Excerpts from the book
Read weekly the Curiosity Corner @ Greenwood.net

Excerpts from the book


I. Tell Me Why
II. Things Everyone Should Know
III. In the Kitchen
IV. Hello Sports Fans
V. Quizzes and Trivia
VI. What's the Difference?
VII. Plants and Animals (including Humans)
VIII. Words, Phrases, and Sayings
XI. Finale (Odds and Ends)

I. Tell Me Why

A Big Blow

Question: They say a tropical storm becomes a hurricane when its wind speed equals 74 miles per hour. Why such an odd number? (Asked by a curious hurricane watcher.)

Reply: Come on, 74 isn't an odd number, it's an even number. (I don't want complaints from my math readers.) Seriously, 74 mi/h is somewhat of a strange number to pick. Actually it wasn't picked, it just happened. In the early 1800s, Commander Francis Beaufort of the British Royal Navy devised a descriptive wind scale based on the state and behavior of a "well-conditioned man-of-war [ship]." ....

C.P.S. (Curious Postscript): An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows. -- Dwight Eisenhower

Umbrella, Parasol, or Bumbershoot?

Question: Why is "bumbershoot" a nickname for an umbrella? (Asked by a curious reader left out in the rain.)

Reply: Before we go bumbering and shooting, let's get some background on the origin of the word umbrella. Umbrella is an Italian word meaning sunshade and was probably derived from the Latin "umbra" meaning shadow. (When you are in the umbra or shadow of the Moon during a solar eclipse, you have a total eclipse, and the Sun is completely blocked.) Another word for umbrella is parasol, which breaks down into the words para- (guard against) and sol (Sun). The German word for umbrella is "Regenshirm" - rain shield.
Now back to bumbershoot...
You might have noticed "bumbershoot" in the lyrics of the song sung by Dick Van Dyke in the movie, "Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang": You can have me hat or me bumbershoot. But you'd better never bother me with me ol' bam-boo... And one more...who wrote Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang? You'd probably never guess. (I didn't know.) Ian Fleming, the author of James Bond of 007 fame. How about that?

C.P.S. (Curious Postscript): The trouble with bucket seats is that not everyone has the same size bucket. -- Anonymous

II. Things Everyone Should Know

Big Brass

Question: How many five star generals have there are been? Are there any now? (Asked by a curious veteran.)

Reply: The rank of five star general (technically General of the Army) was created during World War II so U.S. commanders wouldn't be outranked by Allied officers they might supervise. It was suggested that the new rank be called Field Marshal, similar to the British rank, but General George C. Marshall objected. Who would want to be called Field Marshal Marshall? So, it was called General of the Army and given a five star ranking.
There have been four five-star generals, along with four Navy ...

C.P.S. (Curiosity Postscript): Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of 80 and gradually approach eighteen. -Mark Twain

III. In the Kitchen

Shoofly Pie, the Green Sheen, Pretzels, and Chips

Question: What is shoofly pie? (Asked by a curious cook with flies in the kitchen.)

Reply: Shoofly (or Shoo-fly) pie is a sweet desert that is like a molasses coffee cake with a layer of gooey molasses on the bottom. The molasses...
The pie's unusual name is said to have originated because...
and in lyrics: Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy...

C.P.S. (Curious Postscript): I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. -- Jerome K. Jerome

IV. Hello Sports Fans
Fore! Watch Out Caddie!

Question: How did the golf terms such as par, fore, bogey, birdie, and so on originate? (Asked by a curious golf score keeper.)

Reply: I'd rather fly with an eagle than with a birdie -- or is that a double eagle or albatross? There are many golf terms named for the birds. But first let's consider "par" and "fore." Please note that there are various explanations of the origins of golf terms. These are the ones that sounded good to me. ...

C.P.S. (Curiosity Post Script): Success is relative - the more success, the more relatives. - Anonymous

V. Quizzes and Trivia
Trivia Quiz

Let's have a trivia quiz on a popular subject - money; in particular, bills. Most of us can tell who is on the fronts of bill denominations, but what pictures are on the backs? Here are the bills: 1. $1, 2. $2, 3. $5,
4. $10, 5. $20, 6. $50. 7. $100.
That's far enough - about as far as we can go. Since 1969, the $100 bill is the largest issue. The answers follow along, with (whose picture) is on the front, in case you donŐt remember.

4. $10: (Alexander Hamilton) The U.S. Treasury. ...

C.P.S. (Curious PostScript): Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded. -- Yogi Berra

VI. What's the Difference?

To Drip or Not To Drip

Question: What's the difference between regular candles and dripless candles? (Asked by a curious candle buff.)

Reply: The question might be answered that one drips and the other doesn't, but that is a cop-out. First, some candle background. The word "candle" comes from the Latin candere, meaning "to shine." Candles have been around for a long time. They were used in Egypt around 3000 BC, and were a major light source for many centuries. For a long time, candles were made from tallow (rendered animal fat). ...

C.P.S. (Curious Postscript) I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. -- Will Rogers

VII. Plants and Animals (including Humans)

Sexist Bugs

Question: I am curious to know if all ladybugs are female. Are there any male "lady" bugs? (Asked by curious amateur entomologist.)

Reply: I usually avoid sexually oriented questions, but this one seems safe enough. Yes, there are male ladybugs. They are much maligned, not being recognized as "gentlemen bugs." Seriously, ladybugs (also called ladybirds, primarily in Europe) are members of a beetle family, with about 5000 relatives (species). ...

C.P.S. (Curious Postscript): Education is the best provision for old age. -- Aristotle (384 - 322 BC)

VIII. Words, Phrases, and Sayings

My Huckleberry Friend

Question: Recently I heard that Andy William's agent had not wanted him to record "Moon River" because of the "adverse connotations" of the phrase "my huckleberry friend." Also, in the movie Tombstone, Doc Holiday (Val Kilmer) while trying to goad one of the Clanton gang into a gunfight, said, "I'm your huckleberry!" Please explain the meanings of these huckleberry references. (Asked by a curious huckleberry. )

Reply: I've always wondered about "huckleberry friend" myself. So, checking with my etymological friends (how about that big word?), here is what I found out... ...whortleberry got changed to huckleberry. This native wild berry became associated with the American wilderness - wild and rough. (Like Doc Holiday at the OK corral.) I think perhaps the rough meaning has been tamed a bit. Mark Twain (or was that Samuel Clemens?) wrote "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" in 1864. Huck was a little rough, but not too bad. So a huckleberry friend can be good one. And itŐs probably a good thing the name evolved to huckleberry.

Who would want to watch cartoons of Whortleberry Hound?

C.P.S. (Curious Postscript): The sign of a bad cook - the family prays after they eat. -- Anonymous

IX. Finale (Odds and Ends)
Who Put the Chicken in Chicken Pox?

Question: Does chicken pox have anything to do with chickens?

Reply: Chicken pox is a mild, highly contagious disease that a lot of people contract, mostly children. It may be "mild," but oh how you want to scratch, and can't do so for fear of scarring. Animals other than humans ... It is not known how the "chicken" got into chicken pox. One speculation is that the name may be derived from an imagined resemblance of the pox lesions to chickpeas. (I don't know how the "chick" got in chickpeas either.) Another theory ...

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