Monday, November 21, 2011

Kel's Fun Facts: Marshall, Michigan

Today's fun facts are courtesy of me not being able to think of a good topic and searching places I've been for fun facts. Due to that, you can now learn about Marshall, Michigan.

Marshall is one of the nation's largest National Historic Landmark Districts with over 850 buildings listed as Landmarks.

Marshall is home to the second largest US Postal Service Museum (As a bonus fun fact, I've been to that US Postal Service Museum in Marshall!). The only collection of postal memorabilia is the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in DC.

Jamie Hyneman, host of Mythbusters was born in Marshall, Michigan.

In 1843, a runaway slave family was pursued to Marshall, where over 100 people from the town stood against the slave catchers, eventually leading to the slave catchers arrest, eventual fines to be paid by the townspeople, and the introduction of the Fugitive Slave Act.

One of the most famous buildings in Marshall is the Honolulu House, built in 1860 by Abner Pratt, former chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. Pratt loved Hawaii and built himself a house in the Italianate style of architecture that was copied from a house he stayed at in Hawaii. The house has 15 foot ceilings, 10 foot doors, long hallways and a sweeping staircase. (Bonus fun fact, I've also been there!)

Marshall houses the American Museum of Magic (which I sadly have not been to), which includes an extensive collection of Harry Blackstone, Sr.'s (famous magician) devices. Even though the museum is in Marshall, Blackstone lived and was buried in Colon, Michigan, The Magic Capital of the World (which I have driven through).

Marshall has a small airport where they sell giant Tootsie Rolls (I have not had one).

I told you this installment was random and based on research about places I've been!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kel's Fun Facts: Photography

Today is the 224th anniversary of the birth of Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre, the inventor of the daguerreotype process of photography. In honor of that, here are some photography fun facts!

The daguerreotype was the first photographic process to be a commercial success and was done by having the image made on a silvered copper plate.

The first photograph of a person was taken by Daguerre in 1838 in Paris and is seen in a picture of the Boulevard du Temple.

The word photography is based on the Greek words for light and drawing, togther meaning drawing with light.

The first permanent photograph was produced in 1826 by Joseph Nicephore Niepce.

The first photo published on the web was by Tim Berners-Lee in 1992 and was an image of the CERN house band.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kel's Fun Fact: Steamboat Willie

In honor of the 83rd anniversary of the release of Steamboat Willie, today's fun facts are all about Steamboat Willie!

Steamboat Willie is considered the debut of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse (no relation), even though they were both in a previous short called Plane Crazy that was a silent film. Plane Crazy failed to be distributed and was eventually released after Steamboat Willie became popular.

Walt Disney did all the voices for the short.

In 1998 Steamboat Willie was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry for being culturally and historically significant.

The villain in the story, Pete is a cat in the short and beyond, but originally was a bear.

By the copyright acts of the time, Steamboat Willie should be in the public domain by now, but isn't due to the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act, also known as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act. The act makes works made in 1923 and after that were still protected by copyright 1998 not available for public domain until 2019 or after.

The full cartoon was officially put on YouTube by the Disney Animation studio on August 27, 2009. And really, you should go watch it right now.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kel's Fun Facts: Inventions gone wrong

William Bullock invented the rotary printing press in 1863. In 1867 Bullock was making adjustments to one of his presses that was for printing the Philadelphia Public Ledger. His leg got crushed when trying to kick a belt into place. He died during the operation to amputate his gangrenous leg.

Henry Smolinski started the AVE Mizar company that created a flying car. One a test flight, the right wing folded, killing Smolinski and one of his associates.

Franz Reichelt created an overcoat parachute that he tested by jumping off the Eiffel Tower. It didn't work.

Horace Lawson Hunley invented a combat submarine. After the submarine sunk twice without killing anyone, Hunley took over commanding the vessel. It sunk again and he, along with seven other members of the crew, died.

Li Si, Chancellor of the Qin dynasty in 208 BC, created the five pains method: cut off the nose, than a hand and a foot, than castration, and finally cut in half at the waist. When the king died, Li Si suppressed the choice of successor. He was eventually charged with treason by the new king and killed by the five pains method.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Kel's Fun Fact: Chocolate

Chocolate comes from the Nahuatl word xocolātl, which means bitter water. The earliest documented uses of cultivated cacao were in Mexico, most notably by the Aztecs, who usually used it for a beverage.

John Cadbury, the founder of the Canbury chocolate thought chocolate was a good alternative to alcohol.

Raw chocolate contains at least 75% cacao.

Dark chocolate can lower blood pressure and is a good antioxidant.

I prefer Nestle chocolate to Hershey chocolate. I have not had enough Cadbury chocolate to know where it falls in the ranking. I also tend to agree with Roux in the movie Chocolat that hot chocolate is the best chocolate.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fangirl Freakout: "Hunger Games" trailer

The Hunger Games full length trailer premiered this morning. (You can see it here.)

First of all, let's just get the fangirliness out of the way by saying, "OMG it all looks perfect!!!!!" Because it really looks pretty amazing! 

On Monday, Kel kept reading about how everyone was freaking out about it, and Jen emailed her and said, "Have you watched it yet!? Because seriously. Holy. Shit." And Kel was like "Oh, I should check that out, but whatever." And then she watched it. Seriously. Holy. Shit. Have you watched it yet? No? Do so right now! Yes? Watch it again!

Kel got into "The Hunger Games" after the third book came out. She had heard of it somewhat since the first book came out, but it didn't really hit her radar much. When the third book came out, it suddenly was everywhere. And everyone was saying "OMG! You have to read this," which usually makes her avoid whatever it is like the plague. But she had enough people whose taste she trusts tell her she would enjoy the series that she gave it a try. And she was instantly hooked. And more so as the series went on. Book one she found not as engaging for the first bit, before the games start, so it took her a week to read it. Book two took her about three days. And book three she, unwisely, read in one sitting.

Jen also read the books all in a row, very quickly, and really loved them. (She is glad, however, that she didn't read the emotionally wrenching third book in one sitting.) The Pop Tarts Mom recently read the trilogy and loved them, and even Jen's husband, who is really rather picky about books, is a huge fan.

In other words, it's a great series that a lot of people will like - not just people who like YA fiction. If you haven't read them, then what is your problem? Read them now!

Since the movie version of "The Hunger Games" was announced and the casting started, we, along with everyone else in the world, started analyzing every choice. Personally, we were both was pretty excited about all the choices, regardless of if they were who we thought would be good. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss was the most out of left-field choice for us, but after seeing a picture and reading an interview of her, Kel was sold. Jen was a little more skeptical, but now that there's a trailer, we can judge everybody better.

But, seriously, Jennifer Lawrence has the right mix of terrified and badass. Jen was truly convinced that she is Katniss when she volunteers for the games to save Prim. A definite goosebumps moment.

And then, there's Josh Hutchinson (Peeta), who looks perfectly adorable and pained. Liam Hemsworth (Gale) looks all broody and hot.

All the secondary characters are also bringing it. Did you see Elizabeth Banks as Effie? No one could be better! She is crazy! And even the choices that we had never thought of, like Woody Harrelson for Haymitch and Lenny Kravitz for Cinna, look brilliant. Oh, and Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickman? Brilliant! And even though President Snow doesn't figure much into the first book, Donald Sutherland is going to be excellent when they do the sequels.

Pretty much, we are both fan girling out about everything. Kel's reaction to Jen after watching it was, and we quote, "HOLY SHIT! I didn't realize how excited I was about it until I watched the trailer!" And really, that is very true. But now we cannot wait until March when it finally comes out. Kel is fully confident that it is not going to disappoint (like The Golden Compass did). Jen is slightly more skeptical - she's been burned several times by movies she's been excited about - but after watching the trailer a couple more times, she's feeling more and more confident that "The Hunger Games" is going to be epic!

Kel's Fun Fact: Turkeys

Turkey droppings, mixed with wood chips, can be used as a fuel source and has been used in Benson, Minn., to run a power plant. Of all farm animal manure, turkey litter is the best to use as a fuel source.

Related turkey facts:

  • Turkey eggs take 28 days to hatch.

  • Baby turkey are called Poults.

  • Tom turkeys are polygamous and sleep with as many hens as possible.

  • Between 5000 and 3000 BC in Mexico, the only domesticated animal was the turkey.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fun Fact!

A while back on my Facebook I was writing up a fun fact of the day. I got busy/bored and stopped doing it. But there has been a few requests for a fun fact of the day again (namely Jen and our mom told me they liked it and I should do it again). So, I am going to turn it into a blog feature!

Starting today, I will be posting a fun fact every day (or most days at least). Some will be just quick little fun facts, the kind that are great for knowing an answer to Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit or to drop into a conversation during an awkward pause. Others will be longer facts that are a conversation in themselves.

If you have any fun fact themes you would like to see (e.g. insects, holidays, countries) or have a specific topic you want a fun fact on (e.g. porcupines, Pirates of the Caribbean ride, Kevin Bacon) leave them in the comments section and I will do my best to provide.

To start off, here are some of the past fun facts I have posted to Facebook and/or Twitter:

Blue Whales cannot swallow anything bigger than a grapefruit.

The author of Ben-Hur, Lew Wallace, was from Indiana and tried to turn Billy the Kid into an informant in exchange for a full pardon from his outlaw ways. This didn't pan out and The Kid went back to being an outlaw.

Certain types of squid can fly above the water for a short period of time, much like a flying fish. Some even move their fins/arms to forcibly stay in the air longer or go further.

The South Pole is colder than the North Pole.

And now a new fun fact so everyone can learn something today:

The cocktail Tremblement de Terre (Earthquake) is said to have been invented by Toulouse-Lautrec. In a wine goblet it is 3 parts Absinth and 3 parts Cognac and can be served on ice or shaken in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.