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Archive for December, 2012

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Winners: BigJohn & theDriver; Droppin’ & Frankee

Tonight was the final round of the Fall Teams Championship. In a stunning comeback, Driver Shea who had been behind with two weeks to go finished strong and won the “Big Prize” easily. He used the $200 in BestBuy gift certificates that he won to buy Mistress Daphne a new camera. How gallant. Now we can all look forward to following their extended cruise trip with lots of high quality pix (NOT!).

Fading into 2nd place after leading most of the season was Pluto – no longer a planet, and now no longer a leader. He folded like a house of cards in the last 2 weeks, and has been seen walking around muttering “What happened? How did I get so stupid, so quick.” Much thanks to our host Darin for contributing such a generous prize for our own little version of  “Who Wants to be a $Millionaire”.

Good Question: What type creature was “Lonesome George”, who in 2012 was the last of his subspecies to die?

Choices: Tortoise, Black Rhino, Giant Panda, Vampire Bat

Answer: Tortoise

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Google “Lonesome George” and you find this:

“The rarest animal in the world today is a giant tortoise which lives in the Galapagos Islands. There is only one Pinta Island tortoise (Geochelone elephantopus abingdoni). It is a male known by his keepers as Lonesome George. And when he dies the Pinta tortoises will be extinct.”

Well, he has died, but he lives forever on the internet. A good example of why one needs to be careful when researching using the big G.

Once there were millions of giant tortoises. In the age of the dinosaurs they covered most of the Americas, Europe and Asia. Like the dinosaurs they began to die out when mammals evolved and they were neither clever enough nor fast enough to compete for food.

But three million years ago, the Galapagos Islands burst out of the Pacific Ocean. For centuries these volcanic wastelands were bare. Then seeds carried by birds took root, the birds themselves stayed, and animals arriving on rafts of vegetation carried by ocean currents no longer perished.

Among the animals were the giant tortoises. They landed on 10 of the islands and have become adapted to the conditions of each. On arid, sparsely vegetated islands such as Pinta and Espanola only those with flared up shells and longer necks could reach the high-growing plants. In wetter regions such as Santa Cruz Island and southern Isabela they retained their domed shells and grew much bigger.

Charles Darwin, visiting the islands in 1835, saw that the tortoises on each island were different although they had obviously descended from a common stock which was now extinct on the mainland. This observation helped lead Darwin to form part of his world-changing Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection.

He Lives! He Lives!

If Lonesome George’s demise has saddened you, as it has me, then I have good news:

Lonesome George, the last of a now extinct type of giant tortoise from the Galapagos Islands, could be cloned after scientists have preserved some of his cells by cryogenically freezing them.

As the last of his kind, his life was a lonely one and his death brought the extinction of a lineage of animals that stretched back hundreds of thousands of years. Now Lonesome George, the last giant tortoise from Pinta Island in the Galapagos Islands may be able to achieve in death what he could not in life – and produce an heir.

Scientists have cryogenically frozen tissue taken from the five foot long reptile just after his death in the hope that they may be able to resurrect the subspecies of Galapagos giant tortoise. Maybe they will store him right next to Ted Williams. By using the same cloning techniques that created Dolly the Sheep, they believe it may be possible to one day bring the now extinct Pinta Island tortoises back to life.

It is a fitting legacy for an animal that had become a national icon in Ecuador, featured on the country’s bank notes. His plight became a symbol for the efforts to conserve threatened species around the world, and attempts to find him a mate were followed by a global audience.

sources: tortoisetrust.org, telegraph.co.uk

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Wednesday we gathered for our annual night of happy caroling at MainStreetCafe. As always, Darin & Daphne created a wonderful evening. This year we were assisted by some new technology which provided a sound track to sing along to, not exactly karoke, but very helpful. At the conclusion we took a moment to remember the young innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary, and finished with a heartfelt “Let there be Peace on Earth.”

Here are a few photos of the happy carolers:

(if you don’t see your photo, we plan an expanded photo album available at: xxx)

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MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

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Winners: TedDeBear & Droppin’; Dish & the Driver

With two weeks to go in the fall team competition, the Driver got lucky and drew Dish as his partner. The Dish is a former champ and always a solid player. She carried Driver all night, straight to a first place tie with Ted & Droppin’.

Next week, the last game of the fall championship season will decide the winner. It could not be any closer. Driver started the night trailing Pluto by 2 points and finished tied with him. With an undisclosed “really big prize” at stake, vegas oddsmakers have made Driver the heavy favorite. There is no way he doesn’t scheme some way to win the FREE prize!

Pluto, on the other hand, seemed to fold under the pressure. On two separate questions he ignored his partner Rosebud’s advice and picked the wrong answer. Had he just listened to her he would still be leading, a point she made repeatedly to him all evening. Can this marriage be saved ?

Don’t Forget: Wednesday night is Christmas Carols sing-a-long at MainStreetCafe, the highlight of the social season.

Good Question: In the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, my true love brought to me nine … what?

Choices: Drummers Drumming;   Ladies Dancing;   Pipers Piping;   Lords a Leaping

Answer: Ladies Dancing

What are the 12 days of Christmas?

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree! 

Here is a version that’s not bad, but really needs Ellen to sing “Five Golden Rings”:

The carol has its roots in 18th-century England, as a memory-and-forfeit game sung by British children. In the game, players had to remember all of the previous verses and add a new verse at the end. Those unable to remember a verse paid a forfeit, in the form of a kiss or a piece of candy to the others.

One theory, however, connects the carol to the era when Catholicism was outlawed in England, from 1558 and 1829. The carol, it is said, was a catechism song for Catholics to learn “the tenets of their faith,” as they could not openly practice in Anglican society. While many still hold the idea of a coded hymn to be true, there’s no substantive evidence that this was the case, nor is there any evidence that the verses contain anything uniquely Catholic.

Here are the verses of the song, along with their supposed symbolism:

• A Partridge in a Pear Tree – Jesus Christ

• Two Turtle Doves – The Old and New Testaments

• Three French Hens – The three virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity

• Four Calling/Collie Birds – Four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

• Five Golden Rings – First five books of the Old Testament

• Six Geese-a-Laying – Six days of creation before God’s rest on the seventh day

• Seven Swans-a-Swimming – Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit

• Eight Maids-a-Milking – Eight Beatitudes

• Nine Ladies Dancing – Nine fruits of the Holy Spirit

• Ten Lords-a-Leaping – Ten Commandments

• Eleven Pipers Piping – Eleven faithful disciples

• Twelve Drummers Drumming –Twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed

While these verses are what most of us associate with the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” the phrase refers to an actual 12-day period. The 12 days of Christmas, in fact, are the days from Dec. 25, celebrated as the birth of Jesus Christ, to the Epiphany, celebrated on Jan. 6 as the day when the manifestation of Christ’s glory was realized.

While sects of Christianity celebrate the 12 days of Christmas differently, certain ones, such as the Eastern Orthodox Church, consider the Epiphany to be the most important day of the Christmas season. Some exchange gifts on each of the 12 days instead of only on Christmas day.

sources: tlc.howstuffworks.com, .carols.org.uk

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Winners: Cathy & Pluto; Nurse Hottie & Rosebud

Six teams and another close game. Only the team of Wild Bill and the Legend, who spent the entire game looking at his 8×10 glossy, were never in it. Odds on faves, FrankC & the Driver, carelessly chose unintended cards twice and blew their chance for a win.

Pluto complained about the lack of sports questions and too many Dr. Seuss questions, but Cathy bailed him out on Dr. Seuss. Tonight we learned that comets were once referred to as “hairy stars”, that it was the Police who put a “Message in a Bottle”, and that a heptagon has 7 sides.

Good Question!: Which was the first company in the world to post $1 billion in annual earnings in 1995?

Choices: Coke, Ford, GM, Sony

Answer: GM

Well, not exactly. In 1995 GM earned $6.9 billion.  Increasing overseas profits, cost-cutting in North America and substantially lower tax rates helped General Motors Corp. post the highest annual earnings in its history.

BTW, in 2011, three years after nearly collapsing into liquidation, a resurgent General Motors Co. posted its best annual profit, surpassing what it earned during its heyday in the mid-1990s. In earning $7.6 billion, the automaker demonstrated how it has capitalized on its 2009 bankruptcy reorganization and federal bailout to shed brands, slash debt, rewrite union contracts and close surplus factories.

It’s difficult to determine just when GM passed the $1 billion earnings mark, but in 1955, GM became the first American corporation to pay taxes of over $1 billion, so best guess is that it occurred sometime after the war and before 1955.

Speaking of GM, how about a bit of Dinah Shore and her Chevrolet commercial:

To get back to the original question:

Which company was the first to earn $1 billion?

I don’t know, do you?

Blogger’s Note: This is the 100th post on TNBE and the first time TNBE has been stumped. I feel like Cal Ripken – the streak has been broken.

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