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It has been a long time since I posted something to my 100 things category, but today I learned something amazing, the oldest living organism (discovered so far) on our planet is 80,000 years old. WOW!

It is a grove of aspen trees, nick-named Pando, that grows in Central Utah. In Celtic Shamanism, Aspen (or Poplar) wood is used for protective charms of all sorts, visions and resurrections, divination and astral projection. It helps with communication and can mend a broken heart. Poplar groves are considered portals to other realms. The particular trembling nature of the quaking aspen leaves leads to a susurration of what seem to be otherworldly voices and so primitive peoples assigned magical powers to the groves. Simple explanations for simpler times.

However, now, science has helped us understand a few more things about aspen trees. Things I'm sure our ancestors figured out by simple observation. It seems as though the trees in an aspen grove are like the hairs on the head of a huge underground root system.




It is one organism. The one in Utah may be the heaviest single organism on earth, as well. What we see are the trees it clones to feed itself. And if an American one is that old, I imagine there are older, untested, groves in Europe. Groves that might have existed before the dawn of mankind. Perhaps they do know a thing or two that we could discover...if we listen very carefully.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700071982/Central-Utahs-Pando-worlds-largest-living-thing-is-threatened-scientists-say.html

Of course, it should be self-evident that we need to stop threatening this amazing organism's survival with our pesky polluting ways. Sometimes I think the cockroaches are right about us. They not only run away from us, they frantically wash themselves after we touch them. 
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Hello FList! I haven't been learning much lately, but today, thanks to the online version of the magazine Mental Floss, I learned a plethora of new words. So, I thought I would share them with you all.

First, a list of the winning words from Spelling Bees...http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/128643

My favorite from this list has to be Maculature, 1979--Paper waste and printed materials not intended for reading, AKA junk mail. You might consider those five Oriental Trading catalogs you never signed up for maculature.

Second, a list of regional words that need to go national or international.

http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/122638

I have several favorite's on this list...arsling and jabble and whoopensocker...

But my overall winner has to be Sneetered (v.), Kentucky--If you’ve ever been hoodwinked, duped, swindled, fleeced or scammed, you done been sneetered. The noun version, sniter, refers to that treacherous person responsible for your unfortunate sneetering.

Unfortunately America may be coming up for a good sneetering soon, thanks to that world-class sniter, Mitt Romney.

Finally, in our Mental Floss word lists, we have a list of words with no English equivalent. Words that express concepts that we English speakers need whole paragraphs to describe. This is the place for the words that mean...falling asleep drunk and naked on the floor...and...moving hot food around in the mouth until it cools off...

http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/102722

My personal favorite is Layogenic (Tagalog)--Remember in Clueless when Cher describes someone as “a full-on Monet…from far away, it’s OK, but up close it’s a big old mess”? That’s exactly what this word means.

I hope you all enjoy discovering some new words.

To Learn More About the 100 Things Challenge...go here...http://jdbracknell.livejournal.com/165714.html
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Today, during the Preakness Post Parade, the announcers talked a little bit about Lava Man, a former race horse who was acting as I'll Have Another's pony. The pony's job is to keep the nervous young horses quiet and calm. Lava Man is a gelding, so he can't be put out to stud, but it is interesting that he has a second career as a pony for a great horse, because Lava Man is, himself, a great horse.

I had checked out of racing for a bit around 2004-2007, so I didn't realize how great until I did a little research.

Lava Man started out somewhere below the bottom of the barrel. He was well-bred but not well purchased and at 2 years old he was racing in a $12,500 dollar maiden claiming race at a Fairgrounds track. Claiming races are when every horse in the race is for sale at that price...in this case...$12,500. This is where your cart horses come from...and where the "make them into dog food" fears arise, too. It's a hard grind for a horse at this level, because nobody cares about you, you make little, if any, money and you are raced until you drop or someone takes you off your owner's hands. But Lava Man lucked out when he fell into the hands of O'Neill, and got a shot at stakes races in California.

And not just any Stakes races...but GRADE 1 races in great company. O'Neill is, apparently, a crazy man or a good judge of cheap horse flesh. I'll Have Another cost him $11,000. At four years old, Lava Man was fitted with blinkers and he got his mind on his job and started winning Handicap races, while carrying the heaviest weights in the field.

Here he is putting away the best in the land in the Hollywood Gold Cup in 2005 in a record shattering win...



He won again the next year. In 2006, he won The Santa Anita Handicap, The Hollywood Gold Cup and the Pacific Coast Classic all Grade 1 races. He was the first horse to ever do that in the same calendar year. He is the all time leading Stakes race winner in California history. He is the only horse to ever win a major race at every California race track. He is the third highest money earner in the history of California racing. He has won on dirt, grass and artificial surfaces. He was California Horse of the year in 2006 as well as Older Horse of the Year and Turf Horse of the Year. He has been compared to Seabiscuit and is arguably the greatest claiming horse of all time. You can read all about his amazing career on wikipedia here...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lava_Man

Oh, and he walks I'll Have Another to the post, to keep him calm. And I bet he gives him a few tips, too, just like an old coach with a promising new recruit, "Get your nose in front, son! That's what they expect of you. Win big and you don't have to find a new home."

To Learn More About the 100 Things Challenge...go here...http://jdbracknell.livejournal.com/165714.html
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Today, I have a little bit of LBGT history for you. While studying the Ojibwe people of Wisconsin, I came across a story about a famous warrior known as Yellow Head, or Ozaawindib. Ozaawindib was a transgender person, a biological male who identified as a female. John Tanner, an interpreter who lived among the Ojibwe for many years, wrote of Ozzawindib in 1880, "This man was one of those who make themselves into women and are called women by the Indians." However, among the Ojibwe this wasn't considered much of a wonder as they did not recognize gender differences as other cultures did. Men could chose to stay home and raise kids while the women went out to fight or hunt. They felt that it was all a matter of what your spirit called you to do. And people were free to marry transgender people or those of the same sex.

American geologist, Henry Schoolcraft, knew Ozaawindib personally and wrote of him...At the mouth of River Broula[4] I encountered Ozawondib,[5] or Yellow Head, and Mainotagooz,[6] or the Handsome Enunciator, two Chippewas from the Cassinian source of the Mississippi, being on their way to visit me at the seat of the agency. They reported that the Indians of Leech Lake had raised a war-party, and gone out against the Sioux of the Plains. Both these Indians returned with me to Cass Lake. The former afterward guided me from that remote point to the source of this river.[7]

There is a picture of Ozaawindib behind this cut...Read more... )

To Learn More About the 100 Things Challenge...go here...http://jdbracknell.livejournal.com/165714.html
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"I cannot think that we are useless or God would not have created us. There is one God looking down on us all. We are all the children of one God. The sun, the darkness, the winds are all listening to what we have to say."--Goyathlay (aka Geronimo).

There's a really big pic under here. So, Geronimo-ooooooo!

Read more... )

You can learn more about Geronimo at Wikipedia...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geronimo

To Learn More About the 100 Things Challenge...go here...http://jdbracknell.livejournal.com/165714.html
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Yesterday, while discussing the movie "The Descendants" with my brother (he was recommending it, I haven't seen it), I learned a little something about slack key guitar, or Ki ho'alu, one of the great acoustic traditions of the world. In the movie the signature aspect of slack key guitar music is used to delineate character, it seems. This is a fact that might well have been lost on me without my brother's input.

The guitar was brought to Hawaii by Spanish and Mexican cowboys. But the slack key style is native to Hawaii. As the story goes, some of those Hispanic cowboys left their instruments behind as gifts for the Hawaiian cowboys. Those early pioneers of the Hawaiian guitar applied the instrument to their own traditions and created a new art form. By the late 1880's slack key guitar and steel guitar use had spread to all the islands. King David Kalakaua supported a culture renewal for all things Hawaiian in the 1880-1890 period and would have encouraged using the new instrument for traditional songs. In fact, there were guitars at his coronation ceremony.

The term "slack key" refers to a type of fingering and tuning. The strings of the guitar are plucked, rather than strummed. And the guitar is tuned with slack keys (strings), rather than properly tightened ones. This slackness produces a lingering resonance behind the melody as the guitar is played. Different degrees of slackness in the strings allows for assorted modulation of chords. The guitar then becomes a more individualized instrument, speaking for the musician in a unique voice, evoked by his plucking and the degree of slack he gives to each string. Slack key music is mysterious, sweet and soulful, carrying, as it does a greater interpretation of a song's melody than what might be provided with a correctly tuned instrument. Slack key songs often evoke natural elements of the Hawaiian landscape--birds, trees, waterfalls, forests and volcanoes. Due to the distances between islands, styles developed that are unique to each island.

Here is an embedded sample of slack-key by one of the masters of the style, Keola Beamer. I found it very soothing.



There's lots more to know about techniques of tuning to be found at Wikipedia...which I'm sure will impress the musically inclined among us...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slack_key_guitar

To Learn More About the 100 Things Challenge...go here...http://jdbracknell.livejournal.com/165714.html
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Last night the POTUS was on Jimmy Fallon's show and "Slow Jammed The News."



Later he talked about how he'd used a Pell Grant to finance his own education. He said he would have to thank, "Whoever came up with the Pell Grant!" for his success in life. It occurred to me that I, too, benefited from Pell Grants but did not know anything about where they came from. So, I thought I would learn about them.

The Pell Grant is money provided by our Federal Government to at-need students to help finance their college education. It is given to students in pursuit of a Bachelor's degree. The Pell Grant is named after its sponsor, Claiborne de Borda Pell, a Senator from Rhode Island who was the sponsor of a bill for "Basic Education Opportunity Grants" in 1973. Claiborne Pell served six terms as a Senator and was a member of the President's own party. He was also the main sponsor of the bills that created The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He sponsored a bill for the creation of the National Police Memorial. In 1996, President Clinton appointed him the US Representative to the United Nations.

Senator Pell was a member of the US Coast Guard in WWII, back when there was something to guard our coasts against. And he served in the reserve after the war. He was decorated for his service. He also served in the US Foreign Office from 1945-1952. He was fluent in French, Italian and Portuguese and had a Master's Degree in History. He served in the US Senate from 1961-1997. He was reported as being aloof, courteous and self-effacing and once said, "I always let the other fellow have my way."

Senator Pell was married and had four children, but was arrested during a raid on a gay bar in the 1960s. He did not come out as gay, but, during a bitter battle over the confirmation by Congress of Assistant Secretary to Housing and Urban Development, Roberta Achtenberg, the first openly gay person ever confirmed to office by Congress, Pell stated that his daughter was a lesbian and he hoped that would not keep her from working in the Federal government. According to his grandson, Pell was so button down that he even jogged in a business suit. He drove his car with duct tape on the roof until it died and then purchased a modest, used sedan from Thrifty Rental Service. He owned a small fishing boat with flaky orange floorboards. He would, still wearing his old business suit, take his grandsons fishing or out to the dock, happy to sit on his eight-foot long boat surrounded by his neighbors on their sixty-foot yachts.

At the time of his death, The Pell Grant had helped 54 million disadvantaged young people attend college who would otherwise not have been able to do so. Not bad, Senator Pell, not bad!

You can learn more about Senator Claiborne Pell at http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Claiborne_Pell

To Learn More About the 100 Things Challenge...go here...http://jdbracknell.livejournal.com/165714.html
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My friend, [livejournal.com profile] keswindhover, is a fan of fonts, a bit of a font fiend really. Not the fonts of keyboard fame, such as New Times Roman, Calibri, Cambria, Baskerville Old Face or Estrangelo Edessa, but rather those fonts used for the baptizing of young and impressionable sinners. Kes favors the stonework fonts of ancient times, because, truth be told, they are very fancy. Also, Kes favors religious art of any description. You should hear her enthuse about illuminated manuscripts some time. As a hobby, she visits moldering English churches, snaps a few dozen pics, and shares the odd carvings of gargoyles, apostles and saints with her Flist.

The symbolism behind certain representative carvings is a thing discussed and debate by scholars and, recently, by Kes and myself. During our discussion, I learned that the Holy Spirit is often represented as a dove in stonework. And that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are represented by the following...a winged man/angel, a winged lion, a winged bull and an eagle. These beasts then represent the nature of Christ and the virtues Christians need for salvation. I find this all very Shamanic. We, too, believe in the symbolism of animal forms. The winged man represents reason and that Christ came to us in human form. Christians can use their reason to find salvation. The winged lion represents courage and monarchy, Christ as king and the courage needed to follow him. The winged bull represents sacrifice, service and strength, all pretty self-explanatory when relating to Christ and to Christian values. It is all about sacrifice and service and having the strength to endure. And finally, the eagle, a creature of long sight and flight, represents Christ's ascension and the ability of Christians to take a long view of eternity.

Here's a link to a tapestry with the representative symbolism...http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e2/Karolingischer_Buchmaler_um_820_001.jpg

To Learn More About the 100 Things Challenge...go here...http://jdbracknell.livejournal.com/165714.html
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There is a new employee at my local bakery. She has a beautiful tattoo of a lotus blossom on her forearm. When I complimented her on this lovely bit of personal artwork, she thanked me and told me that her tattoo artist was very accomplished as an artist, but was not that good at tattooing. It seems he went too deep on her accompanying inscriptions and now the lettering tattoos are blurry and raised. I did not realize that raised tattoos could be caused by the artist going through too many layers of skin. Or rather, a raised tattoo is caused by a skin reaction that is commonly the result of the artist going too deep.

Tattoos it seems are only supposed to penetrate the first three layers of skin. If the tattoo artist penetrates too few layers of skin the tattoo will fade over time. But if he or she goes too deep the skin may react by creating scar tissue, leading to a bumpy or blurry tattoo. I also learned that it is not only important to have a fresh, sterile needle for your tattoo, but also to make sure the ink tube used is fresh. I, confess, I wouldn't have thought about contamination of the ink in the tattoo gun, but that is a real concern to avoid infections and reactions at the tattooing site.

In case you are wondering, I do not have a tattoo of my own. I have never felt that level of commitment to anything. But I often admire those people who do exhibit such commitment.

To learn more about tattoos and tattooing, I went to http://www.tattooingtips.com

To Learn More About the 100 Things Challenge...go here...http://jdbracknell.livejournal.com/165714.html
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Today, I learned about the writing process of YA author, and child prodigy, Christopher Paolini. For those of you who do not know, Paolini wrote the New York Times Bestselling Inheritance series, which began with the wildly popular book, Eragon. That's a study in pronunciation, by the way, for all of you non-English speakers to ponder. It is a book about a dragon and the word dragon is spelled almost exactly like the word Eragon, but you sound them out quite differently.

Anyway, while young Mr. Paolini was presented to us as a wunderkind by the publishing industry, it seems that his methods for writing are very much like those of the common man. He worked hard for many years to achieve success. He did start earlier than most, coming up with a plan to write a novel at the tender age of 14. I did much the same as I recall. And we had similar results with our early attempts as well. It appears that, like most of us, Christopher Paolini found he couldn't get past the first few pages of a story before he ran out of steam and stopped writing. The story foundered and he lost interest.

Unlike most of us, however, Christopher didn't chide himself and assume he simply wasn't talented enough or disciplined enough to be a writer. Instead, he assumed that he didn't know how to write a story properly. So, he took a couple of his writing books off the shelf. Yes, look over at your own collection of "How to Write" books and consider this point. He took three of those books and studied them for a couple of months, taking notes and developing a plan. Next, he created a story concept and outline. He outlined Eragon in paragraph form, not in traditional outline form, listing each major scene and ending up with about 10-12 pages single spaced. This bare-bones outline is what he eventually expanded to 500 pages. The expansion step took 2 years, working for four hours a day. During all of this toil and time, Paolini didn't think about publishing the book, he only thought about finishing it and making it fun to read.

Eragon was initially self-published. Christopher and his family went on promotional tours to libraries and bookstores, using up his college fund and holding the wolf of bankruptcy from the door as they sought an audience for his novel. And miraculously, of the 10,000 copies that originally sold, one fell into the hands of fellow YA and Mystery novelist Carl Hiaasen. He showed it to his publisher. And the rest is wunderkind history. That first print run was 2.5 million copies. Even at a dollar a book, that is 2.5 million dollars--amazing success for an 19 year old young man. Something definitely paid off for him. But was it genius or perseverance?

To Learn More About the 100 Things Challenge...go here...http://jdbracknell.livejournal.com/165714.html
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Today, I learned about the Lyrid Meteor Shower. What are they? Fragments of ice and rock from a comet. They fall to earth around this time every year, Wikipedia tells me from April 16 to April 26, and they hit the atmosphere at a rate of about 20 an hour. They may be seen most readily this Saturday or Sunday night, when the show reaches peak performance. This year the peak coincides with a new moon, so there will be great viewing, if you have clear skies.

Lyrid comes from Lyra, the constellation, the lyre of Orpheus, but the meteors are the remains of a comet called Thatcher. <<--Named for the discover A.E. Thatcher, not for the former British Prime Minister, a.k.a. The Iron Lady.

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] lostrack621 giving me a link in the comments, you and I can learn lots more about this meteor shower and other Final Frontier stuff at http://www.spaceweather.com

Here is a three minute video on this meteor shower...which was linked from that website...



To Learn More About the 100 Things Challenge...go here...http://jdbracknell.livejournal.com/165714.html
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Why? Because you don't hear from me on a regular basis and I thought this might help us know more about one another. But the question before me is--what 100 things shall I blog about? I like the idea of it being 100 things I am grateful exist. But, I also could probably do 100 stories or books I love. 100 Episodes of Television you might consider watching? 100 Animals that fascinate me? 100 New Things I've Learned as I Learn Them?




{Take the 100 Things challenge!}



EDIT: I will list any particularly fun 100 Things list here...

http://pipisafoat.dreamwidth.org/338111.html?mode=reply - Is sorting fictional characters into their Harry Potter Verse Houses. Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, etc. First up, Mulder & Scully. You must check this out.

http://soliloquy.livejournal.com/tag/100things%3A%20pre-1960s%20medicine - Is listing 100 pre-1960 medical treatments.

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