Tales from the Man who would be King

Rex Jaeschke's Personal Blog

Odds and Ends: Part 3

© 2023 Rex Jaeschke. All rights reserved.

 

Continuing on from Part 2, here are this month's topics:

  1. Certain popular products or ideas can have a name associated with their place of origin. For example: Chianti wine is from that region of Italy; champagne is from that region of France; muenster cheese is named for the city of Munster in Alsace, France; and port wine for the Portuguese city of Porto. Sienna is a yellow-brown pigment whose name comes from the city of Siena, Italy, where it was once made. To read about attempts by the EU (and others) to protect such regional names, click here and here.
  2. In Part 2, I mentioned the term Ides of March. Apparently, the Roman calendar had two other special times of the month: the "Nones (the 5th or 7th, nine days inclusive before the Ides) and the Kalends (1st of the following month.") Apparently, "debtors had to pay off their debts on this day. These debts were inscribed in the kalendaria, effectively an accounting book."
  3. Speaking of things Roman, consider Roman numerals. I see them in film copyright notices and in their lowercase form, as the numbers of pages of front matter; that is, those pages before page 1 of the first chapter. Try doing arithmetic using them; for example, adding 3 and 4 (as in III + IV) which results in 7 (that is, VII). It definitely is challenging, partly because the digits 1–9 can involve 1, 2, or 3 symbols.
    Separately, I'd only ever seen 4 and 9 written as IV and IX, respectively. However, a few years ago, I saw IIII and VIIII used on some clock faces.
  4. Who knew that earthquakes swarmed! According to Wikipedia, "an earthquake swarm is a sequence of seismic events occurring in a local area within a relatively short period of time. … In the summer of 1996, a swarm of 4,070 earthquakes was recorded at Lōʻihi. At the time this was the most energetic earthquake swarm in Hawaii recorded history."
  5. In the Good Old Days of English law, if one caused another person's death, one had to forfeit some piece of personal property, which was referred to as a deodand, from the Latin phrase "deo dandum," which means "to be given to God."
  6. According to Wikipedia, Darby and Joan "is a proverbial phrase for a married couple content to share a quiet life of mutual devotion."
  7. If you read much English or American history, you'll come across the now-defunct political factions called the Whigs (England, US). The term grew out of the word whiggamore.
  8. Lettuce is a member of the sunflower family. Apparently, some people eat lettuce soup!
  9. Say "Kiwi" and one tends to think of the adjective describing something as being from New Zealand. But is that where kiwifruit originated? According to Wikipedia, "Kiwifruit is native to central and eastern China. … In the early 20th century, cultivation of kiwifruit spread from China to New Zealand …" Also known as Chinese gooseberry, it really isn't a gooseberry. Click here to learn all about the dessert Pavlova, and how it often is topped with kiwifruit.
  10. Each section of some citrus fruits (such as orange, mandarin, and lemon) is called a carpel.
  11. Throughout the UK and parts of the British Commonwealth, the term loo is well-known as a slang term for a toilet. But how did it get that name? Wikipedia, states, "The etymology of loo is obscure" and then goes on with theories of its origin. It also mentions the euphemism crapper! Before we had an indoor toilet, I well remember my mother having a guzunda, an Aussie term for a chamber pot, which "goes under the bed!" Have you ever had to spend a penny?
  12. We're all familiar with the idea of a cartoon. But did you know, that "The concept originated in the Middle Ages, and first described a preparatory drawing for a piece of art, such as a painting, fresco, tapestry, or stained glass window."
  13. "The English word 'cash' originally meant 'money box,' and later came to have a secondary meaning 'money.'"
  14. "The term graveyard is often used interchangeably with cemetery, but a graveyard primarily refers to a burial ground within a churchyard."
  15. Mark Twain was the pen name of American writer Samuel Langhorne Clemens. According to Wikipedia, "He maintained that his primary pen name came from his years working on Mississippi riverboats, where two fathoms, a depth indicating water safe for the passage of boat, was a measure on the sounding line. Twain is an archaic term for "two" … The riverboatman's cry was "mark twain" or, more fully, "by the mark twain", meaning "according to the mark [on the line], [the depth is] two [fathoms]", that is, "The water is 12 feet (3.7 m) deep and it is safe to pass.""
  16. Apparently, in the good old days, it was not uncommon to hire people to applaud various kinds of theatrical performances. Such people are referred to as claqueurs, while a group of them is a claque.
  17. If you are a fan of boxing, you may know about the [Marquess of] Queensbury Rules, which according to Wikipedia are, "The code of rules on which modern boxing is based, the Queensberry rules were the first to mandate the use of gloves in boxing."
  18. Thirty-odd years ago, I was touring Finland when I came across a townhall clock that looked quite odd; it took me a few minutes (no pun intended) to notice that it had no minute hand! Although I have not been able to pin down when a minute hand was first used, it appears to have been in the late 1400s, but not widely accepted for another 200 years. The second hand seems to have debuted in the late 1500s. Of course, race clocks for certain Olympic events (such as swimming) show hundredths of a second as well.
  19. A cultural oddity from ancient Rome involved the naming of sons. The first four were given ordinary names, but after that, they were numbered, as in Quintus (fifth), Sextus (sixth), Septimus (seventh), and so on.
  20. There I was, chatting with several of my wives over afternoon tea, when the discussion turned to the idea of a woman having multiple husbands; that is, she practices polyandry. Now while polygamy is generally understood to involve one husband and multiple wives, strictly speaking, that is polygyny. Polygamy includes either of those arrangements. As the old joke goes, the big downside with having multiple wives is that generally means having multiple mothers-in-law!
  21. You likely know the modern meaning of propaganda. However, according to Wikipedia, "Originally this word derived from a new administrative body of the Catholic Church created in 1622 as part of the Counter-Reformation, called the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide (Congregation for Propagating the Faith), or informally simply Propaganda."
  22. The term sterling has come to mean "high quality," as in sterling silver, the UK's Pound Sterling currency, and "She gave a sterling performance!"
  23. Just when you thought the digits on your hands were not especially interesting, you find they each have names: thumb: (Click here to learn about thumbs-up and thumbs-down.); first finger: index finger, forefinger, pointer, and more. (I especially like lickpot!); second finger: middle finger, tall man, and more. (Can you snap your fingers using other than your middle finger?); third finger: ring finger and more; and fourth finger: pinkie, baby finger. Not all cultures have the convention of wearing a wedding ring on the ring finger, and while many do, they might use the other hand. Back when I was learning Spanish, I discovered that "big toe" was translated as "dedo pulgar del pie," the thumb of the foot!
  24. The first few islands discovered by a Spanish explorer in 1542 in the current country of the Philippines were collectively called Felipinas after Philip II of Spain.
  25. As you may know, catgut is a fiber made from animal intestines and often used to make strings for instruments and tennis racquets, and in surgical sutures. And, no, it doesn't come from cats!
  26. Have you seen your neighborhood phrenologist lately? No, then perhaps it's time! According to Wikipedia, "Phrenology is a pseudoscience which involves the measurement of bumps on the skull to predict mental traits." It would be interesting to know what such a specialist thinks about Sponge Bob Square Pants' head!
  27. The spinning Jenny is well known as a significant contributor to the Industrial Revolution in the textile industry. But just who was Jenny? Read here for the possible origins of the device's name.
  28. Just what are the differences between an alligator and a crocodile? It seems that they are very similar except when they are not! While crocodiles can live in salt water, alligators keep to freshwater habitats. During a trip to the Amazon River in northern Peru, having nothing better to, I agreed to go out at night in a dugout canoe looking for caiman alligators. Well, we found them and got quite close to some. They were about a meter long. Right about that time I decided to keep my hands very much inside the canoe; I also helped bail the water out that was leaking in through a hole the guide had previously tried to plug with mud! On a vacation back to Australia, with friends, I visited Crocodile Dundee Country, Kakadu National Park, that is. There, we camped several hundred meters away from the river where crocodiles lived, and that made me a bit nervous. But as the locals told us, "She'll be right mate! They usually don't go too far from the water!"
  29. The word hibernation comes from Latin and means "passing the winter."
  30. From time to time, I come across references to a geographic feature called "The Solent," but I've never been able to remember just what it is. According to Wikipedia, it's "a strait between the Isle of Wight and mainland Great Britain." It's a very popular place for sailing. On one of its shores lies Portsmouth, the home port of much of the Royal Navy's surface fleet
  31. While browsing in a 100-year-old encyclopedia, I came across the terms Mohammedan and Mohammedism. Apparently, these were replaced by Muslim and Islam in the 1960s. When I attended Year 12 at a high school in rural Australia, my featured novel was Shakespeare's Othello, who, of course, was a Moor. That may well have been, but it wasn't for many years that I learned just what a Moor was!
  32. I live near the mid-Atlantic coast of the US, and in the autumn, we get hurricanes (which Wikipedia calls, a tropical cyclone). Thankfully, tornados do not come to my area. However, in Australia, my country of birth, they have cyclones. Then I experienced typhoons (which Wikipedia calls, a mature tropical cyclone) in South Korea and Japan. And, apparently, there are anticyclones and, of course, monsoons. Frankly, I think the differences are just a lot of wind!
  33. KLM is a well-known international airline. But just what do the initials stand for? Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij; Royal Dutch Airlines, of course, in Dutch! The Dutch King, Willem-Alexander, piloted more than a few KLM flights.
  34. I studied chemistry for three full years in high school, and for six years after, I studied and worked in that field. As such, I was more than a little familiar with the Periodic Table, which is an organized list of all the chemical elements. And while the names and abbreviations for many elements were obvious to a native English speaker, more than a few were not. For example, sodium (Na from the Latin natrium); potassium (K from the Latin kalium); iron (Fe from the Latin ferrum); copper (Cu from the ancient Greek Cyprus); silver (Ag from the Latin argentum); tin (Sn from the Latin stannum); tungsten (W from the German wolfrahm); gold (Au from the Latin aurum); mercury (Hg from the Latin hydrargyrum); and lead (Pb from the Latin plumbum). In the spirit of "What is normal?," what do non-English speakers call these elements? To the Spanish speakers, Na is sodio, K is potasio, Fe is heirro, S (sulphur) is azufre; Ag is plata, and Au is oro. The French call N (nitrogen) azote and Sn is étain. The Germans have H (hydrogen) as Wasserstoff, N as Stickstoff, and O (Oxygen) as Sauerstoff. While the Russians use the Latin-lettered abbreviations, they spell their names in Cyrillic; for example, H is Водород, O is кислород, and Au is Золото. Now, do the Japanese and Chinese versions go top-to-bottom and right-to-left like their writing systems? Actually, NO! So, it seems that while the abbreviated names are universal, the spellings of each full name are localized. Fortunately, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) is at the forefront of standardizing such things.
    For a (humorous) list of fictional elements, materials, isotopes and subatomic particles, click here.
  35. I was reading a short piece about when tobacco from the Americas was first introduced to Europe. That led me to Wikipedia, which stated, "Nicotine is named after the tobacco plant Nicotiana tabacum, which in turn is named after the French ambassador in Portugal, Jean Nicot de Villemain, who sent tobacco and seeds to Paris in 1560, presented to the French King, and who promoted their medicinal use. Smoking was believed to protect against illness, particularly the plague." I must say that I have not met any smokers who suffer from the plague, so perhaps that much is true!
    I'm reminded of the man who swore that the regular use of nicotine patches helped him quit smoking. He put one over each eye, so he couldn't find his cigarettes!
  36. We all know that the color of a piece of orange fruit is, well, orange! However, that's an English convention. Apparently, prior to that, according to Wikipedia, "the color was referred to as "yellow-red" (geoluread��in Old English) or "red-yellow"." Apparently, no word rhymes with orange.
    It seems that oranges somehow made it from Asia to the Province of Orange in France where they were grown. William III, King of England, was the Dutch William of Orange, whose title came from that province.
  37. The current meaning of cynic is "1) A person who believes that all people are motivated by selfishness. 2) A person whose outlook is scornfully negative." However, originally it was related to "A member of a sect of Ancient Greek philosophers [call Cynics] who believed virtue to be the only good and self-control to be the only means of achieving virtue."
  38. What does it mean to have "catholic tastes?" It's an adjective that means universal or all-encompassing
  39. If you've ever watched a western movie, you've probably heard of the word posse, a group of armed men brought together by a sheriff to go after some bad guy(s). It was derived from the Latin posse comitatus.
  40. So, who was the first to fly an airplane? While the American Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur, are widely credited as being the first, in December 1903, there are claims of earlier efforts. These include Indian Shivkar Bapuji Talpade (1895), German-American Gustav Weisskopf (1901 and 1902), American Gustave Whitehead (1901 and 1902), New Zealander Richard Pearse (March 1903), and Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont (??).
  41. A lot of people claim to be concerned about the number of calories in some food or drink, yet what percentage of them actually know what a calorie actually is? According to Wikipedia, "The calorie is a unit of energy that originated from the obsolete caloric theory of heat. For historical reasons, two main definitions of "calorie" are in wide use. The large calorie, food calorie, dietary calorie, or kilogram calorie was originally defined as the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius. The small calorie or gram calorie was defined as the amount of heat needed to cause the same increase in one gram of water. Thus, 1 large calorie is equal to 1000 small calories." OK, so what does that really mean? Frankly, I find it all very confusing, and since I don't "count calories," I've never bothered to find out. Follow the link above for more information than you care to know.
    Similarly, I've made it to age 70 and take no medications, all without knowing what vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, and gluten are!
  42. One of the things English speakers tend to take for granted are the names of old places, cities, and countries. Indeed, some have different current names in other languages; for example, the Netherlands (commonly referred to incorrectly as Holland) is known to the Spanish as Países Bajos and the French as Pays-Bas (both meaning Low Countries); to the Germans France is known as Frankreich; and Germany is known variously as Deutschland, Allemagne, and Tyskland. But what about all those Roman places? I first became aware of this when riding a bus between Amman, the capital of Jordan, and Jerash, to see the latter's ancient ruins. As I looked out the window, I saw a sign for the University of Philadelphia. Although I was not familiar with a university by that name back in the US, I thought one might exist and had a campus in Jordan. Au contraire! Back in the day, Amman was called Philadelphia! According to Wikipedia, "In the 3rd century BC, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, Pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt, rebuilt the city and renamed it Philadelphia." For a list of cities founded by the Romans, with their modern-day names, click here.
  43. For a trip to London, England, I took along a whole lot of 1-pound coins and some banknotes I had left over from previous trips. Imagine my surprise when many of them were rejected by the ticket machine on the Underground! Apparently, the powers that be decided that coins and banknotes older than a certain date were no longer accepted as legal tender, although they could be exchanged for newer versions at any bank. It turns out that this is not uncommon in other countries as well. However, according to my 2017 World Almanac, "All US currency issued since 1861 remain valid and redeemable at full face value."
  44. According to Wikipedia, a demonym "is a word that identifies a group of people (inhabitants, residents, natives) in relation to a particular place." For example, someone from Asia is Asian; from Pakistan, a Pakistani; from Turkey, a Turk; and from New York, a New Yorker. Some of the non-obvious ones are, as follows: Costa Rica – Tico/Tica, St. Kitts – Kittitian, Monaco – Monegasque, US state of Indiana – Hoosier, Australian state of New South Wales – New South Welshman, US city of Albuquerque – Burqueño/Burqueña, and the English city of Bath – Bathonian. Follow the link for many examples, including where an Angelo comes from. Now if you are travelling in Crete, the locals are Cretans, which is definitely not to be confused with cretins!
  45. When I was growing up in rural South Australia, we got our medical prescriptions filled at a chemist shop. Then once I was exposed to American TV and movies, I learned about pharmacies and, heaven forbit, drug stores! Then as I started traveling around Europe, I kept seeing signs for Apotek (from Latin and Greek), and which is related to apothecary. Now more than a few Aussies complain about the undue influence of American language and customs in their life, but when I noticed that their chemist shops were quietly renamed pharmacies, no one seemed to recall having been forced to do so. Even the famous British chain Boots the Chemist has been rebranded as Boots!
  46. If you want to read about an impressive economic organization that for 400+ years transcended political boundaries, take a look at the Hanseatic League, which "was a medieval commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns in Central and Northern Europe. Growing from a few North German towns in the late 12th century, the League between the 13th and 15th centuries ultimately encompassed nearly 200 settlements across seven modern-day countries, ranging from Estonia in the north and east to the Netherlands in the west and Kraków, Poland, in the south."
  47. It's not uncommon to read in the newspaper about a military coup, which involves a (usually bloody) overthrow of a government. The term coup is shorthand for the French coup d'état, and can be used in business or other situations in which some sort of regime or practice is toppled, or a group is taken over. A palace coup is an interesting variation.
  48. If you ever traveled in Western Europe, you may well have come across Thomas Cook, a global travel company, founded by a man of that name in 1841. My introduction to them was through their travelers' checks, which we all used until credit cards and cash machines came along. Apparently, they "took their last trip" when they went out of business in 2019.
  49. So, how did the Pacific Ocean get its name? Originally called Mar del Sur (Southern Sea), later, it became Mar Pacífico (peaceful sea). Quick now, name the world's five oceans! And when a person "sailed the seven seas," just where did they go?
  50. If you've read about or seen photos or movies featuring young western women in the 1920s, you will have come across the term flapper. According to Wikipedia, "Flappers were a subculture of young Western women in the 1920s who wore short skirts (knee height was considered short during that period), bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior. Flappers were seen as brash for wearing excessive makeup, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes in public, driving automobiles, treating sex in a casual manner, and otherwise flouting social and sexual norms." That article also discusses the possible origins of that term.
  51. The Hungarian capital, Budapest, is actually made up of three cities: Buda and Óbuda (Old Buda) on the west side of the Danube River, and Pest on the east side. They were combined into one, Budapest, in 1873.
  52. From Wikipedia, "The term lunatic derives from the Latin word lunaticus, which originally referred mainly to epilepsy and madness, as diseases thought to be caused by the moon."
  53. The expression, "To send someone to Coventry" means to completely ignore them. I'm thinking "to unfriend them" is a modern-day equivalent. Coventry, a cathedral city in England, is where legend has it that Lady Godiva reportedly rode naked through the streets.
  54. The term paisley refers to a pattern appearing on textiles. Its origin in Persian, and its name comes from the Scottish town of the same name. Paisley patterns became very popular in the 1960s, partly due to the Beatles. I confess to once owning a number of paisley neckties.
  55. In the 1980s and 90s, each time I arrived at a European Capital's main train station, I was "welcomed" by an Andean flute and drum band. At that time, the pan flute was very popular. (See Zamfir, a Romanian musician.) According to Wikipedia, "The pan flute is named after Pan, the Greek god of nature and shepherds, often depicted with such an instrument." (Apparently, Peter Pan's name was inspired by Pan.)
  56. Speaking of Pan, the word panic is also tied to him, as he was thought to be the source of mysterious sounds that alarmed people and animals.
  57. The provincial and territorial borders within Canada were mostly fixed by 1905. However, Newfoundland remained a separate dominion of the British Empire until 1949 when it became a province. (Its name was changed to Newfoundland and Labrador in 2001.) In 1999, a big part of the Northwest Territories was spun off to form the new territory, Nunavut. (Click here to read about Canadian Confederation.)
  58. According to Wiktionary, a pariah is a "person despised and excluded by their family, community or society, especially a member of the untouchable castes in Indian society." It is a Tamil word for a drum that lower-caste people played.
  59. Cashmere is wool that grows under the outer hair of a cashmere goat. One popular garment made from it are pashmina shawls. The word is an Anglicization of the Himalayan region of Kashmir where such goats come from.
  60. The current concept of parole—provisional or supervised release—has an Aussie connection: "Alexander Maconochie, a Scottish geographer and captain in the Royal Navy, introduced the modern idea of parole when, in 1840, he was appointed superintendent of the British penal colonies in Norfolk Island, Australia."
  61. When Captian James Cook came upon the present-day Hawaiian Islands in 1778, he named them Sandwich Islands in honor of his patron back in merry old England, the Earl of Sandwich.
  62. In May of 2023, I had houseguests from Australia, and I told them that if they brought me some of my favorite Aussie lollies (US: candy, UK: sweets), I'd let them sleep inside the house. They did, and I did! I was surprised to find that Chicos were renamed Cheekies in 2020, in the spirit of political correctness.
  63. During my time in the Andes of Peru and the Patagonia across Chile and Argentina, I have had a number of close encounters with llamas, alpacas, and guanacos. Far less common, however, are vicuñas. Apparently, these can only be shorn once every three years, and in Inca times, "it was against the law for anyone but royalty to wear vicuña garments." 
  64. There I was driving down the highway in Red Cliffs, Victoria, Australia, when I came across a beautifully restored, and very large, tractor called Big Lizzy. When it was built more than 100 years ago, it likely was the biggest tractor in the world. The feature that made it so useful was its Dreadnaught wheels, the forerunner to caterpillar tracks, as used on heavy earth-moving equipment and military vehicles.
  65. I am definitely a fan of ketchup (also known as catsup, or in my native South Australia, tomato sauce [whose rhyming slang name is "dead horse"]). I've only ever eaten or even come across ketchup made from tomatoes. But according to Wikipedia, "early recipes used egg whites, mushrooms, oysters, grapes, mussels, or walnuts, among other ingredients." In my high school days, the standard cafeteria lunch was a meat pie or pasty with sauce!
  66. The game of chess has a special move (called En passant) in which a pawn captures an opponent's pawn but does not occupy that pawn's square afterwards!
  67. You may well have heard of the Boer War in South Africa, which involved the British and the Dutch settlers. It turns out that this war actually refers to the Second Boer War (1899–1902), while the First one occurred 10 years prior. When I visited the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, I was surprised to find that country referred to the conflict as The South African War instead. For a moving Australian film, set in that war, see Breaker Morant.
  68. When we read or hear about the speed of ships and planes, we often hear the term knot. According to Wikipedia, "The knot is a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour." Clearly, it's not a metric measurement. A nautical mile is 6,076 feet, as compared to an ordinary or statute mile, which is 5,280 feet. The name comes from knots that were tied in a line on a chip log.
  69. It is well known that some animals go into a suspended state during winter, and that state is called hibernation. Recently, I read about reduced activity at other times of the year, and then only for hours or days rather than months. This is called torpor, a word that was new to me. A related term is aestivation.
  70. Beef stroganoff is a well-known beef dish served in a sauce. It's sometimes called beef Stroganov, as it was named after one of the members of the influential and wealthy Russian Stroganov family.
  71. The term Gothic is used in various contexts, but apparently there is a negative side to it. Wikipedia states, "The term Gothic architecture originated as a pejorative description. Giorgio Vasari used the term "barbarous German style" … to describe what is now considered the Gothic style, and … he attributes various architectural features to the Goths, whom he held responsible for destroying the ancient buildings after they conquered Rome, and erecting new ones in this style."
  72. Great Britian was created by the Acts of Union 1707, when the Scottish and English Parliaments agreed to merge. The Acts of Union 1800 brought Ireland into the fold. Then after Ireland became independent, in 1927, we saw the creation of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
  73. Holy Roman Emperor Charles V is reported to have said, "I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse." I first learned of this quotation when visiting a Danish friend who had retired to rural Denmark to run a Christmas tree farm. His local tongue-in-cheek version was something like, "I speak Latin to my priest, French to my lover, German to my butler, and Danish to my dog!"
  74. I came across a sentence that was claimed to be a Native American saying, "He understands death is simply a place toward which he has been walking since his birth." Hmm!
  75. A thing commonly used when playing board games and games of chance is a pair of 6-sided dice, with each one having the numbers 1–6 on its sides. [Apparently, dominoes and playing cards evolved from dice.] Strictly speaking, dice is the plural of die, but many people use dice to mean singular as well. Did you know that the opposite sides of a die add up to 7?
  76. Growing up in Australia, I learned about a carat having something to do with the purity of gold in a ring. As it happens, 24-carat gold is pure gold. Now the term carat (abbreviated c or Ct) is British, while the US version is karat (abbreviated k of Kt). This is not to be confused with a carat (abbreviated ct), which is used for measuring gemstones and pearls.
  77. In recent years, here in the US, the term Kwanzaa has started to appear on calendars. According to Wikipedia, it "is an annual celebration of African-American culture from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a communal feast called Karamu, usually on the sixth day. … Kwanzaa was first celebrated in 1966."
  78. Various folklore tales use the term seven-league boots, which apparently allow their wearer to take strides of seven leagues per step. With a league being about the distance a person could walk in an hour, that's a pretty big step!
  79. Metrology is the scientific study of measurement. Clearly, this should not be confused with meteorology, the study of weather.
  80. I recently came across the idea of deep time, a concept in the field of geology.
  81. Now and then we hear about a river running upstream! This happens near a river's mouth with a tidal bore, when the leading edge of the incoming tide forms a wave. The only one I've seen in person is near Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, where twice a day 100 billion tons of water is forced up the Petitcodiac River from the Bay of Fundy. The resulting wave can be up to a meter high.
    I was recently reacquainted with this phenomenon when I watched a video involving the pororoca, a bore that runs up the Amazon River in Brazil, can be as high as 4 meters, and which flows very fast! The destruction due to erosion along the banks was something to see.
  82. In the US, a dessert menu might have "pie à la mode," which means "pie with ice cream." However, in the original French, this term means "fashionable" or "trendy," and is used in contexts other than cooking. For more than you want to know about French words and expressions in English, click here.
  83. The Judge said to the man in the dock, "You are accused of being a cruciverbalist; how do you plead?" So, what was the man's alleged crime? Being a person who constructs or solves crossword puzzles!
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