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asstronaut in Raccoon City is doing 35 things including…

Make a list of 43 things I know very little about, & then learn at least 3 things about each of them

5 cheers


asstronaut has written 45 entries about this goal


What can I say?
I know a bit more now.

Commedia Dell'Arte

1) Commedia dell’Arte was a form of improvisational theater.

2) The characters are:
  • Arlecchino—the clever slave
  • Brighella—the freed slave
  • Columbina—the clever slave girl
  • Il Capitano—the braggart soldier
  • Il Dottore—the patrician
  • Gianduiais—a well-mannered Piedmontese peasant.
  • Innamorata—the beautiful girl.
  • Innamorato—the charming man.
  • Isabella—the tease.
  • Mezzetin—a French figure, painted by Antoine Watteau.
  • Pagliaccio—the Clown, perhaps the drunkard?
  • Pantalone—the miser.
  • Pedrolino—the lazy boy.
  • Pulcinella—the satyr.
  • La Ruffiana—the hag.
  • Scaramuccia—the rogue.
  • Zanni—the beggar.

The really exciting end of these characters, and why I have given them such brief descriptions, is that they all seem directly yanked from Roman comedy. Some of these characters were associated with cities.

3) Commedia dell’arte is a precursor to mimes.


1) Any sewn book can be pulled apart and rebound into a hardbound book by adding a case. There are different methods of sewing, such as stab sewing. A traditional method which uses sashes allows the book to open flat and not break the spine.

2) A common way to bind a book is as a halfbound book, which means that the spine and the corners of the cover are covered with leather or cloth, while the rest is covered with paper (normally marbled or otherwise decorated). When only the spine is covered with cloth or leather and the rest of the cover is covered in paper, the book is called quarterbound.

3) Folio, quarto, and so on refer to the size of the finished book, based on the size of sheet that an early paper maker could conveniently turn out with a manual press. Paper sizes could vary considerably, but are roughly:
Folio—15” or more in height, the largest sort of regular book.
Quarto—about 9” by 12”, the size of most modern magazines.
Octavo—about 5 to 6” by 8 to 9”, the size of most modern trade paperbacks.
Sextodecimo—about 4 1/2” by 6 3/4”, the size of most mass market paperbacks.

Bernardo O'Higgins

1) Born in Chile as the illegitimate son of a Spanish officer from County Sligo in Ireland, Bernardo O’Higgins was supported financially by a father he never knew. Spanish government officials in America were forbidden to marry locals.

2) Remeber Blasco Núñez Vela, the first viceroy of Peru, who put down the conquistadors? Well, eventually Ambrose O’Higgins became first governor of Chile and later viceroy of Peru, young Bernardo was sent to London to study. Bernardo joined nationalist rebels who desired independence from Spain. In 1814, these Chilean rebels were defeated by the Spanish and retreated into the Andes. In 1817, O’Higgins went back on the offensive with the aid of Argentine General José de San Martín. On February 12, 1818, Chile was proclaimed an independent republic. Perhaps his dad should have kept him a little closer. Think about it—Bernardo essentially toppled the government his father had run. Freud must have loved this story.

3) Bernardo O’Higgins tried to abolish of noble titles. This was resisted by large-land owners. Deposed by a coup on January 28, 1823, O’Higgins spent the rest of his life in exile, and died in Lima, Peru in 1842. Way to stick it to your old man, I mean, the man!

Sucre and La Paz

1) I remember this from school. Bolivia has two capitals—Sucre and La Paz. I could fill it in on the forms, but what the hell does that mean? Do they have two premiers? Well, it doesn’t mean much. Essentially, Sucre gets the consolation prize.

2) Sucre is the “constitutional” capital of Bolivia, with the Supreme Court. It is also capital of the Chuquisaca department. On November 30, 1538 Sucre was founded under the name Ciudad de la Plata de la Nueva Toledo. In 1559 King Philip II established the Audiencia de Charcas in La Plata with authority over an area which covers what is now Paraguay, southeastern Peru, Northern Chile and Argentina, and much of Bolivia. In 1609, an archbishopric was founded in the city. Sucre remains the seat of the Catholic church in Bolivia. Until the 18th century, La Plata was the judicial, religious and cultural center of the region. In 1839, after the city became the capital of Bolivia, it was renamed in honor of the revolutionary leader Antonio José de Sucre. Too remote, the Bolivian seat of government moved to La Paz in 1898.

3) La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia and departmental capital of La Paz Department. Founded in 1548 at town called Chuquiago, the full name of the city was originally Nuestra Señora de La Paz. The name commemorated the restoration of peace following the insurrection of Gonzalo Pizarro and fellow conquistadors against Blasco Núñez Vela, the first viceroy of Peru. In 1898, La Paz was made the de facto seat of the national government, with Sucre remaining the nominal capital only. This change reflected the shift of the Bolivian economy away from the largely exhausted silver mines of Potosí to the exploitation of tin near Oruro.


1) Tapirs are roughly pig-like in shape and size. They have short, prehensile trunks. They weigh between 300 to 600 pounds. They live about 30 years (!) and have a gestation of 13 months (!!).

2) Tapirs live in Central and South America. One distant cousin lives in South East Asia. Japanese people call it baku and say it eats dreams.

3) The tapir is an “odd-toed ungulate” and it’s closest relatives are horses and rhinos.

King Philip's War

1) King Philip - as he styled himself - was also called Metacomet or Metacom. His status as king is dependant on his role as war chief or sachem. Metacom was the second son of Massasoit, who had befriended the Pilgrims in 1621. Metacom assumed promeninance in 1662 after Alexander, or Wamsutta, his brother died. Alexander’s widow Weetamoo, was sachem of the Pocassets and remained Philip’s ally and friend. At first Philip continued the policies of his father and brother. As a sachem, he took the lead in much of his tribes trade with the colonies. He styled himself Philip, and bought his clothes in Boston.

2) Massachusett’s Bay colony continued to expand. (Even Roger Williams was told to relocate because he hadn’t fled far enough.) The Iroquois Confederation also expanded in the west. In 1671 the colonial leaders of the Plymouth Colony forced major concessions from him. He surrendered much of his tribe’s armament and ammunition, and agreed that they were subject to English law. This resulted in a limited ability to hunt for food and trade, a limited ability to defend themselves against the Iroquois and recall that Assachusetts was the only colony to hold heresy trials.

3) Hostilities broke out in 1675. When the war turned against him, Philip hid in the Great Assowamset Swamp in southern Rhode Island. Here he held out for a time, with his family and remaining followers. A momument in the swamp records his death but other sources say shot on August 12, 1676 at Mount Hope in Bristol, Rhode Island. The man who lead the posse - Captain Benjamin Church - is a dubious character and something of a bounty hunter. After Philip’s death, his wife and eight year old son were captured and sold as slaves in the Caribbean while his head was mounted on a pike at the entrance to Fort Plymouth, where it remained for over two decades. I would say he is a hero in Rhode Island, though. Of course, until the 1960s Assachusetts had a law on the books that residents of Rhode Island could be shot on sight.

Zip Codes

1) ZIP Code stands for Zone Improvement Plan code. As an acronym is should be written with capital letters. Like many acronyms, it is partly fiction—it is supposed to suggest more efficient (and thus faster) service when used. The first ZIP codes used five numeric digits. The new ZIP+4 code uses the same five digits plus four more digits which indicate a very small area. Once registered as a trademark by the U.S. Postal Service, the registration of ZIP Code™ has expired.

2) Postal zones have been used for large American cities since 1943. On July 1, 1963, ZIP Codes were announced for the whole country. Robert Moon submitted a proposal in 1944 while working as a postal inspector. The post office credits Moon with only the first 3 digits of the ZIP Code. In most cases, the last two digits of the ZIP Code coincide with the older urban postal zones. In 1967, ZIP Codes were made mandatory for second- and third-class bulk mailers. Later, the system was adopted generally. The United States Post Office used a cartoon character, Mr. ZIP, to promote use of the ZIP Code in the 1970s.
In 1983, the US Postal Service began ZIP+4. The extra digits specify such things as a city block, a group of apartments, an individual high-volume receiver of mail. Use of the plus-four code is not required except for certain presorted mailings. In general, mail is read by a Multiline Optical Character Reader (MLOCR) that instantly determines the correct ZIP+4 code from the address and sprays an 11-digit POSTNET barcode on face of the mailpiece. Each Post Office box generally has the last four digits of the box number or 0 plus the last three digits of the box number as its ZIP+4 code. 9998 is often used for mail addressed to the postmaster, 9999 for general delivery, and other high-numbered add-on codes for business reply mail and requests for special cancellation of stamps. The ZIP Code is often translated into a barcode called POSTNET, that is printed on the mailpiece as well, to make it easier for automated machines to sort the mail. POSTNET uses long and short bars, not thin and thick bars. The post office generally uses OCR technology, though a human may have to read the address if absolutely necessary. The automated machinery pastes the coding over the bottom half-inch of postcards. Bulk mailers can get a discount if they pre-print the barcode themselves. Theoretically, every single mailable point in the country has its own 11-digit number.

3) Being numeric and comprehensive, the first digit corresponds to ten geographic regions.
  • 0 = CT, MA, ME, NH, NJ, PR, RI, VT, VI, AE.
  • 1 = DE, NY, PA.
  • 2 = DC, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV.
  • 3 = AL, FL, GA, MS, TN, AA.
  • 4 = IN, KY, MI, OH.
  • 5 = IA, MN, MT, ND, SD, WI.
  • 6 = IL, KS, MO, NE.
  • 7 = AR, LA, OK, TX.
  • 8 = AZ, CO, ID, NM, NV, UT, WY.
  • 9 = AK, AS, CA, GU, HI, MP, OR, WA, AP.

These regions are used by various government agencies. The fact that Daniel 7:23 mentions ten kingdoms in the last days is only a happy coincidence.


1) Blackletter script derived from Carolingian miniscule—a script promoted by a man (Karl Der Grosse) whose literacy is debated. Used for secular literature, this scripte was speedy and legible. Carolingian, though legible, was time-consuming and labour-intensive. It was large and wide and took up a lot of space on a manuscript. (Its legibility was the reason for its promulgation.) Blackletter originated in north-eastern France and the Low Countries.

2) Johannes Gutenberg carved a blackletter typeface called “textualis.” This font included ligatures and common abbreviations. Textualis, also known as textura or Gothic bookhand, was the most calligraphic form of blackletter, and today is the form most associated with “Gothic”. The name is an Italian one and is meant to be derogatory, just like the “Gothic” cathedrals.

3) Despite the frequent association of blackletter with German, the script was actually very slow to develop in German-speaking areas. It developed first in those areas closest to France and then spread to the east and south in the 13th century. However, the German-speaking areas are where blackletter remained in use the longest. In 1915, Suetterlinschrift, Sütterlin for short, was introduced by the Prussian ministry for culture. A form of the old German blackletter handwriting (“Spitzschrift”), it was designed by and named after Ludwig Sütterlin, a German graphical designer and teacher. In 1935 it officially became part of the curriculum as an “Aryan script”.


1) Between about 900 and 1600, the boyars were the second highest rank of Russian and Romanian aristocracy, after ruling princes. It is worth noting that Russia had scads of princes. Sometimes, these “princes” are governed by a “grand duke.” (Dukes above princes? Well, it’s a fault of tranlation. The terms are really “king” and “big king,” but just like a rajah, their power was often quite limited.) The Boyars ranked above the Dvoryans, who had an inherited right to own land but no title.

2) The power and prestige of the Boyars was a result of service to the state, family history of service and landownership. The highest state offices were reserved for boyars and through a council, they advised the prince. After Ivan the Terrible, the service of a Boyar was bound by heredity to one prince. Previously, they swapped around. Peter the Great ended their councils.

3) Between the Mongol invasion and Peter the Great, Okolnichiy was an old rank and a position at the court of Russian rulers The word is derived from the Russian word for “close.” The duties of first known okolnichies resemble those of the chamberlain. Initially, the rank of okolnichy was the second highest after that of boyar, but they often performed similar duties. A person could not be made boyar, if someone else in his family hadn’t recently held a boyar or okolnichy rank. Consequently, a position of okolnichy was a step towards granting the boyarship to a non-noble. Even Prince Dmitry Pozharsky, though a Rurikid knyaz by birth and the “Saviour of Fatherland” by royal mercy, could not secure a position higher than “okolnichy”, because neither his parents nor uncles had ever held a rank higher than stolnik (the lowest rank of state service).

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