Question of the Day

Where does the expression "dead as a doornail" come from?

A doornail is a large-headed nail. To make sure such nails didn't pull out of the wood, the sharp end pointing through the wood was pounded down, or deadened thence the expression.

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Last 7 Days

How should I keep clams alive before a clambake? Also, can I freeze them?

If you want to keep clams alive, place them in an open container in the refrigerator, but cover them with a wet towel so that they won't dry out. Do not keep them in a bucket of seawater. Do not store them in plastic bags or other airtight containers. You can freeze freshly shucked clam meat or clams in the shell, but be sure to thaw them in the refrigerator, and never refreeze them.

Why was St. Valentine martyred?

Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II, Rome was involved in many bloody and unpopular military quests. Claudius was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join the military. He believed that the reason was that Roman men did not want to leave their loved ones and families. So he decided to cancel all marriages and engagements in Rome. St. Valentine was a priest in Rome during this time, and, among other things, he helped couples get married in secret. He also aided the Christian martyrs. Roman officials beat him to death, then cut off his head. He died on February 14, about the year 270.

Why do professional interior house painters wear white overalls rather than blue overalls?

By the mid-1800s, the colors were standardized -- painters and plasterers wore white overalls, farmers wore blue or brown. Railway workers sported a variety of pinstripes.

Who was the first aeronautical fatality, and under what circumstances did this death occur?

Orville Wright's final flight at Fort Myer in 1908 ended in tragedy. The airplane crashed, killing Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, a passenger flying with Wright. Wright suffered broken ribs, a fractured leg, and hip injuries.

When forecasters talk about visibility, what do they mean? What's visible?

Officially, visibility is a measure of how opaque the atmosphere is. When forecasters report on visibility, they are talking about the greatest distance from which prominent objects can be seen with normal eyesight. The National Weather Service uses different visibility "checkpoints" -- observing from the surface, observing from the weather station, observing in a certain direction, and observing from an airport traffic control tower.

What does the abbreviation QED stand for?

QED is Latin for quod erat demonstrandum, or that which was to be demonstrated. Troy Halsted It is often used in writing just before or after the author states a conclusion, as a synonym for therefore, thus, or as was to be shown.

What are the seven natural wonders of the world?

The following are suggested, but this may be a matter of opinion: (1) Mount Everest in Nepal/Tibet; (2) Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe; (3) Grand Canyon in Arizona; (4) Great Barrier Reef in Australia; (5) northern lights; (6) Paricutin volcano in Mexico; and (7) Rio de Janeiro harbor in Brazil.

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