Thursday, January 27, 2011


Hello all! I felt so special after a couple people asked me when I was updating next. I felt so wanted!
I've been busy lately with my American history class, and since I'm not particularly enjoying my other classes, I have been focusing on this, going above and beyond to really learn my American history. One of my goals by next week is to learn all of the capitols of the fifty states. It sounds dorky, but the last time most of us were tested on it was 7th grade... and I didn't like history and geography back then - so I never actually learned them! I figured it was just one of those basic things I need to know to be a teacher someday, so flashcards are made and I have already started testing myself.
This is my fun thing - try to learn a Wakko song to help me!

Anyways, back to what I have learned lately.

1) In the colonial times, the Europeans brought over their domestic animals, including cows, horses, and pigs. By 1650, English farm animals outnumbered the colonists. Since labor was so expensive, the animals ran wild, devastating local plant life. One historian called this the "greatest known loss of wild species" in our continent's history.

2) In the 17th century Virginia, there were so many more men in the colonies that the sex ratio was thrown off. It was 3 men to 1 woman, but if you just counted unmarried folks, it was about 8 men to 1 woman.

3) England is old and small, and they started running out of places to bury the dead. So, they would dig up coffins and would take their bones to a house and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, one out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they thought they would tie a string on their wrist and lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night to listen for the bell. Hence on the "graveyard shift" they would know that someone was "saved by the bell" or he was a "dead ringer."

If you have seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail...

4) At Andrew Jackson's funeral in 1845, his pet parrot, named Poll, had to be removed because it was swearing.

5) Christmas did not become a national holiday in the US until 1890. The founders of the United States did not believe a Christian holiday should be so important to our country when initially founded.

Have a good weekend guys!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Hey guys! Sorry the posts are spread out so much. All of my classes this semester are reading intensive, so my textbooks usually take precedence over my blog - well, and it was the weekend! Before I start with my list, I wanted to add this video of Allyson Townsend, who was chosen to be the person of the week by ABC News. She is a 2nd grade teacher going for her ASL (American Sign Language) license, and she has brought music to life for the deaf community. Next year I plan to go to the University of Minnesota - Duluth to attempt an ASL license as my minor, and I can honestly say that was sparked by translating music in my high school ASL classes. Here is the video. Allyson Townsend - Bringing Music to Life for Deaf Ears I hope by sharing it, more people become involved with sharing new media with the deaf community.

Back to the list!

1) John Smith and Pocahontas were never in love. At the time of her saving his life, he would have been around the age of 29, and her 11. Pocahontas actually ended up marrying John Rolfe, converting to Christianity and changing her name to Lady Rebecca. She moved to Europe where she died when she was 20 years old of a lung infection.
Please tell me you feel slightly awkward,
looking at this 11-year old with the body of a 22-year-old.
2) Her husband, John Rolfe, was the man who stole some of the tobacco seeds from the Spanish and started growing tobacco in America.
Yeah, I would choose this hot old guy over John Smith, too.
Good choice, Pocahontas.
3) The first nation to settle in New York was the Dutch, not the English. Because the region was so diverse in cultures and religions and no one backed the Dutch government in place there, the English conquered it with no bloodshed. The good part is is that the Dutch left many imprints on America, including the New York names "Wall Street" (named after the wall that was erected to keep the Indians out), "Broadway" (Literally Breede Wegh) also words like cookie, boss, spook and crib, and the legendary Santa Claus.
Dank je wel, Dutch.
4) The first Jewish settlers came to America in 1654 after being exiled from Europe because of the Catholic Inquisition and then Brazil after the Portuguese took control. The Jews were accepted - begrudgingly - to America, but because of the less than favorable treatment, the population of Jews did not grow. In 1773 - over 100 years after the first settlers came to America - only 242 Jews resided in New York, and represented only one tenth of one percent of the entire colonial population.

5) Now to get away from American Colonial times and just to tell you something that will probably make you laugh... To take an oath, ancient Romans put a hand on their testicles. (Now this part isn't true, but it makes me laugh - where do you think the word testimony came from?!)

I'll be back!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The 4th: Columbus

Alright - so you all remember that I have mentioned I am in an American history course this semester at college. It is weird to be back in this area of study! I was fortunate with my high school curriculum being very diverse, so my American history classes ended in sophomore year and then I took A LOT of classes in humanities, Europe, politics, and world history.
So being back in an American history class is AWESOME. I forgot so many of the interesting stories I had learned, and now at a college level, you finally get to wipe out some of the crap stories people tell you that aren't true at all.

Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492.

1) Christopher Columbus did NOT think the world was flat. No one did, unless you were very uneducated.  The Greeks had already figured out that the earth was round in the 6th century B.C., and almost the exact size of the Earth in the 3rd century B.C. The reason so many people doubted Columbus's plan was the fact few believed India (the intended destination) would be reachable by sailing east, and assumed they would run out of supplies before they reached land.
2) Another old (fake) story was that the Spanish monarchy had to sell some of the royal jewels to finance the trip - not true at all.
A statue of Leif Eriksson by the St. Paul capitol! Goooo Vikes!
3) There is complete evidence now that it was not Columbus who found America, but the Viking, Leif Eriksson around 1001AD - about 491 years before Columbus.
Amerigo Vespucci... maybe we don't celebrate him
because him name just doesn't roll off the tongue
as easily as Christopher Columbus.
4) Even though Columbus gets a celebration day on our calendars, he was left out of the best part - naming the new land! Since he was convinced he had landed somewhere in India, it wasn't until Amerigo Vespucci came to the New World in 1499 that he realized it must be a new continent - thus, the name America is modeled after Amerigo.
5) When Columbus returned to America for the second time in 1493, he was told by the Spanish monarchs to "treat the Indians very well." But when Columbus got to America, he realized the unsupervised soldiers created chaos by raping women and robbing villages. When the Natives retaliated and killed 10 of the Spaniards, Columbus had them murdered with crossbows, guns, and dogs. He then loaded up roughly 550 natives on a boat to be introduced to the Spanish slave trade.

Seems like a nice guy, huh?

I'll be back with more!

(As for the funny picture, I couldn't find it with a good resolution - but I have decided I need the T-shirt that proclaims: "HISTORY MAJOR. YOU WOULD BE MORE INTERESTING TO ME IF YOU WERE DEAD."  --Awesome.)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day 3.

How about some more random pop culture facts?

1) Elvis once wrote a letter to President Nixon asking to become an undercover narcotics cop. Nixon responded by personally giving Elvis a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge. During Elvis’s autopsy, doctors found 10 different drugs in Elvis’s blood stream.
At least there were good intentions?

2) Soccer balls were originally painted with the now classic black and white checkered look in order to make them more visible on black and white TV during the 1970 FIFA World Cup.  Naturally, people wanted to buy balls that looked like those that the professionals used on TV and thus everybody bought the black and white checkered soccer ball instead of the previous traditional solid color ball.

3) The total number of American deaths during the Civil War were about 292,000 in battle, which was about 2% of the population, and about 625,000 total killed as a result of the war (including those dead of disease and the like, which was a major problem in soldier’s camps).   That is a total of about 4.3% of the U.S population.  By today’s population numbers that would be about 13.32 million Americans. (If you want a better picture of that, according to the 2010 US Census, Pennsylvania has a population of 12.7 million people. All of Pennsylvania - gone, and then some.)
Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest battle of the Civil War

4) The 1960 movie Psycho is thought to be the first movie where a toilet is shown being flushed.  The momentous flushing took place just before Janet Leigh’s character takes a shower and subsequently gets stabbed to death.
Janet Leigh in Psycho

5) Oreos are considered to be America's favorite store bought cookie. After debuting in 1912 (almost 100 years ago!) Oreo has made over 345 billion cookies since 1912. That is enough cookies to reach to the moon and back 5 times. That is also enough cookies to reach around the earth 381 times.
As a college student, I have personally witnessed thousands of these cookies
being eaten by friends at parties. I am proud to say I am a part of this statistic.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The 2nd Post

I'm back already! So much to share with you all.

I was asked by the family to recount the story of why I added this fact to my last post:
5) Many people believe that food items cooked with liquor will be non-alcoholic, because alcohol's low boiling point causes it to evaporate. However, a study found that much of the alcohol remains: 25% after 1 hour of baking or simmering, and 10% after 2 hours.
The reason is that when I was younger (I think in 4th or 5th grade) I went to a Christmas party at my aunt's house. They had this delicious chips and dip combo, and I was munching away at it - until my brother-in-law, Mike, told me it was beer cheese dip. This caused me to burst out crying, thinking I had something with alcohol in it that I wasn't supposed to have. (I keep wondering if I was in a health unit at school or something - who knows.) Pretty sure this happened again when I learned why my slice of tiramisu was so soggy.

Needless to say, it is still a fun joke in the family for whenever we have a meal that you cook with some sort of alcohol. "Now don't worry Kayla - you won't get drunk from the tequila chicken!"

Back to the list now!

Lucretia, Rembrandt 1666 (At the Minneapolis Art Institute)
It is even better in person.
1) This is my favorite painting - probably of all time - not just for the amazing beauty and artistic skill it must have taken to create, but for the story.
This story is romanticized, but I want you all to know there is some fact to this. Historians have found that a woman, named Lucretia, was involved in an incident like this, which led to the revolution and the eventual overthrow of the Roman monarchy.
Lucretia was the wife of a distinguished man of Rome, as well as a daughter of a well bred family. She was very true to her husband and loved him with all her heart. When her husband was off at war, she hosted the current king of Rome and his son at her house.
At the bar that night, the king and his son quarreled over the values of wives and if they were true. The king decided to place a bet by visiting Lucretia to see what she was doing - the king won the bet, for Lucretia was found weaving with her ladies.
The following night, the king's son snuck into her bedchamber, and gave her two options: to sleep with him and become his queen some day, or to be killed along with one of her servants and live in shame after he told her husband he found her having adulterous sex. Lucretia, fearing what her husband would think, slept with the king's son.
The next day (this is what the picture depicts) Lucretia stabbed herself in the stomach and called her father and brother up to her chamber. While she lay dying she explained why she did this to herself, and to tell her husband she loved him. With her last breath, she proclaimed: "Pledge me your solemn word that the adulterer shall not go unpunished."
It is said that this rage against the prince's actions led to the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, and the installation of the Roman Republic.

Isn't that such a haunting picture now that you know the sad story?


This is SO COOL. This history teacher makes all sorts of music videos to modern music, with lyrics about important historical events! This is the French revolution video, to the tune "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga. I had to show this because in my American history class, one of our main focuses is how to teach history in a cool new way. Um - this is COOL. If you like it, she has some other great videos, including "Black Death", to the tune of "Hollaback Girl" and "Mary, Queen of Scots" to the tune "Jenny from the Block".

3) While Plato is considered one of the preferred philosophers for the Catholic Church, I am convinced none of the Catholics actually read his works. What few people choose to not realize in his works is when he refers to a lover, he is speaking of a younger boy (Hmm, I think the Church has something against that!) In ancient Greece, homosexuality was a common act, that was actually recommended and embraced. In tradition, an older man would take a younger boy to "teach him the ways of the world" - now, not JUST sexually. They were also usually apprentices and educated by these older men. But sex was apart of it - and in some of Plato's writings on beauty and love, he refers to this union between two men as something much more pure and lovely than just a human seed in a woman's belly.
Take that, church.

I'm sorry, you will have to speak into my good ear. It is in my pocket.
4) Vincent Van Gogh (the artist who cut off his ear, for those who don't remember!) suffered from epilepsy and manic depression. For his 'medication' Van Gogh relied on absinthe, but the toxin in it actually worsened his epilepsy more than if he went unmedicated. 

5) Johnny Carson once caused a near month long toilet paper shortage in the U.S. in December of 1973.  During his show, he said, “You know what’s disappearing from the supermarket shelves? Toilet paper… There’s an acute shortage of toilet paper in the United States.” Americans promptly went out and bought up every piece of toilet paper they could find. Supermarkets tried to ration it, but to no avail. By noon the next day, pretty much all the nation’s supermarkets were sold out.
After several days of toilet paper shortages due to this hysteria, Carson went on the air to try to explain it had been a joke and apologized. But because the shelves were almost always empty of toilet paper at this time, whenever some would come in, people would buy it all and hoard it. This toilet paper shortage lasted a full three weeks.

I'll be back with more random knowledge soon. :]

Remember, if you need a cheat for remembering artists, this is awesome.
(I hate to say this, but I actually think of this picture in my college art class)

Thursday, January 13, 2011


So, I have this really cool sister who started a blog about 2 years ago. At first I couldn't understand what the point was and why everyone thought it was so cool - but now it is one of those web pages I visit everyday to see if she has added anything! One of her main themes is being thankful for everything in her day, and it is awesome to see what little thing she picks up on to make her day just a little bit better.

I have a different idea for myself though. I love school - but it hasn't always been that way. When I was younger I hated the question "what did you learn today?" -and if I said nothing, certain members of my family would tell me "okay, now you have to tell me FIVE things you learned today!"
Needless to say, I ended up pulling a couple things off of the top of my head to satisfy the person asking, but this started to change what I thought about school. In the last few years, I have driven many of my friends and family crazy with me coming home and just telling them EVERYTHING I have learned in a certain class that day. (When studying for my AP European History test, I told my mom the entire story of the Thirty Years War... I still feel bad, after the first twenty years she stood up and said "sorry, I'm going to bed." I then followed her around the house, finishing up the war!)

So I figured, I need a better outlet! (As well as something to do besides surf Facebook after class!!) As a (late) new years resolution, I plan to use this blog to tell the world 5 really cool facts I have learned for the last few days from class, research, or just life in general. This way I can share my knowledge, and I'll probably make my mom's day with another cool blog to read. :]
Because I am late in my new years resolution, here is my first ten interesting things I have learned so far this year!

1) Johannes Gutenburg, the inventor of the movable type (well, after the Koreans, that is) published the Gutenburg Bible - but the way he made bank? He published pornography.
2) David Hume is considered one of the best English philosophers, but almost none of his work was published while alive. Because he was an atheist/agnostic, universities would not hire him. This resulted in him acting as a historian and art critic his entire life.
3) George Washington did not have wooden teeth. According to a research done on Washington's dentures, they included gold, hippopotamus ivory, lead, and human and animal teeth (including horse and donkey teeth).
Can you even imagine?
4) The depiction of pilgrams wearing black with steeple hats and buckles is a false illustration, and was created by artists to show the idea of quaintness. This is the same reason Santa Claus is usually depicted with buckles.

5) Many people believe that food items cooked with liquor will be non-alcoholic, because alcohol's low boiling point causes it to evaporate. However, a study found that much of the alcohol remains: 25% after 1 hour of baking or simmering, and 10% after 2 hours.
6) Lightning strikes the Empire State building an average of 100 times per year.
7) In the old days of pre-Renaissance Europe, the devil was depicted as a blue man with a hooked nose. Blue because he was the farthest from God's warmth, and a hooked nose because of the propaganda against the Jews for being "anti-Christian".
8) Aristotle has shaped much of what the West has known for over 2,000 years. His field work in biology was still being studied in the 19th century in Europe's universities.
9) Atheists are the largest minority group in America, yet the least represented.
10) In Finland, women can have up to 5 years maternity leave - paid. The government, realizing this didn't help their gender gap in the work force, also made the law require that the husband should take off one year of paid maternity leave as well. (Not surprisingly, Finland also has the best education, the lowest juvenile delinquency rates, some of the highest literacy, closer families... could this all be related?)

That is what I have learned in the past couple days! I'll be back soon :] 
Remember, embrace your inner geek.