Posts Tagged ‘history’

*Hey Sterling Middle School students! I hope you all do an awesome job on your project. But remember, no copying. If you plagiarize, you only cheat yourself.

Now write that paper like a BOSS! Go Fight’n Pioneers!

As someone who reads a lot, words and their origins (Etymology) interest me. I got curious enough to do a bit a research and here are a few idioms I found interesting.

Shambles: untidy, chaotic, Originally from the Saxon word scamel, meaning a stall displaying meat, it eventually transformed to shambles and came to mean the street containing butchers shops and markets. After a busy working day, the street would be littered with the messy refuse of the trade, and came to the meaning it has today.

Toast: to celebrate with a drink, Back in the twelfth century, drinks weren’t as good as they are today, so drinkers dunked spiced toast in the cups to draw the bad flavors from it. In the 1600’s, party guests raised a toast to a special guest who was the figurative piece of toast that improved the flavor of the wine.

Nicknames: In days of yore, surnames were not in frequent use so people used additional names to distinguish between Tall John and John the Blacksmith. Eke is Old English for addition. These were ekenames. Over time, “an ekename” changed to “a nickname”

Flying by the seat of your pants: to improvise or go forward without a plan. Back before airplanes had many dials, pilots relied on the feedback they received from the plane body itself, and the place they had the most contact with the fuselage was in their pants, sitting on the seat.

Over the top: foolhardy or excessive, from trench warfare when troops had to go over the top of the trench in a last ditch charge. This tactic was notorious for troop fatalities as they were just mown down by the enemies machine guns.

Hunky Dory: everything is just fine. During the 1800’s a street in Yokohama Japan became famous among American sailors looking for a special lady to share their shore leave with. Honcho-dori became synonymous with a good time and it caught on quickly with only a few changes.

Green with envy: Sappho the lesbian poet once described a lover in pain as having a green complextion. The Greeks believed that if someone was jealous, their body would produce green bile.

Bikini: in 1946, Louis Reard and Jacques Heim both premiered a new type of swimsuit on the beaches in Cannes. That summer, the US military also destroyed a small island in the pacific called Bikini with a thermonuclear bomb. The swimsuits, it was said, had the same effect on the Male mind. I would agree.

In cold blood: Back in the 18th century, people believed that when one was angry or excited, their blood became hot. Since angry people typically have reddened faces, I could see where they got this. Murder, being a situation where one’s temper or general constitution would be elevated, is a prime example. So when police encountered murderers who killed with seeming calm emotions and mind were said to be cold blooded, and their victims were “killed in cold blood.”

Time immemorial: In the year 1275, apparently there were many legal cases that dealt with crimes from long ago. So it was agreed that the year 1189 was legally, the time beyond which no one could remember. It goes without saying that people could not try cases for crimes which no one could officially remember.

Nightmare: in Old English, a maere was an evil fiend who stalked about at night. This eventually came to mean bad dreams people had at night.

Cut to the Chase: from movie speak, get away from the boring dialogue and cut to the chase scene where action increases and the film moves more quickly.

Jesus H. Christ: The Greek monogram IHΣ (iota, eta, sigma) took the first two letters of Jesus’ name and tacked on the last letter at the end. At some point, the Greek capital letter eta was mistaken for the Latin letter H. Since it was in the middle, it became the Son of God’s middle initial.

Dead as a doornail: this phrase originated from the carpentry technique called clinching in the 14th century. A doornail would be hammered through the door and then bent over flat to prevent it from being pulled out, rendering the nail “dead”

To Make ends meet: From 17th century bookkeeping, just making the income and expense columns match each other at the bottom of the page.

Jaywalk: Supposedly, if you take a jaybird away from its natural habitat, it will be so confused it won’t know what to do or where to go. If someone doesn’t recognize that they are supposed to cross the street in the zebra-striped crosswalk, they are as confused as a jay and are jaywalking.  — Personal side note. Both my wife and I heard the phrase: “Naked as a Jaybird” when we were young and originally thought jaywalking was crossing the street in the nude!

Kick the bucket: to die. Not surprisingly, this has a morbid beginning. If someone decides to commit suicide by hanging themselves, they might stand on some object like a chair, stool, or bucket while the rope is tight. Then, to finish the terrible act, they would kick the bucket away from their feet, leaving them to dangle in a slow, agonizing death.

Stick in the Mud: Someone who’s no fun, a party pooper. From Pirate law, when they needed to execute someone but were on land without a plank for the accused to walk. They buried the unfortunate buckaneer up to his neck in sand at low tide, then waited. Incidentally, no one wanted to end up being a stick in the mud.

Willy nilly: back in the 17th century, many people worked as servants. As such there were tasks that they were required to do, whether they wanted to or not. These were “will I, nill I” situations. ‘Will I’ meaning one’s desire to do something, and ‘nill I’ meaning the opposite. Many people can attest that if you are forced to do something, you may perform such task in a less than satisfactory manner. Doing something in a sloppy or incomplete manner shifted into the modern meaning of doing something without a plan or a sense of order.

My research included a lot of web perusing, but was also helped greatly by the book: “Flying by the seat of your pants. Surprising origins of everyday expressions” by Harry Oliver. I really tried to summarize in my own words and not just plagiarize.

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Cool coffee legends

Posted: December 5, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Like all important things, Coffee has many origin stories and legends that surround its pervasive spread around the world. And like all legends, facts are fuzzy.

How was coffee discovered? The legend goes like this.

A Ethiopian goat herder named Khalid was doing his thing in the hills when he noticed his goats acting strangely. They seemed to be uncharacteristically energetic. He saw that they were eating strange cherry-like fruit from some shrubs near the edge of the field. Curious, he tried some himself, and was amazed at their effect. He stayed up all night, invigorated by the strange food’s power. His mind was active as he contemplated this discovery.

The next morning, he gathered the cherries in a bag and took them to the local priest, explaining their strange powers of energy and clear thought. The priest grabbed the bag and threw it into the fire, saying, “These magic beans are from the DEVIL!”

Minutes passed as the small rectory filled with the fantastic aroma of roasting coffee beans. Finally the priest could stand it no longer and snatched the bag out of the fire, declaring, ” Anything that smells this heavenly must be from God himself. And that’s how coffee was discovered.

During the next hundred years or so, coffee, and especially the seeds were controlled by the Arab and African states where it grew naturally. So how did it spread around the world?

In 1714, King Louis XIV was granted a gift of a coffee tree for the royal arboretum in Paris. One night nine years later, an enterprising naval lieutenant named Gabriel de Clieu snuck in and stole the precious tree to stow onboard. His ship sailed with the tide and was far out to sea before the theft was discovered. After a perilous sea voyage that included a stretch in the doldrums, being boarded by pirates, and nearly being wrecked by a giant storm, the ship landed in Martinique, where he was able to start a plantation that is the ancestor of all the coffee plants in the Americas.

How did Brazil get coffee?

During those early years of the coffee trade, its seeds and secrets remained fiercely guarded. The Portuguese emperor sent Francisco de Mello Palheta to French Guinea to arbitrate a dispute between the French and the Dutch. This was his overt mission. His covert mission was to steal some fresh coffee seedlings to bring back to what would become the largest coffee producing nation in the world. During the week of intense negotiations, Palheta seduced the Governor’s wife. At the end of the week during the celebration dinner, she presented him with a thank-you bouquet of flowers for his “services” to their country. Hidden inside the bouquet were several tiny coffee seedlings! Brazilian Coffee dominance here we come.

If you’d like to know more, visit the National Coffee Association site.

Or read “The Book of Coffee and Tea” by Joel, David, and Karl Schapira. This book has nearly everything you might want to know about either drink. WARNING: Before reading this book, I could just drink any old coffee. After reading this book, I am a coffee snob.

In keeping with my snobbery, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to the best cafe in Syracuse: Cafe Kubal. They roast beans everyday and have a unique and tasty flavor. Each bag comes with the date it was roasted (usually just a day or two before purchase) and a taste description.Example:My current bag of Sumatra Lintong- French Roast. Aroma: sage and thyme accents. Taste: roasted cocoa. Body: heavy. Aftertaste: tobacco