Christmas Factoid 3: Santa's Reindeer

Male reindeer shed their antlers at the beginning of winter. Therefore, it appears that all of Santa's reindeer (as traditionally depicted) are female!

I guess with names like Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, etc., that shouldn't be too surprising. :)

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!


Christmas Factoid 2: Ornaments

This comes to you from The Detroit Free Press:

The earliest Christmas tree ornaments were fruit and nuts, in the early 1800s. These ornaments, and the evergreen trees that they adorned, represented "the certainty that life would return again in the spring".

My goodness I hope spring is returning. :)


Christmas Factoid 1: Santa's Looks

Q. Who was the first to clothe Santa in (what we now consider) the traditional red coat with a white fur collar?

A. The Coca-Cola Company first displayed the jolly bearded red-and-white Santa in 1931.

To get more on the story (including how Santa was depicted before!), click here!

Never underestimate the power of advertising!



I don't know about all of you, but I always assumed that a "cootie" was just a vague imaginary disease that kids use to alienate each other. Not so!

Cooties are actual things, defined as "body louses", which are small insects that are usually parasitic.

It was a general term that began in World War I (circa 1917) to describe any number of vermin (lice, fleas, etc) that a soldier could pick up living in the trenches. The word is thought to have come from the Austronesian word "kutu", which means "lice". Soldiers who traveled to Polynesia, the Philippines, or Malaya could have brought the word back west.

Kids picked up the term later for fun.

That information certainly makes this game from my childhood more logical. :)

Aw, they look so happy!

Bonus fun fact: One early 20th Century treatment for cooties was a pickle-juice-solution bath! Maybe it would also work for this bedbug outbreak? Anyone want to try it?


Pirates & Theater

... apparently don't mix well!

I recently visited the "Real Pirates" exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural History. It follows the early-1700s shipwrecked Whydah and its crew. It's very impressive - I highly recommend checking it out if you're in the area!

One of the Whydah stories I read was particularly ridiculous, so I decided to share it with you. It was listed as a side note on a "Life on Board a Pirate Ship" banner.
One-Act Plays -- Pirate Style

Pirates even performed plays on ships. The Whydah crew staged a play about a mock pirate trial called The Royal Pirate. A group of crewmembers, the worse for drink, missed the first act. They stumbled in -- clueless that a play was being performed -- just as one of the actors was being sentenced to death for piracy.

Outraged, they leapt to his defense, throwing hand grenades and drawing their cutlasses, breaking the actor's leg, taking the arm off the playwright, and killing a member of the audience.
!!! It really made me appreciate all of the performances that I've been to that haven't involved any unplanned violence!

But I guess what else should we expect from drunken pirates?


What Does STAT Stand For?

Actually, it doesn't "stand for" anything. Believe it or not, it's not an acronym!

According to Merriam-Webster.com:

Stat, adverb: without delay : IMMEDIATELY
from stat, an abbreviation for the Latin statim, meaning "at once"

Despite most people capitalizing "stat", which makes it look like an acronym (maybe someone started capitalizing it for emphasis?), it's just a regular old lower-case word.

Tell all your friends STAT! ;)


What Does "Karaoke" Mean?

I love going to random dive-bars and singing to pre-recorded music in front of a bunch of strangers in the middle of the night. Even though I spend a lot of time at karaoke, I have never really thought of what the word itself means.

But it has for-real origins: it's a blending of Japanese kara "empty" and ōkesutora "orchestra".

Here is also a brief history of karaoke, while we're on the subject:

It's said that karaoke was invented by a musician named Daisuke Inoue in 1971. At parties in Japan around that time, the hosts usually provided some sort of live entertainment for their guests. After he was asked to play music at a bunch of parties so the guests could sing along, he realized there was a market for a machine that could do what he was doing. He loaned his machine ("karaoke box") to people, and they would pay 100-yen per song (the equivalent of a nice dinner). It caught on in Asia.

Since Inoue never patented his invention, a Filipino man named Roberto del Rosario got the patent to the karaoke machine in 1983. He called his machine the "Minus-One" and it used cassette tapes. Filipinos had been immigrating to Japan to become entertainers since the 1960s, and the karaoke machine helped them save a ton of money when they traveled to perform. Plus it was fun for non-entertainers alike.

When the karaoke machines didn't catch on in the United States and Canada in the 1980s, developers turned them into home entertainment stereo systems, with karaoke as a small side feature.

In the 1990s, karaoke became something that American bars offered its patrons. With that, the affordability of small karaoke machines, and the explosion of karaoke home video games (Karaoke Revolution, Rock Band, etc), karaoke has continued to grow in popularity.

Karaoke's come a long way!

Karaoke Studio for Nintendo, 1987

1990's Karaoke Machine

Karaoke Revolution for PlayStation 2, 2003

Thank goodness for karaoke. Seriously.


Food Facts

Sometimes you learn things just from reading the kiddie menu at a restaurant. These "fun facts" come to you via Monical's Pizza Restaurant:

1. In 1990, Bill Carson of Arrington, TN, grew the largest watermelon at 262 pounds.

2. In the United States, a pound of potato chips costs 200 times more than a pound of potatoes.

3. Honey is the only edible food for humans that will never go bad.

4. An apple is made of 25% air, which is why it floats.

5. Chewing gum while cutting onions can help a person not produce tears.

6. Strawberries have more vitamin C than oranges.

7. The first product to have a bar code was Wrigley chewing gum!

Thanks, Monical's!


Happy Birthday Dr Pepper!

Today marks the 125th birthday of my favorite soda-pop, Dr Pepper!

Here are some fun facts:
  • Charles Alderton, the inventor, first served the drink to the owner of Morrison's Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas. Customers soon caught wind of the tasty drink and started ordering "Waco"s.
  • Early on, Dr Pepper was marketed as an energy booster and brain tonic (I know it works like that for me!).
  • Dr Pepper is the oldest major soft drink brand still in existence (a year older than Coca-Cola).
  • Some interesting Dr Pepper US slogans have been: "King of Beverages" (1889-1914), "America's Most Misunderstood Soft Drink" (1960s), "The Most Original Soft Drink Ever" (1970s), "Dr Pepper, It Makes The World Taste Better" (2000).
  • Since 2002, Dr Pepper has been advertised in Europe with the tagline, "Solves All Your Problems!" (I can't argue that!).
  • It has been long rumored that one of the ingredients in Dr Pepper is prune juice, but the Dr Pepper Snapple Group claims that's just an urban legend.
  • There is a Dr Pepper museum in Waco, Texas, complete with 3 floors of exhibits!
  • Apparently, there is a huge group of people who love to drink their Dr Pepper hot.
I wish I could list out the unique blend of 23 flavors that Dr Pepper consists of, but I suppose that's proprietary (and don't read the label, it only says vaguely "natural and artificial flavors"). When I drink it next time, I'll try to figure out each one by taste. :) In the meantime, if you want to read about one writer's experience guessing, click here.

Yay for Dr Pepper!

[Sources: Wikipedia & DrPepper.com]