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Saturday, 11 February 2023


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OK = Oklahoma ... that's why I write: okay. Okay?

Some strange facts about history I found:

Gone to Pot - Originated in the Middle Ages, when death by boiling was a form of capital punishment.

Meeting a Deadline - From the Civil War, prisoners were kept in open areas, far away from fences and walls. Basically, a line was drawn in the dirt, and if you crossed it … they shot you.

Pay Through the Nose - A common punishment faced by Viking raiders to people who refused to pay the danegeld was to slit the nostril, from tip to eyebrow.

Mad as a Hatter - No, not from Alice in Wonderland. In 17th century France, hat makers often used mercury to treat the hats felt. The symptoms of mercury poisoning were similar to that of someone gone insane, causing tremors, irritability, and irrational outbursts.

Cat Got Your Tongue - In ancient Egypt, liars and blasphemers would have their tongues cut out, which were then fed to the Pharaoh's royal cats.

Over a Barrel - Dates to the Spanish Inquisition. A common torture to coerce “heretics” into confessing was to suspend them over a barrel of boiling oil. No confession? Into the boiling oil, you go.

Saved by the Bell - Long before modern boxing, living people would sometimes be thought dead and were buried alive. Those afraid of that possibility were buried in a special grave with a rope attached to an above-ground bell. This ties in nicely to …

Graveyard Shift - Night watchmen were posted in cemeteries to keep an ear out for the sound of bells from the graves.

It's Raining Cats and Dogs - In medieval Europe, many houses had roofs of thick, thatched straw. It sounds like a perfect place for small dogs and cats to stay warm and dry, right? Sadly, when really heavy rain would fall, it would wash the animals off the roofs and into the gutters on the streets.

Cost an Arm and a Leg - From pre-photography days. Portrait artists had rates for paintings based on the number of limbs (arms, legs, hands, feet) that were to be in the painting. If you were not well off, getting your portrait would cost you … well, you get it.

Baker's Dozen - In 13th century England, a law was passed that made selling “light” loaves, or lesser quality bread, illegal. The threatened punishment? They would cut off the baker's hands. Fearful bakers began throwing in an extra loaf to ensure no complaints were made.

Piss Poor - In ancient times, tanneries used urine to soak the animal hides. A way for very poor families to earn a few extra cents was to sell their urine. And maybe, "Not a Pot to Piss In" might be for those too poor even to have that extra pot to collect urine in.

Skeletons in the Closet - Until the 1830s in England, it was illegal to dissect human corpses. So, medical schools and doctors paid grave robbers to supply them with cadavers. The bodies had to be hidden in case of a police raid. Guess where.

Found these out in www orbit, so take them as entertainment, but commenters agreed with the 'history guy' that posted them.

[VERY cool! --Mike]

Charles III is probably even more “German” than indicated by his recent ancestry. 30% Of ‘White’ British people are ‘German’ according to
https://tinyurl.com/yf4facm7 . Really Germanic would be a better term since Germany as a state is a Johnny come lately. When accused of being a German, Nigel Farage our home grown snake oil seller claimed there was no truth in it since his ancestor arrived here before the state existed :-) .

On the other hand it looks like the Germans may all soon be English if this comes to pass: https://tinyurl.com/2p8df72d . It is often forecast that English could become the sole official language of the EU if the UK left.

I’m not sure what this all really means. I believe the US narrowly averted becoming ‘German’ thanks to Kaiser Bill’s little escapade. Sometimes I wish the US had become German speaking and then Americans might start calling us English rather than Brits when referring to UK citizens who are neither Scots nor Irish nor Welsh.

—>From etymonline:
'apocalypse (n.)

late 14c., "revelation, disclosure," from Church Latin apocalypsis "revelation," from Greek apokalyptein "uncover, disclose, reveal,. . .
Its general sense in Middle English was "insight, vision; hallucination." The general meaning "a cataclysmic event" is modern (not in OED 2nd ed., 1989)'

—>Although not common in restaurants, true wasabi is readily available. S&B brand is in our fridge at the moment. Usually at least a couple of brands in our local supermarket.

—>Stevie Wonder never saw the ocean.

—>The camera that is probably the most valuable in the world is the one in my hands when a good shot appears in my sight. \;~)>

There are many similarly fun lists…




Probably apocryphal, but I was always told OK came from the Civil War era, when units reported KIA numbers. A good day would have none, which would get reported as 0 Killed, shortened to O K.

And if your veggie is a hanging seed pod it is actually a fruit.

Very interesting car being pulled up! Alfa Romeo BAT?

Haven't tried it yet, but there's a Half Moon Bay wasabi farm in, well, Half Moon Bay - 40 mins from where I am, and currently in the news due to a mass shooting :-/

Oh, sweet mother of god...

As a photographer, as someone who has come to appreciate Memphis and as the parent of a child of color (adopted from Vietnam, but damned if I haven’t had to learn how this country _really_ is because of the institutional racism against him.) this just _hurts_ …

This white bread Wisconsin boy has seen that bridge and while I have a few images of it, I have _Nothing_ that good by any stretch of the imagination. He was _good_.

Memphis, much as I love your city, you have so much to explain and pay for in this case.

Like yourself, no image search found the Corvette photo for me. Tried multiple ways and used all browsers. Just goes to show - don't put too much trust in AI

A fascinating list from Darlene, many thanks.

I have just come back from playing the organ for at the Parish Church in our village, for the main 10:30 service. Parts of the building are 12th and 13th century and it is a Grade 1 listed building. I always find it humbling to be walking on that very same floor as has been there for almost a thousand years.

(A pice of trivia:I played the J S Bach 'Great' A minor prelude and fugue, BWV 453 as the exit voluntary).

Tyre Nichols was murdered by police...why the strikeout? Also, I feel it kind of trivializing to list the fact that he was a photographer here as a "strange fact" tbh.

[True, it is not a strange fact but a humanizing one. Police murders of Black people trouble and haunt me. I wanted to acknowledge Tyre without having to write a post about him. --Mike]

Beethoven never heard the ocean either

There is a story that George V decided to change Saxe-Coburg and Gotha into Windsor after he heard some of his staff talking about ‘these Krauts.’ Germans were, as you can imagine, not popular in Britain back then. Almost at the same time the Princes of Battenberg altered their name into Mountbatten and the Duke and Prince of Teck adopted Cambridge as their new family name. Three years later, in 1920, the Belgian King Albert I changed Saxen-Coburg-Gotha simply into ‘of Belgium.’
The nobility circle in Europe was very small around World War One. The German Kaiser Wilhelm II, King George V of England and Tsar Nicholas II were all grandsons of Queen Victoria. The mothers of George and Nicholas were sisters and maybe that is why they almost looked like twins. It happend that they exchanged their uniforms as a practical joke.
The offspring of Queen Victoria used to come together every summer for cruise holidays and parties. A thing they continued to do so during the war, when their armies were killing each other on the battlefields.

Here is the complete story with a picture of the ‘twins.’

Beware folk etymology! Don't believe any derivations of words and phrases until you have looked them up in trustworthy sources.
Same goes for cosy stories such as the well know Rolls Royce engineers taking a helicopter across Europe to fix a car overnight and the 'disavowing all knowledge'. I remember an intelligent man, an engineer in fuel gas pipelines, passing on the story that a certain crude word was acronym from the 'stuff' having to be 'Stored High In Transit'. He was not aware of the word's origin way back - Wikipedia is is your friend here.

King Charles' father, Prince Philip, was always known as Phil the Greek in the less reverential parts of the UK press, because of his Greek heritage. However, he came from a time when all European Royal houses were related to each other, so who knows? After all, Kaiser Bill was Queen Victoria's grandson.

Me, I'm happy as a lark.

("The word lark in the term on a lark is used to mean frolicking or playing. The use of the word lark to mean frolicking first appeared in the early 1800s. It may stem from the word skylark, slang used by sailors to mean roughhousing in the rigging. It may date back to the Old Norse word leika** which means to play."
--Stolen from the gramarist.com without remorse.)

**See how I turned that into a pseudo-photography reference?

Okey-dokey. Carry on.

I grow wasabi in a container in my back yard. The starts are available from Oregon coast wasabi. They take a couple of years to mature, but grow well here on the coast. They also sell the specialized graters, handmade and imported from Japan. There's no comparison between freshly grated wasabi and the "wasabi" you find in the stores. I've only been to one sushi restaurant that offered real wasabi, and that was in Hawai'i

Hmm. there's a connection between U.S. President Martin Van Buren, known as "Old Kinderhook", and the saying "OK". But I'm too lazy to dig it up now.

The drowned car in my opinion, is not an ALFA "BAT". The BAT had a truly distinct rear quarter panel design looking like partially folded bat wings. Also, the BAT had no hood louvers. B.A.T. was actually for the design group of Bertone in Italy..Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica.

My vote would be a 1963 Corvette split window coupe. Not nearly as rare as a BAT, but still quite a very high priced collectible...even for salvage parts the took a swim.😱

The ‘fact’ about Beethoven is probably a myth. Most biographers agree that Beethoven visited the Dutch coast at Scheveningen as an adolescent in 1783.


According to a 2012 article, the were 4 wasabi farms in the US.

OK all right, okay. There are many proposed etymologies, not all of which can be correct. For the Choctaw version and many others, check out the Wikipedia article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OK#:~:text=OK%20(%2F%CB%8Co%CA%8A%CB%88k,a%20loanword%20in%20other%20languages.

The photo of the Corvette being pulled from the drink is almost as good as this Ferrari Dino being dug up from a backyard here in LA in 1978:

Growing up in Nashville near the Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson, the story I heard about O.K. was it was his abbreviation for "Oll Korrect" because he couldn't spell very well. (Humorous note - the spell checker changed "Oll Korrect" to "All Correct"so I had to go back and "correct" it.)

Photos not on the web. Meh. I've got thousands which never will be... took 'em all myself, OK? :)

Obviously you should go for the Choctaw version in your style guide for this blog extending it to okeh bokeh

Tom Whitwell publishes a list of interesting things he's learned each year, which you might like. Here's 2022's https://medium.com/magnetic/52-things-i-learned-in-2022-db5fcd4aea6e

I found Tyre Nichols's website unbelievably poignant in the circumstances. Thank you for the link. He was obviously one of the good guys - one can only hope that something good comes out of the police self-examination that must surely follow.

Am I the only one who was brought up on this explanation for the origin of OK? From the NPR website:

OK is an idiom that took the world by storm when it came out of the 1840 reelection campaign of President Martin Van Buren. Born in Kinderhook, N.Y., Van Buren carried the nickname "Old Kinderhook." Supporters used the shortened "OK" in rallies, and it took off from there.

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