How Much Do You Know About…Paint?

October 14, 2016

With Professor Brauer’s upcoming Sunday lectures about Degas, plus the MFA’s Degas exhibition we thought a quiz on was pertinent!

1. The color purple became associated with royalty because the pigment was:

A. From a far-away location.
B. Restricted to royalty.
C. Expensive.

2. What substance produced purple pigment during Roman times?

A. Verbena.
B. Mollusks.
C. Stones.

3. Who is credited with the discovery that you can mix two different paint colors to produce a third?

A. Plato.
B. Lao-Tzu.
C. Hammurabi.

4. In the Middle Ages, manuscripts were decorated with paint made from egg yolks and:

A. Feathers.
B. Stones.
C. Snails.

5. Among the Aztecs, what pigment color was regarded as more valuable than gold?

A. Yellow.
B. Blue.
C. Red.

6. How many years did it take Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel?

A. 4.
B. 15.
C. 8.

7. Who developed the color wheel?

A. Thomas Edison.
B. Sir Isaac Newton.
C. George Eastman.

8. What kind of paint does not dry?

A. Acrylic.
B. Encaustic.
C. Oil.

9. What color paint is the most calming?

A. Pink.
B. Blue.
C. White.


1. B. The color purple became associated with royalty because at one time only aristocrats could afford the expensive pigment

2. B. During Roman times, it took 4 million crushed mollusk shells to create one pound of purple pigment.

3. A. The Greek philosopher Plato is credited with the discovery that you can mix two different paint colors together to produce a third color.

4. B. In the Middle Ages, manuscripts were “illuminated” with paint made from ground semi-precious stones and egg yolks.

5. C. Among the Aztecs, red pigmented paint was regarded as more valuable than gold.

6. A. It took Michelangelo only four years to paint the famous ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the 1500s, but it took 20 years to restore it in the late 1900s.

7. B. The “color wheel” is older than the United States. It was developed by Sir Issac Newton in 1706.

8. C. Oil paints don’t dry. Instead they harden due to oxidation, usually in about two weeks, and are ready to be varnished in roughly six months. However, sometimes it takes years for an oil painting to fully harden!

9. A. Pink is the palliative color. Apparently, it suppresses anger and anxiety due to its calming effect. That is why prisons and mental health care institutions paint their walls pink to control the behavior of those out-of-control prisoners and patients.

David E. Brauer Deconstructs Degas in Upcoming Sunday Lectures

October 14, 2016

This month, the spotlight shines on artist Edgar Degas (1834-1917), as our very own Professor Brauer is devoting two upcoming Sunday Lectures to this Impressionist artist on October 23rd and October 30th. At the same time, Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts is kicking off its exclusive exhibition, “Degas: A New Vision”. We visited with Brauer to find out more.

WIH Reporter: What can you tell us about your upcoming lectures and the MFA exhibition?

Brauer: The confluence of events is a wonderful coincidence.The Museum of Fine Arts is the only museum in the U.S. that is exhibiting Degas’ work representing the beginning to the end of his career. Not since the 1988 retrospective Degas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has the artist’s career been so fully presented.

WIH Reporter: What would surprise us to know about Degas?

Brauer: When people think of Degas, they associate him with racehorses and ballet dancers. This exhibition shows a more complex multi-dimensional side of Degas through painting,drawings, sculpture, and photos. He was a very private man, and kept a lot of his paintings to himself. He was he first great artist to question why he should have any exhibitions, since, in his view, the public didn’t understand his art anyway. His success meant that he didn’t have to please anyone,and he could created art for his own edification.

WIH Reporter: What will you be concentrating on your lectures?

Brauer: Right now, I am teaching my 12-week class,”The Legacy of French Art 1850 to 1940″, and we are covering quite a bit about Degas. In the two Sunday lectures, I will be focusing on Degas even more, discussing the relationship between his paintings and photography, and the concentration on women in his work after 1870.

WIH Reporter: What was the relationship towards women in his art?

Brauer: He was the only one of the Impressionists to come to America. He visited New Orleans where he had family. When he came back to France, he began to focus on certain types of women: shop girls, laundresses, ballet dancers – all considered nearly prostitutes as reflected in popular novels at the time.

WIH Reporter: Is there a sympathy in his art for these women?

Brauer Actually, he looked upon them with an objective, analytical eye.

WIH Reporter: What was significant about the Impressionists in general, and Degas specifically, that set them apart from the art that had gone before?

Brauer:  The Impressionists, starting in 1860, represented the first secular art in Western tradition. This art, unlike religious art, does not have a back story. It represented a new kind of freedom, as artists were liberated from the earlier, religious subjects, and could create their own narrative. In the upcoming lectures, I will be discussing what we see in the creations of Degas.

WIH Reporter: Your next class, “The Legacy of Spanish Painting, 1600-1827“, will be starting on October 18th. does this class have any relation to the classes and lectures on French artists?

Brauer: Absolutely. It was one of the reasons I decided to teach six weeks of Spanish art, because Velazquez and Goya were huge influences on the Impressionists – Manet most of all – as he lived for a while in Spain. Degas also came under this influence. WIH Reporter: What will you be teaching in the Spring? Brauer: I am really looking forward to teaching “The Legacy of Russian Art” in the Spring.

To enroll in David Brauer’s Sunday lectures, click here. To enroll in his upcoming classes, click here.

3 More iPhone Camera Tips & Tricks

August 21, 2016

homescreeenThe iPhone Camera Tricks & Apps article was so popular in our last email newsletter, that we asked Liz Weiman, our computer/digital technical guru, to tell us 3 more things we can do right now to get better pictures on our iPhone!


1. The best way to avoid blurry pictures resulting from “camera shake” when taking a photo is to use the 2-second timer (see below). When the timer is activated, you simply snap your photo and then hold the camera very still. It gives you 2 additional seconds to brace the camera, and results in great pictures.

To access the timer, tap the Camera app, tap the timer icon at the top right, and tap 2s. Then snap your photo and it will take 2 seconds before it snaps. You have plenty of time to keep your phone still!

2. You don’t have to be a fashion photographer to make use of Burst mode, which creates multiple rapidly-taken pictures of continually-moving subjects. To create the perfect picture of a child or a pet, for instance, use Burst mode.  To do so, tap the Camera app, focus your camera on a moving subject, and then hold down on the white circle for a few seconds. You will see a counter that shows how many photos are being taken. You can then find your photos in the Photo app, in All Photos or Camera Roll. There should also be a separate folder called Bursts. To choose the pictures you want, and delete the rest,in the Photos app, tap your photo, tap Select at the bottom of your iPhone, tap the clear circle at the bottom of the photos you want to keep, and then tap Done. Tap Keep Only “X” Favorites (in which X stands for whatever number appears). The unwanted photos will be deleted and you will have those perfect photos you were looking for!

3. Did you know that using a grid can help you create the best photos? Photographers have known about the value of using the “rule of thirds” in composing a photo since the beginning of photography. This rule says that the human eye gravitates to intersection areas that appear when an image is split into thirds. To activate the grid on your iPhone, tap Settings on the Home Screen, scroll down and then tap Photos & Camera, and turn on Grid. When taking a photo using the grid, make sure the subject you want to emphasize appears along one of the intersecting lines before you snap the shot.See how nicely you can compose your photos this way!

Liz Weiman is teaching a Fall 4-week class: “iWorkshop: Tips and Tricks for iPhones, iPads, and Apps“, starting September 12th at 1:00 p.m. For more information, or to register, click here.

Writing Workshop: WIH’s 2nd Evening Class

August 21, 2016


K.C. Sinclair’s upcoming evening class, “The Writer’s Toolbox: An Exploration And Practice“, is an exploration of all the tools writers use to engage their readers. We visited Sinclair to find out more.

WIH Reporter: What is important for us to know about your upcoming class?

Sinclair: The class is an exploration of tools and techniques writers use in all genres to hook their readers and make the reading experience memorable. It will be a low-stress, high-fun series of experiments with craft.

WIH Reporter: What mistaken impressions do we have about the writing?

Sinclair: Some people think there are two types of people: writers and people who can’t write. The truth is that the only difference between these two types are those who pick up the pen or pencil or keyboard and those who don’t. Writing is like exercise, to get into writing shape you just have to do it. Everyone can be a writer. Everyone has stories to tell.

WIH Reporter: What else would surprise us about the topic of your class?

Sinclair: The topics we are covering apply to all types of writing: poetry, prose, non-fiction, memoire, plays, and screenplays. We will read and have fun writing them all!

WIH Reporter: What format do you plan to use in your class?

Sinclair: We will do a lot of small writing exercises and exploration of published work in each class. There will be several fun activities we move through and discuss each week. Lots of time to generate ideas in an environment geared for trying new things instead of seeking perfection. All classes will involve some work sharing, some drafting, some revising, and some discussion of the authors we use as muses.

K.C. Sinclair’s 6-Week workshop begins on 10-4-16, and takes place fro 5:00 PM - 07:00 PM. For more information, or to sign up, click here.

How Much Do You Know About…Manners?

August 21, 2016
By An unknown French painter. He worked in the 17th. cenury. -, Public Domain,


Manners are defined as the prevailing customs, ways of living, and habits of a people, class, or period, and they have been around since the beginning of time. Some of our manners have derived from strange early customs. In addition, some behaviors that are acceptable in our culture may cause offense in another. In this quiz that follows, test your knowledge about manners!

1. Where in the world is belching thought to be a compliment to the chef and a sign you have enjoyed your meal?

A. China.

B. Russia.

C. Bali.

2. In what country is a tip considered an insult?

A. Tahiti.

B. Japan.

C. Myanmar.

3. In what country is it frowned upon to eat bread as an appetizer before the meal?

A. France.

B. Iceland.

C. Korea.

4. Clinking glasses to celebrate derived from:

A. Making sure that the physical act of clinking glasses meant peace instead of war.

B. Making sure the sound would signify fellowship.

C. Making sure you weren’t trying to poison fellow partygoers since some of the drink would spill into more glasses.

5. Where does the term “God Bless You” derive after a sneeze?

A. During the plague period, when the Pope demanded anyone who sneezed be blessed.

B. In 19th century Russia, to celebrate health, akin to a toast to health.

C. In England, as a protective ritual in the slums where people were prone to illness.

6. Wearing white after Labor Day came from?

A. Greece, where white was historically worn just during the summer. B. India, where white showed adherence to Hindu religion seasonally. C. England, as a way to weed out those who came from old money.

7. Shaking hands started in England for the reason of:

A. Using a special handshake to show allegiance to a particular group. B. Showing that those involved were not armed. C. Signaling a peaceful prelude to breaking bread.

8. Covering your mouth when you yawn came about due to:

A. The fear of germs. B. The fear of evil spirits entering your body. C. The worry that showing your teeth might incite violence.

9. In the past, salad was served as a:

A. First Course. B. Second Course. C. Dessert.


1.  A

In  China, Taiwan, and much of the Far East.belching is considered a compliment to the chef and a sign you have enjoyed your meal.

2. B

Until recently, Japan and Korea considered tipping to be an insult.

3. A.

In France, it is frowned upon to eat bread as an appetizer before the meal. Instead, eat it as an accompaniment to your food or, especially, to the cheese course at the end of the meal. However, France is one of the only places where placing bread directly on the table is de rigueur.

4. C

Clinking glasses was developed as a way to make sure that you weren’t trying to poison your fellow partygoers. People would spill a little of their drink into their neighbors as a show of good faith.

5. A

Saying “God Bless You” dates back to 590 CE when Pope Gregory I demanded that anyone who sneezed be blessed, so that they don’t catch The Plague.

6. C

In the 1800s, In England, taking note of who was wearing white after Labor Day was a way to weed out old money from new money.

7. B

Shaking hands showed others that you were not armed.

8. B.

Covering the mouth when a person yawned came about due to the belief that an evil spirit could enter the body while yawning.

9. B

Salad was always served after the main course, until a tradition was started in California where the salad was served first for hungry restaurant diners. Other countries still serve salad after the main course.

3 iPhone Camera Tricks & Apps

May 22, 2016


It is important to understand how to use features in the Camera app in order to create the best possible photos.

We asked Liz Weiman, our iPad/iPhone technical guru to tell us 3 things we can do right now to get better pictures.

1. When you snap photos, use the High Volume button on the side of your iPhone to take the shot instead of the white onscreen button. This really helps to steady the camera when you are taking a picture and don’t want the camera to move as it tends to when you tap the white button. This also works with headphones that have volume controls on the cable.

2. The iPhone focuses for you automatically, and you can tell where it focuses based on the yellow square that shows on the screen. However, you can manually direct it to focus elsewhere by tapping on the screen in the desired locations, which directs your iPhone specifically where to focus.

3. The days that you take a group photo without yourself in it are over! There’s a self-timer on the iPhone in the Camera app, with a choice between a 2-second delay and a 10-second delay.  You can prop up the camera or put it on one of the specially-made tripods for the iPhone, and then tap the self-timer. This gives you time to run back to your group to be photographed before the photo is taken.

Liz Weiman’s “iWorkshop:I and iWorkshop II” classes take place starting September 12th, and October 10th, respectively, at 1:00 p.m. For more information about these class, or to sign up, click or tap here. To receive a free list of the Top 15 Essential Apps she recommends to have on your device, visit her site at

Art With A Heart

May 22, 2016


Mark your calendar for June 12th! Art With A Heart is a benefit for the Art in Medicine Program at Texas Children’s Hospital being held at The Women’s Institute, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Paintings done by the children at TCH undergoing chemotherapy and blood infusions will be for sale. Artists Viki Anderson,

Raquel Fernandez, and Sheila Zeve, co-chairs for the event, have facilitated the paintings done by the children. Paintings by Viki, Raquel, and Sheila will also be on sale with a portion of the sales going to the Periwinkle Foundation. The Periwinkle Foundation supports the Art in Medicine program at TCH. For further information, contact Sheila at 713-629-8985.

The Art & Science of Garden Design

May 22, 2016

repotting-flowers.jpg This year is the 300th anniversary of the birth of the English garden designer and architect, Lancelot “Capability” Brown. During his long, productive, and versatile career, Brown changed the face of the English landscape, designing more than 250 parks and gardens. Numerous events are being planned in the UK to celebrate this event this summer. We checked in with Barry Greenlaw, who is teaching “Capability Brown: 300 Years Of The English Garden” this July, to find out more.

WIH Reporter: What is important for us to know about Capability Brown?

Greenlaw: This is the 300th anniversary of Brown’s birth. It is being celebrated as a big event throughout Britain, with all sorts of special events and openings.  More than 250 gardens and estates are known or attributed to Brown’s designs, many of which survive in whole or part today.  We will look at a number of them in this 4-week course, including some of the less well-known.

WIH Reporter: What would surprise us to know about Brown?

Greenlaw: Brown was an architect as well as a garden designer, a fact that is not well known. We will look at some of his house designs as well as gardens.

WIH Reporter: What will you cover specifically in your classes?

Greenlaw: We will use lots of slides, showing views of gardens, early plans etc.  The first week will probably look at the state of England’s gardens before Brown – to provide contrast with his work.  The second session will cover  the influence on Brown of the designer William Kent, and display Brown’s early work at gardens such as Stowe.  In the third session, we will view Brown’s mature work at places like Petworth, Chatsworth,Croome Court, and more.  The last session, we will cover Brown’s influence on later designers, in England and elsewhere in Europe, and maybe even in America.

Greenlaw’s 4-week class begins on July 11th. For more information about this class, or to sign up, click here. You can also visit to learn about all the festival events in the U.K.

How Much Do You Know About … Salt?

May 22, 2016


Salt is so plentiful in our times that we don’t even think much about it, except to use less of it for medical reasons. It is hard to believe that it was so revered that military battles were fought over it! How much do you know about salt?

 Here is a quiz to test your knowledge about salt!

1. There is an enormous salt mine, 100 years old, under an American city about 1,200 feet below ground. Which city?

A. San Francisco.
B. Seattle.
C. Detroit.

2. Where in the world is there a hotel and spa completely made of salt:

A. Dubai.
B. Bolivia.
C. Myanmar.

3. In the early 1800s salt was four times as expensive

as ____ on the frontier:

A. Fur.
B. Beef.
C. Leather.

4. The word “salary” comes from salt because:

A. Romans were paid money with which they bought salt.
B. Romans were paid in salt.
C. Romans guarded roads which led to salt mines.

5. We eat 7 per cent of all salt production. The other 93 per cent is used by the:

A. Aviation industry.
B. Chemical industry.
C. Transportation industry.

6. The expression “not worth his salt” came from:

A. Greece.
B. India.
C. England.


1. C. There is an enormous salt mine under the city of Detroit, about 1,200 feet below ground. According to Detroit Salt Co., the century-old mine spreads out more than 1,500 acres and
has more than 100 miles of underground roads.

2. B. The Palacio de Sal Hotel and Spa in Bolivia is completely made out of salt.

3. B. In the early 1800s salt was four times as expensive as beef on the frontier – it was essential to keep people and livestock alive.

4. A..and C. There is a very common misconception that Roman soldiers were paid in salt (hence the word Salary), but in fact they were paid in normal money. Because Roman soldiers were given money to buy salt, the word “salary” was coined.However, many believe also that the connection with salt is possibly due to the fact that the soldiers protected the salt roads leading to Rome (Via Salarium).

5. B. We eat 7 per cent of all salt production. The other 93 per cent is used by the chemical

6. A. “He is not worth his salt” is an expression that originated in ancient Greece where salt was traded for slaves.

iPhone/iPad Security Secrets: 3 Things You Can Do Now to Make Your Device Secure

January 29, 2016

ApplicationsStoreHomeScreenRedNumberIn these days of identity theft, ad and location tracking, and constant hacking, is there any way we can safeguard our mobile devices? Apple offers numerous ways to make sure our emails, contacts, messages, locations, and web surfing destinations can remain private. To accomplish this, some of the default settings have to be changed. We asked Liz Weiman, our iPad/iPhone technical guru to tell us 3 things we can do right now to start the process. Below are her recommendations.

1. Make sure Find My iPhone has been installed and is turned on for each device. To do so, tap the Settings icon on the Home Screen, and then tap iCloud. Scroll down the list of apps and then tap Find My iPhone (or Find My iPad on an iPad). Make sure it is turned on and enabled as shown below.

2. Set up a 6-digit passcode instead of the usual 4-digits, and make sure your phone locks when it is not being used. Security and convenience are often at odds, but for a few seconds of unlocking your screen, you gain a tremendous security. Here are the steps to create/update your passcode:

A.  Tap the Settings app on the Home screen.

B.  Tap Passcode.  (Note: On devices with Touch ID, go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode.)


C. If you have a 4digit passcode set up, enter your passcode in the keypad that comes up. You can change it to a safer 6-digit passcode on the screen that follows by tapping Change Passcode. If you do not have a passcode, you can set one up in the Passcode Lock screen by tapping Turn Passcode On. 


3. Clear out your Safari History and Website Data. 

This very quick operation, accomplished in the Settings app will remove history, cookies and other browsing data – all information that can be easily accessed if it is left untouched. Simply tap Settings, and then tap Safari. Scroll all the way down, and tap the Clear History and Website Data link, and then tap Clear in order to clear your history. It is good to do this a a few times a week.

Liz Weiman’s upcoming class, “iWorkshop Part 1: Tips and Tricks for Apple iPhones, iPads, and Apps”, starts in September at 1:00 pm and continues for 4 weeks. To find out more about the upcoming class or to register, look in the Computer/Digital Technology section of this site.

Immerse in the Dutch Golden Age of Art and Science

January 29, 2016
Johannes Vermeer “Girl with a Pearl Earring”_Public domain__ via Wikimedia Commons

 Barry’s Greenlaw’s upcoming class, “The Dutch Republic in the Golden Age – and Beyond”, examines the extraordinary richness of Dutch art and science in the 17th century, which allows us to put into perspective the cities, the landscape, and the people of that glorious time period. For those who want to fully immerse in the Dutch Golden Age, David Brauer is also teaching “The Legacy of the Dutch School”, looking at how the Dutch celebrated their new status and wealth with an explosion of exemplary painting which greatly influenced other schools of painting throughout Europe. We visited with Barry to find out more.

WIH Reporter: What is important for us to know about your upcoming class?

Greenlaw: The Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century is one of the great fertile cultural periods in the history of Europe. The combination of economic prosperity brought about, in good part, by domestic and foreign maritime trade, fostered a thriving period of artistic and scientific activity which far surpassed that on any other place in Europe at the time.

WIH Reporter: What would surprise us to know about this period?

Greenlaw: One statistic that overwhelmed me, was the sheer quantity of painting that resulted from this economic prosperity.  It is estimated that well more than a million pictures were painted in the Netherlands during the Dutch Golden Age by thousands of artists – a reflection of the demand by the prosperous Dutch middle and upper classes to perpetuate themselves and their families in portraits, and to demonstrate their pride in their countryside and newly prosperous cities.

WIH Reporter: Do people have mistaken impressions about this time period?

Greenlaw: The fact that while one thinks of prosperity as occurring in times of peace, for much of the Golden Age, the Dutch were at war, first with Spain, and later with Britain and France.  The Dutch relationship with England, in particular, both good and bad, was of major benefit to both countries.

WIH Reporter: What inspired you to create this course about the Dutch Golden Age?

Greenlaw: This course was inspired by an exhibition that my wife and I saw at the Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam last summer: “Portrait Gallery of the Golden Age” which introduced one of the main themes of this course, that the Golden age was initiated and stimulated not by the aristocratic rulers of the Netherlands, but by the wealthy burghers of Amsterdam and the other urban centers, who were also the main commissioners of much of the art produced.

WIH Reporter: How will your course fit in with David Brauer’s “The Legacy of the Dutch School”?

Greenlaw: The course will cover the period from the Dutch Revolt against Spain in the last years of the 16th century, to the end of the Golden Age, in the late 17th and early 18th centuries – following essentially a chronological timeline with each session focusing on a particular topic such as the Dutch East India Company, the Dutch Enlightenment, Landscape, Cityscape etc. David Brauer’s class will  emphasize art, I will include art (in some sessions quite a bit) but using it as a reflection of the period itself.

Barry Greenlaw’s class,  “The Dutch Republic in the Golden Age – and Beyond”, begins on February 1st, at 1:00 pm and continues for 10 weeks. To find out more about the class, or to register, click here

David Brauer’s class,“The Legacy of the Dutch School”, begins on February 2nd at 1:00 pm and continues for 6 weeks. To find out more about the class, or to register, click here.

Living the Legacy: The European Grand Tour

January 29, 2016

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, lengthy trips through the European Continent were au de rigueur among British socialites. In her upcoming class, “The Grand Tour: Readings From Abroad”, Anna Saikin has recreated this rich legacy by following a literary itinerary that highlights the people, places, and ideas that made this period of travel so extraordinary. We checked in with Saikin to find out more.

WIH Reporter:  What is important for us to know about the Grand Tour?

Saikin: The Grand Tour was not exactly a scholarly and religious pilgrimage, but rather a pleasurable means of visiting the cultural capitols of the modern world. It was common, indeed highly desirable, to run into one’s acquaintances while abroad. Our class will serve as an introduction to eighteenth and nineteenth century literature through the lens of the cultural and social practices that emerge from the Grand Tour’s rich legacy.

WIH Reporter: What would surprise us to know about the “institution” of the Grand Tour?

Saikin: Many people picture the Grand Tour as a late eighteenth century rite of passage, but the earliest accounts of tourists dates from the 1660s. The practice flourished during the neoclassical age as interest in Greek and Roman ruins was heightened, through the romantic period, when tourists were equally interested in the aesthetic aspects of traveling in the Swiss Alps as well as in art work.

WIH Reporter: What literary personas and interesting facts are in store for those of us fascinated by the literary Grand Tour?

Saikin: While the many tourists were wealthy young men, people from all walks of life took a Grand Tour for educational or social purposes. Men and Women, young and old, traveled from England and American to Continental Europe for a variety of purposes. Mary Shelley, for instance, took a Grand Tour when she eloped with Percy Shelley in 1816; it was during this trip that she penned the first draft of Frankenstein, later published in 1818. 

WIH Reporter: What format do you plan to use in the class?

Saikin: Our six-week class will mimic the itinerary used by the English nobility in the eighteenth century. Each week we will travel to a new “country” through art works and literary selections seen on or written during the Grand Tour. Our first week begins in Paris; from there, we will virtually tour Geneva, Switzerland; Florence; Venice; Naples; and Munich (Germany).

Anna Saikin’s class begins on March 1st, at 1:00 pm and continues for 6 weeks. To find out more about the class or to register, click here.

How Much Do You Know About…Coffee?

January 29, 2016


coffeeCoffee is a hugely popular drink prepared from roasted seeds, often called “beans” of the coffee plant, due to their shape. People consume it all over the world,  but often don’t not know much about the history and culture of coffee. Here’s a quiz to test your coffee knowledge:

1. Coffee was first discovered in 800 AD by goat herders in :

A. Columbia.
B. Brazil.
C. Ethiopia.

2. Coffee is the ____ most traded commodity on earth:

A. 1st.
B. 2nd.
C. 3rd.

3. The only state in the US to grow coffee is:

A. Puerto Rico.
B. Hawaii.
C. Florida.

4. The majority of the world’s coffee is produced in: 

A. Vietnam.
B. Columbia.
C. Brazil.

5. The world’s largest coffee drinkers hail from: 

B. Netherlands.
C. Germany. 

6. True or False?

Drinking coffee gives you a 65 percent chance of avoiding Alzheimer’s disease.


1.  C. Shepherds discovered coffee in Ethiopia circa 800 A.D.
Legend has it that 9th century goat herders noticed the effect caffeine had on their goats, who appeared to “dance” after eating coffee berries. A local monk then made a drink from the berries and found that it kept him awake at night, so this is how the original cup of coffee was born.

2. B. Coffee is the second most traded commodity on earth, second to petroleum. According to the Global Exchange, there are approximately 25 million farmers in over 50 countries involved in producing coffee. 

3. B. HawaiiKona coffee is the United States’ gift to the coffee world. Because coffee grows best in climates along the equator, Hawaii’s weather is optimal for harvesting coffee beans.

4. C.. Brazil produces 40% of the world’s coffee, which is twice as much as 2nd and 3rd place holders, Colombia and Vietnam.

5. B. The Netherlands consume 2414 cups per day, followed closely by Finland.

6. True. In an important study, coffee drinking of 3-5 cups per day at midlife was associated with a decreased risk of dementia/AD by about 65% at late-life. In conclusion, coffee drinking may be associated with a decreased risk of dementia/AD. Researchers found that older patients with high levels of caffeine in their blood were more likely to avoid Alzheimer’s. Studies have also shown that caffeine has positive effects on type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. It has also been shown to protect against skin cancer in women.

How Much Do You Know About…U.S. Geography

October 9, 2015

American geography is one of the best in the world. The U.S. has more navigable internal waterways than the rest of the world combined. The Midwest contains the world’s largest contiguous -arable farmland. The Atlantic and Pacific oceans insulate the United States from other countries. Deserts separate the United States from Mexico, and forests and lakes form a natural barrier with Canada.Test your American geographic knowledge!


1. The only royal palace located in the United States is located in:

A. Boston, MA.
B. Honolulu, HI.
C. New York, NY.


2. At 86 meters below sea level, the lowest place in the U.S. is:

A. Death Valley, CA.
B. New Orleans, LA.
C. Key West, FL.

3. The tallest mountain in the world is in the U.S. It is:

A. Mount Whitney.
B. Mauna Kea.
C. Mount McKinley.

4.The longest river in the U.S. is the:

A. Mississippi.
B. Missouri.
C. Rio Grande.

5. A mountain range on the Moon was named for the mountain range that runs through Tenn. and North Carolina:

A. Rocky Mountains.
B. Blue Ridge Mountains.
C. Smoky Mountains.


1. B. Honolulu, Hawaii. The only royal palace used by a monarch in the U.S. is located in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is the Iolani Palace and belonged to the monarchs King Kalakaua and Queen Lili’uokalani until the monarchy was overthrown in 1893. The building served as the capitol building until Hawaii became a state in 1959. Today this palace is a museum.

2. A. Death Valley, CA. The lowest point on land in the Western Hemisphere is Death Valley in California.

3. B. Mauna Kea.  This mountain is located in Hawaii, is only 13,796 feet (4,205 m) in altitude above sea level, however, when measured from the sea floor it is over 32,000 feet (10,000 meters) high, making it taller than Mount Everest (Earth’s tallest mountain above sea level at 29,028 feet or 8,848 meters).

4. B. Missouri river. The Missouri River is the longest river in North America. Rising in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana, the Missouri river flows east and south for 2,341 miles (3,767 km) before entering the Mississippi River north of St. Louis, Missouri.

5. C. The SmokyMountains are a small range of mountains on the moon near the Apollo 16 landing site.

(Answers from Wikipedia).

The Legacy View: A New Art Perspective

October 9, 2015

davidhead copyThe recent legacy art course series, developed and taught by Professor David Brauer, involves not just an exploration of different art styles, but also covers art and its influences within an historical context. The classes also focus on schools of art and major art centers. At present, Brauer is currently wrapping up “The Legacy of Venice” class and will be starting “The Legacy of Rome” class on Oct. 20th. We visited with him to find out more.

WIH Reporter:  What is important to know about your legacy classes?

Brauer: Normal art history classes cover a much shorter period of time, and include more detail. Legacy classes involve picking an historical thread, and tracing the artistic influences along a long connecting line.

WIH Reporter: What connecting lines will be followed in your upcoming “The Legacy of Rome” class?

Brauer: The class will, of course, cover the Renaissance and will also include rediscovery and reassessment of classical art. It will start at the beginning, but it will also include paintings in later centuries that show a less obvious line from Michelangelo.

WIH Reporter: What is the main advantage of looking at art through the legacy perspective?

Brauer: Legacy classes view art using a slice of history. This perspective puts works in a context, explaining why works look the way they do and what they have meant to people over time. It involves viewing art through a different prism.

WIH Reporter: What future legacy classes will you be considering?

Brauer: Legacy classes must meet a specific criteria. For instance, one can’t teach a class about the legacy of Florence art, because it dies on the vine around 1600. However, future classes will likely involve the legacy of French art, and also the legacy of Dutch art.

The Legacy of Rome” is a 6-week class, beginning on October 20th, at 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. For more information, or to register, click here.

Geopolitics: The Art of Mapping the Future

October 9, 2015


Peter Zeihan, author of “The Accidental Superpower” and upcoming Lecture Luncheon speaker (October 16th) doesn’t need a crystal ball to know the future of our world. Instead, he uses readily-available scientific data to analyze the implications and trends for the U.S., Europe, Russia, China, and other countries. By analyzing such information as population aging demographics, history, cultural norms, and geographical features, he has been able to project likely events occurring over the next fifteen to twenty-five years.

In his analysis, America will fare extremely well in the near future but many other seemingly stable countries around the world are on the road to failure. Part of the reason for this has to do with the Bretton Woods agreement at the end of WWII in 1944-45 in which America (then obsessed with cold war objectives) pledged to safeguard free trade for countries around the world. This created the world we know today, where countries formerly occupied with skirmishing over shipping routes with their neighbors, were able to change their concentration to rebuilding and trade. Major exporters such as China and Germany are dependent on this kind of protected shipping.

However, with the advent of near self-sufficiency in oil production (due in part to America’s recent shale boom) and the end of the past cold war, the objectives of the U.S. have changed. American withdrawal from continuing to carry out the very-expensive protection of the world’s free-trade routes is already happening, and when full withdrawal occurs, Zeihan believes there will be a domino effect for many countries.

Some of his most unexpected predictions include:

  • Alberta, and the other Canadian provinces will become U.S. states.
  • Germany will be on the rise again in Europe.
  • Industrial collapse, and economic depressions are ahead for countries like Russia, Japan, and China.
  • Wars will begin to fight over formerly-protected shipping lanes. There will be wars for necessary resources.

America should not be involved in these wars, according to Zeihan. The reason is that America is blessed with excellent geography, near self-sufficiency in oil/shale, and has an open immigration policy that attracts young families who will continue to contribute to the economy. While other countries will have to fight wars for necessary resources denied by their geography, America will not need to do so. In fact, one of Zeihan’s most interesting predictions is that the biggest danger to the future U.S. is not terrorism, but the Mexican drug war run by cartels which has already infiltrated major cities in America, and which is likely to grow far worse.

The lecture luncheon featuring Peter Zeihan as speaker will take place Friday, October 16th, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. For more information, or to register, click here.


How Much Do You Know About…Wine

August 23, 2015

You may know how to swirl the liquid, look at the legs, sniff the cork, and more. But do you know some of the key wine fundamentals? Why do you get headaches after drinking certain wines? Why are some wines described as tasting “oaky and others described as “buttery”? Test your wine knowledge in the following short quiz.


1. Wines are sometimes described as “oaky”. This is because of:
A. The soil the grapes originated from:

B. Fermentation in barrels. C. Contact with grape skins

2. White wines are sometimes called “buttery”. This is due to the wine’s:

A. Region.
B. Contact with yeast.
C. Contact with grape skins

3. Why do some wines give you headaches?
A. Tannins.
B. Histamines.
C. Sulfites

4.White wines are made with grapes that have:

A. Yellow, green, or black skins.
B. Dark grape skins
C. Yellow or green skins

5. Rosé wines are made from:

A. Crushing red wine grapes for a short time.
B. Mixing white and red wine grapes.
C. Using specialized Rosé wine grapes.


1. B. Wines with an oaky, woody flavor are described as “oaky”. This flavor is very apparent in wines that are fermented/aged in oak barrels.

2. B. A buttery wine smells and tastes like butter or butterscotch. Buttery is a term that typically describes white wines. The buttery taste comes from the wine’s contact with yeast during fermentation in the barrel.

3. B. Histamines are found in the skins of grapes and they seem to give some histamine-sensitive people headaches. Red wine will often cause more headaches to histamine-sensitive people because red wines have longer contact with grape skins.

4. A. White wines are typically made with grapes with yellow or green skins but they can also be made from black-skinned grapes if the juice is separated from the skins before fermentation.

5. A. To make most Rosé wine, red grapes are crushed and left for a little while (anywhere from a few hours to a few days).   


The Lure of British Romanticism

August 23, 2015

British Romanticism represents a fascinating slice of English literary history during which major literary movements arose that are still relevant today. Novels such as “Ivanhoe and “Pride and Prejudice, along with short stories of the time evoke the spirit of this age, and many remain timely even in our day and age. In her upcoming six-week course, “British Romanticism: Revolutions In Style“, new instructor Anna Saikin takes us back in time where we can experience the history and sentiment of the age. We visited with her to find out more.

WIH Reporter: What is important to know about your class?

Saikin: My class offers participants the opportunity to experience British eighteenth-century and Regency literature within its historical and social period. We will read selections from gothic, romance, and historical novels alongside stories that were originally published in periodicals and miscellanies.

WIH Reporter: What might surprise us about the topic?

Saikin: Many present-day readers consider Jane Austen’s novels to be “timeless” classics, in part due to their enduring popularity. As participants read Pride and Prejudice alongside works by Austen’s contemporaries, they will find that Austen’s unique style is in part due to her absorption of current literary trends and her ability to rewrite them in new and interesting ways.

WIH Reporter: What mistaken impressions might we have about the class?

Saikin: The term “Romantic” does not necessarily mean that every work has a central love plot. While that can be true, as in the case of Austen, Romantic period literature is also filled with intrigue and suspense, philosophical reflections on nature and society, and political commentary on revolution. We will look at all meanings of the term to determine its usefulness or limitations relating to this literary period.

WIH Reporter: What format will you use in teaching the class.?

Saikin: Our classes will begin with a brief introduction to the week’s reading, and will transition to a guided discussion. Participants will have the opportunity to pose questions and reply depending on their familiarity with the text. Romantic authors were invested in the art of self-reflection, so I will give participants optional journaling assignments to help them explore their reading experience.

Saikin’s class begins on October 20th, from 1:00 pm. to 3:00 pm. For more information, or to register, click here.


Book Collecting: The Thrill of the Hunt

August 23, 2015


“Good as it is to inherit a library, it is better to collect one.” Augustine Birrell   

In this day and age, books may seem to be taking a back seat to printed e-books, but the art and science of book collecting is still going strong. William Allison is teaching a fascinating course about the importance and satisfaction of book collecting called “Indoor Treasure Hunting: An Introduction to Modern Book Collecting.”  We visited with him to find out more.

WIH Reporter:  What is important to know about your upcoming class?

Allison: Book collecting is a fascinating and engaging pursuit, involving not only learning about books as objects, but also the thrill of the hunt and the joy of discovery. We will introduce the ins-and-outs of books and book history in a fun and entertaining fashion. You will leave the class equipped with tools to pursue more serious collecting, no matter your level of existing knowledge.  It should be a fun and interesting experience even if you do not aspire to build a collection, but just want to know more about books.

WIH Reporter: What would surprise us to know about the topic of your class?

Allison: Book collecting is not limited to the rich nor are book collectors stuffy. Many wonderful and interesting collections have been built by people without great monetary resources to devote to their collecting. A collection can focus on any topic that interests you. There are collectors of graphic novels, social movements, forgeries, illustrated items, bibliographies, books about books, as well as authors, such as Papa Hemingway or Stephen King, or areas such as Americana or books about Texas, and anything else you can think of. There are no rules or boundaries that have to be obeyed beyond having an enjoyable experience! Book collecting can also help expand your understanding of an area or subject.

WIH Reporter: What mistaken impressions might we have about the subject of your class?

Allison: That it will be dull or dry or that book collectors are only interested in unimportant minutia of editions! We will talk about many fun and interesting stories and anecdotes of book collecting and collectors. If you are already a collector, we will delve into some more advanced topics and you can help share your knowledge through the small class discussion format. Also, while the internet has changed much about books and publishing, it can be a great tool for collectors. In many ways it is easier than ever to find books that interest you and do research on them

WIH Reporter: What format do you plan to use in the class?

Allison: Because it is a small class, we will be able to have discussions rather than a pure lecture. We will be very hands-on, passing around books from my collection to illustrate the discussions. There will be PowerPoint slides to facilitate most of the talks and I will provide handouts (electronic or paper) including further reading and resources for those who desire it. Also there will be an optional field trip to the Thirteenth Annual Book Fair at the Printing Museum on Saturday November 7th.

WIH Reporter: Is there anything else we should know about your upcoming class?

Allison:  The thing I always emphasize is how much fun book collecting can be, and this class should be likewise fun and interesting. As Vincent Starrett said: “Every new search is a voyage to the Indies, a quest for buried treasure, a journey to the end of the rainbow; and whether or not at the end there shall be turned up a pot of gold or merely a delightful volume, there are always wonders along the way.” (Penny Wise & Book Foolish.)

Allison’s 4-week class, “Indoor Treasure Hunting: An Introduction to Modern Book Collecting” begins on November 4th at 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 pm. For more information or to sign up, click here.

7 Top iPhone/iPad Utility Apps

June 29, 2015

This fall, Liz Weiman will be offering her “iWorkshop” basics class and “Introduction to Social Media.” In advance, she has recommended 7 top utility apps below that will make our lives very much easier!

 1. Speedtest, a free app by Ookla, offers an easy way to test the speed of your Wi-Fi or cellular service. With just one tap on the”Begin Test” button, you can measure your download and upload speeds, and more. It saves your results for comparison, and gives you a way to verify what was promised by your provider!

2. RedLaser Barcode Scanner is a bar code reader that allows you to scan product bar codes, compare prices, and find the best deals online and locally.

3. Try either the Amount Converter app ($.99) or Converter Plus app (free) to convert everything from currency conversions to clothing to loan interest amounts. Both of these popular apps convert metric, temperatures cooking amounts, and so much more.

4. iHandy Carpenter is a great toolkit app which contains 5 tools: a plumb bob, a surface level, a bubble level bar, a steel protractor, a steel ruler. For $1.99, you can get a great toolkit. If you just want a level, the iHandy Level app alone is free.


5. My Data Manager is a free app that will help you take control of your mobile data usage and save you money on your monthly phone bill. Use My Data Manager every day to track your data usage and ensure that you don’t go over your monthly data bill and incur unnecessary charges. Find out just how much data your apps are using, and also how much data you use each month. You can set notifications at different times of the month.



6. DO button - This free app allows you to make shortcuts for the things you do most often. There are recipes to perform automated functions, such as emailing your family to let them know you’re on your way home and more. 




7. Lastpass is a free, award-winning password managing app that saves your passwords and gives you secure access to them from every computer and mobile device. With LastPass, you only have to remember one password, your LastPass master password. LastPass will fill your logins for you and securely sync your passwords everywhere you need them. (1Password is a popular competing password manager).

For more information or to register for Liz Weiman’s upcoming classes, click here.  For more information on iPad/iPhone apps and more, visit her site,