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Articles Categorized History

From Happy Faces to Emoji

Who remembers the original “smiley” or “happy” face? Before anyone thought of emojis, Harvey Ross Ball, a graphic designer, was asked to make an icon that could lift employee morale. Within 10 minutes Ball came up with a yellow circle, two black dots for eyes, and an arc for a mouth. Ball was paid $45

Don’t Forget Your Sunglasses

Summer is here —Time to SLIP-SLOP-SLAP-WRAP SLIP on a shirt before you slide into the shade; SLOP on sunscreen; SLAP on a hat; and WRAP Sunglasses around your eyes.  Eye protection is important, not just to reduce glare and shade your view, but to prevent photokeratitis, or sunburn on your eyes from exposure to Ultraviolet

TOMATOES: FRUITS, VEGETABLES, OR LOVE APPLES?

Most vegetable gardens, whether in the back yard or in pots on the balcony, feature tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash [usually the prolific zucchini]. All are easy to grow and attractive with their lush leaves and yellow flowers. I enjoy the lacy effect of these tomato blossoms in my garden. Americans also like the taste of

VICTORY OVER SMALL POX

While spending time sheltering-in-place at home, I, like many other people, considered previous pandemics. Many media stories compare COVID-19 to the 1918 H1N1 virus pandemic. But that event is one of many throughout history, including small pox, also known as the speckled monster, a virulent viral disease once endemic in Europe, Asia, and Arabia. It

Saints & Snakes

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. A day to drink green beer, catch a leprechaun, and cheer the Emerald Isle and it’s legends. So, of course, this blog has something to do with St. Patrick, but it has more to do with snakes. In the Christian tradition, it’s fair to say snakes have a bad rap.

Beware the Ides of March

When I was in high school during the last century, students studied Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in 10th grade. Besides grappling with impossible language and syntax, we encountered the soothsayer’s warning in Act 1, Scene 2. Caesar and his advisors make their way through a crowd on a festival day, perhaps the festival of Lupercalia, an

Jumpin’ Jiminy: It’s Leap Year

You may not have noticed, but we have an extra day this month. Leap Day, February 29, is this Saturday. For most of us, it’s just another day, but it’s existence is what keeps our solar calendar in sync with the earth’s orbit around the sun. So let’s do some calendrical history. The Ancient Romans

The History & Impact of Chopsticks

Did you know February 6 is National Chopstick Day? It’s an obscure commemoration for unique eating utensils used by about one-third of the world’s population. Chopstick use requires a surprising amount of dexterity, and involves 30 joints and 50 muscles in the right-hand fingers, wrist, arm, and shoulder.  In other words, using chopsticks is harder

Holly, Ivy & Christmas

Holly, with its dramatic red berries, and ivy are two more evergreen symbols of Christmas that predate the Christian celebration. Romans decorated their homes with holly and ivy during Saturnalia, a year end festival honoring Saturn. Celts used the plants during the winter solstice. Both plants stand out during bleak winter days, with or without

Whitby: The West Cliff & Beyond

There’s one last sight to see before crossing the Swing Bridge to the West Side of Whitby. If you take a left before crossing the bridge, you’ll be on Grape Lane, a narrow thoroughfare of some interest. Some say Grape Lane was known of Grope Lane, a place where prostitutes plied their trade among the