Monday, October 28, 2013

Do You Have Your Turnip Carved Yet?

Did you know this about Halloween?
  • It's thought that the Irish were the ones to start the traditions we maintain today: Hallowmas was November 1, and All Hallow's Eve (shortened to 'Hallow Evening, or Halloween') was the night before, also called "Samhain." Someone with a fear of Halloween has 'Samhainophobia.'
  • Jack O'Lantern, as Irish legend has it, was a man named Jack who was so stingy that when he died, he couldn't go to heaven, so he was doomed to wander around with a lantern trying to steer people to the right path.
  • People originally carved turnips on Halloween.
  • Owls were once thought of as witches.
  • Orange indicates strength, Black indicates death-thus the idea of strength defeating death.
  • People thought on Halloween, spirits roamed the streets looking for victims. Thus, people began dressing up in disguises to fool the spirits.
  • It's thought that Halloween started about 4,000 years B.C. That's a lot of candy!
  • Americans are far more 'into' Halloween than other countries.

Are you looking for something to do for Halloween this year?
Let's start with the events in Anoka, The Halloween Capitol of the World: You can still do a walking tour through this week. Find details at:

And to search for Haunted Houses you can visit:

What about 'real' hauntings?
Here's a video of various haunted spots in Minnesota/with narration to read:

Check out these videos...they're creepy-good:

30 ghosts caught on tape (it's a long video but there are some creepy things here):

What about a lawn-mowing woman in a cemetery? 
OK, it might be fake....but still clever.....

Happy Halloween!!

Monday, October 14, 2013


Since money is on our minds most of the time, let's consider....

In these countries, a U.S. dollar is worth:

Canada                                       97c
England                                   $1.61   (an English pound)
Countries that use the Euro     $1.36  is the value of one Euro
Chinese                                      l.16  (the Chinese Yuan)
Australia                                      .95  (Australian dollar)
Japan                                       97.05  (Japanese Yen)
Mexico                                    13.11  (Mexican Peso)
Brazil                                         2.20  (Brazilian Real)
India                                          84.4 Rupees equal $1

Canadian money
Chinese Yuan

Mexican Pesos
Brazilian Real

America, it would appear, has not yet discovered color ink.

This is who is pictured on various paper U.S. money:
      $1.00            Washington
        2.00            Jefferson
        5.00            Lincoln
       10.00           Hamilton *
       20.00           Jackson
       50.00           Grant
     100.00           Franklin  *
     500.00           McKinley
   1,000.00          Cleveland--this bill is no longer available
   5,000.00          Madison
 10,000.00          Chase  *
100,000.00         Wilson

There is no million-dollar bill.
*These people were not presidents.

Learn more about the U.S. mint at:

In Kenya, $1 American will buy you 8 cups of milk.
In Bangladesh, it will buy 1/3 of a sari (woman's garment)
South Korea         1/2 hour of computer use
England                1/2 a loaf of bread
Vienna                  one small roll
Denmark               a stamp for a postcard
Seoul, Korea         one subway ticket plus a mask for the smog

Cost of college in England, for a resident of England: About $11,600.00.
Cost of college in Canada, for a Canadian: $9,000.00
Cost of college in Australia, for an Australian: between $10,000 and $20,000 a year.
People from other countries who wish to attend college abroad will usually pay considerably more.
                                            Kings College, Cambridge, England

                                                     Australian National University

Using U.S. dollars:
In Brazil, a Honda Civic will set you back about $40,000. In Sweden, a VW Golf will cost you about $33,000 and gas runs about $9.00 a gallon, hence the number of people who do not have their own cars, and the excellent public transportation system that most people use. And they use bicycles to get where they need to go as well.

Back to the $1 discussion:
  • Steve Jobs, the creator of Microsoft, used to take a salary of $1 a year.
  • If you put $1 extra on your mortgage, it will reduce your payments by .000000000001 years.
  • $1 will buy you a quart of gas if it currently costs $4.00 a gallon
  • There are some states with houses for sale asking $1 as the lowest bid.
  • Paper money is not paper, it's made of linen and cotton
  • Most dollar bills-more than 90% of them- are contaminated with traces of cocaine
  •  $2 bill is not worth more than $2, they are not rare enough
  • A bank will replace a torn or mutilated bill as long as you have more than half of it
  • Many of the symbolic pictures on a paper bill involve the number 13:  13 stars, 13 berries, 13 stripes...indicating the original 13 colonies
  • Did you know England has something like our Dollar Stores? Locals call it (what a surprise!!) the Pound Store:

For more trivia about our money, check out:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

TRIO SSS Student of the Month: September 2013-Dennis Gilbert

Dennis is student of the month for September because of his dedication to school and his participation in Trio Student Support Services. 

This fall 2013, Dennis started back into school after years of being in the working world.  It is rare to award such a new student, the Trio SSS Student of the Month award, but in this case, it was appropriate. 

Dennis started off his college career by connecting with every resource on campus he could and continues to use those resources to keep his success going strong.  He is the type of student and person that wants to learn and grow while he is in school and get the most out of his education. Dennis is going to college to pursue a career in teaching. 

Congratulations, Dennis ,on being student of the month!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Columbus vs the United States of Henry

We 'celebrate' Columbus day on October 11 this year, a day supposed to honor the man who 'discovered America.' 


Consider more sensible days to be celebrated this month:

 Oct   1   World Vegetarian Day
          3   Techies Day
          5    Do Something Nice Day
          9    Moldy Cheese Day

        12    Moment of Frustration Day
        13   Skeptics Day
        21   Count Your Buttons Day
        24   Bologna Day
        27   Tell a Story Day
        31    Increase Your Psychic Powers Day
                                               Wait, what?

Because, really, we're not so sure that Columbus is someone to celebrate.

First, if we want to be completely accurate, it is believed that Native Americans were in the Americas about 14,000 years before Columbus was even born. It appears that Polynesian people traveled to South America before the Vikings arrived in what is now North America.

Second, if we're only discussing who traveled to  this side of the Atlantic first, we know that the Vikings, led by Leif Ericsson, probably established a town in the country of Newfoundland (appropriately named) in about the year 992, which was 500 years before Columbus arrived in the Bahamas. There are those who think explorers from Ireland may have crossed the Atlantic many years before 1492 as well.

Columbus wanted to try to navigate a better route to Asia. He first approached Portugal for funding, but Portugal rejected the idea. He then asked Italy, first in Genoa and later in Venice, and Italy also turned him down. Finally, he asked Spain, who also said no at first; they were at war and couldn't be distracted, but once the war was over, they began talks with Columbus again and eventually said they would fund his trip.

Columbus' date of birth was 10-31-1451. On his first trip, he arrived on 12-24-1492. We're not sure how the date of  'Columbus Day' was decided upon.

His ships were called the Pinta, which was a sailor's term for, shall we say, a disreputable woman; the Santa Clara, which was nicknamed the "Nina," and the La Gallega, nicknamed "Santa Maria." Columbus was on board the largest ship, Santa Maria. They set sail in August of 1492.

                     Leaving by rowboat to the big ship en route to Asia...or so he thought..

Third, when Columbus arrived in what is now called The Bahamas, he remarked on meeting native people there who were exceedingly friendly. He had allowed a younger sailor to take the helm, and the young one crashed the ship into a coral reef. These friendly natives came out to the wreck and helped get Columbus, his men, and their supplies to the island safely. At any rate, this reference clearly shows that there were people living there all along--he 'discovered' this area only according to him.

He called the native people "Indians" because he thought he had landed in India. Keep in mind that while he and many others were aware the world was round, a number of scientists at the time still thought it was flat.

He claimed the land he had found for Spain. We imagine the natives living there did not comprehend that claim (someone can come into your home and claim it as yours?). Columbus was so impressed with the kindness of the native people he figured they would make good slaves. He forced them to work for him, and if they fought it, he would see they were brutally tortured and killed. Within 2 years of his arrival, half of these indigenous people were eliminated. Within 50 years, all of them were gone.

Columbus traveled to the area several times. On his first trip, he explored what is now the Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. Every time, he thought he was in Asia when he arrived.

             He never set foot in what is now known as the United States of America.

Side Note: America is named for Amerigo Vespucci, who was a navigator and who did, indeed, land in the United States. Amerigo's first name was placed on a map of the newly discovered area by a mapmaker.  It was suggested the entire land mass of South, Central, and North America be given the name. It was felt appropriate because Vespucci realized it was actually not Asia or India; he referred to it as "the New World." There is also some thought that it was given the name 'America' because when 'Amerigo' was translated to the Latin 'America', it would be another continent that started and ended with an "A" like Asia, Africa, and Australia. 

The name Amerigo is thought to be a form of "Enrico," or "Henry."  Better 'America' than the United States of Henry. Just our opinion.

Columbus returned to the same area in 1493. Still assuming he was going to Asia, that time he brought 17 ships and 1500 men with him. The third time he ventured to the area he explored Venezuela. The last time he traveled to the area was in 1502, and by that time, the native people, or what was left of them, were so angry they would not give him and his men the food they needed to survive. He returned home and died in 1506 at the age of 55.

Most of Columbus' income came from slave trading (buying and selling the native people, then doing the same with Africans when he needed more). Columbus himself kept extensive diaries that told of his exploits.

Columbus and his crews brought these things to the western hemisphere:
Sugar Cane

As well as
Whooping Cough

Thanks, Chris.

                    ...and we totally believe you. Bahamas is not the same as Virginia Beach.

To learn more about Christopher Columbus, check out:

I'm getting ready for National Count Your Buttons Day. How about you?