Friday, January 27, 2012

Fun Friday Facts #26: Dentistry Edition

As some of you will know, one of my New Year's Resolutions this year was to go to the dentist. I have a terror of the dentist (masked man, drills etc.), so I'd been putting it off for a number of years. Now I've finally been to the dentist and discovered I need a lot of dental work, but at least I'm getting the opportunity to finally get over my fear of the dentist.

In the spirit of having completed my final root canal, and in (psychological) preparation for the many, many fillings, let us consider dentistry in this week's Fun Friday Facts.

And let us give thanks for modern anesthetics.

1) Researchers from the University of Poitiers have discovered evidence that the practice of dentistry dates back 9,000 years. These early dentists lived in the Indus Valley Civilization in modern day Pakistan. They used flint-tipped drills to remove areas of decay from teeth. It's believed that the earliest dentists were bead artisans, who would have been skilled in the use of these small, sharp drills.

The eleven Neolithic teeth, discovered in 2006, did not appear to have fillings, but the technique appears to have been effective anyway. Signs of wear around the edges of the holes suggest that the owners of the teeth were alive at the time of the procedure, and that they continued to use the teeth afterward.

2) The first known dentist was an Egyptian called Hesi-Re, who lived about 5,000 years ago. The inscriptions on his tomb indentify him as “the greatest of those who deal with teeth.” Most ancient Egyptians weren't prone to cavities, due to the low levels of sugar in their diet, although members of the upper classes were vulnerable to and often died from tooth decay. Ancient Egyptians ate a lot of sand mixed in with their food (it gets everywhere), which caused excessive wear and tear on the teeth, and often led to early tooth loss. The ancient Egyptians used prosthetic teeth, which were fastened into the mouth with gold wire, and filled cavities with a mixture of resin and chrysocolla, a type of copper ore.

Pretty. ~ Rob Lavinsky

3) In spite of all their orthodontic technology, the ancient Egyptians didn't practice tooth extraction. They believed that it wasn't necessary, a belief that probably caused many unnecessary deaths. The first dental extraction tool appeared in the 1300s, in France, the work of Guy de Chauliac. It was pair of forceps called the “dental pelican” because its business end somewhat resembled the beak of a pelican, if you squinted just right.

4) Later, in the 1700s, the dental key appeared.

Actually, I think that one in the middle left is a dental pelican.

The dental key had a set of claws on the end of its shaft. In order to pull a tooth, the erstwhile dentist (barber) inserted the shaft into the mouth and then tightened the claws around the tooth in question. Rotating the dental key was supposed to loosen and remove the tooth, but it usually just broke the tooth, the teeth around it, and sometimes the jawbone.

Let's give thanks for anesthetic again.

5) Real dentists began to appear in the 1700s, but they were expensive, because some things never change. Most people were stuck with the local blacksmith, who could do little more than pull troublesome teeth, while of course simultaneously breaking your jaw and probably ushering in your premature death from infection. False teeth, made from ivory, or, in some cases, human teeth stolen from dead bodies, were a popular cause of oral hauntings. George Washington's teeth were not wooden, but were made of lead, gold, ivory, animal and human teeth.

This picture is complete bullsh*t.

6) Porcelain dentures appeared in 1820. London goldsmith Claudius Ash mounted the first sets of porcelain teeth in gold plates. In the 1850s, vulcanized rubber replaced the gold plates, making dentures affordable and mass-producible for the first time. Acrylic resin and plastic dentures appeared in the 20th century.

7) Dental and surgical anesthetics appeared in the 1840s.


This, combined with the institution of dental schools and government regulations for orthodontic practitioners, dentistry became safer and less frightening, although, you know, still pretty frightening.

It must be an ancestral memory.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quitting Smoking: Day Eight

Well, I'm into my second week as a non-smoker, and guess what, the nicotine patch is a f*cking miracle. If I didn't have this little bugger I'd be smoking again by now, or implicated in a homicide (possibly a double homicide) or, failing either of those options, I would've popped a freakin' eyeball at some point. In between my grandmother going back to the hospital with pneumonia, those chain-smoking biznatches I live with sending me out to buy their f*cking cigarettes (unfair), a root canal and general smokelessness, this has not been the easiest of weeks. Nevertheless, I prevail.

Me and my lollipops, my lollipops and me.

Actually, I'm on Jolly Ranchers now, for a change of pace, and also because they have half as many calories apiece. Never said I wanted to get fat. I tried toothpicks for awhile, but it just wasn't the same. For one thing, they taste of wood.

They're better with beer than lollipops, though.

I've also taken up (well, reprised) yoga and meditation, because I need to chill the f*ck out before I rip somebody's face off.


Every time I picture myself smoking a cigarette, I revise that image to one of me holding a lollipop.

Progress so far:

My skin still looks like crap. I'm not sure if it's supposed to improve or not, but I sure hope it does. 

Breathing appears to be easier, or at least it was when I was jogging the other day.

I can't tell if I'm irritable because I've quit smoking, or if the people around me truly are irritating, or both.

I have fought down the urge to slap whoever happens to be within easy reach exactly 3,427 times. (That's 28.5 times an hour, not counting the hours I've been asleep).

Crazy dreams have made an appearance, but then again I always have some pretty crazy dreams, like the one where Paula Deen was my personal chef. These dreams, however, have protagonists, antagonists, narrative devices, and coherent plots. They're organized, cinematic, and even largely realistic.

Normally, my dreams look more like this. ~ John Haynes Photography

The sneezing has subsided, but I still haven't coughed anything up. The chain-smokers think that this is because I didn't smoke that much. Either that, or the coal dust in my lungs is maintaining the status quo.

My friend Amberr, who is on her fourth day today, said on her blog that she's been sweating out a bunch of nasty toxins. That hasn't happened to me. As far as I can tell, my perspiration smells as it's always done – of goulash.

Well, it smells of goulash to me, anyway. ~ m.louis

Everyone keeps congratulating me, which seems a little pre-emptive. I mean, not to undermine myself or anything, but I've totally refrained from smoking for longer than a few days in the past and still managed to start again. I'm just being realistic, there's still plenty of time to f*ck up. On the other hand, it's really sweet of them to be so positive and supportive.

Or maybe they're just afraid.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fun Friday Facts #25: Tobacco Edition

As many of you know by now, I quit smoking yesterday. I'm using the nicotine patch-and-lollipop method, which involves wearing a nicotine patch and eating a lot of lollipops. So far so good.

Progress report:

I've been sneezing a lot. I take it I'm supposed to be coughing more as my lungs cleanse themselves, but I'm not. I've had a couple half-hearted, dry coughs, just for old time's sake.

Everyone told me I'd have a lot of crazy dreams on the nicotine patch, but last night I had the same dream I've been having for the past six weeks, which is that I'm still in France because I missed my flight.

My resting heart rate has dropped from 95 to 60 beats per minute.

I'm going to need more lollipops.

Here are your Fun Friday Facts. I picked tobacco since it's been on my mind, for some reason.

1) Paleontologists from the Meyer-Honninger Paleontology Museum have discovered, in Peru, a block of tobacco dating back to the Pleistocene Era, 2.5 million years ago. Their discovery confirms that tobacco originated in the New World, and would also suggest that its use, and perhaps abuse, have been with us literally forever.

Screw you, tobacco. ~ Kevinbercaw

2) Cultivation of tobacco dates back to at least 5,000 BC. Shamanistic South American cultures used tobacco, and other psychoactive plants, in their spiritual rituals. Among North American natives, tobacco was a popular trade item. People of all ages smoked tobacco during ceremonial rites, and the plant was used medicinally to treat coughs, colds, asthma, ear infections, toothaches and other maladies. Most North American tribes believe tobacco to be sacred, and discourage its abuse. If you abuse tobacco, they believe, it will abuse you back.


3) Tobacco reached Europe inthe early 1500s, and quickly became the basis of a booming industry. Physicians used the plant medicinally. Spanish doctor Nicolas Monardes nailed down 36 medical uses for tobacco in 1571. Monardes listed several diseases for which tobacco was considered an effective treatment – among them, cancer.

Well, there was this episode of House I saw once...

4) Tobacco spread to the Ottoman Empire later that century, where it was also used medicinally. Brieftly thereafter, tobacco's unpleasant side effects, including halitosis, fatigue, dulled senses and dizziness, led to the discontinuation of medical tobacco in the region. By this time, however, tobacco had become a popular recreational drug among citizens of all ages.

5) Wikipedia swears that tobacco smoke enemas were used to resuscitate unconscious patients in the 18th century. When I found this reference near the end of the entry “History of tobacco,” I thought it was a joke. I linked to the entry “Tobacco smoke enema” and found that it was rather long and detailed, so I amended my opinion to “elaborate joke” (hey, some people have a lot of time on their hands). I performed an .edu domain search on Google and, holy sh*t guys, I think they're serious.

They even have a picture of the device.

Apparently, doctors of the time believed that warming and stimulating an unconscious patient could revive them. This was accomplished by rubbing the patient's skin briskly, feeding them hot liquor, bleeding them (of course), applying hot plasters and warming the bowels by blowing smoke up the ass. Artificial respiration was also sometimes used, but the tobacco smoke enema was considered more effective. And I still don't know whether to believe this or not.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Quitting Smoking: Day One

So, I'm quitting smoking. Again. As the old joke goes, I'm great at quitting smoking, I've done it dozens of times. Ha ha ha.

But seriously kids, for real this time, I'm really, really quitting smoking. I've been smoking for longer than I care to admit, if only because it would upset my mother. I've been telling myself I'm gonna quit since I was 16 years old. Sometime in my early 20s, I decided I would achieve this feat by the time I turned 30. When you're 20, you don't really believe you're ever gonna turn 30.

Well, I'm gonna be 30 in a little over eight months, so it's time to stop talking sh*t and start doing sh*t, or, as the case may be, stop doing sh*t, the sh*t in question being smoking.

This is what I have in mind.

I decided to blog about this because Solitary Momma blogger Christina Majaski encouraged me to. “It will hold you accountable to your readers,” she said. “It could be helpful for others,” she said. “You'd be doing a service to mankind,” she said.

Ok, ok, she didn't say that, I just sort of read it between the lines. In any case I haven't tried writing or blogging about it before, so it might help. I won't be blogging about it every day because I'll be very busy not smoking, but still. Surely all my faithful readers will support me in my cause. 

Lots of people say that cold turkey is the best way to quit smoking, but that's the exact method I've failed at repeatedly in the past, so it's right out. I've also attempted the old cut-down-and-quit method several times, but after a few days of cutting down I lose my resolve and start cutting back up again, so that's right out too.

After some preliminary research, I decided to try the nicotine patch. Several of my friends have recommended it. It doesn't seem to be as effective as its manufacturers would have have us believe, but neither is anything else. The nicotine replacement therapy will, of course, prolong my misery, but it may help to keep those around me entirely out of misery or, failing that, at least alive.

For some reason, I felt compelled to sniff the patch before I put it on. It made me sneeze. It itched like crazy for the first five minutes, but then stopped.

I have also purchased a bag of lollipops (it's a hand-to-mouth thing). You would not believe how difficult it is to find a straight-up bag of lollipops in West By God. Seriously, you guys, it took me like, an hour. I'm not talking any special “quitting smoking” lollipops, I mean just regular lollipops. Apparently nobody buys “just lollipops” anymore, it's all this “assorted candy” sh*t. I was all, mothernuckers, I need something I can hold in my hand and put in my mouth, and then take out of my mouth and hold in my hand. Rinse, lather, repeat. How f*cking hard is that?

I wound up getting Valentine's Day lollipops, which were the only ones I could find. Thank God it's January.

Progress so far:

I hate everybody.

Especially you and you and you.

I keep thinking, “I'd better have a cigarette,” and then remembering I quit.

My breath smells like lollipops.

I've eaten six lollipops since I woke up.

I want another lollipop.

I'm looking better already.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Got the Finger!

Last Thursday, I was lucky enough to receive a highly prestigious and much-coveted blogging award from fellow blogger and Bitchery Triad founder Christina Majaski at Solitary Momma. It's called The Finger Award and it was bestowed upon me because f*ck you.

Well, no, it's actually a token of Christina's love and esteem, I'm guessing, even though it looks like this:

You got the wrong side of the finger, Christina.

I am so super-stoked and you can bet your sweet ass this is going on my CV, right at the top, because I can't think of anything that would more highly recommend me to a potential employer.

Christina believes that there's no use for the middle finger other than saying “F*ck you,” wordlessly, especially while driving. Having had plenty of experience with British people and even with Italians, I can tell you that there's more than one way to say “f*ck you” in sign language, and some of them require the other fingers. That said, I can think of plenty of other uses for the middle finger, such as:

  • Typing the letters K, E, D, I, and C, as well as the comma and the numbers 3 and 8. This is assuming, of course, that you're a proper touch-typist, and not one of these people who sits there poking at the keyboard with one finger like they're afraid it's gonna bite.


  • Having a complete hand.

Very important.

  • Making shadow puppets, probably.

  • Holding a pencil or pen. I don't know how you hold your writing implements, but I sort of prop mine up against my middle finger. I have a big ugly callus on the first knuckle of my right middle finger. Take a look for it the next time I flip you off.

    I've noticed other people sort of pinch theirs with the first two fingers and the thumb. Either way, you really need that middle finger. You could hold a writing implement with the first and ring fingers, you know, if you didn't have a complete hand, but it would take some getting used to, I'd imagine.

  • Playing the piano. That is, if you play the piano. I don't and I'm only assuming you need your middle fingers for it. In fact, they'd probably come in handy for playing most instruments. I know mine came in handy when I used to play the Appalachian dulcimer.

This. ~ gurdonark

I'm sure there are probably some other great uses for the middle finger, but I think you get my point. The poor middle finger is more than just an obscene, naughty, aggressive perv-digit skulking around on your hand. It's a part of things. It has friends, family, and meaningful work to do. It has a life.

It even has a little mustache.

That said, the middle finger is, of course, THE MIDDLE FINGER, at least in some countries, and I'm sure that's what Christina had in mind when she devised this award, especially since she's pretty clear about her motivations in her own blog post.

I'm supposed to give The Finger Award (The Finger, for short) to two groups of people: those who know about it and those who don't. I will be giving The Finger to one group in the more traditional sense of, you know, Giving Them the Finger. I will be giving The Finger to the members of the other group in a “congratulations, you're a stroppy b*tch and I love you for it” kind of way. Or because they asked. Because yeah, there are people actually asking to receive this award. Imagine that.

People Who Are Getting the Finger and Don't Know It:
  • Dr. Phil. He's ridiculous and his advice is ridiculous. 
  • Angry and/or stupid Internet commenters. My own, of course, but not just my own.
  • People who make insulting jokes about West Virginia and/or West Virginians, especially when they do so right to my face.
  • Dudes who get pissy when I won't sleep with them.
  • People who take against me because of my accent.

I could go on, but that would be ruining the topics of several future blog posts, so I won't.

People Who Are Getting the Finger Because I Love Them:
  • BubblegumCari, also of the Bitchery Triad, because she wants it. Christina already gave her one, but she wants two so she can write two posts. Honestly, I can't imagine her having that many Fingers to give out, but I only know her online so I'd imagine there's a large part of her personality I don't get to see. Besides, who ever really knows anyone, anyway?
  • Amberr Meadows, also because she wants it. I told you there were people who wanted these things, but you didn't believe me, did you?
  • Rachel “In the OC” Thompson, because she is the Queen of Snark. She'll probably kill me, or at least wish me dead, for giving her this, but hey, whatevs. It's got a little mustache.
  • Paulie Eliott, at This is Paulie, because he'd f*cking love it. I know I've given Paulie awards before, but never one as well suited to him as The Finger Award.

Ok, that's only four, but I'm pretty sure most of the other bloggers I know would not want a Finger Award. It takes a special kind of person to be happy about The Finger Award. Besides, they have kids reading, and stuff.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fun Friday Facts #24: Friday the 13th Edition

It's Friday the 13th, and any minute now the walls will start bleeding. Now you'll have something topical to discuss while you're hiding in the nearest church, hoping and praying to hold out until sunrise.

Friday the 13th happens at least once every year, but may happen as many as three times in a single year. It occurs when the first day of the month is a Sunday.

Here's an enlightening photo from Wikipedia. ~ W.J. Pilsak

1) Fear of the 13th day of the month falling on Friday is called friggatriskaidekaphobia. If that's too difficult for you, simply call it paraskevidekatriaphobia instead. It means the same thing.

2) Historical records indicate that superstitions about Friday the 13th being unlucky emerged in the 19th century and gained popularityin the 20th. The 1907 publication Thomas W. Lawson's novel Friday, the Thirteenth, may have helped to bring this superstition into mainstream cultural consciousness. This Friday, the Thirteenth was about unscrupulous stockbrokers and did not involve any murdering, as far as I am aware.

3) Both Friday and the number 13 have been considered unlucky for hundreds of years, albeit separately. The idea that Friday is an unlucky day, especially to for new undertakings, springs up for the first time in The Canterbury Tales, which date back to the 14th century. Some have suggested that Friday gets a bad rap because, in the Christian tradition, that's the day when Jesus died.

Makes about as much sense as anything else.

4) Fear of the number 13 dates back to the time of the Vikings. They believed that, if 13 people dined together, one of them would die before the year was out. At some point in the 1800s in the United States, these two superstitions underwent a merger that, like most things in this country, is often blamed on the Freemasons.

They're on your dollar bills, man!

4) By the 1880s, Friday the 13th was A Thing in the United States. On 13 January 1881 (a Friday) the first meeting of The Thirteen Club was held. At this meeting, 13 people rented the 13th room of a venue (a hotel, presumably; Wikipedia doesn't tell me which one), and sat down to eat at 8:13 PM. They entered the room by walking under a ladder and ate among piles of spilled salt, so I guess they didn't need to pass the shaker around. A good time was had by all, nobody died an untimely death and the practice was repeated annually, across the country and by hundreds of people, for the next 40 years. Yet there are still some folks who won't walk under ladders.

The "unlucky" part happens when the painter drops a bucket on your head. ~ Lukeroberts

5) In fact, in the United States alone, 17 to 21 million people fear Friday the 13th , some so much that they won't even get out of bed. It's estimated that businesses in the U.S. lose up to $900 million dollars that day just from people being too pussified to go out and buy things. In the Netherlands, an average of 300 fewer car accidents occur on Friday the 13th, because those 300 people stayed home. So if you have to drive in the Netherlands, do it on Friday the 13th.

Unless you're American, you pussy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

10 Reasons You Should Marry a Hobbit

For those of you who don't know, my favorite book is The Hobbit. I've read it about two dozen times in English, and a further several times translated into French, because I figured I'd have it memorized and would learn some colloquial phrases. But I digress.

I love The Hobbit because the main character, Bilbo Baggins, rejects social custom and everything he's ever experienced or learned in order to follow his heart. He travels halfway across the world, meets lots of interesting new people, sees exotic new places, and discovers depths of courage and resourcefulness within himself that he never knew existed. It's like, the story of my life, y'all, except with dragons and dwarves instead of hippies and bums.

I wish there'd been some dwarves.

Anyway, the other day I was tweeting with @cmajaski and @bobbutterbottom about the possibility of a hot-shirtless-man-baking-cupcakes vlog. Naturally, the men in question would be tall, musclar, and efficiently waxed, otherwise it's just another cooking show.

Butterbottom said something like, “Are you sure you don't want small-boned, diminutive men with excessive knuckle-hair?” and I replied, “Sounds like you're describing hobbits,” and then everyone vomited in their mouths a little.

Well, except for me, but I've always gone after the short guys anyway.

Those stubby little legs make them easier to catch.

I think a hobbit would make an ideal life partner. Here's why:

1) He Could Introduce You to Some Dwarves

And then, if you help them kill the dragon, they'd give you some gold. Times are hard right now, and we could all use a little extra fstability. Besides, the price of gold is through the roof.

2) You Could Give Him a Drinks Tray Hat, Which Would Be Useful

But also grounds for divorce, so keep that in mind.

3) Hobbits Like Flowers

And women like flowers. You can see this would be a match made in heaven.

4) They're Great Cooks

And they always have plenty of food around, especially cakes. I find it hard to imagine a hobbit saying things like “Do you really think you should eat that?” It'd be more like, “Hey, save some of that for me.”

5) You'd Save a Lot of Money on Shoes

Hobbits don't need shoes, because their furry feet are self-insulating. You'd have a lot more room in the shoe budget, and you know what that means – more shoes for you, lady.

All the shoes your little heart desires.

6) They're Polite, but Adventurous

There you go, a nice guy who looks like Elijah Wood and isn't boring. Isn't that what you've been wishing for all these years?

7) He Could Build You a Really Cool Underground House

Granted, it would have really low ceilings, and tiny windows, but it wouldn't be dirty, wet, or smelly, nor sandy, bare, and dry, but comfortable. Hobbit homes are single-level, so you wouldn't have to worry about climbing up and down stairs, especially as you get older. You have to think about the future, you know.

Plus, you'd save on heating and air conditioning costs, as I understand these underground houses are well-insulated and maintain a pretty constant year-round temperature. And you know what that means...


8) You'd Have an Active Social Live

Hobbits are very fond of visitors and they never say no to a party.

9) Hobbits Love Clothes

Seriously, they have rooms and rooms devoted to nothing but their extensive wardrobes. You could read fashion magazines together, and you know he'd always look smart.

Albeit in a medieval peasant kind of way. ~ adplayers

10) You'd Get to Hang Out with Gandalf

What could possibly be cooler than that? Gandalf's like, totally cool. He's also self-important, manipulative and apparently lacking a steady wizarding job. I can see how Gandalf would get on some wifely nerves. He'd be that one asshole friend you can't stand, but have to be polite to anyway. Perhaps that's why Bilbo never married.

Or maybe he just couldn't give up the ring.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Things I Found in the Back Bedroom

I recently moved back into the family home, where I plan to remain for the foreseeable. As a card-carrying member of the Boomerang Generation, I couldn't not move back into the family home. Right?

I'm in the Back Bedroom, which gets capital letters because it's the place where all the junk goes, including excess relatives. I'm pretty sure half the family has done a stint in this room, and you can tell, because they each abandoned some of their crap here when they left.

Exhibit A.

I'm now afraid that my family will appear on Hoarders someday. Here are some of the things I found in the room:

My Dad's Jump Rope

This is cool, because my Dad passed away about 25 years ago, and I don't have many of his possessions to remember him by. I think I have one of his drumsticks somewhere, but a solitary drumstick is a very sad thing.

I was going to use the jump rope, but then I realized it was like, three feet long. In case you didn't know, that's like, one-third the length of an ordinary jump rope. I tried an experimental jump and nearly killed the dog.

This dog needs to stay the f*ck out of my way, for its own good.

An Old Pair of Glasses, Which My Aunt Inexplicably Kept

I say “inexplicably” because, the whole time we were clearing out other people's junk to make room for my junk, she was going on about how no one ever wants to throw anything away and how ridiculous it all is. Then she found this old pair of glasses and was like, “Hey, these are my old glasses.” And she kept them. More accurately, she tried to leave them in the room, but I was too quick for her.

“Don't forget your glasses,” I said as she left.

“The Lions Club will take these,” she said, even though we both know she's probably going to keep them forever now.

Owner's Manual for a 1988 Vendex

You don't even know what that is, do you? It's a computer.

This is a Commodore, but close enough. ~ Rama

I remember learning to use this thing as a kid. The Vendex came into our home because a) computers are the future; b) children are the future; c) Marjorie is a it therefore follows that d) Marjorie should learn the computer.

We're all lucky it wasn't the accordion. ~ Arent, Infrogmation

The Vendex ran on DOS, a handy-dandy, user-friendly operating system that gave you a prompt:


The prompt sat there, bright green against a field of black, patiently waiting for a command that would tell it which program to run. If you didn't know the command word, you didn't run the program. The Vendex had about 500 kilobytes of RAM, and you had to save your data to a floppy disk before you turned it off, cause there wasn't any “saving to the hard drive” on this beast, as far as I can recall. Other computers of the time offered a whopping 20 megabytes of hard disk storage space, but I'm pretty sure you had to buy an upgrade to get that luxury on this one, so we probably didn't. Whoever bought the thing would have paid about a grand for it as it was.

For that price today, you could take over the world. ~ Kristoferb

Three Boxes of Floppy Disks for Said Vendex

Some of you will remember floppy disks as these little, three and a half inch square disks that we used to store data on.

Exhibit B. ~ Victor Korniyenko

I used these things all the way through university, having finally ditched the Vendex the summer I graduated high school (no kidding). These little buggers held 1.44 MB of data. Early in my senior year of university, I filled one up with most of the first draft of a novel. I was excited. “I filled up my floppy disk!” I announced to my classmates. It was a lot of novel, after all.

One of my classmates sneered and said, “That's impossible, you can't fill up a floppy disk.”

Those of you who are old enough to drink in a bar may remember the older, bigger, decidedly floppier floppy disks that went in the Vendex and other computers of the 1980s. These were five and a quarter inches square, and they held 720 KB of data. That's, like, half as much as the other ones, for those of you who aren't following along with the computer speak. Back in the day, you booted up your programs from the disks whence they were stored. If you were me, you stored your data on a second disk.

If you're not old enough to drink in a bar, they looked like this. ~ Alex Lozupone

The Vendex itself has made its way to the basement. There, it's been raped, beaten and left for dead by the soot of the coal furnace my grandad installed because he thought it was a good idea, I guess. No one will throw it away, either because they can't be bothered to carry it to the curb or because they're going to sell it to the antique shop from Back to the Future II.

Several Handfuls of Mismatched Earrings, and One Pair of Matched Earrings

I kept them, to wear to the next Eighties-themed party I attend, assuming I am not, in fact, already too old for parties. Here they are:

That's as 80s as Hammer pants and hoverboards, by God.

Some Elderly Candy

I don't know how old it was, or even what kind of candy it was. I only assume it was candy; what it looked like was a few wrappers stuck in a colorful puddle in the bottom of a shoe box.

Hair Combs

As in, the type you're supposed to stick in your hair and walk around with all day long.

I ought to put these with the earrings.

Assorted Sea Shells

This is a really big deal, I guess, because West Virginia is landlocked.

Pictured: A big deal.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fun Friday Facts #23: Days of the Week Edition

A few weeks ago now, somebody asked me to write a Friday Facts about the days of the week. So here it is. Don't expect a lot of pictures. It's hard to graphically represent a day.

Although this is a pretty accurate representation of "Friday." ~ P.L. Armstrong|

Hold onto your hats, kids, cause this gets a little confusing.

1) Our seven day calendar, like our alphabet, much of our architecture and our cultural love of conquest, dates back to the Roman Empire. The Romans originally used an eight-day week. It was actually a nine-day week, but the ninth day was the “market day,” when people would bring their goods into the city, and everyone would shop for the week ahead. For some reason, this ninth “market day” wasn't counted as part of the week.

Sometime during the first three centuries AD, the Romans adopted the seven-day week we use now. At the time, it was believed that the planets ruled over specific hours of the day, and over the days themselves (this idea remains key to modern astrology). Saturn was in charge of the first hour of the day, Jupiter was in charge of the second hour, and so on, thusly:

  • Sun
  • Venus
  • Mercury
  • Moon

Obviously, there are more hours in the day than there are celestial bodies, so when you reached the end of the list, you started over again from the beginning. They split the seven-day week up into its component hours, and named each day after the planet/star/cold orbiting rock that dominated the first hour of each 24 hour period. The first hour of the first day of the week was the Sun's hour, the first hour of the second day of the week was the Moon's hour, and so on. The Latin names of the days of the week were:

  • dies Solis
  • dies Lunae
  • dies Martis
  • dies Mercurii
  • dies Jovis
  • dies Veneris (which reminds me of veneral disease – very fitting, since this is still the day you're most likely to catch one, ha ha ha)
  • dies Saturni

I have left out the special accent marks, because I can't be bothered to find and implement a Latin keyboard. Deal with it.

2) When early Christians adopted the seven-day calendar in the 4th century AD, they wanted to avoid the association with pagan gods, as you would if you were an early Christian. So they named the days One through Seven, because early Christians were hella creative.

They had other things to worry about.

3) So, if all this stuff about the Roman gods is true, then how come we have days like “Wednesday” and “Friday”?

Northern Europeans, the Germanic peoples, adopted the seven-day week too, but refused the Roman names. Instead, they used their own names, and just sort of switched out the creepy Roman gods for more respectable Germanic ones. This happened between 200 AD and 500 AD, before Christianity arrived in the north. That's why we still call the first day of the week “Sunday,” even though most European languages now call that day some version of “the Lord's day,” in honor of, you know, the Lord.

The Old English days of the week were:

  • Sunnandaeg
  • Monandaeg
  • Tiwesdaeg, after Tiw or Tyr, the one-handed god of single combat

That's one baby-faced Norse god.

  • Wodensdaeg, after Woden, the god of being awesome

Look how awesome.

  • Punresdaeg, after the god Punor, or Thor. That's not spelled right, either, cause it starts with a weird letter presumably unique to Old English. It looks like a P, so I'm going with P. If I can't be bothered to find and implement a Latin keyboard, you know I'm not going to look for an Old English one. That sh*t probably isn't even in the standard options.

Anyway, Thor. God of thunder and big hammers.
  • Frigedaeg, after Frige or Freyja, hot wife of Woden and goddess of love.

The most domestic of the gods.

  • And, finally, Saeturnesdaeg, a direct translation of the Roman name. Scandinavian day-names are all pretty much derivative of these old Germanic names, except for this one. Scandinavians call Saturday some variation of “lordag,” which means “washing-day.” I take it the folks to the south thought that pre-designating a washing-day for the rest of time was even lamer than emulating the Romans.

In Southern Europe, and especially where Latinate languages are spoken, the day-names remain fairly similar to the old Latin ones. And I should know, cause I speak French.