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Archive for January, 2014

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Winner: Droppin’ Dave

Droppin’ has been under the weather and returned to play at half strength tonight, but that was good enough to finish just a bit ahead of FrankC. The rest of us are headed back to zoology school to be better prepared for all those animal kingdom questions. One of the trickiest questions tonight asked how the Walibri tribe of central Australia greeted each other. Only one person knew. Big John answered that they greet each other by shaking penises. When we asked John how he knew that, he declined to answer. Hmm?

Good question: What fresh water mollusks produce red or pink colored pearls?

Choices:   a.volute   b. oyster   c. mussel   d. conch

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Answer: Mussels

Don’t know about you, but I always think of oysters when I think of pearls.
Maybe I should be picking up mussels at the market each time they are on sale, might get lucky.

Freshwater Pearls are cultured in mussels or oysters in rivers, lakes or ponds and tend to be more irregular in shape and more varied in color than saltwater pearls. Nearly 96% of freshwater pearls today are produced in China. With the development of culturing techniques, Chinese freshwater pearls have played an even more important role in the jewelry industry than ever before.

Freshwater pearls’ lower price than saltwater doesn’t necessarily mean low quality. In fact, some high quality freshwater pearls are very valuable. Typical sizes range from 4 mm to over 10 mm. The various freshwater pearl shapes can be used to make impressive looking jewelry pieces that sell at affordable prices. Because freshwater pearls do not start with shell nuclei, and are produced in mussels (each of which can produce several pearls), they are composed 100% of “nacre,” the calcium which, over time, coats the nucleus.

For those of you who might be interested in applying pearls (sort of) to your favorite fabric here is a nice craft video:

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Winners: Judy and Pluto

The weather warmed up and a crowd of 21 well behaved players showed up. Judy brought daughter Lauren, who was visiting from the NorthEast Kingdom in VT,  and warned us that she would be a contender. Lauren lived up to her advance billing and finished tied for 2nd with Nadia, the mad scientist. They finished just a bit behind Judy and Pluto, who was the only guy in the top group tonight.

What would a night of trivia be without a question about King Zog of Albania, Mr. Spock’s green blood, or those daring funambulists (tightrope walkers). We also learned that the Olympic flag has 5 rings, supposedly representing the 5 inhabited continents. Curiously, the founder of the modern Olympic games, Pierre de Coubertin, considered America (North & South) as one continent.

Only 3 weeks until the Games in Sochi – no Lindsey Vonn, but watch for the Americans Ted Ligety, the best giant slalom skier in the world, and Mikaela Shiffrin, who has a great shot at a slalom gold medal

Good Question!: In the song “Waltzing Matilda”, what is a jumbuck?

Choices:   a. goat      b. horse      c. cat      d. sheep

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Answer: sheep

Here’s the legend:

In 1895, A.B. “Banjo” Paterson was working as a journalist in the Queensland town of Winton. Local folklore says that during his stay he was told the story of a wanted swagman who had recently drowned by jumping into a billabong to escape arrest. This story, and other local tales about swagman “waltzing their matildas” or carrying their swags, was the basis for the now immortal words of Waltzing Matilda. Stranded at Dagworth station by the Wet, Paterson put the words to a Scottish folk song, played on the Autoharp by his host. The song was first performed on 6 April 1895 at a local pub. It was an instant success and soon became the nation’s favorite song.

Here are 3 “Waltzing Matilda” videos, each very interesting. Pick your fave.

The first explains all the terms (“matilda”, “swagman”, “tucker bag”, “billy” “billabong” and of course, “jumbuck”) before a fun version of the tune:

The second, a clip celebrating Australia Day, shows why many consider this tune the unofficial Australian national anthem:

The third is a variation, one of the most affecting anti-war tunes you will ever hear:

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The Lyrics:

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong, 
Under the shade of a 
coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled,
“Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?”
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled,
“Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?”Down came a jumbuck to drink at the billabong:
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee.
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker-bag,
“You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.”
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker-bag,
“You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.”Up rode a squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred;
Down came the troopers, one, two, three:
“Who’s that jolly jumbuck you’ve got in your tucker-bag?
You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me!
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.
Who’s that jolly jumbuck you’ve got in your tucker-bag?
You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me!”Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong;
“You’ll never catch me alive!” said he;
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
“You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me!
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me!”
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
“You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda with me!” 
swagman: an intinerant farmhand, carrying his “swag” (his blankets) rolled into a cylinder
* billabong: a creek (normally with a pronounced “oxbow” bend)
* coolibah tree: a eucalypt (gum) tree )
* waited till his billy boiled: a billy is a tin can used to heat water over a campfire to make tea
* jumbuck: sheep
* tucker-bag: bag or box used to store food
* squatter: farmer/grazier who simply found good land and took possession; some became extremely rich
* trooper: policeman or soldier on horseback 

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2013 in review

2013 annual report for this blog.

(courtesy of the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys)

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,400 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Winners: Margaret the Red and Madly                                                                (pix includes Calie from Chicago and Pluto.)

A warm pub on a cold night attracted a dozen players for a spirited game. Madly and Margaret the Red, who had been absent from the winners circle for some time, made their efforts pay off with a convincing win over Pluto and the rest. We learned that the state that drinks the most beer surprisingly was CA, and not Texas with their large population of rednecks – population rules. Although Red argued vociferously, it was Shakespeare who has had the most movies made of his work, not Agatha Christie. That was no mystery to the rest of us.

One of our fave questions tonight was guessing the meaning of the word “callipygian”. Although the correct answer from the choices provided was “big butt”, it more properly means shapely buttocks.

Nicole, who had just escaped Chicago’s brutal, numbing cold (-16 today at Midway airport), demonstrated it’s meaning for us and will forever be known as “Calie from Chicago.” She must have heard that Northport was a balmy 8 above, or maybe it was her friend Vance who brought her to town. Either way, it was nice to have a couple of new players join us.

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After the game there was a spirited Re-Gifting Exchange with “gifts” such as the Obama Chia Pet, unmentionable gummie type candy, shirts, slippers and even a metal elephant wine bottle holder with a bottle of wine.

Alas, the infamous book recycled for years by Coffee Bill was not among the treasures, nor was Coffee Bill present to add his dash of humor to the festivities. Come on Bill, Jersey is not that far away.

The gift most in demand was a gift set of 2 bottles of Italian wines, which was stolen by nearly everyone.  Red chose it, stole it (even sat on it to hide them), created alliances to get it back, but ultimately lost it. A good time was had by all, and topping it off there was the wonderful spread of apps and cookies served by Darin to make the holidays last just a bit longer.

Good Question!: What does Greek mythology call the race of beings that are half human, and half god? (for instance – Heracles or Odysseus)

Choices:   a. Supermen   b. Garm   c. Heroes   d. Non Mortals

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Answer: These are called the Greek Heroes.

The proper name for them are demigods. The race of heroes included both mythological half-human, half-god figures (usually the result of a divine-human coupling) and historical figures who were raised to divine status after their death. Here are some of the most famous:

  • Heracles- the greatest of Greek heroes and almost a god, known for his superhuman strength
  • Perseus – beheaded Medusa and inspired the film Clash of the Titans
  • Jason – of Argonauts fame
  • Theseus – king of Athens who killed the Minotaur with a magic sword
  • Oedipus – accidentally killed his father and slept with his mother
  • Achilles – hero of The Iliad and battled the Trojans
  • Odysseus – hero of The Odyssey

Of course, in more modern times there were some fake Heroes. Who could forget Arnold as Hercules in NYCity:

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