June 1, 2020

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Everybody’s Talking

Map of America American Shannon Downey of Chicago, Illinois loves to embroider. She finds and buys unfinished craft projects at estate sales, which she finishes and donates. She met her match, however, when she bought a huge unfinished quilt and embroidery project of a United States map showing each state’s flower. Not knowing how to quilt, she put out a plea on social media and soon had lots of help. She mailed sections to her helpers, who were asked to mail them back. Downey intends to finish the project that had been started by a woman named Rita Smith, who passed away at age 99.

Long lashes: Two pretty cocker spaniels, who are sisters, are apt to make fashion models jealous. The dogs, Cloe and Nena, have extremely long eyelashes that amaze onlookers. Owner Vittoria Di Castri of Milan, Italy, insists that her pets’ lashes are real. She spends hours grooming the dogs, who love all the attention. Di Castri trims and combs the lashes that can grow more than five centimetres (two inches). The canine pooches have become a social media sensation, and they love to pose for the camera.

Natty knitter: Samuel Barsky of Baltimore, Maryland (U.S.), loves knitting and also loves travelling with Deborah, his wife. This creative fellow has found a way to combine the two. Before leaving for a trip, he designs and knits a sweater with an image of a landmark at his destination. He has knit images of the Eiffel Tower, Niagara Falls, and Stonehenge onto sweaters. Others feature the Statue of Liberty and London’s Tower Bridge. When he visits each landmark, he takes a photo of himself wearing the appropriate sweater. Barsky is starting to make a name for himself on social media.

Missing boy found: A thermal camera drone operator helped bring about a happy ending to the story of a missing boy. Steve Fines offered to help search for Ethan Haus, a little boy who got lost in the woods with his dog near his home in Sherburne, Minnesota (U.S.). Many volunteers came to help as darkness fell. In the past, Fines had used his camera to find missing cattle, but never children! Coordinating efforts with ground searchers, he was able to zero in on Ethan and his dog, remotely lighting the drone so the searchers could find the spot.

Quoteable Quotes

“A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.”
— Dorothy Canfield Fisher

“Our way is not soft grass, it’s a mountain path with lots of rocks. But it goes upwards, forward, toward the sun.”
—Ruth Westheimer

Trivia

1. Is a doubloon coin gold or silver?

Gold

2. In the Queen’s English, what is a brolly?

Umbrella

3. Whose initials might you find carved in a tree?

Sweethearts

4. Name the bird that can swim but cannot fly.

Penguin

5. A pummel horse is used in which sport?

Gymnastics

Games

Did You Know?

Night flower: A cactus known as Queen of the Night (Selenicereus grandiflorus) blooms only once a year for one single night. They grow wild in Mexico, Florida (U.S.), and parts of the Caribbean.

Young singer-songwriter: Canadian musician Shawn Mendes quickly rose to international fame for his pop music. In 2014, his first single was “Life of the Party,” which was released when he was only 15.

Frightful: Someone who is afraid of clowns is said to have coulrophobia. This phobia is not very common. Some researchers think it may come about because a clown’s makeup hides their feelings, and they are mischievous.

Paint the room: If a wall is painted with matte paint, there will be no shine when it dries. Gloss paint, on the other hand, has a lot of shine and therefore will show all the imperfections on the wall.

Wild and free: There are wild horses on the barrier islands of the Outer Banks, off the coast of North Carolina (U.S.). The original horses were left there by Europeans who landed there over 500 years ago.

On the Lighter Side

What goes through towns, up hills, and down hills but never moves? The road!

Found in a heap of recycled folders donated to a school was one labelled “Excuses I Have Used.”

Customer: “Do you have anything that will cure fleas?” Veterinarian: “Maybe. What made them sick?”

I’m the size of an elephant, but I weigh nothing. What am I? An elephant’s shadow!

Jury: Twelve people brought together to decide who has the best lawyer.

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May 25, 2020

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Everybody’s Talking

Deep dive: Belize, on the east coast of Central America, is home to some of the best diving in the world. One reason for that is the existence of the Great Blue Hole, located off the country’s coast in the Caribbean Sea. Surrounded by coral reefs, the circular Great Blue Hole is an underwater sinkhole that attracts many species of marine life. It measures 300 meters (984 ft.) across and is 125 meters (410 ft.) deep. Divers can reach the Great Blue Hole by a more than two-hour boat ride from Belize City. Boats also can be rented on Ambergris Caye, which is closer.

Money giver: Charities in the city of Braunschweig, Germany, are amazed and grateful for an anonymous donor who has been providing cash to help them do their good deeds. The donor sends a bag of euros to a newspaper office with instructions to give the money to a certain charity. One such “miracle bag” contained €100,000 to be given to a local hospice. For over eight years, bags of money, some containing over €200,000, have intermittently appeared, with the mystery giver identifying soup kitchens, churches, and other worthy causes as recipients.

Turf tradition: For centuries, the traditional home used by the people of Iceland was the turf house. These houses had roofs and thick walls made of a top layer of sod with grass growing out of it. People used turf because trees were not as available for building material. Turf also has good insulating qualities against the winter cold. In the early 1900s, many people still lived in turf houses, but now few remain. However, some have been preserved and maintained by the National Museum of Iceland, allowing visitors to view these traditional abodes.

Peaceful people: A street in Vienna, Austria, is a monument to peace. The winding, dead-end street is called Blutgasse and is one of the oldest in the city. On the street is Peace Museum Vienna, which has a mission to educate visitors toward achieving world peace. The museum is free for anyone who wants to visit the exhibits or attend a discussion. One of the displays, called Windows for Peace, is intriguing. In the museum’s street-facing windows are images of peace heroes, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Bertha von Suttner, author of the novel Lay Down Your Arms.

Quoteable Quotes

“All things are to be examined and called into question. There are no limits set to thought.”
—Edith Hamilton

“The greatest liberty that man has taken is with nature.”
—James Bryce

Trivia

1. What is the German word meaning finished, defeated, or destroyed?

Kaput

2. The average person blinks how many times a minute?

15-20 times

3. In the world of ice hockey, what is a “blueliner”?

Defenceman

4. Name the leader of the English rock band The Who.

Roger Daltry

5. What are filled dumplings of Central and Eastern Europe called?

Pierogi

Games

Did You Know?

Using names: Anthropologist Jane Goodall studied chimpanzees for 45 years in Tanzania. Rather than numbering the primates she was studying, she named them instead. Some names she chose were David Greybeard, Flint, and Goliath.

Extinct pigeon: Passenger pigeons became extinct about 100 years ago. These pigeons, native to North America, were able to fly very fast, attaining speeds of up to 60 miles per hour (97 km).

Museum founder: Francisco Moreno of Argentina was a famous naturalist and geographer in the 1800s. He founded the La Plata Museum of Natural History in Argentina in 1888, which is an important museum today.

Hot stuff: The Datil pepper is a small, hot pepper grown near St. Augustine, Florida (U.S.), where there’s even an annual Datil Pepper Festival. It is used to make hot sauces, mustards, infused vinegar, and jellies.

Big but gentle: Whale sharks, which are docile giants that live in tropical oceans, are the largest living fish. Their life span is about 70 years, but they have been known to live to be 100.

On the Lighter Side

  • What question can you never answer “Yes” to? “What does ‘N-O’ spell?
  • I wonder how many miles I’ve scrolled with my thumb.
  • Why was the math book sad? Because it had so many problems.
  • Patient: “I’m terribly nervous, doctor. This is my first operation.”
    Doctor: “I know what you mean. It’s mine, too.”
  • What is easy to get into, but hard to get out of? Trouble.

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May 18, 2020

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Everybody’s Talking

Bear scare: Two women in the northern Canadian city of Whitehorse, Yukon, had to take evasive action to get away from a mama bear, which had two cubs in tow. Michelle Beaulieu and Anya Zimmerman were biking along a narrow trail near the Yukon River when the protective mother confronted them. The women ended up abandoning their bikes and swimming across the river to the other side. Luckily, a boat came along. The driver picked them up, retrieved their bikes, and got them safely out of the area.

Looking for Dinner: Diners in a restaurant in the town of Canmore, Alberta (Canada), got quite a surprise when a bear wandered in through the open doors to check things out. The cooking aroma coming from the Gaucho Brazilian Barbecue must have been too much to resist. The young bear scared the restaurant’s customers but didn’t stay long. After only a few seconds, it turned around and walked out, taking another look through the window before running away. Peter Holub, the restaurant’s owner, plans to keep the front door closed from now on.

Sticky stuff: A certain type of glue made by an industrial adhesives company in Germany really sticks. DELO went to great lengths to show the strength of its brand of strong glue. Company representatives arranged to suspend a truck, which weighed over 17.20 metric tonnes (37,919 lbs.), one metre above the ground by attaching it to a crane using a small amount of their glue. The stunt worked. The glue held the truck off the ground for an hour. Because this adhesive is used in the automotive industry and is not commercially available, it’s not possible to get it at a local hardware store!

Waterlogged: Television reporters will do lots of things to get their stories to viewers, but Azadar Hussain of Pakistan did something unique to bring the plight of his country into the limelight. Kot Chatta, in Pakistan’s Punjab region, had experienced damaging flooding, so Hussain decided to stand in floodwaters, with only his head, hand, and microphone above water. From there, he proceeded to do his report of the repercussions of the flooding. Although what he did could be perceived as dangerous, the reporter was able to attract worldwide attention from his on-location newscast.

Quoteable Quotes

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
—Lord Acton
“…we find at the end of a perfect day When Silence speaks for Love she has much to say.”
—Richard Garnett

Trivia

1. What is wasabi?

Japanese horseradish

2. Is our “funny bone” a bone or a nerve?

Nerve

3. Identical twins have identical fingerprints—T/F?

False

4. In which sea would you find the Great Barrier Reef?

Coral Sea

5. Who said, “Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else”?

Will Rogers

Games

Did You Know?

Eye acronyms: On prescriptions for eyeglasses, the acronym “OS” means oculus sinister, which is Latin for the left eye. “OD” is for oculus dextrus, which is Latin for the right eye.

Unreal: A work of art is called “abstract” when artists portray interpretations of their subjects, rather than revealing the actual details. Colour, shapes, or patterns may dominate.

Seedy goodness: Banana passionfruit grows in several South American countries. Smelling a bit like an orange and looking like a small banana, this fruit’s orange pulp has black seeds. Its tangy flavour is good in smoothies and desserts.

Cat problem: If you get scratched by a cat and a few days later notice a sore or blister, you may have cat scratch disease (CSD). This is an infection caused by bacteria in the cat’s saliva. It usually goes away on its own but can be treated if necessary.

Colourful bird: The mulga parrot is a colourful bird found in semi-arid areas of Australia. Its call isn’t loud, but its brilliant emerald feathers and spots of orange, yellow, and violet are easy to see.

On the Lighter Side

  • What travels around the world but stays in one corner? A stamp.
  • Teacher: “What part of the body is affected by glandular fever?”
    Student: “The glandular.”
  • You find me in December, but not in any other month.
    What am I? The letter D!
  • How do you prevent a summer cold? Catch it in the winter!
  • Which is closer, Florida or the moon? The moon. You can’t see Florida from here.

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May 11, 2020

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Everybody’s Talking

Sales gimmick: Alexander Kainov, the owner of a three-bedroom apartment in  Chelyabinsk in western Russia, wanted to sell his abode but was having trouble attracting interested buyers. So he tried a gimmick: he posted a photo on social media showing the famous American movie director, Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood), in the apartment. But it wasn’t the real Tarantino, just a cardboard cutout. While a  buyer didn’t come out of the woodwork, Kainov’s post went viral, and he hopes the attention will eventually attract some offers.

Beach bound: A beautiful beach in Australia was once a banana grove. In the  1930s, the Watego family set up operations on what is now Watego Beach,  located on the country’s most easterly point at Byron Bay. This white sand paradise is a quieter alternative to Australia’s busy beach resorts. It has picnic tables and barbecues available for those who want to cook lunch.  Surfers,  swimmers, and sunbathers love this spot. When they get tired of the sand, they can take a walk up the path to Cape Byron Lighthouse, which was built in  1901 and overlooks Byron Bay. 

Colourful town: The town of Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia, is said to be the most colourful in the country. That’s because everyone decorates their homes and businesses with brightly coloured paint in many different designs.  A home might have a background of red with orange and green flowers, while a bakery might have images of bread loaves. Known as zocalos, these paintings can even tell a story of a journey or a historical figure. Guatapé is located 82 kilometres (51 mi.) east of the big city of Medellín and is a tourist attraction for both Colombians and visitors.

Illegal bean: A bean that is native to South America is illegal in the United  States. It’s called the tonka bean and is known for its many scents. Looking a  bit like a raisin, the tonka bean smells like a combination of vanilla, cherry,  almond, and cinnamon. The bean’s shavings are used in such things as ice cream, beverages, and pastries. The ban in the United States stems from the fact that the bean contains coumarin, which can cause health problems. However, aficionados say it would take a large amount of beans to cause a  problem. Cooks around the world use a small amount in a variety of dishes.

Quoteable Quotes

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
—Margaret Wolfe Hungerford
“No written law has ever been more binding than unwritten custom supported  by popular opinion.”
—Carrie Chapman Catt

Trivia

1.If you are “cack-handed,” are you lucky at cards or accident prone?

Accident Prone

2. How many sides are there in a nonagon?

Nine

3. Cobalt and Prussian are shades of which colour?

Blue

4. Where would you find the talus bone in the human body?

The Ankle

5. A dendrologist studies dentures, metals, or trees?

Trees

Games

Did You Know?

Staying active: A volcano is deemed “active” if it has erupted in the last  10,000 years. The world has approximately 1,500 active volcanoes. Many of  these are located in what is known as “the Pacific ring of fire.”

Ouch! Most people occasionally get canker sores, also called aphthous ulcers,  somewhere in their mouth. They are not contagious, and the exact cause isn’t known. Fortunately, they usually go away on their own within a few days.

Sweet and good: Cannoli is an Italian dessert. A fried, tube-shaped pastry is filled with sweetened ricotta cheese. There are many variations with additions such as chocolate chips, almonds, or candied fruit.

Frequent fliers: Magnificent Frigatebirds are “magnificent” to watch as they soar the skies along the coasts of the Caribbean Sea. Males have a big red pouch on their throats, which can be inflated to attract a mate.

French fame: Kayden Boche of France is a famous model best known for being in advertisements for a Christian Dior fragrance. He is also a music producer and songwriter.

On the Lighter Side

  • Does a pink candle burn longer than a blue one? No, they both burn shorter!
  • How many economists does it take to change a light bulb? None. If the light bulb needed changing, the market would have already done it.
  • What disappears as soon as you say its name? Silence.
  • Snake to another snake: “Are we poisonous? I just bit my lip.”
  • When can you physically stand behind someone who is standing behind you? When you’re standing back-to-back.

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May 4, 2020

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Everybody’s Talking

Going home: Dogs are loyal creatures, and Maru the bullmastiff is no exception. Born in a kennel in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, she moved to  Krasnoyarsk, 800 kilometres (500 mi.) to the east, when she was purchased by a woman.  Unfortunately, the woman had allergies, and she called the kennel’s owner, Alla Morozova, who arranged accompaniment for Maru to come back to the kennel by train. But Maru had other ideas. She jumped from the train when it was 200 kilometres (125 mi.) from her owner’s home and tried to walk back. Maru was found in an industrial section of Krasnoyarsk,  close to the house where she had lived.

Sea of rock: When sailing a catamaran in the open ocean, sailors expect to see nothing but vast stretches of water. So a couple from Australia, Michael  Hoult and Larissa Brill were surprised to find themselves in a sea of rock during their trip to Fiji. The rock was pumice, which most likely had floated up to the surface after an underwater volcano erupted. When they discovered it,  the expanse of rock was a few inches thick and covered the ocean as far as they could see. Their catamaran slowed down considerably while navigating through this “island” of porous rock. 

Slow but scary: A roller coaster in Japan is not very fast-moving, but it gives its riders quite a thrill. It’s called the SkyCycle, and it is located in the  Washuzan Highland amusement park in the city of Okayama. It’s different from most roller coasters in that riders sit on a twin, bicycle-like apparatus and must pedal to move along the track, which has no guardrails. The track doesn’t have huge drops, but it is 590 feet above the ground, overlooking islands and cityscapes. The ride only takes about three minutes but seems much longer because it’s so scary.

Cow therapy: When you think about cuddling with an animal, usually a dog or cat comes to mind. Now there is a place where people can go cuddle with a  cow. That place is on a farm in the state of New York (U.S.). Called Mountain  House Farm, it is owned by Suzanne Vullers and her husband. For an hourly rate, guests can hug and cuddle with one of the farm’s two therapy cows,  Bonnie and Bella. Vullers, who is from the Netherlands, also provides horses for cuddling, but she was aware of cow cuddling in Europe. She decided to extend the practice to the farm’s bovines, which are gentle and peaceful.

Quoteable Quotes

“Backward, turn backward O Time, in your flight, Make me a child again just for  tonight!”
—Elizabeth Akers Allen
“There is nothing harder than the softness of indifference.”
—Juan Montalvo

Trivia

1. The official flag of France has three vertical stripes. What colours are they?

Blue, white, red

2. How many countries comprise Scandinavia?

Three

3. Which insect is known for its “waggle dance”?

Honey bee

4.Dermatitis and eczema affect what part of the body?

The Skin

5.Which actor had the leading male role in the movie Saturday Night Fever?

John Travolta

Games

Did You Know?

Careful eating: People who have celiac disease must eat a gluten-free diet.  hat’s because their digestive systems overreact to gluten, a protein found in some grains, causing such symptoms as pain, nausea, and heartburn.

Surgery needed: Pain on the right side of the abdomen could mean that someone has appendicitis, an inflammation of the appendix. Sometimes the problem can be treated with antibiotics, but often an operation to remove the organ is required.

Long neck: The Qijianglong was a large, long-necked dinosaur that lived millions of years ago, during the Late Jurassic period. Fossils were found by construction workers in 2006 in the Qijiang District of China.

Big winner: Claude Monet, the famous French painter (1840-1926), had financial struggles. However, the tables turned when he won the national  French lottery in 1890. After that, he was able to afford to continue painting.

Feelings: Emoticons use keyboard characters (punctuation marks, letters, and numbers) to make images that convey an emotion. An example is :-). An emoji, however, uses a drawing or cartoon to convey a feeling or idea.

On the Lighter Side

  • What is the biggest lie in the entire universe? “I have read and agree to the Terms & Conditions.”
  • I finally convinced my mother that it was a good idea for her to learn to text. Her first message to me: “Whereisthespacebar?”
  • My friend and I often laugh about how competitive we are. But I laugh more.
  • On a customer service voice mail: “We realize you are still holding. Please do  not hang up, as this will further delay your call.”
  • What word in the dictionary is always spelling incorrectly? “Incorrectly.”

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