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Archive for March, 2011

Winner: Pluto

Tonight Pluto, formerly the smallest planet in the solar system, celebrated a giant win. He was this close to playing a perfect game, a feat which had been accomplished only once before, many years ago by Trish the Dish. If he had been paying more attention at that Pakistani buffet he has been eating at recently, maybe he would have known that the Pakistani cuisine that cooks food in a metal pan is Balti. Of course, if he hadn’t guessed right on more than a few questions, the whole Balti curry thing would have been a moot point. Often in this game it’s better to be lucky, than good.

Good Question!: In Scandanavian mythology, name the great hall of the god Odin, where the heroes killed in a battle enjoyed a glorious afterlife of feasting & drinking?

Answer: Valhalla

Although we often enjoy a night of feasting and drinking in Main Street Cafe, I was curious to learn more about Odin and Valhalla. Why is it just feasting and drinking? Where are the maidens?

Odin is the chief divinity of the Norse pantheon, a god of war and death, but also the god of poetry and wisdom. He hung for nine days, pierced by his own spear, on the world tree. Here he learned nine powerful songs, and eighteen runes.

Odin’s attributes are the spear Gungnir, which never misses its target, the ring Draupnir, from which every ninth night eight new rings appear, and his eight-footed steed  Sleipnir. Odin has only one eye, which blazes like the sun. His other eye he traded for a drink from the Well of Wisdom, and gained immense knowledge. BTW, Wednesday is named after him (Wodan).

The Norse tales tell of the Valkyries, led by Freyja, plucking up the souls of fallen heroes and bringing them back to Asgard, where they are destined to live with Odin in Valhalla. In some beliefs this is also a metaphor for individuals leading a life dedicated to a higher spirituality. The Norse saw death in battle as a metaphor for one giving up their mundane lives and dedicating themselves to a higher cause then their own selfish needs. Such individuals were chosen by the Gods in the afterlife. … Those who worked for a higher cause were chosen by Odin to live with him in Valhalla, and work with him in his quest to struggle against the gigantic forces of Chaos.

The Valkyries in Germanic legend, were attendants of Odin, messengers and hostesses at Valhalla. Female warriors on horseback. Normally invisible, those who can see them are about to die heroically and be taken to Valhalla, where they spend eternity at banquets drinking beer served to them by the valkyries. So I guess they are the Norse version of  the Islamic maidens.

sources: wikipedia, pantheon.org

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Co-winners: Driver Shea and Droppin’ Dave

Tonight’s game was a smaller, but closely contested event. Driver Shea and Droppin’ went back and forth and at the end it was a dead heat. Pluto followed closely behind, maybe distracted by the “lipstick on his collar” (and also his cheek). I’m not telling.

We were surprised to learn that in Uganda the most popular food product is banana, especially cooked banana and banana beer. In fact, each adult in Uganda consumes over 3 times his body weight annually in bananas! Darin has just put Vermont’s Long Trail ale on tap (which is quite good), maybe next time we’ll get to sample some banana beer.

Good Question!: Aside from the amusing reference popularized by Frank Zappa, what is the usual cause of  a large scale “yellow snow” weather effect seen in certain parts of the world

Answer: Pollen

Yellow snow is real. You may think snow is white, but other colors of snow exist including black, red, blue, brown, and even orange snow. Snow is white in the purest form, but there are other reasons for colored snow.

You may have heard the joke as a child – Don’t eat the yellow snow.  On his album Apostrophe’, Frank Zappa’s mom was very concerned: “watch out where the huskies go, and don’t you eat that yellow snow”.

Take a listen to his “Don’t Eat That Yellow Snow” .

Urine in the snow can indeed make snow yellow, but it is not the only cause of yellow snow.

There are three main types of yellow snow not caused by urine-marking of animals. The one we are interested in occurs when the snow itself is full of pollen or pine. The golden appearance of the snow can be spread over a large area.

Here is what one southern blogger wrote recently about the pollen in the spring that can be so bad that it’s often referred to as “yellow snow” :

“With any luck, we will have enough rain to wash the yellow snow off our decks, porches and cars. Yellow snow began falling about a week ago. Oh, you don’t know what yellow snow is? Perhaps you call it something different in your neck of the woods.

In the South, especially in Atlanta and surrounding cities, yellow snow is commonly known as pollen. That’s right – pollen. Pollen – or yellow snow, if you will be so kind as to indulge me – begins falling with spring’s very first bloom (which can be as early as March – like this year) and it will fall until usually mid-to-late April.

It is the most beautiful season – Spring – and for many of us – the most miserable. Our eyes water, itch, and turn red like a roadmap. Our nose drips, our voices get raspy and sometimes completely silent. We cough, hack, sneeze, wheeze, cry and whine. We take drugs to stop the symptoms. The drugs make us sleep – even at our desks at work. (Sorry, boss!)

As the season progresses, the pollen gets even thicker. It doesn’t help to wash our cars or pressure wash our decks. The next day you cannot tell we have ever used water on our cars and decks.” Ugh!

This yellow precip was of concern recently in Tokyo. The ‘‘yellow rain’’ seen Wednesday in the Kanto region surrounding Tokyo was caused by pollen, not radioactive materials as many residents had worried, the Japan Meteorological Agency said Thursday.

The agency received more than 200 inquiries Thursday morning about yellowish residue left on roofs and elsewhere by the rain, stirring concerns that radioactive substances had fallen after accidents caused by the March 11 quake and tsunami at a nuclear power plant around 220 kilometers northeast of Tokyo.

According to the Environment Ministry, large amounts of air-borne pollen were seen in the Kanto region and they fell with the rain on Wednesday.

sources: YouTube, banana2008.com, musingsofedwina.blogspot.com, weather.about.com

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Winner: Droppin’ Dave

While Droppin’ Dave was the clear winner, there was a three way tie for second place in this St. Patrick’s themed game. The Luck of the Irish was working for Margaret the Red tonight and even for the brother – sister duo of coffee Bill and Paula.  But we all were winners with special T-shirts, shamrock necklaces and those special shamrock cookies homemade by Tiffany.

Good question!: Who was the man responsible for The Guiness Book of Records?

Answer: Sir Hugh Beaver

In1954, Sir Hugh Beaver, then the managing director of the Guinness Breweries, went on a shooting party in Ireland and became involved in an argument over which was the fastest game bird in Europe.That evening he realized that it was impossible to confirm in reference books whether or not the golden plover was Europe’s fastest game bird.

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Beaver knew that there must be numerous other questions debated nightly in pubs throughout Ireland and Britain, but there was no book with which to settle arguments about records. He realized then that a book supplying the answers to this sort of question might prove popular.

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He hired student twins Norris and Ross McWhirter, who had been running a fact-finding agency in London to compile what became The Guinness Book of Records in August 1954. One thousand copies were printed and distributed to pubs as conversation pieces while patrons enjoyed a pint of Guiness. 

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After founding the Guinness Book of Records at 107 Fleet Street, the first 197-page edition was bound in  August 1955 and went to the top of the British bestseller lists by Christmas. “It was a marketing give away—it wasn’t supposed to be a money maker,” said Beaver. The GBofR is now the biggest selling copyrighted book of all time with over 100 million books sold since 1955.

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Several world records that were once included in the book have been removed for ethical reasons. By publishing world records in a category, the book may encourage others to try to beat that record, even at the expense of their own health and safety. For example, The Guinness Book dropped records within their “eating and drinking records” section of Human Achievements in 1991 over concerns that potential competitors could do harm to themselves and expose the publisher to potential litigation. These changes included the removal of all liquor, wine, and beer drinking records, along with other unusual records for consuming such unlikely things as bicycles and trees.

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Here are  few examples of typical material to be found in GBofR:
in the “Human Being” section of Guinness – Mr. and Mrs. Mills Darden were an ordinary American couple except that he weighed 1,020 lb. and she weighed 98 lb., a difference of 922 lb.
in the “Animal and Plant Kingdom” section-the cheetah is announced to be the fastest mammal and the three-toed sloth the slowest. A collie named Bobbie, who was lost by his owners in Indiana, found his way back home to Oregon–a journey of almost 2,000 miles, which included crossing the Rockies in the dead of winter.

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Approximately one quarter of Guinness is devoted to sports. The latest Olympic records are, of course, included; but so is the record for running 100 yd. backwards (12.7 sec.). In February 2008, NBC aired The Top 100 Guinness World Records of All Time and Guinness World Records made the complete list available on their website – guinnessworldrecords.com. There are some very strange feats listed there, it’s worth a look.

Claudio Paulo Pinto had no problem popping the record for ‘eye-popping the furthest’. Pinto can pop his eyeballs 7 millimeters (0.3 inches) out of their sockets. Pinto says he’s been doing this since he was nine years old and ‘it doesn’t hurt a bit.’

Seventeen people — fully set ablaze — walk around a field in South Russell, Ohio, as they break the Guinness World Records mark for most people fully engulfed in fire at the same time. The group remained on fire for 43.9 seconds.

Israeli couple Karmat and Dror kissed for 30 hours and 45 minutes to set a new world record. For nearly 31 hours they didn’t eat, drink, talk or even go to the bathroom, and the whole time they were standing up. Maybe too much of  a good thing.

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Rights to the book, which has evolved from an almanac into a glossy, hard-cover item replete with a holographic cover, 3D images and a gatefold, were acquired in February 2008 by the Jim Pattison Group, a conglomerate that also owns “Ripley’s Believe it or Not!”.

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Incidentally, in case you were wondering what the answer is to Sir Hugh Beaver’s original question: the fastest game bird is the red breasted merganser (Mergus serrator) which has a recorded air speed of 80 mph in level flight.

sources: nydailynews.com, trivia-library.com, guinnessworldrecords.com

Thanks to our special Guest Blogger this week Rosebud

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Co-Winners: Driver Shea and Droppin’ Dave

This Tuesday was Mardi Gras night at Main Street.  Beads and crazy glasses were provided for those in the spirit, and Darin did a great job of composing a themed quiz for the occasion, along with some tasty snacks.  Fat Tuesday indeed.  The quiz was hard – who knew that pancakes are a traditional food on Mardi Gras, let alone why they are traditional?  Arty and Droppinʼ Dave tied for first with a barely respectable 12 out of 20 correct, followed by Bren and Ellen tied for second.  Thanks to Daphne for once again running an entertaining game.

Good question! Who was Americaʼs fattest president ?  (This question riffed on the “fat” of Fat Tuesday)

Answer: Not Bill Clinton in his pre-heart-condition double cheeseburger days, but William Howard Taft our 27th president, 1908 to 1912.

During his presidency, Taft reached the maximum weight of his life, at 340 pounds.  He was always a big guy, already over 200 pounds when he entered Yale, where he disliked his nickname “Pudge”.  There is an apocryphal story of Taft getting stuck in the White House bathtub, and he required specially constructed chairs to be available when he travelled.  Taft also suffered from the weight-related problem of snoring and sleep apnea – a stoppage of breathing during sleep that prohibits the sufferer from getting deep, restful sleep.  As a result he was constantly falling asleep during the day – at his desk, in church, at meals, and in meetings.  On an ironic note, Taftʼs military aid in the White House was Major Butt.

Taft was unique in other ways as well.  He is the only person to be both president and chief justice of the Supreme Court, a job he took after leaving the presidency, and one to which he had always aspired.  He served on the court with several justices that he himself had appointed, and swore in both Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover to the presidency.  During his presidency he championed the 16th amendment to the constitution, which created the income tax and a million CPAs.  He was also the last president to sport facial hair – a grand mustache.

” In the year following his presidency, Taft successfully dieted away 70 pounds by avoiding potatoes, any kind of bread, and fatty meats and fish.  He never regained the lost weight and lived an apnea-free life for another 17 years after the presidency.  When he died he became the first president to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  He has been joined there only by JFK.

” The title of “fattest” leads naturally to thinking about “thinnest”.  It’s probably a tossup between Lincoln and Obama.   “Tallest” is a tie between Lincoln and LBJ, at 6ʼ4”, with, surprisingly, Jefferson second at 6ʼ2 1/2.  James Madison leads the list of shortest presidents at 5ʼ4”, with Van Buren and Harrison in second place at 5ʼ6”.  If there was a way to measure the density of a person, Iʼm sure George W. Bush would be our most dense president.

Thanks to our special Guest Blogger this week – Droppin’ Dave.

Source: Wikipedia

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