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~~~ Tidbit of Information: Assorted Facts about the World ~~~


Tidbits are Informative or Humorous Collection of Sayings
Collected, Edited, Used, and/or Laughed at by
Bobby Matherne ©2003

This Web Page Contains Material Collected from an Email Received and Edited Subsequently by Bobby Matherne.
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Tidbit of Information: Facts about Origins of Things

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RJM Note: Many thanks to Jeff Parsons for passing along these Tidbits of about the Origins of Things on December 12, 2011. The only ones I had heard about before were the notches on the ends of some coins, Limelight, and Mayday.

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. Since most people are right-handed, it is easier to push buttons on the right through holes on the left. Because wealthy women were dressed by maids, dressmakers put the buttons on the maid's right! And that's where women's buttons have remained since.

Q: Why do ships and aircraft use 'mayday' as their call for help?
A: This comes from the French word m'aidez -meaning 'help me' — and is pronounced, approximately, 'mayday.'

Q: Why are zero scores in tennis called 'love'?
A: In France , where tennis became popular, round zero on the scoreboard looked like an egg and was called 'l'oeuf,' which is French for 'egg.' When tennis was introduced in the US , Americans (mis)pronounced it 'love.' [RJM Note: We do use the word "goose-egg" to refer to 0 (zero)!]

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 of dealing,he would 'pass the buck' to the next player.

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 only 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 theatres by burning a cylinder of lime which produced a brilliant light.. In the theatre,a performer 'in the limelight' was the center of attention.

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: In golf, where did the term 'Caddie' come from?
A: When Mary Queen of Scots went to France as a young girl, Louis, King of France, learned that she loved the Scots game 'golf.' So he had the first 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 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.

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 container that resembled a pig. And it caught on.

Q: Did you ever wonder why dimes, quarters and half dollars have notches (milling), 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.

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Tidbit of Information: Assorted Facts about New Orleans and Louisiana

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RJM Note: Many thanks to Dan Richards for passing along most of these Tidbits of Assorted Facts about New Orleans and Louisiana on March 6, 2009.

The city of New Orleans, in the form of a prominent banker named Solomon, provided the money urgently needed by George Washington to fund this Continental Army and win the Revolutionary War.

Contrary to historians who claim the Battle of New Orleans was meaningless because a Treaty had already been signed to end the War of 1812, common sense will tell you that boots on the ground trump ink on parchment anyday. If Lafitte and his Barataria cohorts had not provided the manpower, gunpowder, and lead to supplement Andrew Jackson's ragtag regulars, the British would have had many troops occupying New Orleans and the entire Mississippi watershed. But for these two salient events in American history which New Orleans played a key role, we would all still be speaking the King's English.

Louisiana has the tallest state capitol building in the nation at 450 feet.

The Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans is the largest enclosed stadium In the world.

The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is the longest over-water bridge in the world at 23.87 miles.

Louisiana 's 6.5 million acres of wetlands are the greatest wetland area in America.

The oldest city in the Louisiana Purchase Territory is Natchitoches , Louisiana founded in 1714.

The first bottler of Coca-Cola, Joseph Bie Denharn, lived in Monroe , Louisiana and was one of the founders of Delta Air Lines, initially called Delta Air Service.

Delta Airlines got its start in Monroe , Louisiana when Parish Agent, C.E. Woolman, decided to try dusting the Boll Weevil that was destroying the cotton crops in the Mississippi River Delta from an airplane. It was the first crop dusting service in the world.

Southern University in Baton Rouge , Louisiana is the largest predominantly black university in America.

Baton Rouge was the site of the only American Revolution battle outside the original 13 colonies.

The formal transfer of the Louisiana Purchase was made at the Cabildo Building in New Orleans on December 20, 1803.

The staircase at Chrétien Point, in Sunset, Louisiana was copied for Tara in "Gone with the Wind."

Louisiana is the No. 1 producer of crawfish, alligators and shallots In America.

Louisiana produces 24 percent of the nation's salt, the most in America.

Much of the world's food, coffee and oil pass through the Port of New Orleans.

Tabasco, a Louisiana product, holds the second oldest food trademark in the U.S. Patent Office.

Steen's Syrup Mill in Abbeville , Louisiana is the world's largest syrup plant producing sugar cane syrup.

America's oldest rice mill is in New Iberia , Louisiana at KONRIKO Co.

The International Joke Telling Contest is held annually in Opelousas, Louisiana.

LSU (The Ole War Skule) in Baton Rouge has the distinction of contributing the most officers to WW II after the U.S. Military academies.

The Louisiana Hayride radio show helped Hank Williams, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash achieve stardom. It was broadcast from KWKH Radio in Shreveport,, Louisiana from 1948 to 1960.

The term Uncle Sam was coined on the wharfs of New Orleans before Louisiana was a U.S. Territory as goods labeled U.S. Were from "Uncle Sam."

The game of craps was invented in New Orleans in 1813 as betting was a Common activity on the wharves.

When states had their own currency, the Louisiana Dix (French for ten) was a favored currency for trade. English speakers called them Dixies and coined the term Dixieland.

New Orleans is the home of the oldest pharmacy in America at 514 Chartres Street in the French Quarter. These early medical mixtures became known as cocktails (guess they were good for what ails ya?), coining yet another term.

New Orleans is the birthplace of Jazz, the only true American art form Jazz gave birth to the Blues and Rock and Roll music.

Viva La Novelle Orleans et La Louisiane!!!

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Tidbit of Information: Assorted Facts about the World

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RJM Note: Many thanks to Anna Keller for many of these Tidbits of Assorted Facts about the World on June 6, 2005 and again on November 9, 2006.
"You Never Know Until You Find Out" is Matherne's Rules No. 2.

Capital letters and non-capital letters are named 'uppercase' and 'lowercase' because before linotype machines when all type was set by hand, the capital letters were stored in a case above that of the smaller, non-capital letters.

The Declaration of Independence was written on marijuana (hemp paper).

The longest one-syllable word in the English language is "screeched."

Barbie's measurements if she were life size: 39-23-33.

Because metal was scarce, the Oscars given out during World War II were made of wood, and copper pennies were made of zinc.

There are no clocks in Las Vegas gambling casinos.

The name Wendy was made up for the book Peter Pan; there was never a recorded Wendy before!

There are no words in the dictionary that rhyme with: orange, purple, and silver.

Leonardo DA Vinci could write with one hand while drawing with the other hand. He invented scissors. He spent 10 years getting Mona Lisa's lips painted to his satisfaction.

A tiny amount of liquor on a scorpion will make it instantly go mad and sting itself to death. (RJM Note: For humans it may take more alcohol and more time.)

To save yourself from sinking into quicksand, raise your legs slowly and lie on your back.

The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law, which stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything bigger around than your thumb.

The first product Motorola started to develop was a record player for automobiles. At that time, the most known player on the market was the Victrola, so they called themselves Motorola. (RJM Note: I rode in 1958 in a new Plymouth convertible with a record player. Must have been a Motorola player.)

It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with. The same is true of apples. (RJM Note: if you want to lose weight with apples, stay off the sauce.)

Guinness Book of Records holds the record for being the book most often stolen from Public Libraries.

Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying.

The dot over the letter i is called a "tittle".

Los Angeles's full name is "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula" and can be abbreviated to 3.63% of its size, "L.A."

A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and down continuously from the bottom of the glass to the top.

40% of McDonald's profits come from the sales of Happy Meals. (Sell trinkets at the price of food: that's what makes McDonald's Happy!)

315 entries in Webster's 1996 Dictionary were misspelled.

The 'spot' on 7UP comes from its inventor, who was an albino. He had red eyes.

On average, 12 newborns will be given to the wrong parents, daily. (RJM NOTE: With home deliveries the odds are much less.)

Donald Duck comics were banned from Finland because he doesn't wear pants. (Mickey Mouse wears pants but no shirt..)

Ketchup was sold in the 1830's as medicine.

In most advertisements, including newspapers, the time displayed on a watch is 10:10.

Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer.

The Ramses brand condom is named after the great pharaoh Ramses II who fathered over 160 children.

When the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers play football at home, the stadium becomes the state's third largest city.

The characters Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street were named after Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver in Frank Capra's "Its A Wonderful Life."

A dime has 118 ridges around the edge.

On an American one-dollar bill, there is an owl in the upper left-hand corner of the "1" encased in the "shield" and a spider hidden in the front upper right-hand corner.

The giant squid has the largest eyes in the world.

The male gypsy moth can "smell" the virgin female gypsy moth from 1.8 miles away.

In England, the Speaker of the House is not allowed to speak.

The name for Oz in the "Wizard of Oz" was thought up when the creator, Frank Baum, looked at his filing cabinet and saw A-N, and O-Z, hence "Oz."

Mr. Rogers is an ordained minister.

John Lennon's first girlfriend was named Thelma Pickles.

The average person falls asleep in seven minutes.

There are 336 dimples on a regulation golf ball.

To "testify" was based on men in the Roman court swearing to a statement made by swearing on their testicles.

A dime has 118 ridges around the edge.

A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

A crocodile cannot stick out its tongue.

A dragonfly has a life span of 24 hours.

A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.

A "jiffy" is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.

A "mill" is a thousandth of dollar or a tenth of a cent.

A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

A snail can sleep for three years.

Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer.

All 50 states are listed across the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the $5 bill.

Almonds are a member of the peach family.

An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.

Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until the child reaches 2 to 6 years of age.

Butterflies taste with their feet.

Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds. Dogs only have about 10.

"Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt".

February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.

In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.

If the population of China walked past you, in single file, the line would never end because of their rate of population growth, as of this time.

If you are an average American, in your whole life, you will spend an average of 6 months waiting at red lights.

It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.

Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.

Maine is the only state whose name is just one syllable.

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.

On a Canadian two dollar bill, the flag flying over the Parliament building is an American flag.

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.

Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.

Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.

The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.

The cruise liner, QE2, moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns.

The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.

The sentence: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter of the alphabet.

The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze completely solid.

The words 'racecar,' 'kayak' and 'level' are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left (palindromes). Also: Madam, I'm Adam. A man, a plan, a canal --- Panama!

There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar. But you can have $1.19 in the form of three quarters, four dimes, and four pennies, and still not be able to make change for a dollar.

There are more chickens than people in the world.

There are only four words in the English language which end in "dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous

There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: "abstemious" and "facetious."

There's no Betty Rubble in the Flintstones Chewables Vitamins.

Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.

TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.

The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.

Stewardesses is the longest word that can be typed with only the left hand and lollipop only with your right hand.

Debra Winger was the voice of E.T.

Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance. [Note: from a member of the Churchill Society, Christopher Tidmore wrote me: "It wasn't exactly a ladies room. It was a coat room. I've been there. Think of it as a small anteroom. They brought a bed in for Jennie to give birth. Churchill loved to call it a ladies room. Appealed to his sense of humor."]

Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

It takes 3,000 cows to supply the NFL with enough leather for a year's supply of footballs. Wonder how many cows for a years' supply of hamburgers for NFL Fans?

Pearls melt in vinegar.

Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks; otherwise it will digest itself.

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, and purple.

The 3 most valuable brand names on Earth: Marlboro, Coca-Cola, and Budweiser, in that order.

Thirty-five percent of the people who use personal ads for dating are already married.

It's possible to lead a cow upstairs...but not downstairs.

The longest place-name still in use is Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwenuakitanatahu — a New Zealand hill.

Ten percent of the Russian government's income comes from the sale of vodka.

The sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." uses every letter in the alphabet. (Developed by Western Union to Test telex communications). Note: I used it to test that all the keys of my manual typewriter were free.

"I am" is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.

Average life span of a major league baseball: 7 pitches.

A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

A duck's quack doesn't echo, and no one knows why.

The reason firehouses have circular stairways is from the days of yore when the engines were pulled by horses. The horses were stabled on the ground floor and figured out how to walk up straight staircases.

The airplane Buddy Holly died in was the "American Pie." (Thus the name of the Don McLean song.)

When you go into court, you are putting yourself in the hands of 12 people who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty.

The shin bone is a device for finding furniture in a dark room.

Flashlight: A case for holding dead batteries.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat all day drinking beer.

Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

If the shoe fits, get another one just like it for your other foot.

The things that come to those who wait will be the things left by those who got there first.

Humans are the only primates that don't have pigment in the palms of their hands. wrong.

If you lined up all the cars in the world end to end, someone would be stupid enough to try to pass them, five or six at a time, on a hill, in a blind curve, in the fog.

Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

He who laughs last, lasts. (I usually drop the first last.)

Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history. Spades - King David; Clubs - Alexander the Great; Hearts - Charlemagne; and Diamonds - Julius Caesar.

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 =12,345,678,987,654,321

Clans of long ago that wanted to get rid of their unwanted people without killing them used to burn their houses down hence the expression to get fired."

Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn't added until 5 years later.

Hershey's Kisses are called that because the machine that makes them looks like it's kissing the conveyor belt.

An ostrich's eye is bigger that it's brain.

The longest recorded flight of a chicken is thirteen seconds.

The name Jeep came from the abbreviation used in the army for the "General Purpose Vehicle", GPV. Similarly the name Hummer came from HMV, first called HumVee.

The highest point in Pennsylvania is lower than the lowest point in Colorado.

Nutmeg is extremely poisonous if injected intravenously.

If you have three quarters, four dimes, and four pennies, you have $1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins without being able to make change for a dollar.

The only two days of the year in which there are no professional sports games (MLB, NBA, NHL, or NFL) are the day before and the day after the Major League All-Star Game.

Only one person in two billion will live to be 116 or older.

The mask used by Michael Myers in the original "Halloween" was actually a Captain Kirk mask painted white.

If you put a raisin in a glass of champagne, it will keep floating to the top and sinking to the bottom.

Snails can sleep for 3 years without eating.

Actor Tommy Lee Jones and vice-president Al Gore were freshman roommates at Harvard.

The fingerprints of koala bears are virtually indistinguishable from those of humans, so much so that they could be confused at a crime scene.

Months that begin on a Sunday will always have a "Friday the 13th."

James Doohan, who plays Lt. Commander Montgomery Scott on Star Trek, is missing the entire middle finger of his right hand.

The Eisenhower interstate system requires that one mile in every five must be straight. These straight sections are usable as airstrips in times of war or other emergencies.

There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.

All of the clocks in the movie "Pulp Fiction" are stuck on 4:20.

~^~ You know some facts, facetious or not, that ain't on this list? Send it in! ~^~

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