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TABLE OF CONTENTS ISSUE 2012.05

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Fun & Unusual Holidays

January 30, 2012

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Q: Why is Christmas just like a day at the office? A: You do all the work, and the fat guy with the suit gets all the credit.

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FUN & UNUSUAL HOLIDAYS by Blue Sullivan

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Name that Movie or Famous Figure!

To people outside of the United States, several of our holidays may seem peculiar. Imagine a foreign person arriving here during our Halloween celebration, for instance. Crowds of people dressed in frightful costumes and wandering the streets looking for candy might appear like an instance of mass insanity to an outsider. All over the world, people conduct similarly unusual (and fun) celebrations. Below, Tidbits explores just a few.

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• Have you ever thought to yourself, “There just aren’t enough holidays where grown men cavort in diapers?” No? Well, Japan has a similar holiday for you anyway. On January 14, people in Japan celebrate The Naked Festival where men gather in loincloths (not actual diapers, thankfully) and galavant all over the city until the clock strikes 12. At midnight, they gather in a Shinto temple to observe another interesting tradition, attempting to catch bits of wood dropped from overhead by a local priest. Catch one and it means good luck for an entire year! turn the page for more!

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Tidbits® of Hoover

Your Family’s Health History When it comes to leaving something for the next generations, there’s something even more valuable than albums with carefully identified photos -- and that is your family’s health history. The U.S. surgeon general has created the “My Family Health Portrait,” an online tool that helps organize the specifics of your family’s health. The potential benefits to the next generations are big. There are certain diseases that can run in the family, like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The risk for high blood pressure can show up through the generations. By knowing what diseases are common in the family, the generations that follow will be able to guard against diseases that might have a hereditary basis. Their doctors will be able to assess which diagnostic and screening tests to run at various times based on family history.

The potential benefits to the next generations are big. There are certain diseases that can run in the family, like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The risk for high blood pressure can show up through the generations. By knowing what diseases are common in the family, the generations that follow will be able to guard against diseases that might have a hereditary basis. Their doctors will be able to assess which diagnostic and screening tests to run at various times based on family history. If you’d like to create your own family health file, go online to https://familyhistory.hhs.gov/ to access the online tool. You’ll start with baseline questions like your age, gender, whether you were born a twin, and your height and weight. You’ll move into the section on diseases or conditions you have or have had in the past. Then it gets a bit tricky when you have to list your relatives. It’s set up like a family tree: You start with your mother and father, if possible, and what you know about their health. Ideally, you can gather information for a total of three generations. At the end you can save the file and update it later as you gather more information, or print out what you have and share it with your family.

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For Advertising Call 205-515-5288 HOLIDAYS (continued): silliness when they observe Iverea Carnevale’s of the country’s annual carnival (held during enacts an 1194 revolt by the people against a cruel count and his troops. The original revolt was conducted with stones, but today, the citizenry have smartly taken to instead using the oranges that exceed the country’s yearly the scene enthusiastically, so if you happen to attend, don’t forget to duck.

named NBC sitcom last year). All the colors of the rainbow are tossed around in powders that men and women throw at each other. In addition, people pitch buckets of water on each other, making for a messy good time. These playful activities are accompanied by dancing and the frenzied beating of drums. This festival as well, since it marks one of the only times where one sees men and women of various social castes mixing in Indian society.

15, is part of the Thai New Year and is a very sun on certain Zodiac signs, it is water that captures the attention and imagination of all the locals.

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Gulf War Syndrome, Diet Sodas Linked? Gulf War Syndrome is often a mystery to the medical profession because there are so many varieties of symptoms. What happens in one veteran doesn’t happen in another. Even the source isn’t completely clear. Was it from the vaccines given? Bug sprays? Depleted uranium dust? How about the oil-well fires? Or was it from something completely innocuous -- the diet sodas? Aspartame is a sweetener that’s used in diet sodas. Cooks realized long ago that using it in recipes was a bad idea because the sweetener breaks down at high temperatures. What happened to all those cases of drinks over in Iraq and Afghanistan? Were they kept chilled the whole way? Not likely. A better scenario is that they sat on the hot tarmac before being transported to a hot storage area. The temperature at which Aspartame breaks down in a mere 85 degrees F, turning into chemicals such as formaldehyde and formic acid. I’m not a doctor or a researcher, but from reading the studies it looks like there are biologic effects from putting Aspartame in the human body. In the U.K. and Canada, special product labeling is required when the sweetener is used in food. Is there a link between the ingestion of Aspartame and the symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome? Arguments exist on both sides of the issue. If you want to do your own research, put these all words in an Internet search engine: aspartame methanol formaldehyde formic acid. Look for the scholarly articles, not those a non-medical person has written. If you are suffering with any of the myriad symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome, try cutting Aspartame completely out of your diet for one month and see how you feel. You’ll need to read the ingredients in everything you consume.

Is the book of Joel in the Old or New Testament or neither? 2. From Judges 14, what man offered 30 changes of garments for solving a riddle? Moses, Samson, Peter, Solomon 3. Who argued with the devil in a quarrel over the body of Moses? Michael the archangel, a beggar, Miriam, Zipporah 4. From Zechariah 10:2, “For the idols have spoken ...” what? Hope, Vanity, Loudly, Nothing 5. Whose last words were, “What is there done, my son”? Samson, John, Eli, Paul 6. From 1 Kings 4, how many governors did King Solomon have?

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Grocery Sticker Shock Have you seen the price of hamburger lately? During the past year, the price of beef has skyrocketed, with that made-at-home burger costing 10 percent more than it did a year ago. The Economic Research Service arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture keeps track of forecasts, and it’s taken a close look at 2011. We know it costs more to feed our families, but just how bad is it? As a general rule, food prices go up 2.9 percent each

year. In 2011 the average increase was a whopping 4.5 percent, and where it got us in the wallet was in the staples. A pork chop costs 6.9 percent more than it did a year ago. A chicken leg costs 10.5 percent more. Eggs are up 10.2 percent. Cheese up 8.4 percent. Turkey up 10.5 percent. Milk up 9.8 percent. Even potatoes soared by 12 percent. Cereals, on the other hand, went up only 6.2 percent. Is it any wonder people are feeding their kids cereal for dinner? Supply and demand is given as the reason: More of us are sticking to basics, which pushes up the demand, which pushes up the price. The things we’re not buying -- steaks, for example -- didn’t see much of a price increase because there wasn’t much of a demand. The USDA predicts that food prices for 2012 will “only” go up 3 percent to 4 percent, which still is above the long-term average.

How to survive until prices come down? Here are some ideas: --Shop the ads. This is no time to be loyal. If another nearby store has a special, go there. Stock up within reason. --Use your customer cards to take advantage of discounts. --Invest in a big box “club” membership. Be aware that the food comes in large bulk sizes and be prepared to split the costs with a friend. Divide and freeze meal-size portions. If you don’t have a freezer, barter with a friend to share the bounty in exchange for freezer space. --Study nutrition. Learn how to combine cheaper protein sources, such as beans and rice. Get creative with pasta. Go online to www.eatingwell.com and put “cheap” in the search box. Try www.cheapcooking.com and other similar sites.


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To Your Good Health By Paul G Donohue M.D.

Yeast Infection Tends to Recur DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I haven’t seen an article about vaginal yeast infections. The doctor gave me an oral antiyeast medicine for it and a cream to apply. In addition, he gave me something to stop the itching. It seemed worse after the treatment, so the doctor gave me five more days of the oral medicine. What would you suggest if it comes back again? Could it be something I am eating or taking? -- N.F.

TELEVISION: Who played Barney Fife on “The Andy Griffith Show”? 2. HISTORY: The Battle of Hastings was fought to control which country? 3. CHILDREN’S LITERATURE: What awardwinning Christmas book did Chris Van Allsburg write? 4. MUSIC: By which nickname did The Doors’ Jim Morrison refer to himself? 5. GENERAL KNOWLEDGE: What Balkan leader’s real name was Josip Broz? 6. MOVIES: What shape did Hermione Granger’s patronus take in the “Harry Potter” series? 7. ENTERTAINMENT: What kind of entertainer would use the “DeManche change”? 8. LANGUAGE: What is the Hawaiian word for “quick”? 9. POETRY: Who wrote “Sonnets from the Portuguese”? 10. GEOGRAPHY: What is the largest tidal estuary in the United States?

1. In 2010, Texas’ Josh Hamilton became the third Ranger to lead the A.L. in batting average for a season. Name either of the other two. 2. Who is the all-time leader in stolen bases for the Toronto Blue Jays? 3. Name the first team to win 15 games in a regular season once the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978. 4. Which was the lowest-seeded men’s basketball team to win a game in the 2011 NCAA Tournament (not counting the First Four games)? 5. When was the last time Canadianbased NHL teams won at least five consecutive Stanley Cups? 6. In 2011, Tony Stewart became the second driver to win the first two races in NASCAR’s Chase playoff format. Who was the first? 7. Roger Federer holds the record for most singles titles won at the ATP World Tour Finals. How many has he captured?

ANSWER: Candida is the name of the yeast responsible for vaginal infections. Itching is a prominent sign. The vaginal lining also often is irritated and painful. Intercourse can be uncomfortable. White patches adhere to the vaginal lining, and there may be a white discharge. Close to 75 percent of all women will experience at least one Candida infection during their life. It has nothing to do with what you eat or take. Somewhere between 20 percent and 50 percent of woman harbor this yeast in their vagina but don’t have any symptoms of it. If these women are put on an antibiotic for an unrelated infection, the vaginal bacteria that keep the population of Candida at small numbers die off. Without those good bacteria, the Candida yeasts reproduce at a rapid rate and lead to symptoms. You were put on a standard treatment for Candida. Those treatments are antiyeast medicines that come as ointments, creams or vaginal suppositories. There are many of them. The oral antiyeast fluconazole (Diflucan) is another approved treatment. Recurrence of this infection is common and hard to abolish. If it happens, longer treatment with vaginal antiyeast medicines coupled with a weekly dose of oral Diflucan for six months is a reasonable action. If that fails, referral to a center that has the capability to check Candida’s sensitivity to antiyeast medication can end the problem. Unproven but popular ways of attacking this infection include eating yogurt with live lactobacillus in it to repopulate the vagina’s normal bacterial population. Another unproven approach is to treat the male partner. It hasn’t been shown that such an approach works, but some experts resort to it. Vaginal infections are discussed at length in the booklet on that topic. To obtain a copy, write: Dr. Donohue -No. 1203W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

of Hoover 205-552-5502 One Super Bowl Chili This recipe for Texas-style chili contains small chunks of beef, not ground meat. The classic version doesn’t contain beans, but we replaced a portion of the meat with red kidney beans to cut some fat. 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 pounds boneless beef for stew, cut into 1/2-inch chunks 4 cloves garlic, crushed with garlic press 2 red peppers, cut into 1/2-inch dice 2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and minced 1 large onion, chopped 1/3 cup chili powder 2 cans (28-ounce) whole tomatoes in puree 1 can (6-ounce) tomato paste 1/4 cup sugar 2 teaspoons salt 2 teaspoon dried oregano 2 cans (15- to 19-ounce) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained 1. In 8-quart saucepot or Dutch oven, heat 1 teaspoon oil over high heat until hot. Add one-third of beef and cook until browned on all sides and liquid evaporates, 6 to 8 minutes, stirring often. With slotted spoon, transfer beef to bowl. Repeat with remaining beef, using 1 teaspoon oil per batch; set aside. 2. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to drippings in saucepot and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Stir in garlic, red peppers, jalapenos and onion, and cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in chili powder; cook 1 minute. 3. Return beef to saucepot. Stir in tomatoes with their puree, tomato paste, sugar, salt, oregano and 2 cups water, breaking up tomatoes with side of spoon. Heat to boiling over high heat. 4. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 1 hour and 30 minutes. Stir in beans and cook 10 to 30 minutes longer or until meat is fork-tender, stirring occasionally. Serves 12. .

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¥ “Make ice cubes out of punch when you’re entertaining. I like to make different combinations, which can be adapted for adult and child parties. One that I like very much is to make ice cubes from red fruit punch, and then float them in lemonade. As the cubes melt, the mixture turns pinky-orange. -- I.F. in Missouri ¥ Bring egg whites to room temperature before whipping. You’ll get a better volume, and they will be more stable. ¥ “Ever make a delicious dinner that involves some stinky ingredients? This happens when I make broccoli-cauliflower casserole, or pork and sauerkraut. No worries, though; you don’t have to smell that odor all day. Just simmer a pan of vinegar on the stove while making such foods. The vinegar smell goes away quickly, taking with it any other odors. All that’s left is the smell of yummy.” -- M.N. in South Carolina ¥ Wash bath towels in cold water. It preserves color and still cleans them well. And for smaller dryer loads, add a clean, dry bath towel to speed up drying time. ¥ “Turn down the maximum temperature on your family’s water heater. You will do two things: One is to avoid accidental scalding, which is especially important if you have young children or seniors in your house. The other is to lower your electric bill, because the water heater will not have to work as hard to keep that big tank of water so hot.” -- T.D. in New Mexico ¥ Keep a few bandanas handy in cold weather to use as a mouth/face cover to keep your nose from freezing. They are easy to store in a pocket, and easy to put on and remove.


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Page 5 Frozen Pipes Q: Last winter, a couple of pipes in my basement burst. The plumber said that they froze and burst. How can I prevent this from happening again? -- Darla G., Dothan, Ala.

Dog Hates Bathtub By Samantha Mazzotta

DEAR PAW’S CORNER: My German shepherd, “Silky,” is 10 years old and has developed hip dysplasia, which makes her pretty uncomfortable. She avoids slippery floors and she hates the tub, but I need to give her a bath. Any way I can do this better to keep her comfortable? -- Jack T., Oklahoma City DEAR JACK: There are a few ways to help Silky stay comfortable while being bathed. First, try placing a large, wet towel in the tub that she can stand on to gain traction. Lift her into the high-sided tub rather than make her jump in. Shepherds are large dogs, so if need be, work with a second person and tandem lift her, with one of you cradling under her chest and the other cradling her midsection and then tucking the other arm between her back legs and supporting her belly. A step-in shower is an even better option, if you have one.

Again, put down a wet towel so that she feels secure standing or sitting. In warm weather, you could set up an inflatable kiddie pool and fill it with warm water. This gives big dogs enough room to sit or even lie down during their bath, and they can just walk into it over the low sides. During the bath itself it’s important to work fast. Keep Silky’s collar and leash on so you can hold her still as you wet her down (either with warm water scooped in a cup or using a sprayer attachment), add soap (only soap formulated for use on dogs), then rinse. Talk soothingly through the whole process. Once complete, lift her out of the tub onto a nonslip rug and toweldry her fur, then give her lots of praise and a treat. Send your tips, questions and comments to Paw’s Corner, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or e-mail them to pawscorner@hotmail.com.

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¥ On Feb. 7, 1812, the most violent of a series of earthquakes near Missouri causes a so-called fluvial tsunami in the Mississippi River, making the river run backward for several hours. The strongest of the aftershocks, an 8.8-magnitude, caused church bells to ring in Boston, more than a thousand miles away. ¥ On Feb. 8, 1924, the first execution by lethal gas in American history is carried out in Carson City, Nev. The executed man was Tong Lee, a member of a Chinese gang who was convicted of murdering a rival gang member. ¥ On Feb. 11, 1937, after a six-week sit-down strike by General Motors autoworkers in Flint, Mich., GM president Alfred P. Sloan signs the first union contract in the history of the American auto industry. Today, the UAW has more than 390,000 active members and more than a 600,000 retired members. ¥ On Feb. 6, 1952, King George VI of Great Britain and Northern Ireland dies in his sleep at the royal estate at Sandringham. Princess Elizabeth, the oldest of the king’s two daughters and next in line to succeed him, was crowned Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953, at age 27. ¥ On Feb. 10, 1962, Francis Gary Powers, an American who was shot down over the Soviet Union while flying a CIA spy plane in 1960, is released by the Soviets in exchange for the U.S. release of a Russian spy. On May 1, 1960, Powers’ U-2 had been shot down by a Soviet missile. Although Powers was supposed to engage the plane’s self-destruct system (and commit suicide with poison furnished by the CIA), he and much of the plane were captured. ¥ On Feb. 9, 1971, pitcher Leroy “Satchel” Paige becomes the first Negro League veteran to be nominated for the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was inducted in August of that year. Joe DiMaggio once called Paige “the best and fastest pitcher I’ve ever faced.” ¥ On Feb. 12, 1988, two Soviet warships bump two U.S. navy vessels in waters claimed by the Soviet Union. The incident between the ships took place in the Black Sea within the 12-mile territorial limit claimed by the Soviet Union.

A: Frozen pipes, as you unfortunately discovered, are a serious problem that quickly can become costly, especially if flooding occurs and damages furniture and other items. Before talking about prevention, let’s quickly look at emergency measures. When the worst occurs -- a burst pipe -- the water feed to the pipe must be shut off immediately in order to prevent flooding, and then a plumber contacted to fix the problem as soon as possible. Of course, this problem tends to occur at the worst possible times and in the worst way -- the first prolonged cold snap of the year, when no one wants to be wading through freezing water to the shutoff valve. Or, when homeowners are on vacation and flooding occurs for hours ... or days. (This happened to me several years ago: My upstairs neighbor’s pipes burst, and the water flooded my condo.) To prevent this problem, take steps to keep the temperature around those pipes above freezing. Pipes in an uninsulated basement should be wrapped in pipe insulation (available at the hardware or home-improvement store). Outdoor spigots should have the water flow to them turned off during the coldest months, and then be drained; if you can’t turn off the water, purchase insulated spigot covers. During freezing weather, turn on the cold-water tap in the highest and lowest parts of your house, as well as the outdoor spigot. Keep it at a thin trickle or fast drip. Check on all of your pipe runs throughout the freezing period. Run your hand along the pipes when you can. If you feel a spot that’s significantly colder than the rest of the run, there’s a good chance that water is freezing in that spot. If you see frost or condensation on a section of a pipe, or if you see a bulge in the pipe run, those also are telltale signs. Immediately wrap the freezing pipe in a towel soaked in near-boiling water. Pour hot water over the towel periodically to keep it warm. If a bulge in the pipe occurs, or you can’t thaw it, contact a plumber immediately to take additional measures to save the pipe. HOME TIP: Insulating your basement or crawlspace can not only prevent frozen pipes, it can make a big difference in your heating, electric or gas bills.


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HOLIDAYS (continued): As part of their celebration of the vernal equinox, the people congregate with buckets, hoses, water balloons, water pistols and anything else that can capably transport water for the purposes of drenching everything and everyone from head to toe. This may well be the world’s biggest water fight. Of course, “fight” isn’t really the right word, because the action of tossing water to others is actually perceived as a demonstration of kindness and respect during the festival. Maybe the “world’s biggest water hug” would be more appropriate. * Each July, the citizens of the Eastern European republic of Belarus gather for Ivana Kupala Day, a celebration of fertility. Among the customs observed are dancing, singing and the donning of wreaths by both sexes. To add a special twist to their festivities, the people also go skinny-dipping and jump through fire, though presumably not at the same time. * From the country that gives us the annual “Running of the Bulls” comes an even more curious holiday. On August 27, Spain observes La Tomatina. As you may have gathered from the name, this day involves tomatoes. What you may not have known is that it involves 30,000 people engaged in pitched aerial battle with the beloved red (or green) fruit. For two hours, natives toss tomatoes at each other until 125,000 of them pepper the landscape and people. It’s all in good fun, celebrating a similar spontaneous food fight that broke out during a parade over 65 years ago. Perhaps nowhere else has so much produce gone to such silly and undoubtedly enjoyable use. * We’ve featured the world’s biggest tomato, orange and water fights so far, so why not shine a light on the world’s biggest tug-ofwar? The Naha Tug-of-War takes place on October 11 in the middle of the Naha Festival, one of the largest celebrations in Okinawa, Japan. One of the region’s biggest thoroughfares, Highway 58, is shut down so that tens of thousands can congregate to decide which of the two masses can pull the other 30 meters. This is no simple length of rope, mind you. Made of rice straw, the rope is so large that no single set of hands could possibly hold it. In fact, it’s so big that a series of smaller ropes are attached all over its surface to accommodate the swarm of hands there to participate.

Seen from a distance, it might look as if a massive synthetic snake several blocks long and taller than a car had taken control of the freeway. Fortunately, it’s just a Guinness-WorldRecord-breaking competition in a country famous for its fascinating customs. * An ex-slave is the focus of the African holiday called Matilda Newport Day, celebrated on December 1 in Liberia. Elderly Matilda Newport was a brave lady who changed the fate of an entire country with a single act. A colony of freed American slaves was attempting to form its own nation in Equatorial Africa. In a battle between the colonists and hostile indigenous tribes, the tribes were winning, and all but a few colonists abandoned the fight.

That’s when Matilda approached a cannon that, having been forsaken by colonists, had drawn the attention of tribesmen. Thinking her harmless, they took no notice when she dropped a burning coal into the curious machine. When it went off, it frightened the invaders so much that they fled, making Newport a most improbable war hero.

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their monarch had been insulted and possible accosted by mobs, declared war on France. Though there were no casualties -- not even any gunfire -- the war lasted until 1981. That was when the town council ruled that it would end hostilities with France thanks to the warm welcome King Juan Carlos of Spain received in France in 1976. ¥ The town of Adamant, Vermont, was once named Sodom. The townspeople voted to change the name in 1905. ¥ It was 20th-century American critic John Leonard who made the following sage observation: “To be capable of embarrassment is the beginning of moral consciousness. Honor grows from qualms.” ¥ You’ve probably never heard of the Spanish village of Lijar, located in the south of that country. This village, though, was involved in a nearly 100year war that lasted well into the 20th century. It seems that in 1883, Alfonso XII, the king of Spain, made a state visit to Paris and received a lessthan-royal welcome. Led by mayor Don Miguel Garcia Saez, the citizens of Lijar, after hearing that

¥ The first portable computer was made available to the public in 1975. In this instance, however, “portable” was used as a relative term; the IBM 5100 weighed 55 pounds. ¥ Only 5 percent of American men report that they feel satisfied with their looks. With women, it’s only 1 percent. ¥ In 2008, a study was conducted in the United Kingdom to determine what, if any, effect the consumption of tomatoes had on the human body’s reaction to sun exposure. The university students enrolled in the study who consumed the equivalent of about five tomatoes per day were 33 percent less likely to get sunburned than those who ate no tomatoes. *** Thought for the Day: “Several excuses are always less convincing than one.” -- Aldous Huxley


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1. Julio Franco hit .341 in 1991, and Michael Young hit .331 in 2005. 2. Lloyd Moseby, with 255. 3. San Francisco went 15-1 in 1984. 4. No. 13 Morehead State beat No. 4 Louisville. 5. Canadian-based teams won seven Cups in a row between 1984 and 1990. 6. Greg Biffle, in 2008. 7. Six, including in 2011.

BIBLE TRIVIA ANSWERS:1) Old; 2) Samson; 3) Michael the archangel; 4) Vanity; 5) Eli; 6) 12

Answers 1. Don Knotts 2. England 3. “The Polar Express” 4. The Lizard King 5. Tito 6. A silver otter 7. A magician 8. Wiki 9. Elizabeth Barrett Browning 10. Chesapeake Bay


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