Fun Stuff

October 14, 1947: Yeager breaks sound barrier

This Day in History - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 11:00pm

U.S. Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager becomes the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound.

Yeager, born in Myra, West Virginia, in 1923, was a combat fighter during World War II and flew 64 missions over Europe. He shot down 13 German planes and was himself shot down over France, but he escaped capture with the assistance of the French Underground. After the war, he was among several volunteers chosen to test-fly the experimental X-1 rocket plane, built by the Bell Aircraft Company to explore the possibility of supersonic flight.

For years, many aviators believed that man was not meant to fly faster than the speed of sound, theorizing that transonic drag rise would tear any aircraft apart. All that changed on October 14, 1947, when Yeager flew the X-1 over Rogers Dry Lake in Southern California. The X-1 was lifted to an altitude of 25,000 feet by a B-29 aircraft and then released through the bomb bay, rocketing to 40,000 feet and exceeding 662 miles per hour (the sound barrier at that altitude). The rocket plane, nicknamed "Glamorous Glennis," was designed with thin, unswept wings and a streamlined fuselage modeled after a .50-caliber bullet.

Because of the secrecy of the project, Bell and Yeager's achievement was not announced until June 1948. Yeager continued to serve as a test pilot, and in 1953 he flew 1,650 miles per hour in an X-1A rocket plane. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1975 with the rank of brigadier general.

Categories: Fun Stuff

Arthur Schopenhauer

Quotes of the Day - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 7:00pm
"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see."
Categories: Fun Stuff

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Quotes of the Day - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 7:00pm
"I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it."
Categories: Fun Stuff

Unknown

Quotes of the Day - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 7:00pm
"He who hesitates is not only lost, but miles from the next exit."
Categories: Fun Stuff

Robert Frost

Quotes of the Day - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 7:00pm
"A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel."
Categories: Fun Stuff

posthaste

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 1:00am

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 13, 2014 is:

posthaste • \POHST-HAYST\  • adverb
: with all possible speed

Examples:
"You must leave posthaste," Virginia theatrically admonished her guests, "or you'll miss your ferry!"

"Yes, West Palm Beach commissioners should green-light the chief’s efforts to address the issue posthaste." — Palm Beach Post, September 3, 2014

Did you know?
In the 16th century, the phrase "haste, post, haste" was used to inform "posts," as couriers were then called, that a letter was urgent and must be hastily delivered. Posts would then speedily gallop along a route, with a series of places at which to get a fresh horse or to relay the letter to a fresh messenger. Shakespeare was one of the first to use a version of the phrase adverbially in Richard II. "Old John of Gaunt ... hath sent post haste / To entreat your Majesty to visit him," the Bard versified. He also used the phrase as an adjective (a use that is now obsolete) in Othello: "The Duke ... requires your haste-post-haste appearance," Lieutenant Cassio reports to the play's namesake. Today, the word still possesses a literary flair attributable to the Bard.

Categories: Fun Stuff

October 13, 1792: White House cornerstone laid

This Day in History - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 11:00pm

The cornerstone is laid for a presidential residence in the newly designated capital city of Washington. In 1800, President John Adams became the first president to reside in the executive mansion, which soon became known as the "White House" because its white-gray Virginia freestone contrasted strikingly with the red brick of nearby buildings.

The city of Washington was created to replace Philadelphia as the nation's capital because of its geographical position in the center of the existing new republic. The states of Maryland and Virginia ceded land around the Potomac River to form the District of Columbia, and work began on Washington in 1791. French architect Charles L'Enfant designed the area's radical layout, full of dozens of circles, crisscross avenues, and plentiful parks. In 1792, work began on the neoclassical White House building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue under the guidance of Irish American architect James Hoban, whose design was influenced by Leinster House in Dublin and by a building sketch in James Gibbs' Book of Architecture. President George Washington chose the site.

On November 1, President John Adams was welcomed into the executive mansion. His wife, Abigail, wrote about their new home: "I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house, and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but wise men ever rule under this roof!"

In 1814, during the War of 1812, the White House was set on fire along with the U.S. Capitol by British soldiers in retaliation for the burning of government buildings in Canada by U.S. troops. The burned-out building was subsequently rebuilt and enlarged under the direction of James Hoban, who added east and west terraces to the main building, along with a semicircular south portico and a colonnaded north portico. The smoke-stained stone walls were painted white. Work was completed on the White House in the 1820s.

Major restoration occurred during the administration of President Harry Truman, and Truman lived across the street for several years in Blair House. Since 1995, Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and Lafayette Square has been closed to vehicular traffic for security reasons. Today, more than a million tourists visit the White House annually. It is the oldest federal building in the nation's capital.

Categories: Fun Stuff

Daily Puzzle - October 12

BrainBashers - Easy Sudoku - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 10:53pm
BrainBashers Daily Puzzle

What 5 letter word can be added to the end of these words to make new words:

green out light bird boat club cook

[Copyright: Kevin Stone]

Categories: Fun Stuff

Daily Sudoku - October 12 - Easy

BrainBashers - Easy Sudoku - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 10:53pm
BrainBashers Daily Sudoku



Complete the grid such that every row, every column, and the nine 3x3 blocks contain the digits from 1 to 9.

[Copyright: Kevin Stone]

Categories: Fun Stuff

Daily Game - October 12

BrainBashers - Easy Sudoku - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 10:53pm
BrainBashers Daily Game

Jungle Plunge
   Take the adorable monkey and move down the platforms.
[Played on the BrainBashers Games website]

Categories: Fun Stuff

W. Somerset Maugham

Quotes of the Day - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 7:00pm
"I always find it more difficult to say the things I mean than the things I don't."
Categories: Fun Stuff

Jay Leno

Quotes of the Day - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 7:00pm
"Here's something to think about: How come you never see a headline like 'Psychic Wins Lottery'?"
Categories: Fun Stuff

Tallulah Bankhead

Quotes of the Day - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 7:00pm
"Nobody can be exactly like me. Sometimes even I have trouble doing it."
Categories: Fun Stuff

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Quotes of the Day - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 7:00pm
"I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
Categories: Fun Stuff

megillah

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 1:00am

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 12, 2014 is:

megillah • \muh-GHIH-luh\  • noun
: slang a long involved story or account

Examples:
Instead of just saying she was running late, Lynette went into the whole megillah of why her appointment would have to be rescheduled.

"It takes place far below the surface of the earth, among dripping stalactites, and if you're a fan of Tolkien's mythos in any of its versions, you know it's perhaps the most pivotal moment in the whole megillah: the scene where Bilbo gets his paws on That Ring." — Ty Burr, The Boston Globe, December 13, 2012

Did you know?
Although megillah is a slang word in English, it has perfectly respectable Hebrew origins. Megillah derives from the Yiddish megile, which itself comes from the Hebrew word mĕgillāh, meaning "scroll" or "volume." (Mĕgillāh is especially likely to be used in reference to the Book of Esther, which is read aloud at Purim celebrations.) It makes sense, then, that when megillah first appeared in English in the mid-20th century, it referred to a story that was so long (and often tedious or complicated) that it was reminiscent of the length of the mĕgillāh scrolls. The Hebrew word is serious, but the Yiddish megile can be somewhat playful, and our megillah has also inherited that lightheartedness.

Categories: Fun Stuff

October 12, 1492: Columbus reaches the New World

This Day in History - Sat, 10/11/2014 - 11:00pm

After sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sights a Bahamian island, believing he has reached East Asia. His expedition went ashore the same day and claimed the land for Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, who sponsored his attempt to find a western ocean route to China, India, and the fabled gold and spice islands of Asia.

Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451. Little is known of his early life, but he worked as a seaman and then a maritime entrepreneur. He became obsessed with the possibility of pioneering a western sea route to Cathay (China), India, and the gold and spice islands of Asia. At the time, Europeans knew no direct sea route to southern Asia, and the route via Egypt and the Red Sea was closed to Europeans by the Ottoman Empire, as were many land routes. Contrary to popular legend, educated Europeans of Columbus' day did believe that the world was round, as argued by St. Isidore in the seventh century. However, Columbus, and most others, underestimated the world's size, calculating that East Asia must lie approximately where North America sits on the globe (they did not yet know that the Pacific Ocean existed).

With only the Atlantic Ocean, he thought, lying between Europe and the riches of the East Indies, Columbus met with King John II of Portugal and tried to persuade him to back his "Enterprise of the Indies," as he called his plan. He was rebuffed and went to Spain, where he was also rejected at least twice by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. However, after the Spanish conquest of the Moorish kingdom of Granada in January 1492, the Spanish monarchs, flush with victory, agreed to support his voyage.

On August 3, 1492, Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain, with three small ships, the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Nina. On October 12, the expedition reached land, probably Watling Island in the Bahamas. Later that month, Columbus sighted Cuba, which he thought was mainland China, and in December the expedition landed on Hispaniola, which Columbus thought might be Japan. He established a small colony there with 39 of his men. The explorer returned to Spain with gold, spices, and "Indian" captives in March 1493 and was received with the highest honors by the Spanish court. He was the first European to explore the Americas since the Vikings set up colonies in Greenland and Newfoundland in the 10th century.

During his lifetime, Columbus led a total of four expeditions to the New World, discovering various Caribbean islands, the Gulf of Mexico, and the South and Central American mainlands, but he never accomplished his original goal—a western ocean route to the great cities of Asia. Columbus died in Spain in 1506 without realizing the great scope of what he did achieve: He had discovered for Europe the New World, whose riches over the next century would help make Spain the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth.

Categories: Fun Stuff

Daily Puzzle - October 11

BrainBashers - Easy Sudoku - Sat, 10/11/2014 - 10:39pm
BrainBashers Daily Puzzle

Imagine a bottle recycling skip, empty other than one lonely bottle.

Every hour, on the hour, people come and put bottles into the skip.

The first hour, at Noon, one person came and put a bottle in.

One hour later, two people placed a bottle each into the skip.

An hour later four people placed a bottle each into the skip.

This doubling of people continued until 11pm, when the skip was finally full.

When was the skip exactly half full?

Categories: Fun Stuff

Daily Sudoku - October 11 - Easy

BrainBashers - Easy Sudoku - Sat, 10/11/2014 - 10:39pm
BrainBashers Daily Sudoku



Complete the grid such that every row, every column, and the nine 3x3 blocks contain the digits from 1 to 9.

[Copyright: Kevin Stone]

Categories: Fun Stuff

Daily Game - October 11

BrainBashers - Easy Sudoku - Sat, 10/11/2014 - 10:39pm
BrainBashers Daily Game

Dupligon
   Duplicate the polygons as closely as you can.
[Played on the BrainBashers Games website]

Categories: Fun Stuff

George Lucas

Quotes of the Day - Sat, 10/11/2014 - 7:00pm
"So this is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause."
Categories: Fun Stuff