Who was the first practitioner of Japanese Ikebana?
the complex art of Japanese floral arrangement, takes
easily a decade to master. There are as many schools
of ikebana as there are floral varieties and spatial relations,
symbolism, and the contemplation encouraged by white space
are paramount. If you're wondering what philosophy and
spirituality have to do with flower arrangement, take
note. Ikebana which began in the sixth century
with the introduction of Buddhism to Japan is rooted
firmly in religion. Its first practitioner was a monk
who wanted to refine the presentation of the floral offering
on his shrine in a way that symbolized man's relationship
to heaven and earth. In the 6th Century, Ono no Imoko
paid three official visits to the imperial court of China.
After his retirement he was appointed guardian of Rokkaku-do,
a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan, where he became abbot
and changed his name to Semmu. In China he had
studied arranging flowers as religious offerings, and
in retirement he continued to develop his study of the
'way of the flowers'. From this has developed Japan's
oldest school of Ikebana. The Ikenobo school has
a written history based on scrolls and documents which
date back to 1462 as its heritage. Centuries later, that
relationship still lies at the center of the art form.
Arrangements can also allude to the past (a flower in
partial bloom, perhaps), the present (full bloom), and
the future (an unopened bud). Odd numbers associated
with asymmetry and therefore creativity are encouraged.
The medium of the receptacle metal, bamboo, woven
basket and its shape and size are as important
as the flowers themselves. After each placement, view
the arrangement from all angles: An ikebana arrangement
should look good in three dimensions.
Who were the inventors of America's popular Slinky
so many other great inventions, the Slinky, a favorite
of both kids and physics teachers, was just a grand accident.
Richard James, a naval engineer, "discovered"
this enduring toy in 1943. Working to help the war effort,
James was developing an anti-vibration device for ship
instruments when he knocked over some springs and was
fascinated by the way the springs appeared to "walk"
down the shelves. Richard remarked to his wife Betty,
"I think I can make a toy out of this."
Richard then spent the next two years figuring out the
best steel gauge and coil to use in making the toy and
Betty James found a name for the new toy after discovering
in the dictionary that the word "Slinky" is
a Swedish word meaning transspiral - sleek or sinuous.
The Jameses took their first batch of 400 Slinkys to Gimbel's
Department Store in Philadelphia during the winter of
1945, right in time for Christmas shopping. They were
so desperate to sell the toy, they paid a friend $1 to
buy one and start the feeding frenzy. Ninety minutes later,
not one Slinky remained. And the rest is Slinky history.
other little known facts: Slinkys were among the first
toys to to travel into space; a stamp commemorating the
1940s features the beloved toy; during the Vietnam War,
U.S. soldiers would toss a Slinky into a tree for use
as a makeshift radio antenna; and, if stretched end-to-end,
the Slinky toys sold since 1945 (about 250 million) would
wrap around the world 126 times.
did pigeons help Britain and why do these birds constantly
bob their heads?
homing pigeon has served mankind as a means of communication
as far back as 1000 B.C. It was believed that they
were used by king Solomon. There are also indications
that they were used as far back as 3000 to 5000 BC There
is documentation that pigeon racing was practiced in Palestine
from 200 to 220 A.D. The homing pigeon was the catalyst
for the creation of the world's most prestigious news
services, "The Reuters News Service." During
World War 11 the Reuters war correspondents used pigeons
to send the word to Britain that allied forces had landed
in Normandy, as it would be many hours before electronic
communications would be established.
bobbing is a common trait among ground birds like pigeons,
pheasants, partridges, and chickens. Ornithologists call
it the "optokinetic response", and it seems
to help the birds' vision. Remember that a pigeon's eyes
are set on the sides of its head, so that when it's walking
around, the world sort of sails by in a confusing blur,
like landscape viewed from a fast-moving train. The optokinetic
response appears to compensate for this. The pigeon has
a kind of inchworm gait. It jerks its head forward, then
brings its body to meet it, then jerks its head forward
again. The net result: The bird gets a series of fixed
snapshot images, rather than a long, continuous blurry
one. (A twirling ballerina uses a similar strategy, keeping
her head aimed at a fixed point as long as possible while
her body rotates.) Back in the late seventies, Barrie
J. Frost, a visual neuroscientist at Queens University
in Kingston, Ontario, put pigeons on a tiny treadmill.
They walked, but they didn't move relative to their environment,
and they stopped bobbing scientific proof, in case
you needed any, that if you're going to get anywhere,
you have to stick your neck out.
Why were the pirate ship flags of the Caribbean called
many parts of the Caribbean, the "Jolly Roger"
was the equivalent of a happy face: it meant the pirate
ship was willing to take prisoners. "Roger"
was synonymous with rogue in 18th century parlance. Blood
red flags were flown by hard-hearted pirates to indicate
that they'd be taking no prisoners (sparing no lives).
This red flag was more frightening than the buccaneer's
basic white skull on black ground. A skull and crossbones
was meant to inspire terror, a horned skull suggested
a tormented death; other signature flags depicted grisly
variations on a morbid theme. The
original skull-and-crossbones flag was derived from the
French "jolie rouge", meaning "pretty red,"
and refers to a red pennant also known as the "jolie
rougere", flown by 17th and 18th century French buccaneers
in the Caribbean. Jolly Roger is also associated with
"Old Roger," a known nickname of the devil himself,
but that the French derivation of the term is more widely
What are the definitions for those Hollywood job credits
you see at the end of a movie?
a movie is over, if you stay to watch all of the credits
at the end you'll be there for quite some time. Rather
than describe each of these credits, it's better to cover
those that most people wonder about.
The head electrician in charge of all lighting
personnel and an Old English expression for "old
man". In the early days of film, producers had to
rely on natural light. Stages had canvas roofs that could
be opened and closed to allow varying degrees of sunlight
to fall on the sound stage. Gaffing hooks, traditionally
used for landing large fish, were used to move the canvas
back and forth. The person responsible for setting the
proper amount of light on the stage became known as the
boy" The origin of "Best Boy"
is likely from early sailing and whaling crews since sailors
were often hired in their off time to set up and work
rigging in theaters. There are two best boys, one for
lighting and one for the grips. The grip is a crew member
who works with the camera and electric department to set
up and move equipment such as cranes and dollies. One
best boy is second in command to the gaffer and the other
best boy is second in command to the key grip.
grip" The person in charge of everyone who
moves anything (grips). Grips move scenery and
cameras, set up and take down scaffolding, etc. In live
theater they are called stage hands.
artist" The person who creates sounds that
cannot be recorded during the filming. Sounds that are
later added to the film might be footsteps, creaking doors,
thunder, or breaking glass. In radio, they were called
sound effects men. The ones who create these fake sounds
are called foley artists. They're named for Jack Foley,
who gets credit for inventing the craft in the early days
What manuscript from India first mentions diamonds and
why are they measured in carats?
first known reference to diamond is a Sanskrit manuscript,
the Arthsastra ("The Lesson of Profit"). The
Arthsastra was written by Kautiliya, a minister to Chandragupta
of the Mauryan dynasty (322 BC - 185 BC) in northern India
where it was originally mined. Diamond history transcends
numerous cultures and localities Greek, Indian,
Old English, French, German, Hebrew, Latin, Arabic, Polish,
Japanese, American, African, Korean, and Chinese. The
diamond is three billion years in age, a strategic and
high tech super material formed in the earth's interior
which shot to the surface by extraordinary volcanoes and
is the oldest item that anyone can own. The ancient Greeks
and Romans believed diamonds were tears of the Gods and
splinters from falling stars. The Hindus attributed so
much power to these precious stones they placed diamonds
in the eyes of some of their statues. These cultures associated
tremendous value with these stones and clues as to why
may be found in the language associated with them. "Diamond"
comes from the Greek adamao, transliterated as
"adamao," "I tame" or "I subdue."
The adjective adamas was used to describe the hardest
substance known, and eventually became synonymous with
commodities for small and precious gems demands a very
tiny, uniform unit of weight. To meet this need, early
gem traders turned to plant seeds that were reasonably
uniform in size and weight. Two of the oldest were wheat
grains and carob seeds. Both were common in the gem-producing
and trading areas of the ancient world. Carat is
derived from carob, the bean that's often used
as a chocolate substitute. Carob trees grow in the Mediterranean
region, and in ancient times a diamond of one carat, or
carob, was equal in weight to a single bean, or seed,
of the carob tree. In the Far East, rice was used
four grains equaled one carob bean.
How did coins from various countries get their names?
can bank on the fact that most coins derive from Latin
words, and are named after people, places, or things.
Even the word coin, translates from the Latin cuneus,
meaning wedge, and was thusly named because early coins
resembled the wedges that the dies used to create coins.
The word cent, from the Latin centum, meaning
one hundred; the term dime, from the Latin decimus,
meaning tenth; and the French franc, from the Latin
Franconium Rex, meaning King of the Franks are
all examples of the naming of money the
love of which is the root of all evil, which translates
from the Latin word mona, meaning "to warn"!
A sense of fairness dictates that some coins bear the
names of the metals of which they are composed. Thus,
the nickel is made of nickel, and the dollar, not always
in paper form, originally hailed from the silver mines
of Bohemia, where Bohemians extracted silver for the coins,
and minted them in the town of Joachimsthal. Realizing
that the coin they termed the Joachimsthaler was rather
lengthy, our Bohemian friends lost the head of the name,
and kept the tail, with the end result being the thaler.
The thaler eventually lost its lisp, and became
to a more weighty manner in which people named coins,
that being physical weight. The English pound,
translates from the Latin pondo, meaning pound,
or, to get more heavily into detail, from the Latin libra
pondo, meaning a pound of weight. This method of naming
coins weighed heavily in naming of the Spanish peso
and of the Italian lira. Many countries used their
word for crown, for example, crown, sovereign, krone,
krun, krone, corona, to demonstrate that some crown
authority initially granted permission to mint them. Other
countries named coins in honor of their heroes, such as
the Panamanian balboa, after the explorer Balboa;
the Venezuelan bolivar, after one of it's national
heroes Simon Bolivar, and the Peruvian sol, the
Spanish word for sun, after this ancient Incan object
Which Dutch ophthalmologist created the 20/20 vision test?
excellence often is referred to as Snellen
acuity. The chart and the letters are named for a
19th-Century Dutch ophthalmologist Hermann Snellen (18341908)
who created them as a test of visual accuracy. Visual
acuity refers to the clarity or clearness of ones
vision, a measure of how well a person sees. The word
acuity comes from the Latin acuitas,
which means sharpness. Visual acuity is expressed as a
fraction. The top number refers to the distance you stand
from the chart. This is usually 20 feet. The bottom number
indicates the distance at which a person with normal eyesight
could correctly read the line with the smallest letters.
Normal vision is considered 20/20. If your vision is 20/40,
the line you correctly read at 20 feet could be read by
a person with normal vision at 40 feet. Of course, just
because 20/20 vision is normal doesn't mean it's perfect.
A small percentage of the population is blessed with vision
better than 20/20, and just recently researchers unveiled
corrective lens that offered vision closer to 20/10.
What Asian fruit can help slow the aging process?
to legend, birds leaving the Orient dropped cherry pits
all along their flight towards the west. This
is why cherries came to be found in Greece and Rome where
they adorned the table of Lucullus. This renowned
a Roman general by profession, often made long side trips
during his campaigns to seek out some rare spice or unusual
fruit for his table in his quest for new tastes and harmonious
flavors. Thus it was that he brought the cherry from Asia
Minor to Italy. Cherries have been popular snack for centuries.
In America, French settlers planted pits near the St.
Lawrence River and the Great Lakes as they settled there,
eventually founding Detroit and other cities in Michigan.
A Presbyterian minister, Peter Dougherty, planted cherry
trees near Traverse City, and the states first commercial
tart cherry orchards were established near that spot at
Ridgewood Farm, in 1893.
Dr. Russell J. Reiter, professor of neuroendocrinology
at The University of Texas Health Science Center in San
Antonio conducted a five-month study and found that tart
cherries contain significant amounts of melatonin
a hormone produced in the brains pineal gland that
has been credited with slowing the aging process, and
fighting insomnia and jet lag. Its also being studied
as a potential treatment for cancer, depression and other
diseases and disorders. The findings mark the first time
melatonin has been pegged as a naturally occurring substance
in food, although trace amounts are evident in bananas,
corn and other foods. The combination of antioxidants
in cherries can be very beneficial, Reiter says.
The key is the fruits skin and pigmentation, where
antioxidants called anthocyanins are found. A 1999 study
at Michigan State University found that the antioxidant
activity of tart black cherries is greater than that of
Vitamin E, according to the Moss Report, a cancer treatment
and referral service.
What Greek symbols were used to create familiar medical
serpentine staff used as the medical emblem is called
a caduceus. It has Greek origins Hermes,
the messenger of the gods, carried it as a symbol of peace.
Ancient Greeks created the caduceus as a badge of honor;
ambassadors and noblemen carried a long staff entwined
with garlands or ribbons to announce their presence. The
garlands were later interpreted as snakes, and a pair
of wings was added to denote Hermes, the winged messenger.
where it gets tricky. The U.S. Army medical corps adopted
the caduceus as their insignia because of its similarity
to the staff carried by Asclepius, the god of medicine.
The staff of Asclepius is considered the "true symbol
of medicine" it features only one snake, and
no wings. It's the emblem of the American Medical Association.
The two symbols are quite similar in appearance, and both
are derived from Greek mythology.
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