Archive for September, 2013

Why a Duck?


Winner: Pluto

A nice crowd of 21 players for tonight’s twin themes: Autumn and Birthdays. We sang a couple of rousing versions of Happy Birthday to Teddy in person, and to Rob Parker via skype. Rob happened to be celebrating at a craps table in Las Vegas – not sure how the pit boss felt about the skype thing!

The Autumn quiz was very challenging and brought a chill to most players. Aided by a few sports questions and some lucky guesses, Pluto finished well ahead of Dish, Madly, & the Driver. We learned that the word autumn comes the French, and that the first Thanksgiving football game featured the Detroit Lions. And how about this – the largest meteor to reach earth (named Hoba) did not even leave a crater!

There was one question that caused quite a bit of controversy:

Good Question?: When flying south for the winter, the bar headed goose flies as high as how many feet?

Choices:   8,000ft  –  15,000ft  –  28,000ft  –  37,000ft


Answer: 28,000 feet!

Doesn’t seem possible, and maybe it’s not.

Here’s what the National Geographic had to say in 2011:

The world’s highest flying bird is an Asian goose that can fly up and over the Himalaya in only about eight hours, a new study finds.

In 2009, Hawkes and an international team of researchers tagged 25 bar-headed geese with GPS transmitters. Shortly thereafter, the birds left on their annual spring migration to Mongolia and surrounding areas to breed.

To get there, the geese have to fly over the Himalaya—the world’s tallest mountain range and home to the tallest mountain on Earth, Mount Everest, which rises to 29,035 feet (8,850 meters). The researchers that found the birds reached a peak height of nearly 21,120 feet (6,437 meters) during their travels, choosing to take a longer route through the Himalayas in order to utilize lower-altitude valleys and passes.

The birds made frequent rest stops during the migration, but they appear to have flown over the Himalayan portion of their journey in a single effort that took about eight hours on average and that included little or no rest. A similar intense climb could kill a human without proper acclimatization, Hawkes said.

“If you’ve ever seen a goose sitting on a lake, take-off is quite an energetic thing, so it may be [energetically] cheaper to keep going than to keep sitting down and taking off again—and they may not want to delay getting over the mountains,” Hawkes said.

Why a Duck? Time for the Marx Bros. in The Cocoanuts (1929).

Birds’ Bodies Built for High Flying

Even more impressive, the birds completed the ascent under their own muscular power, with almost no aid from tail winds or updrafts. “Most other species that we’ve identified as high-altitude flyers usually get there by soaring and gliding up,” said study leader Charles Bishop, also a biologist at Bangor University.

By contrast, the bar-headed goose reaches such lofty heights by flapping vigorously, if not gracefully. “Geese tend to honk a lot as they fly,” co-author Hawkes said. “We don’t think of them as the most elegant of migrants.”

The birds have evolved numerous physiological adaptations—many of which are not so obvious—to help them complete their migrations. “They have all these internal morphological tweaks that make it possible,” Bishop said.

For example, past studies have shown that the geese have more capillaries and more efficient red blood cells than other birds, meaning their bodies can deliver more oxygen to muscle cells faster.

The geese’s flight muscles also have more mitochondria—energy-producing structures inside cells—than their fellow fowl. Another trick in the birds’ arsenal: hyperventilation. Unlike humans, bar-headed geese can breathe in and out very rapidly without getting dizzy or passing out. “By hyperventilating, [the birds] increase the net quantity of oxygen that they get into their blood,” Hawkes explained.

So it appears that tales of the geese flying at 8,500 m (28,000 ft) are apocryphal and a bit exaggerated, although 21,000 feet ain’t bad.


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Winner: Jan

To celebrate the 14th anniversary of Tuesday Night Trivia at Main Street Cafe, tonight’s game had a theme close to home – all things Northport.

Questions included one about Ms. Patti LuPone, local girl who made good. It seems Ms. LuPone has definitely not earned the admiration of Margaret the Red (something about a mutual boyfriend). Another question asked who was the famous comedian who summered nearby in Asharoken. A fat pitch for Butch, because Jackie Gleason used to shop at his father’s butcher shop on Main Street.

We learned that one pair of brothers holds the unique distinction of having won league wrestling championships 4 years in a row for Northport High. It was the Parker boys, of course – Rob and Nick. In fact, as a junior Rob won the Suffolk county title and went all the way to the NY State Finals. So don’t mess with his mother, our lovely hostess Darin, who by the way did a fine job in putting together tonight’s quiz.

For the third week in a row we had a first time winner – this time it was Jan who turned out to be the Northport native who knew the most about her hometown. For a while it seemed that cousin Vinny, who is definitely not a local guy, was going to sneak away with the win – how embarrassing. Just behind Jan were Jimmy and Pluto, who remembers marching in top hat and spats down Main Street in the Village Centennial parade in 1994.

Good Question: In 1889 the large brick building on the corner of Woodbine and Scudder produced what?

Choices:  air plane parts – safes – law books – ships


Answer: law books

The Edward Thompson Publishing Co. published law books and was a mainstay of the economic life of Northport from about 1883 to 1935. They came to prominence  in 1887 when they published the first encyclopedia of American and English law.

The Edward Thompson story, Northport Oysterman, Entrepreneur, & Lawbook Publisher, is an important one, little known these days, and bears retelling.

“Edward Thompson may be reasonably viewed as the man who, through his enterprise and initiative, managed to transition the village of Northport from its economic reliance on shipbuilding to an industry that would prove even more important in giving the community economic strength, and also a residential population which provided the human resources to make the small community a powerhouse for politics, government and professional services in the 20th century.

That enterprise was the Edward Thompson Lawbook Publishing Company. And the human resource? Dozens and dozens of young lawyers and other professionals imported into the community to make the company a success. Thompson, it seems, had been a local oysterman with some cash on hand to start up a new enterprise. When James Cockcroft came to town in the mid 1880s, Edward saw his opportunity – Cockcroft had rented a couple of rooms, hired an assistant for copying documents, and began publishing legal volumes on his own.

Before long Thompson, Cockcroft and a third partner were working out of the old Presbyterian Church on Woodbine Avenue, and in 1887 they published the American and English Encyclopedia of Law, a publication that was so important and successful that by 1889 they had built the large brick building at the corner of Woodbine and Scudder which was to house their influential business.

Within a very short span of time, Edward Thompson was importing many young lawyers fresh from law school to work for the company producing what would become for many years the preeminent legal publications in the nation

During its heyday the publication house became instrumental in building the infrastructure of the little village it inhabited – from steamboats and waterworks to trolleys, electrical service and the very incorporation of Northport itself. And while the lawbook publishing company’s products were superseded by the early part of the twentieth century, by then the population of Northport had within it a professional cadre fed by the power of Edward Thompson’s ability to draw people into town that was out of proportion to its actual size.

For much of the first half of the century, leaders in real estate, banking, insurance and in particular politics and government rose from the ranks of Northport’s residents. This influence on the politics and economy of the region is directly attributable to the work of the entrepreneurship of an enterprising oysterman by the name of Edward Thompson.”

Source: Northport Historical Society & Museum www.northporthistorical.org

For a brief but comprehensive history of the Village try the Historical Society’s site: http://www.northporthistorical.org/documents/Brief_History.pdf

For a lighter view of Northport, see the movie trailer for “In & Out” with Kevin Cline and Tom Selleck, which was filmed in Northport in 1997. Northport was transformed into the fictional Greenleaf Ind. and appears at the very beginning of the trailer.

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It’s All in the Eyes


Winner: Art

Art was a first time winner just a week after wife Rita was also a first time winner. That end of the bar is showing surprising strength. Double A was in a dogfight all night with Bea and Bobby Barcelona. It wasn’t until BobbyB inexplicably picked Little Bo Peep as Mr. Potato Head’s best friend in “Toy Story” that the game was decided. Bobby realized his error and was about to change his answer when time ran out. This mistake was especially troubling to Bobby because Mr. Potato Head had been his best friend growing up. Bea was also a near winner, but at least she beat FrankC – again!

Good Question: What is the white part of the human eye called ?

Choices:  Iris   Retina   Sclera   Cornea

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Answer: Sclera

I have apparently been carrying around my Sclera all these many years and never knew it. We all know about the Iris, Cornea, and Retina, but who knew the Sclera. In fact, when I went to find an image of an eye to illustrate this post many of the eyeball images did not include or show the Sclera!

Should have remembered the famous revolutionary rifleman advice “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.”

The Battle of Bunker Hill yielded one of those quotations that every American is supposed to know: “Don’t fire till you see the whites of their eyes!” Meaning, “Don’t use any of your gunpowder until they’re really, really close, so you won’t miss.” But it’s still debatable which American officer said this, if anyone. Some sources credit Gen. Israel Putnam of Connecticut, some Col. William Prescott of Massachusetts.


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The New Season Begins


Winners: Rosebud and Rita

Tonight’s game marked the start of a new season of our version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”, aka The Tuesday Night Bar Exam (TNBE). We have now outlasted the original host of the network show, Regis Philbin, who started it all in the summer of 1999 and the long time host of the syndicated version, Meredith Vieira. That means we have kept this Game going for 14 years!

This year Cedric the Entertainer starts hosting on TV. I’m thinking of inviting him out to moderate our game when our moderator Mistress Daphne is away on holiday, which of course, she was again this week.

Darin stepped in to moderate a very challenging quiz. The dozen players who returned for this first game included many former champions and it was quite an achievement for Rosebud and Rita to finish in front. We learned that Bloody Mary was England’s first reigning Queen, and that Ivan the Terrible was the first Czar of Russia, which makes America seem very boring with a guy named George as our first President.

Good Question: If any of the heads on Mt. Rushmore had a body, it would be nearly how tall?

Choices:  100 ft;   200 ft;   300 ft;   500 ft


Answer: 500 ft

People have been describing the ideal length of the head (top of head to bottom of chin) in relation to standing height since at least Classical Greece. Human figures found most attractive have a height about 8 times the head length (now check yours). The President’s faces height on Rushmore are about 60 feet, so a full figure monument would indeed be about 500 feet high.

Some interesting facts:

Approximately 400 different people worked at Mount Rushmore during the carving process from October 1927 to October 1941. Although this work was dangerous, no lives were lost during the sculpting of the mountain.

The four figures are, of course, Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Lincoln. Lucky they did not listen to Doane Robinson who had the idea for Mount Rushmore. Instead of the 4 presidents he pictured western figures – General Custer, Buffalo Bill, Lewis and Clark, and legendary Sioux Warriors.

There is no entrance fee for Mount Rushmore National Memorial. However, fees are required to park at the memorial. So the strategy would be to ride your bike there – it’s somewhere in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Mount Rushmore is named after New York City attorney Charles E. Rushmore, who came to the Black Hills in 1884-85 to check legal titles on properties. On returning to Pine Camp he asked Bill Challis the name of this mountain. Bill replied, “Never had a name but from now on we’ll call it Rushmore.” Rather disappointing to learn it’s named after a lawyer.

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