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Archive for June, 2012

Winner: Samantha

Tonight’s game was based on the quiz show, “Are you smarter than a 5th grader?” Alas, most of us found out we were not.

But not Samantha. She almost aced it and became a first time winner. And she did it on her last night with us before heading up to Syracuse for school and work. Ashley was back on the island on business and made sure to rejoin us for a game with friend John. She finished third, while John was left scratching his head saying: “I just passed the CPA exam and it wasn’t as hard as this.”

One of tonight’s questions caused a bit of controversy. Turns out that it’s not only rabbits and parrots that can see behind without turning their heads. Add insects with compound eyes that look in many directions at once, woodcocks with eyes positioned at the back of their head, and chameleons, a group of lizards which have independently-moving eyes. If need be, they can swivel their eyes so they’re looking behind themselves!

Good Question!: There are over 360 species of shark, but how many attack humans unprovoked?

Answer: 4

The United States averages just 16 shark attacks each year and slightly less than one shark-attack fatality every two years. Meanwhile, in the coastal U.S. states alone, lightning strikes and kills more than 41 people each year. Which just goes to show that sharks enjoy a reputation that is arguably more fearsome than their bite.

Sharks have prowled Earth’s seas, essentially unchanged, for 400 million years. Their size, power, and great, toothy jaws fill us with fear and fascination. And though sharks kill only a few people each year, media coverage and movie portrayals of attacks have marked sharks as voracious killing machines.

• Over 375 shark species have been identified, but only about a dozen are considered particularly dangerous. Three species are responsible for most human attacks: great white (Carcharodon carcharias), tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier), and bull (Carcharhinus leucas) sharks. While sharks kill fewer than 20 people a year, their own numbers suffer greatly at human hands. Between 20 and 100 million sharks die each year due to fishing activity, with estimates that some shark populations have plummeted 30 to 50 percent.

• The shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) is often recognized as the world’s speediest shark. It has been clocked at speeds of up to 20 miles an hour (32 kilometers an hour) and can probably swim even faster than that. Makos are fast enough to catch even the fleetest fish, such as tuna and swordfish.

• The largest shark is the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), which can grow to 60 feet (20 meters) long. The gentle giant eats tiny plankton.

• Sharks are known as eating machines. But because many species are cold-blooded, some sharks eat only about 2 percent of their body weight each day. That’s a bit less than humans typically eat.

• Some sharks must swim constantly to “breathe” oxygen from water passing through their gills. Other species can achieve this while stationary.

And to put this shark thing to rest – sharks do not sleep. Rather, they experience alternating periods of activity and rest.

No discussion of sharks would be complete without a clip from “Jaws”, but they seem to be unavailable. This clip from a re-make is the best available:

sources: animals.nationalgeographic.com

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Winner: Pluto

The start of summer brought out a large group of players (17). With Mistress Daphne out of commission, Darin handled both the bar and the game with her usual aplomb. Pluto finished strong and edged Droppin’ and a record 6 players who tied for 3rd. So many that we took the winners’ photo outside for the first time.

We learned some important stuff this evening, like which is the world’s only freshwater lake with sharks (Lake Nicaragua), and which nation became the first to recognize same sex marriages (Netherlands). We had a table of younger players who filled the window seats and played with gusto, especially Nadia and Kelly, who made another fine showing and tied for third.

Good Question!: Which was the only TV show in the 1970’s to have its theme on Top Billboards 100?

Answer: “Welcome Back, Kotter”

Not just on the top 100, but #1 on the Billboard chart for a week. “Welcome Back” was the theme song of the 1970s American television sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter”. Written and recorded by former Lovin’ Spoonful frontman John Sebastian, it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for one week in May 1976 after only five weeks on the chart (the show itself had become an instant ratings success upon its premiere the previous Fall).

Let’s not forget that John Sebastian was way more than “Welcome Back”. “Summer in the City,” “Do You Believe in Magic,” “You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice” “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind,” and the wistful “Younger Girl,” show Sebastian’s talents as both a singer and songwriter.

“Welcome Back, Kotter” Show Synopsis:

Gabe Kotter, formerly a Sweathog, returns to James Buchanan High as a teacher and is assigned the remedial class to which he once belonged. Mr. Kotter is an involved and caring teacher, which one would have to be in dealing with a certain four students in his class, who end up in trouble on a regular basis — lady’s man Vinnie Barbarino (as it turns out, maybe not such a ladies man after all), the always cool Freddie “Boom-Boom” Washington, the tough Juan (Luis Pedro Phillipo de Huevos) Epstein, and the sheepish Arnold Dingfelder Horshack.

‘Welcome Back, Kotter” was based on Gabe Kaplan’s own high school experiences with redmedial education and a teacher who cared dearly for her students. It’s reported that back in the day Pluto had a bushy black stash and the little kids in his neighborhood called him “Mr. Kotter”. If you want to see what these characters look like now, ABC brought the cast together recently. It’s always fun to see how folks have aged.

If you are a real fan, here is a video with wonderful clips from the show and all the behind the scenes dirt on the show and it’s cast. Turns out that the first guy that Sammy the Bull wacked was the guy that Vinnie Barbarino was based on:

sources: tv.com, abcnews.go.com, en.wikipedia.org

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Winner: Droppin’ Dave

On a night devoted to superheroes, or at least the term “super”, only Dave was super. His dominating performance, with almost a perfect score, put him far ahead of the pack. Sam finished second, for her first time on the podium, and she was followed by last week’s winner FrankC.

For many of us it was a chance to get back in touch with our fave superheroes. Who could forget Wonder Woman, the superhero whose super tools included bullet proof bracelets and a magic lassso.

Or the Black Widow, well trained as an assassin, who uses the latest in cutting edge technology to make her a force to be reckoned with in the “Avengers”:

Of course, Darin has her own favorite superheroes, who are mighty scary looking:

Good Question!: When was the original Supersaurus discovered in Colorado?

Answer: 1972

Supersaurus Origins

The Supersaurus meaning ‘super lizard’ was discovered in Colorado in the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation in 1972, and was officially named by Jim Jensen the Supersaurus vivianae in 1985. A member of the Diplodocid family these sauropods were a group of dinosaurs which comprised some of the largest species ever to exist. In terms of height and weight these dinosaurs were big, but what was fascinating about them was their massive length.

Physical Appearance

Being a part of the Diplodocid family we already know the Supersaurus was a 4 legged herbivore with immense proportions but other common features include an extremely small head, pegged teeth and of course an extremely long tail to counter balance its massive neck. Fossil remains suggest that the Supersaurus could reach lengths of up to 115 ft, and a weigh up to 35 to 40 tonnes.

Supersaurus, like other giant sauropods of the Late Jurassic, was so large that even the largest predatory dinosaur, Allosaurus, was little threat. But the carnivores were always ready to attack weak or sick animals, or to separate young sauropods from their herds.

The feeding habits of Supersaurus were probably like those of other sauropods. They ate leaves and shoots from treetops and ferns from the ground, and they fed almost constantly. Adults must have eaten hundreds of pounds each day. Gastroliths (or “stomach stones”) may have helped grind the plants and leaves in the stomach.

For a fuller look at the Jurassic period see “Jurassic Park”:

http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi2525535257/

sources: animals.howstuffworks.com,dinosaur-facts.com

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Winner: FrankC

Tonight’s game was tres difficult, with lots of stumper questions. How difficult? Well we learned that a kytoon is a windless kite (isn’t that an oxymoron?), and that a refectory is where people eat. FrankC, the winner, was as surprised as anyone that he had won, and asked for a recount. There was a pack of players following close behind – Nadia, Jessie, the Driver, and Coffee Bill.

Darin made the night more palatable by serving some delicious brownies. Unfortunately, the Driver was on them like white on rice, and intercepted most of the trays of brownies as they came out of the kitchen. He went after them like he hadn’t eaten in a week, which by all appearances is not true. We are thinking of sponsoring him in the big eating contest at Coney Island this July 4th. Joey Chestnut and Kobayashi better watch out!

Next weeks theme is SuperHeroes, should be fun. Perfect opportunity for Bren to reprise his awesome batman costume.

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Good Question!: Eiswein is wine made from grapes that have been what on the vine? Answer: Frozen

Ice wine (in German Eiswein) is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes  that have been frozen while still on the vine. The sugars and other dissolved solids do not freeze, but the water does. This allows a more concentrated “grape must” to be pressed from the frozen grapes, resulting in a smaller amount of more concentrated, very sweet wine.

With ice wines, the freezing happens before the fermentation, not afterwards. Unlike the grapes from which other dessert wines are made, such as Sauternes, or Tokaji, ice wine grapes should not be affected by noble rot, at least not to any great degree. Only healthy grapes keep in good shape until the opportunity arises for an ice wine harvest, which in extreme cases can occur after the New Year. This gives ice wine its characteristic refreshing sweetness balanced by high acidity.

Due to the labour-intense and risky production process resulting in relatively small amounts of wine, ice wines are generally quite expensive. Canada and Germany are the world’s largest producers of ice wines. About 75 percent of the ice wine in Canada comes from Ontario. Take the bus from Buffalo to Toronto and you will see those vineyards along the lake front.

On Long Island the Ospreys Dominion winery has a very nice ice wine that won’t break the bank. This North Fork winery has a new tasting room, lovely picnic grounds, and music on the weekends in the fall; a good winery to visit.

Typical grapes used for ice wine production are Riesling, considered to be the most noble variety by German winemakers and Vidal, which is highly popular in British Columbia and Ontario, Canada.

Ice wines from white varieties tend to be pale yellow or light gold in color when they are young and can maderise (acquiring a deep amber-golden color) as they age. The red varieties tend to have a light burgundy or even pink color like that of rosé wines, since the steeping of the skins in the pressed liquid typically used in red wine making is obviously not possible in ice wine production.

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TNBE wants to give a shout out to Queen Elizabeth, who celebrated her Diamond Jubilee this week. “Long Live the Queen!”

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