Question

Why do we say someone is "three sheets to the wind" when he or she is drunk?

The phrase is derived from a nautical term. A sheet is a rope holding up a sail. If these sheets, or ropes, are loose and blowing too much in the wind, the boat will lurch about, perhaps like a drunken person does. Sometimes the phrase "three sheets in the wind" is used.

Last 7 Days

Where do all those recycled telephone books go?

Many are used to make things such as compact disc covers.

I recently patched my cedar-shingled roof, and the new shingles stick out like a sore thumb. How long will it take them to turn the same color as the older shingles?

It can take years for new cedar shingles to weather to match the color of old ones. But you can make them blend in at once by mixing a pound of baking soda with a half gallon of water. Brush the mixture onto the new shingles, and they'll turn gray in a few hours.

How hot is a bolt of lightning when it strikes?

An individual bolt of lightning can reach 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

How can I get my meringue to rise better at 4,500 feet above sea level?

Here are several things you might try. Make certain there is no grease on your bowl or beaters. Do not get even a speck of egg yolk in your egg whites. Do not beat the egg whites in a plastic bowl. Separate your eggs and let the whites come to room temperature before beating. Add 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar for every 2 egg whites after you have beaten the whites to the frothy stage. Finally, add your sugar a little at a time after soft peaks form. Good luck!

What determines the speed and direction of a jet stream?

A jet stream is a narrow filament of air that streams from side to side, wandering north or south of the prevailing westerly wind with the seasons. Jet streams are normally found in the troposphere about six miles above Earth. Their speed can be up to 180 mph, depending on the season. During the winter, when there are greater temperature contrasts, the jets are stronger and shift toward the equator. In the summer, when temperatures are more uniform, they tend to weaken and shift toward the pole. This creates the "bends" in the jet stream portrayed by television meteorologists.

Is there any truth to the old saying that thunder will cause the milk in cows to sour because it scares the cattle or something?

This phenomenon may be true but not because cows don't like thunder (although they might not). Hot, humid weather, common on summer nights, causes unstable atmospheric conditions that can lead to thunderstorms and lightning. These same conditions also are responsible for warming milk and triggering the release of microorganisms that can lead to the souring process. So, in a way, you could say that thunder sours the milk, but we don't see a direct cause and effect here. Try it yourself. Leave a glass of milk on the back porch during a thunderstorm and see how long it takes to congeal.

Why does the gesture of running one pointed finger over the other signify shame?

The origin of this gesture seems to be the Christian symbol of the cross. The movement indicates that the cross is broken, a metaphor for having done wrong or committed a sin.

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