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Who Is Hank Anyway?

Happy HumpDay!

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People & Places

Do you know a Hank? It seems like everyone knows a Hank or has at least heard of a person named Hank. Hank is usually a nickname given to a person with the name Henry, but how did we get Hank from the name Henry?

Most nicknames come from simply shortening a person’s full name. William becomes Will and Matthew becomes Matt, but if we were to shorten Henry we would be left with “Hen” or “Ry”. The origin of the nickname Hank comes the same name shortening principle but instead of Henry, the name that is shortened is the Dutch origin Henry, Hendrick.

The name Hendrick is often shortened in two ways. Dropping the first four letters leaves the nickname “Rick”, while cutting out four letters from the middle leaves the nickname “Henk”. Henk is a popular Dutch nickname for Hendrick and when the name Hendrick was translated to the English version Henry, the Dutch nickname was translated from Henk to Hank.

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What do a sheep, an octopus, and a toad have in common? You don’t want to look them in the eye. In fact, sheep, octopi, and toads all have rectangular pupils that seem bizarre but actually provide these animals with a distinct evolutionary advantage.

Eyes come in all different shapes and sizes. Humans, primates, and dogs all have round pupils that expand and shrink depending on the amount of light available. Snakes, cats, and crocodiles have vertical slits for pupils that help the see better at night. Horizontal rectangular pupils on the other hand are reserved mostly for animals that are considered prey rather than predators.

The width of rectangular pupils gives animals a wide field of vision that allows them to see threats coming from either side. The narrower height of their pupils gives them better depth perception and allows them to see predators from far way. Rectangular shaped pupils give animals like goats the vision they need to see predators trying to sneak up beside them and allows them to keep a safe distance from anything trying to eat them.

Unfortunately, humans evolved with round pupils, so we may never get to see the world in wide screen but that’s ok, the full screen version of movies is always better anyway.

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Food & Beverage

(Seinfeld voice) “What’s the deal with airline food?!? Have you tried that stuff? Its inedible!”

Comedians have been making fun of the food served on airlines for decades and they are right to do so. Airline food has often been considered bland and unappetizing. Major airlines have even gone as far as to invite prominent chefs to redesign their menus and create a better dining experience for their passengers. Problem is, its not the food that’s bad, science just isn’t on their side.

Flying is an entirely unnatural act. Humans were not designed to be 30,000 feet in the air and because of this fact, our bodies act a little strange when we get up that high. Most notably, our ears pop and some people experience painful headaches due to the change in air pressure so high above the earth. Its our bodies inability to cope with the fact that we insanely far from the ground that ruins our meals on a cross country flight.

When flying in a plane, the dryer air from being so far away from sea level dries out our sinuses which reduce our sense of smell. The sense of smell is a critical component of how we enjoy food which is why eating with a stuffy nose is so much less enjoyable. Our diminished sense of smell causes us to find airline food bland and unappetizing. To counter this, you may see an airline blowing mist into the cabin as a humidifier just after takeoff.

That’s not all though, the low air pressure 30,000 feet up reduces our ability to taste sweet and salty flavors. Airlines hand out the saltiest snacks possible like chips, pretzels, and Cheez-its to overcome our reduced sensitivity to salt. The problem is, even though we can’t taste the extra salt it is still in our food, making airline food unhealthier than the food we eat on the ground. Studies have shown that airline food requires 30% more sugar and salt to taste the same as it does on the ground. The added sugar and salt might make you rethink that sandwich on your flight to Nashville.

Lastly, the constant loud engine noise further depresses our ability to taste sweet food. On the bright side, loud noises enhance our ability to taste savory foods like meat and cheese so ordering a meal like chicken Caesar salad is not a bad choice.

It may not be healthy, and it may not be good, but its food and you need something to do while you’re stuck in your seat on a five-hour flight so, Bon Appetit!

This Week in History

On this week in 1990, South African leader of the movement to end Apartheid, Nelson Mandela, was released from prison after 27 years. Mandela was arrested in 1961 for treason after organizing several non-violent protests aimed to end white supremacy and racial segregation in South Africa. He spent 18 years of his sentence in a small cell without a bed or running water and was forced to do hard labor in a nearby quarry. Throughout his grueling prison term, Mandela kept his resolve and continued to advocate for racial equality. When he was released, he helped end Apartheid and he was later elected President of South Africa in 1993.

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