Archive for February, 2012

Winner: Coffee Bill

It was a quiet night, and the Coffee man, sitting quietly at the end of the bar, edged out Marilyn and Rosebud. Not sure whether it was his knowledge of how to cook a raccoon, or that one should bring a lady rocky mtn oysters when courting, that made the difference. Among the players he bested was Trish the Dish, a former champion, who showed a bit of rust in her game and finished back in the pack. Notice the beef jerky and spam prizes on flannel shirt night. Tres Chic.

Good Question!: How many feet away is suggested as a safe distance to escape from an alligator?

Answer: 15 feet   (well, maybe not)

This is an important question because you never know when you may run into an alligator, who are “opportunistic feeders” and will eat anything in sight, including other alligators. Although WikiHow says 15 feet, here is what the University of Georgia has to say: “Although they may look slow and awkward, alligators are extremely powerful and can move with a startling burst of speed on land over short distances. The myth of running in a zig-zag pattern to escape a chasing alligator is unnecessary as alligators tire quickly and run in a straight line themselves. It is highly unlikely to be chased by an alligator but as a precaution, a safe distance from an adult alligator should be maintained at about 60 feet. If the alligator hisses or lunges at you, you are too close.”   

The good folks at the university go on to advise to keep your pets and children away from alligators, to avoid swimming in areas that are known habitats for large alligators, and not to corner alligators. They clearly know what they are talking about and this sounds like good advice (DUH!).

Alligator Serenade

When not running from alligators, you might want to serenade them with one of your fave alligator songs. How about “Alligator Bogaloo’ by Clarence “Gatemouth’ Brown? Or everyone’s fave: “See You Later Alligator” by Bill Haley and the Comets.

This song was recorded at the Decca Building in New York City and was featured in Rock Around the Clock, a musical film Haley and the Comets began shooting in January 1956. Decca records released this disk on February 1,1956 in both 45 and 78 formats, whatever that means.

Here is a classic, grainy black and white scene from the movie “Rock Around the Clock”, which introduced the world to Rock ‘N Roll:

sources: srelherp.uga.edu, wikihow.com

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Winner: Pluto

On a night when confusion reigned, Pluto emerged victorious, followed by Driver Shea, Sean, and Duncan. Two new players paid their money, then watched helplessly as the game started without them. Art had taken their money, wished them well, then left them high and dry – no answer sheets, no answer cards. Miss Vicki, where are you when we need you?

At the conclusion of the game there was a serious misunderstanding about the X’s and O’s. Sheena of the Jungle and Shannon were announced as the winners, but alas, that was not to be, and Sheena was heartbroken. Turns out that Art was using reverse polish notation to score, and his X’s meant right, not wrong – got it?

Tonight’s game focused on Black History month and we got a chance to reflect on MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the mall in Washington, D.C. in 1963.

We learned that Nation of Islam thug Thomas Hagan assassinated Malcolm X in the Audubon ballroom in 1965. To  learn more about Malcolm X and his complex, contradictory persona, visit the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, which has an  informative exhibition that has been extended to March 7, 2012.

BTW, we have been asked to wear flannel shirts and john deere hats to the game this week – guess we are going to be a shit kicking, country bar for one night.

Good Question!: At it’s height, what was the slave population of the United States.

Answer: Around 1 million   (WELL, NOT EXACTLY!)

Actually, that 1 million is a serious understatement. The number of slaves in America just before the Civil War was 4 million, with an economic value close to $4 billion. Now you know why the South went to war.


Not long after Columbus set sail for the New World, the French and Spanish brought slaves with them on various expeditions. Slaves accompanied Ponce de Leon to Florida in 1513, for instance. But a far greater proportion of slaves arrived in chains in crowded, sweltering cargo holds. The first dark-skinned slaves in what was to become British North America arrived in Virginia — perhaps stopping first in Spanish lands — in 1619 aboard a Dutch vessel. From 1500 to 1900, approximately 12 million Africans were forced from their homes to go westward, with about 10 million of them completing the journey. Yet very few ended up in the British colonies and young American republic. By 1808, when the trans-Atlantic slave trade to the U.S. officially ended, only about 6 percent of African slaves landing in the New World had come to North America.

Who can forget “Roots” and the young Kunta Kinte, who leaves his village to search for wood to make a drum, when four men surround him and take him captive. Kunta awakens to find himself blindfolded, gagged, bound and prisoner of the white men. Haley describes how they humiliate him by stripping him naked, probing him in every orifice, and branding him with a hot iron. He and others are put on a slave ship for the 3 month voyage from Africa.

Colonial slavery had a slow start, particularly in the North. The proportion there never got much above 5 percent of the total population.

Throughout colonial and antebellum history, U.S. slaves lived primarily in the South. After the American Revolution, the Southern slave population exploded, reaching about 1.1 million in 1810 and over 3.9 million in 1860.

How did the U.S. slave population increase nearly fourfold between 1810 and 1860, given the demise of the trans-Atlantic trade? They enjoyed an exceptional rate of natural increase. This was partly due to higher birth rates, which were in turn due to a more equal ratio of female to male slaves in the U.S. relative to other parts of the Americas. Lower mortality rates also figured prominently.

Despite their numbers, slaves typically comprised a minority of the local population. Only in antebellum South Carolina and Mississippi did slaves outnumber free persons.  Less than one-quarter of white Southerners held slaves, with fewer than 1 percent owning more than one hundred. I think it would be fair to say that 1% caused the Civil War. Although, when we visited Charleston SC and Fort Sumter on the 150th anniversary, we were told by the local tour guide that the North had started the war!

In terms of material conditions, diet, and treatment, Southern slaves may have fared as well in many ways as the poorest class of free citizens. But slavery cannot be thought of as benign. The root of slavery is coercion.  By its very nature, slavery involves involuntary transactions.

When did the last black slave in the U.S. die?

Although there is no definitive answer, the evidence, to date, leads to the conclusion that the last black born into slavery in the U.S.A., Eliza Moore, died on January 21, 1948, in Montgomery County, Alabama. Not so very long ago!

sources: eh.net (economic history services), www-958.ibm.com, answers.yahoo.com

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Winner: Droppin’ Dave

Tonight’s game, of course, was centered on Valentine’s Day trivia and was followed by a challenging Valentine’s word search contest. Droppin’ finished a bit ahead of Sean and Duncan in the pretty difficult regular game. Who knew that the goddess of marriage was Juno, or that the first known Valentine’s Day card was sent in 1415.

First time player Ashley held up the women’s honor and won the timed Valentine word search contest, finishing in way under 10 minutes. She won a nice gift certificate to Main Street Cafe, but didn’t stay for the winners photo and you can see why – those guys just couldn’t wait to get into the chocolate. Thanks for a great VDay party Darin.

Good Question!: Before it became fashionable to give chocolates and flowers, what was the traditional gift given by  a man to a woman on St Valentines Day?

Answer: A Pair of Gloves

Instead of an expensive dinner, chocolates, and flowers, just a pair of gloves? Now those were the days.

Prior to the Elizabethan era, gloves were worn almost exclusively by men. But, by the late 16th century, gloves became a traditional Valentine’s Day gift for women. In fact, it became custom for a young woman to approach her man of choice and utter the verse: “Good-morrow Valentine, I go today; To wear for you, what you must pay; A pair of gloves next Easter Day.” Having thus been ambushed, the man was expected to send the woman a gift of gloves to wear on Easter Sunday. Sometimes men sent women gloves without an invitation. If the lady wore the gloves on Easter, it was a sign that she favored the gentleman’s romantic overtures.

Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to watch a romantic movie with your sweetheart. How about Whitney Houston’s “The Bodyguard”:

For a nice list of other romantic movie trailers see this article from the CBC News Arts Online.

Valentine’s Day Fun Facts

  •  About 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged in US each year. That’s the largest seasonal card-sending occasion of the year, next to Christmas. Women purchase 85% of all valentines.
  •  California produces 60 percent of American roses, but the vast number sold on Valentine’s Day in the United States are imported, mostly from South America. Approximately 110 million roses, the majority red, will be sold and delivered within a three-day time period.
  • Amongst the earliest Valentine’s Day gifts were candies. The most common were chocolates in heart shaped boxes. Richard Cadbury invented the first Valentines Day candy box in the late 1800s.
  •  In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now means that it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling.
  • The Italian city of Verona, where Shakespeare’s lovers Romeo and Juliet lived, receives about 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet every Valentine’s Day. BTW, Verona has a wonderful bronze statue of Juliet, whose right breast is very shiny from the good luck rubs from tourists from all over the world.
  •  About 3% of pet owners will give Valentine’s Day gifts to their pets. Get a life!

sources: learnenglish.de, smithsonianmag.com,

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Winner: Pluto

Tonight Main Street Cafe was packed – no open tables to eat, no room at the bar. Most everyone was in a festive mood, celebrating the Giants Super Bowl victory. But there were a couple of sad tales. Guys who just missed winning thousands of dollars in their SB pool, when Bradshaw scored his sit down touch down.

We learned that camel’s milk does not curdle, and that insects outnumber people 1 million to one! There was a nice shout out to Randy Newman for his 1977 song “Short People” (can it be that long ago?)

Even though it was tough to hear above the din, Pluto heard enough to forge ahead at the end and just barely beat Rosebud, Driver Shea, and Trevor. Pluto, a big Giants fan for more than 40 years, said he was inspired to finish strong by the Giants win and his Giants Super Bowl cap.

Good Question:

What % of people who use personal ads to date are aleady married?

Answer: 35%

Online dating is a great way for single people to meet, but it is also a very convenient method for married men to use in order to target single women. According to MSNBC, research shows that one third of people using online dating services are married! Other estimates are lower, but most women who use online dating services have more than likely run into a married man sometime in their online dating experience.

How to Stay Clear of Married Men

While these are not sure-fire ways of deciphering if he is married, here are some tips that may assist you in your detection of the married man:

  • He chooses not to post a picture of himself online.
  • He requests your phone number, but will only share his cell number with you, and when you call, you are constantly forced to leave a message.
  • He won’t share his last name with you & is very secretive about where he lives.
  • You never get the chance to meet his friends or family.
  • Look for that dead giveaway: a wedding ring indentation on his ring finger.

Of course, most of these are red flags for single women in the real world, too.

How big is online dating?

Online Dating is the third most popular way for singles to meet, behind school/work and friend/family member, with 1 out of every 5 singles in the United States having dated someone they met online. Online Dating Magazine estimates that there are more than 280,000 marriages a year as a direct result of people meeting on an online dating service and 17% of couples that were married in the last three years met on an online dating service. One explanation for this growth may be that online dating sites make the most money of any legal paid online content.

Match.com US is the world’s largest online dating site based on registered users, although recent lawsuits claim the site allows profiles that are inactive (because of canceled or expired membership) to be left up and searchable even though the person in the profile cannot be contacted. We do know that the number of paying subscribers ($20/month) approaches 1.8 million.

With more than 20 million registered users, eHarmony has emerged as the most serious threat to Match.com. Billed as a safe space for singles looking for a serious relationship, it appeals to a slightly older crowd.

The young, sexy entrant to online dating, OkCupid boasts 7 million active members who fill out quizzes about their preferences and desires. A site popular with those looking for a casual relationship, FriendFinder is owned by the company that publishes adult magazine Penthouse.

Two other dating sites of note:

OurTime.com is online dating for the baby-boomer set. Aimed at single men and women over age 50, it claims to be the largest online dating community for that age group. “I am too old for games and have no time for people who pretend to be someone that they are not,” one member wrote in her profile.

Proving that the 50-plus crowd is one of the fastest-growing groups in the online dating world, OurTime.com says it has over 1 million users with nearly 10,000 people registering every day. It’s free to browse but to read and reply to messages, subscribers pay $9.99 a month for 12 months.

HowAboutWe.com says it’s putting the “date” back in dating by taking the online dating experience offline. The concept is simple — propose a date and see who else is interested.

The website, which was launched by two childhood friends who were dissatisfied with the dating website options, says it’s the antidote to the exhaustive process of online dating. Profiles are simple. Members can browse date ideas by activity, location or time, and can filter their search results based on personal preferences.

Date ideas have included “bring our cameras and go on a photography expedition around town,” “take a beginners class of a language we both want to learn”. There have been more than 500,000 dates posted since it launched in New York in 2010.

How truthfully do individuals represent themselves online for dating purposes ?

Many online daters think that other Internet daters use deception when describing their physical appearance, many cite misrepresentation as the biggest drawback of online dating, and many non-online daters continue to stigmatize online dating as deception-ridden. However, there has not been much valid research conducted on the topic, so most people are left to make their own judgments.

What has been shown is that many people, both online and offline, use some sort of strategic self-presentation in order to appear more attractive to their audience, especially if that audience is a potential date. Furthermore, people often engage in unintentional misrepresentation of varying kinds that are not meant to be harmful or deceitful.

Want to set up the perfect online dating profile, see this advice: jezebel.com

However, there are also several factors that motivate online daters to present themselves honestly, especially the anticipated future face to face interaction.

While the ladies seem to most often misrepresent body type, guys seem to misrepresent height the most on dating profiles. One woman says: “Literally every man I’ve met looked older, balder, heavier, shorter than on his photos. This means that they’re setting themselves up for failure, at least for seeing an instant disappointment in a new date’s eyes.”

Ultimately, dating is a crapshoot, whether online or off. When you stop and think about it, dating – be it traditional courtship or Internet dating – is a process of revealing truths over time.

So when you meet an online date face-to-face, relax and just be yourself. Anticipate the fact that some representations your date had on their online profile weren’t entirely accurate.  Adapt, adjust and enjoy the learning process. Because chances are, your date is adapting and adjusting to the misrepresentations you had on your profile, too.

sources: wesleyan.edu, msnbc.msn.com, dating-service.com

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