Friday, January 31, 2014

The Mystery Donor's Tale:  A Sister, A Brother And A New Library  by Chris Jensen  At the tale’s center were two people.  One was Muriel Brown, who for more than three decades was the town’s beloved librarian.  The other was her brother, Arthur Jobin, known to the family as “Bud.”  After the war Jobin went to college, moved to California and went to work for United Airlines as a liaison with the FAA.  Meanwhile, Muriel Brown was still in Bethlehem, immersed in civic activities, raising a family and working year after year in the three tiny rooms that made up the library.  Bruce Brown, who still lives in Bethlehem, is Muriel’s son.  He says his mother was amazed when Jobin told her he wanted to donate his life savings – which he figured would be at least $1 million - for a new library.  But there was a big catch.  The donation had to be secret and the money was not going to be available until Jobin died.  More than a decade ago that demand for secrecy became a problem because the town was trying to raise  money for a new library.  That troubled Muriel Brown.  She thought the town should know money was coming.  Her brother agreed she could tell the town that $1 million or so would be donated but his identity had to be kept secret.  Muriel died in 2007.  Jobin died two years later, leaving a little more than $1.5 million.  It was just absolutely incredible because this was a vision people had for about twenty years of a new library,” said Doug Harman, the chairman of the library trustees.  With the new building completed it was time – in mid-December 2013 - to move out of space occupied since 1913.

Ackee is considered a fruit but it is cooked and used as a vegetable.  It forms one half of Jamaica's national dish of Ackee and Salt Fish.  Grown and available throughout the year, more abundantly in Jamaica, the fruit is considered to be fully developed, matured, ripe and suitable for consumption when the pods become a bright red and split open to expose the edible fruit.  The pod opens to expose three or four cream colored sections of flesh topped with glossy black seeds.  See picture of ackee fruit and link to recipes at

Starbucks effect  Margaret Donnellan Todd, directs the Los Angeles County Library system, which sprawls across 50 cities and unincorporated areas in the region.  “Thirty years ago people primarily came in and checked books out and left,” she said.  “Now we have a whole lot of people coming in who want a comfy chair and a place to do their reading.”  Patrons today, she said, look at the physical library more like a “third place” outside of home or office, where they can do work, ask for assistance, use wi-fi or computers:  “It’s the Starbucks effect.”  Lisa Napoli

See the First Photographs Ever Taken of Jerusalem by Rose Eveleth  These photos come from 1844 and were taken by French photographer Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey.  See five blurry snaps at

Victor Hugo: Acclaimed Author, Unknown Furniture Designer by Jimmy Stamp   During a recent trip to Paris, I visited the former apartment of Victor Hugo, poet, novelist, playwright, and, as it turns out, furniture designer.  The apartment, located on the Place Des Vosges, was Hugo’s home from 1832 to 1848 and is now a museum dedicated to the author of Les Misérables and Notre-Dame de Paris.  Throughout the house there are Hugo’s drawings, letters, first editions of his books, and his custom made furniture on display.  Hugo would find various pieces of furniture he liked and would work with carpenters to combine them into single pieces.  The results were stylistically eclectic and, as evidenced by his stand-up writers desk, which seems to be made from a standard desk and a coffee table, seemed to be uniquely suited to accommodate his own habits and eccentricities.  See remarkable pictures at

Brad Morrison is chief executive officer of Maumee Bay Turf Center in Oregon, Ohio one of several companies that worked to install the synthetic turf playing field in MetLife Stadium.  Maumee Bay Turf Center is one of 15 worldwide distributors for Georgia-based UBU Sports, a leading manufacturer of synthetic turf.  The eight-year-old company was founded by Mr. Morrison and PJ Kapfhammer, who serves as the company’s chief financial officer.  MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ,  is the regular-season home to the New York Jets and New York Giants.  UBU Sports made the end-zone turf changeable so that whichever team is playing at the stadium can have its own logo displayed there.  “We can go from Jets to Giants in 12 hours,” Mr. Morrison said.  “There’s a third set of panels that are blank.”  Those will be temporarily painted for the Super Bowl.  Mr. Morrison said his company developed a scrubbing unit based off a zero-turn lawn mower that can remove the paint.  Another interesting tidbit:  UBU Sports has tinkered with the coloring of its turf so it looks better on high-definition televisions.  Mr. Morrison said sometimes artificial turf will look flat or shiny on television.  To fix that, the company designed a bicolored turf in which half of the fibers are lime green and half are field green.  The turf isn’t the only local connection to Super Bowl XLVIII.  Wilson Sporting Goods Co. makes all Super Bowl game balls at its football factory in Ada, 65 miles south of Toledo.  Tyrel Linkhorn

Super Bowl statistics from the NFL

Happy Chinese New Year January 31, 2014.  Chinese New Year celebrations, also known as the Spring Festival, in China start on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month of the Chinese calendar.  The festival lasts for about 23 days, ending on the 15th day of the first lunar month in the following year in the Chinese calendar.   Although China has adopted the Gregorian calendar in common with most other countries in the world for official and business purposes, the traditional Chinese calendar continues to define the dates of festivals and is used for horoscopes.  The calendar has a very long history going back to the Xia (21st century BC - 16th century BC) and Shang Dynasty (16th century BC - 11th century BC).  It is based on a unique combination of astronomy and geography through observation and exploration.  It is also referred to as the Lunar, Yin, Xia or the old Chinese calendar.  Following its creation in the Xia Dynasty, succeeding reigns continued to use the calendar but modified it from time to time.  The Han Dynasty rulers instituted the Taichu calendar, while during Tang Dynasty the Huangji calendar was introduced and it was adopted by Japan, Korea and Vietnam.  With the founding of the Republic of China in 1912, the Gregorian calendar was brought into use.   Although ethnic groups such as Tibet and Dai have their own calendars, in essence they resemble that of the Han people.  The calendar has links with natural sciences such as agriculture and astronomy, solar terms, the four seasons and traditional festivals such as the Spring Festival.  There are links also with the 'Five Elements' of which the ancient Chinese believed the physical  universe to be composed namely, metal, wood, water, fire and earth.  Finally, of course, is Chinese Zodiac - the symbolic animals associated with each year on a 12-year cycle.  Find the rules for calculating the Chinese calendar and link to a 60-year cycle including animal names at

To eat humble pie, in common usage, is to apologize and face humiliation for a serious error.   The expression derives from umble pie, which was a pie filled with the chopped or minced parts of a beast's 'pluck' - the heart, liver, lungs or 'lights' and kidneys, especially of deer but often other meats.  Umble evolved from numble, (after the French nomble) meaning 'deer's innards'.  
Although "umbles" and the modern word "humble" are etymologically unrelated, each word has appeared both with and without the initial "h" after the Middle Ages until the 19th century.  Similar idioms are eating crow and eating one's words.
Other uses of Humble Pie:  rock band from England, pizza restaurant chain,  pie and coffee shop in Denver

 Issue 1104  January 31, 2014  On this day in 1797, Austrian composer Franz Schubert was born.  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser (1871–1945) was an American novelist and journalist of the naturalist school.  His novels often featured main characters who succeeded at their objectives despite a lack of a firm moral code, and literary situations that more closely resemble studies of nature than tales of choice and agencyHis first novel, Sister Carrie, published in 1900, tells the story of a woman who flees her country life for the city (Chicago) and there lives a life far from a Victorian ideal.  It sold poorly and was not widely promoted largely because of moral objections to the depiction of a country girl who pursues her dreams of fame and fortune through relationships to men.  The book has since acquired a considerable reputation.  It has been called the "greatest of all American urban novels."  It was made into a 1952 film by William Wyler, which starred Laurence Olivier and Jennifer Jones.  His second novel, Jennie Gerhardt, was published in 1911.  His first commercial success was An American Tragedy, published in 1925, which was made into a film in 1931 and again in 1951 (as A Place in the Sun).  See a picture of the House of Four Pillars, an 1830s Greek Revival house in the Toledo, Ohio suburb of Maumee where Dreiser wrote Sister Carrie at

In 1799, a prosperous New York merchant named Archibald Gracie built a country house overlooking a bend in the East River, five miles north of New York City.  Financial failure forced Gracie to sell his house to Joseph Foulke in 1823, and in 1857, the house came into the possession of Noah Wheaton.  The City of New York appropriated the estate in 1896, incorporating its 11 acres of grounds into the newly-formed Carl Schurz Park.  After decades of use as a concession stand and restrooms for the park, Gracie Mansion was restored and became the first home of the Museum of the City of New York.  Soon after the museum moved to a larger space on Fifth Avenue, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses convinced City authorities to designate Gracie Mansion as the official residence of the Mayor, and in 1942, Fiorello H. La Guardia moved in.  See pictures and get tour information at  See biography of Archibald Gracie (1755-1829) at

wagon roof   Cradle-roof constructed of a closely spaced series of double arch-braced trusses, suggesting the shape of a covered wagon or barrel-vault.  It may be exposed, plastered, or panelled (wagon-ceiling).

A tithe barn was a type of barn used in much of northern Europe in the Middle Ages for storing tithes—one tenth of a farm's produce which was given to the Church.  Tithe barns were usually associated with the village church or rectory and independent farmers took their tithes there.  The village priests wouldn't have to pay tithes—the purpose of the tithe being their support—and some had their own farms anyway, which are now village greens in some villages.
See pictures and a list of surviving tithe barns at

Near Stonehenge, find a 14th century monastic stone barn, 51 metres (168 feet) long, with an timber cruck roof.

Cruck Frames were traditionally constructed by selecting the trunk and main branch of a suitable oak tree, squaring it off with axe and adze and then sawing it lengthwise to make two matching cruck blades.  This style of construction carries the weight of the roof directly down to the ground, so that the walls are non-load bearing.  They can be filled with light material such as brick, wattle or wattle and daub and can easily be changed or renewed.  See beautiful images at

Green Goddess salad dressing was created by the chef at the Palace Hotel in honor of actor George Arliss, who was starring in a play entitled The Green Goddess.  The creamy salad dressing was very popular in the 1920s through the 1980s, and then dropped from sight on most menus.  The Green Goddess, a very successful play of the 1920s, was written by William Archer, a Scottish drama critic who translated and published the work of Henrik Ibsen in London in the 1880s.  George Arliss, a prominent London actor, came to the United States and starred in many plays at the turn of the last century before moving into movies.  He played the character of the Rajah in the play and also in both the silent movie (1923) and the talkie (1930).  There is also a radio version of the play starring Orson Welles.  Palace Chef Philip Roemer created the dressing in honor of Arliss when the actor was staying at the Palace.  Some stories say that Arliss himself suggested naming a salad or dressing after the play.  Susan Saperstein

Cambridge City Council bans punctuation from new street names by Chris Havergal    Grammar gurus have given council chiefs a caning for banning apostrophes from Cambridge street names – amid fears they would be too confusing.  Guildhall bosses’ decision to outlaw all punctuation from new road names has been branded “deplorable” and condemned as “pandering to the lowest denominator”, especially in a city renowned for learning.  Officers said they were following national guidance which warned apostrophes could lead to mistakes, particularly for emergency services.  The city council’s street naming policy says a road called St Paul’s Court would appear in all documentation and nameplates as “St Pauls Court”.  But Kathy Salaman, director of the Longstanton-based Good Grammar Company, said it was a “dreadful” idea.  She said:  “I know some people think apostrophes are superfluous but we really need them and I think it’s the first step on a slippery slope.  “If councils are getting rid of them, what kind of message does that give out to students at schools?"  Apostrophes can play a key role in conveying the history of a place – for example, the name Queens’ College commemorates its founding by the wife of King Henry VI and then its refounding by King Edward IV’s consort, in contrast to nearby Queen’s Road.  East Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire ban apostrophes too – but they are allowed in south Cambridgeshire.

Pete Seeger (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014)  For more than 50 years, Mr. Seeger roamed America, singing on street corners and in saloons, migrant labor camps, hobo jungles, union halls, schools, churches and concert auditoriums.  He helped write, arrange or revive such perennial favorites as “If I Had a Hammer,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” and “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” and popularized the anthem of the civil rights movement, “We Shall Overcome.”  Once called ‘America’s tuning fork,’ Pete Seeger believed deeply in the power of song,” President Obama said in a statement.  “But more importantly, he believed in the power of community — to stand up for what’s right, speak out against what’s wrong, and move this country closer to the America he knew we could be.  “Over the years, Pete used his voice — and his hammer — to  strike blows for worker’s rights and civil rights; world peace and environmental conservation.  And he always invited us to sing along.  For reminding us where we come from and showing us where we need to go, we will always be grateful to Pete Seeger.”  Bart Barnes

Issue 1103  January 29, 2014  "The Raven" was first attributed to Edgar Allan Poe in print in the New York Evening Mirror on January 29, 1845.  Read about it and see images at

Monday, January 27, 2014

Mustard has a history of its own.  The Egyptians entombed their kings with bags of mustard seed. The Greeks thought mustard improved memory.  As early as the 14th century, local ordinances in Dijon laid out rules for its manufacture; one specified the use of only "good mustard seed soaked in good vinegar".  By 1634, an official alliance had been formed in Dijon to regulate the profession of the moutardier.  There are two basic types of French mustard:  old-style, a coarse-grain, mild mustard often referred to in French as à l'ancienne; and Dijon-style, a creamy, spicier product.  The former is made by mixing cracked, unhulled seeds to a rough paste.   All mustard was "à l'ancienne" until the beginning of the 18th century, when an Englishwoman named Mrs. Clements began milling mustard seeds the way one milled wheat—grinding them and sieving the powder through coarse cloth to remove the husks.  The technique produced a pungent mustard that married well with hearty foods.  Dijon's moutardiers discovered the new process and adopted it as their own—lending it their city's name.  Mustard was made in Dijon with hand-operated grinding mills until the middle of the 19th century, when one of the city's most famous sons, moutardier Maurice Grey, invented a steam-driven machine that could crush the seeds, remove the husks, and grind the remains to a fine powder in one operation.  Today, husks are removed from cracked seeds by centrifuge before they're ground into a paste.  Though techniques and recipes can vary, laws strictly regulate the manufacture of Dijon mustard, and—like the wines of Burgundy—the product is protected by an appellation contrôlée, granted in 1937.  The law states that only black and/or brown mustard seeds may be used in dijon mustard (the product of milder white seeds may be labeled "condiment" but never "moutarde"), and that the seeds must be mixed with either wine, wine vinegar, or verjus, which is the juice of unripe grapes.  Wine vinegar, which produces a mustard which is slightly more pungent than the other liquids, is most widely used in Dijon. Salt and herbs are added—generally summer savory, tarragon, and lavender, or a combination thereof—and, with a touch of golden turmeric to heighten color (and sometimes sulfur dioxide to preserve it), the mustard is complete.  Flavored mustards, with such added ingredients as green peppercorns, honey, horseradish, shallots, or, in earlier times, anchovies or truffles, have never been allowed to bear the Dijon label.  But the Dijon mustard law says nothing about the provenance of the mustard seeds.  When the rules were written in 1937, the idea of importing seeds from another part of France, much less another country, was probably unthinkable, so abundant were the mustard fields around the city.  Now, though, Burgundian farmers have given over most of the fields around Dijon to more profitable crops, like colza, used to make canola oil—and most of the seed used in Dijon mustards today is imported from Canada.  The authors of the law apparently didn't think they had to specify where Dijon mustard would be made, either.  Though the vast majority of Dijon-style mustard is still made in the city itself, it can be legally produced anywhere in France as long as the rules about mustard seeds and manufacturing techniques are followed.  And what about Grey-Poupon?  This famous brand has now all but vanished in France—though the name lives on just about everywhere else.  Grey-Poupon was formed in 1870, when the aforementioned Maurice Grey made his associate, Auguste Poupon, a partner in what had hitherto been the Maison de Grey.  A century later, in 1970, the directors of Grey-Poupon and of another Dijon mustard firm, André Ricard, having earlier bought the popular Maille label, formed a conglomerate called S.E.G.M.A. Maille. Soon afterwards, the new company decided to phase out the Grey-Poupon label in France.  It is still, however, manufactured for export, and a small amount continues to be produced for sale at the historic Maille-Grey-Poupon boutique on the rue de la Liberté in Dijon itself.  The Grey-Poupon sold in the U.S. is another story: Heublein purchased the American rights to the name from the original company in 1946—and though it is prominently labeled as "dijon" mustard, our own Grey-Poupon is now made by Kraft.  William Sertl  

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg
potentate  (POH-ten-tayt)  noun  One having great power, especially an autocratic person.
Via French, from Latin posse (to be able).
iliad  (IL-ee-uhd)  noun  1.  A long narrative, especially an epic poem describing martial exploits.  2.   A long series of miseries or disasters.   After Iliad, a Greek epic poem traditionally attributed to Homer.  From Ilion, ancient Greek name of the city of Troy, an area now in modern Turkey.  
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From:  Lawrence N Crumb  Subject:  potentate   In Gilbert and Sullivan's opera, The Gondoliers, the two gondoliers who are ruling Barataria as joint monarchs sing a song to describe their various duties.  It includes the lines "Or receive with ceremonial and state/ An interesting Eastern potentate."  In one of the books by Robert L. ("Believe It or Not") Ripley, there is a story that caricatures the German way of compounding words. A Hottentot potentate is Der Hottentotenpotentaten.  When his mother enters the story, she is Die Hottentotenpotentatenmutter -- and so on; the words get longer as the story progresses.
From:  Richard S. Russell  Subject:  iliad
Some good friends of mine have a Honda Odyssey minivan.  For their personalized license plate they chose ILIAD.  Despite having a minivan, they don't travel much. T hey're kind of what you might call homers.
From:  Andrew Pressburger  Subject:  illiad
An Iliad of troubles arising from the siege of Troy prompts Ulysses's Jeremiad about Crime and Punishment during his twenty-year Odyssey, in which the mingling of War and Peace provides the backdrop for a Divine Comedy and a nostalgic Remembrance of Things Past.

Origin of the term "Green Room"  This is something of a mystery — no one knows for sure where the term originated from.  It is known to be centuries old with the first recorded reference in a 1678 play by Thomas Shadwell called The True Widow.  The reference was:  “No, Madam:  Selfish, this Evening, in a green Room, behind the Scenes, was before-hand with me”.  Another, more explicit reference was made in the 1701 book Love Makes Man by Colley Cibber:  “I do know London pretty well, and the Side-box, Sir, and behind the Scenes; ay, and the Green-Room, and all the Girls and Women Actresses there”.  A few possibilities have been suggested for the origin, including:  The colour green has long been associated with the theatre; in fact "the green" is a term sometimes used to describe the stage.  The green room could be an extension of this.  Green is a good choice because it is a relaxing colour.

“The Monuments Men,” which opens in theaters Feb. 7, is based on the true story of eight Allied soldiers whose unwritten mission was to go into Germany and rescue masterpieces pilfered by the Nazis and secreted away in castles, churches and salt mines all over the country.  Working behind enemy lines and under pressure, this group of art curators, museum directors and art historians — known as the Monuments Men — was in a race against the German army, which had been ordered by Hitler to destroy everything as the Third Reich fell.  Stout led many of the operations that sought to avoid the destruction of 1,000 years of culture and save some of the world’s greatest treasures.  Lincoln Kirstein, a member of the Monuments Men and founding director of the New York City ballet, who died in 1996, said in his account of events, Stout “was the greatest war hero of all.  He actually saved all the art that everybody else talked about.”
So, who was this champion for the world’s celebrated artwork?  Stout grew up in Winterset, Iowa.  At Winterset High School, Stout’s nickname was “Stouty,” and his interests included literature, acting and journalism, said Nancy Trask, director of the Winterset Public Library, and Stout’s biggest hometown fan.  Trask has been singing Stout’s praises since 2009, when she discovered Robert Edsel’s book, “The Monuments Men:  Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History.”  It’s the same book that inspired George Clooney.  Stout’s legacy didn’t gain traction until news spread that Clooney was making a movie and playing a character named Frank Stokes, who is based on Stout.  Since then, Trask has been busy making presentations about this newly discovered hometown hero.  Sara Agnew  DID YOU KNOW?  Shortly after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were moved by heavily-guarded train to the Bullion Depository at Fort Knox.  An examination in 1942 found that the Declaration had become detached from its mount and that the upper right corner had been stuck down with copious amounts of glue.  The corner also was covered with discolored strips of cellulose tape.  Under great secrecy, Stout and Evelyn Erlich — both of the Fogg Museum at Harvard University — were called in to restore the document.  Over two days, they mended small tears, removed excess adhesive and tape and rejoined the detached upper right corner.  MORE ON THE MONUMENTS MEN at  

Starting Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014 you pay 49 cents for a first-class postage stamp.  The planned 3-cent hike is the largest increase in consumer postage prices in more than a decade for the U.S. Postal Service.  The price hike will affect millions, even though fewer Americans these days use snail mail to pay bills and keep in touch.  One way around it is buying Forever Stamps now and using them any time for first-class mail, the kind used by most consumers.  Launched in 2007, Forever Stamps are always valid, no matter what people paid for them and even if prices go up in the future.  On Jan. 26, the cost of mailing a post card will also go up to 34 cents, a 1-cent increase.  The price hike comes after the agency's regulator gave the green light back in December to keep up with inflation and recoup losses incurred during the Great Recession, when people drastically pulled back on mail.  The Postal Regulatory Commission also said the Postal Service can't allow the hike to last more than two years, or raise more than $2.8 billion.  The price hike includes a one-cent increase to keep pace with inflation, which won't change.  Also, the postal agency plans to appeal the decision limiting the price hike to two years and will argue for the increase to be permanent, said agency spokeswoman Katina Fields.

 Issue 1102  January 27, 2014  On this day in 1756, composer   Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born.

Friday, January 24, 2014

In the 15th and 16th century acting companies used pageant wagons to travel from one venue to another. The wagons were mobile stages that doubled up as a costume, props and baggage stores.   Another form of pre Elizabethan theatre was the 'place-and-scaffold' theatre.  A more permanent form of theatre, it consisted of a quantity of scaffolding erected around a central playing area.  The most straightforward venue was; the village green, square or street, where local amateurs would perform traditional folk dramas.  It was customary to provide some form of theatrical entertainment at court for festive season celebrations and for special occasions.  Richard III, Henry VII and Henry VIII had their own small companies to perform the interludes for these occasions.  The reinstatement of the 1572 Act for the Punishment of Vagabonds obliged performers to find a patron if they were to remain on the right side of the law.  Patrons provided actors with protection from the Vagabond Act but had no input into the day to day running of the company.  These companies were not obliged to remain at their patron's residence, but were forced to travel around the country searching for their next audience as they received no financial contribution from their patron.  The huge population growth in London and the restoration of the 1572 Act for the Punishment of Vagabonds culminated in the creation of the first London playhouses.  Elizabethan theatre was seen as unwholesome, so much so that plays could not be performed within the boundaries of the city of London. The Lord Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London, feared the gathering of large, possibly riotous, crowds within the city, the potential risk of the spread of the plague and the possible disruption to normal business and the disapproval of the Puritans.  The first public theatre (known as the Theatre from the Greek for 'a place for seeing') was built in 1576 in Shoreditch, it remained open for a further 22 years and various companies performed there until 1579 when it was demolished and rebuilt on Bankside in 1599 when it was renamed the Globe.  The Globe only remained open until 1613 when a cannon shot fired during a performance of Henry VIII set fire to the roof, burning the building down.  While the new playhouses dominated, companies still used every available playing space. Inns, noblemen's houses, animal baiting rings, market squares etc were turned into performance spaces by erecting a raised platform with a curtain.  Elizabethan theatres held an audience of several thousand.  While the nobility watched from chairs at the side of the stage the majority of the audience stood for the duration of the play in an open pit in front of the stage.  No artificial lighting meant that plays had to be performed in the afternoon, until the introduction of the indoor Playhouses, when performances would have been lit by candles.  The Playhouses also ensured that plays could be put on during the winter when the cold weather meant audience numbers dropped.   Elizabethan playhouses had the following elements:   Playhouses were either round or polygonal in shape. There were relatively small by modern standards; the Rose the outside diameter being 74 feet the inner diameter 50 feet, the Globe might have been up to 100 feet wide with an internal diameter of 75 feet.  There would have been 3 levels each with their own gallery built around the central area where those able to pay extra could sit.  One of these 3 galleries would have been where members of the nobility would sit with other gentlemen being seated on the stage.  Those only able to pay a penny would have to stand in the pit.  There is a funny scene in the film Shakespeare in Love when The Lord of Revels, an official of the Queen, learns that there is a woman in the theater company at the Rose playhouse.  He orders the theater closed for this violation of morality and the law.  The Lord invokes the name of the Queen to arrest all there for indecency.  Suddenly, Elizabeth I's voice rings out from the back of the theater:  "Have a care with my name - you will wear it out!

Toledo Zoo news 
((1)  Raccoons, skunks and opossums are mesopredators (mid-level predators) that would normally have a larger predator species preying upon them and maintaining their numbers.  Many of these animals use zoo grounds during the evening and spend days sleeping in sewers, garages and abandoned homes nearby.  The zoo studied an adult male raccoon who, in one month, moved through a space of over 100 acres.  In just one evening, he traveled 1.4 miles.
(2)  Biologists estimate that 80 percent of the world's food plant species depend on animal pollination, and almost all of these are insects.  The zoo has identified four species of native bumble bees in their 74 acres of trees, flowers and prairie habitat.  Safari, the official magazine of the Toledo Zoo  Spring 2014

The Isles of Scilly form an archipelago of five inhabited islands and numerous other small rocky islets (around 140 in total) off the southwestern tip of the Cornish peninsula of Great Britain.  Scilly has been inhabited since the Stone Age and until the early 20th century its history had been one of subsistence living.  Farming and fishing continue, but the main industry now is tourism.  It is likely that until relatively recent times the islands were much larger and perhaps joined together into one island named Ennor.  Rising sea levels flooded the central plain around 400–500 CE, forming the current islands.  Evidence for the older large island includes:  A description in Roman times describes Scilly as "Scillonia insula" in the singular, indicating either a single island or an island much bigger than any of the others.  Remains of a prehistoric farm have been found on Nornour, which is now a small rocky skerry far too small for farming. 
At certain low tides the sea becomes shallow enough for people to walk between some of the islands.  Ancient field walls are visible below the high tide line off some of the islands.  The islands' position produces a place of great contrast—the ameliorating effect of the sea, greatly influenced by the North Atlantic Current, means they rarely have frost or snow, which allows local farmers to grow flowers well ahead of those in mainland Britain.  The chief agricultural product is cut flowers, mostly daffodils.  Exposure to Atlantic winds also means that spectacular winter gales lash the islands from time to time.  This is reflected in the landscape, most clearly seen on Tresco where the lush sub-tropical Abbey Gardens on the sheltered southern end of the island contrast with the low heather and bare rock sculpted by the wind on the exposed northern end.

The first of the International Mathematical Olympiads (IMOs) was held in Romania in 1959.  The oldest of the International Science Olympiads, the IMO has since been held annually, except in 1980.  That year, it was cancelled due to internal strife in Mongolia.  Because the competition was initially founded for Eastern European countries participating in the Warsaw Pact, under the influence of the Eastern Bloc, the earlier IMOs were hosted only in Eastern European countries, gradually spreading to other nations.

An Oxford University study has concluded that our ancient ancestors who lived in East Africa between 2.4 million and 1.4 million years ago survived mainly on a diet of tiger nuts.  Tiger nuts are edible grass bulbs still eaten in parts of the world today.  The study, published in the journal PLOS One, also suggests that these early hominins may have sought additional nourishment from fruits and invertebrates such as worms and grasshoppers.  Study author Dr Gabriele Macho examined the diet of Paranthropus boisei, nicknamed 'Nutcracker Man' because of his big flat molar teeth and powerful jaws, through studying modern-day baboons in Kenya.  Her findings help to explain a puzzle that has vexed archaeologists for 50 years.  Scholars have debated why this early human relative had such strong jaws, indicating a diet of hard foods like nuts, yet their teeth seemed to be made for consuming soft foods.  Damage to the tooth enamel also indicated they had come into contact with an abrasive substance.   Tiger nuts, still sold in health food shops as well as being widely used for grinding down and baking in many countries, would be relatively easy to find.  They also provided a good source of nourishment for a medium-sized hominin with a large brain.  This is why these hominins were able to survive for around one million years because they could successfully forage – even through periods of climatic change.   Read more and see image at

The Kirkbride Plan refers to a system of mental asylum design advocated by Philadelphia psychiatrist Thomas Story Kirkbride in the mid-19th century.  The establishment of state mental hospitals in the U.S. is partly due to reformer Dorothea Dix, who testified to the Massachusetts legislature in 1844, vividly describing the state's treatment of people with mental illness:  they were being housed in county jails, private homes and the basements of public buildings.  Dix's effort led to the construction of the New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum, the first asylum built on the Kirkbride Plan.  Kirkbride developed his requirements based on a philosophy of Moral Treatment.  The typical floor plan, with long rambling wings arranged en echelon (staggered, so each connected wing received sunlight and fresh air), was meant to promote privacy and comfort for patients.  The building form itself was meant to have a curative effect: "a special apparatus for the care of lunacy, [whose grounds should be] highly improved and tastefully ornamented."  The idea of institutionalization was thus central to Kirkbride's plan for effectively treating patients with mental illnesses.  The asylums tended to be large, imposing, Victorian-era institutional buildings within extensive surrounding grounds, which often included farmland, sometimes worked by patients as part of physical exercise and therapy.  While the vast majority were located in the United States, similar facilities were built in Canada, and a psychiatric hospital in Australia was influenced by Kirkbride's recommendations.  By 1900 the notion of "building-as-cure" was largely discredited, and in the following decades these large facilities became too expensive to maintain.  Many Kirkbride Plan asylums still stand today.  Most are abandoned, neglected, and vandalized, though several are still in use or have been renovated for uses other than mental health care.  See images , including one of a partially renovated building in Traverse City, Michigan used as condos and businesses at

Issue 1101  January 24, 2014  On this day in 1848, James W. Marshall found gold at Sutter's Mill near Sacramento, California.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

In 1886, a lexicographer named Walter Skeat first used the phrase “ghost words” to describe words that he said had “no real existence.”  Ghost words are words that weren’t real to begin with—they came about because of an error or misunderstanding—but they made it into the dictionary anyway.  Mignon Fogarty  Find stories about gravy, syllabus, tweed and more at  

Find 14 financial terms (from golden boot to golden share) at



New research suggests that reading books, writing and participating in brain-stimulating activities at any age may preserve memory.  The study is published in the July 3, 2013, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.  “Our study suggests that exercising your brain by taking part in activities such as these across a person’s lifetime, from childhood through old age, is important for brain health in old age,” said study author Robert S. Wilson, PhD, with Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.  For the study, 294 people were given tests that measured memory and thinking every year for about six years before their deaths at an average age of 89.  They also answered a questionnaire about whether they read books, wrote and participated in other mentally stimulating activities during childhood, adolescence, middle age and at their current age.  After they died, their brains were examined at autopsy for evidence of the physical signs of dementia, such as lesions, brain plaques and tangles.  The research found that people who participated in mentally stimulating activities both early and late in life had a slower rate of decline in memory compared to those who did not participate in such activities across their lifetime, after adjusting for differing levels of plaques and tangles in the brain.  Mental activity accounted for nearly 15 percent of the difference in decline beyond what is explained by plaques and tangles in the brain.  “Based on this, we shouldn’t underestimate the effects of everyday activities, such as reading and writing, on our children, ourselves and our parents or grandparents,” said Wilson.  The study found that the rate of decline was reduced by 32 percent in people with frequent mental activity in late life, compared to people with average mental activity, while the rate of decline of those with infrequent activity was 48 percent faster than those with average activity.  The study was supported by the National Institute on Aging and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Toledo Museum of Art conservation
Number of conservators:  3
Number of insects that could damage the collection reported annually:  over 200
Number of gloves used each year by TMA conservators:  4800
The conservator's secret weapon:  toothpicks used for everything from cleaning to transferring pigment
Temperature for art conservation:  45-55 percent relative humidity and 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit
ARtmaTTERS  January-April 2014  
Artworks both inside and outside the museum are protected and maintained.

Phrontistery  "Since 1996, I have compiled word lists and language resources to spread the joy of the English language in all its variety through time and space.  A phrontistery (from the Greek phrontistes 'thinker') is meant to be a thinking-place for reflection and intellectual stimulation.  I invite you to explore the various site features relating to language and lexicography, find that half-remembered rare or obscure word you've been looking for, or to read and explore essays on language, linguistics, and culture."  
Stephen Chrisomalis

An off-and-on customer of OfficeMax, Mike Seay has gotten the office supply company's junk mail for years.  But the mail that the grieving Lindenhurst, Ill., father said he got from OfficeMax last week was different.  The envelope appeared to be a typical discount offering.  But this one was addressed to "Mike Seay, Daughter Killed in Car Crash."  Seay's daughter Ashley, 17, was killed last year in a car crash along with her boyfriend.  On Jan. 19, 2014, after the story went public and drew criticism against OfficeMax, a company executive apologized to Seay, who had initially struggled to get OfficeMax representatives to believe his story.  But Seay, who lives about an hour north of Chicago, says the executive's apology stopped short of explaining how an office supply company knew that his daughter had died or why it ended up on a piece of mail.  The incident has already added to the public debate over what kind of data companies and the government keep on private citizens.  "This is the tip of the iceberg.  This happens all the time," said Pam Dixon, executive director of World Privacy Forum, a nonprofit public interest research group based in San Diego, noting that this is just one example of the information such companies probably hold.  In a statement, Naperville, Ill.-based OfficeMax said the mailer was "a result of a mailing list rented through a third-party provider" but did not name the provider and did not say whether the company held similar data on other prospective customers.  Matt Pearce,0,2486839.story#axzz2r3D09DOv

Recent unfortunate events
·         e-mail--two invitations to join LinkedIn from the company that exploits members by using their address book listings.
·         phone call from the "technology department of the Windows company" wanting to help me because they were "notified by my computer that I was having problems."  Although I told the caller that Windows is not a company, he kept right on talking.
·         Internet--ads appearing in place of the search results being clicked on.  This is called redirecting and it is rampant.

Issue 1100  January 22, 2014  On this day in 1973, the Supreme Court delivered its decision in Roe v. Wade, legalizing elective abortion in all fifty states.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Nur ad-Dīn Abd ar-Rahmān Jāmī (1414-1492) also known as DJāmī, Mawlanā Nūr al-Dīn 'Abd al-Rahmān or Abd-Al-Rahmān Nur-Al-Din Muhammad Dashti who is commonly known as Jami, is known for his achievements as a scholar, mystic, writer, composer of numerous lyrics and idylls, historian, and the greatest Persian and Tajik Sufi poets of the 15th century.  Because his father was from Dasht, Jami's early pen name was Dashti but later, he chose to use Jami because of the two reasons that he mentioned in a poem:
My birthplace is Jam, and my pen
Has drunk from (knowledge of) Sheikh-ul-Islam (Ahmad) Jam
Hence in the books of poetry
My pen name is Jami for these two reasons.
Jami wrote approximately eighty-seven books and letters, some of which have been translated into English.  His works range from prose to poetry, and from the mundane to the religious.  He has also written works of history and science.  As well, he often comments on the work of previous and current theologians, philosophers and Sufi's.  In Herat, his manual of irrigation design included advanced drawings and calculations and is still a key reference for the irrigation department.  Jami is buried in a grave, unadorned except for a pistachio tree which has sprung from the tomb itself.

Potassium is an essential nutrient used to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the body.  Potassium from natural food sources are considered safe and healthy.  The current percent daily value for potassium is 3.5 grams.  See the "top ten foods" highest in potassium at  See also and

The Literature Network has searchable online literature--currently over 3000 full books and over 4000 short stories and poems by over 250 authors.  The quotations database has over 8500 quotes.  Subscribe to Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily or Sonnet-A Day and link to quizzes covering books by authors ranging from William Shakespeare to George Orwell at

Descant is a quarterly literary journal that showcases poetry, prose, essay, memoir and art.  Subscribe to their mailing list at 

Colleen McCullough-Robinson, is an Australian author, her best-known work being The Thorn Birds.  In addition to novels, she has written two series:  Masters of Rome (7 books) and the Carmine Delmonico (5 books).

The Tuileries Garden, a 64-acre parkland in Paris, is a widely used public space today, but its history stretches back almost five centuries.  Over time, it’s served as an inspiration to painters, sculptors and photographers.  From Feb. 13 through May 11, 2014, the Toledo Museum of Art is bringing a bit of this landmark terrain to northwest Ohio.  Presented in collaboration with France’s Louvre Museum, “The Art of the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden” features 100 works of art that were either displayed in the park or sparked by its splendor.  Created in 1564, it was a garden meant exclusively for royalty and the wealthy.  Commissioned by Catherine de Medici, wife of King Henry II of France, the Tuileries (named after the tile-making factories that once dotted the area) was fashioned by architect André Le Nôtre, best known for his design of the park surrounding the Palace of Versailles.  The gardens offered tranquil respite, becoming a favorite place for Louis XIV, Marie Antoinette and Napoleon Bonaparte to stroll.  The landscape proved particularly irresistible to sculptors.  As the Middle Ages came to a close, artists began transforming portions of the Tuileries into a gallery of statues.  Impressionist painters also flourished amid the stimulating garden environment. Camille Pissarro created “Place du Carrousel, Paris,” focusing on sojourners traversing the public square beneath fluffy cumulus clouds.  For his 1897 painting, “Tuileries Gardens,” Childe Hassam opted to experiment with light and color gradations that caught his eye along the northern boundary of the garden.  The Tuileries Garden is now integrated with the courtyard of the Louvre.

In honor of its Centennial in 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor, in partnership with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is developing a list of Books that Shaped Work in America.  Suggest a book to add to the list at

A shotgun house typically has one room leading into the next without hallways.  This style of house is particularly well suited for hot climates because one can open the front and back doors, and the breeze will flow through the entire house, and the porch provides shade for outdoor visiting.  Shotgun architecture is now recognized as an African American contribution to American architectural styles.  Although often people say these are called shotgun houses because a bullet fired through the front door would go right out the backdoor without hitting a wall, evidence suggests that this name is actually a corruption of the word “shogon.”  In West Africa, “shogon” means “God’s House.”

Inferno (Italian for "Hell") is the first part of Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy.  It is followed by Purgatorio and Paradiso

Dante's Hell is shaped like a funnel that extends all the way to the center of the earth.  This funnel is made of nine circles.  The first circle is the widest and, progressively, the ninth circle is the smallest.

See the nine circles of hell recreated  in LEGO by Romanian artist Mihai Marius Mihu.  The epic project took him seven months to complete, and he used some 40,000 little plastic bricks to realize his vision.

Issue 1099  January 20, 2014