21 01 2008

Don’t let your youth group miss it!


"I guess it is awesome…"

21 01 2008

Watch this Skittles commercial, click “Touch” when the page finishes loading. The end is so funny.

In the Know #17

20 01 2008

January 21, 2008

Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day

callow \KAL-oh\, adjective:
Immature; lacking adult perception, experience, or judgment.

In the news:

– Adolfo Nicolas (pictured) is chosen as the new Superior General of the Society of Jesus, whose members are known as Jesuits.

– George Bush proposes economic growth packages worth up to $150 billion.

Today in History, according to Wikipedia:

1861 – Jefferson Davis (pictured) resigns from the United States Senate.

1915 – Kiwanis International is founded in Detroit, Michigan.

1924 – Vladimir Lenin dies.

1954 – The USS Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine is launched.

1976 – Commercial service of Concorde, a supersonic passenger airliner, begins.

Today’s Famous Births:

1813 – John C. Frémont, American army officer, explorer and presidential candidate

1824 – Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, American Confederate general

1918 – Richard D. “Dick” Winters (pictured), American war hero, portrayed in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers

1922 – Telly Savalas, American actor, Kojak and Birdman of Alcatraz

1924 – Benny Hill, English actor, comedian and singer, The Benny Hill Show

1932 – John Chaney, American NCAA basketball coach, 1988 National Coach of the Year

1938 – Robert Weston Smith, American disc jockey and actor, better known as “Wolfman Jack”

1940 – Jack Nicklaus, American golfer

1941 – Plácido Domingo, Spanish tenor

1953 – Paul Allen, American entrepreneur, co-founder of Microsoft

1956 – Geena Davis, American actress, A League of Their Own

1963 – Hakeem Olajuwon, Nigerian-born basketball player, 12-time All Star

1965 – Jason Mizell, American disc jockey, better known as “Jam Master Jay”, founder of Run-D.M.C. (pictured)

Today’s Category – John Grisham

~ John Grisham (pictured) graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1981.

~ He practiced criminal and civil law in Southaven, Mississippi for nearly a decade.

~ In 1983, he was elected as a Democrat to the Mississippi House of Representatives, where he served until 1990.

~ His first novel was A Time to Kill, which had an original print of only 5,000 but would be reprinted to become a bestseller.

~ 17 Grisham novels have topped the New York Times bestseller list.

~ 7 of his novels have become full length box office feature films.

~ His novels sold over 60 million copies in the 90’s.

I always wondered…
…how surround sound works…

Home theater surround sound has two main components. First is the A/V receiver, which receives, decodes and sends both audio and video signals. Second are the speakers. The speakers are divided onto channels: Left, center, right, surround and subwoofer. The notation of the surround sound is as follows: [Number of surround speakers].[number of subwoofers] (i.e. 5.1 = five surround speakers and one subwoofer).

Surround sound comes to us in two forms: analog and digital. Analog surround is contained in two channels. The left and right channels contain two out of phase signals each. In the left channel, the left front speaker gets one signal and the left rear speaker gets the other, out of phase signal. The same occurs in the right channel. A center channel is constructed out of the two front speaker signals. Unlike analog, digital surround sound is recorded as ones and zeros. As such, it is the only format that can be recorded onto DVD’s. Each channel is a separate track of the recording medium.

The center channel acts as the anchor of the system; producing the majority of dialog and effects. The left and right speakers remove the majority of the dialog. Rear surround speakers create sound effects, which help to create the illusion of being in the action. The Low Frequency Effects (LFE) channel sends bass to the subwoofer.

The most common surround sound formats are Dolby Pro Logic (logo pictured) and Digital Theater Systems (DTS, logo pictured).

[“How surround sound works” reference: HowStuffWorks.com]
[All references from Wikipedia.org unless otherwise noted]

In the Know #16

19 01 2008

January 20, 2008

Today is the Republican Presidential Primary in South Carolina.

Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day

adventitious \ad-ven-TISH-uhs\, adjective:
1. Added extrinsically; not essentially inherent.
2. (Biology) Out of the proper or usual place; as, “adventitious buds or roots.”

In the news:

– Canada has added the United States to a list of countries in which foreigners risk torture and abuse.

– Israel closes border crossings at the Hamas-controlled (Hamas insignia pictured) Gaza Strip after a surge in cross-border attacks this week.

Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton win the Nevada caucuses. John McCain edges out Mike Huckabee to win the South Carolina Republican Primary.

Today in History, according to Wikipedia:

250 – Emperor Decius begins a widespread persecution of Christians in Rome.

1892 – At the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts, the first official basketball game is played.

1920 – The American Civil Liberties Union is formed.

1968 – The Game of the Century takes place (Houston’s Elvin Hayes shooting over Lew Alcindor, a.k.a. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, pictured), becoming the first regular season NCAA basketball game broadcast nationwide during prime time.

1986 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is observed as a federal holiday for the first time.

Today’s Famous Births:

1929 – Glenn “Fireball” Roberts, American race car driver

1930 – Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, astronaut, Lunar module pilot of Apollo 11 (moonwalk pictured)

1956 – Bill Maher, American actor, comedian and political analyst

Today’s Category – The Ig Nobel Prize Ceremonies

~ The Ig Nobel Prize is a parody of the Nobel Prize awarded for ten achievements that “first make people laugh, then make them think.”

~ There are ten prizes awarded each year.

~ The theme for the 2007 Ig Nobel Ceremony was “chicken” (2007 Award pictured).

~ Those who take place in the ceremony are called “Ignitaries”.

~ Awards have been given to eaters of SPAM (for 54 years of undiscriminating digestion), to the inventors of the scent strips on magazine pages, to the inventor of the plastic pink flamingo lawn ornament, to the man who patented the comb-over hairstyle and to the scientists who studied the validity of the five-second food rule.

~ Until 2006, paper airplanes were thrown onto the stage by the audience.

~ Go here to see a full list of Ig Nobel Prize winners.

I always wondered…
…how a laser works…

Laser is an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”. A basic laser (pictured) is made up of a flash lamp (similar to a camera flash), a rod of the material to be lased (solid, liquid or gas) and two mirrors (one of which is only partially reflective).

Lasers use intense light flashes to “pump” up atoms of a solid or gas so that the atoms release photons. The photons are released in all directions, but only the photons traveling perpendicular to the mirrors will become the laser beam. As photons pass other atoms, more photons are spontaneously created from the other atoms. These photons will travel in the same direction and have the same phase and wavelength as the original photon.

Some of the photons pass through the partially reflective mirror as a concentrated beam of light. The laser light can have many uses from simply acting as a pointer to reading the information on a CD or DVD to cutting through hard materials. The strength of a laser is determined by the wavelength of the emitted light.

Lasers are classified into four broad areas based on the potential for biological damage (Laser warning symbol pictured). Class I lasers do no biological harm, though Class IA lasers are “not intended for viewing”. Class II lasers rely on the human aversion to light to protect eyes. Class IIIA lasers are harmful to human eyes if the beam is projected directly into the eye. Most laser pointers are Class IIIA. Class IIIB lasers are moderately-powered. Class IV lasers are the most powerful lasers and are a fire hazard and skin hazard. Class IV lasers have very strict regulations for usage.

[“” reference: HowStuffWorks.com]
[All references from Wikipedia.org unless otherwise noted]

In the Know #15

18 01 2008

January 19, 2008

Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day

quietus \kwy-EE-tuhs\, noun:
1. Final discharge or acquittance, as from debt or obligation.
2. Removal from activity; rest; death.
3. Something that serves to suppress or quiet.

In the news:

– Chess master Bobby Fischer (pictured) dies at 64.

– Data from 650,000 United States credit card holders is lost.

Today in History, according to Wikipedia:

1817 – The Argentine army crosses the Andes, led by General Jose de San Martin, to liberate Chile and Peru from Spanish rule.

1883 – The first electric lighting system employing overhead wires, built by Thomas Edison, begins service in Roselle, New York.

1915 – Georges Claude patents the neon discharge tube for use in advertising.

1917 – German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmerman sends the Zimmerman Telegram (pictured) to Mexico, proposing a German-Mexican alliance against the United States.

1953 – 68% of all TV sets are tuned into I Love Lucy to see Lucy give birth.

1974 – UCLA Men’s basketball loses at the hands of Notre Dame, ending their 88-game winning streak.

1977 – Snow falls in Miami, Florida; the only occurrence of snow in the city’s history.

1983 – Apple Lisa, the first commercial personal computer to have a graphical user interface and mouse, is introduced by Apple Computer, Inc.

Today’s Famous Births:

1807 – Robert E. Lee (pictured), American Confederate General

1809 – Edgar Allan Poe, American writer and poet

1942 – Michael Crawford, British singer and actor, Broadway’s “The Phantom of the Opera

1943 – Janis Joplin, American singer

1946 – Dolly Parton, American singer and actress, 9 to 5 and Islands in the Stream (with Kenny Rogers)

1969 – Junior Seau, American football player, 12-time Pro Bowl selection

1982 – Jodie Sweetin, American actress, Full House

Today’s Category – The Outer Banks of North Carolina

~ The Outer Banks (pictured) consist of Bodie Island, Roanoke Island, Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island.

~ When Giovanni de Verrazzano explored the Outer Banks, he mistakingly believed the Albemarle Sound and Pamlico Sound as open ocean splitting the North American mainland in half.

~ The islands stretch 100 miles.

~ The first person of English descent born on American soil, Virginia Dare, was born on Roanoke Island.

~In 2003, Hatteras Island was cut in half by Hurricane Isabel, but the Army Corps of Engineers repaired the 3000 foot wide gash.

I always wondered…
…how a touchscreen works…

There are three basic types of touchscreen technologies: resistive, capacitive and surface wave acoustic.

Resistive touchscreens employ two thin metallic layers, one resistive and one conductive. When pressure is applied on the surface, one layer touches the other. The change on electrical field is noted and plotted.

Capacitive touchscreens use a layer that stores electrical charges on top of the glass panel of the monitor. When a user touches the screen, some of the charge is transferred to the person. Circuits located in each corner calculate the change in current. The relative differences in current help the computer to plot the point of contact.

Surface wave acoustic touchscreens have two transistors on the surface of the monitor which create ultrasonic waves on top of the screen. Opposite of the transistors are reflectors which bounce the waves back. When a wave is disturbed, the computer is able to plot where the touch occurred.

Resistive and surface wave acoustic screens do not distinguish between stimuli, because they recognize touches by pressure or disturbance. Capacitive does require a conductive input such as a finger to disturb the electrical charge on the surface.

[“How a touchscreen works” reference: HowStuffWorks.com]
[All references from Wikipedia.org unless otherwise noted]

In the Know #14

17 01 2008

January 18, 2008

Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day

stoic \STOH-ik\, noun:
1. (Capitalized). A member of a school of philosophy founded by Zeno holding that one should be free from passion, unmoved by joy or grief, and should submit without complaint to unavoidable necessity.
2. Hence, one who is apparently or professedly indifferent to or unaffected by pleasure or pain, joy or grief.

1. Of or pertaining to the Stoics; resembling the Stoics or their doctrines.
2. Not affected by passion; being or appearing indifferent to pleasure or pain, joy or grief.

In the news:

– A British Airways flight from Beijing to London lands short of the runway (pictured) injuring 13. The cause of the crash is reported to have been a “total loss of power and avionics.”

– The United Nations has appealed for $42 million to assist victims of Kenya violence.

Today in History, according to Wikipedia:

1778 – James Cook (pictured) is the first known European to discover the Hawaiian Islands, which he names the “Sandwich Islands.”

1896 – The x-ray machine is exhibited for the first time.

1903 – Theodore Roosevelt sends a radio message to King Edward VII of England, the first transatlantic radio transmission originating in the United States.

1967 – Albert DeSalvo, “The Boston Strangler“, is convicted of numerous crimes and sentenced to life in prison.

1990 – Washington D.C. mayor, Marion Barry is arrested for drug possession in an FBI sting.

Today’s Famous Births:

1689 – Charles Montesquieu, French writer

1779 – Peter Roget, British lexicographer

1782 – Daniel Webster, American statesman

1882 – A.A. Milne, English author, creator of Winnie the Pooh (pictured)

1904 – Cary Grant, American actor, North by Northwest

1950 – Gilles Villeneuve, Canadian race car driver

1955 – Kevin Costner, American actor

1961 – Mark Messier, Canadian hockey player, fifteen All-Star games

1971 – Jonathan Davis, American singer, KoRn

1980 – Julius Peppers, American football player, 3 Pro Bowls

Today’s Category – Clemson University

~ Thomas Green Clemson, the founder of Clemson University, came to the Foothills of South Carolina in 1838.

~ When Clemson died in 1886, he left most of his estate in his will to be used to establish a college to teach scientific agriculture and the mechanical arts.

~ In November 1889, Governor John Richardson signed a bill establishing Clemson Agricultural College.

~ Clemson was also originally a military institute.

~ There are 17,585 students enrolled at the university.

~ Cooper Library has over 1.5 million items.

~ Tillman Hall has 47 bells.

~ There are 194 wi-fi hot spots on campus.

~ Clemson (tiger paw pictured) covers a total of 17,000 acres.

I always wondered…
…how a fax machine works…

A fax machine is basically a scanner, a printer, a modem and a phone put together. When a document is placed into a fax machine, the scanner looks at the page one line at a time. It translates that line into 1728 separate bits of information. The bits of information either represent a black dot or a white dot. There are 1145 lines on a page in the standard setting of a fax machine (there are higher settings for finer resolutions). Therefore there are approximately 2,000,000 bits of information on a page. If there are large areas of black or white, the data can be compressed to relay that info, thus saving lots of time in faxing. The information is then sent via phone line to the receiving fax machine. That device then decodes, decompresses and reassembles the bits to duplicate the original document.

[“How a fax machine works” reference: HowStuffWorks.com]
[All references from Wikipedia.org unless otherwise noted]

In the Know #13

16 01 2008

January 17, 2008

Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day

upbraid \uhp-BRAYD\, transitive verb:
To scold or criticize harshly.

In the news:

– President Bush ends his Middle East tour.

– A bus in Buttala, Sri Lanka exploded (pictured) killing at least 23 and wounding more than 60.

– The Bush Administration notified Congress on Monday of its intention to sell precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia.

– The Pentagon announces plans to send 3,200 additional marines to Afghanistan

Today in History, according to Wikipedia:

1781 – The Battle of Cowpens takes place during the Revolutionary War.

1819 – Republic of Colombia created by Simon Bolivar.

1916 – The Professional Golf Association is formed.

1917 – The United States buys the Virgin Islands from Denmark.

1929 – Popeye, the Sailor Man (pictured), created by E.C. Segar, first appears in Thimble Theater comic strip.

1945 – Nazis begin the evacuation of Auschwitz concentration camp as Soviet forces close in.

Today’s Famous Births:

1706 – Benjamin Franklin, American statesman, Poor Richard’s Almanack

1899 – Al Capone (pictured), American gangster

1922 – Betty White, American actress, “The Golden Girls

1928 – Vidal Sassoon, English cosmetologist

1931 – James Earl Jones, American actor, voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars saga and Field of Dreams

1933 – Shari Lewis, American ventriloquist, “Lamb Chop’s Play-Along

1942 – Muhammad Ali (pictured), American boxer, “The Greatest” a.k.a. Cassius Clay

1949 – Andy Kaufman, American comedian

1962 – Jim Carrey, Canadian comedian and actor, Dumb and Dumber and Ace Ventura

1970 – Jeremy Roenick, American hockey player, 9 time All-Star

1971 – Kid Rock, American singer, a.k.a. Robert Ritchie

1972 – Lil’ Jon, American rapper and music producer

1982 – Dwayne Wade, American basketball player, 3 time All-Star

Today’s Category – per request…the human digestive system

~ The upper gastrointestinal tract (pictured) consists of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus and stomach.

~ The lower gastrointestinal tract consists of the intestines and the anus…yup, the anus.

~ The polite euphemism for “anus” has traditionally been “fundament.”

~ Gastric acid has a pH of 1.4, but the stomach regulates the pH to keep it above 2.

I always wondered…
…how a stock exchange works…

Businesses listed on a stock exchange are equally divided into shares, which are publicly bought and sold. For example, a business worth #1 million might be divided into 10,000 shares worth $100 each. Each share represents a claim in the company. Whoever holds the majority of the stock has control of the company. Some companies pay money to each shareholder based on profits for a year. These payments are called dividends.

Stocks are traded at a stock market, or stock exchange, to centralize all trading so that buyers and sellers can go to one place. Rather than traveling all the way to the actual stock market, potential buyers and sellers contact stock brokers to do their business. When businesses publicize positive or negative news, the stock prices will fluctuate based on that news. Good news = more buying = higher prices. Bad news = more selling = lower prices.

There are two different ways a company can approach the stock market. They can either sell as an income stock or a growth stock. Income stocks pay dividends to shareholders. Growth stocks invest the money from share sales back into the company so that share prices continue to go up.

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE, Wall Street front pictured) is the largest such market in the world. As of December 31, 2006, the NYSE had a total capitalization of $25 trillion.

[“How a stock exchange works” reference: HowStuffWorks.com]
[All references from Wikipedia.org unless otherwise noted]