Designed by Karl Tate, Our Amazing Planet: Top to Bottom is a cool infographic that looks at the scale of things from the upper atmosphere to the deepest ocean depths.  It’s also timely with recent events, showing the depth of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig spill, and drilling depth.

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Who was Earl Grey?

February 4, 2011

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Do you regularly refer to things as a doohickey, doodad, thingamajig, whatchamacallit, gizmo, or whoseamajigger?  Are you Hawaiian, in which case “dakine” is your word of choice for describing everything that you don’t know the name of, and the majority of things that you do know?  Well, keep on reading blog visitor, ’cause I’ve compiled a short list of 5 things you didn’t know the name of (or always wondered about, but were too lazy to research). Read the rest of this entry »

Of Eels and Jesus

December 18, 2010

I can remember a friend from my Army days telling stories about how he could sometimes catch eels in his dad’s farm pond in New Jersey.  I knew almost nothing about eels back then, but I was pretty sure that they didn’t breed in ponds.  So, how did they get there?  My friend couldn’t explain it even though this is apparently Read the rest of this entry »

Where did coffee originate?

December 15, 2010

coffee map The English word coffee is derived from an Italian word (caffe) that is derived from a Turkish word (kahve) that is derived from an Arabic word (qahiya) that literally means “to have no appetite”.

Coffee beans are indigenous to Ethiopia where they call the plant “bunn”, but it was not very popular until the Arabs began cultivating it in quantity in the 1400s.  Drinking the infusion of roasted beans that boosted energy and suppressed appetite became very popular with Sufi monasteries in southern Arabia and Yemen, then it spread throughout the Arabic world, then to Italy, then to the rest of Europe, to Indonesia, and to the Americas.  Coffee, coffee, coffee!

Don’t like that origin story?  There’s always the apocryphal (but cute) story of Kaldi, the Ethiopian goatherd and his dancing goats!


Dances with Goats

Kaldi, noticing the curiously energetic effects when his flock nibbled on certain bright red berries, decided to try the fruit himself.  His exhilaration prompted him to bring the berries to an Islamic holy man in a nearby monastery.  But, as is typical of  most “holy” men, the holy man rained on his parade, disapproved of their use, and threw them into a fire… from which an enticing aroma billowed!  The roasted beans were quickly raked from the embers, ground up, and dissolved in hot water, yielding the world’s first cup of coffee.

Googling Kaldi yields About 7,040,000 results in 0.22 seconds.  Not bad for a mythical goatherd invented by a Catholic professor of oriental languages in the 1600s.

coffee is good