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Baby It's Cold Outside...

"America is set for the coldest month of the century as weather forecasters predict yet another freezing blast of Arctic air - putting Super Bowl Sunday in jeopardy. Teams have been warned to stay on high alert for changes to the scheduling of the first Super Bowl to be played in an open-air stadium.

Temperatures have already hit record lows, at times making parts of the U.S. colder than the North Pole, and are expected to continue to plunge." 

However, if we think we have it bad, let’s take a look back to the wintery days before electricity, telephones and the lifesaving amenities we know today.

Did you know that...

In October of 1880, snowfalls so deep in the Northern Plains reached the second floor windows of two story homes. Blizzard after blizzard occurred, the first one known as “The October Blizzard”.  No one was prepared for the deep snow so early in the season and farmers all over the region were caught before their crops had even been harvested, their grain milled, or with their fuel supplies for the winter in place. By January the train service was almost entirely suspended from the region. Railroads hired scores of men to dig out the tracks but it was a wasted effort: As soon as they had finished shoveling a stretch of line, a new storm arrived, filling up the line and leaving their work useless.

There were no winter thaws and on February 2, 1881, a second massive blizzard struck that lasted for nine days. In the towns the streets were filled with solid drifts to the tops of the buildings and tunneling was needed to secure passage about town. Homes and barns were completely covered, compelling farmers to tunnel to reach and feed their stock.

The well known "Children’s Blizzard" of 1888 was preceded by a snowstorm on January 5th and 6th, which dropped powdery snow on the northern and central plains and was followed by an outbreak of brutally cold temperatures from January 7 to 11. What made the storm so deadly was the timing, the suddenness, and the brief spell of warmer weather that preceded it. In addition, the very strong wind reduced visibilities on the open plains to zero. The death toll was 235. Travel was severely impeded in the days following.

Two months later, on March 11, another severe blizzard hit the East Coast. This blizzard was known as the "The Great Blizzard of 1888" and the worst in American history. It hit the Northeast, killing more than 400 people and dumping as much as 55 inches of snow in some areas.

And now, for one more thought to ponder while we are thinking of cold weather:

Did you know that, due to the lack of available lumber on the Northern Plains, most homes and buildings, from the 1850's until 1920, were built from primarily from sod? 

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1888_Northwest_United_States_cold_wave
http://www.ask.com/youtube?q=weather+mail+online&v=SP6AESDF5CQ&qsrc=472

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Check the deck for Queens...

And for a few random facts, did you know that...

There are 293 different ways to make change for a one dollar bill. If you have 3 quarters, 4 dimes, and 4 pennies, you have $1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins without being able to make change for a dollar.

The reference "boxing kangaroo" originates from the animal's defensive behavior, in which it will use its smaller forelegs to hold an attacker in place while using the claws on its larger hind legs to try to kick, slash or disembowel them. This stance gives the impression that the kangaroo appears to be "boxing" with its attacker. During World War II the boxing kangaroo became a national symbol in the Royal Australian Air Force.

It is believed that playing cards were invented in China and date from at least 1294. The earliest authentic references to playing-cards in Europe date from 1377. Europe changed the Islamic symbols such as scimitars and cups into graphical representations of  Kings, Queens, Knights and Jesters. Different European countries adopted a different suits system. Even today, playing cards for some countries do not have Queens.

On January 7, 1927 the first transatlantic telephone service was established from New York to London..

In need of a fast growing privacy fence? Bamboo can grow up to 3 feet in 24 hours.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

 

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Not jumping the gun...just a quick sprint toward the "date"...

Did you know....

Until 1751, in England and Wales and all British dominions, the new year started on March 25.  January 1 took place in 1600 in Scotland. Since then, January 1 has been the first day of the year.

During the Middle Ages several days were randomly taken as the beginning of the calendar year, some in March, September, April and December.

In many countries, such as the Czech Republic, Italy, Spain and the UK, January 1 is a national holiday.

The Romans dedicated New Year's Day to Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings for whom the first month of the year, January, is also named. After Julius Caesar reformed the calendar in 46 BC and was subsequently murdered, the Roman Senate voted to deify him on the 1st day January.

The Time Square New Year's Eve Ball came about as a result of a ban on fireworks. The first ball, in 1907, was an illuminated 700-pound iron and wood ball adorned with one hundred 25-watt light bulbs. Today, the round ball designed by Waterford Crystal, weighs 11,875-pounds, is 12 feet in diameter and is bedazzled with 2,668 Waterford crystals.

Due to wartime restrictions, the New Year's Eve ball was not lowered in 1942 and 1943.

In Colombia, Cuba and Puerto Rico, a life-sized male doll called "Mr. Old Year" who is dressed in clothes from each family member, is stuffed with bad memories of the outgoing year.  At midnight he is set on fire in a symbol of burning away the bad memories of the year. 

On New Year's Day, people in cities of the Northern Hemisphere who are close to bodies of water, gather on beaches and run into the water to celebrate the new year. In Canada, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Netherlands this is very popular. These events are sometimes known as polar bear plunges and are sometimes organized by groups to raise money for charity

In Italy, people wear red underwear on New Year's Day as a symbol of good luck for the upcoming year.

A very interesting tradition takes place every year in Wales.  A foot race called the Nos Galan Race is conducted to honor the legendary life of Guto Nyth Bran. If you happen to wonder why, following is an excerpt from a poem about the legendary Mr. Bran:

"...One day he caught a hare as he rounded his sheep,
another time he caught a bird in flight, as if it were asleep.
Word soon spread of this talented lad
who could run to Pontypridd in the little time he had,
Before the kettle boiled, Or his breakfast was spoiled,
He'd be back at the farm, having gone 7 miles..."

And finally, New Year's traditions include eating and avoidance of certain foods.  Eating black-eyed peas, greens, ham or cabbage are thought to bring prosperity. On the other hand, food such as  lobsters, who move backwards mean bad luck as do chickens because they scratch in reverse. So....eat some peas, please?

http://kathdedon.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/black-eyed-peas.jpg

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guto_Nyth_Br%C3%A2n

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Why Santa Needs to Rest All Year...

As a leader in the logistics industry, we can't help but think of the transportation aspects of Christmas and more specifically, the task Santa faces each holiday season.  Every day, we help many of our customers facing challenges meeting daily supply chain demands.  Can you imagine meeting the demands of millions of little children around the world, all in one night?  Here are some fun facts about the "logistics of being Santa":  

santa

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/23/santas-travel-plans-_n_4481706.html

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Box it up on December 26...

Did you know that...

The day after Christmas is known as Boxing Day. The exact meaning of the term "boxing day" is unclear. There are several competing theories, none of which is clear in definition.The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown. It is believed to be in reference to the Alms Box placed in places of worship to collect donations to the poor. Also, it may come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, wherein metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of St. Stephen which in the Western Church falls on the same day as Boxing Day.

In Britain, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary entry for 19 December 1663 This custom is linked to an older English tradition: since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and maybe sometimes leftover food.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxing_day

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DO crease up, but NOT with food in your mouth...

Did you know that…

Laughter may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore have found that laughter is linked to healthy function of blood vessels by causing the inner lining to expand, increasing blood flow. It also boosts the immune system.

Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh.

 Laughing lightens our burdens, inspires hopes, connects us to others, and keeps us focused and alert.

When we laugh, we might  chuckle, giggle, snicker, hoot, snort, cackle, chortle, guffaw, have hysterics, double up, roll in the aisles, titter, snigger, fall about, and/or crease up.

The average human laughs on an average of 17 times a day.

Laughter occurs in different languages.

On the other side of  hahaha…

Researchers analyzed studies from two different journals dating back as far as 1892. The studies found that the force of laughing can dislocate jaws, prompt asthma attacks, cause headaches, make hernias protrude.

If a belly laugh occurs while ingesting food, laughter can become a choking hazard.

Regardless of the facts on either side of the laughter debate, Charlie Chaplin said "A day without laughter is a day wasted" .  That sounds pretty good, so this writer thinks!

 

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Toss a Shoe...Just don't hit someone with it...

Nuns sought donations in saloons to build the first St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton, Oregon.

Tirggel are traditional Christmas cookies from Switzerland. They are said to have originated as pagan offertory cakes, cut in the shape of sacrificial animals.

Want to get married?  Stand with your back to the door and throw a shoe over your shoulder on Christmas day. If the shoe lands with the toe pointing to the door you will be married.  So it is in the Czech Republic.

In Caracas, before young children go to bed on Christmas Eve, they tie one end of a string to their big toe, leaving the other end outside their bedroom window. Early morning Mass is a fun celebration on Christmas day and streets are closed off to cars until 8 a.m. for people to roller-skate to the service. It is a custom to tug on any of the strings they see hanging.

In The Philippines, Christmas is a large celebration that lasts until January. Children will leave their brightly polished shoes and freshly washed socks on the window sills for the Three Kings to leave gifts in when they pass through their houses at night. The "Feast of the Three Kings" marks the end of the Christmas celebrations.

 

http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/strange-christmas-customs/

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A Tad Early?

While it feels like winter, we all know that winter has not even officially arrived...But here are a few facts to ponder upon while "iced in" or otherwise.  Did you know that...

December 21, 2013 marks the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year and the beginning of winter. 

The coldest temperature ever recorded in the world was -128 degrees Celsius, in Vostok Station in Antarctica in 1983.

Chionophobia is the fear of snow.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest snowflake measured 15’ wide and 8” thick. It fell in Fort Keogh, Montana on January 28, 1887.

Hailstones are built of layers, similar to an onion.  The layers count the number of times it traveled to the top of the storm before falling to the ground.

In ancient Roman times, a large celebration called Saturnalia occurred at the time of the winter solstice.  This winter festival involved drinking, eating and exchanging of gifts. During this celebration, roles of master and servant were reversed and Roman masters would cater to their slaves. Some believe that Saturnalia may have influenced the way that Christmas has come to be celebrated.

Snow is actually transparent. It appears white because the crystals act as prisms, breaking up the light of the sun into the entire spectrum of color. The human eye is unable to handle that kind of sensory overload so we see it as white or, sometimes, blue. If you live in a place where your soil is red, snow is pink. The red dust blows into the clouds, discoloring the snow.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is also known as Winter Depression occurs during the winter months. Women are affected more often than men.

 

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Feather or Fir?

Tis the Season for the Christmas Tree.  Did you know that...

In the 7th century a monk from Crediton, Devonshire, went to Germany to teach the Word of God. Legend has it that he used the triangular shape of the Fir Tree to describe the Holy Trinity. The converted people began to revere the Fir tree as God's Tree, as they had previously revered the Oak. By the 12th century it was being hung, upside-down, from ceilings at Christmastime in Central Europe, as a symbol of Christianity.

 The first decorated tree was at Riga in Latvia, in 1510. In the early 16th century, Martin Luther is said to have decorated a small Christmas tree with candles, to show his children how the stars twinkled through the dark night.

 The first artificial Christmas trees were developed in Germany during the 19th century, though earlier examples exist. These "trees" were made using goose feathers that were dyed green. In the 1920’s, feather Christmas trees became popular in the United States as well. The feathers were attached to wire branches wrapped around a dowel. The branches were widely spaced to keep the candles from starting a fire.

 The first American mention of a Christmas tree was in 1747, and, actually, it wasn't a tree at all. It was a wooden pyramid covered with evergreen boughs and decorated with apples.

christmas tree

photo from christmasarchives.com

 

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It is All About the Ice...

Considering many of us are currently in an "Icy State"  - here are a few "icy facts"...  

Did you know that...

The largest snowflakes in the world fell across Fort Keogh in Montana on 28 January 1887.

The earliest skate blades were made of animal bones, followed by wood in the 14th century, iron in the 17th century and steel in the 1850’s.

 Ice can be used to start a fire by carving it into a lens which can then focus sunlight onto kindling.

In 400 BC Iran, Persian engineers had already mastered the technique of storing ice in the middle of summer in the desert. The ice was brought in during the winters from nearby mountains in bulk amounts, and stored in specially designed, naturally cooled refrigerators, called yakhchal. This was a large underground space that had thick walls made of a special mortar composed of sand, clay, egg whites, lime, goat hair, and ash in specific proportions, and which was known to be resistant to heat transfer.

In the United States, the first cargo of ice was sent from New York City to Charleston, South Carolina in 1799. Frederic Tudor, who became known as the “Ice King,” worked on developing better insulation products for the long distance shipment of ice.

 A 5 gallon bucket of  ice weighs 40 lbs. 

Falling ice from the rooftops of buildings has the capability to wreak havoc to anything in its path causing countless physical injuries and property damage every year.

 

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