Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Useless Information

Yesterday's post was kind of heavy.  Today's post is not, so just relax and prepare yourself to learn some rather useless information.  I've been glancing through this funny little book...


... and I'd like to share some of what I've just learned.

First of all, do you know why we call a sandwich a sandwich?  Well, it comes from  an English nobleman from the 18th century.  He liked to gamble.  He didn't want to waste time taking meal breaks so he often had a servant just bring him sliced roast beef between two pieces of bread so he could keep gambling while he ate.  No utensils were needed  It's not known that he was the first to eat this "fast food" but he was a well known guy and he ate this way frequently in public.  Guess what his noble title was.  He was the fourth Earl of Sandwich.  There you have it.

Have you heard why we call the whiskers in front of the ears sideburns?  It turns out that one of the first to wear this style was Civil War General Ambrose E. Burnside.  Somewhere along the way the syllables were reversed and to this day they are referred to as sideburns.  

Do you know what it means to talk a blue streak?  That refers to someone with rapid speech? It is thought to come from comparing fast talk to lightening and the bluish hue it gives.  In modern times it also refers to someone who simply talks on and on.

Do you know what a pipe dream is?  We use that term to refer to someone's plan that seems rather absurd or unobtainable.  It originally came from those who used pipes to smoke opium.  The use of opium contributed to wild fantastical ideas by its users, called pipe dreams.  

You have heard the direction to keep a stiff upper lip.  To us it means to act stoically; to show little or no emotion.  Well, we are back to talking about facial hair, moustaches in particular.  During a time when British soldiers were growing moustaches, they found it difficult to hide their emotions or to properly stand at attention.  Any twitch of their lip made the facial hair twitch.  So, they had to learn to keep a stiff upper lip.                                                                      

Do you have a skeleton in your closet?  You know, do you have any dark secrets?  This term was quite literal at one time.  English physicians once had a hard time learning anatomy.  Only the bodies of executed criminals could be dissected, at least until 1832.  Even then, when it was legal, people were pretty grossed out by the idea of their doctor dissecting a cadaver.  Many doctors only got to dissect one cadaver so they sometimes kept them later as skeletons, enabling them to further study bone structure.  Because it creeped people out, they kept their skeletons hidden.

So, now maybe you know more than you did a few minutes ago.  Was it life-changing for you?  No?