Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The National Museum of the Great Lakes, 1701 Front Street, in Toledo, Ohio opened on April 26, 2014.  The Great Lakes contain 21% of the world's fresh water, and 84% of the North American continent's fresh water.  Exhibits at the museum list many statistics, including:  Lake Huron, with 3,827 miles of shoreline has a surrounding population of 1.5 million in the U.S. and 1.5 million in Canada.  Lake Ontario, with 712 miles of shoreline, has a surrounding population of 2.8 million in the U.S. and 2.8 million in Canada.  Lake Michigan, with 1,640 miles of shoreline, has a surrounding population of 12 million in the U.S.  Lake Erie, with 871 miles of shoreline, has a surrounding population of 10.5 million in the U.S. and 1.9 million in Canada.  Lake Superior, with 2,726 miles of shoreline, has a surrounding population of 444,000 in the U.S. and 229,000 in Canada.

SS Edmund Fitzgerald was an American Great Lakes freighter that sank in a Lake Superior storm on November 10, 1975, with the loss of the entire crew of 29.  When launched on June 8, 1958, she was the largest ship on North America's Great Lakes, and she remains the largest to have sunk there.  Many theories, books, studies and expeditions have examined the cause of the sinking.  Fitzgerald may have fallen victim to the high waves of the storm, suffered structural failure, been swamped with water entering through her cargo hatches or deck, experienced topside damage, or shoaled in a shallow part of Lake Superior.  Gordon Lightfoot made it the subject of his 1976 hit song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald".  Investigations into the sinking led to changes in Great Lakes shipping regulations and practices that included mandatory survival suits, depth finders, positioning systems, increased freeboard, and more frequent inspection of vessels.  Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRB) are now installed on all Great Lakes vessels for immediate and accurate location in event of a disaster.

The Great Lakes have been sailed upon since at least the 17th century, and thousands of ships have been sunk while traversing them.  Many of these ships were never found, so the exact number of shipwrecks in the Lakes is unknown; the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum approximates 6,000 ships and 30,000 lives lost, while historian and mariner Mark Thompson has estimated that the total number of wrecks is likely more than 25,000.

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg
What does a marathoner have in common with a Neanderthal and a milliner?  All three are derived from the names of places.  The word marathon is from Marathon in Greece, the word Neanderthal is coined from Neander valley in Germany, and a milliner is, literally, someone from Milan, Italy.  
These are examples of toponyms (from Greek topos: place), words derived from place names.
damson  (DAM-zuhn, -suhn)  noun  1.  A variety of small plum (Prunus insititia) or its fruit.  2.  A dark purple color.  From Latin Prunum Damascenum (plum of Damascus), perhaps because it was first cultivated in Damascus or because it was introduced into Europe from Syria.  Two other words coined after Damascus are damask and damascene.  
Earliest documented use:  1398.
Whitehall  (HWYT-hawl) noun  The British government or the British Civil Service.   From Whitehall, a street in London, on which many government offices are located. The street gets its name from the Palace of Whitehall.  Earliest documented use:  1827. 
rounceval or rouncival  (ROUN-si-vuhl)  adjective  Big or strong.  noun  Someone or something that is large.  From Roncesvalles, a town at the foot of the Pyrenees.  It was the site of the Battle of Roncevaux Pass in 778 in which Roland, a commander of Charlemagne's army, was defeated by the Basques.  Earliest documented use:  1570.
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From:  Michael Tremberth  Subject:  Whitehall  Like The White House, always with a capital W.  A delightfully ambiguous term; one must be an insider to be sure whether it means the UK Government or the Civil Service or both acting in consort or occasionally at loggerheads.  Senior civil servants are known as mandarins.  The set-up was satirised some years ago in a television series entitled Yes Minister, which accurately and mercilessly exposed all the foibles of the system.  If you wanted to be cruel you could say that UK didn't need a civil war, because it already had Whitehall.
From:  James P. Albert  Subject:  Whitehall  Whitehall was also a reference to the draft offices in NYC for the years, some time back, when I was eligible to take a government-paid trip to Vietnam.
From:  Toby Churchill  Subject:  Whitehall  Also a type of American rowing boat usually 14 to 22 feet long.
From:  Sue Wright  Subject:  rounceval  The word rounceval took me back to a beloved poem from my long ago childhood, Edward Lear's charming "The Owl and the Pussycat".  After their wedding, the owl and the pussycat "dined on mince, and pieces of quince which they ate with a runcible spoon."  Although if used today, I believe the term rounceval or runcible spoon has taken on the characteristics of a spork with a flat cutting edge.

PARAPHRASE and QUOTES from The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith  Daggers in the eyes are always visible, sometimes even through sunglasses.  "If you have enemies, then your biggest enemy is yourself."  "People who behave badly are often unhappy with themselves--and with the world."

Alexander McCall Smith was born in Zimbabwe (called Southern Rhodesia at the time) and was educated there and in Scotland.  He became a law professor in Scotland, and it was in this role that he first returned to Africa to work in Botswana, where he helped to set up a new law school at the University of Botswana.  He is currently Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh, but has been a visiting professor at a number of other universities elsewhere, including ones in Italy and the United States (where he has twice been visiting professor at SMU Law School in Dallas, Texas).  Over the past twenty years, Smith has written more than fifty books, including specialist academic titles, short story collections, and a number of immensely popular children's books.  In 1998, McCall Smith's detective novel, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, was published and received two Booker Judge's Special Recommendations.  The BBC filmed a six-part TV series based on Alexander's No. 1. Ladies' Detective Agency books

Bobbin' and robbin' robins have spent the last week diving and bobbing about a cherry tree in my backyard, robbing it of ripe fruit.  The robins are fat and satisfied.

The general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board ruled on July 29, 2014 that McDonald’s could be held jointly liable for labor and wage violations by its franchise operators — a decision that, if upheld, would disrupt longtime practices in the fast-food industry and ease the way for unionizing nationwide.  Business groups called the decision outrageous.  Some legal experts described it as a far-reaching move that could signal the labor board’s willingness to hold many other companies to the same standard of “joint employer,” making businesses that use subcontractors or temp agencies at least partly liable in cases of overtime, wage or union-organizing violations.   Steven Greenhouse  Issue 1177  July 30, 2014  On this date in 1932, the first cartoon short to use Technicolor and the first Academy Award winning cartoon short, Walt Disney's Flowers and Trees premiered.  On this date in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Act of 1965 into law, establishing Medicare and Medicaid.

Monday, July 28, 2014

BOOK REVIEW  How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer  St. Martin's Press, 2014   
Like a jewel shimmering in a Midwest skyline, the Toledo Institute of Astronomy is the nation’s premier center of astronomical discovery and a beacon of scientific learning for astronomers far and wide.  Here, dreamy cosmologist George Dermont mines the stars to prove the existence of God.  Here, Irene Sparks, an unsentimental scientist, creates black holes in captivity.  George and Irene are on a collision course with love, destiny and fate.  They have everything in common:  both are ambitious, both passionate about science, both lonely and yearning for connection.  The air seems to hum when they’re together.  I picked up How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky because, well, Toledo.  I’m not just from Ohio, but Toledo is a place I visited fairly often in my teens.  Which were also the years when John Denver’s song, “Saturday Night in Toledo Ohio (is like being nowhere at all)” was pretty popular (at least in Ohio).  So while I recognized the real places and landmarks in the story, the idea that Toledo would become a mecca for any kind of science, or have anything like the Toledo Institute of Astronomy as portrayed in the story, both hit my funny bone and twigged my ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ meter a bit more than was perhaps intended.  About the book . . . the story is about how love can go totally and completely wrong, and also be utterly right, both at the same time.  Just not involving the same people.  Marlene Harris

1914  Events  Velvet Ice Cream in Utica, Ohio was founded.  Charlie Chaplin made his film debut.  Congress established Mother's Day.  World War I broke out in Europe.  The last passenger pigeon died.  Echoes  July/August 2014   See also

“Martha,” a passenger pigeon named after George Washington’s wife, was the last of her kind.  Immediately following her death in 1914 at the Cincinnati Zoological Gardens, she was packed in an enormous 300-pound block of ice and shipped to the Smithsonian.  The passenger pigeon, Ectopistes migratorius, was once the most common bird in the United States, numbering in the billions.  Passenger pigeons lived in enormous colonies, with sometimes up to 100 nests in a single tree.  Migrating flocks stretched a mile wide, turning the skies black.  With such abundance, it seemed unimaginable that the passenger pigeon could ever become extinct.  But due to overhunting, habitat loss, and possibly infectious diseases that spread through the colonies, they became increasingly rare by the late nineteenth century.  The last confirmed sighting of a wild passenger pigeon was in 1900.  After that, only a few survived in captivity. “Martha,” who lived her whole 29-year life in the Cincinnati Zoo, was the last.  Her skin was mounted for display by the Smithsonian taxidermist Nelson Wood.  Her internal parts were preserved as part of the fluid or “wet” collections of the National Museum of Natural History.  Today the Smithsonian’s Bird Collection is one of the largest in the world, numbering some 625,000 specimens.  See pictures at

A checker shadow illusion deals with light perception.  See graphic by Edward H. Adelson at

Formica was created back in 1913 as a replacement "for mica" electrical insulation.  Early operations of the Formica Corporation revolved around electric motor v-rings.  In 1927, the Formica Corporation patented a barrier sheet; it was the first piece of what would soon become the Formica kitchen and bathroom countertop revolution.  By 1937, the Formica Corporation was creating many types of products, including the Formica tabletops and countertops that it became famous for.  The laminates were even used on the walls of the Queen Mary ocean liner.  Formica started as insulation and evolved into one of the most widely used materials in the world.  Simon Shadow

QUOTE by American psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (1926-2004)   People are like stained-glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.

An IP address from a staff member in the U.S. House of Representatives has been temporarily blocked from making edits to Wikipedia articles after some of its changes were deemed disruptive.  The Twitter bot @congressedits was created in July, 2014 to track what changes were coming out of congress and, well, it found some pretty interesting edits coming from an IP address for House staff.  An anonymous user from the House edited the page for "moon landing conspiracy theories" to say the Cuban government was behind spreading rumors that 1969's moon landing was a hoax.  (Via NASA)  For Wikipedia's article on the Nevada Test and Training Range, a House staff computer included that, "In spite of allegations to the contrary, the claims that extraterrestials are housed in this facility are completely unsubstantiated."  (Via U.S. Air Force / CC BY-NC 2.0)  And they added this note to the bio on controversial radio host Alex Jones:  "Following his appearances on Russia Today, there were allegations that he was a disinformation agent with ties to the Kremlin." (The Alex Jones Show)  But the unknown user from within Congressional offices isn't just trying to stir up controversy or disprove the existence of aliens.  He or she also made grammatical and organizational corrections on dozens of articles and added other more trivial information as well.  It should be pointed out that the user could be anyone working within the House of Representatives — staff member or elected official.  Ben Lawson

Karl Albrecht, who with his brother Theo returned from Allied prisoner-of-war camps after World War II to find their mother’s corner shop still standing in bombed-out Essen, Germany, then proceeded to build it into the international grocery empire Aldi, died on July 16, 2014 in Essen. He was 94.  The Aldi chain formerly managed by Mr. Albrecht (the name is short for Albrecht Discount) now has nearly 5,000 stores worldwide, including 1,300 in the United States, all of them known for spartan décor and low prices.  A separate organization formerly run by Theo Albrecht, which also uses the Aldi name, has 4,800 outlets in Europe.  Dennis Hevesi and Jack Ewing  Issue  1176  July 28, 2014  On this date in 1866, at the age of 18, Vinnie Ream became the first and youngest female artist to receive a commission from the United States government for a statue (of Abraham Lincoln).  On this date in 1896, the city of Miami, Florida was incorporated.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Peacock Room was originally the dining room in the London home of Frederick Richards Leyland (1831–1892), a wealthy shipowner from Liverpool, England, who was James McNeill Whistler's leading patron.  The architect Thomas Jeckyll (1827–1881) designed the room, constructing an intricate lattice of shelving to contain Leyland's collection of Chinese blue-and-white porcelain, mostly from the Kangxi era (1662–1722) of the Qing dynasty.  Antique Dutch gilt leather hung on the walls and a painting by Whistler, The Princess from the Land of Porcelain, was given the place of honor above the fireplace.  Jeckyll had nearly completed his decorative scheme when an illness compelled him to abandon the project.  Whistler, who was decorating the entrance hall of Leyland's house, volunteered to finish Jeckyll's work in the dining room.  Concerned that the red roses adorning the leather wall hangings clashed with the colors in The Princess, Whistler suggested retouching the leather with yellow paint, and Leyland agreed to that minor alteration.  He also authorized Whistler to embellish the cornice and wainscoting with a "wave pattern" derived from the design in Jeckyll's leaded-glass door, and then went to his home in Liverpool.  During Leyland's absence, Whistler grew bolder with his revisions.  He covered the ceiling with squares of dutch metal (imitation gold leaf) and a lush pattern of peacock feathers, gilded the spindle shelving, and painted an array of magnificent peacocks on the inside panels of the shutters.  As word of his remarkable decoration got out, Whistler began entertaining visitors and amusing the press in Leyland's home—audacious behavior that, coupled with a dispute over payment for the project, provoked a bitter quarrel between the painter and his patron.  Consequently, Whistler coated the costly leather with Prussian-blue paint and on the vacant wall opposite The Princess depicted a pair of fighting peacocks.  The angry bird on the right was given silver throat feathers in reference to the white ruffled shirts that Leyland always wore; the other, docile peacock was crowned with a silver crest feather reminiscent of the single white lock that rose artfully above Whistler's forehead.  Regarding the dining-room decoration as a three-dimensional painting, the artist obtained a blue rug for the floor, signed the composition several times with his butterfly emblem, and gave the room the title Harmony in Blue and Gold:  The Peacock RoomThe Peacock Room remained intact and fully furnished with Chinese porcelain until Leyland's death in 1892.  Twelve years later it was sold to the collector Charles Lang Freer (1854–1919), who had purchased Whistler's Princess only the previous year.  The room was dismantled in 1904 and moved to Freer's house in Detroit, where it was used to display his own collection of ceramics.  After Freer's death in 1919, the Peacock Room was reinstalled at the Freer Gallery of Art, which opened to the public in 1923.  See picture of Massachusetts-born James McNeil Whistler's Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (1876-1877) at

Phil Vassar - Words Are Your Wheels  3:58

America's Literacy Directory (ALD) is a web site that allows users to find local literacy providers in all 50 states and the U.S. territories.  The ALD includes literacy programs for adults looking for adult basic education, adult secondary education, computer literacy and English as a Second Language.  By entering an address or a ZIP code, you can find detailed information about area literacy programs and the services they offer.  You can also generate a map and driving directions for all programs listed in the ALD.  America's Literacy Directory is a service brought to you by the National Institute for Literacy.  

White Bean Bruschetta with Grilled Radicchio Salad by Mario Batali  Find picture and recipe at,0,1683782.column

Amazingly, all boat traffic at one point on the mighty Mississippi is stopped for a short time every August for a sporting event: a tug-of-war between Illinois and Iowa.  A 2,700-foot rope is stretched across the river for a hard-fought contest of strength between Port Byron, Ill., and LeClaire, Iowa.  Called the Great River Tug Fest, this rivalry is at the heart of a three-day celebration on both sides of the river.  The river will close from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Aug. 9 for the 28th annual Tug Fest, which typically draws a crowd of more than 30,000.  Each state fields 10 teams of 20 men and one team of 25 women, and all grab the rope for the 3-minute contests. 
The state with the most wins takes home the Alabaster Eagle in Flight trophy and bragging rights for the year.  Viewing areas are set up on both sides of the river.  Tug Fest is more than the tug however.  It also features parades, carnival rides, live entertainment, food options and even mini-tug pulls for kids (not across the river).  Spectators throng the riversides for a fireworks extravaganza set off from a barge in the middle of the Mississippi on Aug. 8.  Listings of all events are at (Port Byron) and (LeClaire).  Score to date for the annual tug:  Illinois leads 16 to 11.  John Handley,0,2434045.story

American novelists have stormed into the Man Booker longlist for the first time with five writers from the other side of the Atlantic being selected.  More than 40 American titles were submitted after the rules for English literature’s most prestigious prize were changed last year to allow writers from beyond the British Isles and the Commonwealth to enter.  In what chairman of the judges AC Grayling described as “a bit of a vintage year” four American writers and an Irish novelist based in New York were included in the longlist of 13.  They are Joshua Ferris’s “comic theological thriller” To Rise Again at a Decent Hour; Karen Joy Fowler’s story of a bizarre family experiment We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves; Siri Hustvedt’s The Blazing World, a feminist take on the art scene; Richard Powers’s bioterrorism tale Orfeo; and Irish writer Joseph O’Neill’s moral fable The Dog.  A shortlist of six for the £50,000 prize will be drawn up on September 9, 2014  and the winner will be unveiled at the Guildhall in the City on October 14.  Jonathan Prynn

After more than 30 years on the charts, comedian-singer "Weird Al" Yankovic earns his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, as "Mandatory Fun" debuts atop the list.  "Mandatory Fun" was released July 15 through Way Moby and RCA Records, and sold 104,000 copies in the week ending July 20, according to Nielsen SoundScan.  It was promoted by a well-received daily viral video campaign that launched Monday, July 14.  Starting with his parody of Pharrell's "Happy," Yankovic released eight music videos for the album through the week on various sites, like The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo, Nerdist, College Humor and YouTube.  "Mandatory" is the first comedy album to top the Billboard 200 since Allan Sherman's "My Son, the Nut" spent eight weeks at No. 1 beginning on the chart dated Aug. 31, 1963.   Keith Caulfield  Issue 1175  July 25, 2014  On this date in  1603, James VI of Scotland was crowned king of England (James I of England), bringing the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Scotland into personal union.  Political union would occur in 1707.  On this date in 1783, the American Revolutionary War's last action, the Siege of Cuddalore, was ended by a preliminary peace agreement.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A powder horn was a container for gunpowder, and was generally created from cow, ox or buffalo horn.  The term may also be used for any personal container for gunpowder, regardless of material or shape, for which powder flask is the strictly correct term.  Typically there was a stopper at both ends, in later examples spring-loaded to close automatically for safety.  The horn was typically held by a long strap and slung over the shoulder.  The use of animal horn along with nonferrous metal parts ensured that the powder would not be detonated by sparks during storage and loading.  Horn was also naturally waterproof and already hollow inside.  In America, a number of period horns dating from the French and Indian wars throughout the American Revolution and beyond, have been preserved in private and other collections.  Many decorated examples shed light on the life and history of the individuals that used them, and can be classified as a medium of folk art.  Powder horns were often decorated, most often with engraving, making a form of scrimshaw, which was sometimes supplemented with colour, and less often with carving.

Keep your powder dry  Be prepared and save your resources until they are needed.  The allusion is to gunpowder which soldiers had to keep dry in order to be ready to fight when required.  This advice reputedly originated with Oliver Cromwell during his campaign in Ireland.  In Ballads of Ireland, 1856, Edward Hayes wrote:  "There is a well-authenticated anecdote of Cromwell.  On a certain occasion, when his troops were about crossing a river to attack the enemy, he concluded an address, couched in the usual fanatic terms in use among them, with these words - 'put your trust in God; but mind to keep your powder dry'."  19th century citations of the phrase invariably give the full version - trust in God and keep your powder dry. This emphasizes that the keep your powder dry was seen only as an additional insurance.

Countries of the world by size from Russia (#1) to Vatican City (#252).  "Area compares the sum of all land and water areas delimited by international boundaries and/or coastlines." 

Life's Lessons in The Once and Future King  "The best thing for being sad," replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something.  That's the only thing that never fails.  You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds.  There is only one thing for it then -- to learn.  Learn why the world wags and what wags it.  That is the only thing, which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.  Learning is the only thing for you.  Look what a lot of things there are to learn."

One of the most fascinating figures in the Welsh mythology and the Arthurian legend is Merlin, the great wizard, prophet and adviser to several kings, including King Arthur.  Read about the faces, names, contradictions and controversies of Merlin at

Hipster is a term popularly used to denote an international subculture primarily consisting of white millennials living in urban areas.  The subculture has been described as a "mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior[s]" and is broadly associated with indie and alternative music, a varied non-mainstream fashion sensibility (including vintage and thrift store-bought clothes), generally third party independent political views, organic and artisanal foods, and alternative lifestyles.  The term in its current usage first appeared in the 1990s and became particularly prominent in the 2010s, being derived from the term used to describe earlier movements in the 1940s.  Members of the subculture do not self-identify as hipsters, and the word hipster is often used as a pejorative to describe someone who is pretentious, overly trendy or effete.  Some analysts contend that the notion of the contemporary hipster is actually a myth created by marketing.  As hipsters, "young creatives", priced out of Bohemian urban neighborhoods in Brooklyn such as Williamsburg, Park Slope, and Greenpoint moved into suburbs near New York City such as Hastings-on-Hudson The New York Times coined the neologism "Hipsturbia" to describe the hip lifestyle as lived in suburbia.

Put paid to:  To deal with effectively; to finish something off.  'Put paid to' probably derives from the practice of book-keepers of writing or stamping "Paid" on bills when the paperwork for a sale was completed.  An early citation comes from the Winnipeg newspaper The Manitoba Morning Free Press, October 1905.  This appeared in a listing of English football results, which were presumably printed in a Canadian paper for the benefit of the many English immigrants: 
"Wolverhampton Wanderers put paid to Bolton's account, the scores being:  2-0"

The Everlasting Gobstopper is both a fictional brand of candy, as well as an actual confection named after the fictional product.  According to Roald Dahl's book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the fictional Everlasting Gobstopper is a candy that not only changes colors and flavors, but can never be finished, and never even gets smaller.  It is implied that they may also be indestructible.  Factory owner Willie Wonka explained that they were "for children with very little pocket money"

Billy Joel will be the next recipient of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, the U.S. Library of Congress announced on July 22, 2014.  He joins good company — the previous honorees are Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, Carole King and the songwriting duo Burt Bacharach and Hal David.  It’s the second major Washington-based award for Joel in two years, this coming on the heels of his being named a Kennedy Center honoree last year.  Calling Joel a “storyteller of the highest order,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in a statement that, “There is an intimacy to his songwriting that bridges the gap between the listener and the worlds he shares through music.  When you listen to a Billy Joel song, you know about the people and the place and what happened there.”  The prize, to be formally awarded with a luncheon and musical performance in Washington in November, is given by the Library as a lifetime achievement award to a living musical artist.  Joel, 65, has been a force in pop music since the early 1970s.  He had a dazzling string of hits over three decades, such as “Piano Man,” “New York State of Mind,” “Movin’ Out,” “Uptown Girl,” “River of Dreams,” and “Just the Way You Are.”  He has sold more records than any solo act except for Garth Brooks and Elvis Presley.  His “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” is a massive sing-along favorite of concert crowds.  Issue 1174  July 23, 2014  On this date in 1888, American author  Raymond Chandler was born.  On this date in 1894, English-American actor and singer Arthur Treacher was born.    

Monday, July 21, 2014

Art Resources Transfer, Inc. (A.R.T.) began as a nonprofit publisher of books based on conversations between artists, under the aegis of A.R.T. Press.  Looking to find ways to expand distribution to public libraries in Los Angeles, A.R.T. Press offered its books for free to local libraries.  It found out that libraries couldn't accept the offer of free books because they couldn't afford the shipping costs.  After years of budget cuts, the majority of our nation's public libraries and schools have no contemporary art resources to offer their patrons.  Exhibition catalogues, monographs, and artists' books with color reproductions are too expensive for declining acquisitions budgets.  In response to this critical lack of art books in our nation's public schools and libraries, A.R.T. created the Distribution to Underserved Communities (DUC) Library Program in 1990, which provides free books on the visual arts and covers the cost of shipping.  With a grant from The George Gund Foundation, the DUC was launched as a pilot program in nine libraries in Ohio.  Yes.  Every book, including its shipping, is absolutely free to public libraries and schools.  All materials offered by the DUC are donated to the program by their publishers, and sent to your library at no charge.

You can be Aagot, Arney or Ásfríður; Baldey, Bebba or Brá.  Dögg, Dimmblá, Etna and Eybjört are fine; likewise Frigg, Glódís, Hörn and Ingunn.  Jórlaug works OK, as do Obba, Sigurfljóð, Úranía and – should you choose – Vagna.  But you cannot, as a girl in Iceland, be called Harriet.  "The whole situation," said Tristan Cardew, with very British understatement, "is really rather silly."  With his Icelandic wife Kristin, Cardew is appealing against a decision by the National Registry in Reykjavik not to renew their 10-year-old daughter Harriet's passport on the grounds that it does not recognise her first name.  Since the registry does not recognise the name of Harriet's 12-year-old brother Duncan either, the two children have until this year travelled on passports identifying them as Stúlka and Drengur Cardew:  Girl and Boy Cardew.  "But this time, the authorities have decided to apply the letter of the law," Cardew, a British-born cook who moved to Iceland 14 years ago, told the Guardian.  "And that says no official document will be issued to people who do not bear an approved Icelandic name."  Jon Henley

An inglenook (Modern Scots ingleneuk), or chimney corner, is a small recess that adjoins a fireplace.  The word is formed with ingle, meaning "fireplace" in Old English (from Old Scots or Irish Gaelic aingeal, "angel" or euphemistically "fire"), and nook.  Inglenooks originated as a partially enclosed hearth area, appended to a larger room.  The hearth was used for cooking and its enclosing alcove became a natural place for people seeking warmth to gather.  With changes in building design, kitchens became separate rooms, while inglenooks were retained in the living space as intimate warming places, subsidiary spaces within larger rooms.  Inglenooks were prominent features of shingle style architecture, but began to disappear with the advent of central heating.

A nook is a corner and a cranny is a crackEric Partridge's "Origins" (4th ed) suggests the origin of nook is Middle English nok which is also akin to the semantic group that gives us neck.  The same source suggests cranny is the diminutive of the Old French cran, meaning notch.  A variation is cren, which by some other route gives crenellation.  All this suggests a cranny is more of a small notch than a crack.

Astoria, Queens has been the home of the Steinway & Sons piano factory for decades.  The factory is located in the far northern section of Astoria, in an industrial zone, at 1 Steinway Place, located north of 19th Avenue.  Steinway & Sons was founded in 1853 by German immigrant and master cabinet maker Henry Engelhard Steinway, in a loft on Varick Street in Manhattan.  He eventually established a factory on 59th Street (where the current piano bank is).  In the latter half of the 19th century, the Steinways moved the factory to its present location in Queens, and established a community for its workers called the Steinway Village, which is now part of Astoria.  The Steinways also opened a library, which later became part of the Queens Public Library system.  Meg Cotner  Find information on free tours (about 2.5 hours) of the factory at

What's the difference between a valley, a dale, and a glen?  All have virtually identical modern day meaning.  Dale - Old English and Teutonic:  dæl, dal, del, deil.  Originally a deep or low place.  Modern day definition:  A valley. In the northern counties, the usual name of a river-valley between its enclosing ranges of hills or high land.  Also found in geographical names such as Clydesdale, Annandale. "Dale" is used mainly in literature.  Valley - Old French: valee, vallee, vallée, vallede.  Provincial French :  vallada. Italian:  vallata.  Latin:  vallis. Modern day definition:  A long depression or hollow lying between hills or stretches of high ground and usually having a river or stream flowing along its bottom.  Glen - Gaelic: gleann, glenn.  Welsh:  glyn.  Modern day definition:  A mountain-valley, usually narrow and forming the course of a stream.  Oxford English Dictionary

dell  from Middle English delle, from Old English *dell (small dale), from Proto-Germanic *daljō (a hollow, abyss), diminutive of Proto-Germanic *dalą (valley, dale),  from Proto-Indo-European *dʰol-, *dʰel- (an arch, vaulting, curve, curvature, cavity).  Find Scandinavian terms for landscape features including fell, barf, beck, cam, kell and ness at

T-shirts featuring the image of Ohio State fans forming the letters O-H-I-O are spelling trouble for a Rhode Island company that has been slapped with a trademark-infringement lawsuit by Ohio State University.  OSU had the image trademarked in 2012, but the school is far from alone when it comes to owning trademarks that extend far beyond normal logos.  Procter & Gamble owns the rights to the Old Spice whistle, while the University of Arkansas possesses the rights to its “sooie” cheer.  Nontraditional trademarks cover a wide range, including things such as motion, sound, color, scent, texture and shape.  Trademark law “basically says you can trademark anything that identifies you,” said Michael Spink, an intellectual-property attorney with Michigan-based law firm Brinks Gilson & Lione.  He blogs about the issue at  “Typically, when we think of source identifiers, we think of names,” Spink said.  “But there is an increasing trend for things that are not words.  Colors, for instance.  Boise State has registered the color blue as it applies to its field turf.”  Ohio State’s suit says that Teespring Inc., a T-shirt company that uses designs submitted by customers, has made shirts with various OSU logos, buckeye leaves and images of football coach Urban Meyer — as well as the O-H-I-O image — without permission and without paying licensing fees to the university.  Ohio State complained to Teespring in December and again in January, but the company hasn’t stopped.  “Teespring continues to solicit orders for, manufacture, sell and ship infringing and counterfeit products using the Ohio State trademarks,” Ohio State said in the suit, which was filed in April in U.S. District Court in Columbus.  The university wants Teespring to stop its unauthorized use of OSU trademarks and seeks more than $1 million in damages.  Tim Feran  Issue 1173  July 21, 2014  On this date in 1902, Willis Carrier createed the first air conditioner in Buffalo, New York.  On this date in 1925, in Dayton, Tennessee, high school biology teacher John T. Scopes was found guilty of teaching evolution in class and fined $100.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Holyoke Public Library "The Library in a Park", a 1902 building in Massachusetts, has a new sparkly, glass-sheathed addition.  The 22,257 square feet nearly doubles the library's usable space.  Take a virtual tour of the new library at  
See also Preservation Magazine, Summer 2014. 

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg
toady   (TOH-dee)  noun  A person who flatters or tries to please someone to gain favor.  verb intr:  To behave as a toady.  From shortening of toad-eater.  In times past, a quack employed an assistant who ate (or pretended to eat) a poisonous toad and was supposedly cured by the quack's medicine.  From there the word extended to a person who would do anything to curry favor.  Earliest documented use:  1827.
grogram  (GROG-ruhm)  noun  A coarse fabric of silk, combined with mohair or wool, and often stiffened with gum.  From French gros grain (large or coarse grain).  Another fabric from the same origin is grosgrain.  Earliest documented use: 1562.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.  Marcel Proust (1871-1922)  French author

dog's breakfast  The slang lexicographer Eric Partridge cited Glasgow circa 1934 as the place and time of origin, though he noted that Australians also used the phrase with the same meaning as "confusion, mess, turmoil." About the same time, a dog's dinner appeared with a quite different sense.  "Why have you got those roses in your hair?" asked a character in "Touch Wood," a 1934 novel by C. L. Anthony. "You look like the dog's dinner ."  This expression was defined by the Oxford English Dictionary Supplement as "dressed or arranged in an ostentatiously smart or flashy manner," probably derived from the 1871 usage "to put on the dog ."  William Safire  Find other phrases using the word dog at

The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China in part to protect the Chinese Empire or its prototypical states against intrusions by various nomadic groups or military incursions by various warlike peoples or forces.  Several walls were being built as early as the 7th century BC; these, later joined together and made bigger and stronger, are now collectively referred to as the Great Wall.  Especially famous is the wall built between 220–206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang.  Little of that wall remains.  Since then, the Great Wall has on and off been rebuilt, maintained, and enhanced; the majority of the existing wall are from the Ming Dynasty.  The main Great Wall line stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east, to Lop Lake in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia.  A comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that the Ming walls measure 8,850 km (5,500 mi).  Another archaeological survey found that the entire wall with all of its branches measure out to be 21,196 km (13,171 mi).  The collection of walls known today as the Great Wall of China was referred by a number of different names.  The current English name evolved from enthusiastic accounts of "the Chinese wall" from early European travelers; by the end of the 19th century "the Great Wall of China" became the name of the walls.  In Chinese, they are most commonly known as changcheng, meaning "long wall".

Bespoke is an adjective for anything commissioned to a particular specification.  "Custom-made", "made to order", "made to measure" and sometimes "hand-made" are near-synonyms.  "Off-the-shelf" and in clothing "ready-to-wear" are the opposites.  The word bespoke is derived from the verb to bespeak, to "speak for something", in the specialised meaning "to give order for it to be made" or commission, first cited from 1583 by the OED, with the adjective in its alternative form "bespoken" first quoted from 1607 in this sense.  The term is generally more prevalent in British English than American English, which tends to use "custom" instead.

Find photos of six hummingbirds (Ruby-throated, Rufous, Allen's, Black-billed, Broad-billed and Calliope) found in Massachusetts and link to more information about the birds at

Apple has agreed to pay $450 million to resolve state and consumer claims that the iPad manufacturer conspired with five major publishers to fix e-book prices, according to court records filed July 16, 2014.  The settlement, which would provide $400 million for consumers, is conditioned on the outcome of a pending appeal of a New York federal judge’s ruling last year that Apple was liable for violating antitrust laws.  A ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York reversing the judge could, under the settlement, either reduce the amount Apple pays to $70 million, with $50 million for consumers, or eliminate payments altogether.  The settlement, which requires approval of U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, had been announced last month.  Terms were not disclosed at the time.  It came ahead of an Aug. 25 damages trial in which attorneys general in 33 states and territories and lawyers for a class of consumers were expected to seek up to $840 million.  The deal follows earlier settlements with five publishers that provided $166 million for e-book purchasers.

July 16, 2014  A beauty pageant winner who was stripped of her Miss Delaware crown for being a few months too old is suing the Miss America organization, saying officials knew her age and disqualified her unfairly, court documents filed on Wednesday show.  The lawsuit filed in Delaware's Court of Chancery by Amanda Longacre seeks $3 million in damages and her reinstatement as Miss Delaware so she can compete in the Miss America pageant in September.  She said she did nothing wrong and was honest when she applied to take part in the pageant, providing her birth certificate, driver's license and other documents.  Rules for the pageant, the state preliminary for Miss America, require that Miss Delaware contestants be no older than 24, and say they cannot turn 25 before the end of the year.  Longacre's 25th birthday will be on Oct. 22.  John Clarke,0,1438385.story  Find "Becoming a Contestant Fast Facts" at  Issue 1172  July 18, 2014  On this date in 1902, American author Jessamyn West was born.  On this date in 1937, American journalist and author  Hunter S. Thompson was born.