Remember Jefferson.

It’s National Thomas Jefferson day!  According to National Day Calendar dot com today we celebrate and remember Thomas Jefferson on his birthday.  Born on April 13, 1743, Jefferson was curious and an avid reader, having more than six thousand books in his personal library.  Although not much of a public speaker, he was a prolific writer in the form of correspondence, documents, journals and manuscripts.  Known as the primary author of the Declaration of Independence.  He served as Secretary of State under Washington, Vice President to John Adams and the third President of the United States.   Jefferson was not only a lawyer, but he was also a scientist of agriculture, paleontology, and astronomy. He kept detailed records of the weather and eventually established weather observers across his home state of Virginia.   Listen to the podcast here;

Why are they there?

Tool time Tuesday and today it’s more of a device than a tool, although a lot of tools have these.  Did you ever notice the holes on the flat prongs of an electrical plug?  Why are they there?  According to How Stuff Works dot com they sever a couple functions.  First, inside the outlet there are bumps on the contact sliders that slip into those holes to help hold the plug in the outlet.  Second, the plug can be “factory sealed” by using those holes to attach a warning label or instructions that must be removed before the device can be plugged in.  Third, and less important, is the slight savings on raw material to make the plug.  Those holes are tiny, but every little bit adds up when you’re making billions of plugs every year.  One other plug fact.  The wider blade of the plug connects to the neutral side of the outlet while the thinner blade slides into the hot side.  The big round pin on the plug is the ground which protects the device in the event of a short circuit. Listen to the podcast here;

A bit of radio history!

It happened on the radio, on this date in 1921.  According to History dot com radio station KDKA in Pittsburg PA broadcast the very first sporting event over the radio airwaves.  It was a lightweight boxing match between Johnny Ray and Johnny Dundee.  The station aired a second live sporting event three months later when they covered a heavyweight fight between Jack Dempsey and George Carpentier.  In August, 1921, Harold Arlin voiced the very first Major League baseball game on KDKA.  He sat in a box seat behind home plate with a makeshift microphone that looked like a tomato can.  The game was between the Pirates and the Phillies.  The fans sitting around Arlin were mystified by his call of the game.  Can you imagine sitting behind a guy watching and listening to him talk to himself about a baseball game you were watching in person?  KDKA had distributed radios to employees to ensure at least a small audience, but there were no radios in the stands that day.  We’ll never know what those first broadcasts of sporting event sounded like because there were no recordings made.  Today there are thousands of radio stations that carry all sorts of sporting events, just like our very own WFTR, Sports radio 1450, where the home team plays.  Listen to the podcast here;

Why is April called that?

The fourth month, but it wasn’t always.  It used to be the second month, that is before the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar.  How did April get it’s name?  According to Dictionary dot com, one explanation is that the name is rooted in the Latin Aprilis, which is derived from the Latin aperire meaning “to open,” which could be a reference to the opening or blossoming of flowers and trees, a common occurrence throughout the month.  Another theory holds that since months are often named for gods and goddesses, and since Aphrilis is derived from the Greek Aphrodite, it is possible the month was named for the Greek goddess of love. Yet another origination story; around the fifth century, the Anglo-Saxons referred to April as Eostre-monath, a reference to the goddess Eostre, whose feast was celebrated during the month.  However it got it’s name, we love April and it’s showers.  Because April showers bring May Flowers.  And everyone knows what Mayflowers bring; Pilgrims. Listen to the podcast here;

With bells on?

I’ll be there with bells on!  You’ve heard this phrase, and maybe have even used it.  It means you’re excited to be invited, say to a party, and you’ll be very pleased to attend.  The origin can’t be nailed down conclusively, however, one possible explanation comes from the westward expansion in the United states. According to Plan Sponsor dot com, settlers crossed the country in wagons being pulled by horses, mules or, in some cases, oxen. The collars were often fitted with headdresses of bells. George Stumway, in his book “Conestoga Wagon 1750-1850,” says that the wagon-drivers personalized the bells to tunings of their liking and took great pride in them. If a wagon became stuck, a wagon-driver who came to the rescue often asked for a set of bells as reward.  Arriving at a destination without the bells hurt a driver’s professional pride, whereas getting there “with bells on” was a source of satisfaction.  Listen to the podcast here;

That block of wood was fast!

A block of wood, a set of axels, four wheels, some paint and a little imagination.  If you know or were a Boy Scout you probably know what I’m talking about, the Pinewood Derby.  This past weekend my church, New Hope Bible, held their version known as the AWANA Derby.  About 30 cars participated, including an entry by my youngest, Levi.  It was actually designed by his older brother, Evan, but didn’t get to run due to Covid.  It got it’s chance this year and did fairly well, making it to the fifth round in a double elimination tournament.  There were cars of all shapes and designs.  In addition to winning on the track there was also awards for design.  One car had flashing lights, another was shaped like a horse and the design winner was a fuzzy slipper car.  All of them very creatively designed and decorated.  Levi’s was the only one that had fenders, all the rest sported open wheel designs, like formula one racers.  A good time was had by all.  We’re already talking about the design for next year.  Listen to the podcast here;

The start of an empire!

I’m using one of their magic boxes to type this fun fact.  According to History dot com, it was on April 4 in 1975 that childhood friends Paul Alan and Bill Gates formed Microsoft.   Originally based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Microsoft relocated to Washington State in 1979. The company licensed it’s MS-DOS operating system to IBM for use in it’s personal computer that debuted in 1981.  In 1985 Windows was introduced to the world, in 1986 Microsoft went public at $21 a share raising 61 million dollars.  The following year, 1987, 31-year-old Gates became the world’s youngest billionaire.  If you had purchased on thousand shares of Microsoft in 1986, an investment of $21,000, it would be worth about 1.7 million dollars today.  Listen to the podcast here;

A cool tool!

Tool time Tuesday and today we’re wrenching some stuff.  Over the weekend I helped my father in-law Larry work on his log splitter.  It was being a bit finicky the last time we used it.  Actually, it stopped working completely.  A bit of trouble shooting and we went about checking and cleaning a couple of filters.  One of those filters, the inlet filter to be exact, is threaded into the hydraulic fluid reservoir.  We used a pipe wrench to remove that filter.  When I say pipe wrench, most of you probably have a picture in your mind of what it looks like.  That design is actually called a Stillson-Pattern wrench, so named for the patent holder, Daniel C. Stillson.  Stillson received his patent in October of 1869.    In August of 1888, the Swedish inventor Johan Johansson improved on the design and receive a Swedish patent.  The pipe wrench is designed to loosen or tighten threaded pipe but is also handy with removing a hex nut that is rounded off.  The serrated teeth in the adjustable jaws dig into whatever your working with, giving you the grip you need to get the job done.  We got the job done using a ten inch pipe wrench.  Listen to the podcast here;

Try not to be one!

The Who sang “I Won’t Get Fooled Again” but today, all bets are off.  Today is April first, April Fools Day.  According to History dot com the origins of the day are somewhat mysterious, but some historians suggest that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, moving the start of the new year to January first.  Some people didn’t get the memo or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1, thus becoming the butt of jokes and hoaxes and were called “April fools.”   Historians also link April Fools to the ancient Roman festival of Hilaria, Latin for “joyful.”  There’s also speculation that April Fools’ Day was tied to the vernal equinox, or first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, when Mother Nature fooled people with changing, unpredictable weather.  That last one makes the most sense to me.  You can almost hear Mother Nature laughing and saying “hold my beer” as we puny humans put our winter coats away and start planting gardens and flowers at the first hint of warmer weather.  Listen to the podcast here;

Crayon Day!

According to National Day Calendar dot com today is National Crayon Day!  Wax and chalk-based crayons have been used by artists around the world for centuries. Edwin Binney created the brightly colored crayons we are familiar with today.  He was part owner of Binney & Smith, a company that produced products such as paint, pigments, and slate pencils for schools.  In 1903, Binney & Smith created the Crayola Division and produced colored wax crayons for children for the first time. Then in 1904, they presented their An-Du-Septic chalk at the Colombian Exposition in St. Louis winning a gold medal. The chalk was designed to be dustless at many teachers’ requests and was an immediate hit.  According to Caryola dot com, the Crayola Compaly produces nearly 3 billion crayons each year, an average of twelve million daily. That’s enough to circle the globe 6 times! In addition to making crayons, Crayola makes 600 million Crayola Colored Pencils, 465 million markers, 110 million sticks of chalk, 9 million Silly Putty eggs, and 1.5 million jars of paint.  Today, in celebration of National Crayon Day, open up a box of Crayons and create a unique work of art.  Just remember to stay in the lines.   Listen to the podcast here;