Archives for the month of: July, 2013


Sailing stonessliding rocks, and moving rocks all refer to a geological phenomenon where rocks move and inscribe long tracks along a smooth valley floor without human or animal intervention. Tracks from these sliding rocks have been observed and studied in various locations, including Little Bonnie Claire Playa in Nevada, and most notably Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park, California where the number and length of tracks are notable.

The stones move only every two or three years and most tracks develop over three or four years. Stones with rough bottoms leave straight striated tracks while those with smooth bottoms tend to wander. Stones sometimes turn over, exposing another edge to the ground and leaving a different track in the stone’s wake.

Trails differ in both direction and length. Rocks that start next to each other may travel parallel for a time, before one abruptly changes direction to the left, right, or even back to the direction from which it came. Trail length also varies – two similarly sized and shaped rocks may travel uniformly, then one could move ahead or stop in its track.


The kiss and cry is the area in an ice rink where figure skaters wait for their marks to be announced after their performances during a figure skating competition. The skaters and coaches often kiss to celebrate after a good performance, or cry after a poor one. The area is usually located in the corner or end of the rink and is furnished with a bench or chairs for the skaters and coaches and monitors to display the competition results. It is often elaborately decorated with flowers or some other backdrop for television shots and photos of the skaters as they react to their performance and scores.


The Mirror Fusion Test Facility, or MFTF, was an experimental magnetic confinement fusion device built using the magnetic mirror, or so-called “yin-yang” design. It was designed and built at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), one of the primary research centers for mirror fusion devices. It cost 372 million dollars to construct, making it at the time, the most expensive project in the lab’s history. It opened on February 21, 1986 and was promptly shut down. The reason given was to balance the United States federal budget.

Following on from the earlier Baseball II device, the facility was originally a similar system in which the confinement area was located between two horseshoe-shaped “mirrors”. During construction, however, the success of the Tandem Mirror Experiment (“TMX”) led to a redesign to insert a solenoid area between two such magnets, dramatically improving confinement time from a few milliseconds to over one second. Most of the fusion power would be produced in the long solenoid, the yin-yang magnets serving only to dam up the ends in order to maintain good plasma confinement in the solenoid. Limited to break-even energy balance, the magnetic mirror endcaps actually consume power, but much less than that produced in a solenoid of sufficient length. The new version, officially MFTF-B, started construction in 1977 and was completed in 1986, on the very day the project was canceled by the Reagan administration Department of Energy. No experiments were performed. Rollbacks in fusion research funding dramatically reduced funding levels across the entire field.

Parts of the MFTF have since been re-used on newer fusion experiments, one such re-use winning a recycling award.

RAGBRAI is an acronym for Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.

It is a non-competitive bicycle ride across Iowa that draws recreational riders from across the United States and overseas.


The Amphicar is an amphibious automobile, the first such vehicle mass-produced for sale to the public starting in 1961. The Germanvehicle was designed by Hanns Trippel and manufactured by the Quandt Group at Lübeck and at Berlin-Borsigwalde. Its name is aportmanteau of “amphibious” and “car”. The Amphicar was designed to be marketed and sold in the USA. Compared to most boats or cars, its performance was modest, and only 4000 were produced by 1965. Nevertheless, it is still among the most successful amphibious civilian autos of all time, and still often prized and preserved as novelty collectible automobiles today…FYI…


Hey sports/pencil fans – FYI, ESPN College Gameday’s own Lee Corso is the director of business development for Dixon Ticonderoga – the Heathrow, Florida pencil manufacturing company.

The Empire of Atlantium is a micronation and secular, pluralist progressive lobby group based in New South Wales, Australia.

Among the causes Atlantium supports are the right to unrestricted international freedom of movement, the right to abortion, the right to assisted suicide and decimal calendar reform.




Standin’ on the Corner Park in Winslow, Arizona is a publicly operated park, commemorating the Eagles-Jackson Browne song “Take It Easy”. The park contains a two-story trompe-l’œil mural by John Pugh, and a life-size bronze statue of a man standing on a corner, with a guitar. The park is surrounded a wall of bricks, each with a donor’s name on it, and a story by each of the donors describing their fondness for Winslow. The park was opened in 1999. 



Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO (5 May 1880 – 5 June 1963), was a British Army officer of Belgian and Irish descent. He served in the Boer War, First World War, and Second World War, was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip and ear, survived a plane crash, tunneled out of a POW camp, and bit off his own fingers when a doctor refused to amputate them. He later said “frankly I had enjoyed the war.”

After returning home from service in the Second World War, he was sent to China as Winston Churchill’s personal representative. While en route he attended the Cairo Conference.

The term “éminence grise” has come to mean a respected senior member within a field or profession but the origin of its original meaning is the focus of this FYI inspired by Merriam Webster’s word of the day.


“Éminence grise” (literally, “gray eminence”) was the sobriquet of François Leclerc du Tremblay (1577-1638), also known as, Père Joseph, the Capuchin monk who served as secretary to Cardinal Richelieu, Chief Minister under Louis XIII. Richelieu’s ambition for French domination of Europe aligned neatly with Joseph’s hope to convert European Protestants to Roman Catholicism. Joseph’s nickname came from the color of his cloak—and from the fact that Richelieu himself was known as the Éminence Rouge (Red Eminence). Thus, the term “éminence grise” came to mean a loyal confidant of any powerful individual, or a decision maker who operates secretly.