Why are half-red/half-blue pencils called postal pencils?
In bygone days (before high-speed, computer-controlled automation), mail was coded with red or blue for routing purposes. One pencil with both colors was a convenience for busy postal workers.
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Is the Christmas tree a Christian symbol? Where did it come from?
Decorated trees were used in winter celebrations long before the advent of Christianity. Plants and trees that remained green all year had a special significance for people who lived in cold-winter climes. Ancient people hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. Some believed that evergreens kept witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness away. Romans decorated evergreen trees with trinkets and topped them with an image of their sun god. Druid sorcerers hung golden apples and lit candles on oak trees to celebrate the winter solstice. It is generally agreed that the use of an evergreen tree as part of Christian Christmas celebrations started 400 years ago in Germany and spread to most of northern Europe by the 19th century.
When making meringue pie, should refrigerated eggs or room temperature eggs be used?
Use eggs at room temperature next time you make a meringue pie. Cold eggs cause problems in foam and sponge recipes because, when beaten, they do not increase in volume as much as warm eggs do. In general, all ingredients should be brought to room temperature (between 65 and 70°F) before baking.
When did we start putting electric lights on Christmas trees?
Well, the historical record is not precise on this, but we know that in 1882, the first tree lights were sold in New York City.
Can I make my own room freshener spray?
A great winter spray that you can make at home includes juniper berry and pine oils. Add 8 drops of juniper berry essential oil and 8 drops of pine essential oil to 1-2/3 ounces of distilled water. Pour into a bottle with a spray atomizer. It'll freshen up any room.
Do insects have blood and do they bleed when they get hurt?
Yes, insects have blood, but it's not like human blood. Human blood is used to carry oxygen throughout our bodies and is red because of the hemoglobin in it. In insects, blood is used to carry nutrients throughout their bodies, but not oxygen. Oxygen comes through a system of air tubes that connect to the outside through openings called spiracles. Insects do bleed when they are hurt and their blood clots, like a human's, so a minor wound will usually heal.
Who invented the drinking straw?
One could say that nature did. Drinking-type straws are abundant in nature. At one time it was common to use rye stalks as straws, but they cracked easily and were not clean. Chester Stone of Washington D.C. hand-rolled an artificial drinking straw from paraffined manila paper in 1886. He was awarded a patent for it on January 3, 1888. Interestingly enough, straws continued to be rolled by hand until the Marvin C.Stone Estate made the first machine to successfully manufacture them in 1908.
Would dipping my rusted tools in cola work to remove the rust?
It may, but we wouldn't necessarily recommend it. We were underwhelmed with the results. Tools must be totally submerged in the cola, for one, and must be left a long time. A better solution would be to use a commercial "rust jelly," combined with scrubbing the tools with 0 grade (medium fine) steel wool.