Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fond Farewell

Farewell : Word on keyboard made in 3D
Photo courtesy

Today is my birthday, and incidentally today ushers in a new chapter in my life.  While I will continue to learn something new every day as I always have, I will no longer take the time to blog about it and tweet about it.

I have enjoyed the blog and interacting with those who have read it and tweeted about it.  I thank all of you who have taken your time to read and tweet, and I especially appreciate the encouragement you offered.

Onward and upward!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Vesalius and the Human Body

Anatomy Body : Illustration of the human body systems
Photo of human body systems courtesy

Today's topic, anatomy, was requested by amanie from Toronto, who is @amislife on Twitter.  

Hippocrates is considered to be the first medical scientist who studied human anatomy.  The Ancient Greek physician, Galen, wrote the definitive books on the human anatomy for that time.  During the Medieval Era dissection of human bodies wasn't done, and knowledge of human anatomy was gained through the work of the Ancient Greek physician Galen.  Medical students read Galen's works and dissected only animals.

Belgian physician Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) is considered the father of modern anatomical study, because he began dissecting human corpses given to him by the criminal courts of people who had been hanged on the gallows.  He discovered and wrote about the inaccuracies in Galen's writings about the human body.  For more information click here and click here.

There is an exhibition in New York, Las Vegas, and Atlanta called Bodies: The Exhibition.  It is described as "A milestone achievement for anatomy education...a celebration of the beautiful and amazing intricacies of the human form."  For the fabulous and informative website click here.

Thanks to amanie, @amislife on Twitter, for suggesting today's topic!  What did you learn today?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Oldest & Youngest Modern Olympics Medal Winners

Map Sweden Denmark : A map of Europe with all countries borders and flags represented.
Photo courtesy

The oldest Olympics medal winner was Oscar Swahn of Sweden.  At the age of 72 years and 281 days he won a silver medal in shooting in 1920.

The youngest Olympics medal winner was Inge Sorensen from Denmark.  At the age of 12 she won a bronze medal in the 200-meter breaststroke in 1936.

For more information click here to view the fabulous TopEnd Sports: The Sports & Science Resource website.  What did you learn today?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

England and the Father of the Modern Olympics

Baron Pierre De Coubertin : Bust Statue of modern Olympic Games father Baron Pierre de Coubertin, at the Museum Colet environments on May 27, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain
Photo of bust of Baron Pierre de Coubertin at the Museum Colet in Barcelona, Spain courtesy

Baron Pierre de Coubertin (1863-937) was a French aristocrat, who chose as his occupation the life of an intellectual, became an educator and historian, and wrote on many topics including education, history, literature, and sociology.  He was profoundly impressed by the physical education opportunities in England, and helped to promote and expand them there, but was not successful in convincing France to do the same.  He romanticized Ancient Greece, and also had strong views about physical education and its effect on society.  All these interests, his theories about physical education, and his idealism caused him to want to revive the Olympic Games, to found the International Olympic Committee, and to take an active part in the administration of the beginning of the modern Olympic games.

The Pierre de Coubertin Medal, also known as The True Spirit of Sportsmanship Medal, is considered the highest award given at the modern Olympics, even higher than any gold medal.

There is a statue of him at the Gateway of Dreams in the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta.  There is also a statue of him where he was buried in Lausanne, the seat of the foundation of the modern Olympics; but as he desired, his heart was buried in a monument near the Olympia ruins, the site of the Ancient Greek Olympics.

For more information click here. and click here.  What did you learn today?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Why Male Cats Are Called Tomcats

Male Cat : Relaxing man and cat on sofa.
Photo courtesy

Male cats used to be called "rams" or "boars" until a popular novel was published in 1760 about a cat named Tom.  The Life and Adventures of a Cat has been attributed to the British author William Guthrie, but authorship hasn't been verified.  For more information click here.  For more terms relating to cats click here.

What did you learn today?

Friday, July 27, 2012

What Is Fun?!?

Fun : View of happy young family having fun on the beach
Photo courtesy

Today's topic was requested by Jes Kay from Canada, who is @JesKay28 on Twitter, and Riddle Me This, who is from Charleston, South Carolina and is @EgoAenigma on Twitter.

The idea of fun is objective, of course, as what may be fun to one person may not be fun to another.  But most people believe that unless you are a delinquent, a psychopath, or a sociopath, then we can all agree that having fun is good for you because it makes you feel good and, for the most part, keeps you out of trouble.  There has been a lot of research done about fun, and the occasional newspaper article written about fun.  For a couple of examples click here and click here.

Then there are those who promote having fun as a way to change everyday behavior.  They also propose that having fun is an antidote to war, because those who enjoy themselves don't often want to have war.  This is embodied in "The Fun Theory".  For more information about The Fun Theory click here.

A couple of final thoughts follow, and they concern having fun that is legal.  Beginning with the premise that sex is fun, be aware if you are in Sweden that prostitution is legal, but it is illegal to use the services of a prostitute...hmm...  And don't forget that driving while blindfolded is illegal in Alabama, so you'll have to get your fun behind the wheel another way when you're driving there.

Thanks Jes Kay, @JesKay28 on Twitter, and Riddle Me This, @EgoAenigma of Twitter, for requesting today's post--that was fun!  What did you learn today?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Punishments for Cheating at the Ancient Greek Olympics

Zeus Bronze : Zeus  Stock Photo
Photo of Zeus bronze statue courtesy

Cheating did occur at times during the Ancient Greek Olympics, and the consequences were often severe.  The athlete was disqualified from participating and could also be whipped.  In addition, the athlete, the trainer, and the city-state where they were from could be charged very high fines.  The fines were used to erect statues of Zeus along the entrance to the Olympic stadium, and inscriptions on the statues warned of the penalties for the offense for which the statue was paid to be erected, so that participants were encouraged to follow the rules.  For more information click here.  What did you learn today?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Multiple Prizes for the Victors of the Ancient Greek Olympics

Olympia : Starting line, the first Olympic Stadium, Olympia, Greece
Photo of the starting line at the first Olympic stadium courtesy

No mere medal was awarded to the winners of the Ancient Greek Olympics.  The prizes were as follows:

1.  500 drachmai, which was a fortune at the time.

2.  A wreath made of olive sprigs, which was the favored plant of the patron god of the games, and was highly prized by the victors as it was believed to carry mystical powers.

3.  A free meal in the City Hall every day for the rest of their lives.

4.  A statue of themselves erected at Olympia's holy sanctuary for the gods that included their name, the names of their family members, and the city where they lived, which would insure their fame and guarantee their heroic status for eternity.

5.  A poem written by a famous poet of the day, which would spread their fame and insure their eternal heroic status.

For more information click here.  What did you learn today?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Women Chariot Racers In The Ancient Olympics

Chariot Race Women : Old engraved illustration of the Return of Helen on quadriga from the Campana collection (Louvre Museum). Dictionary of words and things - Larive and Fleury ? 1895 Stock Photo
Photo of the Louvre's engraving of "Helena's Return in a quadriga" courtesy

In the Ancient Greek Olympics, rich unmarried women participated in the Chariot Races, which was under the category of Equestrian Events.  There were two-horse and four-horse chariot races.  Since only the rich could afford to participate in these particular events, the prizes were not given to the winners, but were given to the horses instead.  In 396 and 392 B.C. a Spartan princess, Cynisca, won the Chariot Races.  For more information click here.  What did you learn today?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Olympics' Symbols and Facts

Olympic Flag : THESSALONIKI, GREECE - MAY 13: At the event of arrival of the Olympic flame in Thessaloniki the flag of the Olympic Games flew into the blue sky on May 13, 2012 in Thessaloniki, Greece Stock Photo
Photo couresty

The five Olympics rings stand for the five continents that participate in the Olympics:  Africa, America, Asia, Australia, and Europe.  The colors of the rings in the Olympic flag--blue, yellow, black, green, red--were chosen because at least one of those colors is found on the flag of every nation.  205 countries will participate in this year's Olympics.  The motto of the Olympics is "Swifter, Higher, Stronger".  For more information click here.  What did you learn today?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Who Was At The Olympic Games in Ancient Greece

Olympics Stamps : United Kingdom - 1948: King George VI commemorative mail stamp printed in the UK on the occasion of the London Olympic Games of 1948
Photo of U.K. stamp commemorating the 1948 London Olympics courtesy

Many famous people from all walks of life participated in the ancient Olympic Games including Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Demosthenes, Hippocrates, and other physicians, philosophers, musicians, artists, historians, poets, and more.  Married women were not allowed to attend the games until after Kallipateira the Pherenice taught her son the art of fighting and trained him for the games, where he won and she was discovered in attendance dressed as a man, and thereafter all women were allowed to attend.  For more information click here and click here.  What did you learn today?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Anything and (Nearly) Everything About...CHEESECAKE!

Strawberry Cheesecake : delicious strawberry cheesecake Stock Photo
Photo courtesy

Today's topic, Cheesecake, was requested by Professional Zombie Killer, who lists his address as "earth", and is @dvindsgyz on Twitter.

The earliest references to cheesecake go back 4,000 years ago.  The Greek physician, Aegimus, wrote a book just prior to the 5th century B.C. on the art of making cheesecakes.  Cheesecake was given to athletes for energy in the first Olympic Games in 776 B.C.

Different types of cheeses are used in making cheesecakes in different countries around the world.  For instance, cream cheese is used in the U.S., and ricotta is used in Italy.  For more information click here.

National Cheesecake Day in the U.S. is just around the corner:  July 30.  On this date many restaurants and cheesecake chains, such as The Cheesecake Factory, offer specials on all types of cheesecake, including the dense & rich New York style, and the light & creamy Philadelphia style.  For more information click here.

There is a Cheesecake of the Month Club, that will send to you, or anyone of your choosing, a cheesecake once a month or in other timely installments.  Professional Zombie Killer lists his address as "earth", so I must assume he will have access to the Cheesecake of the Month Club if he so desires it.  While the club won't specify what kind of cheesecake you will receive each month, they list a picture of a Strawberry Cheesecake, PZK's  favorite, so I assume he would receive one sometime in the year, and probably in June or July or August, which is when strawberries are in season.  By the way, chocolate cheesecake is the number one favorite cheesecake in the U.S., followed by strawberry in second place, and pumpkin cheesecake (?!) in third place.   For more information click here.

Thanks to Professional Zombie Killer, @dvindsgyz on Twitter, for requesting today's topic!  What did you learn today?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Draco Guards the Celestial Pole

Heracles Hydra : GREECE - CIRCA 1970: A stamp printed in Greece, from the ''Hercules' issue shows Hercules killing Lernaean Hydra, circa 1970.  Stock Photo
Photo of 1970 Greek stamp featuring Heracles and the serpent-dragon courtesy

The constellation Draco, the Dragon, can be see throughout the night tonight in the northern sky.  This has been an important constellation for over 4,000 years, when it was believed the celestial pole was the doorway between mortals and eternity, and Draco was the guardian of the celestial pole.  For more information about Draco click here.  For a previous entry on this blog about Draco click here.What did you learn today?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Where the Olympic Flag Lives

Olympic Flag : Olympic flag waving in the sky
Photo courtesy

At the end of each Olympic Games, the mayor of the current host city passes the flag on to the mayor of the next host city, and the flag remains displayed in the town hall of the next host city for four years, until the next Olympic Games.  For more information click here and click here.  What did you learn today?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kids' Favorite Summer Bug

Roly Poly Bug : Close up view of a common woodlice bug isolated on a white background.
Photo courtesy

One of kids' favorite summer bugs, and certainly one of mine when I was a kid, is the Roly Poly Bug, sometimes called the Pill Bug.  They are harmless little bugs because they don't bite nor spread diseases.  What kids find most fascinating is that they will curl themselves into a hard little ball when touched.

Roly Poly bugs are crustaceans, and the only crustacean that lives its life entirely on land.  They live up to two years, like dark & wet places, and eat rotting vegetation.  For more information click here and click here.  What did you learn today?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

It's a Matter of Math & Yellow Pig Day

Yellow Pig : hand inserting a coin in yellow pig moneybox Stock Photo
Photo courtesy

For some mathematicians July 17 is Yellow Pig Day.  The history of Yellow Pig Day began in the 1960's when two Princeton University math students, Michael Spivak and David C. Kelly, were exploring the properties of the number 17 and talking about their interest in yellow pigs while drinking at a local bar.  Spivak went on to found the Publish-or-Perish Press, lecture in mathematics, and write books with yellow pig references.  Kelly went on to become a math professor, to collect yellow pigs, and to collect the number 17 in print.

Yellow Pig Day is celebrated primarily, but not exclusively, where Kelly now teaches, Hampshire College, and specifically on July 17 during the Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics.  On this day mathematicians exchange gifts relating to math and yellow pigs, sing yellow pig carols, and play a game called Ultimate that involves throwing frisbees.

For more information click here for the HCSSiM Yellow Pig Pages, and click here for the HCSSiM page.  What do you do on July 17?  And what did you learn today?

Monday, July 16, 2012

How the District of Columbia Got Its Name

Washington Dc Map : Vintage map of Washington DC
Photo of vintage map of Washington D.C. courtesy

On this day in 1790 the city of Washington in the District of Columbia, was established as the seat of American government with the signing of the Residence Bill.  The city, Washington, was named in honor of President George Washington during his presidency.  The district, District of Columbia, was a feminine form of Columbus, which was used after the Revolutionary War in patriotic poetry and songs describing America and her being a land of freedom.

For more information click here and click here.  What did you learn today?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mouries' Margarine

Oleo : Margarine on spoon Stock Photo
Photo of margarine on a spoon, where it should stay, courtesy

On this day in 1869 French chemist Hippolyte Mege Mouries (1817-1880) was granted a patent for margarine.  He developed this substitute for butter for a contest sponsored by Napoleon III.  Mouries coined the word margarine from the Greek word marganon, which means pearl, because in his experiments he isolated a substance that looked like pearls.

During the Industrial Revolution people migrated from farms to cities to work, which produced a shortage of butter in France.  So Napolean III sponsored the contest for producing a butter substitute, which Mouries won.

Margarine is vegetable oil or meat fats mixed with milk and salt, and dye to give it the yellow color.  Some people say margarine is better for you than butter.  Some people say butter is better for you than margarine.  I just say, "Please pass the butter."

For more information click here.  What did you learn today?

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Meyer Lemon : Meyer Lemon Stock Photo
Photo of Meyer lemon courtesy

My favorite lemon is the Meyer lemon, almost edible right off the tree, more lemon flavor than pucker.  I was first introduced to the Meyer lemon when I lived in San Jose, California, where more houses have citrus trees in their back yards than don't.  Indeed, I had a Meyer lemon tree in my yard, frozen lemon juice in my freezer, and more lemon pies, cakes, bars, butters, sauces, and lemonade than I and my friends could keep in our iceboxes, so most of those spent a lot of time in our freezers, too.

Very often I enjoy what the French call lemon presse or citron presse (click here for the recipe; I make mine with delicious Kal Pure Stevia Extract, not that bad junk sold in grocery stores).  I drink it especially when I've had a heavy meal or my stomach just isn't feeling quite right.  Being in a small city in East Texas right now, I don't have regular access to Meyer lemons except when I travel, so I often substitute limes in this hot drink.

Some doctors have been touting the health benefits of lemons, and I remember reading somewhere a couple of years ago that some doctor said if everyone drank a lemon presse without the sugar every day we could virtually wipe out inflammation and illness.  Click here for more ideas about the curative powers of lemons.

So, what didn't I know about lemons:  the native home of lemons is unknown, but many suspect that it is India.  By 200 A.D. lemon trees were introduced in Italy, and by 1300 they were cultivated widely throughout the Mediterranean region and Asian countries.  The oldest city in the U.S., St. Augustine, Florida, had lemon trees producing fruit by its founding in 1565.

Click here for more information about lemons.  By the way, click here for the best recipes using Kal Pure Stevia Extract.  What did you learn today?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Quiche in Quebec

Quiche Lorraine : Close- up  of  Quiche Lorene with Lettuce and tomatoes salad on a plate.
Photo courtesy

Today's topic, Quiche Lorraine in Quebec, was requested by French-Canadian Lorraine Hetu Manifold, who lives in Park Ridge, Illinois, and is @ManifoldMusic on Twitter.

Click here for a discussion about where to find the best Quiche Lorraine in Quebec restaurants.  If you're in Quebec but prefer to eat in, you can bring home the award winning Plats du Chef mini quiches (click here) from your grocer.  If you're in Quebec City in May and want to enjoy the company of other foodies who enjoy quiche and other French Quebec delights, you may want to attend the Food Camp (click here).

Finally, If you can't get to Quebec but want to sample the fabulous Quiche by Chef Maurice, click here and you can place an order, which will be sent anywhere in the world.

Click here for recommendations of special Quebec foods, and click here for best Quebec restaurants recommendations.

Thanks to Lorraine Hetu Manifold, @ManifoldMusic on Twitter, for suggesting today's topic!  What did you learn today?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tomislav Baynov and His Metrorhythmia

Photo of  Tres Amigos taken by the blogger at the 2012 June Leondar Chamber Music Competition

Three of my piano students form an ensemble called Tres Amigos, and they play six-hand pieces for piano in competition.  A piece they are currently working on to be performed next year is the very modern and percussive piece, Metrorhythmia by Tomislav Baynov (born 1958), which is a piece for one piano-six hands.  Baynov is a Bulgarian composer who promotes, arranges, and composes works for multiple hands and multiple pianos.  He's won many awards, and his percussive works are quite engaging, especially for high school-age boys.

What I didn't know about Baynov is that he started studying piano at age four, won his first competition at age six, and began composing when he graduated high school.  The piece Metrorhythmia contains music that symbolizes his homeland, Bulgaria.  Click here to listen to this piece, and for more information click here.

What did you learn today?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How Turks & Caicos Got Their Name

Turks And Caicos Islands : Sovereign state flag of dependent country of Turks and Caicos Islands in official colors.
Photo of Turks and Caicos Islands flag courtesy

The Turks and Caicos Islands are located in the Caribbean Ocean.  One of the stories concerning their name is: "Turks" comes from the native cactus shaped like a fez; and the term "caya hico" meaning "string of islands".  For more information click here.  What did you learn today?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Whitest Marble in the World

Lincoln Memorial : The Lincoln Memorial stands at the west end of the National Mall as a neoclassical monument to the 16th President.
Photo of the Lincoln Memorial courtesy

The marble used in the beautiful Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D. C. comes from my home state, Alabama.  Alabama marble is the state stone, and is mentioned in the state song (yes, states have representative stones like they have state flowers, state birds, etc.).  This marble is used in banks and other buildings throughout the United States and the world.  It has been called the whitest marble in the world, and rivals the wonderful Italian marble.  For more information click here1 and click here2 and click here3.  What did you learn today?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fable Facts

Aesop : GREECE - CIRCA 1987  A stamp printed in Greece from the  Aesop's Fables  issue showing  The Ass in a Lion's Skin and the Fox , circa 1987
Photo of Greek stamp depicting the Aesop's fable of the The Ass in The Lion's Skin and The Fox courtesy

Today's topic was requested by Isobel Keogh of Perth Scotland, @scots_perth on Twitter.

Fables are short stories that teach a lesson using animals or mythical creatures as the characters in the stories.  Aesop's Fables are arguably the best known fables in the western world, and have been translated into nearly every language.  Fables are found in nearly every culture inside and outside the western world, including Africa, Asia, Sumaria, India, and other countries.

What I didn't know about Aesop, the Ancient Greek writer of the eponymous fables, is that he was born into slavery and later granted freedom, most likely was of African decent, was said to have a speech impediment that was miraculously healed by a deity, was written about by Plato and Aristotle, and many people deny that he was an actual person.

There are many wonderful websites about fables.  Click here for an Aesop's Fables website that includes over 650 fables that are indexed and cross-referenced.  Click here for a website geared toward children that also includes fairy tales and nursery rhymes.

Thanks to Isobel Keogh of Perth Scotland, @scots_perth on Twitter, for today's topic!  What did you learn today?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Gorillas With Guns!

Photo of Six-Gun Gorilla courtesy

Today's topic was requested by Mark Feldthusen from Copenhagen, Denmark, @feldthusen on Twitter.

In the 1930's there was a comic book character called Six-Gun Gorilla.  According to The Encyclopedia of Golden Age Superheroes, this silverback gorilla escaped from a circus-train wreck, strapped on guns, and traversed the Old West seeking vengeance.  This character was featured in a British paper of that time, and has been a contemporary subject for artists who update or reinvent fictional characters in a British forum called Whitechapel.  For more information click here.

Thanks Mark Feldthusen from Copenhagen, @feldthusen on Twitter for today's topic!  What did you learn today?