City Slickers

Photo above: City Slickers III. Wind River area, Wyoming. Son Matt, Brother Dave, Son John Paul, Me J.P.

Small Talk

SMALL TALK: View the story of the air rifle that doubled the size of the United States. Fantastic bit of 2nd Amendment history re: Lewis and Clark.

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Spot Gold

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Useless But Interesting Trivia

Time for a little break from all the political stuff. My friend Mikey sent me these, from a website called Jokeroo.

Q: Why are many coin banks shaped like pigs?

A: Long ago, dishes and cookware in Europe were made of a dense orange clay
called "pygg". When people saved coins in jars made of this clay, the jars
became known as "pygg banks." When an English potter misunderstood the word,
he made a bank that resembled a pig. And it caught on.

Q: Did you ever wonder why dimes, quarters and half dollars have notches,
while pennies and nickels do not?

A: The US Mint began putting notches on the edges of coins containing gold
and silver to discourage holders from shaving off small quantities of the
precious metals. Dimes, quarters and half dollars are notched because they
used to contain silver. Pennies and nickels aren't notched because the
metals they contain are not valuable enough to shave..

Q: Why do men's clothes have buttons on the right while women's clothes have
buttons on the left?

A: When buttons were invented, they were very expensive and worn primarily
by the rich. Because wealthy women were dressed by maids, dressmakers put
the buttons on the maid's right. Since most people are right-handed, it is
easier to push buttons on the right through holes on the left. And that's
where women's buttons have remained since.

Q: Why do X's at the end of a letter signify kisses?

A: In the Middle Ages, when many people were unable to read or write,
documents were often signed using an X. Kissing the X represented an oath to
fulfill obligations specified in the document. The X and the kiss eventually
became synonymous.

Q: Why is shifting responsibility to someone else called "passing the buck"?

A: In card games, it was once customary to pass an item, called a buck, from
player to player to indicate whose turn it was to deal. If a player did not
wish to assume the responsibility, he would "pass the buck" to the next

Q: Why do people clink their glasses before drinking a toast?

A: It used to be common for someone to try to kill an enemy by offering him
a poisoned drink. To prove to a guest that a drink was safe, it became
customary for a guest to pour a small amount of his drink into the glass of
the host. Both men would drink it simultaneously. When a guest trusted his
host, he would then just touch or clink the host's glass with his own.

Q: Why are people in the public eye said to be "in the limelight"?

A: Invented in 1825, limelight was used in lighthouses and stage lighting by
burning a cylinder of lime which produced a brilliant light. In the theatre,
performers on stage "in the limelight" were seen by the audience to be the
center of attention.

Q: Why do ships and aircraft in trouble use "mayday"as their call for help?

A: This comes from the French word m'aidez -meaning "help me" -- and is
pronounced "mayday,"

Q: Why is someone who is feeling great "on cloud nine"?

A: Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with
nine being the highest cloud If someone is said to be on cloud nine, that
person is floating well above worldly cares.

Q: Why are zero scores in tennis called "love"?

A: In France , where tennis first became popular, a big, round zero on
scoreboard looked like an egg and was called "l'oeuf," which is French for
"egg." When tennis was introduced in the US , Americans pronounced it

Q: In golf, where did the term "Caddie" come from?

A: When Mary, later Queen of Scots, went to France as a young girl (for
education &survival), Louis, King of France, learned that she loved the Scot
game "golf." So he had the first golf course outside of Scotland built for
her enjoyment. To make sure she was properly chaperoned (and guarded) while
she played, Louis hired cadets from a military school to accompany her. Mary
liked this a lot and when she returned to Scotland (not a very good idea in
the long run), she took the practice with her. In French, the word cadet is
pronounced 'ca- day' and the Scots changed it into "caddie."



Anonymous said...

Hence, also, pygg iron.

Some cultures, like my Canuckiness, frown upon placing a hat on a dining table or a bed. Used to be cooties and bed bugs were a scourge and were assumed to be carried around in hats.

Not so long ago "hoisting a bumper" was a common anglicized toast. It originated in Catholic Europe and meant raising a toast to the Pope, called, in French, "Le bon pere".

The verb "to lounge" is a corruption of the French "longue" meaning "long". Social climbing, turn of the century Americans imported a peculiar piece of furniture from France for their "salons", also French. It was a sort of one person couch with only one raised side, designed for reclining while facing the other occupants of the room. The French called it "une chaise longue"...a long chair... Copy cat Yanks soon revised the spelling to conform to their mispronunciation and reversed the sequence of the words to comply with the American-English rule that requires adjectives to precede the modified noun. Voila! A lounge chair. Later, after America had gained ascendancy in the quest for cultural superiority, the French re-imported the new term along with beach chairs and now own "les chaise lounge".

More French borrowings you may recognize:
Aileron (wing = aile, hence "small winglet")
Empennage (something that hangs or is suspended from something else.)
Elevato(eu)r (elever = v. to lift)
Parachute from chute = a chute or sluice that allows escape from.
Pitot tube Henri Pitot invented it.
Eject "ejeter" = v. to throw from".

BTW, why do ya s'pose pilots need to use both hands to describe a flight maneuver? Musta been some Eyetralians in the mix there somewhere.


Crystal Kelley said...

Fun blog. I'm going to share it with my son.

Anonymous said...

Il semble que vous soyez un expert dans ce domaine, vos remarques sont tres interessantes, merci.

- Daniel