Beginning in the Middle Ages, Boxing Day was known as St. Stephen’s Day in honour of the first Christian martyr. Although unknown in the United States, Boxing Day is still observed in Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
It’s called “Boxing Day” because on the day after Christmas, the well-off boxed up gifts to give to their servants and tradespeople, while the churches opened their charity boxes to the poor.
The word shift means to change or rearrange, which is why we call those who work during differing blocks of time “shift workers.” This use of the word shift also applies to an individual’s ability to change or adapt.
Therefore, if you’re “shiftless” you lack the initiative or resources to change with the circumstances. On the other hand, someone who is “shifty” is too adept at change and isn’t to be trusted.
According to a national survey conducted by the American Pet Products Manufaturers Association in 2008, Americans owned about 75 million dogs and 88 million cats. Approximately 39 percent of U.S. households own at least one dog, and 34 percent own at least one cat.
According to the American Kennel Club, Labrador retrievers are the most popular dog breed, followed by Yorkshire terriers, German shepherds, and golden retrievers. Persian cats are the most popular feline breed, followed by the Maine coon and the Siamese. Combined reptiles are the next popular type of pet, followed by birds and horses.
Frogs are able to make their croaking noises because they have simple vocal cords that have two slits in the bottom of the mouth. These slits open into what is called a vocal pouch. When air passes from the lungs through the vocal cords, a sound is produced. The inflating and deflating vocal pouch makes the sound louder or quieter.
That sound changes depending on the kind of frog there are as many different kinds of croaks as there are frogs! Frogs croak for the same reasons that many animals make noises: to track down and then select a mate, and to protect their territory from other male frogs.
Once seeds are fully developed, they need a good place to grow. If they just fell to the ground beneath their parent plant, they would struggle, competing against each other for sunlight, water, and minerals. Most seeds need to travel—by wind, water, or with the help of insects and other animals—to better places to germinate, or start to grow into new plants. Some seeds, like those from conifer and maple trees, have wings attached. Others, like those of dandelions, have parachutes made of tiny hairs. Both features allow the seeds to be carried great distances by the wind, and they sometimes land in spots that are good for germination. Water carries other seeds to good growing places; the hard, watertight shell of a coconut, for instance, allows it to travel many miles at sea before finding a beach where conditions are suitable for growth.
Seeds sometimes have to wait a long time before they find good places to grow, places where the sun, moisture, and temperature are right. Most seeds are designed for the wait, protected by a hard outer pod (except those of conifers). Some seeds wait years to germinate, and some just never do. But inside each seed pod is a baby plant, or embryo, and endosperm, a supply of starchy food that will be used for early growth if germination takes place. Then a tiny root will reach down into the soil, and a tiny green shoot will reach up, toward the light.
As people age, their bodies change in many ways that affect the ways their cells and organ systems function. These changes occur little by little, progress over time, and are different for every man and woman. We all lose height as we age, and by the time we reach 80 years old, our height may have decreased by two inches (five centimeters). Changes in posture, in the growth of our spine’s vertebrae, and joint changes all contribute to our loss of height. With aging, the hair follicles produce less melanin, the pigment that gives hair its color.
Hair becomes lighter, gray, and eventually turns white. The nails also change with aging: they grow slower, may become dull and brittle, and may become yellowed and opaque. With aging, the outer skin layer (epidermis) thins and the number of pigment-containing cells (called melanocytes) decreases, but the remaining melanocytes increase in size. Aging skin thus appears thinner, more pale, and translucent. Changes in the connective tissue reduce the skin’s strength and elasticity, resulting in a wrinkly, leathery skin.
The immune system protects the human body against germs, which are microorganisms that cause sickness and disease. There are four major types of germs— harmful bacteria (pathogens), viruses, fungi, and protozoa. This defense system begins with the skin, which stops germs from getting into your blood or tissues. If germs get into your body, for example through your nose or mouth, white blood cells called phagocytes and lymphocytes attack them. Phagocytes scout out and destroy invaders, and long-living lymphocytes remember the invaders and release chemicals called antibodies to make the body resistant, or immune, to them.
White blood cells live in the bloodstream, lymphatic system, and spleen. The lymphatic system (or lymph system, for short) is a far-reaching network that extends throughout your entire body. A clear liquid called lymph runs throughout the system, washing the body’s cells with nutrients and water and detecting and removing pathogens. Lymph is filtered through the lymph nodes, and then passes into the body’s bloodstream.
Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune have rings—or thin belts of rocks—around them. Jupiter’s ring is thin and dark, and cannot be seen from Earth. Saturn’s rings are bright, wide, and colorful. Uranus has nine dark rings around it, and Neptune’s rings are also dark, but contain a few bright arcs.
At one time all of the planets, Earth included, had rings. These rings were unstable and the material was either lost in space or collected into the satellites of these planets.
Moss is a type of plant that does not have traditional roots, stems, or leaves. Because they have no true roots, mosses use delicate growths called rhizoids to anchor them to soil, rocks, or tree bark. Moss grows along the ground where it is moist, absorbing water and nutrients from the air.
Like their cousins the ferns and liverworts (leafy mosses), mosses reproduce from spores, not seeds, and need to be moist in order to reproduce. They grow in soft cushions or small clumps, and can spread out like a blanket along the ground.
The lizard is a reptile, a cold-blooded animal that is unable to internally control its own body temperature. In order to warm up or cool down, lizards and other reptiles—such as snakes, turtles, and crocodiles—move to different areas of their environment. They also use certain other behavioral traits to keep their body temperatures constant. For instance, if a lizard is starting to feel the intensity of the tropical sun, it might head into the shade or take a dip in a pool of water. The same lizard might also bask in the sun to warm up. Frilled dragons and collared lizards run on their hind legs in the heat of the day, making an artificial breeze to help cool themselves off. And another reptile, the crocodile, holds its jaws open to cool down on hot days.
The blood vessels in its mouth are close to the skin surface, and help transfer heat. Lying quietly is another technique the crocodile uses to warm its body and help digest its food. Because they are cold-blooded, reptiles can survive on much less food, compared to warm-blooded small mammals and birds, which burn much of their food to keep warm.