Posted: August 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: People | Tags: | No Comments »

A penny saved is a penny earned--even for billionaires

Some of the richest people have the most parsimonious habits. Jim C. Walton, an heir to the Walmart legacy, was worth $16.4 billion as of 2007 but reportedly drove a 15-year-old Dodge Dakota. Similarly, Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad was worth $33 billion but drove a 15-year-old Volvo and regularly flew coach. Warren Buffet had a net value of $57 billion yet lived in the same home he had bought for $31,500 nearly 50 years earlier.

Parsimonious (pronounced “par-seh-MOE-nee-es”)

Excessively sparing or frugal.


From Latin parcere, “to spare, save”, plus monia, a suffix indicating action, state, or condition.


stingy, miserly, penurious


ABC News |   Photo by: kevin


Posted: August 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: People | Tags: | 2 Comments »

Pacific Ocean at over 200 km (124 miles) from surface

The astronaut Gordon Cooper had 20-12 vision, which means that he could see almost twice as well as a normally-sighted person. In fact, he claimed to espy railroad tracks in northern India and smoking chimneys in the Himalayas when orbiting the earth 100 miles above its surface. While some psychologists argue that he was merely making accurate guesses based on vague clues, science writer Joan Steen Wilentz points out several factors that lend him credibility. Because the atmosphere was very clear, lighting was ideal, and he was breathing pure oxygen in his capsule (which enhances vision), he may have actually seen the objects he claimed to — from 100 miles away.

Espy (pronounced “ih-SPIE”)

To catch sight of (something distant, partially hidden, or obscure); glimpse.


From Old French espier, from colloquial Latin spiare, “to spy”.


detect, glimpse, descry


The Senses of Man (pg. 318)   |   Photo by: blatantworld


Posted: August 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: People | Tags: | 2 Comments »

Nakamatsu claims patent to the floppy disk, CD, and digital watch

Inventor Yoshiro Nakamatsu is the world record holder for the most patents, currently numbering over 3,000. However, he is characterized as much by his outré habits as he is by his inventiveness. He has photographed and analyzed every meal he has eaten over the past 34 years, and with the help of a specially formulated snack, expects to live for 144 years—no more, no less. When asked how he he triggers his ideas, he responded that “A lack of oxygen is very important”; he submerges himself underwater until he gets a “flash” only “0.5 seconds before death”, and scribbles it onto a plexiglass writing pad.

Outré (pronounced “ooh-TRAY”)

Highly unconventional; eccentric or bizarre: “outré and affected stage antics”


Appeared in English in early 1700s, from French outré, present participle of outrer, meaning to “to carry to excess, overdo, or exaggerate”.


eccentric, idiosyncratic, outlandish


Yoshiro Nakamatsu, We Salute You |   Photo by: blakespot


Posted: July 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: People | Tags: | 3 Comments »

Photo of Andrew Jackson at 78, months before his death

Whether Andrew Jackson was a good or bad president, he was certainly an irascible being. Mere insults frequently provoked him to engage in duels, which in those days consisted of standing point-blank in front of an opponent and firing a musket. He was shot so many times that historian Chris Wallace exaggerated, “he was known to rattle like a bag of marbles”. The only man he actually killed in a duel, Charles Dickinson, was challenged after he insulted his wife. Jackson let Dickinson shoot first, which lodged a bullet deeply in his chest that stayed there for life.

Irascible (pronounced “ih-RAS-əh-bəl”)

1. *Prone to outbursts of temper; easily angered.
2. Characterized by or resulting from anger.


From Latin irasci, “grow angry”, from ira, “anger”. Ira is also the root of “irate”.


irritable, hotheaded, choleric


Wikipedia: Andrew Jackson


Posted: July 23rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: People | Tags: | No Comments »

Evelyn Glennie at Moers Festival 2004

Evelyn Glennie creates sonorous music on the xylophone, marimba, and drums as the world’s preeminent solo percussionist—and she is profoundly deaf. She asserts that her purpose is to “teach the world how to listen”, claiming that we can register sound not only with our ears, but with our whole bodies. For this reason, she performs barefoot to better receive musical vibrations from the floor.

Sonorous (pronounced “SON-er-əs”)

1. Having or producing sound.
2.*Having or producing a full, deep, or rich sound.
3. Impressive in style of speech: a sonorous oration.
4. Produced in the manner of a sonorant.


From Latin sonare, meaining “to sound”. Sonare also brings us sonata, assonance, consonant, and dissonant.


resounding, plangent, resonant, rich


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