Fun facts to know and tell
Anglo-American History Division
Dr. Chrysanthemum writes: “Subject: What is George Washington’s birthday? February 11, 1731, or February 22, 1732? The answer: both days!
“On February 22, 2017, we will celebrate George Washington’s 285th birthday.
“But why do we celebrate that anniversary on that day when he was born on February 11, 1731? You would think that we would have celebrated his 286th birthday several days ago.
“The answer is that the English and their American colonies were a little behind the times. In fact, by 1751, they were 11 days behind.
“While most of Western Europe had adopted the Gregorian Calendar (named after Pope Gregory XIII) between 1582 and 1698, England was reluctant to adopt such Papist novelties and retained the old Julian Calendar (proposed by Gaius Julius Caesar in 46 B.C.; extra credit for everyone who can pronounce his name correctly) until 1751. The Gregorian Calendar had several modifications that synchronized better with the solar year. The Julian Calendar was 10 days behind the solar year by 1582. It is now 13 days behind.
“The English also celebrated New Year‘s on March 25.
“When England switched to the new calendar, it skipped ahead 11 days to match up with the rest of Europe. In addition, the English changed the start of the year to January 1. Thus, Washington’s adjusted birthday became February 22, 1732.”
BULLETIN BOARD HAS ANOTHER FUN FACT TO SHARE: If you can remember the year 1732, you can also know the square root of 3: 1.732! (The strange little things one remembers, while forgetting so much!)
Our machines, ourselves
Irish Mist writes, from the Emerald Isle: “Subject: The Kiss of Life — The Resurrection of a 1929 Terrot.
“In the summer of 2013, I got a call from a friend who was returning a 1929 Terrot motorcycle to its owner, who had brought it from Holland and had hoped, but failed, to sell it at the Irish Veteran and Vintage Motorcycle show. Would I have any interest in it?
“I’d never heard of Terrot, but a quick Google told me that Terrot was a respected French motorcycle manufacturer, so I went to have a look.
“The bike was in a dreadful state. Loads of important parts were missing, including the oil tank, oil pump, magneto, saddle, exhaust, silencer, primary cover and timing-chain cover. . . and it was seized! What was left was rusted, dented and damaged. So . . . I bought it!
“For weeks it sat abandoned in a corner of the garage — but every so often, into the plug hole I poured WD-40, diesel, Coke and anything else I thought might free the engine, and sure enough, one day the bloody thing turned over! Now, if only I had a spark!
“Another friend converted a British magneto for me, and one night at about 11:45 p.m., the silence of my mountain valley was broken by the voice of the waking engine!
“I was in love!
“I had wondered about a small aluminium plate stamped with a French name and address and fixed to the front mudguard. Could this be the original owner? More Googling, and I discovered that in 1930 a law was passed in France making it compulsory that the name and address of the owner had to be displayed on every vehicle: M. Jamet, of Rue Dodun in Châteaudun, had owned this bike!
“I had spent many hours searching the internet for parts for the bike (an HST 350cc side valve) and eventually discovered a father-and-son operation near a small town in Burgundy who were reproducing aluminium castings of the original Terrot silencer and primary cover, both of which I needed.
“Now, the previous year my wife and I had had a most enjoyable motorcycle trip to France, so I wondered if she would like to go again! Perhaps to Austria this time? Coincidentally, Châteaudun would be on our route — and surprise of surprises, we’d also be traveling near that very town where the castings were being produced!
“She said yes!
“It was a wonderful feeling to stand in Rue Dodun, where 87 years earlier the thump of my Terrot would have echoed along that narrow street. I wondered in which of the houses Monsieur Jamet had lived. What was he like? What had become of him? Had he survived the war?
“Near Précy-sous-Thil, in the shed of M. Chambrier et Fils, the silencer and primary cover were purchased, and while I traveled on, they were posted to Ireland and were waiting for me when we eventually returned home after yet another wonderful holiday.
“It was a real highlight when I fitted them to the bike.
“It had taken three years to sort out all the various problems and eventually get the bike on the road and reliable. Apart from minor things like cables, tyres, tubes, etc., I had to make an oil tank, foot rests, complete rear brake assembly, repair the clutch, machine the gearbox sprocket, repair the leaking petrol tank, find a seat, sort the forks, rebore the cylinder, and have a special piston made (in Australia!).
“I don’t have a trailer, so I ride the bike to and from the rallies. In May I rode it from home in Glenbarrow to Kilkenny for the Slievenamon Rally (four days and 525 kilometers); in June to The Golden Vale Rally (three days and 480 kilometers); and in August, The Irish National Assembly (seven days and 1,300 kilometers). I travel at about 55 kph, so as not to overstress my 88-year-old Terrot and my 64-year-old arse — but what’s the rush? Hopefully both of us will get there in the end.
“Out of respect for the bike and its previous owners, it will not be repainted or restored but remain in a working ‘oily rag’ condition — as close as possible to the condition in which I found it, with all the bruises that it has sustained over its 88 years.”
The Permanent Family Record (responsorial)
The Clover Kicker: “Hindsight’s recollection of the ‘dispersal of the inheritance’ reminded me of my own experience:
“Having sired a pretty large family (you know, that Catholic version of ‘planned parenthood’: one a year till you run out of steam), my dad didn’t have a whole lot to disperse. As things were settling down after his funeral, my mom handed me a plastic baggie and said: ‘Your father wanted you to have these.’ It held my dad’s well-worn St. Benedict medal — both my parents were third-order (lay) Benedictine oblates — which he carried in his trouser pocket every day, and what was purported to be an Irish pound (punt) coin.
“I wasn’t much of a numismatist, but was thrilled to receive the gifts. And while I treasure the medallion, a modest amount of research proved the ‘punt’ to be, instead, a token that could be turned in for a free beer during a long-past St. Patrick’s Day celebration at some bar in Emmetsburg, Iowa. For a variety of reasons, I retain and hold that token in high regard, too.”
Life as we know it
D. Ziner: “Al Gorithm and his internet marketing minions have noticed me clicking and tapping on some big-ticket items, so they’ve moved on to push those and have just about quit sending me the potty-themed pop-ups. At times, the ads were quite persuasive; one promised that if I bought their product, I would ‘Poop Like Royalty.’
“I’m not sure just how differently they do it, but it reminded me of my early teens in L.A. and the guys I hung around with, who would have lengthy arguments about how the movie stars pooped. There were some who just could not envision Marilyn Monroe or Rita Hayworth or Jayne Mansfield actually sitting on the toilet and going through the procedures and producing the sounds and smells that were common with us mortals.
“We even worked on a plan to prove the starlets’ pooping procedure. We would save our allowances and pool together enough money to buy a ticket for one of those bus tours that toured Hollywood and that carried a guide who would point out the stars’ homes. Notes would be taken by our representative, and we would follow up by biking to the chosen locations for further reconnaissance. We figured we could somehow locate the proper window and do the Peeping Tom thing when the time was right. Fortunately, the logistics of it all overwhelmed our addle-pated adolescent brains, and that time never was right, and we abandoned the project.
“Another recent pop-up ad stated it was guaranteed that I would experience the ‘best poop of your life.’ I’m not sure how much they know about me, but I think that’s another one of those things that are in my past. Or maybe I should just hang on to that thought and consider that there are still better things to come — or go.”
From Wayne Nelson of Forest Lake: “I had to go outside to capture this beautiful sunset Thursday evening and share it with the BBers who might have missed it.”
The Grand Duchess of Grand Avenue: “Subject: Mind your manners!
“I don’t recall if I’ve shared this with you. Always good to remember.”
Throw the cow over the fence some hay!
Ed of Spring Valley, Wisconsin: “Subject: English language decline.
“Sign in front of Dairy Queen in Menomonie, Wisconsin:
“‘Pick up your
“A bad example, and it is located right across the street from UW Stout.”
Unclear on the concept
Elvis reports: “There is a local winter carnival this weekend out west where Elvis is living. They have a variety of events, races, dinners, etc., that Elvis can buy tickets for ahead of time online.
“The good news is: The ticketing site they use is letting you clearly know what the service fees and taxes will be when you buy any of the tickets through them. That’s way better than keeping it a secret until the last checkout step. The other good news: They are raising money for Big Brothers Big Sisters by asking for add-on donations.
“The bad news is that an add-on donation of $1 will cost you an additional $1.46 in fees, for a total of $2.46.”
The great comebacks
Or: Rodney Dangerfield & Son
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: I get no respect.
“My elder son, who is vacationing in Florida, called the other day. After we caught up on a number of things, this dialogue ensued:
“RP: ‘I bowled a 205 in my league last week.’
“ES: ‘In one game?’”
Band Name of the Day: Poops Like Royalty
Website of the Day: John F. Kennedy’s presidential press conferences (all 64 of them)