Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thirteen Facts You Might Not Know

Rumor has it that the characters authors create possess elements of their creators’ personality. I’m not sure that’s always true, but in this instant, it might be.

I love doing research and learning new things and fortunately in my latest fiction endeavor I’ve got a brainy character who likes to drop facts into his everyday conversations, so here are thirteen bits of trivia, my character knows that you might enjoy.

  1. Blood is complex. There are 250 million separate cells in each blood drop. (Mastoff, 18)
  2. You’ve much more hair than you think.  An ordinary or normal person possesses about five million hair follicles. (Mastoff, 35)
  3. But don’t sweat it. You’re probably not visibly hairy. Most of those hairs are vellus hairs, those really fine baby hairs you can barely see.  (Mastoff, 35)
  4. Speaking of sweat, would you like to know how much you perspire? If you’re an average human on an average day, you sweat about four cups. (Mastoff, 21)
  5. Four cups sounds like a lot of liquid, but guess what? You actually produce about a quart and a half of spit, politely called saliva a day. (Mastoff, 121)
  6. What do we do with that much saliva? We eat. For us to taste food, we have to mix that food with saliva. (Seuling, 7)
  7. And the average person eats about 1095 pounds of food a year or about three pound of food a day. (Mastoff, 121)
  8. That’s about a pound less than the average human brain. It weighs in at about four pounds. (Seuling, 7)
  9. But most of the brain’s weight comes from water. (Seuling, 7)
  10. Some other interesting facts about the brain are, according to You Blink Twelve times a Minute: And Other Freaky Facts about the Human Body, it takes about ten watts of electricity to power a brain. (4)
  11. And if you stub your big toe, it takes less than a second of the sensation of pain to register in your brain. (Seuling, 4)
  12. Technically the brain doesn’t experience pain itself because it doesn’t have any pain receptors. (Greenwald)
  13. Still it’s important to care for your brain because unlike the rest of the body, it doesn’t replace the cells it loses. (Seuling, 5) That said, the brain makes new connections, even clusters of connections when we learn (Stephens) and that’s an over simplification of the process, but it’s encouraging to me and I hope it encourages you.

As you’re reading this blog, your brain may be making some new connections. Thanks for stopping by and if you have an interesting fact or opinion to share, please leave a comment.

Works Cited
Greenwald, Brian. "Can the Brain Itself Feel Pain?" Can the Brain Itself Feel Pain? Web. 22 Jan. 2015. .

Masoff, Joy, and Terry Sirrell. Oh, Yuck!: The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty. New York: Workman Pub., 2000. Print.

Seuling, Barbara, and Ryan Haugen. You Blink Twelve times a Minute: And Other Freaky Facts about the Human Body. Minneapolis, Minn.: Picture Window, 2009. Print.

Stephens, Tim. "New Brain Connections Form in Clusters during Learning." UC Santa Cruz News. 19 Feb. 2012. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. .

Thursday, January 8, 2015

I Bet You Didn't Know! Strange and Wonderful New Year's Customs
If you’re like me, you spent New Year’s Eve watching the big ball drop in Times Square on TV and counting down the last seconds of 2014. You may have shared a champagne toast or you might have spent the moment in quiet reflection.  But have you ever wondered how other cultures celebrate a year’s beginning?
I have and it inspired a little research. Here are thirteen other ways people recognize the next year’s birth.

  1. In China people make noise to frighten off evil. Often they ignite fireworks.
  2. In Denmark, celebrators throw dishes at friends’ doors. Apparently the person with the most friends had the most broken china outside their entrance.
  3. In England, some believe the first guest to enter their home in the New Year will determine that year’s fortune. That puts a little pressure on that visitor. He’s supposed to bring a gift along with his well-wishes.
  4. In Belgium, New Year’s Eve is called Saint Sylvester Eve. People throw family parties, kiss family and friends and toast in the year’s birth.
  5. In Brazil, some people serve lentils, which they consider to be lucky. Others wear blue and white, while still others go to the beach of Rio de Janeiro and launch boats filled with candles and flowers into the ocean.
  6. In Austria hosts serve piglets and peppermint ice cream for good fortune.
  7. In Germany some celebrants pour molten lead into cold water to predict the future. If the lead forms a heart, romance and possibly marriage may happen in the next year.
  8. In Japan, many people visit temples, where the bells ring 108 times to ward off evil.
  9. In Puerto Rico, people clean their homes and throw buckets of water out their windows to clean the old year and its troubles away.
  10.  In Spain, exactly at midnight, celebrants eat twelve grapes to secure luck in every month of the coming year.
  11.  In many Jewish homes, New Year’s Day is called Rosh Hashanah and it’s a day reserved for prayer and introspection.
  12. In the Netherlands, New Year’s birth is proclaimed by lighting a bonfire, which might have the old Christmas tree at its heart. In this way people burn away the old and welcome in the start of something new.
  13. In the Philippines, people look for round objects, which are considered auspicious. Eating grapes, throwing coins and wearing polka dots are popular.

There are many ways people mark a new year’s arrival and all of them are intriguing. Did you do something special? Or do you know of an interesting New Year’s custom?    Please share.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Water Beasties Across The Seven Seas

By Elizabeth MS Flynn w/a Eilis Flynn
My friend Jacquie Rogers and I offer an entire series of workshops about myths and legends around the world, but it was only last year that a regular at our workshops suggested that we might consider the myths and legends around the world…of the seas. We grabbed at the idea, because it was something that we had noticed during our research on the subject. There were mermaids and fishies and kraken, but what else could we pinpoint about the myths?

Good question. There was a lot, even in areas we think of being desert (remember the Middle East? Not all desert! Sure, big chunks, but not all desert!). What I found fascinating in particular was the river myth, not just the river nymphs and demons lurking thereabouts, but the concept of death that accompanied the river myth that popped up consistently around the world. In every region there was a story about a river one had to cross to get to the land of death, whether by paying off the ferryman (not just the river Styx) or by finding a certain shallow point at the river in question in order to cross to where death resides.

If you think of it, the water is the one part of the world that remains not completely and thoroughly explored. Every day there seems to be a story in the news media about a fish or other form of marine life assumed long extinct that shows up in a fisherman’s boat, alive, kicking, and clearly not extinct (and not even the last of its species). So maybe those water myths aren’t so mythical after all. In the wilds of Africa, there are numerous instances of river and swamp creatures thought to be mythical, but there are fossil records of dinosaurs long gone that are very similar to the descriptions of those water beasties. Myth or reality?

And water ghosts! There are ghosts that hang out specifically around lakes and seas in order to bring down the unsuspecting mariner or water-traveler. But some of them also hang around in order to protect the unsuspecting mariner or water-traveler, depending on how obnoxious they are (your choice who the “they” refer to).

The oceans are truly the final undiscovered country of Earth, and they’ve been feared and respected in perhaps equal parts as long as mankind has been around, spinning tales about what could possibly dwell down below. From the sinister kappa that wait in the rivers to attack the unsuspecting human in Japan to the water ghosts of the Nordic countries, join me and Jacquie Rogers as we take a trip around the world in a glass-bottomed boat and see what awaits under the sea. Water, water everywhere, but it’s always been mysterious. And as always, what people don’t understand, they make up. You can sign up at The workshop starts on February 2.

Elizabeth MS Flynn has written fiction in the form of comic book stories, romantic fantasies, urban fantasies, historical fantasies and short stories, a young adult novel, and a graphic novella (most published under the name of Eilis Flynn). She’s also a professional editor and has been for more than 35 years, working with academia, technology, and finance nonfiction, and romance fiction. If you’re looking for an editor, she can be found editing at and reached at If you’re curious about her books, check out In any case, she can be reached at