Sunday, August 16, 2009

What’s in a name?

This is Ritzy!

Ever refer to something as being “ritzy”? The origin of this comes from the Ritz Hotel, built in Paris in 1898 by Cesar Ritz.

His attention to detail, perfection, and personal accommodation made his hotel the most luxurious hotel that had ever existed. The level of luxury was such that his name became synonymous with quality.

It’s a Doozie!

If something is a “doozie” it too is great. Though there are other attributions to the origin of this term, the most common one attributes the origin to the famed Duesenberg automobile.

The Duesenberg was such an outstanding car in the 1930’s that anything outstanding was a “doozie”!

Your name is mud!

If you’re told “your name is mud” then you’re not held in very high regard.

Like most people, I had often heard that this came from the case of Dr. Samuel Mudd, who treated John Wilkes Booth’s broken leg following Lincoln’s assassination. Dr. Mudd was sent to prison, accused of being a accomplice to the killing.

However, in researching this phrase, I have found more than one source that says this expression first appeared in print in 1823, more than 40 years before Lincoln’s murder. “Mud” was apparently English slang meaning “a stupid, twaddling fellow”.

The real McCoy!

There are many supposed origins for this phrase. Everything from a mayor, a boxer, a brewer, an inventor, a bootlegger, and an explosives merchant (just to mention a few); claim to be the origin of this phrase.

In the USA, the phrase seems to be most commonly accredited to the inventor Elijah McCoy who invented an improved oiler for locomotives. Supposedly there were many types of oilers that weren’t as good, so engineers would inquire if the locomotive was fitted with “the real McCoy”.

But ultimate irony is that we are unsure as to which origin is, “the real McCoy”!!

Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday – lying in hospitals dying of nothing! – Redd Foxx

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Things My Grandchildren Will Only Hear About:

I’m waiting to be asked why it’s called “dialing” a phone! Well actually I’m not exactly sitting around waiting for the phone to ring with that question. But I do think about the things that were so common in my experience that my grandkids will only hear about.

I used the term “tuning in the TV” once to my youngest daughter and she asked “what do you mean by ‘tuning’ it in”? Ah yes, the good old days when we dialed the channel, then used the rotor box to turn the antenna, then adjusted the fine tuning. And when we got a color TV, we also had to adjust the color! There was also the contrast, horizontal hold, vertical hold, and brightness that sometimes had to be adjusted.

I remember my parents looking in the TV Guide, deciding on the station that had the most of what they wanted to watch that evening, and leaving the TV on that channel all night.

And remember when you had to “warm up” your TV and radio before they’d come on? Then the great invention of “solid state” TV’s and radio’s came along which didn’t need warming. Funny, my kids aren’t necessarily familiar with the term “solid state”.

One of our kids asked me once why folks say “ringing” out a wet rag. I then explained to them about the ringer washer and about my mother getting out the ringer washer, washing a few loads, draining the water and refilling the washer, then rinsing those loads, then running each item through the ringer. And then hanging them on the clothes line.

How many of you remember the mad dash to bring in the clothes if it started raining? I’ve been asked “you mean you actually hung your underwear out where everyone could see it”? Seems weird now, but yes…we sure did!

These days even the term “garbage can” has become generic, but once it was a specific can for food waste. It sat out back next to the “trash pit”, another receptacle of the past!

In just a few years, my grandson will only know about conventional light bulbs from being told about them. The federal government has mandated the elimination of general purpose incandescent bulbs by 2012. It’s hard for me to imagine that in my lifetime there will be people who have never seen an incandescent bulb!

Many of life's failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. - Thomas Edison