Everybody loves a good tabletop game. From huge RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, to classics like Monopoly and Yahtzee, nothing can compare to an evening spent with good friends and a board game. As our modern lives get busier, it is often hard to make time in our schedules for tabletop gaming with friends. Well, here’s a place that has done all the arrangements for us. Check out Guardian Games.
Guardian Games is an enormous game store in Portland, Oregon. It has thousands of tabletop games to purchase, and tons of games to try out free in the store, with plenty of tables set up to be used for gameplay. And that’s not all. What about coffee, beer, and pizza to keep you energized while you play? Their on-site bar, called “The Critical Sip,” sells tap beers, ales, and the like. You can show up with your friends, or meet some new pals. There’s no better way to start a new friendships with like-minded nerds than with a good tabletop match.
Is this the up and coming future of tabletop gaming? Will a store like Guardian Games be coming to your town soon? I surely hope so. Imagine a place where anyone could go and buy any game on a whim, or just hang out with fellow nerds and enjoy games, drinks and quality time. Not only would this be fun, but playing tabletop games is healthy and engaging for the mind, and spending real time with friends creates tangible community and lasting connections.
What do you think? Do you see a future for the tabletop community in places like this?
There are few things in life that inspire us as much as a good mystery. That’s why phrases like “lost city”, “buried treasure” and “vanished” are so enticing. They keep us wondering, knee deep in childlike inquiries. Legends and myths, such as Atlantis, Pompeii and El Dorado, cities that slipped into the sea or were devoured by volcanoes, fill us with questions. What were the cities like before? What would they look like if we found them now? Are the legends true? Germany has one such myth: the city called Rungholt.
According to legends, Rungholt was a bustling port city, trading in agriculture, cattle, and amber. Ships were coming out and in daily, ferrying goods from the city to other parts the world. Merchants sold fresh fish, nets, and oysters on the bustling boardwalk, while taverns, brothels, street musicians, temples and inns were abundant downtown, hosting all types of weary travelers, soldiers, and traders. Located in the North Frisian coastal range, Rungholt was a hub for commerce and trade. It is said to have had between 1,000 and 3,000 permanent citizens. The people in Rungholt did well for themselves. The port made the city wealthy, and there was enough income, guests, and amusement to keep the town lively. Everything was right in the world.
“around the hour of vespers on that day, dreadful storms and whirlwinds such as never been seen or heard before occurred in England, causing houses and buildings for the most part to come crashing to the ground, while some others, having had their roofs blown off by the force of the winds, were left in the ruined state; and fruit trees in gardens and other places, along with other trees standing in the woods and elsewhere, were wrenched from the earth by their roots with a great crash, as if the Day of Judgement were at hand, and fear and trembling gripped the people of England to such an extent that no one knew where he could safely hide, for church towers, windmills, and many dwelling-houses collapsed to the ground.”
An immense storm on the North Sea swept far inland, greatly changing the shape of coastlines, and rearranging islands. The water came so far in, it completely redesigned the shoreline, flinging mainland out to sea, creating new land masses, and erasing islands, towns and districts off the map. Rungholt, the port city, and all of its inhabitants, were swallowed by the sea, never to be heard from again. This storm, “the great drowning of men” is estimated to have killed at least 25,000 people in one night.
This Rungholt legend has entranced people for decades, sometimes even being called “The Atlantis of the North Sea.” It was written about in the ballad “Trutz, Blankenhans“, in 1882, by the poet Detlev von Liliencron:
Over the centuries the legends around Rungholt have grown. It is said now that the downfall of the city was a punishment of God for their sinful choices and disrespectful life towards the Church. The wealth of the city has also gotten more and more extravagant as the story has grown, as has the size of the city. Some say it is a ghost city, and during the times when the tempests are appeased in the North Sea, it is possible to hear the bells of the church rise up from beneath the waves. While research has yielded actual insights into the existence of this mystical place since the last century, the legend continues to exist today in movies, novels, and songs.
Scientist and Archaeologist have tried to reconstruct the existence of Rungholt based on some less-than-concrete evidence. In 1636, a cartographer named Johannes Meyer made a map featuring Rungholt, however, he had not seen this fabled city, he had only only referenced another map, from 1240. An agreement between two traders from Rungholt and Hamburg was also found, dated 1361. There were also several artifacts pulled from the Wadden Sea between Between 1880 and 1940, including bricks, swords, pottery, bones, and even a skull. It is believed these are connected to the lost city from so many years ago.
These and other indications, such as wells and a lock discovered in the Wadden sea, suggest to the investigators that Rungholt was a real city, and a thriving port up until the storm of 1392, however, the legend of Germanic Atlantis survives. There is not enough concrete evidence to verify scientifically the existence of this mysterious city; At the same time, the existing indications are signs that it is not just a local legend. For now, Rungholt remains a true mystery.
Man’s Best Friend, the loyal and dependable dog. From Golden Retriever, to the little Welsh Corgi, we all have a lovable pooch in our life. Dogs today are used mainly as companions, however, when these dogs were first bred, it was hardly for good looks and friendship. Lets talk about what these special 25 breeds were first created for.
A beloved lap dog, these adorable short legged, big eared dogs were originally bred as herding dogs, specifically for cattle. They would chase after the large animals, keeping them on the move by nipping at their heels. Their low height and their ability to dodge made them ideal in this occupation, as they could move fast and avoid being kicked and stepped on by the cattle.
Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese water dog was originally bred by fisherman, to dive into the water and retrieve nets, carry messages between boats, and herd fish. Once serving as crew on fishing trips, he is now a lovable family companion, but still retains his love for the water!
Another pampered lapdog of today was originally bred for some not-so-glamorous work! Scottish weavers and miners were sick of rats invading their work spaces, so they created this small and feisty breed of dog to chase rodents out of their coal mines and work areas. Yorkies were also used in hunting, to burrow underground after badgers and foxes.
Dachshund, also known as “Wiener Dogs,” may look like small, unassuming lapdogs, but were originally bred to hunt down, chase, and flush out burrow-dwelling animals like badgers and rabbits. In the United States, they have also been used to track deer and hunt prairie dogs, having been known to track wounded animals for days without giving up.
Lhasa Apso and Tibetan Mastiff
Now known a lovable lapdog and a fuzzy gentle giant, The Lhasa Apso and Tibetan Mastiff once worked together as an unlikely team to guard Buddhist monasteries. The Lhasa Apso was the sentinel, his keen hearing and loud bark served as a burglar alarm if an intruder got past the outer guards.
The Tibetan Mastiff assisted with keeping the temple secure, while the Lhasa Apso supplied the bark, alerting officials to intruders, the Mastiff would supply the bite if needed, or simply scare the intruders out of the building!
Often known as the “Apollo of dog breeds,” an adult Great Dane can weigh anywhere between 120 and 200 pounds, and averaging between 30 to 34 inches on its four legs. These gentle giants are treated as lovable family pets today, but were originally bred as prestigious guardians of rich estates and carriages. They were also popular with the upper class for sport, as few other dog breeds could take down a wild boar!
Poodles may seem like sort of prissy dogs, however they were first bred to jump in ponds and lakes to retrieve birds that were shot by their masters. This is where the classic “poodle cut” comes from, their coat would get heavy when wet, so all of it would get sheared except what was necessary to keep the dog warm. The Poodle quickly became popular in France, the country with which it’s still often associated. It’s a very capable working dog, but today is mostly a show dog and lap dog.
Today the Golden Retriever is the third most popular family dog in the United States. However, they were originally bred in Scotland when bird hunting was a popular sport for the wealthy Scottish upper class. The Golden Retriever was bred as a “gun dog” to retrieve ducks and upland game birds during hunting and shooting parties. They were prized because of their ability to retrieve from land and water without damaging the game.
The Komondor, also known as The Hungarian Sheepdog (or appropriately, the “mop dog”) has been declared one of Hungary’s national treasures. It is a great family dog, and has a natural instinct to guard livestock and property. Its original role was protecting sheep and livestock in its native country of Hungary, and its thick, unique dreadlock-like coat rendered bites from predators far less damaging, as the wild beasts frequently tangled their jaws in its hair! The Komondor didn’t typically herd the animals it protected in a usual way, instead, it ran with the livestock to blend in, surprising predators and giving itself an even greater defensive advantage.
With almost supernatural tracking abilities, the Bloodhound is known as one of the best dogs for tracking scents, and has been used for tracking deer, boar and people since the 9th century. Even today, the bloodhound is used by police and military to track missing persons, inmates, and animals.
Now known as a gentle giant, these huge dogs are great, lovable family dogs. They were bred in the 17th century by monks at the Hospice of Saint Bernard to guard their compound, but also to find travelers lost in the Swiss Alps. They were created to be large enough to traverse deep snow, but were also bred to have an exceptional sense of smell to locate lost travelers.
Today, the Airedale is used as a family dog and therapy dog in nursing homes and hospitals. However it was bred for much fiercer purposes! The Airedale was created to be a hunting dog, with the persistence and toughness to go after everything from rats to mountain lions. The Airedale was used in World War I to carry messages to soldiers behind enemy lines and transport mail. They were also used by the Red Cross to find wounded soldiers on the battlefield. There are numerous stories of Airedales delivering their messages despite horrible injury. An Airedale named ‘Jack’ ran through half a mile of enemy fire, with a message attached to his collar. He arrived at his destination with a broken jaw and broken leg, and right after he delivered the message, he dropped dead. The Airedale often performed search and rescue for law enforcement as well, before the German Shepherd filled this role.
These amazing “firehouse dogs” have a natural affinity with horses, and were easily trained to work alongside firemen and horse-drawn fire engines in the 19th century. Dalmatians were trained to run in front of the carriages to help clear a path and quickly guide the horses and firefighters to the fires. Today these dogs make intelligent, playful, energetic pets, and great guard dogs.
Now known as cuddly, furry, family dogs, the Alaskan Malamute was bred for working and hunting, with the ability to hunt large predators such as bears. Early Eskimos relied on Alaskan Malamutes to pull sleds full of people and important cargo such as medicine and food across snowy landscapes in cold and blizzard conditions.
The Doberman is a fast, intelligent dog used still today in many places as a guard dog. Doberman Pinschers were first bred in Germany around 1890, by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, who served in the dangerous role of local tax collector. He wanted to create a breed that would be ideal for keeping him safe during his collections, which took him through many dangerous areas. During World War II, the United States Marine Corps adopted the Doberman as its official War Dog.
Greyhounds today are prized for their amazing racing ability, and retired greyhounds are loved as family pets. However, greyhounds were originally bred as hunting dogs, not for their great sense of smell, but for their eyesight and speed, which allowed them to chase fast-moving prey like deer.
Now the cuddly, furry eared lap dogs, Cocker Spaniels were originally bred for the single purpose of hunting the Eurasian woodcock in the United Kingdom. Being a small dog, the Cocker Spaniel was very good at running into brush to scare a woodcock into taking flight. It also has a strong retriever instinct, to find the bird and bring it back to its owner.
Collies are intelligent and gentle and make great family pets. They were first bred as herding dogs, designed to keep animals in specific spaces, such as sheep and ducks.
Pugs were first bred in China and brought to England, where they were popular in Queen Victoria’s court as a companion dog. They were one of very few dogs to be created simply as a companion dog, and are still used for that purpose today.
The Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular family pets in the United Kingdom and United States. Now used for disability, search and rescue, and therapy applications, they were first bred in the 1830 to retrieve birds that were shot down into the water, as they have amazing retriever and swimming abilities.
Bulldogs are now primarily family dogs, known to form especially strong bonds with children. However, The designation “bull” in their name was originally added because of the dog’s use in the sport of “bull baiting.” This sport involved the letting loose of dogs onto a bull that was tethered to a pole. It was common for a bull to maim or kill several dogs during this, either by goring, tossing, or trampling. After bull baiting and bear baiting sports were outlawed in England in 1835, it stopped making sense to breed this weird dog, however a few decades later, various dog breeders began to emulate the physical traits of Bulldogs. From those newer Bulldogs come our modern Bulldogs today.
The beagle is a cute, sweet dog, and is an excellent family dog with a great temperament. It also is a great scent hound, bred primarily for hunting rabbits. It’s not a very fast runner, but still pretty good at hunting small game, and a great hunting companion.
A fairly new dog breed, the smart and loyal German Shepherd was bred to (you guessed it) herd and tend grazing sheep. Today, the German shepherd has been trained to do many other things, such as search and rescue, police operations and disability occupations, and is known as one of the smartest and most trainable dogs.
Rottweilers are beloved parts of our family, smart, loyal, and trainable. They were originally dogs bred to drive cattle to market. Later they were used to pull carts for butchers. They were among the earliest police dogs and currently serve with honor in the military.
What do you think of when you hear the phrase “Future Tech” or “Science Fiction Technology?” Humanoid robots walking the streets? Genetic engineering? How about life in space?
Today we’re looking at science fiction technology that was once just a fantasy, that is now part of our daily life. We are also going to take a peek at some of our favorite sci-fi tech, and see how close it is to being a reality. So buckle up!
Believe it or not, credit cards were first mentioned in science fiction. You might expect that the person who envisioned the credit card to be a genius businessman or bank executive of some sort, however the person who first developed the idea of the modern credit card system was a Utopian science fiction author Edward Bellamy. His novel, Looking Backward, made some very accurate descriptions about how the credit card system would currently work today, even down to the concept of one receipt for the store owner and one receipt for the consumer. His book, written in 1888, and the idea that you could simply take a card into a store, swipe it, and have the item paid for was, well, science fiction. During this time, “credit” only existed as a method for stores to allow certain buyers to purchase extra items.
… a credit card issued him with which he procures at the public storehouses, found in every community, whatever he desires whenever he desires it. This arrangement, you will see, totally obviates the necessity for business transactions of any sort between individuals and consumers.
Nuclear weapons are a staple story point in science fiction novels. Similar to “credit card”, the phrase “atomic bomb” predates the actual weapon, used in 1945. This phrase is first mentioned in H. G. Wells‘ The World Set Free, published in 1914, in which scientists make the discovery that radioactive decay implies potentially limitless energy locked inside of atomic particles. Robert A. Heinlein also wrote about atomic weapons in his 1940 book Solution Unsatisfactory, which poses radioactive dust as a weapon that the US develops to end World War II, however, the dust’s existence brings drastic changes into the postwar world. Cleve Cartmill predicted a chain-reaction-type nuclear bomb in his 1944 science fiction story Deadline, which led to the FBI showing up on his front porch, over concern there may have been a potential breach of security on the Manhattan Project.
In Ray Bradbury‘s Fahrenheit 451, earbuds were described for the first time. Mildred relies on little “seashells” to sleep. She puts them in her ears, and they constantly plays music, entertainment, news, and talk radio. They are described just like earbuds, but wireless, and Bradbury refers to them as Seashells.
“The little mosquito-delicate dancing hum in the air, the electrical murmur of a hidden wasp snug in its special pink warm nest. The music was almost loud enough so he could follow the tune. And in her ears the little Seashells, the timble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming on on the shore of her unsleeping mind.” -Farenheight 451
Inspired by Captain Kirk’s hand-held Starfleet communicator on Star Trek, Martin Cooper, decided to develop a hand-held mobile phone. We have seen many improvements to the cell phone since Cooper’s first prototype in 1973 which weighed two and a half pounds, and there are now a registered 6.8 billion cell phone subscriptions active.
We have discussed a few things that science fiction has inspired in the past. Let’s check out the future.
Genetic Modification In Humans
Is Genetic Engineering still something only of science fiction? “Genetic engineering” or “Genetic modification” is the process of adding or modifying DNA to an organism to bring about a change to the structure and nature of genes, using techniques like molecular cloning and transformation. This is currently being done in food (often known as GMOs), has been successfully tested in animals, and is now the discussion for human genetic modification is open.
There are many important things to consider when discussing all the possibilities genetic engineering could bring. People from all different fields, faiths and backgrounds weigh in on this issue, with many ideas and concerns. The standstill to actually begin trials is more on a moral level than scientific level.
Some amazing scientific leaps could be made through genetic engineering, such as eradicating deadly diseases. Genetic mutations would be able to replace bad genes with correctly functioning copies. For instance, Tay-Sachs, a terrible and incurable disease could be completely wiped out with the help of selective genetic engineering. Genetic engineering could potentially get rid of all diseases in unborn children. There are illnesses that doctors can foresee your child will suffer from in the womb, such as Down’s Syndrome and sickle cell disease. Genetic Engineering would help all babies be born strong and healthy, and could stop the passing on of hereditary diseases such as Huntington’s disease, which children have a 50-percent chance of developing and passing along to their own children if one of their parents has it. Genetic Modification could also exponentially increase the human lifespan. Once the full understanding of genetics and aging is realized, it may be possible to slow down some of the cellular mechanisms that lead to our body’s degeneration.
However, there are some major concerns with the topic of genetic modification in humans as well. Scientist do not know everything about the way a human body functions yet, and so making changes on a cellular level may lead to genetic defects. What if we wipe out one disease, only to introduce something even more deadly? If scientists genetically engineer babies in the womb, there is still a possibility that this could lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or a premature birth. The human body is so complicated that scientists simply cannot account for everything that could go wrong. Also, is genetic engineering right? Many people believe it is like playing God. Besides religious objections, there are a number of ethical objections. If we eradicate all disease, this will lead to an overpopulation of the earth, according to some. Longer lifespans would also cause more social problems down the line. The most important question to ask with genetic engineering is, “will it go too far?” It could be used to stop diseases and give humans better quality of life, however, where does the research end? There has already been talk of “designer babies,” in which you are given the option to choose the hair color, eye color, height, intelligence, skill set, and sex of your child. Is this right and fair?
Writer Dinesh D’Souza states his position on this in a 2001 National Review Online article:
“If parents are able to remake a child’s genetic makeup, they are in a sense writing the genetic instructions that shape his entire life. If my parents give me blue eyes instead of brown eyes, if they make me tall instead of medium height, if they choose a passive over an aggressive personality, their choices will have a direct, lifelong effect on me.”
There is a lot to think about when it comes to the possibilities of genetic engineering in the future. I don’t think you’ll be needing to worry about “clones” like in The Island showing up at your door, but as science advances, possibilities in genetic engineering become a real issue, with both pros and cons needing to be heartily examined.
Life in Space
‘The way species get endangered and wiped out is by being dependent on a limited environment. Humanity started in East Africa and now live on literally every continent – even Antarctica – albeit for a small time. We live in snow, jungle, deserts, savannahas, forests; we have spread out about as far as we can spread out, and the next step is to move to space.’ – Dr. Al Globus
Dr. Al Globus, a contractor at NASA, believes humanity may not be far from having the technology to build human colonies in space. The International Space Station currently houses six astronauts at a time, ideally a space colony would have hundreds or even thousands of people on board. Many designs of a “space settlement” rely on a central cylinder, around which is a rotating living space. The force of rotation provides artificial gravity for the humans on board.
Dr. Globus believes the space colony could be potentially feasible by the end the century, if major national disasters are avoided. However a number of important obstacles that would need to be overcome first, before these settlements would be able to be built. First of all, the cost of getting rockets to space is too high to ferry hundreds or thousands of people up to the stars. The cost of rockets, fuel, and getting to space must decrease. Secondly, there needs to be a way that the space colony can be self-sufficient, using indoor farms and solar energy. This will also be very, very expensive, but the price could be paid either through “space tourism” or by all the nations of the world banding together to focus on the common goal of getting to the stars.
So life in space may not be in the cards for us, but perhaps for our children. I guess we’ll have to wait and see!
Sentient Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence. How could we discuss future tech without talking about AI?
Humans have always been wondering about sentient robots. Will robots ever get smarter than humans? Will they decide to wipe us off the map? Maybe they are already here, like Cylons from Battlestar Galactica, and we just haven’t noticed them yet!
If you worry about artificial intelligence taking over the world, you’re in good company. Speaking at the Zeitgeist 2015 conference in London, Steven Hawking said:
“Computers will overtake humans with AI at some within the next 100 years. When that happens, we need to make sure the computers have goals aligned with ours.”
Elon Musk, inventor of Tesla Motors, agreed with him and had this to say:
However, some people disagree, for example, in Anil Ananthaswamy’s New Scientist article titled “Sentient Robots? Not Possible If You Do The Maths” He argues that robots will never be sentient, according to a study of a mathematical model of how our brains create consciousness.
However, there’s no doubt that future AI will have the ability to do great damage. For example, an unconstrained virus spreading throughout the whole internet, or machines programmed to set off atomic weapons, and so on. Some people have other worries, like artificial intelligence stealing our jobs. In Martin Ford’s book “Rise of the Robots” he talks about a jobless future where AI have overhauled the economy.
I see the advances happening in technology and it’s becoming evident that computers, machines, robots, and algorithms are going to be able to do most of the routine, repetitive types of jobs. That’s the essence of what machine learning is all about. What types of jobs are on some level fundamentally predictable? A lot of different skill levels fall into that category. It’s not just about lower-skilled jobs either. People with college degrees, even professional degrees, people like lawyers are doing things that ultimately are predictable. A lot of those jobs are going to be susceptible over time.
So what does our future look like with artificial intelligence? We build more and more advanced AI every day.
One of the world’s most lifelike androids was built by Japanese designer Hiroshi Ishiguroand is named Geminoid F. She can smile, blink, furrow her brows, talk and even sing. She is able to mimic human expressions due to the 12 motorized actuators in her face, and she was so convincing she was cast as an actress in a Tokyo play.
With recent technological as well as automotive advances, Uber, Google, Tesla and more have all been working on self-piloting cars. The AI that drives these vehicles will work alongside with multiple sensors, radars, and lasers to drive the vehicle, accelerate when needed, brake at the right places and stop when the car arrives. These vehicles can spot objects as far as two football fields away and make calculated turns. AI cars have an advantage over human-driven ones as they will have a 360-degree view of the surroundings from the dome on top of the vehicle.
Amazon is making use of AI technology in many of its warehouses in the U.S. where human and artificial intelligence work hand in hand to dispatch over 1.5 million packages each day. The need to deliver the right products to right customers in the fastest time has made way for artificial intelligence to come to the forefront in warehousing, logistics, and soon, delivery. Amazon is excited about their “Prime Air”, where they boast, “a delivery system from Amazon designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles, also called drones. Prime Air has great potential to enhance the services we already provide to millions of customers by providing rapid parcel delivery that will also increase the overall safety and efficiency of the transportation system.”
So what does our future look like with advanced artificial intelligence? Will robot overlords overthrow us and take over? Will they take our jobs and enslave us? Only time will tell, I suppose. For now, I suppose I’ll enjoy my Amazon two day shipping. Thanks, robots!
Idioms. Loosely defined, an idiom is a “word, phrase or saying that is used, but not interpreted logically or literally.”
I’m a native English speaker and I still get all tangled up in these. (I’m still stuck on “Bob’s your uncle.” I’ll never understand that one!)
Here are a few everyday idioms, their meaning, and origin.
To Turn A Blind Eye
Definition: To purposefully ignore undesirable information
Example: “I can’t believe you can turn a blind eye to the corruption in the world.”
This expression is rumored to have arisen after the English Battle of Copenhagen in 1801, in which naval hero, Admiral Horatio Nelson, is said to have purposely raised his spyglass to his blind eye, thus making sure that he would not see any sign from his commanding officer, giving him option to withdraw from the battle.
On The Ball
Definition: Someone who is sharp, in control, and alert.
Example: “I like the new commissioner, he’s really on the ball!”
This is believed to have originated with sports, however there are a few theories to where it first began. One theory is that “on the ball” refers to runners getting ready for a race, up on the balls of their feet on the starting line. It may also be derived from the earlier expression “keep your eye on the ball” (used in many sports.)
This could possibly have originated from a saying during the early days of baseball. When the pitcher couldn’t get a good pitch, it was said that he had “nothing on the ball.” Therefore the opposite would be “on the ball,” meaning he or she has control of a situation.
Hit The Sack/Hit The Hay
Definition: To go to bed
Example: “I’m so tired after that party, it’s time for me to hit the hay / hit the sack.”
This most likely originated due to the fact that in the late 19th century, mattresses often were made out of old sacks, which were generally stuffed full of hay or straw.
Cut From The Same Cloth
Definition: Similar, of the same nature
Example: “Your father and husband sure are cut from the same cloth!”
This expression is supposedly derived from tailoring. If you’re making a suit, you would want the jacket and pants to be cut from the same piece of material, thus ensuring a perfect match in color, weave, etc. There are many differences that can occur in material from batch to batch, so the only way to ensure a perfect match in fabric is to have the whole outfit cut from the same cloth.
Down To The Wire
Definition: Undecided until the last minute
Example: “That election was really down to the wire!”
This phrase supposedly came from races, such as horse races and foot races, where the winner was determined by whomever crossed the finish line first. A string, tape or paper banner was stretched across the finish line to help the judges see clearly who crossed first in a close race. That banner over the finish line was called the “wire,” and the winner is the one who broke the “wire” first.
Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
Definition: Taking on more than you can handle
Example: “I bit off more than I could chew by picking a fight with that guy!”
This idiom dates back to the 1800s, when people chewed tobacco regularly. Sometimes the greedier people would bite off too large of a chunk, which made for the warning, “not to bite off more than you could chew.”
Bite The Bullet
Definition: Deciding to do something hard and get it over with
Example: “I really just need to bite the bullet on this project.”
This idiom is believed to have been derived historically, from the practice of having a patient chew a bullet as a way to cope with the extreme pain of a surgical procedure without anesthesia, however, this is disputed. This may have been done simply as a last resort with battlefield medics, and in the old west where there were few resources. This phrase was first recorded by Rudyard Kipling in his book The Light That Failed.
Definition: Sitting in the front seat
Example: “I’m riding shotgun on the way to the mall!”
When stagecoaches were used as the main means of transport, the seat next to the driver was reserved for an individual holding a firearm, traditionally a shotgun. This front-seat position was strategic for the guard to be able to see and ward off any bandits or animals that would attempt to loot or endanger the passengers riding in the carriage.
Dressed To The Nines
Definition: Dressed very elaborately
Example: “Lets get dressed to the nines and go out tonight.”
This idiom may have originated in one of these two places. One possible origin is that the saying was inspired after the exquisitely crafted uniforms of the 99th infantry regiment of the British army, formed in 1824.
It also may have come from tailoring. When a tailor makes a high quality suit, it uses more fabric. It takes nine yards to make a perfect suit, because a good suit has the fabric cut all the same direction. This causes a great amount of waste, but if you want to show that you’re fancy, you pay for such waste.
Raining Cats And Dogs
Definition: Raining very large, heavy raindrops
Example: “Look outside at those raindrops! It’s raining cats and dogs!”
This strange phrase was first recorded in 1651 in the poet Henry Vaughan’s collection Olor Iscanus. Its origins are left up to speculation, with the ideas ranges from medieval superstition to Norse mythology. The most probable source of the phrase, however, is that dead animals and other debris were sometimes washed up in the streets after heavy rainfall, which could make it appear that it had “rained cats and dogs.”
Have you ever hated a game so much that you rage quit? Me too.
Have you ever hated a game so much that you buried truckloads of that same game in the middle of the New Mexico desert?
In 1983, The New York Times reported 14 trucks delivering secret cargo to a landfill in New Mexico. The cargo? The E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Atari 2600 cartridge. Known as “the worst game ever” to many people, sources describe the video game as “badly programmed, utterly boring, not following the plot of the movie and very frustrating to play.” Atari was desperate to get E.T. out before Christmas, as it was a very popular movie at the time, so they spent only 5 weeks producing it. It simply wasn’t long enough to make an acceptable game.
Despite the success of the movie, the game was very badly received and Atari suffered huge financial losses. Over five million of the games were made, and less than one and a half million were sold. It also turned out that Atari had created more copies of the game than there were Atari 2600s in existence at the time. It was released Christmas of 1982, and many copies were returned, and the game given terrible reviews.
This was the beginning of the end for Atari, shortly afterward the entire video game industry crashed.
James Heller, who used to work for Atari, told the Associated Press he was instructed to get rid of over 700,000 Atari games “as quickly and inexpensively as possible” in 1983. Besides ET, some other things dumped in the New Mexico landfill were Atari consoles, and games such as Centepede, Missile Command, Asteroids and Defender.
Xbox Live’s Larry Hryb told BBC that he expected they were “buried out of shame.”
For many years, there was no proof of this, and it the “Atari Dump” became simply an urban legend. However, in 2014, the City of Alamogordo granted Fuel Industries access to the site, and they were eager to debunk the myth and make a documentary about their findings. They found over 1,300 cartridges and consoles, however only a limited amount of material could be retrieved, the rest of the is buried much deeper than expected.
Now, 30 years later, most of these “worst games ever” from the dig have been sold on Ebay, for around $108,000. The Alamogordo News recorded that the city sold 881 of the game cartridges, gave 100 to the documentary crew and donated 23 to museums. One of these E.T. games from the dig is on display at the Smithsonian.
The dig site is a landmark on the Roadtrippers’ website.
The full documentary is called Atari: Game Over. Watch the trailer for it here!
I was the optimal age when Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events first hit shelves. The Bad Beginning was released 18 years ago and it is still well loved by us ‘90s kids today. (Well, I guess we are supposedly adults now. ’90s adults?)
Last year, I heard that Netflix was re-creating these classic books into an original series and I was ecstatic. I have been very impressed with the shows and movies Netflix has rolled out thus far, however, I was devastated to hear that they were casting Neil Patrick Harris, the comedian, as the Count Olaf, the darkest and most sinister villain of my childhood.
Upon watching the series, however, I was pleasantly surprised. Harris does a fantastic job playing this evil fiend. Harris plays Olaf as an ominous adversary, but the dark humor and self-awareness he brings to the character is enough to keep the show light.
Lemony Snicket, played by Patrick Warburton, narrates the show. He does an incredible job and really brings the Gothic feel of the books to the series. The orphans, Melinda Wessman as Violet, Louis Hynes as Klaus, and Presley Smith as Sunny (voiced by Tara Strong) do a great job of carrying the story. There are a few famous faces that bring life to the show as well, such as Joan Cusack as Justice Strauss, and Catherine O’Hara as Dr. Orwell. This show also features Daniel Handler, also known as the author, Lemony Snicket himself, in three episodes, as the fish head salesmen.
The premiere season of this Netflix original show covers the first four of the Snicket’s books, The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, The Wide Window, and The Miserable Mill.
The show follows the Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus and Sunny. After their parents die in a mysterious fire, they are bounced from guardian to guardian, while being chased by the evil Count Olaf, who is in pursuit of the Baudelaire’s fortune.
Running parallel to the orphan’s story is the mystery of a secret agency, the Volunteer Fire Department. The VFD mystery is intriguing and a lot more is revealed about it in the show than in the book series, which I really enjoyed.
It also follows the path of two adventurous parents, played by Will Arnett and Cobie Smulders, who are first seen in a prison in Peru. The whole series, the nameless “parents” are trying to get home to their children. You are led to believe that these are the Baudelaire parents, that somehow things are going to turn around and the Baudelaire’s will live happily ever after as a family.
Alas, the twist at the end is that the parents make it home to their children, however, they are not the Baudelaire orphans, they are none other than the Quagmire triplets, who become the Baudelaire’s only friends later on in the series.
The first season comes to a close with the Quagmires’ house engulfing in flames, and the two surviving Quagmire triplets arriving at the Austere Academy along with the Baudelaire orphans.
This show satisfied my love for these books and brought back all the great childhood memories of reading them. I was very pleased with the series and can’t wait for season two.
Did you read these books? How did you feel about the Netflix series?