Thursday, June 30, 2011

Roll Over, Beethoven

The Fourth of July is almost here. In fact, I'm hearing all sorts of illegal fireworks in my neighborhood already. Most cities have huge firework shows scheduled for the holiday...except my city due to huge austerity cuts.....but that's a different blog post.

Anyway, I am willing to bet $5 that most of the cities' fireworks will have a classical music medley accompanying the firework spectacular. And, usually that medley includes at least a snippet of Beethoven, most likely Ode to Joy. That piece, coincidentally was the first (and last) classical music piece that I learned to play on the violin...before I gave it up because I already had a weight problem, glasses, braces and acne. Add a violin to that and I was a 5th grade walking punching bag.

But, this isn't about my awkward years. This is about Beethoven! Yay!

So here's the intel on Ludwig Van Beethoven:

He was born in Bonn in 1770. His pops worked as a tenor at the court of the Elector of Cologne and also taught piano and violin on the side to pick up some extra scratch.

So, it follows that Ludwig would have been musically inclined. Ludwig's dad really wanted him to be the next Mozart: a child musical prodigy. So Dina Lohan....I mean, Ludwig's dad pushed his son into the spotlight way before he was ready.

Beethoven adjusted to his prodigy status and soon left for Vienna to pursue his musical career. But, while he was in Vienna, he received news that his mother had passed away and that his dad had lapsed into deep alcoholism. So, Ludwig had to take care of his younger siblings. Since his dad was being a complete jagoff, Ludwig obtained a court order to have half of his dad's wages sent to him in Vienna so that he could distribute the funds to his siblings. Yep, they had wage garnering back then.

Ludwig was making a name for himself and playing all over courts in Germany and Austria. He was kind of like a rock star and fell in love with almost every empress, duchess, etc. that he ran into. But, despite his talents, he was not worthy of marrying any of them. According to what I found, sometimes it came down to the fact that he was Ludwig Van Beethoven. Apparently the dutch Van is not as fancy-pants as the German Von.  Old timey people were so weird.

And, just as soon as his star was beginning to rise, good old Ludwig was going deaf. It is speculated that his deafness could have been due to any number of things; including: lead poisoning, typhus, or syphilis (it seems like every old timey artist I write about had syphilis). 

In 1811, he fell very ill. He wrote a letter to his "Immortal Beloved." This mysterious Immortal Beloved was most likely Josephine Brunsvik. A married woman. Of course.

Sidenote: watch the movie Immortal Beloved. It's good and it's got Gary Oldman in it:)

Even after his deafness and illness, Beethoven continued composing. Out of this "later" period came Symphony number  9, which included the aforementioned Ode to Joy.

Ludwig Van Beethoven died in 1827. The causes of his death are disputed, although an autopsy revealed severe liver damage. It's theorized that he died from either alcoholic cirrhosis, syphilis, or infectious hepatitis. I repeat, Rock Star.

Want an Immortal Beloved necklace? Here you go:

Use coupon code BLOG15 for 15% off:)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Good Night, Nurse!

The Fourth of July is only one week away. And guess what; according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission,  an average of around 6,000 Americans spend part of their Fabulous Fourth in the emergency room. So stay away from the illegal fireworks, kids (and drunk grown-ups). But, if you do find yourself on the business end of a "sparkler slap," chances are you will be at the mercy of a nurse-y. So, let's give props to these medical professionals who save lives day in and day out.

  • National Nurse Week kicks off on May 6th and ends on May 12, Florence Nightingale's birthday.
  • Speaking of Florence, she was actually only a nurse for 3 years.
  • An early 17th century shipwreck survivor named Juan de Mena is considered to be the first nurse in the New World.
  • There are more nurses than any other worker in the health profession.
  • In America, the ratio of registered nurses to doctors is 4:1. 
  • Mary Todd Lincoln was a volunteer nurse in Union hospitals.
  • In the U.S. and Canada, only 5.8% of nurses are men. 
  • The Red Cross was founded in 1881 by Clara Barton.
  • With no prior nursing experience, Clara Barton earned the nickname "Angel of the Battlefield." She even removed a bullet from a man's face on the battlefield. She was pretty bad ass.
  • The Red Cross is the largest volunteer organization in America.
  • 16 million blood donations are collected each year in the United State. Blood can not be manufactured; so that whole True Blood thing is BS.
  • Fact: this necklace would make a great gift for a nurse, or a great accessory to wear to a Fourth of July BBQ, or a great accessory for a nurse to wear to a July 4th BBQ. Bribe them with it ahead of time and maybe they will keep you from doing anything boneheaded with a bottle rocket.

AND- use coupon code BLOG15 for 15% off your entire purchase. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Spirited Tale

I am anti-gun. Extremely anti-gun. Don't bother arguing with me about it because my opinion won't change. Just ask my husband. He owns several guns; none of which are allowed anywhere but our cellar. And I only allow them in the house at all so I can at least have a leg up in the event of a Zombie/Robot/Tween Vampire apocalypse.

I bring this up because today's blog is about a woman who was also anti-gun...Sarah Winchester.

Yeah, that Winchester.

Born Sarah Lockwood Pardee, Sarah married William Winchester- heir to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company- in 1862. The couple had one daughter who died a few weeks after childbirth. Sarah was understandably distraught.  About 15years later, William's father, Oliver, died. THEN, less than a year later, William died. Sarah was now all alone. But, she was now held 50% ownership of the Winchester Arms Co and earned about $1000 a day (that's about $22,000 a day in today's money).

Here's the thing about Sarah- she was...."unstable" to say the least. So, she consulted a psychic and the psychic told her that she lost her daughter, father-in-law, and husband as retaliation for all the lives that were lost at the other end of a Winchester rifle. Basically, her inherited fortune caused the death of her family....according to the psychic. The psychic also advised her to move to California and build a house that will confuse the spirits of those killed by Winchester guns. If she stopped building the house, she would die. 

Hmmm. I'm not sure that this psychic was completely on the level.

But, Sarah believed it and moved to what is now San Jose, California. She started renovations on an existing house and had construction crews working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. She did wonders for the construction economy in San Jose.  

Sarah was also obsessed with the number 13. The house had 13 bathrooms; windows had 13 panes, etc. Sarah didn't quite have a rhyme or reason behind her renovations. She would add rooms wherever she wanted. Sometimes a door would open into a wall, or a staircase would be built and end at a ceiling. She believed this would confuse the spirits that were haunting her. The house was so expansive and confusing that the servants needed maps to navigate the grounds.

 After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, Sarah was trapped in a section of the house for 7 hours. She believed that this was the spirits telling her to work on the front of the house, so she left the earthquake damaged section in disrepair and focused her efforts on the front of the house. 

Oh, and she also had a houseboat. It was called Sarah's Ark because she was afraid of a flood that would wipe out humanity.

Construction on the house ended on September 5, 1922 when Sarah passed away in her sleep. The estate was left to her niece who took what she wanted and auctioned the rest off. The home went to the highest bidder who turned the house into a public attraction. 

So, if you find yourself in the area, you can take a tour of the Winchester Mystery House, as it is now called.

Use coupon code BLOG15 for 15% off your total purchase in my etsy shop.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Vroom! Vroom!

A few true facts about me: I've never broken a bone, I've never had a manicure, and up until yesterday, I had never seen a 3D movie. Yes, Pirates of the Caribbean 4 took my proverbial 3D virginity. And Johnny Depp still hasn't called! Mama warned be about movies like that.

And one more fact about me: I've never been on a motorcycle. Yep. True story. Even though my husband owns 2 motorcycles, I have not been able to muster up the courage to get on one. I want to point out that my not riding a motorcycle might have something to do with my not ever having broken a bone...I'm just sayin'.

So, maybe a motorcycle fact-finding blog will convince me to ride a motorcycle. Or maybe not.

  • The Fonz (aka Henry Winkler) couldn't actually ride a motorcycle. 
  • Evil Knievel holds the record for breaking the most number of bones and surviving. Um this is not encouraging me to get on a motorcycle.
  • The term "motorcycle" was coined by British inventor Edward Butler when he built a twin cylinder tricycle prototype in 1885.
  • But, it was German inventor Gottlieb Daimler who is credited with building the first practical motorcycle in 1885.
  • While not necessarily a motorcycle manufacturer, the word Vespa means "wasp." I think that's adorable:)
  • On average, engineers are most likely to crash a motorcycle. Lecturers are least likely to crash. So, clearly before I get on a motorcycle, I need to become a lecturer.
  • Irish saint Columbanus of Bobbio is the patron saint of motorcyclists.
  • Kawasaki also makes spaceships. That's fitting because their motorcycles are also called crotch rockets...
  • The first Harley Davidson built in 1903 used a tomato can as a carburetor. 
  • Before the First World War, Indian Motors was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. The company took a hit during the war because they sold a great number of bikes to the US government, leaving them with very few to sell to the American public.
  • According to a random Internet source, Honda is the top selling motorcycle worldwide today.
I don't know what kind of bike this is; I just know that it looks old-timey and that's why I like it. :
WAnt 15% off? Just enter BLOG15 at checkout:)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Quail! Cute! I Want One!

Recently, I have a new found fondness for birds. It might be because we have a family of birds that make its yearly nest in the eave of our back porch. I've become quite attached to our feathered squatters. My cat Maeby likes them too, although I suspect that her intentions are less than honorable.

Anyway, what could be cuter than a tiny game bird sporting a showgirl headpiece?

Here's some facts about quails. And, I will not mention Dick Cheney's quail hunting fiasco in this blog....Mainly because I believe that if you say his name 3 times in a row, he will drag you down to the underworld a'la Beetleguise.

  • California Quail enjoy community dust baths. Hippies.
  • Mountain Quail and Gambel Quail are monogamous. Aw, so sweet.
  • The "showgirl headpiece" of plumage on their heads is actual called a "top knot."
  • Quail can only fly short distances because it raises their body temperature. If their body temperature gets too high, they could perish. I use the same excuse not to take up jogging.
  • The quail is in the pheasant family. How pleasant.
  • Since quails can't fly long distances, they have a very small home range and don't migrate. Therefore, habitat destruction is leading to the extinction of many quail species.
  • Quail can start mating at about the age of 2 months. Damn; they got the show "16 And Pregnant" beat! 
  • The word "quail" is a great word to play in Words With Friends. You get that Q on a triple letter AND a triple word and you are set!
  • Fact: Quail necklaces are adorable!

AND- use coupon code BLOG15 for 15% off your entire purchase in my etsy store.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's Good to be King

I usually drink Jameson whiskey. Sometimes, when I want something sweeter, I opt for Tullamore Dew. I'm not a huge fan of Bushmills, but I've never turned down a free shot of it. And, in a pinch- I'll drink Crown Royal. In fact, Crown was what got me started on drinking whiskey. It was my gateway whiskey, if you will. So I always have a fondness in my heart for good old Crown Royal. 

Why do I bring this up? Because I had no idea how to start out this blog post....It's about crowns.

  • Crowns are the traditional head wear of monarchs and symbolize royalty.
  • A coronet is different from a crown. A coronet is what lesser monarchs wear (i.e. duke, baron, count, etc.). Usually, only the highest ranking monarch (i.e. King) wears a crown.
  • A coronet never has arches. Only crowns have arches.
  • But, here's were it gets confusing- the ceremony of placing a crown (or coronet) on the head is called a coronation.
  • Today, only the British monarchy and the Tongan monarchy retain the tradition of wearing a crown during coronation; although many monarchies still retain the crown as a national symbol.
  • A Corona Radiata, aka "radiant crown" is what the Statue of Liberty wears.
  • Queen Elizabeth II has a rubber ducky with an inflatable crown in her bath. Allegedly. According to the all-knowing Interwebs...
  • Royal Crown cola was the first soda company to use aluminum cans.
  • King George VI and his wife Elizabeth visited Canada in 1939. In honor of this event, the  Seagram company introduced Crown Royal whisky as a tribute to the royal visit. See how I brought it all back to whiskey/whisky? How's that for some blogging skills?
Not a king or queen, but want to be one? Why don't you start off with this necklace?

AND- do you want to dress like a prince, but you are on a pauper's budget? Just use coupon code BLOG15 for 15% off your entire order in my etsy store:)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

All The Livelong Day

Today, while I'm sitting at home in front of my computer in Colorado Springs, my husband in somewhere near Gering, NE building a railroad. To be honest, after nearly 7 years of marriage, I still don't really know exactly what it is that my husband does on the railroad....I just know he works on it. All the livelong day.

So, as a tip of my hat to my husband, here's a few interesting railroad and train facts:

  • The US railroads established the US standard time AND the 4 time zones.
  • The railroad is the most efficient fuel-per-mile method of moving people and cargo.
  • Tom Thumb was the name of the first steam powered locomotive in the US.
  • Due to the long distances traveled, the US and The USSR were the first countries to use overnight sleeper cars.
  • Two acts of congress in 1862 and 1864 initiated the building of the first transcontinental railroad: Union Pacific Railroad (that's the one hubby works for) which was built westward from Nebraska and the Central Pacific Railroad which was built eastward from California. The two met at Promontory Summit, UT.
  • In the 1960's concerns over air pollution, overcrowding of highways, and the inconvenience of major airport locations cause the public to push for government support of large scale railroad passenger service. After the passing of the Rail Passenger Service Act, Amtrak was born.
  • Today, the US has more than 250,000 miles of railroads. Texas has the most miles of rail in the US, with 10,804.
  • FACT: Images of trains make awesome belt buckles...
Don't forget to use coupon code BLOG15 for 15% off your entire etsy purchase in my etsy store.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The American Gentleman

Well, I thought today that I would blog about something cute. Very cute. And very popular.

The Boston Terrier.

I know three people with in a 1/4 mile radius of my house who are the adoptive parents of these adorable black and white little dogs, so I wanted to find out a little bit more about them.

Here's the deal with Boston Terriers:

  • The Boston Terrier was admitted to to the American Kennel Club in 1893. It was the first US breed to be recognized.
  • The Boston Terrier is also known as The American Gentleman (that's just adorable!), Boston Bull Terrier, and Boston Bull.
  • Famous Boston Terrier owners: Warren G. Harding, Gerald Ford, Helen Keller, Rose McGowan, Denise Richards, and Joan Rivers.
  • Became the state dog of Massachusetts in 1979.
  • They were so popular during the 1920's and 1930's, that they represented 30% of the pet dogs in the US.
  • Boston Terriers originated from two extent breeds: Old English Bulldog and English White Terrier. They were originally bred for fighting, but now all of the aggressive traits have been bred out of the dog.
  • Even though they are known as The American Gentleman, they have some rather gentlemanly qualities- such as snoring and, ahem, passing gas. Frequently.
  • Due to the size of their noggins, almost all Boston Terrier puppies are delivered via Cesarean section.
  • Wanna go to the Boston Terrier Museum? You can if you find yourself in Floydada, TX.
So, there's a few fun facts about the Boston Terrier. Want a souvenir from his blog? How about an adorable necklace?


And- if you use coupon code BLOG15, you'll get 15% off your total etsy purchase in my shop.

Friday, June 3, 2011


Well, last night I performed at a bar. I may have over imbibed just a smidge. Today, I'm feeling a little slow. So, in honor of my accomplishments from last night, let's review some slang words for "drunk."

  • Bent - I've never heard this one before; I like it.
  • Blitzed - a classic
  • Blottoed - wonderfully old-timey
  • Bombed - This one just FEELS like a headache
  • Canned - never heard this one before either
  • Cockeyed - Haha!
  • Crapulous - What? I love this one! I'm totally going to accuse people of being "crapulous"
  • Crocked - Umm, I don't know about that one
  • Dipso - this one is kind of adorable
  • 'Faced - for all the frat boys out there
  • Hooched Up - one of my favorites....If I lived in the 1920's
  • Hammered - I believe this one needs to be said with a wicked Boston accent
  • Juiced - According to rap lyrics...
  • Liquored Up -  I performed a burlesque act to a song called Liquored Up and Lacquored Down
  • Loaded - another classic
  • Looped - haven't heard this one before, but I'm feeling it
  • Obliterated - ah, yes.
  • Pie-Eyed - this one is also just adorable
  • Pissed - a British classic
  • Pickled - truly one of my faves. It's perfectly old-time AND I love pickles.
  • Plastered - This one screams "sorority girl"
  • Plowed - meh
  • Ripped - meh again
  • Sauced - this one is SO Rat Pack!
  • Sh*tfaced - Frat boy part duex
  • Sloshed - messy
  • Smashed - also headache-y
  • Snockered - this one just SOUNDS drunk
  • Soused - yep
  • Tanked - I heard this one so much in college, that I kind of hate it.
  • Three Sheets to the Wind - classic!
  • Tipsy - er'ry body in this club getting.... 
  • Trashed - I use this one quite a bit
  • Twisted - not quite familiar with this one
  • Wasted - ah yes, so wonderfully 1980's
  • Wrecked - yep
  • Zombied - hell yes! This one will work it's way into my lexicon
  • Zonked - I've never heard this one either, but I like how it sounds:)
So, can you relate to any of the above terms? And are you proud of it? Well, have I got a necklace for you! Nothing like wearing your debilitating social problems on your chest, right?
Oh, and use coupon code BLOG15 for 15% off your entire order. You'll save enough money to buy yourself a cocktail:)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Happy Birthday, Marilyn Monroe!

Today is Marilyn Monroe's birthday. Today's blog post has nothing to do with Ms. Monroe, but I thought it would be complete heresy if i didn't give a shout out to one of my favorite bombshells on my blog.

Today's blog post is about boxing....which I guess can somehow be relevant to Marilyn as I'm sure she has brought several men to fisticuffs over her attention. Yeah, let's go with that.

So here's some boxing facts:

  • Boxing is also called prizefighting or pugilism. "Pugilism" is one of those words I've seen many times before in my life and had no idea what it meant. I now know.

  • Boxing is one of the oldest forms of competition, dating from about 2000-1500 BCE.

  • Under Roman rule, boxers were required to wear leather strips that were laced with metal on their hands and wrists to ensure extra bloody results for crowd satisfaction. Roman boxers were the original Jackass stars...

  • In America, New York was the first state to legalize boxing.

  • Boxing was included in the Olympic games in 1904, which further legitimized the sport.

  • Jack Johnson (not the hipster singer) was the first African American heavyweight champion.

  • Here's something I was surprised to learn: According to a National Safety Council report, boxing ranked 23rd on its list of injury report. Boxing had fewer injuries than football, soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, and basketball.

  • Longest title reign? Joe Louis with 11 years, 7 months

  • FACT: Old-timey boxers are always hilarious and to see an old-timey boxing bar fight would be quite amusing...
Want your own old-timey boxer earrings? You can pretend they are fighting over you:)
AND- remember to use the coupon code BLOG15 for 15% off your total purchase!