1.15.16 The Name Game II

The holidays are over, and we enter the dreadful season we call, THE POLITICAL PRIMARIES. And so, potential voters, once again it’s time to play, “What’s In a Name?” BERNARD SANDERS: The name BERNARD is of Germanic origin, “Bern-Hard,” meaning strong and hardy as a bear. SANDERS is a simplification of Alexander, a “helper of […]

12.24.15 Dunder and Blixem

Twas the night before Christmas. And you might have been wondering about “Donner.” After all, the other reindeer names make sense. Dasher dashes, Dancer dances, Prancer prances. Cupid and Vixen probably hang out together. Comet is clearly the fastest one. And Blitzen is the German one that sparkles like lightning. But Donner? What the heck […]

12.4.15 Climate Christmas

On November 30, the United Nations Climate Change Conference began in France. Last night, a 10-ton, 78-foot tall, 80-year-old Norway Spruce was lit up as this year’s Rockefeller Christmas Tree. Here’s the connection. An average-sized mature tree can absorb an estimated 13 lbs of carbon annually, and an acre of trees absorbs about 2.6 tons. […]

11.13.15 Beamer Ball Part 1

Pop Quiz: Who is the winningest, longest-tenured active coach in D1 football? Here’s a hint. “Put your right foot in, put your right foot out, put your right foot in and shake it all about.” Here’s some more hints: Blacksburg, Virginia became home to the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1798; all the students were […]

10.30.15 The Jack Facts

Who’s Jack? And what’s up with the lantern? There’s a lot of ancient tradition involving scary lights at harvest time. Pre-Christian Europeans celebrated Samhaim, the autumn festival of the Dead, with bonfires and torches and other late-night illuminations. Samhaim was later displaced by All Saint’s Day, but the fascination with the afterlife continued, in the […]

10.23.15 The King’s Speech

Friday, October 25, 1415: St. Crispin’s Day. At a place in northern France that history remembers as Agincourt. King Henry V of England had invaded France to press his claim on the French lands of Normandy, Touraine, Anjou, Brittany, Flanders and Aquitaine. He stood with 1,500 men-at-arms and 7,000 longbowmen, looking across a defile at […]