Archive for July, 2012

Winner: Droppin’ Dave

With the opening ceremony having taken place just a few nights before, tonight’s theme was the Olympic Games. Droppin’ started slowly, but finished fast, and was awarded the gold medal. Close behind, earning the silver was Coffee Bill.

Just wait until Rio in 4 years, when golf is added to the Games. The Coffee man should shine then. With Daphne and Darin absent, it fell to the Driver to moderate the game.

Self professed Olympics expert Pluto was also absent – claims he needed a shower, which sounds a bit lame. Rumor has it that when he was given the quiz later, his results wouldn’t have placed first anyway. Maybe he was missing because he couldn’t handle the pressure.

We learned that the winners trophy had been vandalized sometime during the week, and the winner’s name was changed. This is very disturbing and a full investigation has been undertaken. There is only one clue to go on – the name that was inked in. This is the name that shall remain nameless, but she knows who she is.

Good Question:

In which event did an individual first win four consecutive gold medals?

Answer: Discus

It was Long Island’s own Al Oerter who accomplished this amazing feat. More amazing because he successfully defended his gold medal 3 times over 12 years while he held a full time job as a software engineer with Long Island’s Grumman Corp. They don’t make them like that anymore.

Oerter, a sandy-haired bear of a man who weighed as much as 297 pounds and stood 6 feet 4 inches, won Olympic gold medals in 1956, 1960, 1964 and 1968.

Oerter’s sweep was all the more remarkable because in each case he broke the Olympic record, beat the world record holder, overcame an injury and was not the favorite to win.

Alfred Oerter Jr., was born Sept. 19, 1936, in Astoria, Queens, and grew up on Long Island, in West Islip. At Sewanhaka High School, he was a sprinter and then a miler.

One day, he recalled, when a discus landed near his feet, he casually threw it back so far that the coach immediately made him a discus thrower. He became the national schoolboy record holder and went on to the University of Kansas, where a classmate was Wilt Chamberlain, the basketball great.

Harold Connolly, an American hammer thrower who also won an Olympic gold medal, once told the sports columnist Stan Isaacs:

“In the opinion of many of us, he is the greatest field-event athlete of the century. There’s a magic about him when he’s competing. He’s nervous before the meet. He doesn’t eat well and his hands shake. But once the event is about to start, a calmness settles over him. The other athletes see it, and it intimidates them. They watch him, and they are afraid of what he might do.”

In his third Olympics in 1964, an injury occurred six days before competition was to begin. While throwing a discus — a 4.4-pound disc resembling a miniature flying saucer — he slipped on a wet concrete discus circle and tore rib cartilage on his right side (his throwing side), causing internal bleeding and severe pain. Team doctors told him to forget the Olympics and not throw for six weeks. He refused.

“These are the Olympics,” he was quoted as saying at the time. “You die before you quit.” He competed and won.

A side note: Our own Rosebud worked for Grumman at the same time as Al Oerter. Back in the day, Rosebud was a corporate comer and was appointed chairperson of one of the business unit’s Promotion Review Boards. One of the members of that Board was Al Oerter.

source: nytimes.com

Blogger’s Note: Rosebud and Pluto are headed to London for the Games and then a bit of southern England. For their on the scene Olympic reports or to follow their trip as it progresses from pub to pub across southern England, you can try: wegetaround2.com

Assuming they find available wi-fi, should be up and running from around Aug 8.

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Winner: Droppin’ Dave

It was a loud night in Main Street Cafe – 18 players and lots of summertime diners. The window seats were filled with regulars and their guests. The game was close, with a bunch of players vying for the lead until the end. Then came the old card players question: Who does the King of Spades represent? Only that card shark Droppin’ knew that it was Julius Caesar. That knowledge was enough to put him over the top. Right behind were Pluto and Maureen, then FrankC and the Coffeeman tied for third. One other thing we learned: Remember to lay off the mushrooms – apparently they were reserved for the Pharoh.

Good Question: How much of the body’s oxygen does the brain use?

Answer: 25%                (close enough for govt. work)

The human brain is a 3-pound mass of jelly-like fats and tissues, about the size of a cantaloupe—yet it’s the most complex of all known living structures. Up to one trillion nerve cells work together and coordinate the physical actions and mental processes that set humans apart from other species.

The adult brain accounts for 20% of the adult body’s resting metabolic energy use, while it accounts for only 2% of the total body mass. 80% of the brain’s energy use is for neural processing and signaling.

Oxygen is critical to all human life. Most of us don’t think about oxygen as energy, but that is essentially how it is used. The brain, in particular, requires a lot of oxygen to function.  If the brain does not get enough energy, it cannot properly code and process sensory information.

The brain has a very high metabolic rate (it uses a lot of energy) because of the neural activity of densely packed neurons which are constantly active.  The availability and ability to use this energy is closely related to brain performance.

So, clearly some of you guys  are not getting enough oxygen (are you listening Bobby Barcelona?).

Do men have a larger brain than women?

Male humans have about a 10% larger brain than females. A study of 46 adults aged 22-49 years found an average brain volume of 1273.6cc for men, ranging from 1052.9 to 1498.5cc, and 1131.1cc for women, ranging from 974.9 to 1398.1cc. However differences in male and female brain weight and size do not mean differences in mental ability. There is evidence of a gradual increase in average brain size over the last centuries, estimated to have been around 0.5% per decade.

And now for the important question that we all want to know the answer to.

Does alcohol kill brain cells every time you drink?

The idea that alcohol kills brain cells has long been promoted. Drinking alcohol does not actually “kill” brain cells. Roberta Pentney, professor of anatomy and cell biology at the University at Buffalo, concludes that alcohol does not kill brain cells but it damages the dendrites, the branched ends of nerve cells that bring messages into the brain cell causing damage to the way the cells in the brain communicate. Luckily the damage is largely reversible and not permanent. However years of alcohol abuse can cause serious neurological damage, including Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.

What is the Brain? 

The brain is the center of the nervous system in animals. All vertebrates, and the majority of invertebrates, have a brain. Some “primitive” animals such as jellyfishes and starfishes have a decentralized nervous system without a brain, while sponges lack any nervous system at all.

In vertebrates, the brain is located in the head, protected by the skull and close to the primary sensory apparatus of vision, hearing, balance, taste, and smell. The human brain appears to have no localized center of conscious control. The brain seems to derive consciousness from interaction among numerous systems within the brain.

The human brain controls the central nervous system by way of the cranial nerves and spinal cord, the peripheral nervous system and regulates virtually all human activity. The brain is made up of over 100 billion nerve cells with each brain cell connected to around 10,000 other cells, which equals around 1000 trillion connections in your brain. Your brain is actually very soft, jelly-like, and not grey but a deep red in color.

The brain controls both involuntary, or “lower,” actions, such as heart rate, respiration, and digestion. Complex, or “higher,” mental activity, such as thought, reason, and abstraction, is consciously controlled.

sources: science.nationalgeographic.com, disabled-world.com, brainandbodysolutions.com


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Winners: Judy, CoffeeBill, Rosebud, Pluto, & Maddy

On a night when we celebrated Rosebud’s birthday, we also celebrated a first time happening – 5 winners! Seems that 6 wrong was the sweet spot tonight. We welcomed a few new players, including “the Goalie”, and “the Goal”, college students who may need a little more time with the books before they are competitive here. Of course, a few questions about events that took place while they were alive might help, too.

We had a nice chocolate cake with chocolate ganache icing from Copenhagen, and Rosebud blew out all the candles with one strong breath – pretty impressive.

Good Question: In 1953 what was the #1 TV show?

Answer: “I Love Lucy”

First, a bit of history.

In the 1940s, the three networks – NBC, CBS and ABC – were “networks” in name only. All of the programming originated, live, in New York. The only way the networks had to distribute the shows to the rest of the nation was to point a film camera at a television screen and convert video to film.

These 16mm films, known as kinescopes, were then duplicated and shipped to the few affiliated stations for broadcast later. By necessity, most programming was local, and cooking shows, wrestling and cartoons took up most of the broadcast day.

The networks became true networks when AT&T finished laying a system of coaxial cables from coast to coast. Coax – the now familiar cables the run from cable TV wall outlets to today’s tuners – has enough bandwidth to transmit hundreds or even thousands of telephone calls as well as television signals.

“I Love Lucy”

At 9PM on Oct. 15, 1951, I Love Lucy went on the air, and has never been off since. The sitcom centers on an unforgettable showbiz-wannabe redhead, her Cuban bandleader husband and their landlords, who also happen to be their best friends and co-conspirators.

I Love Lucy is a hit that continues to entertain millions of people the world over. Perhaps the key to its success lies within the show’s mastery of a graceful transition — from sense to nonsense. Each episode opens with a plausible situation (home economy, child rearing, post-dating a check) thrown awry with exaggerated absurdity (Lucy is starched, frozen, stuffed with chocolate, locked in a trunk and lowered to the deck of a ship by helicopter, just to name a few). Yet somehow, the show and its heroine never seem to lose touch with the audience.

While the comic brilliance of Lucille Ball and the magic chemistry of the four main characters were cornerstones of the show, I Love Lucy owes much of its success to a behind-the-scenes band of brilliant creators. The show gave birth to the rerun; was the first to use a three-camera setup before a live audience; and overcame many technical obstacles of early TV through ingenious lighting, set design and editing.

Here is a fun clip from the show:

Some more history about early TV.

In 1952 for the first time, television news was able to broadcast the Republican and Democratic conventions live from Philadelphia to the rest of the nation. Common national carriage of popular TV shows, news and sports events meant that there was a shared national experience. Regional cultural differences were ironed out. A more generalized “American” culture co-opted regional subcultures.

We think we live in an era of great technological change. How about the 1950’s. Between 1949 and 1969, the number of households in the U.S. with at least one TV set rose from less than a million to 44 million. The number of commercial TV stations rose from 69 to 566. The amount advertisers paid these TV stations and the networks rose from $58 million to $1.5 billion!

Television programming has had a huge impact on American and world culture. Many critics have dubbed the 1950’s as the Golden Age of Television.

TV sets were expensive and so the audience was generally affluent. Television programmers knew this and they knew that serious dramas on Broadway were attracting this audience segment.

So, the producers began staging Broadway plays in the television studios. Later, Broadway authors, like Paddy Chayefsky, Reggie Rose and J. P. Miller wrote plays specifically for television. Their plays – Marty, Twelve Angry Men, and Days of Wine and Roses, respectively – all went on to be successful movies.

Contrast this with today’s TV fare – “Jersey Shore”, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”, and who can forget, “Dog, the Bounty Hunter”. Yeah, it really was better back in the old days.

sources: livinghistoryfarm.org, tvland.com,

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Winner: Paula

It was a tough night for most players. Paula, who hasn’t played for a while, showed brother Bill and the rest that she can still get it done (although she was a bit surprised). Finishing right behind again was Nadia, who has been close almost every week. She is due for a win. Also finishing strong was Nadia’s bodyguard, John.

We learned how to distinguish between pork and ham – to be ham, the meat must come from the hind leg. Then we learned that only 1% of the world’s water is drinkable – I guess that’s why god made beer.

Tuesday is predicted to be another sizzler. If your place lacks A/C (like ours), join us at MainStreet for a cool game of trivia.

After the game celebrate Rosebud’s birthday with a surprise chocolate cake from Copenhagen. Rumor has it that she turns 66 this year. See if she can blow out all the candles.

Good Question!: Two people filed patents for the same invention on the same day (Valentine’s Day) in 1876. Who beat Elisha Gray by just hours?

Answer: Bell

Oh Man! Talk about “In life, timing is everything.” Here is the conventional story:

March 10, 1876: “Mr. Watson, Come Here.” Alexander Graham Bell makes the first telephone call in his Boston laboratory, summoning his assistant from the next room. The patent for the telephone had been filed by AGB the month before.

The Scottish-born Bell had a lifelong interest in the nature of sound. He was born into a family of speech instructors, and his mother and his wife both had hearing impairments.

Patent Wars – Elisha Gray Vs Alexander Graham Bell

On February 14, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone patent application entitled “Improvement in Telegraphy” was filed at the USPTO by Bell’s attorney Marcellus Bailey; Elisha Gray’s attorney filed a caveat for a telephone just a few hours later entitled “Transmitting Vocal Sounds Telegraphically”.Therefore, the U.S. Patent Office awarded Bell with the first patent for a telephone, rather than honor Gray’s caveat. On September 12, 1878, lengthy patent litigation involving the Bell Telephone Company against Western Union Telegraph Company and Elisha Gray (see photo) began.

After years of litigation, Bell’s patents eventually withstood challenges from Gray and others — perhaps by right, perhaps by virtue of bigger backers and better barristers. In that respect, the controversy recalls the patent battle over the telegraph and foreshadows later squabbles over the automobile, the airplane, the spreadsheet, online shopping carts, web-auction software, and the look and feel of operating systems.

But wait. There is an alternative version of events that seems to have merit. Recent books claim that Bell not only stole Gray’s ideas, but may even have bribed a patent inspector to let him sneak a look at Gray’s filing.

“The Telephone Gambit”, who really invented the telephone.

While researching Alexander Graham Bell at MIT’s Dibner Institute, Seth Shulman scrutinized Bell’s journals and within them he found the smoking gun, a hint of deeply buried historical intrigue. Delving further, Shulman unearthed the surprising story behind the invention of the telephone: a tale of romance, corruption, and unchecked ambition.

Bell furtively—and illegally—copied part of Elisha Gray’s invention in the race to secure what would become the most valuable U.S. patent ever issued. And afterward, as Bell’s device led to the world’s largest monopoly, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, he hid his invention’s illicit beginnings.

In The Telephone Gambit, Shulman challenges the reputation of an icon of invention, rocks the foundation of a corporate behemoth, and offers a probing meditation on how little we know about our own history.

Skeptics might say “how could 132 years go by without anyone noticing all of this?” Well the smoking gun was protected by the Bell family until 1976, and only made available to the general public in 1999. No one unrelated ever saw Bell’s lab notebook until then.

Here’s what a researcher in the field of telephony says in reviewing this book:

“I bought in to the story that “Elisha Gray was an hour late filing his patent; that Bell got there first. It now is embarrassing to say that I bought in. This was a research lab and we all used scientific principals and investigative techniques to do our work. So how could I buy in to a difference in filing time being the reason? We all knew that the American patent system is “the first to discover” not “the first to file” as is most of Europe. After all, that is why we all kept Lab notebooks detailing our work, notebooks that were signed, dated and witnessed every day to prove when we had discovered.

As a result I found Seth Schulman’s detailed account of the Bell patent extremely exciting. He meticulously lays out all the circumstantial evidence indicating something really smells about the process that granted the Bell patent over the Gray patent. And he presents a very convincing smoking gun that indicates there had to have been a payoff at the patent office or something like the Watergate burglers at that time.”

In any case, we now have the wonderful invention of the telephone which permits telemarketers to interrupt our dinners nightly with special offers for home repairs or timeshare vacations in Florida.

And without the phone, there is no pay phone booth (remember those), and no Superman emerging fully costumed, ready to save Metropolis. Highlights from a tribute to “Supermen”, including Christopher Reeves:

sources: inventors.about.com, amazon.com book reviews

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