Tag Archives: blogging

Joanne Woodard (02/09)

Not only was Joanne Woodward lucky enough to be married to the late, great Paul Newman –


But 39 years ago on February 9, 1960 she was awarded the very first star on Hollywood’s famous Walk of Fame.


And in case you didn’t know;

Hollywood Walk of Fame is an area which consists of eighteen blocks which have been named after the present and past Stars of Hollywood in their honor.

This sidewalk was designed by Californian artist Oliver Weismuller in 1958 to give the place a better look.

In 1978 the Walk of Fame was nominated as a Historic Landmark.

The sidewalk is maintained by the Hollywood Historic Trust and people can get a star on this sidewalk by attending a presentation ceremony and paying a certain fee to the Trust for its maintenance.

All our best to you Joanne Woodard…

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Bilbo Baggins ate Dumbo? (02/03)

I recalled hearing about the discovery of a “hobbit” skull a few years ago and about the debate of whether or not is was a new species of hominid or not.

(the hobbit skull is on the left...)

(the hobbit skull is on the left...)

Well, the debate goes and there are many arguments which you can read about here.

But the topic  I want to bring up is the biological phenomenon by which the size of animals isolated on an island shrinks dramatically over time. That’s the story of our hobbit friend whose undersized bones were found inside Liang Bua cave on the Indonesian island of Flores. An island that they shared with Stegodon pygmy elephants, much to the misfortune of the pygmy elephant as “hobbits” ate a lot of them.

Stegodon pygmy elephant

dwarf elephant

How does this phenomenon occur? Well I am glad you asked because I have an explanation (well wikipedia helped):

It is because of Insular dwarfism, a form of Phyletic dwarfism, is the process and condition of the reduction in size of large animals – almost always mammals – when their gene pool is limited to a very small environment, primarily islands.

This effect has made itself manifest many times throughout natural history, including dinosaurs and modern animals such as elephants and human beings.

There are several proposed explanations for the mechanism which produces such dwarfism, which are often considered likely to be co-contributing factors, including an evolved gene-encoded response to environmental stress, as well as a selective process where only the smaller of the animals trapped on the island survive, as food declines to a borderline level. The smaller animals need fewer resources, and so are more likely to get past the break-point where population decline allows food sources to replenish enough for the survivors to flourish.

It just proves that size isn’t everything…

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Fit as a Fiddle (02/02)

Do you remember going through the Presidential Fitness Test in grade school?

Well, this topic came up at lunch today  and to tell you the truth, no one at the table (there were 7 of us) seemed to mind most of it (i.e. sit ups, push-ups, running suicides) – but the one thing that everyone agreed on as the most disliked part of the test was – the pull ups/chin ups.

Hmm…so it is still true that my little sister (who could beat all the boys in her gym class) is the only person I know that loved doing the pull ups/chin ups.

But, I am getting off track here. The follow up to this discussion was which president started this program?

Kennedy? That seemed like a good enough guess, that was until I learned otherwise …

We have this guy to thank:

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Here is a brief history of the program:

The President’s Council on Youth Fitness was founded on 16 July 1956 to encourage American children to be healthy and active children, after a study indicating that American youths are less physically fit than European children, by then President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy then changed its title to President’s Council on Physical Fitness to reflect its role to serve all Americans.

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson created the Presidential Physical Fitness Award, name of which was later changed to President’s Challenge Youth Physical Fitness Awards Program. In 1968, its title was changed to President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports to emphasize the importance of sports in life.

In 1972, the Presidential Sports Award Program was created.

In 1983, the United States Congress declared May “National Physical Fitness and Sports Month”.

In 1996, the Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health was released.

In 1997, the PCPFS released its report on Physical Activity and Sport in the Lives of Boys.

And according to a New York Times blog, in 2008, The Presidential Fitness Test grew up.

Hmm, now I feel like I should be doing some sit-ups or something.

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Spume Me (02/01)

I was on the Amtrak train for most of today, but I did manage to pick up new vocabulary today. (What can I say, some days are more exciting than others)

This word came from David Foster Wallace’s essay, A Supposedly Fun Thing I Will Never Do Again, which is about his experience on luxury cruise ship.

spume |spyoōm| poetic/literary
froth or foam, esp. that found on waves.

verb [ intrans. ]
form or produce a mass of froth or foam : water was spuming under the mill.

spumous |-məs| adjective
spumy adjective

ORIGIN late Middle English : from Old French (e)spume or Latin spuma.

froth or foam or spume

froth or foam or spume

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Long Live the Queen (01/24)

Just catching up from the weekend here…

Before leaving the house on Saturday for a friend’s 30th birthday, I caught a bit of a documentary on the English Parliament because nothing pumps you up  for a Saturday night out like The Queen of England.

Put your hands in the air!

Put your hands in the air!

However, it’s good thing that I took those few moments because it afforded me the opportunity to learn something new.

The Queen is Head of State of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms*.

*(a Commonwealth Realm is any one of the sixteen sovereign states within the Commonwealth of Nations that recognize Elizabeth II as their respective monarch.)

The realms originally were self governing Dominions* within the British Empire. This status changed with the granting of full independence to each realm.

*(Dominions refers to one of a group of semi-autonomous polities that were nominally under British sovereignty, constituting the British Empire and British Commonwealth, from the late 19th century)

The realms are as follows:

Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis

Inadvertently, this has helped me to solve the mystery of the Canadian 20 dollar bill:

Now it makes sense, eh?

Now it makes sense, eh?

I can’t even count the number of times that I have held one these in my hands. Although, at the time I was more likely distracted by the fact that I gave the currency exchange $20 American dollars and they gave me $24 Canadian dollars back. (Why that was a whole drink for free!)

It is probably the fault of the libations consumed that I never questioned the Queen of England presence on this beautifully colored currency. Oh the memories…

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Election of 1796 (01/19)

I knew that Thomas Jefferson was the second Vice President, but I had always assumed that Adams chose him as a running mate. (Oh, assuming and the trouble it will get you into.)

The truth is….

Presidents didn’t always run with an official running mate – The Constitution in 1796 required presidential electors to place the names of two individuals on their ballots; the candidate with the highest vote count, if a majority, became the president and the runner up the vice president.

This proved to be a bit of a predicament in 1796, when Federalist John Adams won the majority vote and Democratic -Republican Thomas Jefferson was the runner up. (This is the only instance that the President & VP were not from the same party.) Naturally , the two clashed over issues such as states’ rights and foreign policy.


Adams (Federalist) & Jefferson (Republican_Democrat)

I learned about this Constitution loop hole from Ken Burns’ documentary on Thomas Jefferson. I would recommend viewing this documentary to learn more or click here

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You know the old saying…

Have you ever caught yourself saying: “You learn something new everyday” – well I have.  I even put it to the test once before, the old fashioned way, in my journal.

Here it is. A record of all I learned in '07.

Here it is. A record of all I learned in '07.

It was a successful experiment and I bought another journal for ’08, planning to continue on – but I didn’t follow through. Shame on me, I know. Don’t get me wrong, I still learned new things everyday, I just stopped keeping track. Recently, my sister mentioned my old project to my older brother and he thought I should write everything down again – only a little less old fashioned this time…

Thus the birth of this blog.

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