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Question of the Day

Where did the term freelance come from?

Today we think of a freelancer as, say, an artist, writer, or musician who works alone. But the origin of the term rests with medieval knights -- and their lances -- who were not committed to one lord. A "free lance" was a knight who sold his services to whomever he chose (no doubt often the highest bidder).

Last 7 Days

    Is there a region on Earth where the length of the days and the nights remains almost constant throughout the year?

    Yes, on the equator. Every day of the year the Sun is up half the time, so there are always 12 hours of sunshine at the equator.

    Do the phases of the Moon really affect whether fish will bite or not?

    We always say that fishing is best when the Moon is between new and full. We also suggest that you go fishing when the breeze is from the west. Another sure time is one hour before or after high or low tide (inland times for high tides correspond to when the Moon is due south, and low tides are halfway between high tides).

    Why did the old almanacs always recommend planting potatoes on Good Friday?

    We can't speak for other old almanacs, but certainly The Old Farmer's Almanac has never recommended planting potatoes on Good Friday; our only recommendation has been to plant by the dark of the Moon. Further, all our research has turned up contrary advice -- neither to plant nor to dig potatoes on Good Friday. It was thought the timing would produce poor crops. The Creoles of Louisiana believed that if the ground were cut open on this day, Christ's blood would run out into the rows. The only exception we found was an old belief that seeds planted on Good Friday will thrive.

    Is there such a thing as an American buffalo or are they all bison?

    They are bison (b. bison). Buffalo is the word used most often, but true buffalo are African and Asian animals of the same family.

    How many cups of mashed bananas would a whole pound of bananas make?

    One pound or about three to four medium bananas is the equivalent of about one and three-quarters cup mashed bananas.

    How do I get rid of odors from my garbage disposal?

    Odors can be removed by running orange or lemon peels or ice cubes through the disposal.

    Where would one get a "kit and caboodle" and why would you want one?

    The words "kit" and "caboodle" have Dutch origins. A "kit" was a tankard or drinking cup. A "boedel" was a general term used to mean one's property or household effects. Later, "kit" became synonymous with the pack of tools a soldier carried. "Boodle" became slang for money, especially tainted money. Various permutations of these two words evolved and now they are used together to indicate "a whole lot" or "everything and everyone."

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