Monday, June 14, 2010

Today I learned...

… Have you ever noticed that on US military uniforms, it looks like the US flag is backward? Normally, the flag is hung horizontally in such a way that the stars are on the upper left-hand corner when you look at it straight on. However, on a vehicle or a uniform, it is oriented so that the stars are in the upper right-hand corner. Why? I’ve been told it’s because the US leads the way, so the stars (representing the states) go first.

… The medical use of leeches is called Hirudotherapy. In ancient times, the leeches were used to rid the body of “excess blood” when the skin became flush. Today they are used in a similar way- to keep blood from coagulating during microsurgery and a means to restore blood flow when reattaching severed body parts.

… Actor Tommy Lee Jones played offensive guard at Harvard, where he roomed with two guys who went on to become rather famous themselves: Al Gore and John Lithgow. Sweet. Except for that Al Gore part. I would hate to be forced to spend any time at all with him, especially in a small room. Ick.

…In 1930, a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, followed a burrow in Syria until he found the animal at the other end: a female rodent with 12 babies. These were the first golden hamsters to be found alive in nearly a century. Two pairs of descendents were sent the US in 1938. By 1950, there were approximately 100,000 golden hamsters in the USA… all of whom are descendents of the mother and 12 babies found in Syria in 1930. Thanks, Professor Aharoni!

Today in history....

1985: Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim extremists hijacked TWA Flight 847. “He has pulled a hand grenade pin and is ready to blow up the aircraft if he has to. We must, I repeat, we must land in Beirut. We must land in Beirut. No alternative.” Once on the ground, they executed a US Navy Sailor onboard, throwing his body to the tarmac where it lay for two hours before being removed. The hijackers demanded the release of over 700 Shi’ite prisoners in Israel, Cyprus and Kuwait, plus the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon. The two hijackers held 153 passengers and crewmembers hostage for 3 days, before most were released. Dozens more were held hostage another two weeks before being released.

1940: The first transport of prisoners arrives at Auschwitz- 728 Polish prisoners, including 20 Jews. Less than a year later, there were nearly 11,000 imprisoned there. By the time the camp was liberated by the Soviets on January 27, 1945, an estimated 3 MILLION had been killed. Those not killed in the gas chambers died from starvation, disease, executions, medical experiments and slave labor. Auschwitz is now a museum, hosting 700,000 visitors annually.

1922: President Warren Harding becomes the first US President on the radio, using it during the dedication of the Francis Scott Key memorial in Baltimore.

1876: George Hall, of the Philadelphia Athletics, becomes the first professional baseball player to hit for the cycle. “Hitting for the cycle” means that the player hits a single, double, triple and home run in one game. Bob Meusel, Babe Herman, and John Reilly hold the record for the most cycle games- three a piece. The cycle has been hit 289 times in history, however, no one has done it in post-season play.

1777: Today, in 1777, the Continental Congress replaced the British flag with the new Grand Union flag. Flag Day, as it is now known, is the official day to celebrate our nation’s symbol of freedom, and the price we’ve paid for it. June 14, 1777 is the day the Continental Congress raised the Grand Union flag, replacing the British Union Jack. Our flag is comprised of red and white stripes, and white stars on a blue background. There are 13 stripes, representing the original 13 colonies; 7 are red and 6 are white. The red stripes remind us of the blood that has been shed and the valor shown by so many to create and protect our country and the freedoms we enjoy. The white stripes represent pure motives, innocence, unselfishness, freedom, justice and opportunity. There are 50 white stars, one for each state, which rest on a field of blue. The blue signifies vigilance, perseverance, justice, and the freedom to explore the world and beyond.

1775: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, US ARMY! On June 14, 1775, the US Congress officially adopted the American Continental Army, originally comprised of approximately 27,000 soldiers. The next day, George Washington was appointed as the commander of the Continental Army. Today that number stands at roughly 3 million, half being active duty and the other have in the Reserve.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Today I learned...

... that Americans eat almost 21 pounds of candy per year, per person. Twelve of those pounds are chocolate. Considering that chocolate contains phenyl ethylamine, a natural substance reputed to stimulate the same reaction in the body as falling in love, may have a lot to do with our obsession.

... Popsicles were invented by an 11-year-old boy, Frank Epperson, in 1905. In 1923, he applied for a patent on what he was calling an "Eppsicle". Epperson was a father by then, and his children always referred to them as "Popsicles", since their "Pop" made them. That, of course, is the name that stuck.

... that the Cobb Salad was invented by an LA restaurant owner, Bob Cobb, who was looking for a creative way to use leftovers. He threw in avocado, celery, tomato, chives, watercress, hard-boiled eggs, chicken, bacon, and Roquefort cheese. yummmmm

... that the most popular flavored coffees are Irish Cream and Hazelnut. My favorite, by far, is Irish Cream. Ironically, my least favorite is... Hazelnut. heh.

Today in History

2010: Anderson Township Little League begins their league tournament. Underdog "White Sox" beat the pants off of the Indians, advancing to the next game. Annabelle's son, Slugger, has the game of his life, hitting 2 home runs and pitching a no-hitter. (hey- maybe if I pre-write history, it will come true.)

1976: The Teton Dam bursts in Idaho. 80 billion gallons of water rushed down the valley at 15 miles per hour, killing 11 people, 18,000 head of livestock, and destroyed hundreds of homes. Investigations concluded that the earthen dam collapsed due to design flaws, not construction errors.

1968: Sirhan Sirhan shoots Bobby Kennedy, who died the next day. Just after midnight on June 4, Bobby was in the Royal Suite of the Ambassador Hotel in LA watching primary returns come in. Just after midnight, he walked through a side door into the Colonial Room, where the media was waiting to hear his acceptance speech. It was then that the words, "Kennedy, you son of a bitch!" were heard, followed by eight shots from a .22 caliber pistol. All eight shots found a target. Kennedy was shot once in the head and twice through the armpit. Five others were also wounded, including his speechwriter, Paul Schrade.

1927: Johnny Weissmuller set a new world record in the 100 yard freestyle swim at the University of Michigan. His 51 second record stood for 17 years when it was broken by Alan Ford in 1944. The current record is held by Alain Bernard of France, set on March 22, 2008, at 47.50 seconds.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Today I learned...

... that Jacques Cousteau invented scuba gear while in the French resistance during WWII. Cousteau was born in Saint Andre de Cubzac, Gironde, France on June 11, 1910. Cousteau graduated from the French naval academy in 1929, and headed for aviation school. A near-fatal car accident, however, prevented him from graduating from aviation school and may have saved his life- only one other student from his class survived the opening weeks of WWII. The scuba gear he designed allowed divers to lay mines against their own ships, preventing disabled ships from falling into enemy hands.

... that the male platypus is the Oone of very few poisonous mammals- it has a spur on its back foot from which it delivers a very painful venom.

Today in history...

1942: The Battle of Midway begins. Japanese Combined Fleet commander, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, had planned a "surprise" attack on the American base on Midway, but the US was fully aware of his plans. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, US Pacific Fleet commander, was more than ready with an ambush of his own. The battle raged from the 4th through the 6th, during which both sides took heavy losses. America lost 307 men, an aircraft carrier (the Yorktown), a destroyer and 150 aircraft. Japan, on the other hand, lost over 2,000 men, FOUR aircraft carriers, a cruiser, and about 250 planes. Yeah, I think we won.

1912: Massachusetts passes America's first minimum wage law. It took the federal government 26 years to catch up with Massachusetts: President Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, establishing a mandatory federal minimum wage of $0.25 per hour. Today's minimum wage limit is $7.25 per hour.

1800: The White House was completed, and President John Adams and his wife, Abigail, move in. It survived two major fires- one in 1814 (thanks to the British Canadian Army) and another in 1929. The White House has 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, 3 elevators, and is currently occupied by the least qualified man in US history. OK..that last part is my personal opinion, but I believe history will prove me correct over time!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Today I learned...

... Mark Twain believes the first novel ever written on a typewriter was "Tom Sawyer". Twain wrote the book in 1876, and said that many of the adventures in the book really happened, Huck was based upon a real friend, and Tom is a combination of three different boys he knew in school. Typewriter historian Darryl Rehr believes the first was Twain's "Life on the Mississippi" manuscript. What I want to know: WHO KNEW THERE WAS SUCH A THING AS A TYPEWRITER HISTORIAN??

... Eleanor Roosevelt was the only First Lady to pack heat- and "Eleanor" isn't her first name: Anna is. Both of her parents were dead by the time she turned 10, so she was raised by extended family. President Teddy Roosevelt is her father's older brother, which also means that she was Franklin Roosevelt's 5th cousin. When she married FDR, Uncle Teddy walked her down the aisle. She was a HUGE supporter of racial equality in our military, especially the Tuskegee Airmen. Her racial equality advocacy was a major factor in President Truman's decision to desegregate the military in 1948. One of my favorite quotes EVER is credited to Eleanor Roosevelt: The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of an group of animals I have ever seen. Thank GOD for the United States Marine Corps!

... The most common shoe size for female models is an 8... which explains why I am not a model, with my size 10 1/2 hoofs. It has nothing to do with my wee-bit-bigger-than the average model dress size of 2. Yup. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

... The electric chair was invented by... A FREAKIN' DENTIST. In 1881 Dr. Albert Southwick got the idea after watching an elderly drunk man accidently kill himself by touching the terminals of an electric generator. He thought it looked quick and painless. Oh yeah... totally painless.. just like getting a new crown. No wonder I hate going to the dentist- it really is TORTURE!

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