Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Nine - OMG a new post already?!

Hey guys and gals. I was feeling bored today and found a bunch of funny facts and stories, so I figured, why not update today? Hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day!

1) The face of Uncle Sam, the fictional personification of the United States, was modeled after a door-to-door salesman from Canada.
Handsome devil, he is.

2) Professional sumo wrestlers pay income tax based on body weight.

Hey kid, just remember he is paying a lot more than you are.
3) Boris Karloff, Frankenstein’s monster from the iconic 1931 movie Frankensteinsurvived a lightning strike.

4) The terra cotta army unearthed in Xian, China, contains a sculpture of a male soldier with large, round breasts.

Mulan? I thought she taped those down!

5) Jim Henson, the creator of The Muppets, developed an allergy to fleece.

Well, they are short and to the point today, but come on. I updated 24 hours later. :]
I’ll be back!

Monday, February 14, 2011

8 - Happy Valentine's Day!

Here is to a themed day for Valentine's Day! I can't be with my sweetheart today, so hopefully silly facts will make him feel like I am blabbering on like I usually do about history. I hope you all have a wonderful day, either with your sweetheart or single and enjoying an inexpensive day with delicious chocolate in abundance. :]

1) Cupid, the face of Valentine's Day, was the son of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. He is depicted as a a chubby angel-child with a bow and arrow, which the arrows are supposed to cause a magical feeling of love for those hit in the heart.

2) Verona, the Italian city where Shakespeare's lovers Romeo and Juliet lived and died, receives about 1,000 letters every year sent to Juliet on Valentine's Day.
Juliet's balcony and statue in Verona, Italy.
3) The oldest surviving love poem till date is written in a clay tablet from the times of the Sumerians, inventors of writing, around 3500 B.C.

4) In the Middle Ages, to find your Valentine you would draw a name out of a bowl a week before Valentine's Day and pin that name to your sleeve, so your true feelings could be easily seen by others. Thus came the phrase "wearing your heart on your sleeve."

5) In colonial America, sugar was an expensive commodity to have, so sugared treats were a very special gift on Valentine's Day - popular treats for your sweetheart included sugar plums and sweetmeats. After the late 1800's beet sugar became widely produced, and sugary treats continued in popularity for the holiday.
This is the reason we can afford our favorite candies.
Thank you sugar beets!

Happy Valentine's Day! I'll be back soon!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Seven - Finally!

Sorry for the long wait on this post! I've been busy with classes and being sick, and this last weekend I had the chance to visit my boyfriend in Duluth - granted, blogging was not my top priority, especially with late night Perks runs and the Superbowl!
I didn't take any pictures while there, but I love canal park. Always a fun place to go.
But I'm back now after much heckling from my friends and family for your history lesson, so here it goes!

1) Ever wonder where the phrase "Chairman of the Board" came from? It goes back to colonial times. Colonial homes were centered on a main room with a fireplace where the meals were cooked, and instead of sitting at a 'table' they would call it a 'board'. Everyone either stood or sat on benches, except the husband who occupied the only chair. And there you go - chairman of the board.
2) In 1751 in New England, paper money was outlawed by the British parliament and was later applied to all British colonies in 1764. This was because the colonies were in an unfair trade balance with Britain, taking on too much debt. When the colonies started printing off money the colonists were happy because they could pay off their debts, but the inflation hurt the British creditors who were not receiving their full money back. (Whew - going back to macroeconomics as I try to explain this!) Needless to say, British parliament took the side that would benefit the mother country and paper money was discontinued, causing the colonists to have to pay with hard currency.
3) Many people view the Puritains as dour, strict, and viciously against anything that gave pleasure - but this is incorrect. Many Puritains in colonial times (especially in the upper class) wore brightly colored clothing, enjoyed secular music, and enjoyed drinking rum - (all of these must be done in moderation, but it was okay.) This also applied to sexual activity. Even though any sexual act outside of marriage was strictly forbidden, it was quite popular and there are many cases still on record for these offenses. The reason for the high rates of adultery and sexual intercourse before marriage is attributed to the disproportionate ratio of men to women in colonial times. As the textbook says: "Many [men] were unable to find  [wives] and were therefore tempted to satisfy their sexual desires outside of marriage."
Aww, cute little Puritains.
4) In the 14th through the 18th century in mainland Europe, a strange disease occurred many times, coined as "Dancing Mania." During an outbreak of dancing mania, groups of people, sometimes thousands at a time, would dance uncontrollably and bizarrely.  Many strange incidents of dancing mania have been recorded.  During these events, men, women, and children dance through the streets of towns or cities, sometimes foaming at the mouth until they collapse and die from fatigue. One of the most infamous cases of dancing mania was the dancing plague of 1518, which occurred in Strasbourg, France.  In July of 1518 a woman named Frau Troffea began to dance wildly through the streets.  Within a week, 34 others had joined her, and within a month, there were around 400 dancers.  Most of these people eventually died from a heart attack, stroke, or exhaustion.  Historical documents have made it clear that the people in Strasbourg danced, but it remains unclear as to why they willfully danced to their deaths. The funny catch? When authorities and nobels tried to find a cure, they encouraged more dancing - night and day - believing they just had to get it out of their system. The authorities even paid musicians to play music for them, hoping it would help the cure.

5) Aokigahara, also known as the Sea of Trees, is a forest that lies at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan.  Over the years, Aokigahara has become a popular place for tourism and human suicide.  In fact, it is the world's second most popular suicide location after San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.  Numerous signs have been posted in the forest urging people to reconsider their actions. Since the 1950's over 500 people have lost their lives in the forest, mostly suicides. Japan has actually stopped posting the numbers of deaths to hopefully downplay the popularity of Aokigahara, and has started an annual search of the forest with volunteers to find bodies. No one knows why the forest is so popular for suicide, and it remains as one of the intriguing mysteries of the world.
One of the signs in the forest urging people to reconsider their actions.

I'll be back! Hopefully in a week or less. :]