Thursday, June 30, 2011


A subwoofer is a woofer, or a complete loudspeaker, which is dedicated to the reproduction of low-pitched audio frequencies. The typical frequency range for a subwoofer is about 20–200 Hz for consumer products, below 100 Hz for professional live sound, and below 80 Hz in THX-approved systems. Subwoofers are intended to augment the low frequency range of loudspeakers covering higher frequency bands.

Subwoofers are made up of one or more woofers in a loudspeaker enclosure capable of withstanding air pressure while resisting deformation. Subwoofer enclosures come in a variety of designs, including bass reflex (with a port or tube in the enclosure), infinite baffle, horn-loaded, and bandpass designs, representing unique tradeoffs with respect to efficiency, bandwidth, size and cost. Passive subwoofers have a subwoofer driver and enclosure and they are powered by an external amplifier. Active subwoofers include a built-in amplifier.

The very first subwoofer was developed during the 1960s by Ken Kreisel, the former president of the Miller & Kreisel Sound Corporation in Los Angeles. When Kreisel's business partner, Jonas Miller, who owned a high-end audio store in Los Angeles, told Kreisel that some purchasers of the store's high-end electrostatic speakers had complained about a lack of bass response in the electrostatics, Kreisel designed a powered woofer that would reproduce only those frequencies that were too low for the electrostatic speakers to convey. Infinity's full range electrostatic speaker system that was developed during the 1960s also used a woofer to cover the lower frequency range that its electrostatic arrays did not handle adequately.

The first use of a subwoofer in a recording session was in 1973 for mixing the Steely Dan album Pretzel Logic when recording engineer Roger Nichols arranged for Kreisel to bring a prototype of his subwoofer to Village Recorders. Further design modifications were made by Kreisel over the next ten years, and in the 1970s and 1980s by engineer John P. D'Arcy; record producer Daniel Levitin served as a consultant and "golden ears" for the design of the crossover network (used to partition the frequency spectrum so that the subwoofer would not attempt to reproduce frequencies too high for its effective range, and so that the main speakers would not need to handle frequencies too low for their effective range).

Subwoofers received a great deal of publicity in 1974 with the movie Earthquake which was released in Sensurround. Initially installed in 17 U.S. theaters, the Sensurround system used large subwoofers which were driven by racks of 500 watt amplifiers which were triggered by control tones printed on one of the audio tracks on the film. Four of the subwoofers were positioned in front of the audience under (or behind) the film screen and two more were placed together at the rear of the audience on a platform. Powerful noise energy in the range of 17 Hz to 120 Hz was generated at the level of 110–120 decibels of sound pressure level, abbreviated dB(SPL). The new low frequency entertainment method helped the film become a box office success. More Sensurround systems were assembled and installed. By 1976 there were almost 300 Sensurround systems leapfrogging through select theaters. Other films to use the effect include the WW II naval battle epic Midway in 1976 and Rollercoaster in 1977.

For owners of 33 rpm LPs and 45 singles, loud and deep bass was limited by the ability of the phonograph record stylus to track the groove. Some hi-fi aficionados solved the problem by using reel-to-reel tape players which were capable of delivering accurate, naturally deep bass from acoustic sources, or synthetic bass not found in nature. With the popular introduction of the compact cassette and the CD, it became possible to add more low frequency content to recordings, and satisfy a larger number of consumers. Home subwoofers grew in popularity, as they were easy to add to existing multimedia speaker setups and they were easy to position or hide.

With the advent of the compact cassette and the compact disc in the 1980s, the easy reproduction of deep and loud bass was no longer limited by the ability of a phonograph record stylus to track a groove, and producers could add more low frequency content to recordings. As well, during the 1990s, DVDs were increasingly recorded with "surround sound" processes that included a Low Frequency Effects (LFE) channel, which could be heard using the subwoofer in home theater systems. During the 1990s, subwoofers also became increasingly popular in home stereo systems, custom car audio installations, and in PA systems. By the 2000s, subwoofers became almost universal in sound reinforcement systems in nightclubs and concert venues.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

BMW Art Car Project

The BMW Art Car Project was introduced by the French racecar driver and auctioneer Hervé Poulain, who wanted to invite an artist to create a canvas on an automobile. It was in 1975, when Poulain commissioned American artist and friend Alexander Calder to paint the first BMW Art Car. This first example would be a BMW 3.0 CSL which Poulain himself would race in the 1975 Le Mans endurance race. Since Calder's work of art, many other renowned artists throughout the world have created BMW Art Cars, including David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol. To date, a total of 17 BMW Art Cars, based on both racing and regular production vehicles, have been created. The most recent artist to the join BMW Art Car program is Jeff Koons in 2010 with his M3 GT2, which competed in the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans but did not finish. Artists for the BMW Art Car Project are chosen by a panel of international judges.

According to Thomas Girst, who has been in charge of the BMW Art Cars project since 2004, the purpose of the project has changed over time: "In the beginning the cars were raced. There wasn't much of a public relations effort around them... Since then, some of the Art Cars have been used in advertisements to show that BMW is a player in the arts. With the Eliason work, part of what we are doing is raising awareness of alternative and renewable energy sources."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Vagus Nerve

The vagus nerve, also called pneumogastric nerve or cranial nerve X, is the tenth of twelve paired cranial nerves. Upon leaving the medulla between the olivary nucleus and the inferior cerebellar peduncle, it extends through the jugular foramen, then passing into the carotid sheath between the internal carotid artery and the internal jugular vein down below the head, to the neck, chest and abdomen, where it contributes to the innervation of the viscera. Besides output to the various organs in the body the vagus nerve conveys sensory information about the state of the body's organs to the central nervous system. 80-90% of the nerve fibers in the vagus nerve are afferent (sensory) nerves communicating the state of the viscera to the brain.

This means that the vagus nerve is responsible for such varied tasks as heart rate, gastrointestinal peristalsis, sweating, and quite a few muscle movements in the mouth, including speech (via the recurrent laryngeal nerve) and keeping the larynx open for breathing (via action of the posterior cricoarytenoid muscle, the only abductor of the vocal folds). It also has some afferent fibers that innervate the inner (canal) portion of the outer ear, via the Auricular branch (also known as Alderman's nerve) and part of the meninges. This explains why a person may cough when tickled on their ear (such as when trying to remove ear wax with a cotton swab).

The medieval Latin word vagus means literally "Wandering" (the words vagrant, vagabond, and vague come from the same root). Sometimes the branches are spoken of in the plural and are thus called vagi. The vagus is also called the pneumogastric nerve since it innervates both the lungs and the stomach.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Angostura Bitters

Angostura bitters, often simply referred to as angostura, is a concentrated bitters made of water, 44.7% alcohol, gentian root, and vegetable flavoring extracts by House of Angostura in Trinidad and Tobago. They are typically used for flavoring beverages, or (less often) food. The bitters were first produced in the town of Angostura (hence the name), and do not contain angostura bark. The bottle is easily recognisable by its distinctive over-sized label.

The recipe was developed as a tonic by German Dr. Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert, a Surgeon General in Simon Bolivar's army in Venezuela, who began to sell it in 1824 and established a distillery for the purpose in 1830. Siegert was based in the town of Angostura, now Ciudad Bolívar, and used locally available ingredients, perhaps aided by botanical knowledge of the local Amerindians. The product was sold abroad from 1853 and in 1875 the plant was moved from Ciudad Bolivar to Port of Spain, Trinidad, where it remains.

The exact formula is a closely guarded secret, with only five people knowing the whole recipe.

Angostura bitters are extremely concentrated and, though 44.7% alcohol by volume, are not normally drunk pure, but used in small amounts as flavouring.

Angostura bitters are a key ingredient in many cocktails. Originally used to mask the flavour of quinine in tonic water, itself usually served with gin, the mix stuck in the form of a Pink Gin, and is also used in many other alcoholic cocktails such as Long vodka, consisting of vodka, Angostura bitters, and lemonade; and the Old Fashioned, made with whiskey, bitters, sugar, and soda water. In a Pisco Sour a few drops are sprinkled on top of the foam, both for aroma and decoration. In a Champagne Cocktail a few drops of bitters are added to a sugar cube. Bitters can also be used in soft drinks; a common non-alcoholic drink served in Australian pubs is lemon, lime and bitters. An approximation of ginger ale (as a drink mixer) can be made by filling a glass, almost to the top, with lemon-lime soda, adding a splash or two of cola, and then adding a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters. Angostura Bitters Drink Guide, a promotional booklet of 1908, was reprinted in 2008 with a new introduction by Ross Bolton.

Though not in the classic recipe, bartenders sometimes add more flavor to the Mojito cocktail by sprinkling a few drops of Angostura bitter on top.

Angostura bitters are alleged to have restorative properties. It was reported to be a remedy for hiccups, and also can be used as a cure for an upset stomach.

Despite its alcohol content of 44.7%, Angostura is not classed as an alcoholic beverage in the U.K., in line with other bitters normally used in small quantities as flavouring.

Angostura bitters is often incorrectly believed to have poisonous qualities because it is associated with Angostura bark (although it does not actually contain any), which, although not toxic, during its use as a medicine was often adulterated by unscrupulous sellers who padded out the sacks of bark with cheaper poisonous Strychnos nux-vomica or copalchi bark.

Angostura bitters stain fabrics and surfaces.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cosmo Kramer

Cosmo Kramer, usually referred to as simply "Kramer", is a fictional character on the American television sitcom Seinfeld (1989–1998), played by Michael Richards. The character is loosely based on comedian Kenny Kramer, Larry David's former neighbor across the hall.

Kramer is the neighbor of main character Jerry Seinfeld, residing in Apartment 5B, and is friends with George Costanza and Elaine Benes. Of the series' four central characters, only Kramer has no visible means of support; what few jobs he holds seem to be nothing more than larks.

His trademarks include his humorous upright hairstyle and vintage wardrobe, the combination of which led to his categorization as a "hipster doofus"; his taste in fruit; his love of occasional smoking, Cuban cigars in particular; his energetic bursts through Jerry's apartment door; frequent pratfalls and his penchant for nonsensical, percussive outbursts of noise to indicate skepticism, agreement, annoyance, and a variety of other inexplicable responses.

Kramer appeared in all but two episodes: "The Chinese Restaurant" and "The Pen", in the second and third seasons, respectively.

The character of Kramer was originally based on the real-life Kenny Kramer, a neighbor of co-creator Larry David from New York. However, Michael Richards did not in any way base his performance on the real Kramer, to the point of refusing to meet him. This was later parodied in "The Pilot" when the actor that is cast to play him in Jerry and George's sitcom refuses to base the character on the real Cosmo Kramer. At the time of the shooting of the original Seinfeld pilot titled "The Seinfeld Chronicles", Kenny Kramer had not yet given consent to use his name, and so Kramer's character was originally referred to as "Kessler".

Larry David was hesitant to use Kenny Kramer's real name because he suspected that Kramer would take advantage of this. David's suspicion turned out to be correct; Kenny Kramer created the "Kramer Reality Tour", a New York City bus tour that points out actual locations of events or places featured in Seinfeld. The "Kramer Reality Tour" is itself spoofed on Seinfeld in "The Muffin Tops." In the episode, when Kramer's life stories are used by Elaine for the use of various stories in Peterman's biography, he develops a reality bus tour called "The Peterman Reality Tour" and touts himself as "The Real J. Peterman."

Cosmo Kramer was known only as "Kramer" during the show's first five seasons (from 1989 to 1994), though in the pilot, "The Seinfeld Chronicles," Jerry referred to him as Kessler, which was his original name for the show, until they changed it to Kramer. George finds out his unusual first name through an encounter with Kramer's long estranged mother, Babs (played by Sheree North), in the season six episode, "The Switch". Despite this, most characters continued to call him Kramer for the remainder of the show's run (although many minor characters did refer to him as "Cosmo").

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tramp chair

The tramp chair was a one-person retaining device used by American police, largely during the 19th century, as a mild form of torture and public humiliation.

Invented in the early 19th century, the tramp chair was a cage made of bent and riveted metal strapping into the shape of a chair. An individual could be placed inside the chair and locked up securely (thus also acting as a jail cell in towns too small to build a jail). It was sometimes placed on a wheeled platform so that it (and the prisoner) could be moved around easily.

It was often used for vagrants (earning it its name) who could be left inside it for a day or two as encouragement to move along. Made of iron, it would heat up or cool down uncomfortably depending on the weather, and town residents could jeer at and harass the occupant. It left no room to move around, so would be very uncomfortable to sit in for a prolonged stretch of time. The American Police Hall of Fame and Police Museum in Miami states that "often the prisoner was stripped naked and the kids from the area would poke him with sticks."

The tramp chair was invented and made by Sanford Baker of Oakland, Maine. An original chair is in the Smithsonian and in the Bangor (Maine) Police Museum.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Chuck Taylor

Charles Hollis "Chuck" Taylor (June 24, 1901 – June 23, 1969) was an American basketball player and shoe salesman/evangelist. He is best known for his association with the Chuck Taylor All-Stars sneaker, the most successful selling basketball shoe in history.

The Converse All-Star shoe, which on the bottom says "one star", one of the first especially designed to be worn when playing basketball, was introduced in the 1910s. Taylor started wearing them in 1917 as a high school basketball player. In 1921, Taylor went to the Converse Shoes Chicago sales offices in search of a job, where S.R. "Bob" Pletz, an avid sportsman, then hired him.

Within a year, Taylor's suggestions of changing the design of the shoe to provide enhanced flexibility and support, and also including patch to protect the ankle, were adopted. The All-Star star logo was then immediately included on the patch. By 1923 Chuck Taylor's name was added to the patch, and the shoe became the Chuck Taylor All-Stars.

Chuck Taylor was an exceptional representative for Converse. Joe Dean, who worked as a sales executive for Converse for nearly 30 years before becoming the athletic director at Louisiana State University, told Bob Ford of The Philadelphia Inquirer, "It was impossible not to like him, and he knew everybody. If you were a coach and you wanted to find a job, you called Chuck Taylor. Athletic directors talked to him all the time when they were looking for a coach."

Taylor received a salary from Converse, but received no commission for any of the 600 million pairs of Chuck Taylor shoes that have been sold. For years, he drove a white Cadillac across the country with a trunk full of shoes, living in motels, and with only a locker in the company's Chicago warehouse as a permanent residence. Author Abraham Aamidor, however, points out that Taylor wasn't sparing in use of the Converse expense account.

Taylor promoted basketball internationally; it became an Olympic sport in 1936. White high-tops originated in 1947 for the 1948 Olympics.

During WWII, Taylor became fitness consultant for the US military. GIs were soon doing calisthenics whilst wearing Chuck Taylor sneakers that had become the official sneaker of the US Armed Forces.

By 1966 Converse had a 80% of the US sneaker market. In 1968, Taylor retired. Just one day short of his 68th birthday in June 1969 Taylor died of a heart attack in Port Charlotte, Florida.


A stele is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living — inscribed, carved in relief (bas-relief, sunken-relief, high-relief, and so forth), or painted onto the slab. It can also be used as territorial markers to delineate land ownership.

Stelae were also used as territorial markers, as the boundary stelae of Akhenaton at Amarna, or to commemorate military victories. They were widely used in the Ancient Near East, Mesopotamia, Greece, Egypt, Ethiopia, and, most likely independently, in China and elsewhere in the Far East, and, more surely independently, by Mesoamerican civilisations, notably the Olmec and Maya. The huge number of stelae surviving from ancient Egypt and in Central America constitute one of the largest and most significant sources of information on those civilisations. An informative stele of Tiglath-Pileser III is preserved in the British Museum. Two stelae built into the walls of a church are major documents relating to the Etruscan language.

The erection of steles was popular in China and consisted of rectangular stone tablets usually inscribed with a funerary, commemorative, or edifying text. Although the earliest steles, inspired by Buddhists, date to the first half of the fifth century, this visual form did not come into general use until the last years of the fifth century, and this custom prevailed until the end of the sixth century. From then on the design of steles drifted away from pure Buddhist influence and became wordy displays of script mostly eulogistic or commemorative. They were placed in front of tombs to announce the name of the person buried there, often to provide details of the deceased’s life, or were provided to commemorate a particular incident or event and to give details of the purpose of the occasion.

Erecting steles at tombs or temples eventually became a widespread social and religious phenomenon. Emperors found it necessary to promulgate laws, regulating the use of funerary steles by the population. The Ming Dynasty laws, instituted in the 14th century by its founder the Hongwu Emperor, listed a number of stele types available as status symbols to various ranks of the nobility and officialdom: the top noblemen and mandarins were eligible for steles installed on top of a stone tortoise and crowned with hornless dragons, while the lower-level officials had to be satisfied with steles with plain rounded tops, standing on simple rectangular pedestals.

A number of such stone monuments have preserved the origin and history of China's minority religious communities. The 8th-century Christians of Xi'an left behind the Nestorian Stele, which survived adverse events of the later history by being buried underground for several centuries. Steles created by the Kaifeng Jews in 1489, 1512, and 1663, have survived the repeated flooding of the Yellow River that destroyed their synagogue several times, to tell us something about their world. China's Muslim have a number of steles of considerable antiquity as well, often containing both Chinese and Arabic text.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Squat lobster

Squat lobsters are decapod crustaceans of the families Galatheidae, Chirostylidae and Kiwaidae, including the common genera Galathea and Munida. They are not lobsters at all, but are more closely related to porcelain crabs, hermit crabs and then, more distantly, true crabs. They are distributed worldwide in the oceans, and occur from near the surface to deep sea hydrothermal vents. There are currently 870 described species.

Squat lobsters are much smaller than commercially-harvested true lobsters. For example, Munida rugosa has a maximum body length of 4 in with abdomen extended, and the striated squat lobster Galathea australiensis has a carapace that reaches 6 in in length.

The body of a squat lobster is usually flattened, the abdomen is typically folded under itself, and the first pereiopods (front legs) are greatly elongated and armed with long chelae (claws). The fifth pair of pereiopods is usually hidden within the gill chamber, under the carapace, giving squat lobsters the appearance of having only eight pereiopods.

It was long assumed that squat lobsters hide in crevices and catch prey with their long claws. However, recent observations showed the animals to wait on the tops of Lophelia coral reefs and catch fish swimming past.

Flesh from these animals is often commercially sold in restaurants as "langostino lobster," or sometimes called merely "lobster" when incorporated in seafood dishes.

Munidopsis andamanica is a deep sea species that is specialized to feed only on sunken wood, including trees washed out to sea and timber from ship wrecks.

Fossil squat lobsters have been found in strata dating back to the Middle Jurassic of Europe.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lincoln Logs

Lincoln Logs are a toy consisting of notched miniature logs, about ¾ inches in diameter. Analogous to real logs used in a log cabin, Lincoln Logs have notches in their ends so that small model log buildings can be built. In addition, a Lincoln Logs set has windows and doors to make the buildings more realistic. Some modern sets also come with figures of humans and animals that match the scale of the buildings.

Lincoln Logs were invented in 1916 by John L. Wright, a son of the notable architect Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1918, they were marketed by the Red Square Toy Company and by John Lloyd Wright, Incorporated of Chicago, Illinois. While it is often assumed that the name of the toy relates to Abraham Lincoln, it is a reference to the inventor's father, since Frank Lloyd Wright's given middle name was "Lincoln". Lincoln Logs originally came with instructions on how to build Uncle Tom's Cabin as well as Lincoln's log cabin.

The architecture of the Imperial Hotel basement in Tokyo, designed by John's father, which used a unique foundation of interlocking beams to make the structure "earthquake proof", assisted in the designing of the toy logs.

The sets were originally made of 100% wood, with varying colors of roof pieces, but by the 1970s almost all the wood had been replaced by plastic. However, they have reverted to real wood on all their sets.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Henry F. Phillips

Henry F. Phillips (1890–1958) was a U.S. businessman from Portland, Oregon. The Phillips-head ("crosshead") screw and screwdriver are named after him.

The importance of the crosshead screw design lies in its self-centering property, useful on automated production lines that use powered screwdrivers. Phillips' major contribution was in driving the crosshead concept forward to the point where it was adopted by screwmakers and automobile companies.

An engineer, Phillips was an acquaintance of John P. Thompson, who sold his self-centering design to Phillips after failing to interest manufacturers. Phillips formed the Phillips Screw Company in 1934, and after refining the design himself (US Patent #2,046,343, US Patents #2,046,837 to 2,046,840) for the American Screw Company of Providence, Rhode Island, succeeded in getting the design quickly adopted by industry. One of the first customers, in 1937, was General Motors for its Cadillac assembly-lines. By 1940, 85% of US screw manufacturers had a license for the design.

Due to failing health, Phillips retired in 1945 and died quietly in 1958.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Breakfast is the first meal of the day, typically consumed in the morning. The word is a compound of "break" and "fast", referring to the conclusion of fasting since the previous day's last meal.

Breakfast meals vary widely in different cultures around the world, but often include a carbohydrate such as cereal or rice, fruit and/or vegetable, protein, sometimes dairy, and beverage.

Nutritional experts have referred to breakfast as the most important meal of the day, citing studies that find that people who skip breakfast are disproportionately likely to have problems with concentration, metabolism, and weight.

Breakfast has commonly been practiced worldwide and is a concept easily transferred between cultures, but there have been many regional interpretations over the years. In Medieval Europe, for instance, the basic format of meals differed from what is currently 'standard', in that only two meals were to be had; a heavy dinner at noon and a light supper, largely due to the influence of the Church.

However, exceptions existed, most notably for children and the infirm. They were allowed a small breakfast meal, and many labourers, farmers, and other physical workers also took the meal despite criticism and social pressure on them not to, and by the 15th century even the nobility had begun to ignore the rules and mores of polite society and took breakfast.

The earliest appearance in print of the idea that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" occurs in the novella The Metamorphosis, published in 1915 by Franz Kafka, which includes the line, "for Gregor's father, breakfast was the most important meal of the day".

Some restaurants devote themselves to breakfast or have special breakfast menus. The field is dominated on one hand by greasy spoons, diners, cafés, cafeterias, and fast food places, and by hotels. However, some breakfast places resemble standard restaurants in procedure, selection, and price.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Samba is a Brazilian dance and musical genre originating in African roots. It is recognized around the world as a symbol of Brazil and the Brazilian Carnival. Considered one of the most popular Brazilian cultural expressions, together with Sertanejo, the samba has become an icon of Brazilian national identity. The Bahian samba de roda (dance circle), which became a UNESCO Heritage of Humanity in 2005, is the main root of the samba carioca, the samba that is played and danced in Rio de Janeiro.

The modern samba that emerged at the beginning of the 20th century is basically 2/4 tempo and varied, with conscious use of the possibilities of chorus sung to the sound of palms and batucada rhythm, which adds one or more parts, or stanzas, of declaratory verses. Traditionally, the samba is played by strings (cavaquinho and various types of guitar) and various percussion instruments such as tamborim. By influence of American orchestras in vogue since the Second World War and the cultural impact of US music post-war, began to be used also as instruments trombones and trumpets, and the influence choro, flute and clarinet.

The Samba National Day is celebrated on December 2. The date was established at the initiative of a Alderman of Salvador, Luis Monteiro da Costa, in honor of Ary Barroso, which was composed "Na Baixa do Sapateiro" - although he had never been in Bahia. Thus, on December 2 marked the first visit of the Ary Barroso to Salvador. Initially, this day was celebrated only in Salvador, but eventually turned into a national day.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Bonanza is an American western television series that ran on NBC from September 12, 1959 to January 16, 1973. Lasting 14 seasons and 431 episodes, it ranks as the second longest running western series (behind Gunsmoke) and continues to air in syndication, starring Lorne Greene, Pernell Roberts, Dan Blocker, Michael Landon and David Canary.

The show chronicled the weekly adventures of the Cartwright family, headed by the thrice-widowed patriarch Ben Cartwright (played by Lorne Greene). He had three sons, each by a different wife: the eldest was the urbane architect Adam Cartwright (played by Pernell Roberts) who built the ranch house; the second was the warm and lovable giant Eric, better known by his nickname "Hoss" (played by Dan Blocker); and the youngest was the hotheaded and impetuous Joseph or "Little Joe" (played by Michael Landon). The family's cook was the Chinese immigrant Hop Sing (played by Victor Sen Yung). Bonanza was considered an atypical western for its time, as the core of the storylines dealt less about the range but more with Ben and his three dissimilar sons, how they cared for one another, their neighbors and just causes.

The family lived on a thousand-square-mile [1] ranch called Ponderosa on the shore of Lake Tahoe in Nevada. The massive size of the Cartwright's land was quietly revised to "half a million acres" on Lorne Greene's 1964 song, "Saga of the Ponderosa" ("Bonanza" set liner notes, Bear Family Records, disk 1). The ranch name refers to the Ponderosa Pine, common in the West. The nearest town to the Ponderosa was Virginia City, where the Cartwrights would go to converse with Sheriff Roy Coffee (played by veteran actor Ray Teal), or his deputy Clem Foster (Bing Russell). Greene, Roberts, Blocker, and Landon were billed equally. The opening credits would alternate the order among the four stars. As the series advanced, writers began to showcase one or two Cartwrights in each episode, while the others would be seen briefly in the prologue and epilogue. Not only did this provide for more thorough character development, it also gave all four actors more free time.

Originally, the Cartwrights tended to be depicted as put-off by outsiders. Lorne Greene, however, objected to this, pointing out that as the area's largest timber and livestock producer, the family should be less clannish. The producers agreed with this observation and changed the Cartwrights to be more amiable.

In the fall of 1972, Bonanza was moved to Tuesday nights opposite the All In The Family spinoff, Maude. The scheduling change, as well as Dan Blocker's death several months earlier, resulted in plunging ratings for the show. David Canary returned to his former role of Candy (to offset Hoss' absence), and a new character named Griff King (played by Tim Matheson) was added to lure younger viewers. Griff, in prison for nearly killing his abusive stepfather, was paroled into Ben's custody and got a job as a ranch hand. Several episodes were built around his character, one that Matheson never had a chance to fully develop before the show's sudden cancellation in January 1973. Many fans felt that the Hoss character was essential, as he was a nurturing, empathetic soul who rounded-out the all-male cast.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sea Hag

The Sea Hag is a fictional character owned by King Features Syndicate. She is a tall, masculine looking witch featured in comics/cartoons as a nemesis to the character Popeye. The Sea Hag was created by Elzie Crisler Segar in 1929 as part of the Thimble Theater comic strip.
The Sea Hag is one of the central enemies of Popeye the Sailor. She is a pirate who sails the Seven Seas in her boat "The Black Barnacle". She is able to practice Voodoo magic and powerful enough to capture the equally magical Eugene the Jeep and on one occasion Santa Claus. She can even alter her appearance to that of her alter ego Rose of the Sea. Besides having a pet vulture named Bernard as her familiar, she also commands an army of Goons. The most famous of the Goons is Alice the Goon.
Because she is a woman, Popeye cannot physically attack her. His honor says that he would never hit a woman, even someone as evil as the Sea Hag. In such cases, it is Olive Oyl herself who steps in and does physical damage to her.
Upon meeting Popeye, she falls madly in love with him. Discovering that Popeye already has a girlfriend named Olive Oyl she tries her best to be rid of Olive and win Popeye over to her favor. Popeye makes it clear to her though that under no circumstances would he be interested in a relationship with her. Enraged, on one occasion she gave Popeye's archenemy Bluto a potion to become young and handsome as a means to win over Olive Oyl. Later after thinking that the Sea Hag had died, Popeye had this to say once he discovered that she wasn't: "I yam glad she ain't dead even if she is a exter bad woman. If they wasn't no bad women, maybe we wouldn't appreciate the good ones. Anyway, she yam what she yam!" Despite this the Sea Hag has tried to kill Popeye on occasion when upset that Popeye remains uninterested in her romantically.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


A jötunn is a giant in Norse mythology, a member of a race of nature spirits with superhuman strength, described as sometimes standing in opposition to the races of the tribes of the Æsir and Vanir, although they frequently mingle with or intermarry with these. Their otherworldly homeland is Jötunheimr, one of the nine worlds of Norse cosmology, separated from Midgard, the world of humans, by high mountains or dense forests. Other place names are also associated with them, including Niflheimr, Utgarðr and Járnviðr. In some legends and myths they are described as having the same height as humans.

In later Scandinavian folklore, the nature spirits called trolls (deriving from the term for 'magic') take over many of the functions of the more ancient concept of the jötunn.

The mountain range of southern Norway is likewise called in Norwegian Jotunheimen or the Jotunheim Mountains.

The first living being formed in the primeval chaos known as Ginnungagap was a giant of monumental size, called Ymir. When he slept a jötunn son and a jötunn daughter grew from his armpits, and his two feet procreated and gave birth to a son, a monster with six heads. These three beings gave rise to the race of hrímþursar (rime thurs), who populated Niflheim, the world of mist, chill and ice. The gods instead claim their origin from a certain Búri. When the giant Ymir subsequently was slain by Odin, Vili and (the grandsons of Búri), his blood (i.e. water) deluged Niflheim and killed all of the jötnar, apart from one known as Bergelmir and his spouse, who then repopulated their kind.

Some of the jötnar are attributed with hideous appearances – claws, fangs, and deformed features, apart from a generally hideous size. Some of them may even have many heads, such as Thrivaldi who had nine of them, or an overall non-humanoid shape; so were Jörmungandr and Fenrir, two of the children of Loki.

Yet when jötnar are named and more closely described, they are often given the opposite characteristics. Very old, they carry wisdom from bygone times. It is the jötnar Mímir and Vafþrúðnir Odin seeks out to gain this ancient knowledge. Many of the gods' spouses are giants. Njörðr is married to Skaði, Gerðr becomes the consort of Freyr, Odin gains the love of Gunnlod, and even Thor, the great slayer of their kind, produces a child with Járnsaxa; Magni. As such, they appear as minor gods themselves, which can also be said about the sea giant Ægir, far more connected to the gods than to the other jötnar occupying Jotunheim. None of these fear light, and in comfort their homes do not differ greatly from those of the gods.

A certain class of jötnar are the fire jötnar (Múspellsmegir or eldjötnar), said to reside in Muspelheim, the world of heat and fire, ruled by the fire jötunn Surtr ("the black one"). The main role of the fire jötnar in Norse mythology is to wreak the final destruction of the world by setting fire to the world at the end of Ragnarök, when the jötnar of Jotunheim and the forces of Hel shall launch an attack on the gods, and kill all but a few of them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Triangulation Station

A triangulation station, also known as a triangulation pillar, trigonometrical station, trigonometrical point, trig station, trig beacon or trig point, and sometimes informally as a trig, is a fixed surveying station, used in geodetic surveying and other surveying projects in its vicinity. The names of triangulation stations vary regionally; they are generally known as trigonometrical stations in North America, trig points in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia, and trig beacons in South Africa; triangulation pillar is the more formal term for the concrete columns found in the UK.

The station is usually set up by a government with known coordinate and elevation published. Many stations are located on hilltops for the purposes of visibility. A graven metal plate on the top of a pillar may provide a mounting point for a theodolite or reflector.

Trigonometrical stations are grouped together to form a network of triangulation. Positions of all land boundaries, roads, railways, bridges and many other infrastructures can be accurately located by the network.

Trigonometrical stations are essential to the construction of modern infrastructure. Apart from the known stations set up by government, some temporary trigonometrical stations are set up near construction sites for monitoring the precision and progress of construction.

Some trigonometrical stations are equipped with Global Positioning Systems which greatly improve their accuracy.

Although many stations are no longer required for surveying purposes, they remain useful to hikers as navigational aids when hill-walking.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Manhattan Transfer

Manhattan Transfer is a novel by John Dos Passos published in 1925. It focuses on the urban life of New York City in the Jazz Age as told through a series of overlapping individual stories.

It is considered to be one of Dos Passos' most important works. The book attacks the consumerism and social indifference of contemporary urban life, portraying a Manhattan that is merciless yet teeming with energy and restlessness. The book shows some of Dos Passos' experimental writing techniques and narrative collages that would become more pronounced in his U.S.A. trilogy and other later works. The technique in Manhattan Transfer was inspired in part by James Joyce's Ulysses (1922), T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, and experiments with film collage by Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein.

Sinclair Lewis described it as "a novel of the very first importance ... The dawn of a whole new school of writing." D.H. Lawrence called it "the best modern book about New York" he had ever read, describing it as "a very complete film ... of the vast loose gang of strivers and winners and losers which seems to be the very pep of New York." In a blurb for a European edition, Ernest Hemingway wrote that, alone among American writers, Dos Passos has "been able to show to Europeans the America they really find when they come here."

Monday, June 13, 2011

Klaudyán map of Bohemia

The Klaudyán map of Bohemia (1518) is the earliest map of Bohemia (and earliest map to cover a country‘s area on a one sheet map ever). It was printed by Mikuláš Klaudyán, a printer from Mladá Boleslav. The ratio scale is 1:685000.

The upper part consists of the picture of the King Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia with the emblems of his lands, the allegory of justice, coats of arms of highest Czech dignities and three important royal cities - Prague, Kutná Hora and Žatec. In the middle of the map sheet is a picture symbolizing Czech religious disunion - a carriage drawn by horse couples to opposite directions. The map itself records about 280 towns and castles, and depicts also forests, mountains, rivers and roads.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Frank Kelly Freas

Frank Kelly Freas (27 August 1922 – 2 January 2005), called the "Dean of Science Fiction Artists," was a science fiction and fantasy artist with a career spanning more than 50 years.

Born in Hornell, New York, United States, Freas (pronounced like the English word "freeze") was the son of two photographers, and was raised in Canada. He was educated at Lafayette High School in Buffalo, where he received training from long-time art teacher Elizabeth Weiffenbach. Following college and the United States Army Air Forces, he went back to school at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh and began work in advertising. He married Pauline (Polly) Bussard in 1952; they had two children, Jacqui and Jerry. Polly died of cancer in January 1987. In 1988 he married (and is survived by) Dr. Laura Brodian.

For Weird Tales (November 1950), Freas did his first fantasy magazine cover, illustrating H. Russell Wakefield's "The Third Shadow" with his painting "The Piper." With his illustrating career underway, he continued to devise unique and imaginative concepts for other fantasy and science fiction magazines of that period. In a field where airbrushing is common practice, paintings by Freas are notable for his use of bold brush strokes, and a study of his work reveals his experimentation with a wide variety of tools and techniques.

Over the next five decades, he created covers for numerous books and magazines, notably Astounding Science Fiction both before and after its title change to Analog; Mad magazine (for whom he painted many early covers featuring the iconic character, Alfred E. Neuman) from 1958 to 1962 (he started at Mad in February 1957 and by July 1958 was the magazine's new cover artist; he painted most of its covers until October 1962); cover art for DAW, Signet, Ballantine Books, Avon, all 58 Laser Books, and over 90 covers for Ace books alone. He was a participant in one of the all-time great literary hoaxes, I, Libertine (Ballantine Books, 1956), along with Jean Shepherd, Ian Ballantine and Theodore Sturgeon, incorporating several hidden jokes and references into his cover painting for that book. That same year he drew cartoon illustrations for Bernard Shir-Cliff's The Wild Reader, also for Ballantine.

Freas was commissioned to paint the Skylab I insignia design and posters promoting the space program (used by NASA and now hanging in the Smithsonian Institution); pinup girls on bombers while in the United States Army Air Forces; comic book covers; and many others, such as more than 500 saints' portraits for the Franciscans executed simultaneously with his portraits of Alfred E. Neuman ("What? Me Worry?") for Mad. His cover of Queen's album News of the World (1977) was a pastiche of his much-admired sad robot cover illustrating Tom Godwin's "The Gulf Between" for Astounding Science Fiction (October 1953).

Freas published several collections of his artwork and frequently gave presentations. His work appeared in numerous exhibitions. Among many other awards, Freas was the first person to receive ten Hugo awards. He was nominated 20 times. No other artist in science fiction has consistently matched his record. His smooth and luminous images, amiable aliens and sexy women have become part of today's science fiction visual language.

He died in West Hills and is buried in Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Chatsworth. Both communities are suburbs of Los Angeles, California, in the San Fernando Valley.