driveables, flyables and scannables."  Even companies that few would consider high-tech were eager to plant a flag in wearable computing.  On Wednesday, Tom Staggs, the chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, trotted out MagicBand, a wristband that stores information about consumers' identity and preferences, so that Disney characters can greet guests by name. 
Evelyn M. Rusli  The Wall Street Journal  May 31, 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Ten deserts in Australia  70% of the Australian mainland is classified as semi-arid, arid or desert; making it the driest inhabited continent on Earth.  Only Antarctica is drier.  There are ten deserts in Australia: the Great Victoria Desert, Great Sandy Desert, Tanami Desert, Simpson Deset, Gibson Desert, Little Sandy Desert, Strzelecki Desert, Sturt Stony Desert, Tirari Desert, Pedirka Desert.  Only 3% of the Australian population live in the desert.   The main reason for the formation of the Australian deserts is their location.  Like most major deserts across the world the they are found around a certain latitude (roughly 30° north/south of the equator) where the weather phenomena create a dry climate.  http://www.alicespringsdesertpark.com.au/kids/desert/ 

Australian Indigenous art is the oldest ongoing tradition of art in the world.  Initial forms of artistic Aboriginal expression were rock carvings, body painting and ground designs, which date back more than 30,000 years.  The quality and variety of Australian Indigenous art produced today reflects the richness and diversity of Indigenous culture and the distinct differences between tribes, languages, dialects and geographic landscapes.  Art has always been an important part of Aboriginal life, connecting past and present, the people and the land, and the supernatural and reality.  Indigenous art ranges across a wide variety of mediums from works on paper and canvas to fibre and glass.  Introduced media such as printmaking, fabric printing, ceramics and glassware now complement traditional arts and crafts. 

Possible means “having the potential.”  Possible stems from the Latin term possibilis, which derives in turn from posse, which means “power” or “to be able.”  Posse itself was borrowed into English from the Medieval Latin phrase posse comitatus, which literally means “power of the county.” 
Probable, which means “likely,” comes from the Latin term probabilis, which itself stems from probare, meaning “to approve, prove, or test.”   
http://www.dailywritingtips.com/probable-vs-possible/

Libraries Changed My Life  Read real life accounts from library patrons whose lives have been changed for the better by libraries at:  http://librarieschangedmylife.tumblr.com/

Make your own flowchart, decision tree or timeline. Then print it or publish it on SelectSmart.com and other websites.  When you are done, you'll get a web version which you and others can access at any time and printer-friendly version to share.  A flowchart is a type of diagram.  It gives a step-by-step solution to a given problem.  Descriptions of the process steps are shown in boxes.  The arrows represent the flow of data.  Flowcharts are often used to help in decision-making.  Flowcharts can be serious or satirical, helpful or humorous, high-tech or low-brow. For a more detailed explanation of flowcharts, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flowchart. 

A decision tree is similar to a flow chart.  It is another decision support tool.  It uses a tree-like graph to show decisions and their possible consequences.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decision_tree. 
Create a timeline.  There are 35 possible blocks to use in making your timeline which you can arrange in a winding snake-like fashion to fit on a screen or on a printed page.  http://www.selectsmart.com/flowchart/

The Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Horse Racing includes three horse races for 3 year old thoroughbreds held every year.  The Triple Crown is kicked off on the first Saturday of May in Louisville with the Kentucky Derby.  Also known as the “Run for the Roses” because of the garland of roses awarded to the winning horse, the Derby is run on a dirt track at the distance of mile and quarter.  The second leg of the Triple Crown is held at Baltimore’s Pimilico Race Track.  The Preakness Stakes, held two weeks after the Kentucky Derby, is the shortest of the Triple Crown races at a distance of a mile and 3/16.  Like the Derby, the winning horse is draped in a garland of flowers.  Instead of roses, the winning horse receives Black–eyed Susan’s for a winning ride around the dirt track at Pimlico.  Three weeks after the Preakness Stakes, Elmont NY, just outside of New York City, is the site of the final leg of the Triple Crown at Belmont Park.  The Belmont Stakes, or the “Run for the Carnations”, is the longest of the three races.  At a mile and a half, the Belmont’s final stretch is a true test of a champion as many thoroughbred horses are unaccustomed to the long distance.
See more information at:  http://www.eventhomeleasing.com/kentucky_derby_triple_crown.asp

For as long as anyone can recall, the term Triple Crown was used to describe the three classic races for England for three year olds.  There races were the Two Thousand Guineas, the English Derby, and the St. Leger.  By 1930, the New York Times was calling this Triple Crown “the highest glory one can achieve upon the turf.”  There were previous Triple Crowns in American horse racing.  When jockey Fred Taral swept the three major spring events of 1894, he was said to have a “triple crown as no jockey has ever won.”  The Coney Island Jockey Club which races at Sheepshead Bay inaugurated its triple crown in 1907 which featured its major races for three year olds, the Tidal, the Lawrence Realization, and the Coney Island Jockey Club Stakes.   The first time that the New York Times used the term “Triple Crown” in association with baseball was in 1942 when Triple Crown winner Ted Williams did not win the most valuable player award in the American League.  

There is beef and then there is Wagyu (pronounced Wha as in what + Gue as in argue).  Wagyu beef is characterized by an intense marbling of fat obtained through selective cattle breeding in Japan over many generations, which gives it is unique buttery flavour and ultra tender texture.  The veins of fat are most prominent when the meat is frozen and gradually fade off as the Wagyu is cooked.  Because of its uniformly distributed fat content, Wagyu is not usually served thick and is typically cut in sirloin style slices. That’s because its fat has to be melted to bring out the full flavour of the meat (that’s why bacon taste better with the fat melted away).  If Wagyu is undercooked, it tastes just like any other raw meat, except perhaps with a softer texture.  The ideal way to cook Wagyu is over an open charcoal grill, failing which you should at least use a cast iron grill pan with ridges.  Sear on both sides twice, so you can get the nice criss-cross pattern.  Use a bit of coarse salt to bring out the steak’s flavour, but refrain from using any tenderizer, marinade or sauce.  See much more at:  http://kobikitchen.wordpress.com/2010/03/13/what-is-wagyu-beef/

You're having a conversation with someone and suddenly his eyes drop to his smartphone or drift over your shoulder toward someone else.  It feels like this is happening more than ever—in meetings, at the dinner table, even at intimate cocktail parties—and there are signs that the decline of eye contact is a growing problem.  Adults make eye contact between 30% and 60% of the time in an average conversation, says the communications-analytics company Quantified Impressions.  But the Austin, Texas, company says people should be making eye contact 60% to 70% of the time to create a sense of emotional connection, according to its analysis of 3,000 people speaking to individuals and groups.  One barrier to contact is the use of mobile devices for multitasking.  Among twentysomethings, "it's almost become culturally acceptable to answer that phone at dinner, or to glance down at the baseball scores," says Noah Zandan, president of Quantified Impressions.  Some psychologists point to FOMO, or "fear of missing out" on social opportunities, says a study published earlier this year in Computers in Human Behavior.  Young adults who are dissatisfied with their lives or relationships feel compelled to check mobile gadgets repeatedly to see what social opportunities they are missing—even when they don't enjoy it, the study says.  Yet eye contact can be a tool for influencing others.  Looking at a colleague when speaking conveys confidence and respect.  Prolonged eye contact during a debate or disagreement can signal you're standing your ground.  Sue Shellenbarger  The Wall Street Journal  May 29, 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013


Epipremnum aureum is a species of flowering plant in the family Araceae, with a broad native Old World distribution.  Native range extends from Northern Australia through Malesia and Indochina into China, Japan and India.  The plant has a multitude of common names including Australian native monstera, centipede tongavine, devil's ivy, golden pothos, hunter's robe, ivy arum, money plant, silver vine, Solomon Islands ivy and taro vine.  It is sometimes mistakenly labeled as a Philodendron in plant stores.  E. aureum is an evergreen vine growing to 20 m (66 ft) tall, with stems up to 4 cm (2 in) in diameter, climbing by means of aerial roots which adhere to surfaces.  The leaves are alternate, heart-shaped, entire on juvenile plants, but irregularly pinnatifid on mature plants, up to 100 cm (39 in) long and 45 cm (18 in) broad (juvenile leaves much smaller, typically under 20 cm (8 in) long).  This plant produces trailing stems when it climbs up trees and these take root when they reach the ground and grow along it.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epipremnum_aureum 

There are two usual meanings of gallivant.  The first is 'to go about with members of the opposite sex':  second is 'to wander or roam about, seeking pleasure':  It is not always possible to distinguish these, and there can be other nuances, meaning something like 'to romp', that could perhaps be regarded as different senses.  The word gallivant is of uncertain origin.  It is first found in the early nineteenth century.  Most people regard it as an alteration of the verb gallant, also used as a verb in the sense 'to be a gallant or dandy; flirt', but the -iv- element remains unexplained.  One dictionary suggests that the element comes from the word levant 'to run away, especially to avoid paying a gambling debt', but this may be a coincidence.  

The phrase referring to a box in which valuables are stored is safe-deposit box, not safety-deposit box.  The latter is an eggcorn resulting from a mishearing of the former.  The mistake is understandable because the first two syllables of safe-deposit box sound like safety.  http://grammarist.com/usage/safe-deposit-box/

The original phrase was "daylight-saving time," and it is still generally agreed to be "saving," not "savings," time.  Remember the name by thinking that you are saving light, daylight, to be exact.  The words are not capitalized and whether to use a hyphen is a style choice.  http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/daylight-saving-time.aspx

The Book of Revelation, often simply known as Revelation or by a number of variants expanding upon its authorship or subject matter, is the final book of the New Testament and occupies a central part in Christian eschatology.  Written in Koine Greek, its title is derived from the first word of the text, apokalypsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation".  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Revelation 


When the "Four Bikers of the Apocalypse" enter the Happy Porker Cafe, Black goes up to the counter.  "Four teas, please," he said. "One black.", p.148 

A grand jury is an arm of the Court which is empowered to conduct official proceedings to investigate potential criminal conduct and to determine whether criminal charges should be brought. The "grand jury" may compel the production of documents and may compel the sworn testimony of witnesses to appear before it.  Currently, only the United States retains grand juries, although some other common law jurisdictions formerly employed them, and most other jurisdictions employ some other type of preliminary hearing.  Grand juries perform both accusatory and investigatory functions. The investigatory functions of the grand jury include obtaining and reviewing documents and other evidence and hearing the sworn testimony of witnesses that appear before it.  The grand jury's accusatory function is to determine whether or not there is probable cause to believe that one or more persons committed a certain offense within the venue of the district court.  The "grand jury" in the United States is composed of 16 to 23 citizens.  A grand jury is so named because traditionally it has a greater number of jurors than a trial jury (also known as a petit jury or, in English usage the spelling can be petty jury, from the French for small).  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_jury  See also:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_juries_in_the_United_States  and http://definitions.uslegal.com/g/grand-jury/ 

Spell-check won’t help you if you don’t know through from threw.  If you can read in the 21st century, you own the world.  Because you learn to write from reading.  paraphrase from interview with Stephen King  May 26, 2013  http://www.parade.com/15671/kentucker/summers-best-books-starring-stephen-king/ 

Writing families
Stephen King, wife Tabitha, sons Owen and Joe (Hill).
Jonathan Kellerman, wife Faye, son Jesse.
See also:  Family Ties:  10 writers who were born to write  http://library.bundaberg.qld.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/Family_Ties_Author_Offspring_story.pdf

May 22, 2013  Lydia Davis wins the Man Booker International Prize 2013 
"I was recently denied a writing prize because they said I was lazy." runs one of Lydia Davis's two-sentence short stories.  Well not any more. Davis has just been awarded the fifth Man Booker International Prize at an award ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  Her inventive, carefully-crafted and hard to categorise works saw off the challenge from nine other contenders from around the world.  The judges - Professor Sir Christopher Ricks, Elif Batuman, Aminatta Forna, Yiyun Li and Tim Parks - recognised that crafting spare, philosophical and original works, however short, is not for the lazy at all but takes time, skill and effort.  The Prize, worth £60,000, is awarded for an achievement in fiction on the world stage and Davis's achievements are writ large despite often using startlingly few words (some of her longer stories only stretch to two or three pages).  Her work has the brevity and precision of poetry. Sir Christopher Ricks, chairman of the judges, said her "writings fling their lithe arms wide to embrace many a kind.  Just how to categorise them?  They have been called stories but could equally be miniatures, anecdotes, essays, jokes, parables, fables, texts, aphorisms or even apophthegms, prayers or simply observations."  Davis then is not like any other writer and she follows, and contrasts with, the previous winners of the prize - Ismail Kadaré, Chinua Achebe, Alice Munro and Philip Roth.  Lydia Davis is also known for her work as a translator of French literature and philosophy, most notably of Marcel Proust and Gustave Flaubert.  Her translations led her to be named a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government. 

Friday, May 24, 2013


Browse inside Joyful Noise by Paul Fleishmann, illustrations by Eric Beddows, winner of the 1989 Newbery medal.  The book is a collection of fourteen children's poems about insects such as mayflies, lice, and honeybees.  The concept is unusual in that the poems are intended to be read aloud by two people.  Some lines are spoken by the readers simultaneously, while others are read alternately by the speakers.  


Joyful Noise:  Poems for Two Voices - Pine City High School Speech

Melita may refer to:
Malta, a European country in the Mediterranean sea (Melita in Greek and Latin, malat in Phoenician)
Melita, California, former town
Melita, Manitoba, Canada
Mljet, (Melita in Greek and Latin)
Melita, a place in Arenac County, Michigan  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melita

Over the centuries, the terms for hominy and its byproducts have come to be rather haphazardly applied.  "Hominy" can indicate most any dried field corn, but dried corn treated with lye or lime—in a process known as nixtamalization—is likewise called hominy.  And cracked dried corn, properly called samp, is often labeled as hominy, too.  Take any of those products and grind them, and you have grits.  Grind lime-treated corn more finely, and you have masa, the base for tortillas and tamales.  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323789704578446810909012462.html?mod=djemITP_h 

fiduciary (adj.)  1630s, from Latin fiduciarius "(holding) in trust," from fiducia "trust" from root of fidere "to trust"  As a noun, from 1630s
official (n.)   early 14c., from Old French oficial "law officer; bishop's representative" and directly from Late Latin officialis "attendant to a magistrate, public official," noun use of officialis (adj.) "of or belonging to duty, service, or office"  Meaning "person in charge of some public work or duty" first recorded 1550s
officiate (v.)   1630s, "to perform a duty," especially "to perform the duty of a priest," from Medieval Latin officiatum, from present participle of officiare "perform religious services," from Latin officium
duty (n.)   late 13c., from Anglo-French duete, from Old French deu "due, owed; proper, just," from Vulgar Latin debutus, from Latin debitus, past participle of debere "to owe"  Related: Duties.  The sense of "tax or fee on imports, exports, etc." is from late 15c.; duty-free as a noun is attested from 1958.  http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=fiduciary+duty

Plans released May 11, 2013 depicting The New York Public Library’s all-new 53rd Street branch in midtown Manhattan portray an open, light-filled design that offers a rich variety of public reading and meeting spaces, a family and children’s area, state-of-the-art computer labs, an audio-video collection, and accessible book collections that encourage communal interaction throughout.  The 28,000 square-foot branch, one of the largest in the NYPL system, is anchored by an internal topography that connects the library’s three floors, bringing light and views to the deepest corners of the plan’s lower floors and providing opportunities for interaction and public programs upon the interior library steps.  A glass curtain wall, at street level, brings sunlight and the feel of the neighborhood into the library and allows those walking by to see the rich diversity of activity happening within.  The three-story library at 20 West 53rd Street – designed by world-renowned architect Enrique Norten and his firm TEN Arquitectos – will be a true civic space, accommodating a variety of patrons and needs, from individuals looking for quiet study spaces to others seeking small group discussions as well as those wanting to experience one of the larger public programs.  The library will include two assembly spaces – an auditorium and bleacher seating – to support community workshops, educational programs and library events.   The designs have already been honored with a 2013 Project Merit Award from the American Institute of Architects, New York Chapter.  http://www.artdaily.com/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=62442 

Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) is considered one of the most successful military commanders of all time.  He was the son of Philip II, a King of Macedonia who had spent twenty years bringing Thrace, Thessaly, and eventually all of Greece under Macedonian control.  When Alexander came to the throne at age 20, he therefore had the most powerful army in the region at his disposal, as well as several of his father's best generals.  Even considering these advantages however, the progress of his military success was astounding. Macedonia was still a poor and backward country when Alexander crossed the Hellespont in 334 B.C. with the notion of conquering all of Persia.  He had only 40,000 troops and little money to begin with, but within three years he was master of a fabulously wealthy empire, whose domains spanned thousands of miles and included tens of millions of people.  Alexander died without a clear plan of succession, and his death resulted in a long series of wars between his generals for control of his kingdom. By the time of his death however, the process of "Hellenization", involving the introduction of Greek culture and learning into all the domains of the eastern Mediterranean was well along.  Within 20 years of his death his empire had evolved into three long term empires, but all retained a Greco-Macedonian character in their administration.  

Find towns founded by Alexander and cultural depictions of Alexander at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_depictions_of_Alexander_the_Great

LIDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth.  These light pulses—combined with other data recorded by the airborne system— generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.  A LIDAR instrument principally consists of a laser, a scanner, and a specialized GPS receiver.  Airplanes and helicopters are the most commonly used platforms for acquiring LIDAR data over broad areas.  Two types of LIDAR are topographic and bathymetric.  Topographic LIDAR typically uses a near-infrared laser to map the land, while bathymetric lidar uses water-penetrating green light to also measure seafloor and riverbed elevations.  http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/lidar.html  See also:  "Lasers in the Jungle," an article about mapping a Maya landscape at:  http://archive.archaeology.org/1007/etc/caracol.html

Graeme Rowland Base (born 1958) is an Australian author and artist of picture books.  He is perhaps best known for his second book, Animalia published in 1986, and third book The Eleventh Hour which was released in 1989.  He was born in Amersham, England but moved to Australia with his family at the age of eight and has lived here ever since.  He attended Box Hill High School and Melbourne High School in Melbourne, and then studied a Diploma of Art (Graphic Design) for three years at Swinburne University of Technology at Prahran.  He worked in advertising for two years and then began illustrating children's books, gradually moving to authoring them as well.  The Sign of the Seahorse was adapted as an opera with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 2001.  My Grandma Lived in Gooligulch was adapted as a play by Gooligulch Productions.  Animalia has been made into a television series (Animalia), and also is one of the most sold books around the world.   Base was an executive producer for the series, and also composed the opening theme music with Yuri Worontschak.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graeme_Base 
NOTE that I first learned of Graeme Base when working on the fanciful puzzle "The New Seahorse Café"  based on his book "The Sign of the Seahorse".

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


When Darwin, or indeed any of his contemporaries, wrote of bees, he would have called them humblebees.  But they weren't humble in the sense of lowly beings doing the drudge work of nectar and pollen collecting; rather they would have been celebrated for the powerful evolutionary interaction with the flowers they had visited for millions of years.  Darwin would have called them humblebees because, as they fly, they hum.  Simple.  The etymological change of entomological names occurred gradually and imperceptibly, but some key events can be pin-pointed.  The first great 20th-century book on bees was by Frederick Sladen, and his 1912 opus on their life history was firmly in the "humble" camp.  By then, bumble, which had always been knocking around in the background as a second-rate alternative, had started to gain some ground.  In Beatrix Potter's Tale of Mrs Tittlemouse (1910), the eponymous heroine is troubled by squatters making mossy nests in her back yard.  Chief troublemaker is one Babbitty Bumble.  It is, perhaps, at about this time that the myth of the bumblebee's scientifically impossible flight came into play.  As aeronautics took off between the wars, along with faster and sleeker planes, the clumsy-looking furry bee with its pitifully small wings and tubby body was the perfect match for its new, slightly belittling name, as it bumbled from droopy bloom to droopy bloom.  By the time of the next bee monograph, by John Free and Colin Butler (1959), the humblebee had gone forever.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/aug/01/humblebee-bumblebee-darwin

The Brown Derby was the name of a chain of restaurants in Los Angeles, California.  The first and most famous of these was shaped like a man's derby hat, an iconic image that became synonymous with the Golden Age of Hollywood.  A chain of Brown Derby restaurants in Ohio are still in business today.  The chain was started by Robert H. Cobb and Herbert Somborn (a former husband of film star Gloria Swanson).  It is often incorrectly thought that the Brown Derby was a single restaurant, and the Wilshire Boulevard and Hollywood branches are frequently confused.  Gus Girves started the Brown Derby chain in Ohio as Girves Brown Derby in 1941.  The Brown Derby began its licensing program in 1987 with an agreement with Walt Disney Company for a replica of the original Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant at the new Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida.  In 1990, Walt Disney Company entered into three additional agreements for Euro-Disney, Tokyo Disney and Disneyland in Anaheim, California.  In 1996, a ten-year agreement was entered into with MGM Grand Las Vegas Las Vegas, Nevada; in 1998, the MGM Grand Detroit, Michigan temporary facility was added.  See pictures at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_Derby

Q:  What are some English words without a rhyme?
A:  Bulb, orange, angel, silver, month. -- dictionary.com.
Q:  Is Alicia Keys her stage name?
A:  Yes, the singer was born Alicia Augello Cook.
http://www.thecourier.com/Opinion/columns/2013/Apr/JU/ar_JU_042913.asp?d=042913,2013,Apr,29
Q:  Are women still behind men in workplace earnings?
A:  Yes.  Women earned 77 percent of what men earned in 2011, the latest year with figures available.  Their median annual earnings were $37,118, compared to $48,202 for men. -- U.S. Census Bureau. 
Q:  How many times can paper be recycled?
A:  Paper can be recycled five or six times, and more if "virgin paper" is added.  About 40 percent of our recycled paper goes abroad, mostly to China, which doesn't have enough trees to feed its demand for paper.  It may be our largest export there.  American recyclers have stayed in business because of China's hunger for paper, and our government's requirement that paper contain recycled content. -- Slate.  http://www.thecourier.com/Opinion/columns/2013/May/JU/ar_JU_050613.asp?d=050613,2013,May,06&c=c_13


The Colors and Shapes of the White House
Three of the rooms in the White House are so colorful that they are called the Green Room, the Blue Room, and the Red Room.  And it is not just the walls that are colorful.  Look at the carpets, the drapes on the windows, the couches and the chairs.  Why are these rooms so colorful?  Presidents long ago used these colors in the rooms and most presidents after them did, too.  Thomas Jefferson, our third president, had a green carpet in the "Green Room."  President Martin van Buren started using blue to decorate the Blue Room in 1837.  When John Tyler was president in the 1840s, people started calling the Red Room red.  Today, when these rooms are decorated, these colors are still used.  See shapes described and pictured, including rectangle, square, oval, arch, half circle and triangle at:   http://www.whitehousehistory.org/whha_classroom/classroom_K-3-colors-shapes.html

The Queens' Bedroom is a bedroom on the second floor of the White House, part of a suite of rooms that includes the Queens' Sitting Room and Queens' Bath.  Named for the many royal guests it has hosted (including queens of the Netherlands, Greece, Norway, and Great Britain), this room is sometimes used by presidents to reward friends and political supporters.  Between 1902 and 1963, it was known as the "Rose Room" and was used by Anna Roosevelt (daughter of Theodore Roosevelt) and Emily Carow (Mrs. Roosevelt's sister), among others.  http://www.whitehousemuseum.org/floor2/queens-bedroom.htm

Collar counties” is a term applied to the five counties that surround the centrally located Cook County in the Chicago metropolitan area:  DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, McHenry County, and Will County.  http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/3.html

Philadelphia “Collar Counties” are Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery.

People started referring to workers by the color of their collar in the 1910s and 1920s.  The turned-down collar as we know it today has been around since at least the 1800s, but it wasn’t used to discriminate by occupation and social status until around the early 20th century.  The etymologist Barry Popik suggests that “blue collar workers” were mentioned in contrast to “white collar workers” as early as 1924, when the Alden, Iowa newspaper the Times proposed, “If we may call professions and office positions white collar jobs, we may call the trades blue collar jobs.”  Meanwhile the environmental movement gave rise to “green-collar workers” (who work in conservation and sustainability), and the 1980s yielded a class of “gold-collar workers” (who work in specialized fields like law, engineering, and finance, or, according to a different definition, in the service industry).  As the population ages, we may see more “grey-collar workers” (who work into their 60s).  And the latest entrants are the “no-collar workers”—tech-industry professionals who eschew collars altogether.  http://bluecollarbranding.com/2012/06/11/blue-collar-pink-collar-green-collar-gold-collar-no-collar-marketers-know-your-audience-and-their-origin/ 

Contrary to popular belief, German chocolate cake did not originate in Germany.  Its roots can be traced back to 1852 when American Sam German developed a type of dark baking chocolate for the American Baker's Chocolate Company.  The brand name of the product, Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate, was named in honor of him.  On June 3, 1957, a recipe for "German's Chocolate Cake" appeared as the "Recipe of the Day" in the Dallas Morning Star.  It was created by Mrs. George Clay, a homemaker from 3831 Academy Drive, Dallas, Texas.  This recipe used the baking chocolate introduced 105 years prior and became quite popular.  General Foods, which owned the Baker's brand at the time, took notice and distributed the cake recipe to other newspapers in the country.  Sales of Baker's Chocolate are said to have increased by as much as 73% and the cake would become a national staple.  The possessive form (German's) was dropped in subsequent publications, forming the "German Chocolate Cake" identity we know today and giving the false impression of a German origin.  The recipe still remains popular to this day and has been adopted by baking companies. 
June 11 is National German Chocolate Cake Day in America.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_chocolate_cake 

The Baker's German's Sweet chocolate bar was the forerunner of Milk Chocolate.  Samuel German made this a little sweeter and was popular for eating and baking pastries.  It was so popular that they named the bar after him.  http://www.kitchenproject.com/german/recipes/Desserts/GermanChocolateCake/index.htm

Original Recipe for German Chocolate Cake