Strings and Things

Not much is known about the Inca record-keeping system called the quipu or khipu. Consisting of knotted strings of varying colors, the quipu were used as calendars, records of provisions, and even story-telling devices. Archaeologists have been able to decipher some of the numerical values and mathematical equations, but any other words and meanings remain a mystery. We are not …

Feigning Insanity

Born Elizabeth Cochran, Nellie Bly chose her pseudonym when she first began working as a journalist in 1885 after sending a fiery response to a piece published in the The Pittsburgh Dispatch. The paper’s editor was impressed by her skill and offered her a job with the paper.

The Ampersand

The ampersand symbol (“&”) is a longtime favorite of designers and typographers. The odd, curvy symbol actually dates back to the first century.

Origins of the Ukulele

The ukulele, often considered the quintessential Hawaiian instrument, actually originated from a Portuguese stringed instrument called the cavaquinho. Brought over by Portuguese laborers and skilled craftsman in the 1800’s, the instrument quickly became popular among the local Hawaiians, who dubbed the instrument “ukulele,” meaning “jumping flea.” King Kalakaua was an ardent supporter of the instrument, learning how to play and …