Friday Fun Facts - 4/26/2013

Here are this week's Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books.


1) Looking at the spines covering this European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), it certainly seems as though mating would be uncomfortable, to say the least!
"If you’ll not let me be spiritual about it, you’ll have to put up wi’ my baser nature. I’m going to be a beast.” He bit my neck. “Do ye want me to be a horse, a bear, or a dog?”

“A hedgehog.”

“A hedgehog? And just how does a hedgehog make love?” he demanded.

No, I thought. I won’t. I will not. But I did. “Very carefully,” I replied, giggling helplessly. So now we know just how old that one is, I thought.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 17, "We Meet a Beggar". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here's a brief BBC video about the mating habits of hedgehogs, narrated by David Attenborough.

2) The photo above shows what ginseng root looks like.  There are two main varieties of ginseng; the type Claire and Nayawenne found in North Carolina was the American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius.
I had been fortunate enough to find four large ginseng roots the week before.  I fetched all four from my medicine chest and pressed them into her hands, smiling. [Nayawenne] looked back at me, then grinned, and untying the cloth bag from her belt, thrust it at me.  I didn't have to open it; I could feel the four long, lumpy shapes through the cloth.

I laughed in return; yes, we definitely spoke the same language!

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 20, "The White Raven". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
According to this site,
Ginseng has been found to protect the body and nervous system from stress, stimulate and increase metabolic function, increase physical and mental efficiency, lower blood pressure and glucose levels when they are high, and raise them....when they are low, increase gastrointestinal movement and tone, increase iron metabolism, and cause changes in nucleic acid (RNA) biosynthesis.

In geriatric use, Ginseng has been proven beneficial in restoring mental abilities....This herb also aids mental function by improving circulation. Animal studies have clearly demonstrated Ginseng's ability to help the learning process.
For more about the medicinal properties of ginseng and its use as a herbal remedy, look here and here.

3) I had never heard of a Roman hypocaust before I read A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES.  The photo above shows the remains of a hypocaust at Bignor Roman Villa, Sussex, UK. Click on the photo for a bigger view. The arrows indicate the direction in which the warm air flowed.
"Not for this winter,” she said, taking him contentedly by the arm, “but eventually--I’m wondering if I can vent some of the heat from the kiln, and run it under the floor of the cabin. You know what a Roman hypocaust is?”

“I do.” He turned to eye the foundation of his domicile, a simple hollow base of fieldstone on which the log walls were built. The notion of central heating in a crude mountain cabin made him want to laugh, but there was really nothing impossible about it, he supposed. “You’d what? Run pipes of warm air through the foundation stones?”

“Yes. Always assuming I can actually make good pipes, which remains to be seen. What do you think?”

He glanced from the proposed project up the hill to the Big House. Even at this distance, a mound of dirt by the foundation was visible, evidence of the white sow’s burrowing capabilities.

“I think ye run a great danger of having that big white buggeress transfer her affections to us, if ye make a cozy warm den under our house."

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 26, "An Eye to the Future". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here's an interesting article explaining how a Roman hypocaust works.

4) This is an example of a hook prosthesis from the early 19th century. I think it's similar to what Fergus would have worn.
"Complainant stated that one Fergus Fraser struck him in the face with his fist, causing complainant to fall stunned upon the ground, whereat the defendant seized the bridle of the horse, leapt upon it, and rode away, calling out remarks of an abusive nature in the French tongue. Complainant--”

A loud cough from the dock pulled all eyes to the defendant, who smiled charmingly at Mr. Justice Conant, plucked a handkerchief from his pocket and elaborately wiped his face--using the hook at the end of his left arm.

“Oh!” said the Justice, and swiveled cold eyes toward the witness chair, where Berowne squirmed in hot-faced agony.

“And would you care to explain, sir, how you have sustained injury upon the right side of your face, when struck by the left fist of a man who does not have one?”

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 41, "Journey's End". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here's an article about the history of prosthetic limbs.  The technology certainly has come a long, long way!

5) I had a set of colorful plastic pop-it beads like the ones shown above when I was five or six. Here are more examples.
I sank down on the ground, dazed. Hodgepile’s body lay nearby, limbs askew. I glanced at it, the picture clear in my mind of a necklace Bree had had as a child, made of linked plastic beads that came apart when you pulled them. Pop-It pearls, they were called. I wished vaguely that I didn’t remember that.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28, "Curses". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here's an article about the history of Pop-it beads.  (I had no idea they were actually a popular fad in the 1950's, and I certainly wasn't aware that adults wore them!)

I hope you enjoyed these Friday Fun Facts! Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts, and please come back next week for more.


Anonymous said...

Karen -- my sister and I had a whole bunch of pop it beads when we were little. We loved playing with them and making different sized necklaces and bracelets out of them and we even wore them to church on Sunday. That gave us something to play with during the sermon!!!!

Michelle said...

Ah, Pop-it beads; I remember them well. It was fun to make them into various sizes, from bracelet to long looping necklaces. And just popping them apart and reconnecting them was sort of like fingering a worry stone--a little addicting!

Luneray said...

Another great Friday Fun Facts! This is really one of the joys of my week.

Loved the hedgehog video!

Julie Rutter said...

My grandmother used to wear these kind of beads. As a child I would love to play with them, popping them apart and then popping them back together!

Powered by Blogger.