You Need (or might want) to Know
Time Zone Bridge
Have you ever thought about how strange our time zones are? When you’re traveling long distances, changing time zones can really get confusing. Idaho is one of about a dozen states that has multiple time zones. The time zone changes in a state usually follow a body of water or some other natural boundary. In Riggins County, The Pacific and Mountain time zones are divided along the Salmon River. And there’s actually a place where US 95 crosses the river called the Time Zone Bridge. So, crossing from one side sends you over into the Pacific Time Zone; crossing from the other side, you enter Mountain Time. The strange part is that because of the shape of the river, you actually turn the clock back, even though you’re traveling east.
A line in the sand
is an idiom which means a boundary beyond which one cannot proceed without consequences. It seems strange because a line drawn in the sand could easily be erased by the tides. However, this phrase goes back to the Roman Empire when a Macedonian king decided to invade Egypt because he was short of cash. Egypt was a Roman protectorate then and at the border, he was met by Popillius Laenas (a Roman senator. Popillius drew a circle around the king and demanded that the king retreat before he could step out of the circle. The king withdrew and so the phrase came to be used to refer to setting boundaries. Source:
Origin of O’clock
Like other words in our modern language, the history behind the word ‘O’clock’ dates back centuries to when things were done differently. Clocks became mainstream in the 14th century. Before that, people had other ways of telling time, like solar time—the practice of telling the time of day by the position of the sun. (Think of a sun dial.)
Telling time by the sun and by the clock sometimes gave a different time. Whereas the clock divided time equally, solar time depended on a variety of factors, like the time of year. So, when someone was asked the time, people would make sure to say whether they were giving the solar time, or clock time.
A popular response was to say something to the effect of ‘it’s 5 of the clock’, meaning you were reading the time according to the clock, and not another method. Over time, this saying was slurred to say ‘o’clock’, which is the word we use now. When we announce the time ‘o’clock’, we’re actually saying that we’ve read a clock and not a sun dial.
The word ‘Lent’ derives from the Old English word for “lengthening,” as in how the days after winter growing longer with more daylight. The word Lent also denotes the season “Spring” in Old German, the language of Teutonic people in northern Europe. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday. That’s 40 days if you don’t count Sundays. Sundays are kind of your free day. Lent’s 40 days represent Jesus’s 40 days of fasting in the desert before he began his preaching.
Christians prepare for Easter by doing the same thing, fasting or some sort of penance. Penance can be giving up something we really enjoy. Lent began in the 4th century with strict rules — one meal a day, only in the evening. No meat, no fish, no animal products. By the 15th century, Christians were allowed to eat by noon. Eventually, fish became OK and in 1966, the Roman Catholic Church restricted fast days to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. What’s fasting? One meal a day or maybe two smaller meals.
The Eastern Orthodox churches and Roman Catholics, as well as Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and the Methodists observe Lent. Baptists and other evangelical denominations are less likely because they say the Bible never mentions Lent. Christians aren’t the only ones who fast. Muslims also fast during Ramadan and Jews fast on Yom Kippur. So fasting means one meal, abstinence means no meat and that’s on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all Fridays during Lent.
Mardi Gras refers to events of the Carnival celebration, beginning on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, reflecting the practice of the last night of eating rich, fatty foods before the fasting of the Lenten season. In countries such as the United Kingdom, Mardi Gras is more usually known as Pancake Day or (traditionally) Shrove Tuesday (derived from the word shrive, meaning “to administer the sacrament of confession to; to absolve”).
Mardi Gras arrived in North America as a French Catholic celebration in the late 17th century, when King Louis XIV defended France’s claim on the territory of Louisiane (which included what are now the states of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and part of eastern Texas).
In 1723, the capital of Louisiana was moved to New Orleans. The first Mardi Gras parade held in New Orleans took place in 1837. The tradition in New Orleans expanded to the point that it became synonymous with the city in popular perception and embraced by residents of New Orleans beyond those of French or Catholic heritage.
St. Louis, Missouri, founded in 1764 by French fur traders, claims to host the second largest Mardi Gras celebration in the United States. It attracts hundreds of thousands of people from around the country.
Want to get away from it all? You can’t do better than a point in the Pacific Ocean nicknamed ‘Point Nemo,’ named after the famous submarine sailor from Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. (Technically, it is known as the “Oceanic Point of Inaccessibility.”)
This remote oceanic location is located about 1,670 miles from the nearest land—Ducie Island, part of the Pitcairn Islands, to the north; Motu Nui, one of the Easter Islands, to the northeast; and Maher Island, part of Antarctica, to the south.
Everyone knows that if you have the feeling you’ve experienced an event before in real life, it’s called déjà vu. But did you know that there’s a different term for if you feel like you’ve previously experienced an event in a dream. It’s déjà rêvé.
How Portland Got Its Name
The two founders of the city, Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy, each wanted the city named after their respective hometowns. Pettygrove was from Portland, Maine and Lovejoy was from Boston, Massachusetts. They made a deal – whoever got the most heads in three flips get to name the city, then known as The Clearing. Pettygrove flipped and got two heads, leaving the city with a name it would forever have. The penny used in the flip, now known as the Portland Penny, is preserved at the Oregon Historical Society.
The Seven Dwarfs could have had very different names
The original story of Snow White from the Brothers Grimm did not name the dwarfs. But while Walt Disney was making the 1937 film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, he realized the dwarfs would be the focal point of the movie. Before settling on the Seven Dwarfs we know today, Disney considered Chesty, Tubby, Deafy, Hickey, Awful. Jump, Gabby, Wheezy, Nifty, Sniffy, Lazy, Puffy, Stubby, Shorty and Burby. Many voices were tried to help spark character names. Actor Billy Gilbert had a terrific sneeze and inspired Sneezy. Other names came through the process of elimination. Happy and Grumpy provided a perfect balance. Sleepy and Bashful came naturally.
“Dopey was the toughest of all,” remembers Ham Luske, another Snow White animator. “The boys tried to make him too much of an imbecile, which wasn’t what we really had in mind. We wanted to pattern him after Charlie Chaplin and tried many appropriate voices. The voice that came closest to what we wanted sounded too much like Doc. Then somebody suggested that maybe he shouldn’t talk at all. That was the answer. We decided that perhaps Dopey could talk but that he never really tried.”
Car windows’ little black dots
The little black dots on your car’s windshield and windows, and the black rims that surround them, aren’t just there for decoration. The dots date all the way back to the ’50s when car manufacturers used adhesive to hold car windows in place rather than metal trim. The black trim around the windows (called “frits”) and the black dots are painted onto the glass to hide the not very appealing look of the adhesive. The rims are baked into the window, so they hold the glue and window in place. The dots serve as an aesthetically pleasing transition from the thick black line to the transparent window. They aren’t just there to look nice though. They help provide temperature control. When the glass is bent to fit into the frame of the windshield, it’s heated up. The black-painted glass heats up faster than the rest, and the dots help to distribute the heat more evenly and keep the glass from warping.