Q. For years I have heard about Gonzaga every college basketball season. Please tell me what a Gonzaga is.
-- Robert Hooks, of Belleville
A. Hey, if you're looking for a basketball miracle, you could hardly do better than pinning your aspirations on a saint -- Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, S.J.
Centuries before James Naismith nailed up his peach baskets in the Springfield, Mass., YMCA, little Luigi Gonzaga entered the world on March 9, 1568, in his parents' castle in northern Italy. (Aloysius is the Latin form of Luigi.)
His father wanted his first-born to be a soldier, but Luigi quickly became disillusioned with the era's violence and brutality that saw him witness the murder of two brothers.
When his parents took him to Spain to join the court of King Philip II, he found his calling -- to be a Jesuit. Despite pleas by his father, young Luigi renounced his family's wealth and prestige and, at age 17, entered the Society of Jesus in Rome.
His dream was short-lived. Often in frail health himself, he spent his days on the streets of Rome, ministering to the sick. In 1591, a plague broke out. The Jesuits opened a hospital and, seeing Gonzaga's dedication, assigned him to a ward with no plague victims for fear of losing him.
Apparently, however, one patient was already infected, and Gonzaga soon began showing signs of the dreaded illness. He recovered, but his health continued to fail. He told his superiors that he had had a vision that he would die on the eve of the feast of Corpus Christi. Sure enough, he reportedly died just before midnight on June 21, 1591.
He was just 23, but even at that young age, many apparently considered him a saint soon after he died. Just 14 years later, he was beatified by Pope Paul V. And on New Year's Eve, 1726, he was canonized by Pope Benedict XIII -- along with Stanislaus Kostka, the young Polish novice for whom the recently embattled Polish Catholic church in St. Louis is named.
Then, in 1887, Father Joseph Cataldo, an Italian-born Jesuit, founded Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., which started a hoops program in 1907. And since 1999, the once-obscure Bulldogs have made it to the Big Dance every year, making the Sweet 16 five times and the Elite 8 in 1999, when they beat No. 2 Stanford before falling to eventual champ Connecticut.
Q. If you have a small night light plugged into a ground fault interrupter outlet and the light bulb burns out, will it trip the circuit and cut off power to the outlet?
-- F.V., of Collinsville
A. I'd be shocked if it did -- and so would the people at Belleville Electrical Supplies and Swansea Electric.
GFCI outlets are generally mandatory in kitchens and baths to prevent potentially deadly shocks that might occur when you work with electricity around water.
Those outlets have a sensor inside that can detect changes in current to any appliance that is connected to it by comparing the current flow to the appliance and the flow from it. If it senses a potentially dangerous current drop-off, the device trips a relay, killing the power in a fraction of a second. Simply put, it keeps you from being fried if a radio falls into the dishwater.
But this should occur only in the event of an electrical short. The ordinary occurrence of a bulb burning out should have no effect on it. If it did, my kitchen circuit likely would trip every time my toast popped up. If yours is acting oddly, you probably should replace it.
It is also recommended you test these outlets every month or two: Plug a light or small appliance into the outlet and press the "test" button. If it's working, the appliance will turn off and the "reset" button will trip. If the reset button doesn't pop out, the outlet is likely defective. Otherwise, press the reset button in to restore power and be happy that it's keeping you safe.
Q. I recently bought some lawn-waste bags and happened to notice they were made of "Kraft paper." Is that the same Kraft known for the mac and cheese?
-- Patrick Dean, of Belleville
A. Kraft sells a dizzying array of items -- from Maxwell House to Oscar Mayer to Jell-O -- but those paper bags aren't one of them yet.
"Kraft" is actually a type of paper produced from a process that removes most of the lignin from wood, thereby yielding the strong, brown paper you usually buy for wrapping or refuse bags. It's called kraft from the German word "kraft," meaning strength or power.
A "paragon" describes the measurement of what specific item?
Answer to Tuesday's trivia: In J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy world, Bilbo Baggins lives in Middle-earth, so he should feel at home on the Mediterranean Sea, which, from Latin, loosely translates to "middle" (medius) "earth" (terra).
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or email@example.com.