G’day, skull!

June 30, 2011

Like most people, most of my historical knowledge comes mainly from reading and documentaries (and a very small amount from my school days – darned incompetent social studies teachers). The older I get the more I appreciate history, which is why I’m so happy that I have a new source of history in the form of the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcasts. The most recent episode was about Ned Kelly, who was a 19th century “bushranger,” which is the Australian equivalent of a bandit/outlaw in the wild west. He’s been in the news lately because archeologists think they’ve found his remains, though the location of his skull remains a mystery (it wasn’t buried, was used as a paperweight by police for a while, then donated to an anatomy academy, and finally stolen). I hope you’ll start listening so I have someone with whom to discuss them. They are usually about 20 minutes long so they make great commuting fare when you’re not in the mood to listen to music or don’t have the time for an audiobook.


Career #4?

June 28, 2011


So it’s time for a change and I have to figure out my next move. So as I was making drinks at a friend’s party the other day I thought that maybe bar tending would be a good career move. The majority of my knowledge about the job comes from the movie Cocktail, starring Tom Cruise, and based on that film it looks like a lot of fun. Of course, in real life nobody wants the bartender to be the star of the show while they’re trying to have a good time or impress the girl.But it worked out for the bartender in the end – Tom did end up with Elizabeth Shue. So what does it take to become a bartender? Well, not much. In NYC (where there are approximately 3,000 establishments with a bar) you don’t have to be certified, but there are certification schools that I presume make a bartender more attractive to employers. A course at one of these that I looked up is 40 hours long and costs $600. In order to “graduate” students must be able to make 20 drinks in six minutes, which sounds impressive to me.

Another new chapter

June 27, 2011

I haven’t learned much in the past few days. I’ve been relaxing and celebrating the end of the school year before I get ready to start a brand new chapter in my life starting Monday. But just because I haven’t learned as much as usual doesn’t mean I haven’t learned anything. I learned that the Woolworth Building in NYC was once the tallest building in the world, and was paid for with cash (NYC documentary). I learned that Americans in Paris in the 1830s could go to the Louvre on any day with their passport while Parisians were limited to Sunday only (The Greatest Journey). I also learned that the average temperature in Valencia, Spain in its coldest month (January) is over 50 degrees F (hosting F1 race this weekend).


June 20, 2011

Yesterday was Father’s Day and I went to see my Dad, of course. I’m blessed with having a great relationship with my father, something I try not to take for granted on any day, never mind this holiday. In keeping with the spirit of this blog, I looked up Father’s Day and discovered that the first one in America was in Spokane, Washington on June 19, 1910. Amazingly, it didn’t become an official U.S. holiday until Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972. Considering how important fathers are, it’s surprising that it took so long. Perhaps the reluctance stems from the way that most fathers (especially the good ones) are a bit uncomfortable when being recognized. I must confess that the day makes me a bit sad, and I could see it becoming one of my least favorite days in the future.

Sexy books

June 19, 2011

I’ve gone digital with all my reading material these days, and that includes newspapers. Today I was reading the iPad version of USA Today (which I prefer to The Daily, which I tried for a while) and was alarmed by a statistic I read in an article. It turns out that on average American adults have sex 120 times a year!  Even if they are massively exaggerating when given this survey, I have fallen hopelessly behind and will never catch up. And I can’t even use being single as an excuse – it turns out that single people have sex 130 times a year. But as a consolation, I can take pride in knowing that I read way more books than the average American in a year (4 is the average). But that’s probably because I have more time due to the lack of sex. Sigh.

A glorious day

June 16, 2011

I picked a great year to get into hockey! For some reason I started watching the Bruins starting with the first playoff series against Montreal, and just kept with it since playoff hockey is amazing to watch. It also fills the void left by my disdain for the NBA these days, a big change from my younger days when I loved the NBA more than anything and would watch my Sixers play the Celtics on a static-riddled 10-inch black and white television. Also, the Stanley Cup is the coolest trophy ever. The original cup was created in 1892, and as you can see it’s had different looks over the years. And it will continue to grow in the future, adding rings to the bottom until it’s too big for even hockey players to lift.

Vancouver Island

June 13, 2011

I was watching the hockey game the other day with a buddy and he mentioned that he had looked up Vancouver Island and told me some cool facts about it. This prompted me to look for more information about this very large island that appears to be stabbing the northwest corner of the United States. It’s the warmest place in Canada, with coastal temperatures above freezing even in January. The summers regularly see temperatures in the 80s and even 90s. Three-quarters of a million people live on the island, mostly on the eastern coast. There is a significant mountain range (part of the Pacific “ring of fire”) with peaks as high as 7,000 feet. It’s missing some of Canada’s signature animal species though – no grizzly bears, moose, skunks or coyotes, which probably makes camping there a bit more relaxing. One fact that really stood out is the precipitation on parts of the island. On parts of the west coast it rains as much as 250 inches a year on average! The more populated eastern side sees as little as a tenth of that.


June 9, 2011

With today’s crazy-high temperatures, I decided to look up the hottest day on record for Rhode Island. It turns out that it was 104 degrees F on 2 August 1975 in Providence. The Earth has a fever!


A Civil Weekend

June 6, 2011

I must have had a good weekend, because I forgot all about this blog. So what did I learn? Well, I looked up Civil War artillery to see what advances were made after the American Revolution. It turns out that rifling was use to improve accuracy (rifling is grooves in the barrel to control the spin of the projectile) and that “shells” were used along with solid projectiles (such as the classic cannonball) to inflict greater damage on infantry. Oh, and I learned that the average life expectancy of an artillery horse was only eight months since they were overworked and were big targets during battle.

Cold Turtle Soup

June 2, 2011

I was conversing with a couple of students after school yesterday when a mixup created a question I had to answer. One conversation was about the temperature in the room, and the other was about how quickly something was going to be done, to which the answer had something to do with the speed of a turtle. Mixing all of this together raised the question in my brain about the body temperature of a turtle. I figured they were “cold-blooded” and this was confirmed. Interestingly, the body temperature of a snapping turtle can go all the way down to a few degrees above freezing, as the turtle’s blood will function as a type of anti-freeze during hibernation.