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A snow blower or snow thrower is a machine for removing snow from an area where it is not wanted, such as a driveway, sidewalk, roadway, railroad track or runway. The term "snow thrower" is often used to encompass snow throwers and snow blowers, however, in proper usage a snow thrower is a machine that uses a single stage to remove or "throw" snow while a snowblower uses two stages to remove or "blow" snow. It can use either electric power, or a gasoline or diesel engine to throw snow to another location or into a truck to be hauled away. This is in contrast with the action of snow plows, which push snow to the front or side (shovels can be similarly used). Snow throwers range from the very small, capable of removing only a few inches (a few cm) of light snow in an 18 to 20 in (457 to 508 mm) path, to the very large, mounted onto heavy duty winter service vehicles and capable of moving 10-foot (3.05 m) wide, or wider, swaths of heavy snow up to 6 feet (1.83 m) deep. Snow blowers can generally be divided into two classes: single stage and two stage. Single-stage snow throwers use a single high-speed impeller to both move the snow into the machine and force it out the discharge chute. The impeller is usually in the form of two or more curved plastic paddles that move snow towards the centerline of the machine where the discharge chute is located. Single-stage snow throwers usually are light duty machines. Small electric machines can actually be picked up to chew away deep snow banks a layer at a time. One exception to the "single-stage snow throwers are small" rule are the enormous single stage rotary snow throwers used by railroads to clear tracks in mountainous areas. These rotary snowplows use one or two very large impellers that can span the entire width of the train and typically discharge to the side. By comparison, two-stage snow blowers have one or more low-speed metal augers that break up the snow and move it into a separate high-speed impeller (sometimes called the fan). The impeller 'blows' or 'projects' the snow out the discharge chute with considerable force. All but the lightest-duty snow blowers are typically two-stage machines. Two-stage snow blowers range in power from a few horsepower to very large machines powered by diesel engines of over 1000 horsepower (746 kW). The large machines are used for clearing roadways and airport runways. These are capable of removing large amounts of snow quickly. Some municipalities use larger snow blowers to clear snow from streets after a snowfall, often by throwing the snow into trucks which haul it away. Each year, there are over 5740 snow blower-related injuries in the United States. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





The fire knife is a traditional Samoan cultural implement that is used in ceremonial dances. It was originally composed of a machete wrapped in towels on both ends with a portion of the blade exposed in the middle. Tribal performers of fire knife dancing (or Siva Afi as it is called in Samoa) dance while twirling the knife and doing other acrobatic stunts. The towels are set afire during the dances thus explaining the name. Knife dancing has a history which goes back hundreds of years. The modern fire knife dance has its roots in the ancient Samoan exhibition called "ailao" - the flashy demonstration of a Samoan warrior's battle prowess through artful twirling, throwing and catching, and dancing with a war club. The 'ailao could be performed with any warclub and some colonial accounts confirm that women also performed 'ailao at the head of ceremonial processions, especially daughters of high chiefs. During night dances torches were often twirled and swung about by dancers, although a warclub was the usual implement used for 'ailao. Before the introduction of metals, the most common clubs that were wielded and displayed in the 'ailao fashion were elaborately carved heirloom clubs called "anava." These 'anava were frequently carved with serrated edges and jagged "teeth" which characterized the unique Samoan weapon called the "nifo'oti." When European and American whalers and traders began commercial ventures in Samoa they introduced the natives to the long-handled blubber knife and the hooked cane knife. The characteristic metal hook of these tools was readily incorporated into the Samoan wooden nifo'oti which bears the unique hooked element whether carved from wood or forged from steel. One common claim is that the word "nifo'oti" means "tooth of death" but this is not linguistically accurate as Samoan syntax places the modifier after the subject; according to Samoan grammar the term "nifo'oti" would actually mean "dead tooth," hardly as intimidating as the former translation. Fire was added to the knife in 1946 by a Samoan knife dancer named Freddie Letuli, later to become Paramount Chief Letuli Olo Misilagi. Letuli was performing in San Francisco and while practicing, noticed a Hindu Fire eater and also a little girl with lighted batons. The fire eater loaned him some fuel, he wrapped some towels around his knife, and the fire knife dance was born. Although today many commercial performers perform the dance with short staffs or unbladed knives, this is not authentic fire knife dance and is unacceptable in the Samoas except for training purposes. The knives used by performers in American Samoa are still made of machetes, although they are often dulled for younger dancers. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



Star of India was built in 1863 as Euterpe, a full-rigged iron windjammer ship in Ramsey, Isle of Man. After a full career sailing from Great Britain to India then to New Zealand, she became a salmon hauler on the Alaska then to California route. After retirement in 1926, she was restored between 1962 and 1963 and is now a seaworthy museum ship ported at the San Diego Maritime Museum in San Diego, United States. She is the oldest ship that still sails regularly and the oldest iron hulled merchant ship still floating. The ship is both a California and United States National Historic Landmark. The Star of India is currently home-ported at the San Diego Maritime Museum, just south of Lindbergh Field (San Diego International Airport), on the west side of North Harbor Drive at approximately Ash Street - all within the Port of San Diego tidelands. This location is slightly west of downtown San Diego, California. The other ships belonging to the Maritime Museum are always docked to the north of the Star of India. When she sails, the Star of India often remains within sight of the coast of San Diego County, and usually returns to her dock within a day. She is sailed by a skilled volunteer crew of Maritime Museum members, who train all year for the honor of taking her to sea. She has become one of the landmark ships in San Diego's Harbor. In August - September 2009, the Star of India was removed from display to a local drydock facility for a required Coast Guard inspection and various maintenance below the waterline, at a cost of approximately $225,000, and 34 weeks off display. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



The St. Lawrence Seaway is the common name for a system of canals that permits ocean-going vessels to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the North American Great Lakes, as far as Lake Superior. Legally it extends from Montreal to Lake Erie, including the Welland Canal and the locks at Sault Ste. Marie. The seaway is named after the Saint Lawrence River, which it follows from Lake Ontario to the Atlantic Ocean. This section of the seaway is not a continuous canal, but rather comprises stretches of navigable river, a number of locks, and short channels made to bypass difficulties in the natural waterway. The Saint Lawrence Seaway was preceded by a number of other canals. In 1862, locks on the St Lawrence allowed transit of vessels 186 ft (57 m) long, 44 ft 6 in (13.6 m) wide, and 9 ft (2.7 m) deep. The Welland Canal at that time allowed transit of vessels 142 ft (43 m) long, 26 ft (7.9 m) wide, and 10 ft (3.0 m) deep, but was generally too small to allow passage of larger ocean-going ships. Proposals for the seaway started in 1909, but were met with resistance from railway and port lobbyists in the US. In addition to replacing the canal system, generation of hydroelectricity also drove the project. After rejecting numerous agreements to construct a seaway, construction was approved in 1954 when Canada declared it was ready to proceed unilaterally. To create a navigable channel through the Long Sault rapids and to allow hydroelectric stations to be established immediately upriver from Cornwall, Ontario and Massena, New York, an artificial lake had to be created. Called Lake St. Lawrence, it required the flooding on July 1, 1958 of six villages and three hamlets in Ontario, now collectively known as "The Lost Villages". There was also inundation on the New York side, but no communities were affected. The creation of the seaway also led to the introduction of invasive species of aquatic animals, most notably the zebra mussel into the Great Lakes Basin. The seaway provides significant entertainment and recreation such as boating, camping, fishing, and scuba diving. Of particular note is that the seaway provides a number of divable shipwrecks within recreational scuba limits (shallower than 130 ft (40 m)). Surprisingly, the water temperature can be as warm as 70 F (21 C) with little or no thermocline during the mid to late summer months. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



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