Blog Posts by Mike Krumboltz

  • The Easter Bunny: Explained

    There are few traditions as mystifying as the Easter Bunny. For Christians, Easter Sunday marks the day that Jesus Christ was resurrected. So, how exactly did a giant rabbit come to be the symbol of this very religious holiday?

    It's a question that many have asked, especially over the past 24 hours. Online lookups for "easter bunny origin" have doubled. Other web searches for "how did the easter bunny originate" and "easter bunny tradition" are also hopping upwards. Fortunately, the Web is full of answers.

    According to various sources, including the good people at Mental Floss, the Easter Bunny has a long history as a pagan symbol. Experts believe that early Christians "co-opted" the rabbit as a way to make their own holiday more popular.

    The abbreviated history: "Many pagan cultures held spring festivals" hundreds of years ago. One such festival was in celebration of "Eostre, the goddess of dawn." Mental Floss explains that Eostre was "linked to the hare and the egg,

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  • Beware: It's April Fools' Day

    Consider this a public service announcement: Friday is April Fools' Day. Aspiring pranksters are scouring the Web for ideas on how to trick their friends, co-workers, and (perish the thought!) their sweet, innocent children. Over the past 24 hours, online lookups for "april fools day pranks" and "april fools day jokes" have more than doubled.

    Most folks are simply seeking out lighthearted pranks. To wit, the interest in "easy april fools day pranks" far outweighs lookups for "elaborate april fools day pranks." And what could be easier than sending an April Fools' Day text. Lookups for examples of prankster text messages are up more than 50%. So, you should probably take any mysterious messages you receive tomorrow with a grain of salt.

    In terms of proposed targets, co-workers seem to be the most popular marks. Web searches on "how to trick coworkers" and "best april fools day office pranks" are both surging. Mashable offers plenty of ideas, including tricking your co-workers

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  • The "Safest" States in the United States

    The devastating earthquake and tsunami near Japan have led to renewed interest in the safest places to live. Over the past week, Web searches on "safest countries" and "countries with fewest natural disasters" have more than tripled.

    According to a recent article from Slate, the countries of Estonia, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Andorra may be the least likely to suffer a natural disaster. The data comes from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters.

    The records aren't totally complete, but again according to Slate, the centre has "no record of fatal floods, droughts, earthquakes, or severe storms in any of these countries from 1900 to 2009."

    Of course not everybody can just up and move to Qatar. For people who want to stay in the United States, there are similar studies on the safest places to live. A company called Sustain Lane found that in 2008, all things considered, Mesa, Arizona, is the safest big city to live. Miami, Florida, with

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  • Preparing a Disaster Kit

    Photo by ThinkstockPhoto by ThinkstockThe recent earthquake and tsunami, and the subsequent fears over nuclear radiation have prompted many to turn to the Web for advice on disaster preparedness. Online lookups for "disaster kits" and "how to make a disaster kit" have both more than tripled during the past week.

    In short, folks are wondering, what they should have in their kit? Opinions vary depending on what sort of disaster you happen to be preparing for. However, most experts, like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Red Cross, agree that the following items are essential.

    Water
    This is the big one. You must have plenty of water. Just how much? FEMA, the disaster preparedness wing of the US Government, insists that you should have at least a three-day supply. A rule of thumb -- have one gallon of water per person per day. If you happen to live in a hot climate, you'll want to increase that amount. "Very hot temperatures can double the amount of water needed," the site writes. Also,

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  • The Scoop on St. Patrick

    Everybody is Irish on Saint Patrick's Day. So it's no surprise that just about everyone (and their Irish uncle) is looking up the history of the patron saint of the Emerald Isle.

    Over the past 24 hours, Web searches for "st. patrick" and "who was st. patrick" have both tripled. Add to that the related searches on "was st. patrick really irish" and "did st. patrick get rid of all the snakes in ireland." Here now are some quick answers to those questions and more.

    Was St. Patrick Irish?
    According to History.com, St. Patrick was actually born in Britain. At the age of 16, he was captured by Irish raiders and transported across the sea to Ireland. After spending six years in captivity, Patrick escaped, traveled back to Britain, and trained to become a priest. Once his training was complete, he returned to Ireland "to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish."

    Did St. Patrick rid Ireland of snakes?
    Sorry, but no. It is true

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  • A Groupon Romance

    Romance isn't dead. In fact, one lucky lady just purchased a lifetime of love for the low, low price of one dollar.

    Here's the scoop. A Cincinnati man named John proposed to Dana, his longtime lady friend, via online coupon site Groupon. Traditionalists may squawk, but they can't argue with the results -- Dana, a cheerleader for the Cincinnati Bengals, said "yes." Well, technically, she didn't say yes. She clicked on the "Buy now for $1" button.

    The proposal, reported to be the first ever on Groupon, was surprisingly sweet and devoid of anything overtly nerdy (good job, groom). John, an engineer, wrote, "I want the amazing times to continue by spending the rest of my life with you-the sweetest, most beautiful, and smartest woman in the entire world... Will you marry me?" OMG, so sweet!

    An article from Mashable explains the logistics. Groupon told Mashable, "Greg contacted us because his girlfriend Dana is a huge Groupon fan. We are also giving them a Groupon a month in

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  • Auld Lang Huh?

    New Year's Eve is one of those love-it-or-hate-it holidays. But no matter how you feel about celebrating, odds are you're going to hear "Auld Lang Syne" at least 500 times. There is no escape.

    Naturally, Web searches on the song pop like champagne corks on New Year's Eve. Our guess is that folks simply want to know what the song actually means. After all, it's not often that people belt out a tune that they don't really understand. Well, wonder no more. Here's the scoop on the song that is mandatory for one night every year.

    According to the good people at TLC, the song is an "extremely old Scottish song that was first written down in the 1700s." The poet Robert Burns often gets credit for the words.

    [Top cities for New Year's Eve celebrations]

    Or at least some of them. People often belt out their own lyrics. A site dedicated to the great poet explains, "In spite of the popularity of 'Auld Lang Syne,' it has aptly been described as 'the song that nobody knows.' As for the

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  • The History of Eggnog

    If you're like most holiday revelers, you've got a few parties to attend this season. Odds are that upon walking through the door, you'll come face-to-face with a large bowl of murky liquid known as eggnog.

    Your first reaction may be one of confusion, but try to keep it together. Although eggnog ain't much to look at, it's impossible to get away from. Around the holidays, sales of this gelatinous liquid skyrocket, and so do the Web searches.

    In fact, over the past week, online lookups for "what is eggnog" have bubbled up to a 23% gain, and related searches on "eggnog recipes" and "eggnog cookies" spiked as well. But wait, nog lovers -- there's more. Online searches for "eggnog history" is starting to soar, and the equally mysterious "why is it called eggnog" is also posting gains. You can check out recipes here. Ingredients vary, but most recipes call for milk, sugar, eggs (duh), flour, and nutmeg.

    [More answers: Are poinsettias poisonous?]

    So, why is it called

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  • Staying Safe Over the Holidays

    The holidays are a time for families and friends to come together. But they also mark a time when parents and pet owners should be extra careful. For as fun as this time of the year can be, there are many ways in which children and pets can injure themselves.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) hosts a stellar article that explains how to be prevent disasters, both small and large. The SPCA of Texas has a similar blog for furry friends. Below, some of the highlights for having a fun and safe holiday season.

    The Tree
    For those using an artificial Christmas tree, be sure to look for trees that are labeled "fire resistant." Even then, always keep it a safe distance from the fireplace. If you're using a live tree, the AAP suggests you check for freshness. The less fresh a tree is, the dryer it is. And the dryer it gets, the easier it will become a fire hazard.

    Keep the tree stand full of water, but also make sure the tree stand is covered for the safety of your

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  • Soldier and pageant contestant Katrina Hodge fights for ban on swimsuit competitions

    The many faces of Katrina Hodge. AP PhotoThe many faces of Katrina Hodge. AP PhotoIf Katrina Hodge has her way, the world's major beauty pageants may start looking a lot different.

    A soldier in the British army, Hodge detained and disarmed a suspected rebel fighter with her bare hands while serving in Iraq. But she doesn't wear combat boots and Kevlar 24-7. Lance Cpl. Hodge is also a lingerie model for La Senza and was a contestant in last year's Miss England beauty contest. But don't assume those two very different occupations are mutually exclusive.

    The soldier and model (nicknamed "Combat Barbie") recently convinced the organizers of the Miss England pageant to drop the ever-popular swimsuit portion. In England's Daily Telegraph, the multitalented woman remarked that posing in swimsuits just isn't fair to the contestants. "I think it's nerve-racking enough to girls to get up on a stage and speak, let alone in a swimsuit."

    No argument here. Instead of strutting their stuff in swimsuits, the contestants will participate in a sports challenge,

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