Burnside’s Sideburns: The Man Behind the Hair

Do you ever wonder how certain terms and sayings were coined? Most usually don’t make sense on their own, and you know they just HAVE to have some sort of historical context to them,  some wacky story to explain.

I always thought that the term ‘sideburn’ wasn’t as nonsensical as other terms. The ‘side’ part makes sense:  to signify the hair that lines the SIDE of someone’s face. The ‘burn’ part? Probably to do something with the fact that the line of hair looks like a burn scar or something? (I don’t know – just guessing here) Funny enough – neither is completely true nor false!

Meet the man behind the coining of the term ‘sideburn’: Ambrose Everette Burnside!

What are the chances that the man’s last name reworked actually kind of make sense to name facial hair lining the side of the face?!

Burnside was a general in the Union army, a railroad exec, industrialist, inventor, AND senator (whew!) in addition to the namesake behind the sideburn. Turns out the term originally WAS ‘burnside’ but was reworked at some point to ‘sideburn’ (convenient). And BOY, does this guy have sideburns!


“Don’t Tell Anyone!”

Life’s classic dilemma: something dramatic, juicy, unbelievably unimaginable has happened and you’ve been let in on the secret – and asked not to tell anyone else! Aw, shoot! Even worse could be that you’re the one asking someone ELSE not to tell someone ELSE this piece of dramatic, juicy, unbelievably unimaginable gossip – so, do you trust them? Are YOU trustworthy enough to be on the other end?

Every one of us has been on one end or another at some point in our lives and it is interesting to me how much it bothers me when I’m asked to keep a secret or I ask someone to do the same. The thing is, everyone has that person in life: the “default” who hears everything about everyday, and then that person has a few of his/her own “people”, etc,. When does the cycle ever end? I know now why it unnerves me ever to confess even the smallest secret to my “go-to” people because I know they have other “go-to’s” and to MY secret-keeper(s), only one more person will know my trivial secret. No harm done – except to me.

I’m no angel; I’ve definitely been the perpetuating force of the “Don’t tell anyone!” secret because you always think to yourself: “I’m only telling this person who is my best friend/mom/sibling/boyfriend – how could I NOT? I don’t keep anything from him/her.”

But if everyone passes on the original secret in this manner, it’s almost worse that everyone knows and is whispering behind backs than just acknowledging that they know something.

So, why do we do this to ourselves? We tell people secrets and ask them not to tell anyone, but half the time most of us don’t stick to this plea when posed in the situation. It’s kind of like taking a black light over a hotel room bed to expose everything unsightly that’s there. If you could do that with about 25 people you know through at least the 3rd degree – how much do you think they’d know about you? And you really thought you were only telling your best friend…

Hey in that case, everyone – I’m a blogger! Don’t tell anyone! 😉

What’s Behind a Kiss?

We look forward to the first one that marks the beginning of many in our lives. The quality of it is often the make or break of a budding romance. The French contributed their own variety to the act. And sometimes we even do it ‘sitting in a tree’.

The kiss has a significance and presence greater than most realize today, and a history that would probably stump even the masters of the art. For an act engaged in by humans of all shapes and sizes, races and genders, not many truly know – what’s behind a kiss?

Made in India

In today’s media and pop culture, Indians are often portrayed as conservative and extremely modest citizens of the world, ghastly offended and thoroughly abashed at the somewhat liberal attitudes of Americans and other Western cultures. These attitudes especially show when it comes to any topics of the sexual nature. What interests many of these Westerners is that Kama Sutra, an ancient text about human sexual behavior originated in India. Most would consider this text rather risque, at times evoking a blush and a downcast of the eyes of the accidental viewer or reader.

Well, it turns out the country behind the Kama Sutra also seems to have produced of the first lip-lockers of the world. The earliest literary evidence of kissing dates back about 3500 years ago (around 1500 B.C.) in ancient Sanskrit texts from India. Vaughn Bryant, an anthropologist from Texas A&M was quoted by the International Tribune Herald in 2006 saying that these texts refer to people “sniffing” with their mouths and lovers “setting mouth to mouth” He theorizes that kissing made its way to the West by way of Alexander the Great who conquered the Indian state of Punjab in 326 B.C.

And before kissing may have been socially acceptable on the silver screen in the western hemisphere, the Indians were smooching in movies as early as 1933. Devika Rani, a leading lady in movies during that time is credited to the first spit-swapper in Indian cinema in the movie Karma. It is speculated that the kiss lasted a whopping four minutes and is thought to be the longest kiss on the big screen in the world. Talk about healthy lungs!

We’re Not Alone

Humans have a tendency to consider themselves the superior race. What – because we can talk, build things, think with complexity, walk on two legs, and kiss – we claim the top spot in the competition of the best living creatures? Well, actually –  almost all animals communicate in their own languages; most have to build their own homes from the ground up; many have better raw survival skills than humans – even as babies; more than one species can walk on two legs; and turns out other animals also know affection and kiss – or something like it.

Because there is not a clear-cut definition for “kissing”, and it can be a term that more accurately describes the act humans engage in of pressing lips to lips or other parts of the body, people should understand that at the most basic level “kissing” is an act of affection. As anthropologist Sheril Kirshenbaum from The University of Texas-Austin and the author of The Science of Kissing said on the podcast Science Friday, there are a lot of behaviors in the animal kingdom, “that look a lot like kissing.”

Some of the species Kirshenbaum mentions are the Bonobo Apes which have been, “spotted to suck on each other’s tongues for about 12 minutes straight.” While this behavior seems a lot like the human kiss, animals like turtles and giraffes have been seen to tap heads or entwine their necks. Humans aren’t the only ones who need love, people!

Righty or Lefty?

The majority of people in the world are born with a tendency to have one dominant working hand: right or left. The rare few have the option of working with both with equal productivity. Regardless of a person’s ‘handedness’, however,  there seems to be no correlation to the direction of the ‘lean’ when going in for the kiss. German researcher Onur Güntürkün, conducted a study in which he observed couples locking lips in public arenas  like beaches, airports, railway stations, etc. in Germany, the U.S., and Turkey.(Obviously PDA wasn’t a discouraging factor for these lovers) What he found was that regardless of a person’s right or left-handedness, two-thirds of kissers have a tendency to lean to the right when smooching.

This finding, Güntürkün told BBC News in 2003, has a correlation to the tendency of babies turning their heads to the right when they are in the wombs.

“There could be one very early habit given to humans before birth which still influences our behaviour for the rest of our life and is visible in subtle habits during, for example, kissing.”

Another expert, Professor Chris McManus of the University College of London says this all makes sense, and told BBC News that 90% of babies, when laid on their backs, “turn their head to the right and stick out their left arm. It’s a reflex.”

Some will argue the history and ‘science’ behind kissing attempts to give explanation to the act of locking lips to a lover or a loved one, when it is simply a phenomenon of life that needs understanding. It is an act of emotion, love, and passion and much like spirituality, is something you have to feel rather than see or study to truly grasp the beauty of it. Even then, now you know a little more about kissing for that next icebreaker. Who knows – you may even get a kiss out of it?

“Bridalplasty”: Reality TV Really Can’t Get More Ridic

I’ll admit – I’m guilty of watching a reality show here and there. I definitely keep up with the Kardashians, and watch the trials and tribulations of teen moms, but there are some shows that I can’t force myself to watch just because the sheer ridiculousness pisses me off a little. I mean, I can’t empathize with a Jersey girl who wears a bump-it and her guido boy-toys, and if you didn’t think reality TV could get any more ridiculous – think again.

The E! Network is premiering “Bridalplasty” this Sunday, November  28 @ 9/8c – a show about a group of brides who compete in silly wedding-related tasks (i.e. writing wedding vows and planning a honeymoon) on a weekly basis to win – that’s right WIN – plastic surgery. Each week, one bride will will one plastic procedure on her body and the last bride standing wins ALL THE PLASTIC SURGERY SHE WANTS.

This has got to be, hands down, the most ridiculous show ever created. I can have no respect for any woman who competes on this show. Of course, there have been shows documenting people getting plastic surgery for various reasons – some noble and some not. Extreme Makeover at least benefits deserving people who could use a little tweaking – maybe a little hair color, and some new teeth – not a completely new body! What’s worse than the women competing on the show is the network for creating such a show and feeding millions of dollars on such extremely sensational television. Americans already have such a rep for being home to a bunch of silly people, who jump at opportunities to make fools of themselves in various ways. And let’s not forget the obsession with image. Hey – so why don’t we actually ENCOURAGE women to make fools of themselves in an effort to completely Heidi Montag themselves right before they’re about to enter into a life-changing decision. I mean it’s not like divorce rate in this country is about 40% or anything like that…

And something has to be asked of the men who are marrying these women. Are they REALLY okay with their fiancees competing on a show – a NATIONAL show at that – in hopes of completely altering their physical appearance  and becoming a living Barbie?! Maybe they should instate a marriage counselor on this show. Oh, and the fact that giving away plastic surgery is considered extremely unethical in medical practices should probably be noted.

Check out the promo for the show, and tell me what y’all’s thoughts are!

To My Friends…

Why is it that when something is close to ending, people start to wake up and realize they’ve got to start appreciating what they have? It’s always a matter of  “later” and never “now”. It’s senior year, and it’s only been about 3 weeks since school started and I’m already finding myself getting a little choked up when I’m having an amazing time hanging out with my friends on 6th street or during a fun social event with my organization.

The truth is that I don’t see a lot of people enough, and I want that to change. Now, I think I’ve always been pretty good about keeping in touch with people and the truth is that it hasn’t always been reciprocated. I’ve taken it personally in the past – a lot. It frustrates me when you put a lot of effort into trying to see everyone and you have a great time when you do get together but the maintenance becomes a one-sided thing. For a long time, I stopped putting forth that effort with a lot of people out of frustration. The truth is that I’ve realized that probably with most people, it wasn’t a personal rejection of my friendship with them, but more about a few other factors. I’ve come to see how busy people can get in their own lives and how accustomed you can get to seeing the same people day-in and day-out that you simply forget to remember to make time for the other people in your lives. I’ve definitely been guilty of it myself, and I can see how easy it is to do.

For that reason, I just want to tell my friends – namely those at UT – that I really want to see you guys. I want to make time to reconnect with a lot of people and spend as much time with my friends this last year as I can. The chances are that if we used to be good friends and I don’t see you – I really miss you. So, I don’t want to keep wishing that I saw you guys more and come May think about how much it sucks that I didn’t make one last effort to rekindle my friendships. I hope you feel the same way.

Everything’s Always Best in Texas

A few years ago, Houston topped the country’s Fattest Cities list. Definitely not something to brag about, but hey, it made for a good laugh. We all know how Texans love to be the biggest and baddest (and fattest apparently). Well, turns out Texans are still topping lists, but at least they’ve gotten more covetable.

Men’s Health evaluated the 100 most “sex-happy” cities in the country recently. They based their rankings on 3 criteria: condom sales, birth rates, and STD rates. (Although you’d think that the more condom sales, the lower the birth rates? Hm…) What did Men’s Health find? Well, let’s just say that Austin has more to boast about than being the state capital and home to the Longhorns! That’s right ladies and gents – the #1 “sex-happy” city in the country is none other than Austin, Texas!

Austin was also ranked #1 for condom sales and #15 for birth rates and #23 for STD rates. So if you’re looking for some lovin’, mosey on down to Austin, TX y’all!

The good news is that Texas in general seems to be a very sexually content state. Other cities that made the list are:

  • Dallas – #2 overall
  • Condom sales: #5
  • Birth rates: #6
  • STD rates: #26
  • Arlington – #7 overall
  • Condom sales: 5th
  • Birth rates: 16th
  • STD rates: 54th
  • Houston – #10 overall
  • Condom sales: 10th
  • Birth rates: 8th
  • STD rates: 50th

Interestingly enough, Texas also is the home to some of the fattest cities. (Although Houston has graciously given up its reign as the head fatty — but only to another Texas city, of course). On another list on by Men’s Health, Texas cities made a total of 9 appearances on the list of 100 Fattest and Leanest Cities in the country.Unfortunately, most were for the “fattest”

Now you’re probably thinking that that probably means overweight people are having a lot of good sex, but Arlington was teetering the fattest/leanest line and Austin actually is one of the leanest.

The criteria used included:

  • the percentage of overweight people
  • the percentage of Type 2 Diabetes
  • the percentage of people who haven’t left the couch in a month (yes, this can be scientifically determined)
  • the money spent on junk food
  • the number of people who ate fast food 9 times or more in a month

The Texas cities that made the list were:

  • Corpus Christi: #1, F
  • El Paso: #3, F
  • Dallas: #4, F
  • San Antonio: #7, F
  • Houston: #9, D-
  • Lubbock: #13, D-
  • Arlington: #54, C+
  • Fort Worth: #66, B-
  • Austin: #95, A

Makes sense why Austin is the sex-happiest, eh? However, Dallas and Houston people are almost at the same spots as the sex-happy list  (at the top) –  meaning they’re some of the fattest and most sexually satisfied? Interesting…

Well I guess it’s safe to say that we, Texans, do like to go for the gold – whatever the category!