Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (c. 1393–1406–1468) was a German inventor and craftsman who introduced letterpress printing to Europe with his movable-type printing press.  Though not the first of its kind, earlier designs were restricted to East Asia, and Gutenberg's version was the first to spread across the world.  His work led to an information revolution and the unprecedented mass-spread of literature throughout Europe.  It also had a direct impact on the development of the RenaissanceReformation and humanist movement.  His many contributions to printing include the invention of a process for mass-producing movable type; the use of oil-based ink for printing books; adjustable molds; mechanical movable type; and the use of a wooden printing press similar to the agricultural screw presses of the period.  Gutenberg's method for making type is traditionally considered to have included a type metal alloy and a hand mould for casting type.  The alloy was a mixture of leadtin, and antimony that melted at a relatively low temperature for faster and more economical casting, cast well, and created a durable type.  His major work, the Gutenberg Bible, was the first printed version of the Bible and has been acclaimed for its high aesthetic and technical quality.  Described as the "man of the millennium", Gutenberg is often cited as among the most influential figures in human history.  He has been commemorated around the world and is a frequent namesake.  To celebrate the 400th anniversary of his death in 1900, the Gutenberg Museum was founded in his hometown of Mainz.  See graphics at  

The first official Groundhog Day celebration took place on February 2, 1887 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  The annual ritual has roots in pre-Christian traditions and was brought to the U.S. by German immigrants.  Falling midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, February 2 is a significant day in several ancient and modern traditions.  The Celts, for instance, celebrated it as Imbolc, a pagan festival marking the beginning of spring.  

January 31, 2023  The last time that the green comet was visible, there were rhinoceros-size wombats living in Australia, along with some ginormous kangaroos.  Though some comets swing by Earth only once, many visit periodically.  Halley’s Comet comes by every seventy-five years or so.  The comet that’s approaching us now—it will be closest to Earth between the first and second of February—is uncatchily named C/2022 E3 (Z.T.F.), and it visits every fifty thousand years.  (If it gets ejected from the solar system before its next loop, however, it won’t return.)  The New Yorker 

January 30, 2023  Ira “Bob” Born, a candy company executive known as the “Father of Peeps” for mechanizing the process to make marshmallow chicks, has died.  He was 98.  Just Born Quality Confections, the 100-year-old family-owned company Born led for much of his life, died peacefully on January 29, 2023.  Born began his life in New York City on Sept. 29, 1924.  His father, Sam Born, was a Russian immigrant who started Just Born shortly before his son's birth.  The family later moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where Just Born is still based.  Bob Born graduated from Lehigh University with a degree in engineering physics.  He enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as a radar specialist and a lieutenant on a destroyer in the Pacific.  Later, the Navy sent him to the University of Arizona and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for graduate work in math and physics.  Born applied to medical school and was accepted, but while he was waiting for his classes to begin, he went to work at Just Born.  He fell in love with the candy business and decided to stay.  In 1953, Just Born acquired Rodda Candy Co., a jelly bean maker that had a side business producing shaped marshmallow candies by hand.  At the time, it took about 27 hours to make the marshmallows.  Bob Born saw the candies’ potential, so he and an engineer at the company designed and built a machine to make them in less than six minutes.  The company's current machines, which are still based on Bob Born's design, now pump out 5.5 million Peeps per day.  Seventy years later, Peeps remain Just Born’s most recognizable candy brand, the company says.    Just Born makes around 2 billion Peeps each year, or enough to circle the globe two-and-a-half times.  It sells the most at Easter, but also has versions sold for Halloween, Valentine's Day and other holidays.  DEE-ANN DURBIN  Issue 2626  February 1, 2023  

Monday, January 30, 2023

Colonel Thomas Andrew “Tom” Parker (born Andreas Cornelis van Kuyk) was an enigma from the day he arrived on a freighter in Tampa Bay, Florida, as an illegal immigrant at about the age of 20 until his death at the advanced age of 87 in 1997.  Colonel Parker is best known as the manager of Elvis Presley, who was probably instrumental in making Elvis the superstar he became.  But in doing so Colonel Parker also benefitted enormously from Presley’s success through his 25 to 50 percent management fee he charged Presley during his career as a singer and performer.  The going fee for managing a performer at that time was apparently about 10 percent.  Later, Parker apparently even increased the fee up to 50 percent.  Before managing Presley’s career, in the 1940’s, Parker had managed the professional careers of such well known stars as Minnie Pearl, Eddie Arnold and Hank Snow.  Also during that time period he performed promotional services to Jimmie Davis, the gubernatorial candidate in the state of Louisiana.  Davis won the election in the late 1940’s, and he felt that Parker had been instrumental in the governor’s success.  In turn, in 1948, Governor Jimmie Davis officially bestowed the honorary title of Colonel in the Louisiana State Militia on Parker.  And from that day on Parker would be known as Colonel Parker.   

January 27, 2023 by MIKE HOUSEHOLDER  A University of Michigan student is one of the world’s foremost “speedcubers,” a person capable of quickly solving a Rubik’s Cube.  He also is an accomplished violinist.  Stanley Chapel says the two fields go hand in hand.  Not only does Chapel say he has equal interest in both, but the 21-year-old says the violin has aided in his speedcubing success.  “Repetition, breaking things down into their smallest fundamental elements, all of these different things that we use to improve at an instrument, and being able to take these into the world of cubing has certainly been a huge help to my progression,” said Chapel, a junior majoring in violin performance at the university's school of music, theater and dance.  Factoring in the time it takes for him to review the cube before placing the blindfold over his eyes, Chapel can solve one in around 17 seconds. 


In August 1814, during the war of 1812, British soldiers set fire to the Capitol building—destroying (or at least probably destroying) the first Library of Congress, which consisted of some 3,000 volumes.  A few weeks later, Thomas Jefferson donated the largest personal collection of books in the United States—between 9,000 and 10,000 volumes.  On January 30th, 1815, President James Madison signed a bill appropriating $23,950 to buy Thomas Jefferson’s library.  According to records from the time, Jefferson sent a total of 6,487 books to kickstart the new Library of Congress, more than doubling its original size. Literary Hub January 29, 2023   

Near the climax of Fritz Lang’s 1927 sci-fi epic Metropolis, an android in disguise delivers an incendiary speech to a crowd of exploited workers.  “You have waited long enough!” she (it?) tells them.  “Your time has come—!”   The robot appears unhinged, her arms flailing wildly and her eyes opened unsettlingly wide.  The mob, however, is emboldened by their leader’s fervor.  They spill into the streets, plow through barricades, climb walls, and push their way up a great staircase to the city’s power center, the Heart Machine.  Literary Hub  January 29, 2023   

Travis and Jason Kelce set to make history meeting in Super Bowl LVII  The Chiefs’ Travis Kelce and Eagles’ Jason Kelce will become the first sibling players to face each other in a Super Bowl.  Feb. 12, 2023 will see Super Bowl LVII played in Glendale, Arizona, and when the proverbial toe meets the ball we’ll be treated to two brothers facing off against one another in the biggest of big games the professional football has to offer.  Issue 2625  January 30, 2023    

Friday, January 27, 2023

The Rio Grande, known in Mexico as the Río Bravo del Norte or simply the Río Bravo, is one of the principal rivers (along with the Colorado River) in the southwestern United States and in northern Mexico.  The length of the Rio Grande is 1,896 miles (3,051 km).  It originates in south-central Colorado, in the United States, and flows to the Gulf of Mexico.  See pictures at   

TOK SEEL (DRIED WHITE BEANS WITH PUMPKIN SEEDS)  In this dish, white beans are roasted until lightly browned, then tossed with toasted, ground pumpkin seeds, fresh cilantro, chives, and scallions, and served with a dash of lemon and a pinch of chopped fresh chile.  This is Pati Jinich’s take on a dish called the tok seal from the Mexican state of Quintana Roo; here, sizzling hot stones are traditionally applied to achieve a roasted effect on the beans (“full” means burnt).  Jinich uses a blend of olive, peanut and roasted sesame oils to approximate the deep taste of the original, and the result is a fresh and delicious, plant protein-packed meal that’s on the table in under half an hour.  Serve with corn tostadas or crusty bread as a side dish or a light main course.  NOTE: Whether home-cooked or canned, be sure to drain the beans and pat dry to avoid excessive splattering.  Portions (3 to 4)--makes about 3 cups   

January 27, 2023  A Court of Appeals judge ruled that “The Novel Reader,” the work that’s been at the center of an international legal battle over its ownership, should remain at the museum as the case works its way through the court system. The Detroit Institute of Arts had the work on loan and doesn’t claim to own it.  It was just here for the Van Gogh in America exhibit which ended on January 22. Now, via this order, the museum must hold on to it for now.  Jenn Schanz

Since 1989, mysterious statues have appeared in Amsterdam.  No one knows the maker, no one knows when they were placed there.  See six pictures including Running man with a violin case and The Fiddler at

High blood pressure is a common condition that affects the body's arteries.  It's also called hypertension. If you have high blood pressure, the force of the blood pushing against the artery walls is consistently too high.  The heart has to work harder to pump blood.  Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).  The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association divide blood pressure into four general categories.  Normal blood pressure  Blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg or lower.  Elevated blood pressure  The top number ranges from 120 to 129 mm Hg and the bottom number is below, not above, 80 mm Hg.  Stage 1 hypertension  The top number ranges from 130 to 139 mm Hg or the bottom number is between 80 and 89 mm Hg.  Stage 2 hypertension The top number is 140 mm Hg or higher or the bottom number is 90 mm Hg or higher.   

British physician and scientist Edward Jenner, who pioneered the concept of vaccines and created the world’s first vaccine—the smallpox vaccine, died on January 26, 200 years ago in 1823.  Wiktionary  Issue 2624  January 27, 2023 

Monday, January 23, 2023

Louis Dearborn L'Amour (né LaMoore; 1908–1988) was an American novelist and short story writer.  His books consisted primarily of Western novels (though he called his work "frontier stories"); however, he also wrote historical fiction (The Walking Drum), science fiction (Haunted Mesa), non-fiction (Frontier), as well as poetry and short-story collections.  Many of his stories were made into films.  At the time of his death almost all of his 105 existing works (89 novels, 14 short-story collections, and two full-length works of nonfiction) were still in print, and he was "one of the world's most popular writers".   

Using adverbs is a mortal sin.  Elmore Leonard   

Elmore Leonard (1925 –2013) was an American novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter.  His earliest novels, published in the 1950s, were Westerns, but he went on to specialize in crime fiction and suspense thrillers, many of which have been adapted into motion pictures.   

Dec. 21, 2022  6 Ways to Declutter Your Digital Life for 2023 

1. Hit the Unsubscribe Button

2. Clean Up Your Desktop and Downloads Folder

3. Do a Notification Check

4. Clear Out Your Photos

5. Check Your Browser

6. Clean Up and Update   

50 Chinese New Year recipes posted by Sam and Dan   

Jujube fruit (Ziziphus jujuba) is also known as the Chinese date, jujube, or red date.  The plant is native to China and has been grown in the US for more than 175 years.  The jujube fruit ranges in shape from round to pear-shaped.  It may be as small as a cherry or as big as a plum.  It has a thin, edible skin and whitish flesh.  When ripe, the fruit turns dark red.  After turning fully red, the fruit begins to wrinkle and soften, but it is still edible.  Sharlene Tan  See health benefits at   

January 19, 2023  A federal judge in US District Court in Detroit has asked parties in a lawsuit over the possession of a Vincent van Gogh painting to settle the matter themselves. The artwork, Une liseuse de romans (The Novel Reader), 1888), is currently on loan to the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA).  The museum was sued last week by Brazilian collector Gustavo Soter, who claims that he is its rightful owner.  The museum’s attorneys said the DIA exercised due diligence to ensure the painting was not stolen and that under federal law, the court cannot tell museum officials what to do with it.  The museum is “blameless in this case”, US District Judge George Caram Steeh said, according to WXYZ Detorit.  He added that he could find little legal precedent for the case.  The painting, a scene of a woman reading, has been on view at the DIA since 2 October 2022 as part of the museum’s blockbuster exhibition  Van Gogh in America (until 22 January), which features 74 paintings drawn from the DIA’s collection and more than 60 lenders.  The wall label next to The Novel Reader notes that the painting comes from a private collection in São Paulo.  Claire Voon   

leporine (not comparable)  adjective  (chiefly zoology, also figuratively) Of, relating to, or resembling a hare or rabbitquotations ▼ Synonym:  (shaped like a hare or rabbit) leporiform  (hare):  Synonym: harelike(shaped like a hare) lagomorphic  (rabbit): Synonyms:  cunicularrabbitlikerabbitishrabbity  Issue 2623  January 23, 2023 

Friday, January 20, 2023

Apple pie was brought to the colonies by European settlers.  Apples aren't even native to North America and didn't grow here until the arrival of European settlers.  And cinnamon and nutmeg?  Those came from as far away as Sri Lanka and Indonesia.  America's first cookbook, American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, published in 1796, included two recipes for the fruit-based dessert.  Easy and affordable, apple pie was a typical American cuisine by the 18th and 19th centuries.  Meghan Overdeep  ttps://   

Watership Down is an adventure novel by English author Richard Adams, published by Rex Collings Ltd of London in 1972.  Set in Berkshire in southern England, the story features a small group of rabbits.  Although they live in their natural wild environment, with burrows, they are anthropomorphised, possessing their own culture, languageproverbs, poetry, and mythology.  Evoking epic themes, the novel follows the rabbits as they escape the destruction of their warren and seek a place to establish a new home (the hill of Watership Down), encountering perils and temptations along the way.  Watership Down was Richard Adams' debut novel.  It was rejected by several publishers before Collings accepted the manuscript; the published book then won the annual Carnegie Medal (UK), annual Guardian Prize (UK), and other book awards.  Adams completed a sequel almost 25 years later, in 1996, Tales from Watership Down, constructed as a collection of 19 short stories about El-ahrairah and the rabbits of the Watership Down warren.

Year of the Rabbit  The Rabbit is the fourth of all zodiac animals.  Legend has it the Rabbit was proud—arrogant even—of its speed.  He was neighbors with Ox and always made fun of how slow Ox was.  One day, the Jade Emperor said the zodiac order would be decided by the order in which the animals arrived at his party.  Rabbit set off at daybreak.  But when he got there, no other animals were in sight.  Thinking that he would obviously be first, he went off to the side and napped.  However, when he woke up, three other animals had already arrived.  One of them was the Ox he had always looked down upon.  In Chinese culture, rabbits represent the moon.  Some say it is because the shadows of the moon resemble a rabbit.  Others say it is because of the rabbit’s pure characteristics.  Fefe Ho & Chloe Chiao

Feedback re William Faulkner:  Ole Miss is located in Oxford, MS and Faulkner's home, Rowan Oak, is located and owned by Ole Miss.  I had the pleasure of visiting Ole Miss as a guest of the Chancellor, Dr. Porter Fortune and had many occasions to visit Rowan Oak.  The house was very simple as Mr. Faulkner spent most of his time in town at the local drug store with his friends.  On my first visit I was amazed that the outlines of his books were written on the walls of his home--every last one of them!!  Those outlines remain there to this day.  Thank you, Muse Reader!   

Little Strokes, Fell great oaks. – Benjamin Franklin, statesman, author, and inventor (17 Jan 1706-1790)   

All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster's autobiography. - Federico Fellini, film director and writer (20 Jan 1920-1993)  Issue 2622  January 20, 2023 

Monday, January 16, 2023

William Cuthbert Faulkner was born on September 25, 1897 in New Albany, Mississippi, the first of four sons of Murry Cuthbert Faulkner (1870–1932) and Maud Butler (1871–1960).  His family was upper middle-class, but "not quite of the old feudal cotton aristocracy".  After Maud rejected Murry's plan to become a rancher in Texas, the family moved to Oxford, Mississippi in 1902, where Faulkner's father established a livery stable and hardware store before becoming the University of Mississippi's business manager.  Except for short periods elsewhere, Faulkner lived in Oxford for the rest of his life.  When he was 17, Faulkner met Phil Stone, who became an important early influence on his writing. Stone was four years his senior and came from one of Oxford's older families; he was passionate about literature and had bachelor's degrees from Yale and the University of Mississippi.  Stone mentored the young Faulkner, introducing him to the works of writers like James Joyce, who influenced Faulkner's own writing.  In his early 20s, Faulkner gave poems and short stories he had written to Stone in hopes of their being published.  Stone sent these to publishers, but they were uniformly rejected.  In 1918, Faulkner's surname changed from "Falkner" to "Faulkner".  According to one story, a careless typesetter made an error.  When the misprint appeared on the title page of his first book, Faulkner was asked whether he wanted the change.  He supposedly replied, "Either way suits me."   

Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867) is one of the most compelling poets of the 19th century.  Baudelaire is distinctive in French literature also in that his skills as a prose writer virtually equal his ability as a poet.  His body of work includes a novella, influential translations of the American writer Edgar Allan Poe, highly perceptive criticism of contemporary art, provocative journal entries, and critical essays on a variety of subjects.  Baudelaire’s work has had a tremendous influence on modernism, and his relatively slim production of poetry in particular has had a significant impact on later poets.   

16 Traditional Foods of New Zealand's Māori People by ADRIENNE KATZ KENNEDY/JAN. 7, 2023  Today, those who identify as Māori make up around 17% of New Zealand's population, notes BBC Travel.  Māori kai, or food, primarily consists of plants, fish, and birds indigenous to the island, alongside some traditions and seeds brought with them from Eastern Polynesia.  Māori cuisine, known as kai, distinguishes itself with its fundamental pillars, including kai whanau, food from the land, and kai moana, meaning food from the sea.  It is this acknowledgment of the environment as a resource that must be protected is built into the very language of the Māori people.  Find recipes and pictures at   Thank you, Muse reader!   

On January 21, 1789, Boston publisher Isaiah Thomas and Company published what is generally considered to be the first American novel:  24-year-old William Hill Brown’s The Power of Sympathy:  or, The Triumph of Nature, which sold (albeit badly) for the price of 9 shillings.  It is the classic story of boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, boy and girl find out they’re siblings on their wedding day, girl promptly dies of consumption, boy eventually shoots himself while clutching a copy of The Sorrows of Young Werther to his breast.  You know the tale.  “The Power of Sympathy is not, as might be expected, a feeble echo or slavish imitation of a single British novel; it reflects a number of literary influences,” wrote William S. Kable in a 1969 introduction to the text.  Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, with which it shares its epistolary form, is the most obvious influence, but Kable also detects the impact of Laurence Sterne and Goethe, along with “allusions to La Rochefoucault and St. Evremond; to Swift, Addison, Gay, Shakespeare, and Lord Chesterfield; to Noah Webster, Joel Barlow, and Timothy Dwight.”  Literary Hub, January 15, 2023   

Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is a federal holiday in the United States marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.  It is observed on the third Monday of January each year.  Born in 1929, King's actual birthday is January 15 (which in 1929 fell on a Tuesday).  The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.  The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21.  King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.  The campaign for a federal holiday in King's honor began soon after his assassination in 1968.  President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later on January 20, 1986.  At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays.  It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.  Issue 2621  January 16, 2023 

Friday, January 13, 2023

10 Smallest Rabbit Breeds in the World (With Pictures) by Nicole Cosgrove   

Greenland is the largest island in the world.  Canada has the longest coastline in the world, bordering three oceans with its thousands of islands.  See rankings including:  #1, Sweden (267,570) and #5, United States (18,617) at   

Palmer Hayden (born Peyton Cole Hedgeman 1890, Widewater, Virginia; died 1973, New York City)  After moving to DC at age sixteen to live with an aunt, he took a job as a general laborer for the circus.  In 1912 he enlisted in the military, but due to a mistaken reference letter, he was registered as Palmer Cole Hayden, a name he adopted as his own.  By 1920 he had left the military, and he began to study painting—in New York City with Cooper Union art instructor Victor Perard and later in Boothbay Harbor, Maine at the Commonwealth Art Colony.  When Hayden traveled to Paris in 1927, his painting focus changed from seascapes to genre scenes of the thriving African diaspora in the French metropolis.  Returning to New York in 1932, Hayden continued to paint in this flat, faux-naïf style.  Hayden ironically revisited his military enlistment around this time.  With war imminent in 1939 and African Americans still struggling for equal rights, Hayden appears to parody any enthusiasm for voluntary enlistment.    

Dec. 30, 2022  Last month, Sara Day, a teen services librarian, and her colleague, Sara Vickers, a children’s librarian, led dozens of their colleagues in a short choreography set to Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero,” as part of a session called “TikTok O’ Clock!” at the Young Adult Library Services Association’s 2022 symposium in Baltimore.  Library TikTok is related to, but distinct from, BookTok, a corner of the platform where readers post about their favorite books and which has become a force in book sales.  On library TikTok, there is chatter about books, but librarians also post about resources and events, showcasing libraries as welcoming places for diverse communities.  Making the effort to show up on TikTok tells young people that “we’re here, we hear you, we feel you,” said Celia Greer, 30, a teen coordinator at the Kankakee Public Library in Kankakee, Ill.  The library posted a video that went viral on TikTok earlier this year, earning over one million views—and scoring a comment from Kevin Bacon.  The library then posted a second video celebrating Bacon’s comment, which got more than 30,000 views.  Now, the account is a local phenomenon, she said. 
Lora Kelley   

Looking to book a big trip this year but can't decide where to go?  Well, this is worth a gander:  the experts over at the New York Times have released their annual 52 Places to Go list for 2023.  Grace Beard

To move freely you must be deeply rooted. - Bella Lewitzky, dancer (13 Jan 1916-2004)  Issue 2620  January 13, 2023