Friday, November 24, 2006

Pultizer Prize

Q. I recently learned that March by Geraldine Brooks won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. What are the criteria for being nominated and winning?

A. The Pulitzer Prize (pronounced PULL-it-sir NOT PEW-lit-sir) for Fiction has been awarded since 1948 for distinguished fiction in book form by an American author, preferably dealing with American life. The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (established by Columbia University in 1971) replaced the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel which was awarded between 1918 and 1947.

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is one of six categories in Letters and Drama. There are a total of 21 Pulitzer categories. In 20 of the categories the winners receive a $10,000 cash award and a certificate. Only the winner in the Public Service category of the Journalism competition is awarded a gold medal.

There are no set criteria for the judging of the Prizes. The definitions of each category are the only guidelines. It is left up to the Nominating Juries and The Pulitzer Prize Board to determine exactly what makes a work "distinguished."

Source: The Pulitzer Prizes,

The Washington-Rochambeau Revoultionary Route

Q. I have seen road signs in Middletown and Providence that have a red, white and blue shield, also the letters W3R. Also sometimes the words Washington and Rochambeau. Do you have any idea what they are all about?

A. The signs represent the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route. 'W' for Washington and the '3R's for the rest.

The Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route commemorates the joint efforts of the French, under the command of General Rochambeau, and the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. W3R traces the campsites and the pathways traveled during the three-year presence of the French Expeditionary Force, depicting their march south to the climatic battle of Yorktown and then their return north.

As for the signs in our state, the RI Rochambeau Historic Highway Commission is working with RIDOT to place 100 wayfinding road signs along the W3R in RI. The website said that the signs would be in place for the June 16th - 18th 2006 celebration.

Source: The Washington-Rochambeau Revoultionary Route,

Marshmallow Fluff

Q. Where was Marshmallow Fluff invented?

A. Marshmallow Fluff was invented in Sommerville, Massachusetts by Archibald Query around 1915. He made batches of it in his kitchen and sold it door to door until wartime shortages forced him to stop. After the war he sold the recipe to H. Allen Durkee and Fred L. Mower for five hundred dollars. The product started to be manufactured from their factory (Durkee-Mower) in East Lynn in 1929.

Sources: The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink In America by Andrew F. Smith, 2004. And


Q. Do all countries use the same calendar as the United States?

A. The United States uses the Gregorian calendar which measures out a calendar year that is just slightly longer than the solar year (about 25 seconds a year longer). Pope Gregory XII called to reform the Julian calendar in the late 16th century, which was established by Julius Caesar in 62 B.C. It was 11 minutes and 14 seconds longer than the solar year and by 1580 the difference between the calendar and seasons had grown to 10 days and would eventually lead to religious holidays falling in the wrong season. The Gregorian calendar was first adopted by Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, and Luxemburg in 1582, by Great Britain and the colonies in 1873, and took Greece until 1923 to adopt it. Today the calendar is used worldwide for nearly all non-religious purposes.

Source: Holidays and Anniversaries of the World(1998), edited by Beth A. Baker and James Jespersen and "Gregorian calendar." World Book Online Reference Center. 2006. World Book, Inc. 1 Mar. 2006 .

Moldy Food

Q. Is it safe to eat food when it shows the slightest bit of mold?

A. Some molds produce carcinogenic aflatoxins so it is a good policy to follow these basic food safety tips:
  1. You do not need to throw out these foods if a small amount of mold appears on them: jam, jelly, hard cheese, firm fruits and vegetables. Use a clean knife or spoon to remove all the mold and a bit more around the area. If the food still has an 'off' taste then throw it out.
  2. Toss out these foods even with the slightest appearance of mold: cream, sour cream, yogurt, bread, cake, buns, pastries, corn on the cob, nuts, flour, whole grains, rice, dried peas or beans and peanut butter.
Source: The Safe Shopper's Bible (1995) by David Steinman & Samuel S. Epstein, M.D.

A Limey

Q. Why are the Brits called limey's?

A. The term "limey" originally applied to British Sailors, who for many centuries suffered and often died from scurvy. A Scottish doctor, James Lind, discovered that eating limes and oranges (a good source of vitamin C) greatly reduced the number of scurvy cases on British navy ships. Lime juice was added to the diet of sailors and thus the nickname 'limeys'. American service men broadened the term to all British during the World Wars.

Source: Harper Dictionary of contemporary Usage by William and Mary Morris,1985. p.358.