Saturday, March 28, 2009

Treasure from Trash?

Difficult economic times call for creative moneymaking endeavors, like recycling old newspapers and cardboard boxes in exchange for some extra cash!

But just how much cardboard does the average person have to cough up at the recycling center to see a substantial profit?

This question was posed to us at the Reference Desk last week by one of our patrons, and we were able to find an answer in a November 2008 article from the Akron-Beacon Journal. According to Bob Downing's "Price of Recyclables is Down in Dumps: Cardboard, Metals Only Haul in a Fraction of What They Did in August; Disposal Rates Might Increase":

"Recycled newspaper has plummeted from $175 a ton to about $60 a ton. A hard mix of cardboard from cereal-box paper has dropped from $80 a ton to nothing. Tin has gone from $510 a ton to $50 a ton, copper from $3.50 a pound to $1.25 a pound and aluminum from $1.03 a pound to 40 cents a pound. Platinum, which is found in vehicle catalytic converters, has shrunk from $2,000 per ounce to $826 per ounce. Stainless steel has dropped from $1.70 a pound to 20 cents a pound, if it's delivered to Pittsburgh."

Sadly, it seems as though even recycling centers are feeling the force of the economy's hard blows, at least for the time being. But if you have a few tons (!) of newspaper or tin on hand and would like to make it a profit on them, feel free to call your local Waste Management District at (330) 874-2258 or visit the Stark-Tuscarawas-Wayne Joint Solid Waste Management District website.

Good luck!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

All About the Benjamins? Not So Fast...

Benjamin Franklin coined the phrase "honesty is the best policy," right?


When a patron called our Reference Desk last night to confirm the author of the famous saying, we were surprised with the result after consulting Burton Stevenson's The Home Book of Proverbs, Maxims, and Familiar Phrases. According to this hefty text of quotations and their origins, Archbishop Richard Whately is the man behind the phrase. In part II, chapter 18 of his Thoughts and Apothegms, he wrote, "Honesty is the best policy, but he who acts on that principle is not an honest man."

To learn more about Whately, click here! Or click here to reserve a copy of his biography, A Protestant in Purgatory: Richard Whately, Archbishop of Dublin.

Happy learning!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Has Sprung!

Quite appropriately, one of our patrons asked us to provide the exact time of this year's vernal equinox (the official onset of spring).

After consulting the always-reliable Farmer's Almanac, we discovered that the first minute of spring for the northern hemisphere occurred at 7:44AM EDT on March 20, 2009.

Learn more about equinoxes and other weather- and nature-related information here! Enjoy the season!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

On Your Mark, Get Set...

Why do races (runners, horses, cars, dogs, etc.) all run in a counter-clockwise direction?

This particular question recently found its way to our Reference Desk, prompting us to scratch our heads for a moment before plunging into a search for an answer. After doing some digging, we found two different answers from two very credible sources.

According to the USA Track and Field Association, their organization arbitrarily made the decision to race in a counter-clockwise direction in 1912 and have kept things the same ever since.

Hmm. Probable enough.

But according to NASCAR, the origin of the counter-clockwise direction in racing comes from the earliest horse races. In 1780, American tracks were set counter-clockwise because breeders were still angry at the British, whose racing tracks ran clockwise.

Hmm. Very convincing!

Which answer is correct? We'll let the Track and Field Association duke it out with NASCAR for winner's rights; in the meantime, we'll just point you in the right direction, counter-clockwise or not!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pots o' Gold in the Buckeye State

The familiar St. Patrick's Day images of leprechauns, rainbows, and requisite pots of gold must have encouraged a few of our patrons to think outside of the box this year. Yesterday, we received a question about where to pan for gold in Ohio!

We were pleasantly surprised to find that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources offers a very helpful fact sheet that covers the bases on where and how to find gold in our state (map included!). To learn more, click on the PDF document available here.

The state chapter of gold prospectors in Ohio also boasts its own website (found here) filled with useful facts (some of them borrowed from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' aforementioned fact sheet); interested parties even have the option of joining the Buckeye chapter of the Gold Pan Racing Association (GPRA), which hosts its own meetings and panning excursions. Learn more about this unique organization here!

Best of luck to you as you search for your own pots of gold!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

O.B.I.E.'s Origins

Where did the famous Massillon mascot, O.B.I.E., get his name?

That's exactly what one patron was pondering one fall afternoon when he called our Reference Desk for some help. A proud member of Washington High School's class of 1930 (!), he recalled a contest in which his fellow students were invited to suggest ideas for their new mascot's name; the most clever submission of the bunch would be the one bestowed upon the tiger cub. One of his female classmates won the contest with her entry for O.B.I.E. (which stands for Orange and Black Is Excellent, of course!). However, after all these years, our patron seemed to have forgotten the winner's name and asked that we provide him with it, if possible.

So we got to work! We scoured all of the old Washington High School yearbooks from 1926-1930 for any mention of a contest or a winner. We combed through old newspaper clippings from The Massillon Independent. We sifted through pages upon pages of materials from our collection dedicated to the history of Massillon football, like Massillon Memories: The Inside Story of the Greatest Show in High School Football and The Massillon Tigers Story: The First Hundred Years. Alas, despite our best efforts, we found no mention of the mystery girl behind O.B.I.E.'s namesake.

Enter Junie Studer, Massillon Booster Club historian and former president. When we called Mr. Studer at home the next day, his initial response to our query was a familiar laugh; this question had obviously been posed to him many times in the past. He told us that the winner of the naming contest, held in 1926, was Viola Black, a member of the WHS graduating class of 1927. Success!

We were happy to wrap up this reference question by sending our patron a letter with the information he requested, along with a copy of a page of the 1927 edition of a Washington High School yearbook that included Ms. Black's senior picture. Now our patron can put a face to a name that was attached to a fond recollection from his past. We hope he enjoyed that trip down memory lane!