Question

What does "Auld Lang Syne" mean?

It literally means "old long since" or long ago. In 1788, Robert Burns adapted "Auld Lang Syne" from "an old man's singing." Even though the title, first line, and refrain had all appeared before as the work of other poets, Burn's version is the one people sing on New Year's Eve, mostly the first verse and refrain: Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to min(d)? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And days of o' lang syne. For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne,We'll take a cup o' kindness yet For auld lang syne.

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What exactly is lactose?

Lactose is a light sweetener and a carbohydrate found only in milk. Any product made with milk will contain lactose. Bacteria turn lactose to lactic acid and that's when milk turns sour. Some people cannot tolerate lactose and must avoid milk products.

How did the "parson's nose" on a chicken get its name?

We know that this term for the tail of a cooked fowl originated in Old England, but we have no information as to how it came into being. However, given the lengthy sermons that issued from the pulpit in olden times, we wonder whether the idea may have come from a listener whose mind wandered once too often from the homily.

What is Greek fire?

We assume you're referring to flammable weapons that were used in warfare in ancient and medieval times. Specifically, Greek fire originally meant a mixture used by the Byzantine Greeks in the seventh century. It was evidently a petroleum-based mixture that could be thrown in pots or discharged from tubes.

Do herbs grow well indoors during the winter months?

Herbs do grow well indoors, and although the harvest will be smaller than with garden plants, you can produce plenty. You'll need a site with lots of sun. Select good containers and potting mixes, and provide regular water and fertilizer. When in doubt, choose clay pots. Rosemary likes dry soil. Mint likes plenty of moisture. Oregano and thyme may need pruning to prevent them from taking over others. Be on the lookout for indoor pests such as aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites.

Why do we measure the length of the day in hours?

The ancients divided the day in half, roughly corresponding to sunrise and sunset, with 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night. The length of an hour varied, depending on the time of year, until mechanical clocks were invented in the late Middle Ages.

Is it true that Benjamin Franklin invented an odometer?

Yes. While he was postmaster in Philadelphia, he created an odometer to measure postal route distances and attached the contraption to his carriage.

What does the term buckdancer's choice mean and what is its origin?

Its origin seems varied. A buckdance generally refers to a dance done solo, such as tapdancing. A buck-and-wing is a kind of southern mountain dancing. The term also may have come from a Native American ceremonial dance by a brave costumed as a buck. A buckdancer's choice, then, would seem to refer to a solo dancer's own style or choice of dance to be done in performance.

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