Archive for November, 2019

Winner: Pluto, then Keith and Tom Twin, then TJ

Boys night tonight. Although TJ traveled all the way from Vegas to show his stuff, he couldn’t quite top the 3 old guys, falling one short of the playoff.

Pluto, Keith and Tom Twin went 3 rounds in a playoff before Pluto answered this one correctly: Which car company owns Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, and Porsche?

Volkswagen Group, of course.

Good Question!: Which mountains stretch from West Virginia to Georgia?

Choices: a. Appalachian   b. Blue Ridge   c. Smoky   d. Rocky

Answer: Blue Ridge

The choice for most of us was between Blue Ridge and Smoky mountains, and that’s because they are so darn close to each other. Actually, the Great Smoky Mountains are part of, a subset of the much larger Blue Ridge mountain range which does stretch from West Virginia to Georgia.

Before we get into details, let’s get into the Great Smoky Mountain mood by taking a listen to Dolly, a local girl who made good:

Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the Tennessee–North Carolina border in the southeastern United States. They are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, and form part of the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province. The Great Smokies are best known as the home of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which protects most of the range. The park was established in 1934, and, with over 11 million visits per year, it is the most visited national park in the United States.

Anyone who has visited the Great Smoky Mountains can confirm that the Smokies certainly live up to their name! The mountains of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina are blanketed with a smoky haze that gives the region an almost magical quality. Indeed, the Cherokee considered the mountains to be a sacred place and referred to the area as “Shaconage” (Sha-Kon-O-Hey): land of the blue smoke. When European settlers arrived in the early 1800s, they took inspiration from the Cherokee language when they named the Great Smoky Mountains and the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains.

Where Does the Smoke Come From?

The short answer to the question is that the “smoke” from the Smoky Mountains is actually fog that comes from the area’s vegetation. We all know that plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. What we hear less about is how plants also exhale something called “volatile organic compounds”, or VOCs.

VOCs may sound scary, but when they are released from plants, they are completely natural. Have you ever enjoyed the piney smell that wafts from a Christmas tree? That scent comes from the tree giving off VOCs as it breathes. In addition to causing various scents and odors, a high concentration of VOCs can also cause fog. The millions of trees, bushes, and other plants in the Great Smoky Mountains all give off vapor, which comes together to create the fog that gives the mountains their signature smoky look.


Great Smoky Mountain NP – National Park Service.

Everything to know about Great Smoky Mountains National Park – National Geographic

10 Best Things to Do on a Great Smoky Mountains Vacation


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Winner: Shields, then Pluto, Tall Paul & Sheilah

There was a lot riding on this game. Good thing Shields won. Had she not won, she might have had to return her PhD.

Bit of chaos tonight. We had a new moderator, a new scoring system, and not nearly enough answer sheets to go around.

With Mistress Daphne, moderator Mike, and Tiffany unavailable, we went deep to the bench and asked Chenzie to moderate the game – she did a fine job. To make things a bit easier for her we went to the honor system with each player keeping their own score – it seemed to work. Moderator Mike has promised to return from the canyons in Utah to moderate next week’s game.

Good Question!: From which type of flower does a vanilla pod come?

Choices: a. vanilla   b. orchid    c. heather   d. lily

Answer: orchid

I have seen a lot of orchids, but I’ve never noticed any vanilla pods in there.

The orchid family is a diverse and widespread family of flowering plants, with blooms that are often colourful and fragrant.

They are one of the two largest families of flowering plants, with about 28,000 currently accepted species. Who counts these plants?

The family encompasses about 6–11% of all seed plants and includes Vanilla, the genus of the vanilla plant. Since the introduction of tropical species into cultivation in the 19th century, horticulturists have produced more than 100,000 hybrids and cultivars.
We are just drowning in orchids.

What about vanilla?

Vanilla, the vanilla orchids, forms a flowering plant genus of about 110 species in the orchid family. The most widely known member is the flat-leaved vanilla, native to Mexico, from which commercial vanilla flavoring is derived. It is the only orchid widely used for industrial purposes in flavoring such products as foods, beverages and cosmetics, and is recognized as the most popular aroma and flavor. The key constituent imparting its popular characteristics is the phenolic aldehyde, vanillin.

Good advice here on How To Use a Vanilla Bean


Here is even more of what you need to know about vanilla in the store.

Vanilla Versus Vanillin

“I’m sure most of you have bought vanilla extract at the store and not thought too much about it. Vanilla is vanilla, right? While many people might not think it matters, the differences in true vanilla and vanillin (or fake vanilla) may be of interest to you when you find out the facts.

Vanilla bean pods grow in areas such as Madagascar and Tahiti, The beans are left to dry in the sun and cured, which is when their flavor develops. Vanilla is a natural aphrodisiac and a good source of B vitamins. Vanilla beans are usually soaked with a liquid medium such as alcohol or glycerin (a food-based sweet liquid) for a certain number of weeks to produce vanilla extract.

Vanillin, on the other hand, is what you’ll find in cheap extracts at the store that are also called “imitation vanilla”. Imitation vanilla may also be called “vanilla flavor”, and is often combined with sugar, corn syrup, or a similar low-quality sweetener to make the product taste better. It’s chemically produced to mimic the taste of vanilla but is not however, true vanilla.

Then there’s the price and the flavor. Real vanilla is always worth a few extra dollars, and you’ll likely notice it on the price tag. If a vanilla product you’re buying is extremely cheap, most likely it’s not real vanilla. Real vanilla also has a deep, complex flavor, not an overly sweet taste. Real vanilla has an almost smokey flavor with a depth that cheap vanilla simply can’t replace.

For the best vanilla products, choose alcohol-free extracts that are organic and have no added sugar. Vanilla extract, vanilla beans, and vanilla bean powder are all excellent to add to a variety of foods like healthy “milkshakes”, cupcakes, smoothies, oatmeal, and pie. Just be sure you’re choosing the highest quality so you get your money’s worth and aren’t spending your hard earned dollars on chemicals and sugar.”



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Winner: Pluto, then Tall Paul and Nick, then Rosebud and Eva

Pluto won even though he still hasn’t figured out why Nebraska, whose college footbball team is called the Cornhuskers, is known as the Beef State. Makes no sense.

Two things he did know were that Teri Hatcher, a.k.a. Susan Delfino, was a “Desperate Housewife,” and that Bob Petit was a great basketball player (one of the top five power forwards of all time.)

Good Question!: In 1991, a spoof Nobel prize, call the Ig Nobel prize for achievements that cannot or should not be repeated, was instigated by which US University?

Choices: a. Harvard   b. Yale   c. Stanford   d. Brown

Answer: Harvard

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that make people LAUGH, and then THINK. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.

Every September, in a gala ceremony in Harvard’s Sanders Theatre, 1100 splendidly eccentric spectators watch the new winners step forward to accept their Prizes. These are physically handed out by genuine (genuinely bemused) Nobel Laureates. Thousands more, around the world, watch the live broadcast online.

The 2019 Ig Nobel Prize for BIOLOGY, for instance, was awarded to Ling-Jun Kong and colleagues for the discovery that dead magnetised cockroaches show different behaviour than living magnetised cockroaches. Nevertheless, this was the first work on characterising the magnetisation dynamics in live insects (Kong et al., 2018).

Another gem of 2019 is the Ig Nobel Prize for CHEMISTRY that went to Shigeru Watanabe and colleagues for estimating how much saliva is produced by a typical five-year-old child per day. It is 500 ml in case you wondered (Watanabe et al., 1995)

Here is my favorite Ig Nobel Pize Winning Achievement In Life Science.

Gains come with pains. If you ever love to go for the sweet honey, be ready to be stung by a busy bee…

The Ig Nobel Prize for outstanding efforts to advance the fields of PHYSIOLOGY and ENTOMOLOGY went to Michael Smith in 2015 who investigated which body part is the most painful when stung by a honey bee. In a sophisticated trial, Michael Smith was repeatedly stung 25 times by honey bees on different locations of his body… the least painful are the skull, the middle toe tip and the upper arm; the most painful are the nostril, yes the nostril (!), the upper lip and the penis shaft. Unbelievably, the author, who was the test subject, self-administered five stings per day (Smith, 2014).

Try this for

5 Hilarious Discoveries from the 2019 Ig Nobel Prize Winners


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Winner: Pluto, then Rosebud and Almond Joy

It was a quiet night with a small group of players. The best part of this election evening was that the Driver was away managing one of the polling locations, so we didn’t have to fight him for those delicious brownies that Darin served up.

Good Question!: Who did Time magazine name as man of the year in 1982?

Choices: a. Michael Jackson   b. the computer   c. Microsoft   d. Ronald Reagan


Not Exactly

Answer: the computer (technically, it was named machine of the year)

The announcement of Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” has been a year-end tradition since 1927, when Charles Lindbergh was named “Man of the Year” following his solo flight across the Atlantic.

On Dec. 26, 1982, Time took a risk and placed not a person, but a “Machine of the Year” on the cover of its Jan. 3, 1983, issue: the computer. The cover featured a papier-mâché man sitting at a red table with a PC. Admittedly, this wasn’t Time’s riskiest pick — Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler had both been named “Man of the Year” in years prior. But it was a surprise. It is said that Steve Jobs, who had received signals that he would be named man of the year, cried when he saw the issue.

The “Machine of the Year” designation came at a time when PC sales were doubling each year: going from 724,000 in 1980 to 1.4 million in 1981 to almost 3 million in 1982. As publisher John A. Meyers presciently wrote: “Several human candidates might have represented 1982, but none symbolized the past year more richly, or will be viewed by history as more significant, than a machine: the computer.” Time referenced the PC revolution, which was bringing computers “down to scale” so “people could hold, prod, and play with them.”

When TIME put together the 21-page Machine of the Year cover package, the PC revolution was still young. The vast majority of homes didn’t yet have one and the IBM PC did not ship until 1981.

But it wasn’t that young: The MITS Altair 8800, the first PC that mattered, came out in 1975. In 1977, it was followed by the Apple II, Commodore’s PET 2001 and Radio Shack’s TRS-80, the first truly consumery, ready-to-use machines. And another half-decade of evolution occurred before TIME commemorated the PC’s arrival so memorably.

Interestingly, the journalists who worked on the “Machine of the Year” article used typewriters to write their stories. The Time newsroom did not upgrade to word processors until1983.

Now if it had been Michael Jackson named man of the year we would’ve watch this video:


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