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Week of November 26, 2022

A Metal for Medals

Sunday

Silver’s chemical symbol on the periodic table is not “Si” (which is silicon), but “Ag” after the Latin “argentum,” meaning “shiny” or “white.”

Monday

“Quicksilver” actually describes mercury, which is both silvery in color and the only metal which is liquid at room temperature, making it seem alive, or “quick.”

Tuesday

Silver gets the gold medal for being the most malleable and ductile metal, able to be drawn into a wire one atom (yes, atom) wide.

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Week of November 20, 2022

Prey for Them

Among the many everyday terms originating from the ancient practice of falconry:

Sunday

The leash by which a falconer holds onto his bird is called a “jess,” and when the handler’s thumb pins down the jess to hold it secure, the bird is “under his thumb.”

Monday

Likewise, the jess can be wrapped around a little finger to secure the bird, the origin of this other term for full control.

Tuesday

“Haggard” describes a mature wild-caught hawk, which are also often thin and scruffy when caught at the end of a migration.

Wednesday

When a falconing bird is tethered and restrained, it is “bated,” so “waiting with bated breath” refers to holding your breath in anticipation.

Thursday

A leather “hat” or hood is sometimes put over the eyes of the bird to calm them. From this we get “hoodwinked,” since wink means to close the eyes quickly, for deceiving or tricking someone.

Friday

“Ruser,” from the Old French, describes when a hawk shakes its tail feathers. From this comes “rouse,” which means to awaken yourself or someone else.

Saturday

References to a “hawkeye” as having sharp vision are not kidding. Hawks can see five times better than people, spot small prey miles away, have a visual range of 280 degrees (people only have 200 degrees), and can see sharper colors and even ultraviolet light.

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Week of November 12, 2022

Through the Hourglass

Sunday

Around the world, sand is different colors because that is the color of the rock or other material the sand eroded from. For example, black sand beaches are often made from eroded basalt from lava, and white sand beaches are often pulverized coral.

Monday

Ostriches don’t really stick their heads in the sand to hide from danger or problems, but they do put their heads down to dig holes for their eggs and eat plants.

Tuesday

By one prominent soil classification system, sand, by definition, must have grains between 0.074 mm and 4.75 mm. Smaller particles are silt, larger grains are gravel.

Wednesday

Sand is an essential ingredient in construction, with about 50 billion tons of it used in building yearly. At least seven different types of sand are categorized for various building purposes, including concrete sand, fill sand, and manufactured sand.

Thursday

As plentiful as desert sand is, several factors make it undesirable for use in construction.

Friday

While there is spotty evidence that the world’s first sand-filled hourglasses were used by the ancient Romans and Greeks, it was more likely developed in Europe by the 8th century AD and certainly in widespread use on the continent six centuries later.

Saturday

Think you’ve made some impressive sand castles? The world record largest sand castle was made in Denmark in 2021, measured just under 70 feet tall and was made of 6,400 tons of sand.

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Week of November 6, 2022

In Good Company

Sunday

“Inc.” means incorporated, and “corp.” means corporation. A corporation is one type of business entity that is legally distinct from those who own it or work there.

Monday

“LLC” stands for “limited liability company,” which does not issue stock like a corporation, but is still separate from the people owning / running / working for it.

Tuesday

“DBA” stands for “doing business as.”

Wednesday

“LP” is a limited partnership…

Thursday

…and “LLP” is a limited liability partnership.

Friday

“PC” stands for professional corporation, and is a corporation which can be started by members of particular professions.

Saturday

“Co-op” is a cooperative, which is individuals, producers, or businesses working together for a common purpose, usually agreeing to certain principles of autonomy and democracy.

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Week of October 30, 2022

Continental Break-facts

Sunday

Asia’s name comes from ancient Greek, where the term was applied to what is now Anatolia after first just describing the east bank of the Aegean Sea. The term was later applied to lands further and further east, and Anatolia was differentiated by calling it “Asia Minor.”

Monday

The Romans called modern-day Tunisia, the part of Africa closest to them, “Africa terra”, or “land of the Afris,” after a tribe from northern Africa, near Carthage. As with Asia, the name applied to a small part of the continent was progressively applied to the whole, sped by middle-ages exploration of Africa.

Tuesday

America, both North and South, were most likely named for Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, who himself was named for Hungary’s Saint Emeric. Vespucci’s explorations of the coasts of modern-day Venezuela and Brazil led him to propose these unknown lands were actually part of a new continent, which proved to be quite correct.

Wednesday

Antarctica, from the Greek “antarktike” means the opposite to the Arctic, with this continent being on the other side of the globe as the Arctic. “Arctic” comes from “Arktos,” or “bear” in Greek, since the bear constellations, Ursa Minor and Major, are seen in the Northern Hemisphere and point to the North Star.

Thursday

When English explorer Matthew Flinders first sailed around Australia, the maps printed after his journey called it “Terra Australis” (“Southern Land”), although “Australia,” which the navigator himself preferred, eventually won out as the common name.

Friday

Three prominent theories about Europe’s name:

-That it came from “erebu” an Akkadian word meaning “sunset,” since Europe was west, toward the sunset, from Mesopotamia where the word originated.

-That is is named for the Greek goddess Europa.

-That it comes from the Greek words for “wide” and “eye,” or “wide gazing” since Europe’s shoreline would have looked comparatively very wide to Greek mariners.

Saturday

Thousands of islands in the Pacific Ocean are part of what is called Oceania, a term which often includes Australia and the submerged continent of Zealandia. “Okeanos” was the name of the great water body which ancient Greeks believed surrounded the Earth.