I am an inveterate honey lover. I’ve written about comb honey and chestnut honey, but one of my favorites is forest honey.
Unlike regular honeys which are manufactured by bees with collected nectar from flowers, forest honey is made from honeydew, excreted by sap-sucking insects. In short, aphid poop.
While it might be off-putting to think of eating the excrement of bugs, otherwise known as frass, honeydew is in a separate category. And are honey-lovers any more disgusted by the thought of eating bee vomit?
Wikipedia describes Forest Honey thus:
Instead of taking nectar, bees can take honeydew, the sweet secretions of aphids or other plant-sap-sucking insects. Honeydew honey is very dark brown, with a rich fragrance of stewed fruit or fig jam, and is not as sweet as nectar honeys. Germany’s Black Forest is a well-known source of honeydew-based honeys, as are some regions in Bulgaria, Tara in Serbia, and Northern California in the United States. In Greece pine honey, a type of honeydew honey, constitutes 60–65% of honey production. Honeydew honey is popular in some areas, but in other areas, beekeepers have difficulty selling honeydew honey, due to its stronger flavor.
Cross-posted from Livejournal 5/3/2021, and edited slightly for current relevance
♫ For the easiest travel on earth, Take a Trailways, take a Trailways, For the easiest travel on earth, Take a Continental Trailways bus. ♫
♫ Go Greyhound, and leave the driving to us! ♫
A post in Teresa Burritt’s Frog Blog (an earlier version, now defunct, but the current one is still full of interesting things) included the following picture:
Like many of her posts, this got the old gears grinding and brought back many memories of cross-country bus travel, some pleasant and others… well, “interesting.”
Back in the 50’s, you could truck around for $99.00 for 99 days, unlimited travel to unlimited destinations, and break your journey anywhere; I suspect this is what the poster above referred to. Naturally, it was the 50’s, and the buses were notorious for intolerance and segregation¹ (see here for some of the details of that shameful situation), but also became a focal point for the civil-rights movement. For comparison, you can read the Trailways Wikipedia entry.
Back in the 60’s I took several trips by bus from New York to California and back; there’s no denying that it was challenging. Even as a relative youngster, sleeping on a bus is less than luxury. The seats didn’t recline much if at all, much like the cattle-class seats on a modern airliner. Stopping at all hours of the night at lonely, sometimes seedy cafés in Broken Clavicle, Iowa or Whistling Rock, Wyoming is not luxurious… and I will forever associate such places with the smell of Postum™ ². As I drink neither coffee nor tea, it was all I could get if I wanted something hot besides cocoa; like Sanka™, it came with a metal pot of hot water and little envelopes.
Sleeping on the bus was so challenging for me I would often resort to sleeping pills, but those made the night-time stops fairly grueling – staggering to the restroom while under the influence of those soporifics is unpleasant at best. Eventually I stopped using them and just toughed it out.
One upside was being able to watch the countryside go by without worrying about the stresses of driving, and another was the interesting people one could meet on the way. Yes, there were the “other” kind of people as well, along with the fat ladies puking in the aisle if they couldn’t make it to the onboard lavatory, but the really unpleasant incidents that one hears about were thankfully quite rare, and I never encountered one. While I never lost a bag during an actual trip, one box I shipped from New York to Pennsylvania via Greyhound arrived opened, damaged, with much missing, and full of gravel. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall to see what happened to that one.
I’ve checked – you can still travel by bus today, if you are hardy. But the advantages seem few, given the cost of other alternatives.
A round-trip fare from SLC to JFK would cost $499.00 at senior, economy rates, and take about 48 hours each way. Allow a bit for what passes for food and such along the route.
That compares to the lowest airfare of $353.00 for the same dates.
It would cost around $381.00 for gas in a 40mpg Prius at an average cost of $3.50 per gallon (which would take at least 8 days, coming and going, meaning additional lodging and food costs.)
Amtrak would cost $492.00 and take 61 hours, if one can get through without service disruptions.
At this point, the biggest advantage, shared with Amtrak, seems to be seeing a lot of countryside without having to do the driving yourself. The fact that Greyhound is still in business speaks to the fact that many people are willing to take this option – and naturally, there are other routes which may make taking the bus more advantageous.
The Old Wolf has spoken.
¹ John Howard Griffin’s experiences at a Greyhound Bus station in the South in 1960, as well as on the bus trip itself, recounted in Black Like Me, are chilling.
² Postum faded into history in 2007 but enough people clamored for it that it was successfully revived by Eliza’s Quest Food in 2013. There are recipes for home-made varieties, and one product, Ersatz™, claims to be a good Postum™ substitute. During the war, Ersatzkaffee was commonly given to Allied POW’s, and here we have an Ersatzersatzkaffee being marketed to those who crave it. The world is so full of a number of things. Now one can get things at the grocery store like Pero™, a European coffee substitute (known in Europe as Karo™) which is similar but much better-tasting, but rarely available in restaurants.
As you can see from watching this little clip, there’s no rhyme or reason at all to any of it, which makes it all the more fun.
We have a clock from Brookstone (I’ve had it for literally ages) that projects the time and outside temperature on the ceiling when it’s dark, and also functions as a barometer.
At first glance, this looks completely random – but notice that it uses all the numbers from 1 to 6 – what I call an unordered strait. And that’s Numberwang! Points if you see it and call it out and wake up your partner. More points if you can get a picture of it (because, naturally, pix or it didn’t happen).
Random numbers don’t count for anything, but the minutes tick off, and the temperature typically drops .1 or .2 degrees at a time as the night goes on, so depending on the season of the year, all sorts of combinations are possible.
In my own schema, some configurations are worth more than others:
As you lie there at night with the hamsters running on the wheels in your head, as you remember all the embarrassing things that happened to you in eighth grade, you can often spot one of these coming up. Of course, if there’s five minutes to go before Numberwang! it’s entirely possible that the temperature will move by a tenth or two, and then you’ve lost until the next combination comes around.
Matches are good, and I’ve seen a lot more than I’ve been able to capture. They’re pretty high on the list of scores. But there are some others that are fun to find as well.
When the numbers run in sequence, but sort of zig-zag up and down.
But the ones that are the hardest of all are what I call the bonanzas. I’ve only caught two of them in 11 years, and you can imagine why they are so difficult – the confluence is very rare, and you have to be awake at just the right time.
Strangely enough, I caught these two within a week of each other, after playing this silly game for about 5 years. And I haven’t been able to get another one since.
Here are some of the ones I hope to get as time goes on (simulated images):
This one is hard for another reason – by the time the temperature gets into the 50’s at night, it’s going to be too light in the morning or the night to see the time on your ceiling unless you sleep in a very darkened room, which we don’t.
This one is only going to happen in the winter, and it can also happen at 1:11 AM. Double your chances, but still difficult.
Colder still! Nulls will only happen if you have your clock set to 24-hour time, which we don’t.
This is a Winterwang, when it’s still dark at 5 AM – but have never yet been able to nail this one.
Numberwang also shows up in the wild – on grocery receipts and gas pumps, or car odometers. In fact, any time you happen to notice an interesting pattern in numbers anywhere, it’s Numberwang! and you can award yourself as many points as you want… before you rotate the board!
I’m drivin’ a truck Drivin’ a big ol’ truck Pedal to the metal, hope I don’t run out of luck Rollin’ down the highway until the break of dawn Drivin’ a truck with my high heels on
Weird Al Yankovic, “Truck Driving Song”
The origin of this phrase is pretty irrelevant because it’s so obvious – you’ve got your accelerator pedal pressed down as far as it will go, all the way to the firewall.
Put the Hammer Down
This is essentially equivalent to “pedal to the metal.” It also appears in Weird Al’s lovely tribute to truckers:
My diesel rig is northward bound It’s time to put that hammer down Just watchin’ as the miles go flyin’ by I’m ridin’ 20-tons of steel But it’s sure hard to hold the wheel While I’m still waiting for my nails to dry
Weird Al Yankovic, “Truck Driving Song”
Other expressions for speed are not as straightforward.
Balls to the Wall
Despite how you might be tempted to sexualize this phrase, it has nothing to do with enthusiastic reproduction. It’s an aviation term, originating at least from the ’60s and probably much earlier.
Notice the throttles with their round handles; when you have the need for speed, push those babies all the way to the control panel. Now one thing I learned when I was taking flying lessons in Key West in 1972 is that typically you shove those throttles forward when you want to go up; if you want to go faster, you point your nose down to reduce drag. That may seem counter-intuitive, but you get used to it. And you learn to juggle the two in such a way that you can put the plane where you want it to go, and at the speed you want at the same time.
Again, nothing to do with Harambe. Oh wait, that’s another expression. Well, still – this one is the steam engine version of “balls to the wall.” Old trains and industrial steam engines were equipped with centrifugal governors to regulate the speed of the device being controlled.
Those balls would spin around, and the faster they went, the farther out they would go because of centrifugal (or centripital, I dunno, dammit Jim I’m a linguist not an engineer) force, pulling a linkage to adjust the amount of steam being sent to the prime mover. So when the engine was going as fast as it could, those governor balls would be out as far as they could go, hence “balls out.”
Both Ears Down
This is an oldie but a goodie. If you’re not of a certain age, or an antique automobile enthusiast, you probably won’t be able to make heads or tails of this one.
The steering column of a Ford Model-T had two levers, one on either side.
The one on the left adjusted the spark, and the one on the right was the throttle. In other words, the one on the right was your “gas pedal,” and the one on the left manually adjusted the timing of the spark (this was in a day before the self-adjusting distributor was invented.)
So the faster you went, the more you had to advance the spark to avoid engine knock, meaning both levers were gradually pulled downward as speed increased. Exactly how this was done is shown in the following schematic:
Notice that for maximum speed, (upper right-hand corner) both levers were down as far as they could go. Hence, “both ears down” came to mean pushing your brand-new Model-T to the max.
Rattle your dags
This one is exclusively Australian. Dags are matted clumps of wool and dung that hang off a sheep’s rear end… huge dingleberries, if you will. When a daggy sheep gets to running, those undulating gems make a rattling sound. Dag is descended from the British Daglock which was a dialect term borrowed into Australian English in the 1870’s. It essentially means “get a move on,” or “hurry up.”
I’m sure there are a lot of expressions out there that I don’t know, but these are some that always stuck in my mind.
The Old Wolf has spoken.¹
¹ Note: I’ve been saying this a lot longer than Kuiil has, but not as long as Chien Jaune.
If you happened to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the ’60s and were ever called as a Ward Clerk, or one of the assistant clerks – Historical, Financial, or Membership – you may remember the old Adler 200 typewriters.¹
Long before the advent of computers or word processors or even IBM Selectrics or Daisy-wheel typewriters, Adler was the go-to brand if you wanted a typewriter with an unusual font. I don’t know how many Adlers the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchased over time, but I’d bet they kept a lot of factory workers and typewriter repair personnel in business for decades.
The LDS Adler had a specific keyboard layout, as well: you didn’t have to shift for numbers (because they were used mostly for entering financial records) and symbols were on additional keys.
The font that came with these machines was OCR-A, “a font created in 1968, in the early days of computer optical character recognition, when there was a need for a font that could be recognized not only by the computers of that day, but also by humans.” (Wikipedia) It looked like this:
In the case of financial donations, members would fill out donation slips (being admonished to always write their names the same way each time):
and clerks would painstakingly transcribe these slips onto a ledger sheet on the typewriter, which was then sent by snail mail to headquarters where the records were scanned and entered into mainframe databases. Other information was also recorded using these machines, which were built like Sherman tanks, and like a Timex watch they would “take a lickin’ and keep on tickin.”
Ward clerks often served for extended periods of time; whereas service callings in the Church today generally only last a few years, back in the day it was not uncommon for a clerk to serve for decades, especially if he did a good job.
The Ward Clerk
He kept the minutes, typed each note, And put them in the file. The membership he knew by rote; He labored with a smile.
The ordinations, births and deaths He faithfully recorded For forty years, until at last He went to be rewarded.
The people he had known so well Turned out to shed a tear, And pay respect to this good man, Gone to another sphere.
But as the choir rose to sing, They saw with consternation The good man from his coffin step To count the congregation!
It is said in the navy that the Captain may command the ship, but the E-7’s (Chief petty officers) keep the show running. Much the same could be said about a ward or branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; the Bishop or Branch President may be in charge, but the ward clerks keep the wheels greased and everything running smoothly so the leaders can focus on ministering rather than administering.
The Old Wolf has spoken.
¹ The typewriter photos used in this post are from typewriter hunter Jake Fisher at the Typewriter Database.
I know some really good, decent, and ethical attorneys. At least two. But it’s always nice to experience that warm glow of Schadenfreude when you see the firm of Dewey, Cheetham,and Howe get a well-deserved comeuppance.
“Following [Mad] magazine’s parody of the film The Empire Strikes Back, a letter from George Lucas’s lawyers arrived in Mad’s offices demanding that the issue be recalled for infringement on copyrighted figures. The letter further demanded that the printing plates be destroyed, and that Lucasfilm must receive all revenue from the issue plus additional punitive damages. Unbeknownst to Lucas’ lawyers, Mad had received a letter weeks earlier from Lucas himself, expressing delight over the parody and calling artist Mort Drucker and writer Dick DeBartolo “the Leonardo da Vinci and George Bernard Shaw of comic satire.” Publisher Bill Gaines made a copy of Lucas’ letter, added the handwritten notation “Gee, your boss George liked it!” across the top, and mailed it to the lawyers. Said DeBartolo, “We never heard from them again.”
When I learned of this, I was reminded of the “fangs-down” letter Gary Larson received about his “Doing a little more research with that Jane Goodall tramp?” cartoon. Turns out Ms. Goodall thought the cartoon was a crackup, and it was eventually published in National Geographic’s centennial edition. (Documented in Gary Larson’s The Pre-History of the Far Side.)
Then there was Beasley Allen, a Montgomery-based law firm that filed a class-action lawsuit against Taco Bell alleging their taco filling did not meet the minimum USDA qualifications to be called “beef.” Beasely Allen later dropped the suit, pointing to “changes in marketing and product disclosure” by Taco Bell.
“Bullmeat,” said Taco Bell, and published the following full-page ad in USA Today:
Beasley Allen never apologized. But law firms are not known for that little social nicety.
Back in 2015 I had my own brush with infamy (and some satisfaction), when a legal firm in Washington, DC sent me a Cease and Desist letter for supposedly maligning the manufacturer of a worthless weight-loss product called “Pro Bio-Slim.” The gory details are still around as an earlier post in this blog; I pointed out all the flaws in the request and 5 years later have yet to receive any sort of follow-up from the attorneys in question.
Like I said, you can find good attorneys out there if you turn over enough rocks. Many are, in the words of Herman Melville,
“… one of those unambitious lawyers who never addresses a jury, or in any way draws down public applause; but in the cool tranquility of a snug retreat, do a snug business among rich men’s bonds and mortgages and title-deeds.”
Melville, Herman, “Bartleby the Scrivener,” 1856
I’m grateful for legal services rendered throughout my lifetime, all the while trying to avoid the necessessity. But because the world of law is largely a world of confrontation and hostilities, the profession seems to attract a surfeit of thermonuclear douchebags, and it’s always heart-warming to see one or a number of these (the collective noun is “a litigation of attorneys”)¹ get taken to the social cleaners.
The Old Wolf has spoken.
¹ Not to be taken seriously. Some others are:
A descent of relatives
A windbag of politicians (I have my own, but it’s not suitable for a family-friendly blog
A groan of puns
And a list, comprehensive but not complete, of these fanciful collective nouns can be found here.
It used to be that anything that was on the Internet lasted forever. Sometimes that’s true – the Streisand Effect makes sure that when people do their best to scrub things from the web, they are replicated and hosted in multiple places, so that the Wayback Machine (a part of the Internet Archive) can grab them.
On the other hand, the advent of robots.txt and other devices ensured that archive copies of some websites were never grabbed, and that’s a shame. But a lot of pages, even if they become obsolete, are still available.
The oldest page on the “World Wide Web,” a term that is about as common these days as NCSA Mosaic, is this one; the earliest screen capture was taken in 1992.
I ran across this picture from September 2008 in my Livejournal:
It linked to a quiz at NerdTests.com, which I was pleased to note still exists. How geeky are you?
A list of websites created before 1995 can be found at Wikipedia, for further perusal.
The Million Dollar Homepage was one of those flashes of inspiration that came to someone who was in the right place at the right time. Once an idea like this is done, it can’t ever be successfully replicated. Kinda like “The Princess Bride.”
The Net is a strange and wonderful place, a rabbit hole with no perceptible bottom. But if you surf diligently enough, you can actually get to the end.
I loved comics as a kid. No shame, I learned a lot. Loved things like Strange Tales, Creepy, Weird Science, along with the standard DC and Marvel fare.¹ And over the years, some things just stuck in my mind. Tales like “Tim Boo Baa,” “The Mask of Morgumm,” or “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill.” Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, I’ve been able to recover quite a few of these and revisit them in all their glory.
But there was one memory I was never able to recapture, although it popped into my mind frequently… until this week.
It was about this poor inventor, Alphonse Orr, who was taken advantage of by a hideous, bullying con-man of a boss. Finally his name popped up in a comic database, and I was able to score a copy of the issue that the story appeared in.
I was ten when this comic went on sale in 1961, and somehow that last panel, the image of this little man wondering if he could afford pie impacted me profoundly,² as did the idea of the injustice perpetrated upon him by his evil boss – and stuck in my mind for over half a century. Kids have an over-developed sense of injustice at that age, and I was no exception.³
So you’ll pardon me if I found the ending to the story immensely satisfying, and re-reading it after all these years I find that my feelings haven’t changed one whit.
You can read the entire story from “Forbidden Worlds, Issue #98 here as a pdf download.⁴
It’s nice to be able to put memories to rest.
The Old Wolf has spoken.
¹ I could have put my kids through college if I had kept all the first editions I bought, but that’s another story.
² Never mind all the abject poverty and true starvation and famine in the world; at that age I was not aware of what was happening in third-world countries or even of food insecurity in America, but at that time the thought that Alphonse was so poor that he couldn’t afford pie deeply saddened me.
³ Those impressions have never left me. I have found that when it comes to the injustice and cruelty and stupidity of corporations, there’s always a relevant Dilbert.
⁴ Edit: If you do read this story, keep in mind that it’s the ’60s and that it’s fantasy; the Challenger Deep is 6.85 miles below the surface, whereas Edgar W. Simmons claims to have taken his new submersible 120 miles down. Just as a matter of curiosity, the pressure at that hypothetical depth would be 19,259.37 atmospheres, or 250,371 pounds per square inch, or roughly 42 Humvees stacked on your thumbnail. Science? We don’t need no steenkin’ science!
The miracle of the Internet allows one these days to do a deep dive into the oddities of humanity, and many of Robert Ripley’s stories can be either verified, clarified, or debunked. I was an inveterate consumer of Ripley’s collections as a youth, and this particular item always intrigued me. As it turns out, this story happens to be entirely accurate, as documented at Human Marvels.
Included at the link is a video that shows the late Mr. Langevin demonstrating his odd talent.
A lot of the human skull is empty space, and as you can see from the above illustration, there’s a very small partition between the sinuses and the orbits of the eye. All it would take is a small malformation or injury to either the skull or the nasolacrymal duct to connect the eye with the sinuses, and Bob’s your uncle.