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Monday, 31 October 2016

Ocean liner

The Black Ball Line was a passenger line founded by a group of New York Quaker merchants. In 1817 they offered the first regular passenger service with emphasis on passenger comfort running between England (Liverpool) and North America (New York City) For the first ten years the passages of the fleet averaged 23 days outward and 40 days to the westward.

The SS Great Western, a paddle-wheel steamship designed by railway engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, began its first Atlantic service in 1838. She took 15 days to cross the Atlantic, as compared with a month by sail-powered ships.

The first voyage of SS Great Western (1838)

The Great Western was the first steamship to provide a regular transatlantic service. It confounded critics who asserted that such a vessel would never be able to carry sufficient coal to make the crossing.

In 1838 John Lea and William Perrins started manufacturing their Worcester Sauce. To help promote it they arranged for cases of their product to be on all ocean liners that came in and out of British waters. They paid the stewards to serve the sauce in the dining rooms, which led to passengers requesting to buy a bottle of this new appealing concoction to take home. As a result, the fame of Worcestershire Sauce spread very quickly.

The SS Great Britain was also designed by Brunel. Launched on July 19, 1843, it was the first ocean-going craft with an iron hull and screw propeller.

 SS Great Britain in dry dock at Bristol in 2005 Photo by mattbuck., Wikipedia 

When launched, the Great Britain was by far the largest vessel afloat. She was the longest passenger ship in the world until 1854.

Great Britain was the first iron steamer to cross the Atlantic. She did so for the first time in 1845, in the time of 14 days.

The requirement for comfortable, but easily stowable, outside seats for use in the brisk ocean liner trade saw in 1884 the introduction of the foldable "deckchair", made by Edward Atkins of Bethnal Green, London on P&O liners.

In 1900 The German liner SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse became the first ship to send wireless signals to shore.

The SOS distress signal was used for the first time on June 10, 1909, when the Cunard liner SS Slavonia was wrecked off the Azores.

The Belfast slipway from which the British passenger liner RMS Titanic was launched in May 1911 was smothered in 22 tons of soap and tallow to ensure a smooth passage. The launch took just 62 seconds.

RMS Titanic at the docks of Southampton (1912).

The Titanic was one of the first ships to include an indoor heated swimming pool. The pool was 30 feet long and cost a shilling (5p) to use.

At 11:40 PM on April 14, 1912, during Titanic's maiden voyage, she hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean. The iceberg broke the Titanic's hull (bottom), letting water into the ship. The Titanic sank two hours and forty minutes later; 1,517 people were killed.

Before The Titanic sailed, many people thought it would be almost impossible for ships of such a design to sink.

On May 7, 1915, an U-20 torpedoed and sank the liner Lusitania off the West of Ireland. Almost 1,200 died including 120 Americans. The sinking was an important factor in the USA's decision to join the Allied cause during World War 1.

Lusitania arriving in port

In 1941, ten years before his The Catcher in the Rye was first published, J.D. Salinger took a job as activities director on board a luxury Caribbean cruise liner, the MS Kungsholm.

The SS United States was launched in 1951 and still holds the record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic in either direction by a passenger liner.

The cruise liner Queen Elizabeth II moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns

Source Food For Thought by Ed Pearce



The oceans cover just under 71 percent of the Earth's surface. The Pacific covers about 30 per cent of Earth, the Atlantic 21 per cent, the Indian 14 per cent.

The average temperature of the oceans is about 2C.

Arctic Ocean *Atlantic Ocean *Indian Ocean *Pacific Ocean *Southern Ocean


Though the oceans cover just under 71 percent of the Earth's surface, humans have only explored about 5 percent, meaning 95 percent of the planet's vast seas have never been seen.

About 250,000 species have been identified living in the oceans but it is estimated that there are over a million altogether.


The average depth of the oceans is two-and-a-half miles.

The deepest spot in the ocean is in the Mariana Trench, which reaches 10,994 metres (36,070 ft) at a small slot-shaped valley in its floor known as the Challenger Deep, at its southern end.

Location of the Mariana Trench

In the ocean it is totally dark at depths greater than 600 meters. About half the animals found below that depth glow.

In ancient times, people believed the ocean floor was a flat plain. However in the 1950s underwater mountain systems formed by plate tectonics were discovered. The Bible described this phenomenon, thousands of years before science in several places in the Old Testament. One example is the book of Jonah, written in the eighth century BC, which records the prophet Jonah being swallowed up by a big fish before being resurrected three days later and spat out on the shore. In chapter 2, the Bible describes his death and descent into the depths of the sea:
'The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.' Jonah 2:5-6


The world's oceans contain enough salt to cover all the continents in a blanket 500 feet thick.

The world’s oceans contain roughly 20 million tonnes of gold.

It's okay to pee in the ocean, since 95% of urine is water and the nitrogen in urea is used to feed ocean plants.

The ocean is blue because it absorbs red wavelengths quickly, while blue wavelengths get scattered and re-emitted from the ocean.

The blue-green color of water. By fichier personnel - Wikipedia

If all the water in all the oceans were shared equally among everybody on Earth, it would work out at a cubic mile of water for every 30 people.


An ocean current is a continuous movement of ocean water from one place to another. Ocean currents are created by wind, water temperature, salt content, and the gravity of the moon. The current's direction and speed depend on the shoreline and the ocean floor.

American oceanographer, meteorologist and cartographer Matthew Maury (January 14, 1806 – February 1, 1873) used Psalm 8 as a guide when he discovered ocean currents in the 19th century At one time, when Maury was in bed recovering from a badly broken leg, he asked one of his daughters to fetch his Bible and read to him. She chose Psalm 8, the eighth verse of which speaks of "whatsoever walketh through the paths of the sea," he repeated "the paths of the sea, the paths of the sea, if God says the paths of the sea, they are there, and if I ever get out of this bed I will find them."

As soon as he was strong enough, Maury began his deep sea soundings and he found that two ridges extended from the New York coast to England. In 1847 he published the Wind and Current Chart of the North Atlantic, which showed sailors how to use the ocean's currents and winds to their advantage and drastically reduced the length of ocean voyages.

Matthew Maury


June 8th is World Oceans Day. It was first celebrated in 1992 coinciding with the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Every square mile of the ocean has over 46,000 pieces of plastic in it.

Researchers claim that in three decades, the world’s oceans will contain more discarded plastic than fish when measured by weight.

Source Daily Express

Saturday, 29 October 2016


The oboe is a woodwind instrument made of a conical tube with a double reed stuck into the top. The oboe has a yearning, poignant tone and sound is made by blowing through the double reed. The pitch is changed by opening and closing holes on the sides of the instrument. The earliest evidence for such an instrument is Etruscan, around 480 BC.

The name oboe comes from French language hautbois, meaning "high wood", a high-pitched woodwind instrument.

Two oboe musette players from the Cantigas de Santa Maria (13th century).

The oboe evolved from the shawm, a double-reed musical instrument of conical bore, producing a loud and penetrating sound, which first appeared in Europe in the 13th century and was used in outdoor ceremonies.

Due to the taste of the French king, Louis XIV, for music, a subtler more precise instrument was needed for his orchestra and so in the mid 17th century, the oboe appeared.

The oboe became popular in the Baroque period. Many Italian composers such as Antonio Vivaldi wrote concertos for the instrument, and it is used in a lot of chamber music. At this time it hardly had any keys, but gradually more keys were added which made it easier to play the sharps and flats.

The oboe is usually made of black wood with silver keys running down the length of the body.

A modern oboe with a reed (Lorée, Paris).

It is usual for the principal oboist in an orchestra to play the note A for the rest of the orchestra to tune their instruments to.

Friday, 28 October 2016


Obesity is defined as a 20 percent excess of body fat over ideal weight.

Both ancient Egyptian and Greek medicine recognized obesity as a medical disorder.

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance obesity was often seen as a sign of wealth, and was relatively common among the elite. The upper class often flaunted their large size, as can be seen in portraits of the time.

The Tuscan General Alessandro del Borro, attributed to Charles Mellin, 1645

The first weight-loss surgery was to the King of Leon, Spain during the 10th century. His morbid obesity made him lose the throne so his grandmother escorted him to Cordoba where a doctor sewed his lips shut, his food only coming from a straw. He lost half his weight and reclaimed the throne.

Henry VIII of England was grossly overweight, with a waist measurement of 54 inches (137 cm), and his legs were unable to support his vast bulk. The king had to have a cage installed in his palace with a pulley to carry him upstairs.

The word obesity was not seen in English until 1611 and obese was first used in 1651.

William Howard Taft (1857 – 1930), the obese 27th President of the United States, had a bathtub that could hold four people installed in the White House because he couldn't fit into the present one.

United States President William Howard Taft

Jon Brower Minnoch (September 29, 1941 – September 10, 1983) was an American man who, at his peak weight, was the heaviest human being ever recorded, weighing approximately 1,400 lb (635 kilograms; 100 stone).

By the turn of the 21st century, the American Medical Association has estimated that over half of the adults in the United States were either overweight or obese.

The most obese state in 1995 (Mississippi) was thinner than the thinnest state in 2016 (Colorado).

Due to obesity, North America has 6% of the world's population and 34% of the world's human biomass.

Mexico is the world's fattest country with a 32.8 percent adult obesity rate, surpassing United States' 31.8 obesity rate, according to a study released in June 2013 by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). About 70 percent of Mexican adults are considered to be overweight.

Hawaii is currently the least obese U.S. state and is the only one where the obesity rate is under 20 percent.

Obesity is linked with the increasing death rates from diabetes and diseases of the circulatory system and kidneys.

Obese people cost public health services less money than healthy individuals, because they die faster.

The German word for weight gain from emotional over-eating is 'kummerspeck'.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Oberammergau Passion Play

In 1633, the plague reached the Bavarian village of Oberammergau and the villagers vowed that if they were spared from the plague, they would present a Passion play every ten years. They were indeed spared, the villagers kept their promise and the following year the first performance of the Oberammergau Passion Play was presented.

Except in wartime, the villagers have maintained their pledge of performing it every ten years to this day and attracts thousands of tourists.

1860 production

Such a vow would not have been possible in England as in 1581 Elizabeth I had authorized a complete prohibition of the mystery cycle plays and later there was a ban,

The text of the play is a composite of four distinct manuscripts dating from the 15th and 16th centuries covering the short final period of Jesus' life from his visit to Jerusalem and leading to his execution by crucifixion

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Barack Obama


Barack Obama was born on August 4, 1961 at Kapiʻolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital (now Kapiʻolani Medical Center for Women and Children) in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Hawaii only became a state in 1959. If it had become a state two years later than it did, Obama could not have become US president.

His father was a black exchange student from Kenya named Barack Obama Sr. His mother was a white woman from Kansas named Ann Dunham, who was an anthropologist.

Barack's parents met at a Russian class at the University of Hawaii. They married in 1961 and divorced three years later.

Obama with half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, mom Ann Dunham & grandad Stanley Dunham

In 1963, Dunham met Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian graduate student at the University of Hawaii, and the couple were married on Molokai on March 15, 1965. She divorced him in 1980.

Barack was reared by a "Christian-turned-secular mother" and was the son of a "Muslim-turned-atheist African father" and a stepfather with a "unique brand of Islam."

Barack grew up loving comic books. He was especially into Conan the Barbarian and Spiderman.

Barack was known as ‘O’Bomber’ at high school for his skill at basketball.

He was also known as ‘Barry’ until university when Barack Obama asked to be addressed by his full name.


Obama went to law school at Harvard University.

On February 5, 1990 Barack Obama became the first African American president of the student run journal Harvard Law Review.

After graduating with a JD degree magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991, Obama accepted a two-year position as Visiting Law and Government Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School to work on his first book.

Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for twelve years, first as a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996, and then as a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004.


Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996, succeeding Democratic State Senator Alice Palmer as Senator from Illinois's 13th District.

He was re-elected to the Illinois Senat ein 1998 and 2002.

In 2000, Obama ran for the US House seat in Illinois’ 1st District but lost that election to former Black Panther Bobby Rush.

Barack Obama successfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004. The US Senate race between Obama and Alan Keyes was the first senate race in history between two black candidates. In the November 2004 general election, Obama won with 70% of the vote.

Obama in his official portrait as a member of the United States Senate


Barack Obama's presidential campaign for the White House started in early June 2008 when he defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries.

He defeated Republican candidate John McCain in the election on November 4, 2008 by a wide electoral majority of 365 to 173. The popular vote (based on the total number of votes across the country) was closer, with Obama winning 53%, McCain 46%.

Barack Obama was the first African American to be elected president of the United States.

Official Oval Office Portrait

The Hawaiian-born Barack Obama was the first president not born in the continental United States.

As president, Obama slowly ended the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with intention to prepare the countries so that they could defend themselves.

President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 9, 2009.

He signed the Affordable Care Act (often called "Obamacare") which changed many health care laws.

Obama was the first president to openly express support for gay marriages.


Michelle Robinson Obama was born on January 17, 1964, in Chicago, Illinois. She grew up in a one-bedroom flat, sleeping in the living room with her brother.

Barack Obama first met Michelle Robinson when he was employed as a summer associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin. Assigned for three months as Obama's adviser at the firm, Robinson joined him at several group social functions.

The Obamas dance at a presidential inaugural ball.

The couple's first date was to the Spike Lee movie Do the Right Thing,

They were married on October 3, 1992 at Trinity United Church in Chicago.

The couple's first daughter, Malia Ann, was born on July 4, 1998, followed by a second daughter, Natasha ("Sasha"), on June 10, 2001.

Official portrait  of the Obama family in the Oval Office, December 11, 2011.

When he was sworn into his presidency, Obama vowed to have dinner with his wife and children five nights a week - a point he refused to back down on -and in spite of all his important duties, he still found time to coach his daughter Sasha's school basketball team and see his children daily.

Michelle Obama graduated from Princeton and has a law degree from Harvard.

At 5ft 11in, Michelle Obama is the joint tallest First Lady — sharing the honor with Eleanor Roosevelt and Melania Trump.


As Obama himself candidly admits, he meandered his way through Islam, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, asceticism, with, along the way, smatterings of Augustine and Nietzsche, just for starters.

The only Christian church to which Obama could have been considered a consistent member was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church, the Trinity United Church of Christ.

Obama had trouble during his first presidential campaign when Jeremiah Wright was videotaped criticizing America. On May 31, 2008, Barack and Michelle Obama announced that they had withdrawn their membership in Trinity United Church of Christ stating that "Our relations with Trinity have been strained by the divisive statements of Reverend Wright, which sharply conflict with our own views."

After a prolonged effort to find a church to attend regularly in Washington, Obama announced in June 2009 that his primary place of worship would be the Evergreen Chapel at Camp David.

Obamas worship at African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., January 2013


After working at a Baskin-Robbins as a teen, President Obama no longer likes ice cream.

His favorite meal is said to be wife Michelle’s shrimp linguine.

As president Obama has treated his staff to burger lunches, entertained foreign dignitaries at burger joints, and caused a bit of a media stir when he deigned to use Dijon mustard in lieu of ketchup.

Barak Obama likes berry tea, bottled water; and dislikes soft drinks.

Barack Obama can bench press an impressive 200 pounds.

Barack Obama's favorite music artists to listen to while he works out include the Rolling Stones, Jay Z and Stevie Wonder.

His favorite musical artist overall is Stevie Wonder. "When I was at that point where you start getting involved in music, Stevie had that run with Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Fulfillingness' First Finale and Innervisions, and then Songs in the Key of Life," Obama told Rolling Stone in 2008. "Those are as brilliant a set of five albums as we've ever seen."

His favorite movies are the first two Godfather films. “There’s this combination of old world gentility and ritual, with this savagery underneath,” Obama told MTV. “It’s all about family. So it’s a great movie.”

Obama considers HBO drama The Wire to be the best TV show of all time. He calls Omar, one of the show’s central characters, “the toughest, baddest guy on the show.”

Obama’s favorite novel is Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison story of a loose group of black strivers in magical-realist Michigan.

The Obama family's pet dog Bo (born October 9, 2008) is a neutered male Portuguese Water Dog. His previous owners called him Charlie. He was re-named after Barack Obama's initials, in part as a nod to Michelle Obama's father's nickname Diddley ( a reference to rock 'n' roll singer Bo Diddley.)

The official portrait of Bo on the South Lawn of the White House.

The Portuguese water dog is otherwise known as First Dog. In 2009, he won the Teen Choice Awards’ prize for Choice Celebrity Pet.


Obama is a twice Grammy winner, having scooped up the Best Spoken Word Album Award in both 2006 for his Dreams From My Father and 2008 for The Audacity Of Hope.

Barack Obama shattered the record for fastest time to reach one million followers on Twitter on May 18, 2015, after his new verified account @POTUS reached the figure in less than five hours.

Barack Obama was the first sitting President to publish an academic paper. His paper – United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps – was published in 2016 by the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association.


Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Titus Oates

Titus Oates was born at Oakham in Rutland, England on September 15, 1649.

His father Samuel was a minister who moved between the Church of England and the Baptists; he became a Baptist during the Puritan Revolution, rejoining the established church at the Restoration and was rector of All Saints' Church at Hastings (1666–74). By the late 1670s, he had once more reverted to the Baptist doctrine.

On May 29, 1670 Titus Oates was ordained as a Church of England priest. He was vicar of the parish of Bobbing in Kent, 1673–74, and then curate to his father at All Saints, Hastings.

On Ash Wednesday in 1677 Oates was received into the Catholic Church. He became involved with the Jesuit houses of St Omer in France and the Royal English College at Valladolid in Spain. When he returned to London, Oates explained that he had pretended to become a Catholic to learn about the secrets of the Jesuits and that, before leaving, he had heard about a planned Jesuit meeting in London.

Titus Oates

In 1678 Oates and English divine Israel Tonge wrote a lengthy manuscript that fabricated a "Popish Plot" in which Charles II was to be killed.. Oates succeeded in persuading the Privy Council that the Jesuits and various Catholic nobles were supposedly planning on assassinating the English king. As a consequence at least 15 innocent "conspirators" were executed and Oates himself was given an apartment in Whitehall and an annual allowance of £1,200.from the state for his services.

During the hysteria engendered by the "Popish Plot," Baron George "Judge" Jeffreys earned himself a notorious reputation for his relentless prosecution of the supposed Roman Catholic conspirators.
By 1681, Oates' crime has been uncovered and he was sentenced to life imprisonment incorporating an annual pillory and flogging in the public stocks.

Engraving of a pilloried Titus Oates

In 1689, upon the accession of the Protestant William of Orange and Mary, Oates was pardoned and granted a pension of £260 a year, but his reputation did not recover.

Oates married in 1693 and became a Baptist, but in 1701, he was expelled from the Baptists "as a disorderly person and hypocrite".

Oates died on July 13, 1705, by then an obscure and largely forgotten figure.

Source Wikipedia


Oats is the staple grain of Scotland. as they are better suited than wheat to the country's low temperatures and high humidity. As a result, oatmeal has a long history in Scottish culinary tradition.

Rolled oats, a type of oatmeal. By Bill Ebbesen - Wikipedia Commons

Scottish soldiers in the 14th century carried bags of oatmeal and cooked themselves fresh oatcakes wherever they camped. The dough was rolled out then whilst one side was baked on a flat iron plate the other side was toasted on the campfire. These cakes helped to comfort their stomach and gave them the energy to endure long marches.

An English visitor to Scotland in the early 17th century described a "pottage" made of oatmeal flour, boiled in water and eaten with butter, milk or ale. This meal, which was to become known as porridge had many regional variations in Scotland and was either served at breakfast or as the main course at lunch or dinner.

Bowl of oatmeal cooked with water to create porridge.By Narek75 - Wikipedia

A typical seaman's breakfast in the British navy at the turn of the 19th century was burgoo, made of boiled oatmeal seasoned with salt, sugar and butter, and accompanied by 'Scots coffee' - made of hard-baked ships biscuits burnt to a charcoal, then crushed and mixed with hot water.

The world's largest oatmeal cake was baked and built in Bertram, Texas during Labor Day weekend 1991. The 33-layer cake stood more than 3 feet tall, weighed 333 pounds, and served 3,333 people.

The traditional cake eaten on Bonfire Night is Parkin cake, made from oatmeal, ginger, treacle and syrup.

Source Food For Thought by Ed Pearce

Monday, 24 October 2016

Annie Oakley


Annie Oakley was born as Phoebe Anne Moses in a log cabin in rural Ohio on August 13, 1860.

Young Phoebe was taught to shoot by her father, Jacob, who hunted game to help feed the family.

Jacob, died of pneumonia when Phoebe was six years old. Her mother, Susan, briefly remarried, but her second husband likewise died shortly thereafter.

At 8 years old, Phoebe made her first shot when she killed a squirrel outside her house.

Phoebe's mom was struggling to provide for her seven surviving children, so at the age of nine, she was placed to work at the Darke County Infirmary where the infirmary's superintendent, Samuel Crawford Edington, and his wife Nancy, taught her to sew and decorate.

Beginning in the spring of 1870, Phoebe was taken in by a farming family who exploited her, using her as an unpaid servant. Phoebe spent two years in near-slavery to them where she endured mental and physical abuse.

Around the spring of 1872, Phoebe ran away from the farming family and at the age of 15 she returned to her mother.


Using her hunting knowledge, Phoebe began making money by shooting small game which was sold to restaurants and hotels in northern Ohio. She earned enough money to pay her mom’s $200 mortgage.

In her early 20s Phoebe Moses began appearing at target shooting exhibitions, where she met her future husband, Frank Butler, who was also a skilled marksman.

Moses adopted the stage name Annie Oakley around 1882, and she took to the stage with Butler after they married on August 23, 1876. They did not have children.

Annie had remarkable stage presence and Butler realized she should be the star of the show, and he receded into the background and became her manger.

In 1884 Oakley approached Buffalo Bill Cody about joining his touring company, and the following year she began to appear as a performer in his Wild West Show. She was an immediate hit, and before long the posters for the show prominently featured her.

At five feet tall, Oakley was given the nickname of "Watanya Cicilla" by fellow performer Sitting Bull, rendered "Little Sure Shot" in the public advertisements.

Wild West show poster

Oakley temporarily left the Buffalo Bill show but returned two years later in time for the Paris Exposition of 1889. Oakley was cemented as America's first female star and earned more than any other performer in the show, except for "Buffalo Bill" Cody himself.

When Sitting Bull was touring with Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, he was so impressed with Annie Oakley's shooting abilities and charmed by her character that he gave her the name "Little Sure Shot" and symbolically adopted her as his daughter.

Whereas other female sharpshooters tried to make a name for themselves by altering their appearance to please their male admirers, Annie Oakley appeared with flowing hair and wore her own homemade costumes on stage. She strived to look attractive while still maintaining a sense of dignity in her appearance. The sharpshooter behaved modestly, and engaged in "proper" female activities such as embroidery in her spare time.

Annie Oakley Cabinet Card Signed.

Thomas Edison filmed Annie Oakley on November 1, 1894 for his Kinetoscope movie The Little Sure Shot of the Wild West (see below), an exhibition of rifle shooting at glass balls, etc.


The American sharpshooter nicknamed "Little Sure Shot" could hit a playing card from 90 feet (the thin side facing her), puncturing it at least five times before it hit the ground. It was this display that named free tickets with holes punched in them, Annie Oakleys.

At the age of 62, Annie Oakley broke all existing records for women's trap shooting. She smashed 98 out of 100 clay targets thrown at 16 yards while at a match at the Pinehurst Gun Club in North Carolina on March 5, 1922. She hit the first fifty, missed the 51st, then the 67th.

Oakley in 1922


On October 29, 1901 outside Lexington, North Carolina, a freight train crashed into part of the train carrying Buffalo Bill's show. 110 horses were killed by the accident or were put down later. No people were killed but Annie Oakley's injuries were so severe she was told she would never walk again, though she eventually did.

Annie Oakley's hip and ankle were badly fractured in an automobile accident in 1922 in Florida, and the lingering injuries kept her mostly out of the public eye afterward.

Annie Oakley died on November 3, 1926 from pernicious anemia in Ohio at age 66. Frank Butler, her husband of 50 years, passed away 18 days later.


Oak tree


May 29 used to be celebrated in England as Oak Apple Day or Royal Oak Day in celebration of Charles II hiding in an oak tree at Boscobel to escape the Roundheads in 1651. The date was chosen as it was the King’s birthday.

Royal Oak Day was declared a public holiday by parliament in 1660. Its official celebration continued until 1859.  The date was celebrated by wearing sprigs of oak or oak apples.

The original Royal Oak at Boscobel was destroyed in the 18th century by tourists snipping off branches as souvenirs.

A descendant of the Royal Oak at Boscobel House.  Oosoom at en.wikipedia 

The oak tree under which Goethe allegedly wrote Faust's Walpurgis Night scene stood inside Buchenwald concentration camp.


The English oak (Quercus robur) is the most common tree species in the UK.

The English oak differs from sessile oak (Quercus petraea) in having acorns on stalks. The acorns on Quercus petraea are stalkless.

Sessile Oak near Roßberg, Hesse, Germany. By Willow - Wikipedia

Quercivorous means “feeding on oak leaves”.


The usual lifespan of an oak tree is about 200 years, but some live over 1,000 years. In 2013, a 1,200 year-old Welsh oak was blown down by high winds.

Oak Trees grow to around 100ft tall.

Most oak trees don't grow acorns until they are 40- 50 years old.

Mature oak trees produce about 2,000 acorns each year but only one in 10,000 will ever become a tree.


The leaves and acorns of the oak tree are poisonous to cattle, horses, goats and sheep in large amounts due to the toxin tannic acid, and cause kidney damage and gastroenteritis.

Foliage and acorns of English oak Wikipedia Commons

In one day, a full-grown oak tree expels seven tons of water through its leaves.

Source Daily Express 

Sunday, 23 October 2016


Though his struggles with depression made him initially reject a lucrative job with the USA chemical firm E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, Inc., organic chemist Wallace Carothers accepted the offer in the late 1920s. Carothers began working at the DuPont Experimental Station on February 6, 1928.

A team of researchers, led by Carothers set out to discover what sorts of materials they could produce from varying combinations of long-chain molecules. In a pioneering process called polymerization they combined atoms into long molecules that varied in the types of atoms used and the ways they were joined, producing an assortment of unique materials.

One day they discovered an unusual property of one of their molten substances: it would stick to a glass rod and form a fine strand. As soon as the strand met the cold air, it solidified and formed a long continuous fiber that was both flexible and strong. The fiber was more stronger and elastic than silk and relatively insensitive to moisture and mildew. The first example was produced on February 28, 1935.

Wallace Carothers in the lab

On February 16, 1937, the du Pont company patented their synthetic textile fiber calling it nylon. The letters "nyl" were arbitrary and the "on" was copied from the suffixes of other fibers such as cotton and rayon.

Wallace Carothers continued to suffer from depression and kept a capsule of cyanide on the chain of his watch. He took his own life with the poison at 41 on April 29, 1937, which meant he never saw the huge success of his material.

One of the first products to be made with this new material was a new type of toothbrush- Dr. West's miracle toothbrush with nylon bristles. Other early uses were for fishing lines and surgical sutures.

DuPont touted its new synthetic textile fibre as being "as strong as steel, as fine as a spider's web."

Nylon stockings was introduced to the American public at the site of the forthcoming World Fair in New York on October 27, 1938. Before nylon, women had to choose between wool, which was hot in summer  and silk, which ran easily.

Nylon stockings appeared on sale for the first time in the U.S in May 1940, retailing at $1.35, The first year on the market, DuPont sold 64 million pairs of nylon stockings.

Nylon stockings being inspected in Malmö, Sweden, in 1954. By Erik Liljeroth, Nordiska museet,

Nylon replaced silk in many different products after silk became scarce during World War II. This included military applications such as parachutes and flak vests of American combatants.

After the war ended, Du Pont went back to selling nylon to the public, engaging in another promotional campaign in 1946 that resulted in an even bigger craze, triggering off "nylon riots".

Nylon is made from coal and petroleum.

Modern armor, used by the army, police, security guards, and people at risk from assassination, uses nylon and fibreglass and is often worn beneath their clothing.

Source Comptons Encyclopedia.

Saturday, 22 October 2016


The Torah, given from God to Moses on Mount Sinai, included possibly the first ever guidelines on nutrition. God wanted the Hebrews to eat only "kosher" food for health reasons. Indeed the Hebrew word "kasher" literally means "proper."

The father of medicine, Hippocrates, who lived about 400 BC often referred to the importance of a nutritious diet in his writings. He claimed to have discovered a principle for prescribing diets that were suited to individual's constitutions.


It wasn't until the 14th century that there was any advance on understanding nutrition when in China philosophers began to find links between diet and diseases. They regarded all foods as having an influence on health so they claimed there was no distinction between foods and medicines.

By the 15th century some enlightened European physicians were emphasizing the importance of a healthy diet. One physician from St. Bartholomew's hospital in London suggested his patients should be encouraged to eat honey, river-crab and dried figs for their health.

With the discovery of other lands new fruit and vegetables were introduced into Europe. It was noted the beneficial effects they had on health, helping to prevent such things as skin diseases.

Fruits and vegetables are a source of vitamins

In the sixteenth century Andrew Borde, the physician and author of a Dyetary of Health was using Hippocrates' humoral theory to explain and to treat illness. Sickness, he taught, resulted from unbalanced humours. Therefore it was important for the sick to maintain a balanced diet and they should eat food suited to their temperaments. The choleric man should avoid hot spices, the melancholic fried meat, the phlegmatic man should avoid white meat and fruit, and the sanguine, garlic.

Scurvy, a potentially fatal disease that makes the gums bleed, teeth fall out and legs swell up particularly affected seamen on long voyages in the fifteenth century. By the year 1593, Sir John Hawkins and his men were aware that citrus fruit was a good remedy against scurvy and soon afterwards the East India Company started supplying its crews with lemon water and oranges to counteract the disease.

In 1753 the British naval surgeon James Lind published his Treatise of the Scurvy, in which he showed the effectiveness of citrus fruits in preventing scurvy. Lind was aware that the Dutch had employed citrus fruits for a century and a half and his discoveries came as a result of searching for objective evidence of the healing effects of such fruits by doing experiments.

James Lind

Inspired by Lind's findings the British explorer Captain James Cook introduced lemon and lime juice and other healthy products to his men and only one sailor died of scurvy on his last two voyages.

In 1903 Horace Fletcher, an English importer, wrote The ABC of Nutrition. In it he espoused the notion that William Gladstone followed, that each mouthful of food should be chewed 32 times.

A vitamin is a chemical compound that is needed in small amounts for the human body to work correctly. In 1913, Elmer McCollum and Marguerite Davis discovered the first vitamin, fat-soluble vitamin A and a few years later named vitamin C as the then-unknown substance preventing scurvy.

It was realized that where there was a lack of a particular vitamin in a diet, specific deficiency diseases were more likely to be caught and treatment with that vitamin was highly effective. Before long manufacturers capitalized on this and soon a whole collection of vitamin pills and other
concoctions were being sold to the general public.

In the 1960s, the sugar industry paid three Harvard scientists $50,000 to say that heart disease was most likely caused by saturated fat. After their report was published in JAMA, diets concentrating on low fat gained the endorsement of many health authorities.

By the mid-1990s, many Americans and Western Europeans were turning to low-fat and low-calorie foods on a regular basis. However confusion existed as to what constituted a healthful diet. Each time a new scientific study pointed to a link between food and disease, people turned to something different. From beef to chicken, from butter to margarine to olive oil, they switched but still many of the foods they ate were highly processed with many additives.

At the turn of the 21st century many in the western world had a calorie intake of over 3,500 per day, a thousand above the amount recommended as healthy by nutritionists. However, two billion people in the world suffered from chronic under-nutrition and around 40 million were dying each year from a lack of food.

Chad has the world's healthiest diet even though it is an extremely poor nation. It has access to vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and fish, but almost no availability of processed meat and sugary beverages, or foods containing trans fats or sodium.

U.S. alcohol is regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), not the FDA, so it doesn't have to have a nutrition label.

Source Food For Thought by Ed Pearce

Friday, 21 October 2016


The Myristica fragrans is an evergreen tree indigenous to the Banda Islands in the Moluccas (or Spice Islands) of Indonesia. Two spices are derived from the fruit of the tree: Nutmeg and Mace.

Nutmeg fruit By Joe Ravi, Wikipedia
Until the mid-19th century, the Banda Islands were the world's only source of nutmeg.

In 1621 Japanese mercenaries hired by the Dutch were landed on Bandaneira Island with the intention of enforcing Dutch monopoly over the Banda’s spice trade. Of the 12,000-15,000 residents all but 1,000 were killed or forced to leave the island as the Dutch created a nutmeg monopoly.

The British used to celebrate Twelfth Night with a drink called Lamb's Wool made from roasted apples, sugar and nutmeg in beer.

Shakespeare gives a recipe for pies in A Winter's Tale including mace, nutmeg, ginger, prunes, raisins and saffron to color it.

The Caribbean island of Grenada has produced nutmeg since 1843 when a British ship returning from the East Indies left a few nutmeg trees there on its way home. Today, Grenada produces more than 20 per cent of the world's nutmeg. Only Indonesia produces more.

Grenada is the only country that depicts a clove of nutmeg on its flag.

Nutmeg is extremely poisonous if injected intravenously.

Nutmeg when eaten in large amounts can be hallucinogenic.

Source Daily Express


The tasty chocolate and hazelnut spread Nutella was invented in 1946 by Italian pastry maker Pietro Ferrero. At the time, there was very little chocolate as cocoa was in short supply due to World War II rationing, so Ferrero mixed hazelnuts into the chocolate.

Ferrero sold an initial batch of 300 kilograms (660 lb) of "Pasta Gianduja" in 1946. It was originally a loaf designed to be sliced and placed on bread, but Ferrero started to sell a creamy version as "Supercrema" five years later.

Ferrero's son Michele Ferrero revamped Supercrema with the intention of marketing it throughout Europe. Its composition was modified and it was renamed "Nutella". The first jar of Nutella left the company's Alba factory on April 20, 1964.

By A. Kniesel - Wikipedia Commons

An American blogger named Sara Rosso founded World Nutella Day on February 5th, 2007.

Nutella is pronounced "New-tell-uh," not "Nuh-tell-uh.

The Ferrero company also owns Ferrero Rocher, Kinder and Tic Tac mints.

A man lost six pounds from eating only Nutella for a week, mostly because consuming so much of it made him violently ill after one day.

Up to 365,000 tonnes of Nutella are eaten around the world each year.

Nutella uses 25% of the world's supply of hazelnuts.

You could cover the Great Wall of China eight times with the amount of Nutella jars sold each year.

The Nutcracker

After the success of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty, the St Petersburg Opera commissioned the Russian composer to write another score. He was asked to compose the music to accompany an adaption of a 1816 German story, E.T.A. Hoffmann's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, that they wanted to perform as a ballet.

According to German folklore, nutcrackers are given as good luck charms, and help to ward off evil. Hard-shelled nuts were often hung from Christmas trees, hence the nutcracker doll becoming a 19th Century festive staple.

The story is about a little girl who dreams that she is transported to a land of sweets and magic by the Nutcracker Prince and at first Tchaikovsky was unhappy with the setting of a Christmas party for children. However. the choreographer persuaded him by giving exact specifications of the rhythms and tempos needed for each dance.

The ballet was premièred at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on December 18, 1892. The original production was not a success, one critic called it "completely insipid." However, the 20-minute "Nutcracker Suite" that Tchaikovsky extracted from the ballet was well received - the Sugar Plum Fairy supposedly received five curtain calls.

The original production of The Nutcracker St. Petersburg, 1892 Wikipedia

One novelty in Tchaikovsky's original score was the use of the celesta, a percussion instrument, which produces a bell-like sound. The composer had secretly bought the newly invented glockenspiel-like instrument in Paris and he used it for the character of the Sugar Plum Fairy to characterize her because of its "heavenly sweet sound."

The Odeon label released the first ever long-playing album in 1909 when it released the "Nutcracker Suite" by Tchaikovsky on four double-sided discs in a specially designed package.

The Nutcracker was not performed in Western Europe until 1934 when it premiered in London. The complete Nutcracker has enjoyed enormous popularity since George Balanchine's 1954 production in New York and is now performed by countless ballet companies, primarily during the Christmas season,

The original manuscript of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite was found on December 9, 1946 in wastepaper bought to cover the walls of a flat in St Petersburg, then Leningrad.


The origins of the almond go back a long, long way. It's mentioned in Genesis 43:11 where it is described as "among the best" and nine additional times in the Bible.

Almonds and pistachios are the only nuts mentioned in the Bible.

In the Middle Ages, walnuts were used as a cure for headaches, probably because of their brain-like appearance.

Denmark is the only country with a tax on nuts. It was created in 1922 and increased in 2009.

Macadamia nuts are not sold in their shells because it takes 300 pounds per square inch of pressure to break the shell.

Most Brazil nuts come not from Brazil but northern Bolivia.

In Portuguese, Brazil nut pods are called ouricos, or 'hedgehogs'.

Brazils, cashews, coconuts, peanuts and walnuts are not nuts (according to botanical definition, they are a mixture of seeds and legumes).

The term in a nutshell means in the fewest possible words, or a story told in so little words than it could physically fit in the shell of a nut. Its origin dates back to the ancient Roman encyclopaedist Pliny the Elder, who claimed that a copy of Homer's The Iliad existed that was small enough to fit inside a walnut shell. in the early 1700s the Bishop of Avranches tested Pliny's theory by writing out the epic in tiny handwriting on a walnut-sized piece of paper and lo and behold, he succeeded.

The nursery rhyme about gathering nuts in May has nothing to do with nuts. It referred to gathering 'knots', which were posies of flowers.