Saturday, November 26, 2016
I forgot to write my blog for today. Well, not exactly. Obviously I wrote one because here it is. The problem is that I didn't write it ahead of time as I usually do. I try to get my blog posted by noon (or shortly after) each Saturday. Right now it's Saturday at 11:15AM Central time and I'm just starting to write without having anything firmly in my mind beyond a general concept.
How did this happen? That's a good question. And the answer is—Long Holiday Weekend. Instead of having extra time available due to a holiday, I have confusion due to the fact that today is the third Sunday this week and there's still one more Sunday to go before things return to normal (or as normal as things get for a writer).
Last Wednesday seemed like Saturday because it was preparation for the next day's Thanksgiving holiday—out-of-town relatives visiting, grocery shopping the day before Thanksgiving (talk about a major mistake I always swear will never happen again!), preparing my assigned dish to take to my brother's house for the large gathering and feast. Which, of course, made the next day seem like Sunday even though it was only Thursday. Then yesterday, the day after Thanksgiving and in reality only Friday, naturally seemed like Sunday. And since today isn't Monday, it must be Sunday…again. Are you noticing a pattern here? :)
And there's still tomorrow, the fourth Sunday this week—the real Sunday—before things finally return to normal on Monday.
If you are the one who had all the friends and family to your house for Thanksgiving turkey with all the traditional trimmings, you've probably been eating leftovers for two days and by now you don't want to see another turkey sandwich for a while.
Saturday, November 19, 2016
We all know that the bald eagle is America's National Symbol…a proud and majestic bird. And turkey is what we serve every year at Thanksgiving dinner…a tasty bird made all the more appetizing when accompanied by dressing, cranberries, mashed potatoes and gravy.
But did you know that if Benjamin Franklin had gotten his way, the turkey would have been our national symbol?
In 1776, right after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress appointed a special committee to select a design for an official national seal. This committee consisted of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. They each had their own ideas, none of which included the bald eagle. They finally came to agreement on a drawing of a woman holding a shield to represent the states. However, the design did nothing to inspire the members of Congress.
So Congress consulted a Philadelphia artist named William Barton who created a new design that included a golden eagle. At the time we were still at war with England and the fierce looking bird was deemed an appropriate symbol…with one small change. The golden eagle also flew over Europe so the federal lawmakers declared that the bird in the seal had to be an American bald eagle.
On June 20, 1782, they approved the design that we recognize today.
From the start, the eagle had been a controversial choice. Benjamin Franklin was quite vocal in his objection to the selection of the eagle. He considered it a bird of "bad moral character." A year after the Treaty of Paris officially ended the war with Great Britain, Franklin argued that the turkey would have been a more appropriate symbol. "A much more respected bird and a true native of America."
Unfortunately for Franklin, Congress was not convinced and the bald eagle remained our national symbol.
Whereas both the bald eagle and the turkey are native to America, we can't lay exclusive claim to either species since both traditionally ranged in Canada and Mexico as well as the U.S.
Saturday, November 5, 2016
There are almost 200 countries in the world. Even if you are a knowledgeable global citizen, I'll bet there are some items on this list that will be new to you. There are two countries that made it on the list twice (does not include honorable mentions, which are not listed here)—Canada for #6 and #19, and Russia at #3 and #17.
My disclaimer—this list was sent to me in an email and is a couple of years old. I have not personally checked out these facts or updated the list.
25) Covers The Most Time Zones:
This honor goes to France, covering 12 time zones (when you include all their overseas territories). The United States is next with 11 time zones, then Russia with 9 time zones.
24) Most Likely To Disappear Beneath The Waves:
With global warming and rising sea levels, the residents of the Maldives will be the first to suffer this fate. Their nation is the lowest on earth with an average altitude of only 1.8 meters (approx. 5.85 feet) above sea level.
23) Most Overweight Population:
More than 95% of the population of the small island nation of Nauru is overweight. This is primarily attributed to the importation of western fast food.
22) Roads Made Of Coral:
Guam doesn't have any natural sand, therefore, the island nation makes its asphalt using a mix of ground up coral and oil rather than importing sand.
21) 350 Sheep For Every Person:
The Falkland Islands' population is about 3000 people and half a million sheep. Needless to say, the major export is wool.
20) Oldest Sovereign State:
Depending on your definition of sovereign state (first acquisition of sovereignty) then Egypt is the winner based on the formation of the first dynasty in 3100 BC.
19) Most Lakes In The World:
Canada can claim this honor with over 3 million lakes (9% of the country) being fresh water and over 60% of all the lakes in the world within its borders.
18) Least Likely Place To Meet Your Neighbor:
With a population of only 4 people per square mile, Mongolia is the least populated country on Earth. The Mong Kok district of Hong Kong has the highest population density in the world with 340,000 people per square mile.
17) Largest Number Of Military Tanks:
Russia has the most tanks of any army in the world (21,000). However, most of these are outdated. The United States has an inventory of 16,000 tanks but they are much more advanced.
16) The Land With No Rivers:
You would think that a country as big as Saudi Arabia would have some sort of flowing water. Well, you'd be wrong. Most of their fresh water comes from desalinization plants or underground reservoirs.
15) Youngest Population:
This is calculated by determining the portion of the population that is younger than 15 years old. The current holder of this distinction is Niger with 49% of its population meeting this criteria.
14) Most Diverse Country:
Culturally, economically, climatically, racially, linguistically, ethnically, and religiously…the winner seems to be India.
13) Fastest Disappearing:
With a decrease in population of .8% annually, between now and the year 2050 the Ukraine is expected to lose approximately 30% of its population.
12) Most Of Its Citizens Live Abroad:
Rough economic times combined with an increased birth rate resulted in large numbers of people leaving Malta so that now there are more Maltese living abroad than within the country.
11) Smaller Than Central Park In New York City:
Although Vatican City is smaller in land size (.17 square mile) than Monaco (.8 square mile), it doesn't have any permanent residents which makes Monaco the smallest permanently inhabited nation in the world.
10) Almost Entirely Covered In Jungle:
Suriname has 91% of its land covered in jungle. Half a million residents live primarily along the coast near the capital with only 5% of the population living inland.
9) Almost Entirely Treeless:
On the opposite end of the scale from Suriname is Haiti. The country has been so badly deforested that you can actually see where the border is between Haiti and the Dominican Republic in a satellite image.
8) Largest Country With No Farms:
There are a number of small nations in the world that have no hint of an agriculture based economy (such as Vatican City), Singapore is the largest of these urban city-states.
7) Most Languages Spoken:
English is its official language, but only 1-2% of the population of Papua New Guinea actually speak it. It's the most linguistically diverse country in the world with over 820 languages (12% of the world's total) spoken there.
6) Most Educated People:
Canada easily has the most educated population in the world with 50% of its people having been educated at the post secondary level. Israel is next with 45% followed by Japan at 44%.
5) The "Country Desert":
99% of Libya is covered in desert and is one of the most arid places in the world. Some regions of the country can go decades without a single drop of rain.
4) Least Peaceful Nation:
Although for the last 3 years Iraq has been ranked as the least peaceful country, the Global Peace Index has declared that in this year Somalia moved up to the top spot. [as I said, I have not checked or updated, but it seems to me that Afghanistan should be up there toward the top]
3) Produces Most Of The World's Oxygen:
Approximately 25% of the world's forests are in Siberia spanning an area larger than the continental United States which makes Russia the largest converter of carbon dioxide into breathable air.
2) Largest Opium Producer:
Afghanistan produces a whopping 95% of the world's opium. Not even years of occupation by American forces has been able to slow down this industry.
1) Most People Behind Bars:
This dubious honor belongs to the United States. We have 2.2 million people behind bars. We have 5% of the world's population but 25% of the world's incarcerated population. [Do we literally have more than our share of criminals or are we more efficient at capturing and prosecuting them?]