Archive for May, 2009

Mind your Ps and Qs:

Comes from the early pub days when beer and ale was served in pint and quart containers. The tab was kept on a chalkboard used to count the pints and quarts consumed. To watch your Ps and Qs is to control your alcoholic intake and behavior.

Sleep tight:     

Before box springs were in use, old bed frames used rope pulled tightly between the frame rails to support a mattress. If the rope became loose, the mattress would sag making for uncomfortable sleeping. Tightening the ropes would help one get a good night sleep.

 Three sheets to the wind:       

The phrase comes from 18th – 19th century English Naval terminology. The original phrase was “three Sheets in the wind” and referred to the erratic behavior of a ship that has lost control of all of its sails.

In nautical terminology sheets are the ropes that adjust the position of the sails relative to the wind.

The speed and direction of a sailing ship is controlled by the number of sails raised on each mast, the angle of the sails to the wind (trim of the sails), and the position of the rudder. If the sheets used to control the sails are to break or are have been released, the sheet is said to be “in the wind”.

One can imagine a sail thrashing wildly in a strong wind with its sheet (the control ropes) blowing about. It would be very difficult to regain control of such a sail.

Prior to the 1810’s it was common for ships to have three masts, (fore, main, and mizzen). If the sheets on all three masts are “in the wind”, the ship loses all steering control.

The ship’s lack of control is likened to that of a stumbling drunk.


NEXT WEEK: Driving Lessons and Tips


Part 3.  Enjoy!

Knock on wood

Meaning: The phrase used by people who rap their knuckles on a piece of wood hoping to stave off bad luck. In the UK the phrase ‘touch wood’ is used – often jokingly by tapping one’s head. The phrases are usually used when one is already experiencing some good fortune and hope that it will continue – e.g. “I’ve been winning on every race – touch wood”.

Origin: The derivation may be the association that wood and trees have with good spirits in mythology, or with the Christian cross. It used to be considered good luck to tap trees to let the wood spirits within know you were there. Traditions of this sort still persist in Ireland. See also – the darling buds of May.

The British version – touch wood, had an earlier Latin version used when touching wood – absit omen!, meaning ‘far be that omen from us’. This dates from at least the early 17th century, when it is quoted by Heywood. It isn’t clear when touch wood began to be used. It must have been well-known by 1849, when The Boy’s Own Book published the rules of a children’s game that derived from the phrase:

“This game is sometimes called ‘Touch-iron’ or ‘Touch-wood’; in these cases the players are safe only while they touch iron or wood, as may be previously agreed. They are liable to be touched only when running from one piece of wood or iron to another.”

Knock on wood – the American version, is known from the early 20th century. For example, The Indianapolis Star, September 1908:

“He is a promising looking youngster, and once we get on velvet (knock on wood!) the New York fans will get a chance to see him in action. When that time comes (knock on wood again!) it is more than likely that he will not disappoint.”  Note: ‘on velvet’ means in a position of advantage, especially regarding betting on sporting events.

Caught red-handed

Meaning: To be caught in the act of committing a misdemeanour, with the evidence there for all to see.

Origin: The Red Hand has long been a heraldic and cultural symbol of the northern Irish province of Ulster. One of the many myths as to its origin is the tale of how, in a boat race in which the first to touch the shore of Ulster was to become the province’s ruler, one contestant guaranteed his win by cutting off his hand and throwing it to the shore ahead of his rivals. The potency of the symbol remains and is used in the Ulster flag, and as recently as the 1970s a group of Ulster loyalist paramilitaries named themselves the Red Hand Commandos.

Red-handed doesn’t have a mythical origin however – it is a straightforward allusion to having blood on one’s hands after the execution of a murder or a poaching session. The term originates, not from Northern Ireland, but from a country not far from there, i.e. Scotland. An earlier form of ‘red-handed’, simply ‘red hand’, dates back to a usage in the Scottish Acts of Parliament of James I, 1432.

Red-hand appears in print many times in Scottish legal proceedings from the 15th century onward. For example, this piece from Sir George Mackenzie’s A discourse upon the laws and customs of Scotland in matters criminal, 1674:

“If he be not taken red-hand the sheriff cannot proceed against him.”

The earliest known printed version of ‘red-handed’ is from Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, 1819:

“I did but tie one fellow, who was taken redhanded and in the fact, to the horns of a wild stag.”

Scott was an avid student of Scottish history and folklore, which he relentlessly mined for inspiration in his novel writing. He is certain to have heard ‘redhand’ before writing Ivanhoe. The step from ‘redhand’ to ‘redhanded’ isn’t large, so calling Scott the originator of the term is perhaps being over generous to him. Nevertheless, the enormous popularity of his books certainly brought ‘red-handed’ to a wide audience and, without him, the term might now be long forgotten.

16th and 17th century Scottish sources provide various examples of ‘apprehended redhand’, ‘taken with redhand’ etc. but the earliest known citation of the currently used ‘caught red-handed’ phrase is in the English novelist George Alfred Lawrence’s work Guy Livingstone; or, ‘Thorough’, 1857:

My companion picked up the object; and we had just time to make out that it was a bell-handle and name-plate, when the pursuers came up – six or seven “peelers” and specials, with a ruck of men and boys. We were collared on the instant. The fact of the property being found in our possession constituted a ‘flagrans delictum’ – we were caught “red-handed.”


Flag of Ulster

Flag of Ulster

Part 2.  Enjoy!

The Big Apple

Meaning: Nickname for New York, USA.

Origin: There is no definitive source for this. As so often, there are several theories. One is that it derives from the translation by jazz musicians of the Manzana area as ‘apple orchard’. Another explanation has it that jazz musician’s slang for engagement was ‘apple’ and that a date in New York was the ‘big apple’. The phrase was certainly current in jazz music circles in the 1930s.

Probably the strongest contender is that it was coined in the horse racing community in the southern USA. John J. Fitz Gerald was a horse-racing writer for the New York Morning Telegraph in the 1920s. He reports hearing the phrase used by stable lads while on a visit to New Orleans in 1920, although there’s nothing in that report to link the phrase to New York.

Fitz Gerald did later use the phrase with reference to New York in his ‘Around the Big Apple’, piece for the Telegraph on February 18, 1924, and that is the earliest citation we can find of it in print:

“The Big Apple. The dream of every lad that ever threw a leg over a thoroughbred and the goal of all horsemen. There’s only one Big Apple. That’s New York.”

So, by his own account, Fitz Gerald didn’t coin the phrase, but it’s likely that he set it on its course to become part of the language.


The Fist Bump

The origins of the bump are murky, though most communication experts agree on a basic — if fuzzy — evolutionary timeline: the handshake (which itself dates back to ancient times) begat the “gimme-five” palm slap that later evolved into the now universal “high-five” and, finally, the fist bump.

Some claim the act of knuckle-bumping began in the 1970s with NBA players like Baltimore Bullets guard Fred Carter. Others claim the fist bump’s national debut occurred off the court, citing the Wonder Twins, minor characters in the 1970s Hanna-Barbera superhero cartoon The Superfriends, who famously touched knuckles and cried “Wonder Twin powers, activate!’ before morphing into animals or ice sculptures. One might also credit germaphobics for the fist bump’s popularity. Deal or No Deal host Howie Mandel reportedly adopted the gesture as a friendly way to avoid his contestants’ germs.

Even the terminology used to describe the manual move is under dispute. Some other terms for the move include “power five,” “fist pound,” “knuckle bump,” “Quarter Pounder” and “dap.”

The fist bump’s precursor, the low- and high-fives, originated in the 1950s, again mostly among athletes, who deemed handshakes too muted and formal for celebrating teamwork and triumph. The 1980s are generally regarded as the heyday of the high-five, though the gesture has enjoyed a revival of sorts in recent years — especially among Gen-X parents and their offspring. Modern-day high-five enthusiasts have even created a cellphone version: Callers high-five their phones (slap the speakers) or simultaneously type “5.”

I often wonder where / when certain phrases and movements originated.  So, starting today, I will be posting up a 5 part series of some of the more used (and interesting) ones of our time.  (reference: internet, various)


Breaking Balls: 

There is a way to castrate a calf, instead of cutting off the testicles you break them. To “bust your balls” is to turn them from a bull into a steer. Properly directed harassment can have a similar effect on humans. [Slang; first half of 1900s]


When the Shit Hits the Fan:

Messy and exciting consequences brought about by a previously secret situation becoming public.

Origin: This expression alludes to the unmissable effects of shit being thrown into an electric fan. It appears to have originated in the 1930s. I can’t say better than ‘appears’ as the earliest citation of it that I can find is in the 1967 edition of Eric Partridge’s A dictionary of slang and unconventional English:

“Wait till the major hears that! Then the shit’ll hit the fan!”

Partridge lists the phrase as Canadian, circa 1930, but as he gives no supporting evidence we have to go by the 1967 date, although it is undoubtedly earlier.

Other, more polite, forms of the phrase, involving eggs, pie, soup and ‘stuff’, can certainly be dated from the USA the 1940s. For example, Max Chennault’s Up Sun, 1945:

 “Sounds like the stuff was about to hit the fan.”

The Fresno Bee Republican, May 1948, reported on a psychiatrists’ convention, under the heading See How Brain Boys Also Run Wild:

“However, once that opening point was settled, the psychiatrists entered wholly in the business of the convention, which culminated, of course, in the selection of officers for the coming year. And that, as the saying goes, was when the soup hit the fan.”




So, I have been dealing with these issues for such a long time – I have searched, but there just doesn’t seem to be answers (perhaps that is my problem – help with the search button!  😉    ). 

1) Let’s say I am working on a Word document.  I need to go on the internet.  I push the internet explorer button.  I then click back on my Word document thinking that IE will open up in the background.  BUT WAIT!  It comes on top of my work disrupting my thoughts.  Why does it do this and what setting can I use so it stays in the background?  I clearly opened the program, yet flipped back over to word. 

2) Copying or moving files.  I have always had this question.  I cut, copy or move a file from one area on the hard drive to another.  That small popup comes up and it shows the files moving from one folder to another and it shows the time.  Why does the computer not know the time to do this?  1 min…….55 seconds….50 seconds….45…..1 minute….2 minutes…..  WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!??   Do you not know how large the file is?

Any help would be appreciated….

Congrats to Walmart

I was at Walmart on the weekend, and it was quiet in some of the frozen food isles.  Something seemed funny as I started going down one of them.  All the fridge units were dark – like there was a power outage.  As the cart rolled past the first one, the light inside came on.  Above each unit, there is a little motion sensor that detects that there is a customer.  What a great way to save power, and to save some money on the power bill.  Very impressive.  It is small, but it does show that mega corporations are looking to the future – both for energy use, for their shareholders and most importantly, having lower prices for their customers.

So, I played my first ball game and experienced a minor injury.  This happened to me before (10 years ago) and it caused tremendous pain.  The injury, I call it Modified Turf Toe, was due to ill fitted shoes while stopping and my toes were constantly jammed to the front of the shoes. 

‘Turf Toe’ is a condition of pain at the base of the big toe, located at the ball of the foot. The condition is usually caused from either jamming the toe, or pushing off repeatedly when running or jumping. The most common complaint is pain at the base of the toe, but you may also have symptoms of stiffness and swelling.

10 years ago, I was playing senior men’s hard ball and experienced extreme big toe pain.  I just thought it was from a lot of use and it would eventually wear off.  Well, I noticed that both my big toes had bruises and after about 2 months, I lost both toe nails.  I was shocked.

Fast forward to today – it was not my big toes, but my third and fourth toes on both feet, now have bruises.  I like doubling up on my socks to provide more padding to my feet and I think this closed up the space from the end of my feet to the front of the shoes.  Maybe it is just time to get some new shoes.

LOST – I cannot get enough

This season of LOST was epic.  Abrams and the gang put together a storyline that was so captivating and interesting, yet so unbelievable, you had to feel for the characters and kind of wished you were on the island on that fantastic adventure.  After coming off several seasons of an average storyline, for some reason, I was left spellbound by this last year.  Coming into this season, I had mixed feelings.  The show started off with such a cool premise.  Then it lost traction.  And now it is back! 

This year my favorite character was Daniel Faraday.  Although, I am sure you all know what happened to him – OR DO WE?  The way he goes about life in a calm, soft-spoken way, is something that has been lost in our fast-paced world.  His dad being Charles Whidmore is interesting too.  I have a feeling that he will be back.  I hope.

From the original cast, my favorite is James, or is it Sawyer, or is it Jim LaFleur.  Although, life in 1977 Darma-ville has gotten him a little soft, his fire was lit in the final episode. 

My review of the season finale will be kept for all of you who have not yet seen it.  However, some of my wonderings are: Who the hell is Jacob?  Is he an angel?  Is he from some point in the future?  And what about the bizarro-John Locke?  Is he that guy who wished he could have killed Jacob (back when that large statue was intact)? 

So many questions, so much anticipation for the new fall season!!

I have seen this exercise floating around some workout sites and forums and some crossfit sites and I didn’t anything of it.  An overhead squat?  Big deal.  I’ll just do a normal squat. 

Well, let me tell you, it is unlike a normal squat.


Snatch the barbell overhead with a very wide overhand grip.  Position toes outward with wide stance.  Maintain bar behind head with arms extended.


Descend until knees and hips are fully bent or until thighs are just past parallel to floor. Knees travel in direction of toes. Extend knees and hips until legs are straight. Return and repeat.

I tried it for the first time this afternoon.  I started with a bar and 10lb plates on it.  This is a total of 65lb – which is not very much at all, especially for a squat. 

With the weight light, snatching the bar is really unnecessary.  Just curl it up and press it over your head and lock your elbows.  Going down though is a different story. Having the bar above your head forces your back to remain super straight.  You are also using all of your core to support that weight.  This is an excellent exercise for a full body lift, to promote testosterone production and calory burn. 

I managed 3 sets of 6 reps.  Wow – try it with low weight at the start.

I’d like to think I have a head full of useless information just waiting to burst out to help anyone in the world. Or, perhaps it will make you think about things differently.  I am focused on self improvement, being the very best, staying painfree and being positive.  I hate negativity and people who complain and see the empty half of the glass. 

I have information ranging from workout advice, home improvement tips, driving tips, car maintenance, style advice and other important yet seemingly useless information.

I also go off on rants – whether it be about the immediate world we live in or ways that the Oilers could improve or whatever.  The rant is not a complaint, but more of a vehicle of improvement for the topic at hand. 

I will try and arrange the items in Themes, but some of this info may be sporadic and will just shoot out at various times. 


Please comment on the topics – whether good or bad – and please comment on the blog site itself.  If something is funny, or isn’t pleasing, please let me know.