Friday, February 10, 2017

Darwin: Folk Hero


Darwin Folk Hero - February

Folk heroes and folk heroines are men and women who have pushed against limits to overcome fears and doubts. Here is an example of one man who did not fit the mold his society had created for him. He struck out on his own and followed his own beliefs and thoughts. His journey lit the way for our understanding of evolution.

This Naturalist and Geologist Charles Robert Darwin was born on February 12, 1809, in the tiny merchant town of Shrewsbury, England.  His early interests in nature took him away from the medical education that had been planned for him. He chose instead to spend his time investigating marine invertebrates.

By 1831, upon his graduation from Christ's College, his mentor John Stevens Henslow recommended him for a naturalist’s position aboard the HMS Beagle. Over the course of the five-year sea voyage, he collected a variety of natural specimens, including birds, plants and fossils.

During the travels, he noticed similarities among species all over the globe. He also made note of the variations of each and where they were found. Over time, his observations led him to the theory that they had gradually evolved from common ancestors. He came to believe that species survived through a process called "natural selection." In short, species that successfully adapted to meet the changing requirements of their natural habitat thrived, while those that failed to evolve and reproduce died off.

In 1858, after years of further scientific investigation, Darwin publicly introduced his revolutionary theory of evolution in a letter read at a meeting of the Linnean Society. On November 24, 1859, he published a detailed explanation of his theory in his best-known work, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. Although it was not widely acclaimed when written and received mixed reviews from the Church of England, the book went on to become quite popular.

He went on to write other books and to further expand upon the ideas he first discovered as a young man.


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Monday, January 23, 2017

5 February Festivals

 Celebrate the Coming of Spring!

February with its promise of coming spring is a very popular month for festivals. Maybe its because these events give people a chance to gather together again after the cold, wet of winter.

If you are looking for a festival to enjoy, here's a list of five we thought were pretty fascinating:

Wanderlust: Wanderlust was created to combine yoga with live music, farm-to-table food, outdoor adventure, inspirational speakers, and a healing vibe. This festival aims to meet virtually each person’s music taste while being around like-minded folks. Plus, it’s a change to enjoy a change of scenery. Location: Taupo, New Zealand. 
Dates: February 2-5.

Extreme Beer Fest: The Extreme Beer Fest celebrates some of the most progressive and popular craft beer brewers today. Two full days of beer tastings feature some of the nation's best breweries including Dogfish Head, Lost Abbey, and Revolution. Location: Boston, Massachusetts. Dates: February 3-4.

Detroit Lakes Polar Fest: Polar Fest was created in 1996 by a woman who loved winter. The annual festival includes a Polar Fest Plunge into Little Detroit Lake plus a myriad of other activities ranging from golfing on the lake to presentations by polar explorers to dances in the sand.  Location: Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. Dates: February 9-20.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival: The Oregon Shakespeare Festival displays theatrical performances of the period as well as up-and-coming and modern pieces at their two indoor stages and flagship outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre. Other plays from the last several hundred years also make appearances and more than 11 plays take to the stage each year, seen from start of production to finish. Most plays were written by Shakespeare, and the rest are a mix of the local best as well as the biggest shows from modern theatre. Location: Ashland, Oregon. Dates: February 17-19.

Arts Alive! Home and Garden Festival: The Arts Alive! Home and Garden Festival features the latest in gardening and home goods, offering a variety of fun and innovative home and garden products. The two-day event has a variety of demonstrations, seminars, and other educational programs on topics like gardening with native plants and keeping backyard chickens. Location: Wichita Falls, Texas. Dates: February 25-26.

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Harvest Celebrations

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Star Superstitions

How Many Star Superstitions Do You Know?

For eons, mankind has been creating myths about the heavens. Superstitions and stories about these mysterious celestial bodies helped people ‘understand’ their relationship to these majestic space bodies.

Here are a few of the folk myths, legends and lessons that have been passed on from generation to generation.

Hands to Yourself: Pointing at the stars, in some societies, can be just as frowned upon as pointing at a stranger in public. Many legends about the ancient behavioral belief stem from the notion that the stars were gods or other supernatural beings who peered down at Earth from the heavens. Such activity was ‘rude’ and could anger that deity.

Make a Wish: Given the magic associated with shooting stars, there’s no surprise there are many beliefs linked to them. While many cultures suggest that gazing upon these stars brings good luck, some believe shooting stars are more specific in their purpose. For example, if worried about finances, say the word “money” three times before the star burns out. The hope is that this can lift one out of poverty.

Lucky Stars: Some shooting stars can affect your life without any action on your part. However, the type of luck you end up with could depend on something as random as where the star is positioned in the sky. If you spot a fallen star on your right, it means good luck, while one on your left will unfortunately indicate bad luck.

Make it Count: Counting the stars may be a good way to pass the time on a clear night, but superstitious folks should skip counting them in favor of other pastimes. For some people, it is considered a sure way to bring on bad luck. Some legends state that if you attempt to count the stars in the sky, you'll die when you reach 100.

Stars at Sea: Like farmers, fishermen and other seafarers have their own star-related superstitions and beliefs. By observing the direction that a shooting star travels, it is believed that sailors have long been able to predict which way the winds will blow. The North Star has served as a powerful navigating tool at sea, allowing sailors to calculate latitude and determine the correct course to reach their destination.

Farming Superstitions: Farmers have used the stars to predict the weather. One superstition from England warns that there will be a poor harvest when the evening star is low in the sky.

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