Question of the Day


Do prairie dogs really kiss each other?

Prairie dogs greet each other with what looks like a kiss, but they're really touching their front teeth. This is the way they recognize each other. Prairie dogs are disappearing from the American plain states because of disease and loss of open prairie. Some people are advocating that they be considered endangered.

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Last 7 Days

What is Hoodie-Hoo Day? A teacher I know said it was the day to wish for nice weather.

We can't find anything about this day in our traditional sources. It seems to be a contemporary creation that purports to chase away winter. We hear that at noon on February 20, you are supposed to go outside and shout, "Hoodie-Hoo." If our readers know anything more about this, we'd like to hear it. E-mail us with your information.

When did human beings start calling their children "kids," literally "goats' children," and why?

We can't say just when the word was first applied to children, but it does appear in English manuscripts from the 15th century and probably was used centuries before. It was a slang word--and "low" slang to boot--that gradually crept into common usage.

Should I store coffee beans in the freezer to keep them fresh?

The most important thing in coffee bean storage is to keep out air and moisture, so be sure to store your beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Freezing becomes necessary if you are not likely to use your beans quickly. For freezing, store them in freezer bags. You can grind the beans in their frozen state.

Where did the saying "not worth a hill of beans" come from?

Beans, being fairly easy to grow, are commonly used in everyday expressions to indicate something of little value. Consequently, someone who isn't worth a hill of beans is seen as being worth very little, although one could argue that today a hill of beans costs a pretty penny. An older saying, "not worth a bean," appeared as far back as 1297, when historian Robert of Gloucester wrote it in his English Chronicles. The American saying, "not worth a hill of beans," began to appear around 1863; "a hill of" was often inserted into phrases to emphasize their meaning.

The nails in my deck have rusted and spotted the wood. How can I remove the rust spots?

Scrub the area with a wire brush, then bleach any remaining stain with oxalic acid, which is available in paint stores. You would probably need to restain the wood after this, but wait until the repaired area is thoroughly dry.

Where did the expression "the cat's pajamas" come from

Its origin is unknown, but by the turn of the 20th century in America, it was widely used to mean first-rate or attractive.

What are earth sweats?

Earth sweats occur when the humidity is on the rise and wood, porcelain, metal, and even stone may exude moisture. They have come to be seen as predictors of rain. Wooden beams and furniture, china dishes, stone, and brick all may sweat when rain is near. Oiled wood especially, such as a salad bowl or a weaving loom with linseed oil on it, sweats easily.

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