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青山妩媚

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Earth Hour  

2010-04-03 14:24:46|  分类: 外语学习 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Will turning off our lights for Earth Hour really make a big difference to the world's energy supply? Maybe not if you're the only one who does it, but imagine if everyone switched off the lights for an hour. Earth Hour is more about awareness than actual energy conservation. It began in Australia in 2007, when — under the sponsorship of World Wildlife Fund Australia — more than two million Sydneysiders turned off their lights to send the message that they were concerned about climate change. The idea spread rapidly; it's become an annual event, held on the last Saturday in March. This year, the hope is that one billion people in 4,000 cities worldwide will participate in the cause. Global landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Golden Gate Bridge, London Eye, Empire State Building and the Bosphorus Bridge will go dark. Anyone can participate. Just turn off your lights tonight between 8:30 and 9:30 PM local time to make a statement about energy conservation.
Quote: "You're on earth. There's no cure for that."Samuel Beckett, Endgame

Take your time, So, take my love, take it down, take it easy, take care, you bet, I am flattered/overpraised, hard-on,

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Thigh, go to town, give you a head, on and off,

Never say never! You are a smart kid. I love you above and beyond words. Wet dream, trick or treat

He's full of beans. He seems to be full of beans this morning.

pre-kickoff meeting

a ballpark price.

Valentine’s day:14/02; white day: 14/03;

Charge now, pay later. 现在先记在账上,以后再付款。

Let me know if you need my assistance with anything.

We can capitalize on all available opportunities. I’m getting to grips with the new client landscape. …although XXX still go through me for most of their enquiries even though they know YYY is onboard.

Please show your ticket to the stewardess when you board the plane.

Funky, Believe it or not, that's the way it is. 信不信由你, 反正事情就是这样。

suffer from diarrhoea; have diarrhoea

boilerplate

What's the Five-Timers Club? A very select group of personalities who have hosted or appeared as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live at least five times belong to the Five-Timers Club. It was first referred to by Tom Hanks when he made his fifth appearance as host of the show in December 1990. Some other Five-Timers are Steve Martin, Christopher Walken, Paul Simon, John Goodman, Buck Henry and Randy Newman. An even more exclusive group of performers comprise a so-called Platinum Club — people who have hosted SNL at least 12 times. Martin leads the pack with 15 appearances as host; Alec Baldwin racked up his 14th guest-host spot in February 2009, and Goodman just made it into the club with 12 appearances. Happy birthday to Emmy-winning actor Alec Baldwin, who turns 52 today.
Quote: "Great acting can be almost a psychotic mix of self-consciousness and unself-consciousness. And that's the terrible conflict. You have to be free to jump off into that volcano and you have to be pathologically self-conscious." Alec Baldwin

blunderbuss (BLUN-duhr-bus)
noun
1. A short, wide-mouthed gun used to scatter shots at close range.
2. A clumsy, blundering person.
adjective
Clumsy, blundering.
Etymology
Alteration of Dutch donderbus, from donder (thunder) + bus (gun, tube). The gun wasn't known for its precise shot. Its scattershot effect resulted in its name being altered from donderbus to blunderbuss. It wasn't long before the word was applied to insensitive, blundering persons.
Usage
"Those blunderbuss editors at Webster's New World College Dictionary (you know, the third edition), had it coming." — Mark Story; Resilient Braves Worthy of Own Lexicon; Herald-Leader (Lexington, Kentucky); Jul 25, 2003.

What was the lightest weight coin ever minted by the US Mint? In 1851, the US Mint issued a silver three-cent coin. It was composed of 75% silver and 25% copper, had a six-pointed star on one side, a Roman numeral III on the other, and — weighing in at four-fifths of a gram — was the lightest coin ever produced by the US Mint. The silver three cent piece was discontinued by the Coinage Act of 1873; at that time, a three cent nickel coin was issued, made up of copper and nickel and slightly larger than the silver version. Since it was the exact size of the dime, the coin never became popular and it was taken out of circulation in 1889. The Coinage Act of 1792 established the US Mint in Philadelphia, on April 2, 1792. The act also specified that the national currency would be based on a decimal system, with the dollar as its main unit, and specified the measurements, weights and composition of the coins, including directives for the emblems that would appear on each side.
Quote: "A nickel isn't worth a dime today."Yogi Berra

poltergeist (POHL-tuhr-gyst)
noun: A ghost that reveals its presence by making noises or throwing objects.
Etymology
From German Poltergeist, from poltern (to make noise, rattle) + Geist (ghost, spirit).
Usage
"The nearest Liverpool player was at least five yards away, meaning Emerson was trying to convince the referee he'd been tripped by a poltergeist." — Paul Doyle; Liverpool v Lille; The Guardian (London, UK); Mar 18, 2010.

The course of true love never did run smooth

This expression derives from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Nights Dream, 1598:

LYSANDER:
Ay me! for aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth;
But, either it was different in blood,-

She has no morals! She’s really a whore! Front-end,

weltanschauung (VELT-ahn-shou-oong)
noun: World view; philosophy of life; a framework through which to interpret the world.
Etymology
From German Weltanschauung (world view), from Welt (world) + Anschauung (perception).
Notes
When we bring in a word from another language, sometimes we borrow it and at other times make a loan translation. The word weltanschauung appears so useful that English has borrowed the original form and also made a loan translation: world view.
Usage
"Gwyneth Paltrow summed up her weltanschauung thus: 'My life is good because I am not passive about it.'" — Richard Dorment; Gwyneth Paltrow Feels Good -- And So Can You; Esquire (New York); Sep 16, 2009.

What do you get when you cross transparent hair and black hide? A white polar bear! But, the truth is, there's not much white about these animals. Each polar bear hair is actually made of a clear, hollow keratin tube; light is conducted along each hair and absorbed by the polar bear's black skin. Internal refraction combined with the reflection of the snowflakes make the bear look white. This poses a problem for aquariums and zoological facilities. With no snow around, the fur has a tendency to turn dirty-yellow, black or even blue from chlorine! Scientists in Michigan have come up with a solution: AvPo bears. The name stands for Avatar Polar bears; a new species of biogenetically engineered bears that have actual white pigmentation in their fur. A revolution in the technozoology field, AvPos have identical DNA to real polar bears but lack the neural component of the genome — a brain with actual bear experiences. The avatars will allow the bears to live and behave as their natural bear selves while the public gets to see the animal in its true arctic colors. Currently, 6 AvPo bodies wait to be connected to their real-life bear counterparts. The first-ever AvPo trial run begins at noon today. Tickets may be purchased from AvatarMyAnimal.com.
Quote: "Any fool can tell the truth, but it requires a man of some sense to know how to lie well."Samuel Butler

Can you imagine a chemistry lab without a Bunsen burner? It's Bunsen Burner Day, in honor of Robert Wilhelm Bunsen, who was credited with inventing the gas burner that is fundamental to every chem lab. Bunsen was born on this date in 1811. His innovation in the design of the burner was a way to fine-tune the mix of air with gas through slits in the base of the tube, which produced a hotter, non-luminous flame. Bunsen developed several other tubes used by chemists, including the Bunsen cell battery, a grease spot photometer, an ice calorimeter, a vapor calorimeter and a filter pump.
Quote: "To think is to practice brain chemistry."Deepak Chopra

zeitgeist (TSYT-gyst)
noun: The defining spirit of a particular period: the general cultural, political, intellectual and moral climate of an era.
Etymology
From German Zeitgeist (spirit of the time), from Zeit (time) + Geist (spirit).
Usage
"Once again Lionel Shriver has stomped into the middle of a pressing national debate with a great ordeal of a novel ["So Much For That"] that's impossible to ignore. ... If Jodi Picoult has her finger on the zeitgeist, Shriver has her hands around its throat." — Ron Charles; So Much For That; The Washington Post; Mar 17, 2010.
amazon.com/o/asin/0061458589/ws00-20 amazon.com/Jodi-Picoult/e/B000AP7PGM/&tag=ws00-20.

How did the name Denton True Young get shortened to Cy Young? Denton True Young, one of baseball's greatest pitchers, was born on this date in 1867. His fastball was so powerful that a friend dubbed him "Cyclone." It was shortened to "Cy" and the name stuck. Young still holds records for most major-league wins (511), most games started and most innings pitched. He pitched so many games that he also holds the records for most losses (316). Young pitched the American League's first perfect game in 1904; in his career he pitched three no-hitters. The award for major league baseball's best pitcher of the year, the Cy Young Award, is named in his honor.
Quote: "The guy pitches two good games and all of a sudden he's Cy Young."Ozzie Guillén

See previous

gotterdammerung (got-uhr-DAM-uh-roong, -rung)
noun: Complete destruction of an institution, regime, order, etc.
Etymology
From German G?tterd?mmerung (twilight of the gods), from G?tter, plural of Gott (god) + D?mmerung (twilight). G?tterd?mmerung was the name of the last of Richard Wagner's four operas titled Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung). The German word G?tterd?mmerung is a translation of the Old Norse Ragnar?k which in Scandinavian mythology refers to the destruction of the gods in a battle with evil, resulting in the end of the world.
Usage
"What began as the exuberant union of two college-age strivers is coming to a devastating end after 18 years, and the Gotterdammerung is being fought out not in court but inside the couple's perfect house." — Michelle Green; Dirty Divorcing; People (New York); Feb 19, 1990.

Why was Constantinople's name changed to Istanbul? The city was founded as Byzantium by the Greeks around the 8th century BCE; in 330 CE, the emperor Constantine I made it the capital of the Byzantine Empire and renamed it Constantinople after himself. The city was conquered repeatedly over the centuries, until it was finally taken over by the Ottoman Empire. With the founding of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, the capital was moved to Angora and both towns were renamed. Angora became Ankara and Constantinople became Istanbul seven years later, on this date in 1930. Istanbul's most ancient section is the historic, walled quarter of Stambul. The name Istanbul comes from the Greek stimboli, meaning "to the city."
Quote: "Why did they change it? I can't say. People just liked it better that way." — "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)," Jimmy Kennedy and Nat Simon

coliseum (KOL-i-SEE-uhm)
noun
A large stadium, theater, or similar building for sports, cinema, exhibitions, etc.
Etymology
After Colosseum, name of the amphitheater in Rome, from Latin colosseus (gigantic)
The Roman Colosseum was completed c. 80 AD. This amphitheater's name is derived from the huge 130 foot colossus of Nero that once stood nearby. The Colosseum was the site of gory gladiatorial contests from which came the term Roman holiday:
roman holiday. See pictures and learn more about the Colosseum at the-colosseum.net/.
Usage
"The [Arena Football League] is talking to coliseum officials in Bloomington about a franchise there in 2006." — Dave Eminian; Say Bye-bye, Bottom Line; Peoria Journal Star (Illinois); Jul 5, 2005.

moment of truth (MOH-muhnt of trooth)
noun: A crucial point; a turning point; a decisive moment.
Etymology
Loan translation of Spanish el momento de la verdad. In bullfighting, the moment when a matador is about to kill the bull is called el momento de la verdad.
Usage
"The moment of truth has arrived for the euro. The 16-nation monetary union faces its greatest test Wednesday in Athens, as the Greek government orders last-ditch radical cuts in hopes of preventing the eurozone's first debt default and a wider financial and monetary disaster." — Doug Saunders; Greece Set to Impose Austerity Measures; The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada); Mar 2, 2010.

So, which is it: OK, ok, O.K. or okay? All of the alternate spellings seem to be okay. Or OK. The spelling of the word is not the only thing that there are questions about. The etymology is also still somewhat in question. A favorite explanation for the word's origin was given by etymologist Allen Walker Read, who did research on "okay" in the 1960s. He said that in the 1830s and 1840s, Boston newspapers liked to use punny abbreviations in their articles. One of the jokes that was printed by The Boston Morning Post on this date in 1839 had an intended misspelling of "all correct." It was abbreviated as "O.K.," for "oll korrect." Another popular belief is that the word "okay" came from the Choctaw word "okeh." Both US presidents Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson commonly used "okeh."
Quote: I'm OK; You're OKThomas A. Harris, his self-help book's title and catch-phrase

turdiform (TUR-di-form)
adjective
Like a thrush (any of the songbirds of the family Turdidae).
Etymology
From Latin turdus (thrush).]
Usage
"The writers most characteristic of the sixties created marginal, slightly lost characters, gentle dreamers, or hardened iconoclasts in search of themselves in a world that is no longer their own, seizing every possible occasion to distinguish themselves from what Flaubert would have been quick to call the 'turdiform bourgeois.'" — Marc Chenetier (Author), Elizabeth A. Houlding (Translator); Beyond Suspicion; University of Pennsylvania Press; 1995.

banking book

An accounting book that includes all securities that are not actively traded by the institution, that are meant to be held until they mature. These securities are accounted for in a different way than those in the trading book, which are traded on the market and valued by the performance of the market.

red herring

Same as preliminary prospectus. Its name comes from the warning, printed in red, that information in the document is still being reviewed by the SEC and is subject to change.

Fed

The 7-member Board of Governors that oversees Federal Reserve Banks, establishes monetary policy (interest rates, credit, etc.), and monitors the economic health of the country. Its members are appointed by the President subject to Senate confirmation, and serve 14-year terms. also called the Federal Reserve Board.

sawbuck

Slang term for the U.S. ten dollar paper currency. The slang is derived from the Roman numeral for ten, "X". The "X" looks like the shape of a sawbuck, a device used to hold wood in place for sawing it into pieces.

dyscalculia (dis-kal-KYOO-lee-uh)
Inability to solve math problems, usually as a result of brain dysfunction.
Etymology
Dys + calcul(ate) + -ia.
Usage
"Almost seven out of a hundred pupils suffer from dyscalculia - a learning disability that diminishes their mathematical ability but does not affect their general intelligence." — Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, Students Suffer From a Dyslexia of Numbers, The Jerusalem Post (Israel), Oct 15, 1995.    (?
Wordsmith Words)

Lincolnesque (ling-kuh-NESK)
adjective: Suggestive of Abraham Lincoln.
Etymology
After Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the United States.
Usage
"A Lincolnesque leader is confident enough to be humble -- to not feel the need to bluster or dominate, but to be sufficiently sure of one's own judgment and self-worth to really listen and not be threatened by contrary advice." — Evan Thomas and Richard Wolffe; Lincoln's Obama; Newsweek (New York); Nov 24, 2008.

schnook (shnook)
noun
A stupid, easily deceived person.
Etymology
From Yiddish shnuk (snout) or from German schnucke (a small sheep)
Usage
"A gun-toting schnook became an embarrassing crook when he robbed a Spokane dollar store Sunday. Seriously, if you're going to commit a Class A felony, you might as well rob a Class A joint." — Frank Sennett; Dollar-Store Thief Bucks Common Sense; Spokesman Review (Washington); Mar 9, 2007.    (?
Wordsmith Words)

Pyrrhic victory (PIR-ik VIK-tuh-ree)
A victory won at too great a cost.
Etymology
After Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, who suffered staggering losses in defeating the Romans
Usage
"With lawsuits multiplying like crazy and mutual accusations of stealing the election spiralling out of control, almost any result now looks as if it will be a Pyrrhic victory." — United States: Whatever Will They Think of Next?; The Economist

semiquaver (SEM-ee-kway-vuhr)
noun: In music, a note having the time value of one-sixteenth of a whole note.
Etymology
From Latin semi- (half) + quaver (an eighth note).
Usage
"Synchronising film and music is tough enough in a modern movie, but spare a semiquaver of sympathy for Dmitri Shostakovich." — Conrad Walters; Film and Music Marry as Composer Settles Old Score; The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia); Nov 5, 2008.

steenth (steenth)
adjective:
1. Latest in an indefinitely long sequence.
2. One sixteenth.
Etymology
Alteration of the word sixteenth.
Notes
The formation of the word "steenth" from "sixteenth" took place through a process called aphesis (from Greek, literally "a letting go"). Aphesis is when an unstressed sound from the beginning of a word get lost over time. Some other examples are:
"cute" from "acute"
"'tis" from "it is"
"gypsy" from "Egyptian", from the belief that Gypsies came from Egypt (they actually came from India).
"And for the steenth time I wondered why he hadn't phoned me." — Robert A. Heinlein; The Cat Who Walks Through Walls; Putnam Publishing; 1985.

Armageddon (ahr-muh-GED-n)
noun: A decisive, catastrophic conflict.
Etymology
From the Book of Revelation 16:16 where Armageddon is mentioned. It is the supposed site of a final battle between the forces of good and evil. The word is from Greek Harmagedon, from Hebrew har megiddo (Mount Megiddo).
Usage
"In the event that the US unleashed a nuclear Armageddon, the radar station would have immediately warned Moscow." — Luke Harding; For Sale: One Communist-era Ghost Town; The Guardian (London, UK); Feb 5, 2010.

delitescent (del-i-TES-uhnt)
adjective
Hidden; latent.
Etymology
From Latin delitescent-, stem of delitescens, present participle of delitescere (to hide away).
Usage
"[Muumuu] matches and enhances the infinite variety of the human psyche as well as providing a delitescent veil for those aged parts of you that you can't yet bring yourself to make public." — Reese Palley; Call of the Ancient Mariner; International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press; 2003.    (?
Wordsmith Words)

salmagundi (sal-muh-GUHN-dee)
noun:
1. A heterogeneous mixture.
2. A mixed salad of various ingredients, such as meat, eggs, anchovies, onions, oil, vinegar, etc.
Etymology
From French salmagondis (originally "seasoned salt meats"), probably from salemine (salted food) + condir (to season).
Usage
"After a few years of musical production, the varied musical whims that have inspired their salmagundi of tracks is happily all over the place." — One-man Band Bounces Back To Originality; Gainesville Sun (Florida); Jul 1, 2007.

edacious (i-DAY-shuhs)
adjective: Devouring; voracious.
Etymology
From Latin edere (to eat). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ed- (to eat, to bite) that has given other words such as edible, comestible, obese, etch, fret, and
postprandial.
Usage
"For too many years my edacious reading habits had been leading me into one unappealing corner after another, dank cul-de-sacs littered with tear-stained diaries, empty pill bottles, bulging briefcases, broken vows, humdrum phrases, sociological swab samples, and the (lovely?) bones of dismembered children." — Tom Robbins; In Defiance of Gravity; Harper's (New York); Sep 2004.

olla podrida (OL-uh puh-DREE-duh, po-THREE-thah)
noun:
1. An incongruous mixture.
2. A spicy stew of seasoned meat, vegetables, chickpeas, etc.
Etymology
From Spanish olla podrida (literally, rotten pot), from olla (pot) + feminine of podrido (rotten).
"Alice Randall's collection of cookbooks is formidable, an olla podrida of Junior League and soul food cookbooks and classics like The Joy of Cooking." — Penelope Green; What Matters Most; The New York Times; Sep 16, 2009.

prandial (PRAN-dee-uhl)
adjective: Of or relating to a meal.
Etymology
From Latin prandium (late breakfast, luncheon, or meal). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ed- (to eat, to bite) that is also the source of edible, comestible, obese, etch, fret,
edacious, and postprandial.
Usage
"It's different in Britain and the US, where school lunch is generally collective and systematised. As the political scientist Jennifer Rutledge notes, state intervention in children's prandial intake has usually been driven by security fears." — Elizabeth Farrelly; Women Have Bitten Off More Than They Can Chew With School Lunch; The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia); Oct 8, 2009.

fress (fres)
verb intr.
To eat without moderation; to pig out.
Etymology
From Yiddish fresn (to devour) or German fressen (to eat, when referring to eating by an animal).
Usage
"We didn't do what you'd call legendary fressing that night, but both of us left contented." — Max Jacobson; Modest Cafe Offers Big Array of Mideast Dishes; The Los Angeles Times; Mar 21, 1996.
"We're still doing OK on the fressing front. In Esquire's Nov. issue, food critic John Mariani does his annual number, `America's Best New Bars and Restaurants'." — Herb Caen; Smilin' Through; San Francisco Chronicle; Oct 21, 1987.

cloud-cuckoo-land (KLOUD-koo-koo-land)
noun: An idealized, unrealistic state; a place out of touch with reality.
Etymology
Loan translation of Greek Nephelokokkugia, from nephele (cloud) + kokkux (cuckoo). The word was coined in The Birds, a comedy by Athenian playwright Aristophanes (c. 450-388 BCE). Nephelokokkugia was the name of a city in the sky, built by the birds in collaboration with some Athenians.
Usage
"'Retirement at 58 is cloud cuckoo land for most private sector workers, many of whom find their pension savings shot to pieces,' said Lord Oakeshott." — Holly Watt; The Million Pound Pension Pots of the Mandarins; The Daily Telegraph (London, UK); Jan 1, 2010.

bread and circuses (bred and SUR-kuh-sez)
noun: Things intended to keep people happy and to divert their attention from the problems.
Etymology
Translation of Latin term panis et circenses, from panis (bread) + et (and), circenses (circuses). The term originated in the satires of Roman poet Juvenal (c. 60-140). Circus refers to the circus games, such as chariot races, held in the Roman times. The term has been loan translated into many other languages. In Spanish, for example, it is pan y toros (bread and bullfights).
Usage
"Madrid has set up a series of summits that look a lot like bread and circuses for a domestic audience at time of economic misery." — John Vinocur; Still Waiting for a Brave New Europe; The New York Times; Jan 4, 2010.

Wiki-this, wiki-that; what is a wiki and when did the wiki-mania start? A wiki is a collaborative website that can be edited by anyone. Ward Cunningham, an Oregon native, developed the technology, naming it "wiki" after the word for "quick" in Hawaiian. Wiki was first released as WikiWikiWeb on this date in 1994. Fourteen years later, the internet community can do a lot with wikis, including sharing information in article form on Wikipedia and collaborating on Q&A with Answers.com's WikiAnswers.
Quote: "I think there's a compelling nature about talking. People like to talk. In creating wiki, I wanted to stroke that story-telling nature in all of us."Ward Cunningham

God's acre (godz AY-kuhr)
noun: A cemetery, especially one next to a church.
Etymology
Loan translation of German Gottesacker, from Gott (God) + Acker (field). The allusion is that the bodies of the dead are sown in the field in hope of resurrection.
Usage
"Mourning strangers also came to weep anniversary tears at another cheerless God's acre." — Frank Keating; Ask Not For Whom the Bell Tolls, It Tolls For These; The Guardian (London, UK); Sep 26, 2006.

paper tiger (PAY-puhr TY-guhr)
One who is outwardly strong and powerful but is in fact powerless and ineffectual.
Etymology
Translation of Chinese zhi lao hu, from zhi (paper) + lao hu (tiger).
The term is often used to describe countries. In 1956, Chairman Mao of China applied it to the US. Later it was used in the Western press to refer to China and its economy.
Usage
"But will it be another Arab paper tiger? 'I don't think much can be accomplished by merely meeting at an annual conference and issuing a list of recommendations,' Abu Zeid agrees." — Hadia Mostafa; A River Runs Through It; Egypt Today (Cairo); Jul 12, 2004.

realpolitik (ray-AHL-PO-li-teek, ree-)
noun: Politics guided by practical considerations, instead of principles or ethics.
Etymology
From German Realpolitik, from real (real, practical) + politik (politics).
Usage
"Also gone is Sarkozy's former mocking of realpolitik as a political cop-out of cynical diplomats without principles." — Bruce Crumley; Why France is Selling Warships to Russia; Time (New York); Mar 3, 2010.
"Under the strongman Soeharto and Cold War realpolitik pragmatism, Indonesia received large scale US military support that leapfrogged its defense capability among its Southeast Asian neighbors, despite widespread criticism from international civil rights groups." — Ristian Atriandi; Rethinking RI-US Military Ties; The Jakarta Post (Indonesia); Mar 17, 2010.

Who came up with the brilliant idea of combining the eraser and the pencil?It's been more than 150 years since the eraser attached itself to the pencil. We can only assume that Hymen Lipman was a man who made his fair share of mistakes, but they may have inspired him to stick the eraser on the end of the pencil, making it more convenient to erase the written errors. He got a patent for the development on this date in 1858. Lipman's early version was a pencil with a groove at the top, into which he glued an eraser. He sold his patent in 1862; the US Supreme Court later invalidated it, saying that since combining a pencil with an eraser did not change the function of either item, the pencil-with-eraser could not be patented.
Quote: "The average pencil is seven inches long, with just a half-inch eraser — in case you thought optimism was dead."Robert Brault

first water (furst WA-tuhr)
noun
1. The highest degree of quality in a precious stone, especially a diamond.
2. The best grade or quality.
Etymology
Transparency is highly desirable in diamonds, and when they are nearly as transparent as water, they are known as diamonds of the first water. As the transparency decreases, we get second or third water. Hence figuratively, something or someone of the first water is first grade, first class, or of the best in its class
Usage
"In a too-rare appearance with the San Antonio Symphony on Friday, pianist Horacio Gutierrez proved once again to be a romanticist of the first water." — Pianist Delivers a Top-flight Show; San Antonio Express-News; Mar 23, 2003.

Will turning off our lights for Earth Hour really make a big difference to the world's energy supply? Maybe not if you're the only one who does it, but imagine if everyone switched off the lights for an hour. Earth Hour is more about awareness than actual energy conservation. It began in Australia in 2007, when — under the sponsorship of World Wildlife Fund Australia — more than two million Sydneysiders turned off their lights to send the message that they were concerned about climate change. The idea spread rapidly; it's become an annual event, held on the last Saturday in March. This year, the hope is that one billion people in 4,000 cities worldwide will participate in the cause. Global landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Golden Gate Bridge, London Eye, Empire State Building and the Bosphorus Bridge will go dark. Anyone can participate. Just turn off your lights tonight between 8:30 and 9:30 PM local time to make a statement about energy conservation.
Quote: "You're on earth. There's no cure for that."Samuel Beckett, Endgame

How long do Kenny Chesney's 'Keg in the Closet' shows last? Though most concerts last for about two hours, country singer/songwriter Kenny Chesney's "Keg in the Closet" shows can go twice as long. There's an industry that revolves around concert tours. A long caravan of buses and trucks typically carries instruments, lights, sound equipment, costumes, stage crew and performers. Kenny Chesney, who turns 42 today, likes to go light from time to time. With a convoy of just four buses, he travels to informal venues — often near college campuses — then sets up his instruments and performs, for free. There is no official announcement, no tickets, no hard-and-fast program. It's what Chesney does when he's not, well... working. Chesney calls these his "Keg in the Closet" shows, and he often starts his performance with the hit song of the same name.
Quote: "If you pull a heartstring, then that's what country music is."Kenny Chesney

Is Ada the name of the first computer language? It's true that many people consider the first computer program to have been written by Ada Byron Lovelace. Ada — a high-level Pascal-based programming language is named for her. The first scientific programming languages were written in the 1950s; IBM's FORTRAN was the first major scientific computer language, and is still used in some programs today. Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron, loved mathematics. Her translation of and accompanying notations to an article about Charles Babbage's analytical engine have been called the first computer program. Lovelace broke ground as a woman in a mostly man's world of math and science. In her honor, March 24 is known as Ada Lovelace Day, an international day of blogging to recognize the achievements of females in technology and science. Both men and women should feature women and their accomplishments in a blog post today!
Quote: "The Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns, just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves."Ada Lovelace, in her notes on Menabrae's Memoir on the Analytic Engine

Did Marcel Marceau know how to talk? Even though he was the world's most famous mime, Marcel Marceau was an articulate speaker. In fact, he acted in several movies that required speaking (including having the only spoken line in Mel Brooks' Silent Movie). Marceau built a spectacular career out of being quiet on the stage. More than 60 years ago, Marceau created the beloved character Bip — the sad, white-faced clown who became an integral part of his onstage persona. He traveled to more than 100 countries, performing without words on stage and screen. The winner of two Emmy awards, Marceau also published several books, including The Story of Bip, Le Troisième Oeil (The Third Eye), and a counting book and an alphabet book for children. Marceau was born on this date in 1923.
Quote: "Do not the most moving moments of our lives find us all without words?"Marcel Marceau

What's your sign? If today's your birthday, you're an Aries, the first constellation in the Western zodiac. Many astrologers believe that certain personality traits, physical conditions and even a person's fate and future can be influenced and determined by his zodiac sign. When zodiacal constellations were first organized, some 2,000 years ago, the Sun was in Aries where it crossed the equator at the vernal equinox, and Aries became the first sign of the zodiac. This is also the first day of the Bahá'í calendar, Chunfen in China and International Astrology Day.
Quote: "I don't believe in astrology; I'm a Sagittarius and we're skeptical."Arthur C. Clarke

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is an annual race that takes place in March in Alaska over more than 1,000 mi. (1,600 km). The trail runs from Willow (north of Anchorage) to Nome, over hills, through forests and wilderness, across rivers and through small settlements. On this date in 1985, Libby Riddles became the first woman to win the Iditarod, finishing the trail in 18 days. She led her 13 dogs into a blizzard that kept the rest of the racers delayed in Shaktoolik; she never lost her lead. This year, 71 mushers — including a team from Jamaica! — started out across the frozen Willow Lake. Lance Mackey came in first, making this his record fourth straight win. He completed the race in eight days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 9 seconds, taking home a cash prize of $50,000 and a new truck.
Quote: "Dog mushing is a wonderful sport, mainly because the dogs are such wonderful creatures. We owe it to the dogs to treat them as well as possible."Libby Riddles

What's the difference between biodiesel and diesel fuel? There are different kinds of diesel fuel — fuel that is used in diesel engines. Biodiesel is one of these; it is a cleaner-burning, petroleum-free alternative variation of diesel fuel that can be made from natural, renewable sources, such as animal fat or vegetable oil. The inventor of the eponymous diesel engine, Rudolf Diesel, was born on this date in 1858. Believing in the use of natural products such as coal dust and vegetable oils, Diesel designed his first engine to run on peanut oil. In his honor, March 18 is celebrated as National Biodiesel Day.
Quote: "The use of plant oil as fuel may seem insignificant today. But such products can in time become just as important as kerosene and these coal-tar-products of today."Rudolf Diesel

Are rubber bands made of vulcanized rubber? Although there were rubber bands made in the mid-19th century that were not vulcanized, they were not as flexible or as versatile as the ones that Stephen Perry began to mass-produce in England, using the vulcanized rubber developed by Charles Goodyear. Rubber bands are not just to snap at your classmates. They come in all sizes and are used for bundling packages, holding back your hair, straightening your teeth, and exercising your muscles. The world's largest consumer of rubber bands is the United States Post Office. The resilient, elastic loops hold together bundles of mail, bouquets of flowers or stalks of celery. Tip: they last longer if you store them in the refrigerator. On this date in 1845, Stephen Perry received a patent for the rubber band.
Quote: "Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit."Bern Williams

What's the Pacific Flyway? The Pacific Flyway is a north-south bird migratory route along the Pacific Coast in the Americas. It extends from Alaska in the north to Patagonia in the south. Millions of birds make their way every year along all or part of this route. Among the shorebirds that are indigent to the area are the long-billed curlews. A favorite stop for their spring stay is the Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, where the curlews spend 2-3 months courting, mating, nesting and raising their young. Today marks the traditional date when the long-billed curlews arrive at Umatilla. Upwards of 500 of the long-beaked shorebirds have been spotted here during the nesting season.
Quote: "Be like the bird that, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing that she hath wings."Victor Hugo

See previous spotlights: Ides of March, FBI, Gallaudet University

What's so special about the Ides of March? On March 15, 44 BCE, Roman dictator Julius Caesar was stabbed in the Senate house by followers of Cassius and Brutus. Before William Shakespeare wrote his play, Julius Caesar, about the assassination, the Ides of March was just another day. In the earliest Roman calendar, the month was organized around three days: kalends (the first day of the month), nones (the 7th day in March, May, July and October and the 5th day in the other months) and ides (the 15th day in March, May, July and October and the 13th day in the rest). The other dates were identified by counting backwards from those three. Kalends comes from the Latin word for account book, kalendrium; it eventually evolved into the word calendar.
Quote: "Caesar said to the soothsayer, 'The ides of March are come'; who answered him calmly, 'Yes, they are come, but they are not past.'"Plutarch

Who decides who gets on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list? The FBI field offices send names of candidates to the Bureau's Criminal Investigative Division (CID). Special Agents of the CID and the Office of Public Affairs then review the list and send their suggestion to the CID's Assistant Director and then to the FBI's Deputy Director, who has final approval. The FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list appeared for the first time sixty years ago today. It grew out of a newspaper article that had been written for the International News Service, about the "toughest guys" the FBI was trying to apprehend. Positive feedback from the article prompted then Director J. Edgar Hoover to establish the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. The goal was to get the names and faces of particularly dangerous fugitives before the public, which was then asked to provide any information that would lead to the arrest of these felons. Over the years, some 150 of the over 490 fugitives listed have been captured thanks to public assistance.
Quote: "When I see the Ten Most Wanted Lists... I always have this thought: If we'd made them feel wanted earlier, they wouldn't be wanted now."Eddie Cantor

Can hearing students go to Gallaudet University? Yes. Although Gallaudet University is billed as the "world's only liberal arts college for the deaf," a small number of hearing students are now admitted each year, as long as they are ASL-proficient. Twenty-two years ago today, I. King Jordan became Gallaudet University's first deaf president. A week earlier, on March 6, 1988, a hearing person had been chosen for the position — the only hearing candidate among a list of qualified other deaf candidates — setting off a week-long student protest called Deaf President Now, which rocked the Deaf world. As a result, the newly selected president and the chairperson of the Board of Trustees stepped down; an agreement was reached that 51% of the Board would from then on be made up of deaf people; and no reprisals were taken against any student or employee involved in the protest. Since 1997, March 13 has marked the beginning of Deaf History Month.
Quote: "I have always thought it would be a blessing if each person could be blind and deaf for a few days during his early adult life. Darkness would make him appreciate sight; silence would teach him the joys of sound."Helen Keller

How many breeds are eligible for exhibiting at the Crufts Dog Show? This year, over 180 different breeds will exhibited at Crufts, with more than 23,000 dogs competing for the title of "Best in Show." Dogs compete in the areas of agility, obedience, handling, heelwork to music, flyball and grooming. The four-day show, sponsored by The Kennel Club, begins today in Birmingham, England. Last year's top dog was the Sealyham terrier Efbe's Hidalgo at Goodspice, whose nickname is "Charmin," because as a puppy he was "squeezably soft."
Quote: "Every dog must have his day."Jonathan Swift

Do vampires really exist? Are they one more thing to worry about? It depends on whom you ask. Vampires have long been a part of the folklore of certain areas, particularly in parts of Eastern Europe. Made famous in modern times by Bram Stoker's Dracula, vampires were betrayed as horrific characters who terrorized the townspeople, rising at night to suck the blood of their victims, thus turning the victims into vampires, too. Stories also exist of people having witnessed the aftermath of a vampire attack. Nowadays, books, movies and TV are filled with vampires and werewolves, and some, such as Twilight's Edward Cullen, are even sympathetic characters. On this date in 1997, Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered on TV, mixing wit, teenage angst and B-movie drama in a popular series about a high-school student who is chosen to slay the vampires that inhabit her town.
Quote: "I have never met a vampire personally, but I don't know what might happen tomorrow."Bela Lugosi

For how long did Bobby Fischer hold the World Chess Champion title? Bobby Fischer, who was born on this date in 1943, became America's only world chess champion in 1972, when he beat Boris Spassky for the title. When Anatoly Karpov challenged him in 1975, Fischer refused to play and his title was revoked. He went into a kind of seclusion, never playing for a championship again. In 1992, he played against Spassky in a private rematch. Fischer won the match and the $3.5-million purse. The match took place in Belgrade, violating US sanctions against Yugoslavia. Fischer chose to live abroad as a fugitive and was eventually granted citizenship by Iceland, where he made his home for the final years of his life.
Quote: "Chess is life."Bobby Fischer

When did the US start to tax its citizens? The IRS began to levy and collect income taxes on this date in 1913. Income tax had originally been collected in the US during the Civil War years. In 1894, the Supreme Court ruled income tax unconstitutional, but the adoption of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution in 1913, made the personal income tax a permanent entity. Britain adopted a permanent income tax in 1874, and other European countries adopted regular income taxes in the late 1800s.
Quote: "The income tax created more criminals than any other single act of government."Barry Goldwater

How did the Oscar get its name? There are a few stories as to how the Academy Award statuette came to be called Oscar:
Margaret Herrick, the librarian and executive director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said that the statuette reminded her of her Uncle Oscar.
Bette Davis claimed she noted aloud the resemblance of Oscar's backside to that of her husband, Harmon Oscar Nelson.
● The first documented mention of the name was in 1934, when columnist Sidney Skolsky referred to
Katharine Hepburn's first Best Actress Oscar. He says he was tired of writing "the Golden Statue of the Academy," and fell back on the name Oscar from an old vaudeville joke he had heard.
However it got its name, the movie industry's most famous trophy will be awarded tonight to this year's winners, as ABC-TV broadcasts the
82nd Academy Awards. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, co-stars of the romantic comedy It's Complicated, will co-host the show.
Quote: "It is a remarkably beautiful piece of home furnishing, the Oscar. I used to keep it up in front of a mirror so that it looked like two."Mercedes McCambridge

Is Maconda — from 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' — a real place? Maconda is a fictional Colombian town that is the setting of One Hundred Years of Solitude and several other novels and short stories written by Gabriel José García Márquez. Though García Márquez had been writing nearly all his life, he was 38 when he finally found his voice — and that was the voice of his grandmother. Until he was eight years old, García Márquez was raised by his maternal grandparents. Both were consummate storytellers, but he was most intrigued by his grandmother's stories of superstitions and ghosts. He says she spoke with a naturalness that showed that she believed the stories. García Márquez realized that he had to tell his stories in the same way. And so One Hundred Years of Solitude was written. In 1982, García Márquez received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Happy birthday to Gabriel García Márquez, who turns 82 today.
Quote: "What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it."Gabriel García Márquez



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