The Roma people (gypsies)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

   Fortunetellers' are often dressed as gypsies. Sometimes they are real gypsies. For telling fortunes is one of the chief ways in which gypsies, wherever they are, make a living.
   Gypsies are nomads. They wander about from place to place. No one knows much about their early story. About 600 years ago tribes of gypsies wandered into Europe from Asia. Perhaps in the beginning they came from India. They are dark-skinned and black-haired like the people of India. And their language makes scientists think that they came from India. But the early gypsies said that they came from Egypt. "Gypsies" is short for "Egyptians."
   In Europe the gypsies kept on wandering, moving northward in summer and southward in winter.    They traveled in wagons pulled by horses. At night they built big campfires and sang songs around them.
   The gypsies were soon famous for their horse trading and their for tune telling. Some of them were good smiths, too. Some earned money by mending pots and pans. And some were good musicians. Many composers have used gypsy tunes in their music.
   The lives of the gypsies seemed to be very happy and carefree. Many other people wished that they could live as easy a life. But the gypsies were not always well treated. They sometimes had to steal to get enough food. People began to be afraid of them. They were even driven out of some countries for a time.
   From Europe some of the gypsies wandered to the Americas and to Australia. In all their wanderings they have kept very much to themselves. They also cling to their own customs and their own language. Their language is called Romany.
   There are thousands of gypsies in the United States now. As they wander about they now usually use automobiles instead of horses and wagons. Many of them spend the winters in cities. With their gay clothes and bright jewelry they are easy to tell from other people.

The gyroscope toy

Monday, September 15, 2014

   A toy gyroscope spins like a top. In fact, this toy is often called a gyrotop. The chief parts of the gyrotop are a wheel which is weighted around the rim and a rod, or axle, that goes through the center of the wheel. In spinning a gyrotop, a string is first wrapped around the axle. Then the string is pulled suddenly as the end of the axle is rested on something solid. Once a gyrotop starts spinning it does not change its position until it runs down. Its axle keeps on pointing in the same direction. It can remain in amazing positions as it spins. The whirling of the heavy wheel keeps it from falling.
   Not all gyroscopes are toys. Some are used in boats as compasses. Some are used to keep boats and airplanes on a straight course. A gyroscope used in this way is called a gyropilot. One nickname for a gyropilot is "metal Mike." In fighting at sea during a war gyroscopes are used to guide torpedoes. On some ships enormous gyroscopes are used to help keep the ships on an even keel so that passengers will not be seasick.
   Only toy gyroscopes are set to spinning by the pulling of a string. As a rule other gyroscopes are set in motion and kept spinning with electricity.

The ginkgo tree

Sunday, September 14, 2014

   In America the ginkgo is often called the maidenhair tree. Its leaves are fan-shaped. Although the ginkgo is a distant relative of the pines and firs, it is not an evergreen. Its leaves turn yellow and fall off in the autumn.
   The fruit of the ginkgo has an unpleasant smell. But the seed inside is good to eat.
   This tree has lived on the earth for a very long time. The ginkgo trees we have now are almost exactly like their ancestors of ten million years ago.
   Once the ginkgo had many close relatives. But they all disappeared. The ginkgo, too, would probably have disappeared if the Chinese and Japanese had not planted ginkgo trees in their temple gardens. They thought of these trees as sacred.
   Ginkgoes are found in many cities. They are well liked partly because they have few insect enemies.

What is a depressant?

A depressant is a drug that reduces the activity of various body functions. Some depressants such as anesthetics, sedatives, antiepileptics, narcotics analgesics, and some muscle relaxants, slow nervous and muscular activity by acting on the central nervous system. Tranquilizers are depressants that affect only part of the nervous system. They induce relaxation without causing total depression.

Facts about birthstones

Facts about birthstones
Did you know? The current assignation of stones to months was established in 1912