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Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Projected Extinction of Mosquitoes

I was diligently scanning microfilm yesterday when I ran across this little blurb: 
Extinction of Mosquito
Seen by '73.
WASHINGTON, By 1973, just nine years
after the start of an antimosquito
campaign, the Aedes aegypti will be
eradicated from the United States,
according to the Public Health Service.
Yellow Fever Mosquito
Aedes Aegypti

Granted, the article was published May 15, 1967, but there still lingers a wistful plea--please, please, please, no more mosquitoes! Anyone plagued by the miniature beasts nowadays can see that this article was published prematurely. (I think one of those bloodthirsty suckers got me this morning on my walk!)

According to the CDC, there are 3,500 different species of mosquitoes. I am blown away by that number: 3,500. There are 3,500 different types of mosquitoes out there trying to rob me of my blood?! I don't stand a chance, do I? Well, possibly...

WebMD claims that only one out of every ten people are highly attractive to mosquitoes, beacons of blood, so to speak. These tend to be people who "have high concentrations of steroids or cholesterol on their skin surface." People who produce large amounts of acids (e.g., lactic acid, uric acid, etc...) or carbon dioxide are in high demand, too. Body heat and motion also send out a "Please dine here!" vibe. (My oh-so-logical plan of being a moving target is all for naught.) All of my skinny friends up North who like to lounge about in the shade--you're in the clear.

Mosquito Fish
Gambusia Affinis
If you're in my boat, the not-so-skinny person living in the South boat, the Mississippi Department of Health has some great tips to make your living area bug-free. For instance, have you ever heard tell of a mosquito fish? These native Mississippians love to gobble up this pesky flier, so much so that they start eating skeeter larvae "from the day that they're born." Eat, little fishies! Eat! (Be sure to check out their site for additional interesting mosquito repelling techniques.)

WebMD offers the old standby DEET as a protectant, but also exorts that other, newer products will do the trick. Picaridin (Cutter Advanced), Skin-So-Soft (IR3535), and Metofluthrin (DeckMate) all keep the pesky critters away. (Some are, naturally, better than others.) For the back-to-nature lovers, soybean oil based repellants and oil of lemon eucalyptus (Repel) will offer relief.

I'm off to stock up on sprays and calamine lotion. See you at the pharmacy! 
Science Service Washington. "Extinction of Mosquito Seen by '73." Clarion-Ledger 15 May 1967: A4. Print. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sweetness, 1954-1999

Famous pro football player, Walter Jerry Payton, also known as "Sweetness", was born today in 1954 in Columbia, MS.  Payton gained the nickname "Sweetness" while playing football for Jackson State due to his skills on the field.  He set many football records during his lifetime.  Here are some facts about “Sweetness”:

v  His first love was music!  His first venture into sports began in the ninth grade as a long jumper at the then segregated John J. Jefferson School (the school merged with all-white Columbia High School in 1969).  His older brother, Eddie, was the star running back of their football team.  After Eddie graduated, the football coach asked Payton to join the football team.  Payton agreed, but on his terms: that he could stay in the school band.

v  During his high school career, Payton was selected for the all-conference team, Little Dixie Conference, and was subsequently selected for the all-state team.

v  Upon graduation from Columbia High, Payton joined Eddie at Jackson State College where they both played football.

v  Payton earned the title of Little All-American in 1974 after setting nine records at Jackson State College.  He was named NCAA’s (National Collegiate Athletic Association) leading scorer with 464 points by the end of his senior year.

v  Walter Payton was chosen by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the 1975 NFL draft.

v  He was named NFL MVP (Most Player of the Year) and Sporting News NFL Player of the year in 1977.

v  Payton was selected to play in Pro Bowl from 1978-1981, and 1984-1987.

v  He was named NFL Player of the Year in 1985.

v  Payton retired from pro football in 1987 at the age of 33.  He held the title of leading NFL rusher of all time with a career total of 16,726 yards until Fall of 2002 when he was surpassed by Emmitt Smith.  He also established the Walter Payton Award in 1987, which is awarded annually to the top player in the Football Championship Subdivision of college football.

v  He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.

v  He was named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1994.

v  Walter Payton died at the age of young age of 45 on November 1, 1999 in Illinois.  He was suffering from a disease of the liver called primary sclerosing cholangitis, or PSC, which caused him to develop bile duct cancer.  He was survived by his two children, Jarrett and Brittney.

Would you like to learn more about Walter Payton through those that were a part of his life?  Check out the book Never Die Easy: the Autobiography of Walter Payton by Walter Payton with Don Yaeger.  This book started out as a work in progress by Walter Payton, but it was never finished.  It was decided this book would be a memoir of sorts using his words, as well as interviews and stories from those who knew him best.  By the way, we have this book available for checkout!

“Walter Payton.”  Notable Sports Figures.  Ed.  Dana R. Barnes.  Detroit: Gale, 2004.  Gale Biography in Context. Web. 24 July 2012.
Encyclopaedia, Britannica.  “Payton, Walter.”  Britannica Biographies (2012): 1.  History Reference Center. Web. 24 July 2012.
Payton, Walter. Never Die Easy: the autobiography of Walter Payton. New York, NY: Villard Books, 2000. Print

Friday, July 20, 2012

Trucks, Boats, Planes, and... Clothes?

Someone dropped by the Reference Desk the other day with this interesting etymology puzzle: Where did the phrase "the whole nine yards" originate? The Oxford English Dictionary defines "the whole nine yards" as everything or the whole lot. The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms proposes three possible origins for this little phrase:
  1. A tailor needs nine yards of fabric in order to make a suit of clothes. Fancy!
  2. This refers to a particular type of ship: a three-masted vessel with each mast having three yards (horizontal support bars) to support the sails. Ship ahoy!
  3. An industrial cement mixer holds about nine cubic yards of cement in its drum. That's a lot of cement!

    Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable adds a few more possible inspirations for the phrase:
  4. The length of a hangman's noose or rope could be nine yards. Seems a bit long to me...

  5. The length of a Spitfire's ammunition belt is supposedly nine yards long. That's a lot of ammunition, but these WWII Spitfires were around at least fifteen years before this phrase started popping up.

Both sources go on to say that none of these seem to be the best fit, and that all that is really known is that the phrase originated in 1960s America. The ever resourceful has even more to say on the subject.

Ever the bibliophile, I checked our Books in Print subscription out of pure curiosity. Sure enough! There's a children's book by Dallin Malmgren, a romance by Donna Valentino, and a book of poetry by Daniel Hoffman; all are titled The Whole Nine Yards. While these books may not shed any more light on the matter (all three were published in the last thirty years), I'd be willing to bet that they'd make for interesting reading!

Monday, July 16, 2012

U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

It's that time again! It's Olympic month, y'all! We thought we'd take this opportunity to share some Olympians from our own home state of Mississippi. For the sake of length, I've only included medalists in this post.

 Let's take it on back to the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. Lee Calhoun took home gold in the 110m hurdles. Not to be shown up in 1960, Calhoun took gold AGAIN. Here's Calhoun with one of his medals! Calhoun was born in Laurel, MS.

The 1960 Olympics took place in Rome, Italy. While Calhoun was leaving everyone in the dust in 110m hurdles, Ralph Boston was bounding ahead of the competition in the Men's Long Jump event where he took home gold. Boston also took home silver in the long jump at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, and bronze at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Boston was born in Laurel, MS. Below is Ralph Boston completing a  jump at the Olympics in 1964.

Also competing in Mexico City in 1968 was Hattiesburg, MS native, Barbara Ferrell. Ferrell won gold and silver medals in the 1968 Olympics. She won gold in the 4x100m relay, and silver in the 100m race. The photo below shows Ferrell streaking out ahead of her competition.

Mississippi didn't have another Olympic medalist until 1984 when Calvin Smith competed in the Olympic Games that were held in Los Angeles, CA. Smith won gold in the men's 4x100m relay. He medaled again in 1988 in Seoul, South Korea, where he took home bronze for the men's 100m race. Smith is a native of Bolton, MS. The photo below shows Smith blasting out of the starting blocks!

Not far from Bolton, the town of Clinton was watching with baited breath as one of their own competed in the 1988 Games. Larry Myricks won the bronze medal in the men's long jump! Below is Myricks mid jump.

The most recent Mississippian to take home a medal is Otis Harris of Edwards, MS who took home silver and gold in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Harris and his teammates won gold in the men's 4x400 relay, and he won silver in the men's 400m race. The photo below shows Otis (far left) and his teammates after claiming gold.

And now we get to cheer on another Mississippian in the games in London this summer! Trell Kimmons, of Coldwater, MS, is headed across the pond to represent the U.S. of A, and the Magnolia State! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How Patriotic Are You?

I've once again dipped into the fascinating world of the United States Federal Census. I can always find something fun to share while scrolling through the thousands upon thousands of names and people.
For instance, President George Washington died in 1799. By the year 1900, 101 years later, 1,012 people have the given names of George Washington. One of my favorites? This man from the 1940 US Federal Census:

George Washington Funk and family
Chester Co., PA 1940

Do you suppose Mr. Funk was a fearless leader of style? I like to think so.

I also ran across Betsy Ross.

Betsy Ross Bacon
Hamilton Co., OH 1940
That is, Betsy Ross Bacon.

I also managed to find:

  • Independence Smith (La Porte Co., IN, 1920) I'm sure she was a fine patriot. Speaking of patriots...
  • Patriot Green (Frederick Co., VA, 1940) I wonder if he liked football?
  • Benedict Arnold Ocho (Philadelphia Co., PA, 1920) Think his patriotism was ever called into question?
  • Honor America Beahl (Sangamon Co., IL, 1930) This is kind of a pretty name once one overcomes her parents' overblown enthusiasm.
  • United States Cook Nicholas (Essex Co., NJ 1930) He was actually a grocery store clerk.
  • Democracy Tinnon (Giles Co., TN, 1880)
Happy Fourth of July!
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