The Louisiana Purchase Was A Bargin

 Posted by on May 17, 2013 at 10:47 am  learn something
May 172013

210 years ago, President Thomas Jefferson made a deal with the French to buy out all of their ‘ownership’ in North America after Napoleon reclaimed the property just three years prior. It was quite a deal even in those days. The US bought it for around three cents per acre. This purchase wasn’t just for the rights to New Orleans (the mouth of the Mississippi River), but also…

…all or part of 15 present U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. The land purchased contained all of present-day Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska; parts of Minnesota that were west of the Mississippi River; most of North Dakota; most of South Dakota; northeastern New Mexico; northern Texas; the portions of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado east of the Continental Divide; Louisiana west of the Mississippi River, including the city of New Orleans; and small portions of land that would eventually become part of the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

This purchase doubled the land mass of the current USA and provided areas for immigration from the East to occur.

Roman Numerals

 Posted by on May 16, 2013 at 8:15 pm  learn something
May 162013

Ever get confused when looking at Roman Numerals? Here’s a refresher course…

I = 1
V = 5
X = 10
L = 50
C = 100
D = 500
M = 1000

If a lesser value concludes a greater value, add. For example, VII = 5 + 1 + 1 = 7
If a lesser value proceeds a greater value, subtract. For example, IV = 1 – 5 = 4

Therefore, MMXIII = 2013, MMXIV = 2014, and MCMXCIX = 1999.

That’s all there is to it.

Unless you’re really confused then type in the number into Google and ask it what it means in the other numeration!

Legally Blind

 Posted by on May 14, 2013 at 1:03 pm  learn something, video
May 142013


Just like there are degrees of deafness, there are degrees of blindness as well. Do you know what is considered legally blind in the US?

You’ll recognize the eye chart above, right? Notice beside the big “E” it says ’20/200′. What those numbers mean is that a person with normal vision can read that “E” from 200 feet away but if one can’t read it until only 20 feet away, then that person is deemed legally blind.

In other words, when you’re at the doc’s office or standing 20 feet away from an official eye chart and all you can read is the top line of “E”, then you’re legally blind.

If you’d like to get some great insight on the life of a blind person, you should watch the YouTube Channel by Tommy Edison. This is a blind guy that honestly answers submitted questions to him — and his sense of humor is great! Questions like: “how do blind people dream”, “how can one describe colors to blind people”, and “how do blind people use paper money”. Fascinating and entertaining stuff.

To whet your appetite, here’s Tommy sharing some of his favorite benefits of being blind.

Pretty Awesome Dude: Robert Smalls

 Posted by on May 11, 2013 at 8:23 pm  learn something
May 112013

It’s probably a safe bet that 99% of the people reading this post have no idea who Robert Smalls is.

It’s time to fix that.

Mr. Smalls was born in 1839 as an enslaved African American in Beaufort, South Carolina, who became an entrusted ship’s pilot whom freed himself, his crew and their/his families from slavery in none other than Charleston, SC.

When Mr. Smalls was 23, he took advantage of an unbelievable opportunity to freedom. The white owners and ship-mates of the Southern CSS Planter went to shore for a ‘night on the town’, Smalls and the rest of the enslaved crew commandeered the ship and sailed for the Union fleets.

Considered a traitor to the South and a hero to the North, Smalls later became an elected official as the SC House of Representatives in 1865 where he helped convince Pres. Lincoln to accept Blacks into the Union Army and them became a SC Senator in 1871.

Magenta (AKA Pink/Purple) Doesn’t Exist

 Posted by on February 20, 2013 at 11:48 am  learn something
Feb 202013


Magenta is a pinkish-purplish hue. In light, it’s created when you mix red light and blue light. In print it’s mostly maroon with a touch of cyan and yellow, no black.

But did you realize that color really doesn’t exist? Check this out…

So, yeah, pink/purple is just a figment of your imagination!

The Art of Translation

 Posted by on February 9, 2013 at 4:15 pm  learn something, video
Feb 092013

There are basically two different philosophies for translating one language into another: ‘word-for-word’ and ‘thought-for-thought’.

There really isn’t an advantage for one over the other — they are just different. ‘Word-for-word’ is more literal but can be difficult to understand (it usually doesn’t flow well). ‘Thought-for-thought’ is more of a para-phrase but can lose the nuisances that the original language communicates (flows well but possibly not as accurate).

There is also a difference between translation and interpretation. Did you know that translation is written while interpreting is spoken? Also, good interpreting follows a ‘word-for-word’ translation.

There are some great tools online that help translate another language. Currently, the most popular is Google Translate. It’s not bad, but it’s not perfect. It seems to rely more on ‘word-for-word’ translation.

In the past, people have asked me how good an Internet tool such as Google Translate is. I typically suggest to copy a familiar quote (from the US Constitution, The Bible, etc), translate it into another language, then take that translation and translate it back into English. The translation tool’s limitations will become quite obvious.

And that brings me to the following video. CDZA created a video using the lyrics to the opening of the hit 90′s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”. Hilarity happens, but you can also see how the meaning of a text gets lost in translation…

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a translator to communicate in another language. Just understand that the current tools will lose some context, but still be able to (mostly) get the message across. Try it for yourself!

And while we’re on the subject of translation, I feel that I must mention the Rosetta Stone. The Rosetta Stone is an actual rock that helped linguistics translate ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs into English. And, of course, it’s now the name of a company that focuses on learning a new language.

And the fun part? Sometimes you just have to reframe the original…

My Favorite YouTube Channels To Follow

 Posted by on February 8, 2013 at 6:02 am  learn something, off the wall, video
Feb 082013

Just thought I’d share a few YouTube channels that I think are worth following. I’m not going to comment on them – just go check them out and see what you think.


All-time Top 10′s




Getting Smarter Everyday

Household Hacker

Know Your Meme

Minute Physics


Star Talk with Neil deGrass Tyson

TED Talks

Tommy Edison



Axis Of Awesome

Brodie Smith


Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee

Dude Perfect

Froggy Fresh Rap

How It Should Have Ended


Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Lindsey Stirling

Marquese AKA Nonstop

Rhett and Link

The Fine Brothers

The Piano Guys

Vlog Brothers

Walk Off The Earth


Bjorn Storm

CODA Brothers

Dirty Signs With Kristin

Every Day ASL

Keith Wann

Sean Forbes


Amazing Facts about Language

 Posted by on January 23, 2013 at 8:43 pm  learn something
Jan 232013

Alphabet Soup
I’ve always been interested in language and it’s history. However, I’ve always hated grammar. But this past semester I took a Linguistics class and I found it fascinating! Therefore, following are links to articles all about crazy, fascinating facts about our Language…

First lets back up to when the land that we now call England (or even the UK)…

Before the 5th Century BC, the land that is currently the UK was pretty much controlled by the Romans. When the Romans withdrew, it was the Anglo-Saxons (German) that ruled the land until 1066 when William the Conqueror (French) became King. From 1066 until 1707…let’s just say it was a bit messy. It was the 1700′s when the United Kingdom became a political and influential region.

But today? Well the UK is still kinda complicated…

Even with the merging of countries into a United Kingdom, the language (thought to be Germanic but also possibly Scandinavian) currently used still needed a lot of development since it was influenced by so many sources! For example, here are 12 Letters That Didn’t Make the Alphabet.

We adopted words reluctantly. We adopted rules (such as ‘d’ in ‘doubt’ from others.

Even with the pruning, English is still difficult to learn:

But what does English sound like to others (at least Italian Adriano celentano back in the early ’70′s)?

One strategy for building a language is to borrow words from other languages. Here’s a few words not in English that probably should exist (especially ‘Zeg’!)

With all this said, there should be only one take-away — Grammar Matters!

…Not The End

PSA: Don’t Spread Your Cold/Flu

 Posted by on January 19, 2013 at 10:51 am  learn something, psa
Jan 192013

I really love the TV show “Mythbusters”. The will tackle a commonly held belief from a scientific approach. Today we’re going to look at sneezing and the spread of your cold/flu.

First off, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that this year’s Flu outbreak is now an epidemic:

The common cold and the flu are typically spread by human contact. For many years, the CDC has said that one of the best things to do in order to combat the spread of the cold and the flu is to wash your hands.

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However, sometimes a sneeze sneaks up on us…so what then?

The Mythbusters covered the best way to sneeze. (sorry for the bootleg version of the show but it’s all I could find)

So stay safe, drink plenty of water, wash up, and sneeze/cough appropriately!

Let’s Make A Deal

 Posted by on January 6, 2013 at 6:51 pm  learn something, tv
Jan 062013

Let’s Make A Deal and Monty Hall

You’ve seen the show, right? Well, maybe it’s been a while.

The Game Show ran in the 60′s and 70′s with host Monty Hall (the game show was revived with host Wayne Brady in 2009). People in the audience dressed up to get the attention of the host so they could become game contestants.

In many (most?) of the games, the contestant was presented three doors with a prize behind each. It was well known that behind one of the doors what a dud of a prize (like a live goat!). The contestant would pick one of the doors as their prize but there was a catch. The host would offer a counter-prize (such as cash) to switch their choice. Invariably, the contestant would either take the newly offered prize and/or switch their guess for the best door prize.

Well it turns out there is some solid math, probability, and psychology in this type of situation and it’s explained by AsapSCIENCE (The Monty Hall Problem – Explained):

Now you know.