Wyoming: the what and the “Wy”

wyoming state flag

The area of what is now known as Wyoming was inhabited by the Algonquin-speaking Munsee Indians.  They named the land xwé:wamənk which means “at the big river flat” which later evolved into the name Wyoming.

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Ravens find a haven…in Baltimore

The Baltimore Raven are one of the newer teams in the NFL.  They got their start in 1996 when Art Modell decided he would like to move his Cleveland Browns to Baltimore.  This caused some controversy but ultimately Cleveland would retain an NFL franchise as well as the name and all that went with the Brown’s established branding.  Now Modell had his team in Baltimore but needed a name.  As many team owners will often do he initiated a naming contest in which folks in the Baltimore area would submit their best idea’s for the team name.  Ultimately, the name “Ravens” was chosen due to the fact that Edgar Allan Poe, who wrote the very successful poem “The Raven”, worked in literature in Baltimore for a time and in the end he was buried in Baltimore.   The 2000 season exhibited a very strong Raven’s defense.  Their defense was, in fact, record setting with only 165 points allowed during the entire season.  They would go on to meet and defeat the Giants in Super Bowl 35 for their first Bowl win since changing names and moving from Cleveland.

Baltimore Ravens gear

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The Seahawks catch a franchise in Seattle

In 1974 a professional football franchise was awarded to Lloyd Nordstrom (of the retail chain).  Originally, the team name was going to be the Seattle Kings however like many fledgling teams the ownership held a naming contest amongst Seattle natives after which the “Seahawks” were settle on.  Since that time the Seahawks have gained a substantial following-even being called the loudest home stadium crowd in the NFL.  Moreover, the tremendous noise that has come from Seahawk fans has even shown up on nearby seismometers.  Their mascot is a large blue Seahawk name Blitz that dons the number 0.  Additionally, a real hawk began leading the team out of the stadium tunnel beginning in 2006.  In 2013 the Seahawks are in the running for the Super Bowl -they’ve only made one other appearance back in 2006 in which they lost.

Seattle Seahawks Logo

Seattle Seahawks Logo

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Falcons come home to roost…in Georgia

Joining the NFL in 1965 the Atlanta Falcons became the 15th NFL team.  At the time there were many people that were vying for an Atlanta-based football franchise but in the end it was awarded to Rankin Smith.  For the tidy sum of 8.5 million the Falcons joined the ranks of the NFL.  When it came to naming the team the Falcon’s owner did what many have done in the past-have a naming contest amongst the people of the home city.  There were several nods for “Falcons” however Julia Elliott was chosen as the winner of the contest with her insistence that “the Falcon is proud and dignified, with great courage and fight. It never drops its prey. It is deadly and has a great sporting tradition.”

Though the Falcons remained in control of the Smith family for many years it was finally sold to Arthur Blank in 2002 for 545 million (over 536 million more than Rankin paid for it 37 years earlier!)  The original team colors were black, red, gold and white which, at the time, represented the colors of the biggest college rivals: the Bulldogs and the Yellow Jackets.  Though the Falcons are in the running for Super Bowl XLVII they have only made one Super Bowl appearance (XXXIII, which they lost).

atlanta falcons t-shirt

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The 49ers prospect for a football team

California is known for being one of the main destinations for gold prospectors in 1849.  That year saw many a bearded man rush to the hills and streams of California in search of gold-colored riches.  It was on this legacy and the year that the San Francisco 49ers decided to name their team –after what prospectors were called back then: 49ers.  The football franchise was born in 1946 (almost 100 years after the height of the gold rush) and, at that time, was part of the AAFC.  The 49ers began in San Francisco which has been their home since their inception –one of the few NFL teams that are able to say they never left.  Additionally, the 49ers have had a very successful record having won 5 super bowl titles –behind only the Pittsburgh Steelers in super bowl rings.  Despite California being a sports-centered state professional baseball didn’t come until after a professional NFL franchise was established making the 49ers the oldest professional sports team in California (just before the Rams came to LA in 1946).  Throughout their history they have had several iterations of uniform color combinations and design but gold has almost always been a part of the design to signify the gold of the gold rush.  Historically, the three biggest rivals of the 49ers are the Rams, Cardinals and Seahawks.

Click for 49ers gear

Click for 49ers gear

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Houston…we have a football team

As the newest member of the 32 team NFL, the Houston Texans don’t have the kind of storied past that some teams do but they’ve done well just the same.  The Houston Oilers moved to Tennessee and became the Titans which left Houston with no NFL team.  So a bid was made to have a team in Houston and in 2002 the Texans were born.  The name was chosen by a poll with the choices being: Apollos, Bobcats, Toros,  Stallions and Texans.  The Texans name was chosen, of course, but historically there had been quite a few teams before them to carry the name including a World Football League and Arena Football League team.  Even though the name Toro was chosen as the team name it is now the name of the team’s mascot.

Houston Texans Logo

Houston Texans Logo

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EPCOT and a Vision

Walt Disney had a vision for the future and to that end he planned for the construction of  a place that would showcase those futuristic predictions and hopes.  This place would act as a model of what communities in the future should be like.  So, in 1982 EPCOT opened at Disney World on about 300 acres.  Epcot and Disney are located in the Orlando area of Florida which boasts more visiting tourists than any other city in the world (followed closely by NYC and Paris).  EPCOT is actually an acronym that stands for Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow.  EPCOT turned out to be an attraction comprised of two main components: 1) a world showcase of different cultures and 2) future world that focuses on a futuristic vision for tomorrow.


EPCOT from the air

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Harry and the Jets

It wasn’t until 1959 that Harry Wismer was granted a franchise for a professional football team in New York.  One the driving forces was to compete with the NY Giants so to that end Harry named the fledgling team the Titans of New York (after all, he claimed that Titans were bigger and stronger than Giants).  As with many nascent professional teams the Titans struggled financially in the beginning and Harry was forced to sell the team in 1963.  Sonny Werblin was one of five men to buy the team and renamed the team the “Jets”.  He chose the name because it rhymed with “Mets” with whom they shared a stadium.  Additionally, the colors green and white were chosen because Werblin was born on St. Patrick’s Day.  The Jets proved their worth later in Super Bowl III when they upset the favored Colts.  The Jets would later merge with the NFL in 1970.

NY Jets

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Democrats, Republicans, elephants and donkeys, Oh My!

The Republican party was formed when certain members of what was known then as the Democratic-Republican Party left under pressures surrounding the anti-salvery movement in the 1850’s.  It has been more or less recognized as an official party since the later part of the 1800’s but in 1875 the party was referred to, in the Congressional Files, as the “gallant old party”.  Later that name was changed to the “grand old party” and further shortened to GOP.  Also associated with the Republican party is the ever-present elephant.  The elephant was first associated with the GOP in a Harper’s Weekly political cartoon in the late 1800’s.  Prior to the symbolic elephant however the bald eagle was the original Republican mascot.  Additionally, red appears to be the unofficial Republican “team colors” but that wasn’t a reality until the recent 2000 elections.

Initially, the Democrats were known as the Democratic-Republican Party and formed out of anti-Federalist sentiment.  Eventually, the party would split into the two distinct, major parties we have today.  The iconic donkey representing the Democratic Party came about when those opposing Andrew Jackson used a play on his last name to call him and his party “jackasses”.  Though the donkey is most associated with the Democrats the original Democratic mascot was the rooster and can still be seen on some states ballots to this day.

Republicans and Democrats

Mascots of Republicans and Democrats

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Shedding some light on the moon: Blue Moon vs. Harvest Moon

The blue moon is one that happens every three years or so.  The typical lunar cycle works out to be one full moon every 29.53 days however dividing the number of days in a year (365.25) by the lunar cycle yields 12.36 full moons per year.  Eventually, that extra 0.36 moon builds up to an extra full moon in the year.  There would be no blue moons if the number of days in the year equaled 354.36 (29.53 X 12) – there would be no remainder.  The reason behind the term “blue” to describe it relates to Christian clergy in earlier times that used moon phases to plan events like Easter and Lent.  In the event of a 13th moon that moon was considered to be too early to base Lent on and was therefore deemed a “betrayer moon” –in Old English the word for “betrayer” was “belewe” and this word eventually evolved into “blue”.  People often describe a rare occurrence as happening once in a blue moon and even though that 13th moon happens once every 3 years it’s actually more frequent than the harvest moon.

The harvest moon is the full moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox or first day of fall.  In the Northern Hemisphere, the first day of fall is late September so the harvest moon will occur in October.  This type of full moon occurs once every four years or so.  The harvest moon is also known as the “blue corn moon” and will often appear brighter and more colorful (reddish) due to its position relative to Earth.  It was this seemingly bigger, brighter moon that would illuminate the farmer’s way as they harvested their autumn crops, hence “harvest moon”.

Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon

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