Pulse Rate February 2011

A possible origin of Groundhog Day is the weather prediction traditions during the Celtic pagan festival of Imbolc based on the appearance of serpents or badgers from their winter dens.

Although figures vary by source, here is a rough guide to ice thicknesses all the way to the upper limit of what might occur on LI waters—Less than 4 inches: stay off; 4 inches: 200 lbs; 5 inches: 800 lbs; 7 inches: 1,500 lbs; 8 inches: 2,000 lbs.

There is one stipulation to the winners of an Oscar. They, nor their heirs, cannot sell it without first offering it back to the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for $1. If the winner refuses to uphold the stipulation, the Academy keeps the statuette.

Arguably the largest recorded snowball fight in history occurred between Confederate army units in northern Virginia’s Rappahannock Valley during the winter of 1863. It began as Texas vs. Arkansas, a lark for a few hundred soldiers, but escalated to a battle royale involving 9,000.

It snows metallic compounds, specifically lead and bismuth sulfides, on the planet Venus.

The first Academy Award ever presented was for Best Actor, awarded to Emil Jannings in 1929 for his performances in the films The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh. Originally, the award was for the actor’s performances in all films of a given time period, in this case 1927-28.

The official story of the Great Seal of the United States (on the back of the $1 bill): The 13 steps of the pyramid represent the original 13 colonies; the Roman numerals spell out “1776,” the year of the US’s founding; The eye at the peak of the pyramid and the Latin phrase “ANNUIT COEPTIS” symbolize God’s approval of America and the phrase “NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM” commemorates the beginning of the American era.

Although there have probably been around 2 dozen Punxsutawney Phils since his first recorded prediction in 1887 (being that groundhogs only live 6-10 years), his “Inner Circle” caretakers insist the current one is still the original and he is given “Groundhog Punch” every summer, which magically extends his life 7 years.

Here’s the deal about leap years: A calendar year, based on the span of time it takes for the Earth to complete an orbit around the sun, is 365 days, however, it actually takes approximately 365 days and 6 hours, so every 4 years, 24 extra hours have accumulated and an extra day is added to February.

Wisconsin was a hotbed of experimentation with primitive snowmobiles in the late 19th and early 20th century. Some early models included bicycles on runners with gripping fins, steam-powered sleighs and Model T Fords outfitted with tractor treads and skis.

There are conflicting stories as to whether it is a bestowed honor or a vilification, but George Washington garnered a nickname from Iroquois Native Americans variously translated as Town Destroyer, Town Taker, Burner of Towns, or Devourer of Villages.

Abraham Lincoln was not the first personage to appear on the front of the US $5 bill, prior likeness included Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson, Christopher Columbus, Ulysses S. Grant and Running Antelope.

The linkage of St. Valentine and February 14th (his feast day) is because his martyrdom and burial is said to have taken place just outside of ancient Rome on that day around 269 AD. But he doesn’t appear on early Christian martyr lists and there may have actually been several St. Valentines. We may never know the truth.