Malevolent constellations

mullet over

In post WWI Germany, gliders were quite the rage. It was 1930 when a regional glider club held an exhibition in which five adventurous pilots flew into a very tall thundercloud. They were hoping to use the powerful storm updrafts while setting new glider altitude records and thus become the envy of all in attendance. The updrafts were more powerful than anticipated. All but one of the adventuresome 5 froze to death before plummeting to the ground. That one had bailed out early.

– Some predictions for the future simply miss “the mark.” In 1955, vacuum cleaner executive Alex Lewyt, boldly foretold “by 1965, nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will be a common reality.”

– “Influenza” means “influence” in Italian. The disease was so-named in 1743 as result of the belief that particular infection was caused by evil influences of misaligned stars and malevolent constellations.

– The variety of flower you send to a person supposedly carries an underlying message. For instance, jonquils imply “Your Affections Are Returned.” Irises are saying “Thank You” or “With Sympathy.”

– In many Renaissance religious paintings, Judas Iscariot is depicted as a redhead.  There exists no Biblical or known historical reference supporting the color choice for the betrayer’s hair. Scholars have thus far no consensus opinion as to the origin or the significance of this traditional portrayal.

– In olden times Greeks identified the common onion bulb as a food possessing special powers. Athletes often chose the plant as a large portion of their diets. I presume one might have identified an athlete in training by sniffing his/her breath.

– Apparently it was none other than William Shakespeare who first referred to a coward as a “chicken.”

– Vodka is made using the processes of fermentation, distillation and filtration. Often either vegetables (potatoes, beets, etc.) or grains (frequently barley, rye, wheat or corn) are used to make varied versions of this liquor that is replete with a potent almost odorless kick.

– Rumor is that a singer of Armenian lineage named Cherilyn Sarkisian has a fine voice and excellent stage presence. Ms. Sarkisian has become one of the main attractions in Las Vegas. Her stage name is CHER.

– The highest natural summit in Louisiana is found on Driskill Mountain. This peak has been carefully measured to stand 535 feet above sea level. New Orleans is home to two buildings taller than Driskill Mountain. Well, be careful as to what sort of “influence” that you encounter – and have a Great Day.

James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at