Interesting Stuff: Who Knew?

Meet the Meats

Dear Kid,

Rather unexpectedly, I found myself in the middle of a discussion about meat. (For clarity’s sake, by “in the middle of” I mean I was listening to.)

Some people take their meat very seriously... DearKidLoveMom.comTurns out some people take meat very seriously. Especially in some of its less-well-known forms.

The conversation was rolling around on some very shaky skates.

For example, did you know there’s such a thing as trail bologna? ‘Tis true. There was a long discussion (during which I was absolutely silent) about trail bologna and what made trail bologna, well, trail bologna. I (of course) looked this up when I got home and found that none of my friends were correct about the origin of the name. Pay attention:

Trail Bologna is called Trail Bologna because it’s made by Troyer’s Genuine Trail Bologna in the tiny hamlet of Trail in Ohio’s Amish country. (It’s an all-beef ring bologna.)

The conversation then slid sideways, spun the wheel, and landed the topic “meat sweats.” The first time I’d ever heard of the meat sweats was in a Progressive Insurance commercial (you know the one where Flo and all her relatives are sitting around chatting?). I thought it was a made up term. It’s not, although it should be.

Meat sweats” is the mysterious condition whereby, after ingesting a generous helping of meat, you begin to sweat like a fat man in a cake shop. First identified by competitive eaters, for whom the malady is an occupational hazard, the meat sweats are thought to be caused by the combination of adrenaline and protein.

Speaking of things you don’t know about, have you heard of pudgy pies? Of course not because I am a terrible mother and never told you about them. This is because I had never heard of them until this weird food conversation.

Pudgy pies are not pies. They are grilled sandwiches one makes over a campfire in a special little contraption that is sort of but not exactly unlike a waffle iron.

After almost climbing out of the Pit of Doom in which the conversation found itself, the unthinkable happened and we plunged backward into a discussion of loaves of meat. Like ham loaf. There was a detour while we tried to determine exactly where on an animal one might find the “loaf.” The group decided that not even Jeb the Cowhand would know about that particular part of the anatomy.

With that, the conversation gave up and ordered dessert.

Love, Mom

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Hawaiian Shirts Lead to What?!

Dear Kid,

Happy Friday!

Once upon a time (I do love a story that begins that way), there was no such thing as Casual Friday.

Finally, one day, Mrs. Joe Neanderthal decided that she was tired or wearing formal saber-tooth tiger skins and declared a day off. Unfortunately, Joe Neanderthal took that to mean a day free of clothes and almost froze his whatsis off.

Eventually, people moved from from mammoth fur to power ties and three inch heels. Business attire had arrived.

Meanwhile, in 1966, the Hawaiian shirt industry was trying to sell more brightly decorated shirts (do not try to imagine Mrs. Joe Neanderthal in a Hawaiian shirt), and Aloha Friday was invented. It was a made-up reason for people to wear Hawaiian shirts on Friday (and therefore purchase more Hawaiian shirts).

The trend caught on.

Fast forward to the recession of the early 1990s. The idea of Aloha Fridays migrated to the western states and then continued to march east. Simultaneously, companies were looking for ways to give perks to employees that didn’t cost anything and voila! Casual Fridays.

All of which was fine until people tried to figure out what to wear, and people started showing up at work wearing all kinds of, um, interesting (and by “interesting” I mean way too casual) outfits.

Levi’s had at that point purchased a going-nowhere brand called Dockers which made golf course type khaki pants. In a brilliant marketing move, the Dockers people printed a little brochure showing men what to wear to work on a business casual day. They sent this brochure to HR people who could then show inept dressers how to dress in a more ept way.

These days, almost every day is business casual in the majority of businesses. Yet we still talk about Casual Friday. Let me know if you figure that out. In the meantime, have a great Friday.

Love, Mom

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No Man Is an Island in the Ohio River

Dear Kid,

We were talking about the Ohio River at lunch yesterday.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent. John Donne. DearKidLoveMom.comNMore specifically, we were on a boat (the big kind where there’s neither wind nor destination) cruising on the Ohio River and I was sharing (and by “sharing” I mean inflicting upon people) information about the river.

Person 1: So you’re the resident expert on the Ohio River?
Person 2: Yep.
Person 3: She is.
Person 4: Uh-huh.
Me: Pretty much.
Person 1: It’s made of water.

Don’t you love intellectual conversations?

Person 3: Do you know the name of the island in the Ohio River?
Person 1: …
Person 2: …
Me: There are islands in the Ohio River?

Turns out there are 39 islands in the Ohio River (did you know that? I didn’t.). Some are private; some are federally owned and part of the Ohio River Island National Refuge. Dad knew that part.

The Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1990 to protect, conserve, and restore habitat for wildlife native to the river’s floodplain. The refuge consists of twenty-two islands and four mainland tracts scattered along 362 miles of the upper Ohio River. Most of the refuge’s 3440 acres of land and underwater habitat are located in West Virginia; however, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky each have two refuge islands.

Then we had cheesecake and the conversation moved on to sheep.

Love, Mom

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More About the Ohio River Than You Really Need to Know

Dear Kid,

You’ve heard of the Ohio River. But do you know about it?

It is illegal to fish for whales on Sunday in Ohio. DearKidLoveMom.comWell, of course you do, but I’m going to tell you about it anyway.

The Ohio River springs into existence in Pittsburgh where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers collide. The Ohio is 981 miles long, ending in Cairo, Illinois, after passing through (or being the border of) six states.

I’ll wait while you try to remember what they are.

Its largest tributary is the Tennessee River, but there are plenty of other tributaries along the way.

The Ohio River is the source of drinking water for more than 3 million people. Most of them prefer that it passes through a water treatment facility before being poured into their drinking cups.

There are currently 20 dams on the Ohio River watched over and managed by the Army Corps of Engineers. The first locks on the river (the Louisville and Portland Canal) were built between 1825 and 1830 at the only major natural navigational barrier on the river, the Falls of the Ohio near Louisville. The Falls (it sounds so grand, doesn’t it?) were a series of rapids where the river dropped 26 feet in about 2 miles.

Everybody knows fish blow bubbles. Just ask any kid to draw a fish. There will be bubbles. DearKidLoveMom.comApproximately 164 species of fish have been found in the Ohio River (not all of them at the same time). In the early 19th century, many pirates were also found on the river (they weren’t nearly as nice as the fish).

80 species of mussels once lived in the Ohio River. Currently only 50 species occur and 5 of those are in danger of extinction.

There are fish consumption advisories in place for the entire length of the river. Basically, don’t fish in the river if you’re looking for lunch.

Love, Mom

The Ohio River flows through or borders six states: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Want to know more about the Ohio River? Read more here.

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Interesting Facts About December That (Mostly) Aren’t About Christmas

Dear Kid,

Happy December. Interesting Facts About December That Are (Mostly) Not About Christmas. DearKidLoveMom.comIt’s December (you probably knew that, but it’s possible you weren’t paying attention). There’s a lot of focus on The Holiday Season at this time of year, but there are other reasons that December is interesting. Being the kind of mom I am, I decided to ferret some of those Lesser Known Factoids for you.

A group of ferrets is called a “business.” I don’t know why, but I promise I’m not giving you the business by telling you that.

December is the twelfth last month of the year (which you know). But “deci” means “ten”, so what’s up with that nonsense? Turns out that December was the 10th month of the year when the Romans started naming things. Apparently January and February didn’t count as months back then (which you would have known if you’d been alive then. But you weren’t.).

The song “Jingle Bells” was written in 1857 and was meant to be a song for Thanksgiving rather than Christmas. (Imho, it should have stayed with Turkey Day because there aren’t many good Thanksgiving songs.)

December is best known for the holiday season (by which of course I mean National Fruitcake Month, National Eggnog Month, National Tie Month, and National Pear Month). No one cares about National Tie Month. Not all that many people care about National Fruitcake Month either.

Not only do we celebrate the inedibility of fruitcake in December, we also celebrate Light (as in all the festivals of), lack of light (as in the shortest days of the year), and shopping. Therefore, it should be no surprise to you that December is the month when couples argue the most. No light, no cash, no idea what to do with the fruitcake = fighting.

In the UK, more people are given breathalyzer tests in December than in any other month. This also leads to arguing. But with cooler accents that we have.

Saint Nickolas (who later became the jolly old elf know as Santa Claus) was the patron saint of children, thieves, and pawnbrokers. I’ll wait while you think about that for a minute.

According to a study done in 2011, more dentists have birthdays in December than in any other month. I have no idea what that means.

The stock market tends to do well in December (a phenomena affectionately called the Santa Rally). This is not a recommended way to plan an investing strategy.

December throws the biggest party any month ends with—New Year’s Eve.

Hope December is a good month for you.

Love, Mom

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What You Never Knew About Wine Bottles

Dear Kid,

Once upon a time, Mrs. Joe Neanderthal decided to throw a Fancy Dinner Party. While she cooked a large Rump of Mammoth, she sent Joe down to the corner to buy a couple of bottles of a nice wine.

The Complete and Total History of Wine Bottles...More or Less. DearKidLoveMom.comUnfortunately, Joe couldn’t count up to “a couple” and returned home with only one bottle. Mrs. J. N. immediately sent him out for more. Joe immediately decided that getting ready for a Fancy Dinner Party was not his idea of Fun and he spent the rest of the day at the pub, drinking beer with the guys. When he finally staggered home, Mrs. Joe clonked him on the head with the wine bottle to express her concern for his misspent afternoon.

After that, the history of wine bottles is a little murky owing to the bodily risks of preparing for a party involving alcohol.

Eventually (and by “eventually” I mean a really, really long time ago), glass was invented (primarily so that people could throw stones, but also to make bottles). At first glass bottles were très brittle, but then people discovered that they could make thicker bottles by super-heating the glass.

Glass bottles were blown round (because that was easiest) and were blown to exactly one lungful of the glassblower’s air. Which meant every bottle was its own size. (In England, it was illegal to sell wine by the bottle because of the inconsistencies in size. Wine had to be sold by the barrel, after which it could be decanted into bottles. It wasn’t until 1860 that the law was changed.)

Not only weren’t bottles standard, they were round. (NOTE: Round bottles roll. Generally off the table.) Since most wine makers preferred to keep their wine inside its container rather than having it decorate the floor, round bottles were not used for wine. So longer (non-standard) bottles were invented and people started aging wines.

In 1979, the US of A set the standard size for a glass wine bottle at 750 ml. It seems like it would have been longer ago than that. But it wasn’t.

Love, Mom

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