Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Latin phrases still used today:  carpe diem, de facto, per se, ad hoc, vice versa, status quo, quid pro quo, pro bono, and bona fide.  Latin words still used today:  alibi, bonus, ergo, re, semi, and verbatim.

Etymologically, the "synergy" term was first used around 1600, deriving from the Greek word “synergos”, which means “to work together” or “to cooperate”.  If during this period the synergy concept was mainly used in the theological field (describing “the cooperation of human effort with divine will”), in the 19th and 20th centuries, "synergy" was promoted in physics and biochemistry, being implemented in the study of the open economic systems only in the 1960 and 1970s.  If used in a business application, synergy means that teamwork will produce an overall better result than if each person within the group were working toward the same goal individually.  However, the concept of group cohesion needs to be considered.  Group cohesion is that property that is inferred from the number and strength of mutual positive attitudes among members of the group.  As the group becomes more cohesive, its functioning is affected in a number of ways.  First, the interactions and communication between members increase. Common goals, interests and small size all contribute to this.  In addition, group member satisfaction  increases as the group provides friendship and support against outside threats.  There are negative aspects of group cohesion that have an effect on group decision-making and hence on group effectiveness.  There are two issues arising.  The risky shift phenomenon is the tendency of a group to make decisions that are riskier than those that the group would have recommended individually.  Group Polarisation is when individuals in a group begin by taking a moderate stance on an issue regarding a common value and, after having discussed it, end up taking a more extreme stance.  A second, potential negative consequence of group cohesion is group think.  Group think is a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in cohesive group, when the members' striving for unanimity overrides their motivation to appraise realistically the alternative courses of action.  The term synergy was refined by R. Buckminster Fuller, who analyzed some of its implications more fully and coined the term Synergetics.   Read more at

The name Occitan comes from lenga d'òc ("language of òc"), òc being the Occitan word for yes.  While the term would have been in use orally for some time after the decline of Latin, as far as historical records show, the Italian medieval poet Dante was the first to have recorded the term lingua d'oc in writing.  In his De vulgari eloquentia, he wrote in Latin, "nam alii oc, alii si, alii vero dicunt oil" ("for some say òc, others , yet others say oïl"), thereby highlighting three major Romance literary languages that were well known in Italy, based on each language's word for "yes", the òc language (Occitan), the oïl language (French), and the sì language (Sicilian and Italian).  This was not, of course, the only defining characteristic of each group.  The long-term survival of Occitan is in grave doubt.  According to the UNESCO Red Book of Endangered Languages, four of the six major dialects of Occitan (Provençal, Auvergnat, Limousin and Languedocien) are considered severely endangered, whereas the remaining two (Gascon and Vivaro-Alpine) are considered definitely endangered  See also Occitan Language at

Occident  noun  the West; the countries of Europe and America.  Western Hemispherelowercase:   the west; the western regions.
Orient  noun  the countries of Asia, especially East Asia.  (formerly) the countries to the E of the Mediterranean.  Jewelry: the iridescence of a pearl.  the east; the eastern region of the heavens or the world.  verb:  to familiarize (a person) with new surroundings or circumstances or
to place in any definite position with reference to the points of the compass or other locations or
to direct or position toward a particular object.  adjective:  (of a gem or pearl) exceptionally fine and lustrous

interesting word choices from The Last Minute, Sam Capra series #2, a novel by Jeff Abbott  "earplugged into oblivion"  "electronic breadcrumbs"  "the kind of kid whose fingertips felt lonely without a keyboard"

Jeff Abbott (born 1963) is a U.S. suspense novelist.  He has degrees in History and English from Rice University.  He lives in Austin, Texas.  His early novels were traditional detective fiction, but in recent years he has turned to writing thriller fiction.  A theme of his work is the idea of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary danger and fighting to return to their normal lives.

RECOMMENDED COFFEE TABLE BOOKS   Encyclopedia of Amazing Places, Discover Famous Places of the World by Robert Hamilton  Paragon Press, 2009.  Plantation Homes of the James River by Bruce Roberts  The University of North Carolina Press, 1990.  The Great Book of Trains by Brian Hollingsworth and Arthur F. Cook  Salamander Books Ltd, 1987. 

The Susan ConstantGodspeed and Discovery set sail from London on December 20, 1606, bound for Virginia.  The ships carried 105 passengers and 39 crew members on the four-month transatlantic voyage.  The expedition was sponsored by the Virginia Company of London, a business venture that had been organized to form a colony in Virginia.  The fleet reached the Virginia coast in late April and, after two weeks of inland waterway exploration, arrived at the selected settlement site on May 13, 1607.  The leaders of the expedition chose a peninsula connected to the north bank of the river by a sandy isthmus.  Having already named the river in honor of King James I of England, who had authorized the expedition, the leaders  named the site  Jamestown.  Plantation Homes of the James River

Long ago some unsung hero must have put strips of wood on the ground to allow his horse to pull a heavier load.  Then came "plateways" using cast-iron flanged plates; then came wrought-iron rails, and finally steel rails.  The first steam locomotive, built in Wales in 1804, is attributed to Richard Trevithick.  The first use of steam on a public railway was George and Robert Stephenson's Locomotion in 1825.  Public meant anyone could run a train by paying an appropriate toll.  The first inter-city rail began in 1830 between Liverpool and Manchester.  The first serious challenge to steam locomotion came in early Victorian times from the atmospheric system.  The first electric locomotive in public service began in 1879.  The Great Book of Trains  See also

Surviving members of Lynyrd Skynyrd won a permanent injunction blocking the production and distribution of a movie depicting the 1977 plane crash that killed the rock band’s lead singer, Ronnie Van Zant.  In a decision made public on August 28, 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Sweet in Manhattan said “Street Survivors:  The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash,” based on recollections of former drummer Artimus Pyle, violated a 1988 consent order governing the use of the Lynyrd Skynyrd name.  Sweet issued his 64-page decision after a non-jury trial on July 11-12, 2017.  The case is Ronnie Van Zant Inc et al v. Pyle et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 17-03360.  Jonathan Stemple

U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff dismissed Sarah Palin's defamation lawsuit against The New York Times on August 29, 2017.  Read opinion and order at  Issue 1763  August 30, 2017  On this date in 1984, the Space Shuttle Discovery took off on its maiden voyage.  On this date in 1991, Dissolution of the Soviet Union:  Azerbaijan declared independence from Soviet Union.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Treasures from three centuries can be seen at the James River Plantations along Virginia's scenic Route 5 in Charles City County.  The county, strategically located between the James and Chickahominy Rivers and close to the colonial capitals of Jamestown and Williamsburg, was the first westward expansion of English-speaking America.  It was established in 1619 and its plantations and farms along the James River have survived the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the War Between the States.  The county's gracious manor houses, all privately owned and preserved National Register properties, are open for visitors to experience and enjoy.  Charles City has been home to Indians and early settlers, planters, signers of the Declaration of Independence, Presidents, slaves, emancipators and free blacks, educators and agriculturalists.  Descendants of these significant figures in American history still live in the county today.  Benjamin Harrison, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Presidents William Henry Harrison and John Tyler were born and lived here.  General Robert E. Lee spent much of his childhood here.  Agriculturist Edmund Ruffin, who fired the first shot of the Civil War, practiced his innovative techniques on Charles City soil.  Lott Cary, the first black American missionary to Africa and founding father of Liberia, was born here.  One of the first free black communities in America was located in Charles City, as well as the third oldest organized free black church.

Getting around Greenwich Village isn't easy.  Because the Village was once a rural hamlet, and not a part of New York City, its street layout does not conform to the formal grid standards of the Commissioners' Plan of 1811.  To make matters worse, the streets in the Village, unlike most of those in northern Manhattan, are named rather than numbered.  Greenwich Village is bounded by:  W 14st Street on the North; W Houston Street on the South; the Hudson River on the West; Broadway on the East  See map at

Little Italy is a general name for an ethnic enclave populated primarily by Italians or people of Italian ancestry, usually in an urban neighborhood.  The concept of "Little Italy" holds many different aspects of the Italian culture.  There are shops selling Italian goods as well as Italian restaurants lining the streets.  Find a list of Little Italys around the world at

Sea salt is produced through evaporation of ocean water or water from saltwater lakes, usually with little processing.  Depending on the water source, this leaves behind certain trace minerals and elements.  The minerals add flavor and color to sea salt, which also comes in a variety of coarseness levels.  Table salt is typically mined from underground salt deposits.  Table salt is more heavily processed to eliminate minerals and usually contains an additive to prevent clumping.  Most table salt also has added iodine, an essential nutrient that helps maintain a healthy thyroid.  Sea salt and table salt have the same basic nutritional value, despite the fact that sea salt is often promoted as being healthier.  Sea salt and table salt contain comparable amounts of sodium by weight.

Collage derives its name from the French verb coller, to glue.  The work of art is made by gluing things to the surface.  Collage became an art form during the Synthetic Cubist period of Picasso and Braque.  At first, Pablo Picasso glued oil cloth to his surface of Still Life with Chair Caning in May of 1912.  He glued a rope around the edge of the oval canvas.  Georges Braque then glued imitation wood-grained wallpaper to his Fruit Dish and Glass(September 1912).  Braque's work is called papier collé (glued or pasted paper), a specific type of collage.

Which Planets Are the Gas Planets? by Lisa Dorward   There are four planets in our solar system that are collectively known as the “gas giants,” a term coined by the twentieth-century science fiction writer James Blish.  They are also called “Jovians,” as Jove is the Latin name for Jupiter, the  largest of the four.  The gas planets are made up almost entirely of gases, primarily hydrogen and helium. While they might have near-solid inner cores of molten heavy metals, they have thick outer layers of liquid and gaseous molecular hydrogen and helium and metallic hydrogen.  Jupiter's mass is 318 times greater than Earth's. Jupiter’s magnetic field is 20,000 times stronger than Earth’s and it has the strongest radio emissions of any planet in the solar system.  Jupiter is surrounded by a thin ring of dark material and as of April 2011 has 63 known moons in orbit around it, the largest of which are Io, Europa, Ganymede and Calliso.  Saturn has the lowest density of any planet in our solar system.  It has a rocky core composed of liquid metallic hydrogen and elements consistent with the primordial solar nebula (gaseous cloud) that formed the solar system. Saturn’s most prominent feature is its rings, first observed by Galileo in 1610.  Uranus is the only gas giant with its equator at a right angle to its orbit.  It was also the first planet to be discovered through a telescope.  It has 13 known rings that are dark and composed of dust and particles up to 10 meters in diameter.  Uranus has 5 large moons as well as 10 smaller ones that were discovered by the Voyager 2 probe.  The methane in Uranus’s upper atmosphere is what gives the planet its blue color.  Neptune’s existence was the first to be predicted by mathematical calculations before the planet was actually seen.  Neptune's mass is approximately 17 times greater than Earth’s.  Its winds can reach up to 2,000 km per hour, the fastest in the solar system.  Like Uranus, Neptune appears blue due to the methane in its atmosphere, but Neptune also has vivid blue clouds; it is not known what gives the clouds their color.  Like all the other gas giants, Neptune has rings.  Prior to images from Voyager 2, these rings were only visible from Earth as faint, dark arcs.  Neptune has 13 known moons, the largest of which is Triton.  Triton is the only large moon in the solar system that orbits its planet in the opposite direction of its planet’s rotation.

A gas giant, also known as a jovian planet after the planet Jupiter, gaseous giant, or giant planet, is a large planet which has at least ten times the mass of Earth, located in the outer solar system.  Unlike terrestrial planets whose composition is rocky, gas giants have a mostly gaseous composition, such as hydrogen and helium.  They do have some rocky material, although this is most often found in the planet core.  The four gas giants are (in order of distance from the Sun):  JupiterSaturnUranus, and Neptune.  Astronomers sometimes categorize Uranus and Neptune as “ice giants” because their composition differs from Jupiter and Saturn.  This is because they are mostly composed of water, ammonia, and methane.

A terrestrial planet, also known as a telluric planet or rocky planet is defined as a planet that is composed primarily silicate rocks or metals.  In our solar system, the terrestrial planets are the inner planets, the ones closest to the Sun.  Terrestrial and telluric are from the Latin words for Earth (Terra and Tellus) because these planets composition is similar to that of the Earth.  The four terrestrial planets are (in order of distance from the Sun):  MercuryVenusEarth, and Mars.  Other than Earth, it is believed that the conditions on Mars are the most hospitable for life.  It may have had life there in the past, and there may still be life on Mars today.  The extreme conditions on Mercury and Venus are too harsh to sustain and nurture life.

Feedback   FYI, Sept. 5 will be the 40th anniversary of the launch of Voyager 1, which is still operational.  I heard that a few years ago, its manufacturer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, offered to extend its warranty provided it’s returned to their facility for repair.  Thank you, Muse reader!

Chocolate Giant Ferrero to Look for Innovation at Cornell Tech:  Italian manufacturer of sweets and chocolates is setting up an innovation outpost at Cornell University’s technology campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City by Keiko Morris   Global chocolate giant Ferrero International S.A. plans to bring its open innovation science division to the Bridge at Cornell Tech, according to Forest City New York, which developed and manages the commercial building.  Ferrero will join investment firm Two Sigma Investments LP and Citigroup Inc. at the building, which is set to open in September 2017 as part of the first phase of the $2 billion campus.  Ferrero will take 4,200 square feet of space at the Bridge.  Cornell Tech will occupy about 39% of the 230,000 square-foot building, which features a grand staircase in the lobby, an entrance area with plenty of spots to socialize and a rooftop common area with 360-degree views of New York City.  Issue 1762  August  29, 2017  On this date in 1885, Gottlieb Daimler patented the world's first internal combustion motorcycle, the Reitwagen.  On this date in 1930, the last 36 remaining inhabitants of St Kilda were voluntarily evacuated to other parts of Scotland.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Arctic is a frozen ocean.  Antarctica is a continent covered in ice.  *  The Nile is the world's longest river, stretching about 4,000 miles from its source in central Africa to the north coast of Egypt, where it flows into the Mediterranean.  *  Steamboat in Yellowstone National Park is the world's tallest active geyser, spouting water and steam 325 feet into the air.  *  Istanbul is the only city built over two continents--split by the Bosphorus Strait, with Europe on one side and Asia on the other.  *  Hundreds of life-size model soldiers made from terracotta were buried in central China more than 2000 years ago.  The soldiers were made to protect  the tomb of the first Emperor of all China, Qin Shi Huangdi.  *  Easter  Island heads in a remote area of the Pacific are stone statues, some as tall as 33 feet high.  *  Encyclopedia of Amazing Places, Discover Famous Places of the World by Robert Hamilton 

"Our five senses are incomplete without the sixth sense--our sense of humor."  Actual courtroom exchanges:  Were you acquainted with the deceased?  Was this before or after she died?  *  I have to kill you because you can identify me.  Did he kill you?  *  Do you remember the day of your birth?  No, but I've been told about it.  *   You worked seven days a week?  A lot of times I worked more than that.  *  Medical reports from early nineteenth century Missouri death records:  Went to bed feeling well, but woke up dead.  *  Cause of death unknown; had never been fatally ill before.  *  Advertisements:  Try our cough syrup.  You will never get any better.  *  FOR SALE:  Instant coffee table.  *  More Anguished English by Richard Lederer

August 24, 2017  Kevin Kemp and Jennifer Alexander were planning to raze a home that they bought recently on Riverside Drive in Dublin, Ohio to build a new house on the property, when Kemp and a friend, Larry Daniels, decided to remove some paneling for reuse.  “We pulled off one of the pieces of paneling and I said, ‘Larry, that’s a log,’”  Kemp recalled.  “We pulled off another and I said, ‘My god, this is a log cabin.’”  Behind the knotty-pine paneling and drywall were walnut and beech logs, some more than 16 inches wide and 30 feet long.  More deconstruction revealed the prize: a perfectly preserved two-story log cabin, probably built between 1820 and 1840.  Experts say it’s one of the largest and best-preserved log cabins discovered in central Ohio.  The remarkable find prompted Kemp and Alexander to halt their planned demolition and contact the city of Dublin.   “I was just amazed when I walked in and saw the cabin,” Assistant City Manager Michelle Crandall said.  “I knew when I walked in we had to find a way to salvage it.”  The city hired the Columbus company Structural Erectors to dismantle the cabin, at a cost of about $27,000, with the hope of rebuilding it elsewhere.  The logs will be tagged as they are removed and stored in a city barn until the cabin can be reconstructed.  No site has been selected, but Tom Holton, president of the Dublin Historical Society, would like to see the cabin rebuilt in Coffman Park on Emerald Parkway.  Jim Weiker  See pictures at

Domestic goats live in southwestern Morocco, where the climate is dry and in some seasons the only available forage is in the trees.  So the goats climb up to get it.  Goats are good climbers—some sure-footed species live happily on mountains, leaping from ledge to ledge.  But these domestic goats are not born with an ability to climb trees.  They learn the technique as kids.  Their keepers help them climb, and they trim the trees to make it easier for the kids.  The goats eventually learn to do it themselves. In the autumn, when there is little food on the ground, they spend most of their time grazing the treetops.  Now researchers have found that the trees benefit, too.  Many animals eat the seeds of plants and then defecate them at another location.  But the seeds of the argan trees that these goats graze on are about an inch long and a half-inch across—too big for a goat to pass.  Fortunately for the trees, goats are ruminants:  They chew their cud and regurgitate it to be rechewed before being swallowed for good.  The researchers suspect that while the goats ruminate, they spit out the large seeds, often far away from the mother plant, increasing the chance of seed and seedling survival.  Nicholas Bakalar  See pictures of goats in trees at  Thank you, Muse reader!

The Swiss Mittelland or the Swiss Plateau (plateau suisse in French, Schweizer Mittelland in German) constitutes one of the three major landscapes in Switzerland alongside the Jura Mountains and the Swiss Alps.  It covers about 30% of the Swiss surface.  It comprises the regions between the Jura (in the west) and the Alps (in the south and southeast).  In the southwest, the Swiss Mittelland further is confined by the Lake Geneva Region, in the north and northeast by the Rhine and Lake Constance.  The Swiss Mittelland is by far the most densely populated region of Switzerland, and the most important with respect to economy, agriculture and transportation.

The Eden Project (CornishEdenva) is a popular visitor attraction in Cornwall, England.  Inside the two biomes are plants that are collected from many diverse climates and environments.   project is located in a reclaimed Kaolinite pit, located 2 km (1.2 mi) from the town of St Blazey and 5 km (3 mi) from the larger town of St Austell, Cornwall.  The complex is dominated by two huge enclosures consisting of adjoining domes that house thousands of plant species, and each enclosure emulates a natural biome.  The biomes consist of hundreds of hexagonal and pentagonal, inflated, plastic cells supported by steel frames.  The largest of the two biomes simulates a Rainforest environment and the second, a Mediterranean environment.  The attraction also has an outside botanical garden which is home to many plants and wildlife native to Cornwall and the UK in general; it also has many plants that provide an important and interesting backstory, for example, those with a prehistoric heritage.  The clay pit in which the project is sited was in use for over 160 years.  In 1981, the pit was used by the BBC as the planet surface of Magrathea in the 1981 TV series of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  By the mid-1990s the pit was all but exhausted.  The initial idea for the project dates back to 1996, with construction beginning in 1998.  The work was hampered by torrential rain in the first few months of the project, and parts of the pit flooded as it sits 15 m (49 ft) below the water table.  The first part of the Eden Project, the visitor centre, opened to the public in May 2000.  The first plants began arriving in September of that year, and the full site opened on 17 March 2001.  The Eden Project was used as a filming location for the 2002 James Bond film, Die Another Day (starring Pierce Brosnan).  Read more and see many pictures at

Succotash Salad  Salting and draining the zucchini beforehand prevents this summer salad from getting watery.
Potato-and-Pickled-Beet Salad  Homemade pickle brine is whisked into a vinaigrette for this light, tangy potato salad.
Freezing fresh corn  With sharp knife, slice off as many kernels of corn from the cob as possible.  Heat large skillet to medium.  Add one tbsp. unsalted butter per ear.  Cook stirring about one minute.  Spread on baking sheet to cool.  Freeze one hour.  Then transfer to resealable freezer bags.  Martha Stewart Living  July/August 2017

E-mail - By far the most popular means of communicating over the Internet, e-mail allows you to send a message directly to another person or group of people. Messages can range from short to long and may include quotes or attached files.  Chat - Chat is a conversation between two or more people that takes place in a chat room.  The chat room software allows a group of people to type in messages that are seen by everyone in the "room."  Instant messages - Instant messaging is something of a cross between chat and e-mail.  It allows you to maintain a list of people that you wish to interact with.  You can send messages to any of the people in your list, as long as that person is online.  Sending a message opens up a small window where you and your friend can type in messages that each of you can see.  Newsgroup - a newsgroup is a continuous public discussion about a particular topic.  Newsgroups are decentralized, which means that the messages are not maintained on a single server, but are replicated to hundreds of servers around the world.  Listserv - Most of us probably belong to one listserv or another.  Every time you register for a newsletter, such as the free HowStuffWorks newsletter, you are placed on a listserv.   Basically, this is a type of broadcast e-mail.  Information on a listserv is sent to everyone who is listed in the e-mail group on the server.  Read much more at

The Safe Homes Coalition (SHC), a nonprofit started in San Diego to raise awareness about the proper use, storage and disposal of prescription medication, offers these tips:  Organize and keep careful track of prescribed and over-the-counter medications.  Keep stronger medicines separate from items more commonly found in medicine cabinets, keep medicines in the original bottle or container that it came in and never mix medications in the same bottle.  Keep medicines secure.  Ensure that all lids close tightly, and treat medications like you would other valuables.  Make sure they are concealed when guests or visitors are in your home.  The SHC even recommends installing a lock box in your medicine cabinet.  Search for controlled substance public disposal locations at  Issue 1761  August 28, 2017  On this date in 1609, Henry Hudson discovered Delaware Bay.  On this date in 1789, William Herschel discovered a new moon of Saturn:  Enceladus.  On this date in 1830, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's new Tom Thumb steam locomotive raced a horse-drawn car, presaging steam's role in US railroads.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Hidden deep in the south-east corner of the Greek island of Evia, above a twisting maze of ravines that tumbles toward the Aegean Sea, the tiny village of Antia clings to the slopes of Mount Ochi.  As you travel here along a dizzying road from Karystos, through a mythical landscape of megalithic ‘dragon house’ stone tombs and giant Cyclopic boulders, you’ll hear an ancient siren song reverberating against the mountain walls.  That’s because for thousands of years, the inhabitants of Antia have used a remarkable whistled language that resembles the sounds of birds to communicate across the distant valleys.  Known as sfyria, it’s one of the rarest and most endangered languages in the world--a mysterious form of long-distance communication in which entire conversations, no matter how complex, can be whistled.  For the last two millennia, the only people who have been able to sound and understand sfyria’s secret notes are the shepherds and farmers from this hillside hamlet, each of whom has proudly passed down the tightly guarded tradition to their children.  But in the last few decades, Antia’s population has dwindled from 250 to 37, and as older whistlers lose their teeth, many can no longer sound sfyria’s sharp notes.  Today, there are only six people left on the planet who can still ‘speak’ this unspoken language.  According to Dimitra Hengen, a Greek linguist who accompanied me to Antia, sfyria is effectively a whistled version of spoken Greek, in which letters and syllables correspond to distinct tones and frequencies.  Because whistled sound waves are different from speech, messages in sfyria can travel up to 4km across open valleys, or roughly 10 times farther than shouting.  Today there are as many as 70 other whistled languages in the world, and they all exist in remote mountain villages like Antia.  Eliot Stein  Read more and see pictures at

Poet Mary Oliver is an “indefatigable guide to the natural world,” wrote Maxine Kumin in the Women’s Review of Books, “particularly to its lesser-known aspects.”  Oliver’s verse focuses on the quiet of occurrences of nature:  industrious hummingbirds, egrets, motionless ponds, “lean owls / hunkering with their lamp-eyes.”   Oliver’s poetry has won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and a Lannan Literary Award. Reviewing Dream Work (1986) for the Nation,critic Alicia Ostriker numbered Oliver among America’s finest poets, as “visionary as [Ralph Waldo] Emerson.”  Mary Oliver was born in 1935 in Maple Heights, Ohio.  She attended both Ohio State University and Vassar College, but did not receive a degree from either institution.  As a young poet, Oliver was deeply influenced by Edna St. Vincent Millay and briefly lived in Millay’s home, helping Norma Millay organize her sister’s papers.   See also "Maria Shriver Interviews the Famously Private Poet Mary Oliver" at

Anything worth thinking about is worth singing about.  "And Bob Dylan Too" (excerpt) by Mary Oliver

I recently received a donation of about 200 books and, in sorting through them, found Ghosthunting Ohio by John B. Kachuba.  Some of the places rumored to be haunted serve food and, for those who want to visit, here's a selection:  Amber Rose in Dayton, Golden Lamb in Lebanon, Granville Inn in Granville, Palm Court in Cincinnati, The Levee House in Marietta, and Main Street Cafe in Medina 

Treasure from a recent book donation:  Joy of Cooking, sixth edition by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker  Illustrated by Ikki Matsumoto and Ginnie Hofmann  The 1975 JOY is the bestselling edition of all time.  John, Marion's husband, was a major contributor to the 1975 edition as an editor and source of erudite literary quotes.  Besides testing recipes for this edition, the outdoorsman contributed backpacking menu suggestions, a section especially valuable to hikers, campers, and hunters.  Special features in this edition include the Know Your Ingredients chapter, which reveals vital characteristics of commonly used ingredients, detailing how and why they react as they do, how to measure them, how to substitute one for another, as well as what to look for when buying them. The book also includes information on nutrition, cooking processes and methods, and storing and preserving food.  The how-to illustrations number around 1,000, and this edition contains over 4,500 recipes.   TIPS from Joy of Cooking:  Cut fresh or frozen bread with a very sharp hot knife.  Make quick butter spreads--to softened butter, add small amounts of one or more of the following:  lemon juice, dry mustard, horseradish, herbs, grated cheese.  Chill until spreading consistency.

Gars (or garpike) are members of the Lepisosteiformes (or Semionotiformes), an ancient holosteian order of ray-finned fish; fossils from this order are known from the late Cretaceous onwards.  The family Lepisosteidaeincludes seven living species of fish in two genera that inhabit fresh, brackish, and occasionally marine, waters of eastern North AmericaCentral America and the Caribbean islands.  Gars have elongated bodies that are heavily armored with ganoid scales, and fronted by similarly elongated jaws filled with long, sharp teeth.  All of the gars are relatively large fish, but the alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula) is the largest, as specimens have been reported to be 3 m (9.8 ft) in length; however, they typically grow to 2 m (6.6 ft) and weigh over 45.3 kg (100 lb).  Gar flesh is edible and the hard skin and scales of gars are used by humans.  The name gar was originally used for a species of needlefish (Belone belone) found in the North Atlantic and likely taking its name from the Old English word for "spear".  Belone belone is now more commonly referred to as the "garfish" or "gar fish" to avoid confusion with the North American gars of the family Lepisosteidae.  Confusingly, the name "garfish" is commonly used for a number of other species of the related genera StrongyluraTylosurus and Xenentodon of the family Belonidae.  The genus name Lepisosteus comes from the Greek lepis meaning "scale" and osteon meaning "bone".  Atractosteus is similarly derived from Greek, in this case from atraktos, meaning arrow.  Read more and see pictures at

The traditional distinction between the verbs enquire and inquire is that enquire is to be used for general senses of ‘ask’, while inquire is reserved for uses meaning ‘make a formal investigation’.
In practice, however, enquire, and the associated noun enquiry, are more common in British English while inquire (and the noun inquiry) are more common in American English, but otherwise there is little discernible distinction in the way the words are used.  Some style guides require that only inquire or only enquire be used.  Both words derive from the Old French enquerre, from a variant of the Latin inquirere, based on quaerere 'seek'.  The same root word can be seen in various modern English words, including acquirerequireconquerquestrequestinquest, and question

August 17, 2017  CROWDCASTING  Surkus is a new app you’re about to hate that helps businesses manufacture an instant cool factor.  It achieves this by paying people— technically users, but might as well call them actors—to go wait in line or patronize a bar like movie extras.  Sounds like the service-industry equivalent of buying Twitter followers, except, as founder Stephen George tells the Washington Post, Surkus sees itself more as an “online matchmaker” for your city’s nightlife.  The company claims to have amassed an army of 150,000 users in five cities (New York, L.A., Chicago, San Francisco, and Miami).  They’ve already gummed up the tables, bar areas, door lines, and floor space at 4,200 events for some 750 clients, but you’ll never know which places because discretion is a prereq for participating.  Users can reportedly haul in as much as $100 per event, though the average is more like $25 to $40, with women oftentimes getting paid “considerably more” than men.  Clint Rainey  See also and

President Trump got in on the meme game August 24, 2017 with a retweet of an image that shows him "eclipsing" his predecessor, Barack Obama.  The original tweet from Jerry Travone featured the image, which included the caption "THE BEST ECLIPSE EVER!"  See the Travone tweet plus images of "the only eclipse i want to see today" showing Bernie Sanders eclipsing Trump and one of Barack Obama eclipsing Trump at  Issue 1760  August 25, 2017  On this date in 1981, Voyager 2 spacecraft made its closest approach to Saturn.  On this date in 1989, Voyager 2 spacecraft made its closest approach to Neptune, the second to last planet in the Solar System at the time.  On this date in 2012, Voyager 1 spacecraft enters interstellar space becoming the first man-made object to do so.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Mount Desert Island (MDI) is the largest island off the coast of Maine and the second largest (behind Long Island, New York) on the eastern seaboard of the United States.  Widely known as the home of Acadia National Park and the town of Bar Harbor, it draws millions of visitors each year yet only has an approximate year-round population of about 10,615.  Many visitors to the area, as well as those about to visit, are confused about how to pronounce the word “Desert” as used in Mount Desert Island.  By most who live in Maine, it is pronounced more like “Dessert” as in a cookie or a piece of pie.  Mount Desert Island in Maine owes its name to French Explorer Samuel de Champlain, who reflected on the island’s treeless mountain summits and named it “Ile de Monts Deserts,” which means “island of the bare mountains.”  At 1,532 feet, Cadillac Mountain is MDI’s highest point—and the first place in the continental United States to welcome the sunrise each day.

All natural fiber rugs are flatwoven and can be reversed.  Instead of using wool or cotton, plant-based fibers such as jute, bamboo, coir and sisal are tightly woven together to create a mat or rug.  Traditionally these rugs were used outdoors or in entryw ays, but recently have been used indoors in family rooms and bedrooms to create a casual look and feel.  Machine-made versions of these area rugs now incorporate cotton into the weave so they are much softer underfoot.  Often natural fibers are bleached or dyes are used to create more decorating options, however, over time most natural fiber rugs darken to their original color.  Read about jute, seagrass, coir, sisal and bamboo rugs--and find the advantages and disadvantages of natural fiber rugs at

Pomelo, also called Chinese grapefruit, shaddock, pumelo, pommelo, pummelo and pompelmous, is an exotic large citrus fruit that is an ancient ancestor of the common grapefruit.  It is the largest of the citrus fruits with a shape that can be fairly round or slightly pointed at one end (the fruit ranges from nearly round to oblate or pear-shaped).  The fruit can range from cantaloupe-size to as large as a 25-pound watermelon and have very thick, soft rind.  The skin is green to yellow and slightly bumpy; flesh color ranges from pink to rose.  Like grapefruits, pomelo can range from almost seedless to very seedy, from juicy to dry, from sweet to sour.  It is sweeter than a grapefruit and can be eaten fresh, although membranes around the segments should be peeled.  Pumelos commonly have 16 to 18 segments, compared to most grapefruit that have about 12 segments.  Be sure to refrigerate and use quickly.  Use as you would grapefruit sections.  They are also good for jams, jellies, marmalades and syrups.

Pundit is a lovely word that has a slightly mocking sense to it.  Classic examples of the pundit are talk radio show hosts and professional sports commentators, all brilliant dispensers of hot air amongst the odd insight and statistic.  Our modern day pundit is a far cry from the original meaning of the word, a "learned man, master, or teacher," from the ancient Hindi word payndit.

An Architect and an Artist Walk Into a Barn by M.H. Miller   Chester, New Jersey is a tiny, bucolic community of horse farms, where families of deer amble down narrow roads and rolling hills loom hazily in the distant skyline.  There, at the end of a dirt path, is a sight so unexpected that it feels as if it had descended from another world, quietly and without explanation:  the country home of the artist Cai Guo-Qiang, designed by his friend Frank Gehry.  Cai is best known for what he calls ‘‘outdoor explosion events,’’ public installations in which the medium is gunpowder, his signature material.  Gehry shoulders the burdensome mantle of being the World’s Most Famous Architect:  The phrase ‘‘Bilbao effect’’—which was coined after he designed an outpost of the Guggenheim Museum in what had been a depressed postindustrial Spanish town—has entered popular usage as a means of explaining how the presence of a marquee architect’s buildings, and Gehry’s in particular, can transform a city’s fortunes.  Contemporary art and architecture are often thought of as contiguous, at least since the postwar era, when the division between various practices—sculpture, painting, design—began to collapse.  It’s rare for a living architect to be considered an actual artist, and artists generally avoid creating habitable structures.  Gehry is unusual in his ability to straddle both worlds.  He’s had exhibitions of his designs at galleries and museums, and he’s described his buildings as having ‘‘movement and feeling.’’ Read much more and see pictures at

The United States Secret Service uses code names for U.S. presidentsfirst ladies, and other prominent persons and locations.  The use of such names was originally for security purposes and dates to a time when sensitive electronic communications were not routinely encrypted; today, the names simply serve for purposes of brevity, clarity, and tradition.  The Secret Service does not choose these names, however.  The White House Communications Agency assigns them.  WHCA was originally created as the White House Signal Detachment under Franklin Roosevelt.  Traditionally, all family members' code names start with the same letter.  Find code names for presidents and their families, vice-presidents and their families, and various officials at

The name-letter effect is the tendency of people to prefer the letters in their name over other letters in the alphabet.  Whether subjects are asked to rank all letters of the alphabet, rate each of the letters, choose the letter they prefer out of a set of two, or pick a small set of letters they most prefer, on average people consistently like the letters in their own name the most.  Crucially, subjects are not aware that they are choosing letters from their name.  Discovered in 1985 by the Belgian psychologist Jozef Nuttin, the name-letter effect has been replicated in dozens of studies, involving subjects from over 15 countries, using four different alphabets.  It holds across age and gender.  People who changed their names many years ago tend to prefer the letters of both their current and original names over non-name letters.  The effect is most prominent for initials, but even when initials are excluded, the remaining letters of first and family names still tend to be preferred over non-name letters.  Most people like themselves; the name is associated with the self, and hence the letters of the name are preferred, despite the fact that they appear in many other words.  People who do not like themselves tend not to exhibit the name-letter effect.  A similar effect has been found for numbers related to birthdays:  people tend to prefer the number signifying the day of the month they were born on.  Alternative explanations for the name-letter effect, such as frequent exposure and early mastery, have been ruled out.  In psychological assessments, the Name Letter Preference Task is widely used to estimate implicit self-esteem.

The Paneveggio forest, smack in the middle of Italy's stunning Dolomite mountain range, holds a precious resource:  its Norway spruce trees have been producing top quality resonance wood for cellos, violins and pianos for centuries.  Violinmakers since the legendary crafter of stringed instruments Antonio Stradivari in the seventeenth century have praised the wood's unflawed, compact and uniform density.  Only trees grown in optimal conditions and an unchanging mountain climate have the very narrow growth rings needed to produce wood capable of transmitting pure, harmonious sound waves.  Musicians and musical instrument makers still visit the forest at the foot of the Pale di San Martino to select their trees, just as Stradivari did hundreds of years ago.  Part of the Paneveggio-Pale di San Martino Nature Park, the Paneveggio forest is part of the Fiemme valley where historic workshops still make pianos and musical instruments using this special wood.  Selecting the trees, usually more than 200 years old, takes an uncanny ability and exceptional knowledge of the raw material and the soundboards made from these majestic Norway spruce.  The Magnifica Comunita' di Fiemme, an ancient form of self government in this Trento valley, still manages a large part of the local forests, strictly overseeing and controlling the certification of the wood and the correct management of the forest.  Every year, in a joint initiative with the Trento tourism agency, the community dedicates trees to imminent musicians performing in the Sounds of the Dolomites summer music festival.  The 'Woods that Play' project underscores the link between the forest and music, between the resonance wood trees and the musicians and composers whose creative genius contributes to the fame of this prized material.
                                                                                                                           Issue 1759  August 23, 2017  On this date in 1898, the Southern Cross Expedition, the first British venture of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, departed from London.  On this date in 1904, the automobile tire chain was patented.  On this date in 1846, Alexander Milne Calder, Scottish-American sculptor, was born.  On this date in 1900, Malvina Reynolds, American singer-songwriter and activist, was born.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Altruism or selflessness is the opposite of selfishness.  The word was coined by the French philosopher Auguste Comte in French, as altruisme, for an antonym of egoism.  He derived it from the Italian altrui, which in turn was derived from Latin alteri, meaning "other people" or "somebody else".  Altruism in biological organisms can be defined as an individual performing an action which is at a cost to themselves (pleasure and quality of life, time, probability of survival or reproduction), but benefits, either directly or indirectly, another third-party individual, without the expectation of reciprocity or compensation for that action.  Altruism can be distinguished from feelings of loyalty, in that whilst the latter is predicated upon social relationships, altruism does not consider relationships.  Read much more at

 “The Realities of Research Data Management is a four-part series that explores how research universities are addressing the challenge of managing research data throughout the research lifecycle.  Research data management (RDM) has emerged as an area of keen interest in higher education, leading to considerable investment in services, resources and infrastructure to support researchers’ data management needs.  In this series, we examine the context, influences and choices higher education institutions face in building or acquiring RDM capacity—in other words, the infrastructure, services and other resources needed to support emerging data management practices.  Our findings are based on case studies of four institutions:  University of Edinburgh (UK), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (US), Monash University(Australia) and Wageningen University & Research (the Netherlands), in four very different national contexts…”  Bryant, Rebecca, Brian Lavoie and Constance Malpas. 2017.  A Tour of the Research Data Management (RDM) Service Space.  The Realities of Research Data Management, Part 1.

The Total Solar Eclipse 2017
seen from Madras, Oregon, on 21 August 2017, at 10:19 PDT (17:19 UTC)  6:05

Comedian Jerry Lewis died August 20, 2017 after a brief illness.  He was 91.  Lewis first gained fame for his frenzied comedy-and-music act with singer Dean Martin.  When that ended in the mid-1950s, Lewis went solo, and by the early ’60s, he had become a top draw in movies such as “The Bellboy,” “The Nutty Professor” and “The Patsy.”  Along the way, he pioneered the use of videotape and closed-circuit monitors in moviemaking, a now-standard technique called video assist.  He first helped raise money for muscular dystrophy in a telethon in 1956. He was so successful, and so devoted to the cause, that children affected by the disease became known as “Jerry’s kids.”  The telethon, long known as “The Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon,” began airing on Labor Day weekend in 1966, and Lewis served as host until 2011.  Joseph Levitch—he changed the name to Lewis as a teenager—was born in Newark, New Jersey, on March 16, 1926.  Entertainment ran in the family:  His father was a vaudeville performer, his mother a piano player.  Lewis occasionally performed with his parents, and by the time he was a teenager he had developed his own act.  In 2015, the Library of Congress announced it had acquired a huge collection of films and documents from Lewis, including copies of his most popular films, home movies and spoof films made by Lewis at home, which sometimes starred neighbors such as Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh.

Popular Whodunit Howdunit Whydunit Books
Whodunit, Whydunit, Howdunit:  French's Dublin Murder Squad series
The Best Whodunits, Howdunits, and Whydunits, a list of 21 films 

WHAT A TROOPER!  Does this phrase look correct to you?  It’s okay if it does because using trooper instead of the correct word is a very common mix-up.  In the phrase above, you should use trouper instead of trooperOne reason for the trooper and trouper confusion is because both words come from the same root word, troupe.  The Middle French language gave us the word troupe, which then meant a band of people.  In the 1540s, English got troop (and thus trooper) from this word, adapting it to mean a body of soldiers.  Then, in the 1820s, we began using troupe in English to mean a group of performers, a member of which is a trouper.  I got this etymology information from a website I absolutely love, called Online Etymology Dictionary.  If you ever are interested in learning the history of a word, I encourage you to visit this site for a thorough and easy-to-understand explanation.  Erin Servais

Let the People Know the Facts:  Can Government Information Removed from the Internet Be Reclaimed? by Susan Nevelow Mart   Read 31-page paper at

THE GREAT AMERICAN READ (w.t.), a new eight-part television series and nationwide campaign from PBS will launch in spring 2018 with a multi-platform digital and social campaign leading up to a list of 100 books selected by the American public and an advisory panel of literary professionals.  Featuring testimonials from notable figures from the entertainment, sports, news and literary worlds, the series will end with the first-ever national vote to choose “America’s Best-Loved Book.”

List of winners of the Wallace Stevens Award.  Named for Wallace Stevens, the award was established in 1994 by the Academy of American Poets, to "recognize outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry", and grant $100,000.  The 2017 winner is Jorie Graham.

Jorie Graham was born in New York City and raised in Rome, Italy.  She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris before attending New York University as an undergraduate, where she studied filmmaking. She received an MFA in Poetry from the University of Iowa.  Graham is the author of numerous collections of poetry, most recently Fast:  Poems (Ecco, 2017), From the New World:  Poems 1976-2014 (Ecco, 2015), Place:  New Poems (Ecco, 2012), Sea Change (Ecco, 2008), Never (Ecco, 2002), Swarm (Ecco, 2000), and The Dream of the Unified Field:  Selected Poems 1974-1994 (Ecco, 1997), which won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.  She has taught at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is currently the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University.  Issue 1758  August 22, 2017  On this date in 1717, Spanish troops landed on Sardinia.  On this date in 1770,  James Cook named and landed on Possession Island, and claimed the east coast of Australia for Britain as New South Wales