Thursday, December 25, 2008

The state of Connecticut hates bowling

Well, ninepin bowling. In 1841, the state of Connecticut banned the owning of ninepin bowling lanes due to the sport's connection with gambling. In order for the clever gamblers to get around this ban, they added a pin to the game, creating the tenpin game we play today (oh, so clever).

The game stuck and is now a national pastime. According to the Brunswick website, over 600,000 kids celebrate their birthday at a bowling alley each year (technically, the correct term is "bowling center" because of advancements in the design and features of bowling alleys--oops, centers).

I myself visited a bowling center (yes center, because trapper keeper like decor makes it a center versus an alley) on a well-known birthday (hint, today). I beat my opponent 2 out of 2 with a high score of 106, very nice (haha, sorry Simon)!

Check out that form!

For more information on the history of bowling, visit the International Bowling Museum.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

A happy and a healthy to you and yours!

- Encyclopedia Branigan

Jews eat Chinese food (on Christmas) to keep "kosher"

One of the main reasons that Jews eat Chinese food on Christmas Eve (and Christmas Day. For me it's Christmas Eve because I'm a mutt, and celebrate Christmas Day with my dad's side) is because it's usually the only thing open (and it's quite delicious. I've gone to fishy feasts on Christmas Eve, and while the food was lovely, I would take Buddha's Delight over Scungilli sala any day, I don't eat legs).

Jews and and Chinese are the largest non-Christian immigrant groups the in US, thus leaving Chinese restaurants open when most others are not, and giving Jews a place to eat on Christmas.

There is another reason why Jews have a love affair with Chinese food, which dates back to the early 1900's when there were a large number of Jews and Chinese migrating into New York City. Jewish immigrants felt safe eating in Chinese restaurants where meat and dairy are rarely mixed.

Most Chinese restaurants were not kosher and often used non-kosher ingredients like piggy and fish in shells (bleh), but the Jewish immigrants were willing to turn a blind eye because they were chopped up in tiny pieces and stir fried. According to David Siegel, if they couldn't tell what it was, it was ok to eat.

So this Christmas, give thanks for Chinese restaurants, Ralpie does. After all, what would "A Christmas Story" be without a little bit of MSG?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Smart people pet proof the holidays

Every year emergency animal hospitals are packed with pets suffering from holiday related injuries. Here are a few holiday hazards to avoid to insure you and your pet a smooth season (don't end up like me, flying to the emergency animal hospital because the dog has a taste for shiny glass balls).

No ham for you dog...

  • Watch out for holiday foods. Many of our favorite holiday meals are filled with fats, and can lead to pancreatitis and other side effects that you will not want to clean up.
  • Pets love eating plants, but Christmas flora can be deadly for pets. Make sure to keep mistletoe, holly berries and poinsettias far away from your furry friend's reach.
  • Oh Christmas tree! Oh Christmas tree, your ornaments look so...yummy! The bright colors and flashing lights of your tree look just like something your pets a promoted to play with -- their toys! Make sure to buy pet-safe plastic ornaments, not glass ones which can cause the pet to internally bleed if ingested (they will look just as pretty without the trip to the doggy ER). Also, be sure to tether your tree to the wall. Christmas trees can easily be tipped over, possibly causing damage to you, your pet and your pad.
  • You may wait to unwrap your presents until its time to open, but your pet wont, especially if the shiny pretty package is filled with tasty treats like chocolates. Don't let your perfect wrapping job be ruined by a prowling pooch -- keep your gifts out of their paws.

If you have a holiday related pet emergency, be sure to visit your nearest animal hospital ASAP. While a late night visit might be costly (I know what I am asking Santa for this year; pet insurance), it could save your best friend's life.

Your pooch probably isn't a fan of holiday dog clothes either.

For more information, visit the ASPCA.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tattoos, getting underneath the skin for 5,200 years

The first known tattoo was found on an iceman discovered on the Italian-Austrian border, according to an article in Smithsonian Magazine. The tattoo consisted of small dots located on points of stress on the body, leading scientists to believe the tattoos were for therapeutic purposes.

Ancient Egyptian women also rocked ink. There is a picture of some Peruvian mummy ink if you follow the link above. I would post it, but it really grosses me out. The mummy hand, not the tattoo.

However, there are many people living today with a tattoo they aren't proud of. Approximately 20% of people agree with Jimmy Buffet when he described a tattoo as a "permanent reminder of a temporary feeling." There are entire books devoted to stupid tattoos.

That will look awesome when you're 70

I'm not knocking tattoos (I have one, just one, never another. I don't regret it, I'm just not a fan of pain or losing bets), I'm just saying if you plan on getting one done, make sure it's something you really want because it could last a lot longer than you anticipate, 5,200 years longer.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The first Rockefeller Center tree was only 20' tall

The first Rockefeller Center tree was only 20' tall and was erected by construction workers. It was decorated with strings of paper, cranberries and tin cans.

Seventy six years later, this years tree stands 72' tall and weighs nearly eight tons. The ginormous Norway spruce was decorated with five miles of energy-efficient LED lights and was topped with a 750-pound star made of 25,000 Swarovski crystals (I'd say yes to anyone who gave me one of those. Who needs a diamond when you've got 750 lbs of crystal that glows?).

I recently visited the tree after attending the New York Palace Hotel's Christmas tree lighting (So beautiful!!!). My picture doesn't do the tree justice (it was raining and gross), so I recommend taking a trip in and seeing it for yourself. The tree isn't the only entertainment in the center. We had a great time seeing the angels, watching the ice skaters and the Saks Fifth Avenue Snowflake light show and meeting up with characters like Santa, Big Bird and the boys in blue...

...who informed me that people take just as many pictures of them as they do of the tree. Rockefeller Center is a tourist hot spot during the holiday season, and under the influence of the hundreds of people around me snapping their disposable cameras I was compelled to take a few shots. I am from Jersey...

For more information on the tree, visit TheTreeNYC.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Yawns are more contagious for primates who care

YAWWWNNN. All vertebrates yawn, but primates are the only ones who catch them. Back, back in the day, primates may have used yawning for social bonding, according to researchers. Now a days, a yawn is interpreted as a sign of boredom, or a good night out.

These same researches showed that people who are more empathic are more likely to be contagious to yawns.

I must be very emphatic, because I can't....YAAAWWWNNNN...stop yawning.

Yawning can also be used as a tool to see if anyone is watching you. The theory is that anyone who watches you yawn will not be able to resist yawning themselves (sorry creepers, you're caught.)

So, how many of you yawned while reading this??? Please, comment below.

Thanks to John "Snake Child" for making me YAWN all day.