Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas: Ever wonder why...?

The season is here, but did you ever wonder why...

...people write merry X-mas?
X is the Greek letter that is the ancient symbol for Christos or Christ.

...the celebration is on December 25...when was Christ really born?
The twenty-fifth was officially declared as a holy day until the 4th century AD. scholars believe that the "star" was an alignment of 3 planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars) that occurred in March of 4BC. but this collides with Easter which was firmly established prior to 400AD, so the 25th was kept as the beginning of the church liturgical (calendar) year.

...people sing about birds in the 12 days of christmas carol?
there's tremendous controversy about the song as to whether it was from England or France, or if the song was simply a child's rhyme or a secret code for outlawed Catholics to safely sing when they were being persecuted in England during the late 1500s. birds are especially meaningful as they were game and highly prized in any feast. "four calling birds" is actually a corruption of "colly birds" which refers to any black bird or perhaps cawing birds like crows. the five rings are thought to be ring neck pheasants, which were naturalized in Europe from China.

...don't Christians light more candles?
technically they light candles all year long, but at Christmas they only light 4 on an Advent Wreath. The candles symbolize each week of the period of Advent (the 4 weeks prior to Christmas Day). The practice of lighting candles on the Christmas tree was discouraged due to the number of house fires that occurred around Christmas. people put up Christmas trees?
first a German then later an English tradition, immigrants brought over the tradition to the U.S. and it stuck. the decorated tree was credited to Martin Luther, but chances are he borrowed the centuries-old tradition from Latvia. ancient pagan rituals celebrated trees and large boulders as living (though non-mobile) creatures.

Merry Christmas


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Weird World Series

While the 2008 World Series was halted after 6 innings due to relentless rain and a flooded field, it's not the first time something unusual has marked America's National Pastime Championships.

In 1989 an earthquake ripped through California's Bay Area moments before the start of Game 3 between Oakland and San Francisco. Game 3 was delayed for 10 days.

In 1945, unable to bring his goat into Wrigley Field, Bill Sianis cursed the Chicago Cubs who have never won a WS since.

The longest game: 2005 WS -- 5 hours 41 minutes
Shortest game: 1919 WS -- 51 minutes
Youngest pitcher: Ken Brett, 19.5 years in 1967 WS
Oldest pitcher: Jamie Moyer, 44.9 years in 2008 WS
Tallest player: John Rauch 6' 11"
Shortest player: Donnie Sadler 5' 6"


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Your Data Stolen

The following companies are the most recent victims, they represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ID theft:

AIG -- June 2006 -- personal data stolen from computers -- 930,000 customers
Boeing -- Dec 2006 -- personal date stolen, laptop recovered --382,000 customers
JC Penney -- Jan 2008 --personal data stolen -- 650,000 customers
Google -- July 2008 --personal data stolen -- undisclosed number of employees
Countrywide Home Loans -- Aug 2008 -- personal data stolen, thieves caught -- 20,000 customers

Consumers can't prevent ID theft when it happens to a lender or credit company.
Close accounts, paying off monthly debt and keeping only one or two cards per name limits damage to individual. Report ANY questionable purchase or credit line to company. Watch credit score.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hurricane Season

Technically hurricane season starts June 1, but it's September when most hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean is seen.

Hurricanes are categorized by wind speed, prior to 1991 it was air pressure and wind speed. Cat 1 hurricanes have wind speeds of 75-95, Cat 2: 96-110, Cat 3: 111-130, Cat 4: 131-155, Cat 5: 156 mph and higher. Hurricane Katrina had wind speeds of 175 and higher.

Hurricanes flow in an east to west direction and their winds in a counter-clockwise direction.

Earthquakes are more common than hurricanes. We can only feel 100,000 of the 500,000 of the annual global earthquakes.

New hurricane novel:

Sources: NOAA, National Geographic

Monday, September 15, 2008

presidential quirkiness...

in 1992 Kerrey ran for president.

that's Bob Kerrey, not John Kerry. But both are democrats.

Bob Kerry is married to Sarah Paley. that's Paley not Palin.

John Kerry is husband to Teresa Heinz Kerry. South African by birth, she married Senator Heinz in 1966 and Senator Kerry in 1993.

Sources:, Biographies of Kerrey & Kerry

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cheetahs chirp

Over the years Hollywood has inserted sounds to make animals more or less menacing. Here's a few examples of how The movies played fast and loose with sound:

1. Cheetahs chirp. Young cheetah cubs sound a lot like birds. Cheetahs never roar, but hiss and churr--a sort of throaty growl.
2. Dolphins don't bleat. Dolphins use three primary sounds: Whistles, clicks and chirps. The annoying bleating sound is man-made.
3. Zebras never neigh. Zebras bark or bray, like donkeys. They don't whinny or neigh like a horse.
4. Alligators are quiet. Gators have no vocal chords so the only noises they produce are hisses and an infrasonic bellow that rattles the water around them.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Good bye running buddy

Had to say good bye to our Black Lab,'s a tribute to him and his breed:

Black labs typically stand anywhere from 2.4 feet to 3 feet at the shoulder, they weight 60-100lbs.
They need a good yard, lotsa exercise.
They are subject to shoulder and hip problems, made worse if they become overweight.
Their life expectancy is about 10 to 12 years some make it to 16 or 20 years.
They are the most popular breed/breed mix in the Us and UK (golden retrievers are almost tie)
About 60% of service and guide dogs are lab/lab mixes.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Good bye, Dad...

Friday, May 2, 2008

Safety in numbers?

Spring brings flowers AND those six-legged things that eat them. We can stomp, spray and squash, but insects out number humans by 1.6 billion to 1.

More ...
--There are about 900,000 to 1,000,000 species of the creepy crawly things.
--A type of cave ant was discovered in the Grand Canyon earlier this year.
--The oldest insect fossil dates back to 200 million years ago.
--The most commonly killed insect is not the house fly, but the mosquito.
--The gypsy moth catepillar is the most destructive insect--deforesting (eating all the leaves off of trees) 320,000 acres in one state in one year.
--The average ant can pull 50 times its own bodyweight, the average man, only 80% of his own bodyweight.
--All insects are not bugs. Bug is a term used for only one order of insects (stink bug)


Friday, March 28, 2008

Forget about it!

Did you want to read a good book? Maybe buy one--one that was affordable and self-published?

Too bad.

Read this:

Problem is that self-published books, (aka vanity publishing) are actually out-performing traditionally published ones. Well-written e-books and POD books are available for everyone...well they used to be.

Read this:

Happily ever after: the BUY button on will work for all the books YOU want to read.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Let it snow?

The snowiest place in the US is a record still up for grabs. The National Weather Service uses averages to declare one city or area as having the most snowfall.
And the measurements have to be documented by an observing station. It's possible there's a an unmeasured "winner" in the Rockies.

To-date, however, the snowiest place in the U.S. is Valdez, Alaska with an average snowfall accumulation of 326 inches or 27.2 feet!
Next is Blue Canyon, California with 240" per year. Then Marquette, Michigan--141" with rival city Sault Ste. Maire coming in at 117".

Syracuse, New York rounds off the top 5 snowiest places in the U.S. with a very close 116" of annual snowfall.

Source: The National Climatic Data Center

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


The 2007-08 New England Patriots did not have a perfect season...
it now stands at 18-1, thanks to the New York Giants.

Superbowl XLII was considered one of the biggest upsets in football history.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Super Bowl Craziness

Some odd facts about football and the Big Game:

The Dallas Cowboys have gone to the Super Bowl more times than any other team--8
(and the winning-est--they won 5 of those contests.)

The Denver Broncos are the losing-est team, going to the Super Bowl 6 times but only winning twice.

Three teams in the history of American football have had perfect seasons (no losses, no ties):
1948 Cleveland Browns 14-0
1974 Miami Dolphins 16-0
2007 New England Patriots 19-0

The Chicago Bears are one of the 2 orginal teams to remain in the NFL. All the rest are new or revised franchises.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

While no one knows for sure, the tradition of making resolutions on the first day of the new year may have stemmed from the prayers that were said on the Feast of the Solemnity of Mary (a.k.a. circumcision of Jesus)--celebrated on January 1.

According to the U.S. Government, top 10 resolutions include: losing weight, reducing stress at work and at home, getting a new job, saving money, reducing debt, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake (a result of hangovers?) and taking a trip.

According to goal experts in order to be successful, a resolution-maker must do 2 things: First, be specific, second be realsitic. Best to say losing 30lbs by June for daughter's wedding, rather than just "losing weight this year."

Sources: U.S. Gov't, Making Goals 101