Thursday, January 21, 2010


For the past few weeks, the number of readers daily hitting this site has been slowly and steadily growing.  This is after about 18 months of nearly constant readership, except for brief spikes when my blog gets linked from somewhere else (thank you!) or when there's a hot topic (such as ClimateGate) in the blogosphere.  I have no idea why the hits are increasing, as (so far as I can tell) I'm not doing anything different than I've always done.

But in any case: welcome, new readers.  Drop me a line if you've got something you'd like to say, and of course feel free to comment on the posts.  As you can see, my interests range all over the place, though there's allegedly a focus on things Jamulian around here...

Cute Animation...

Here.  Via my mom.

Origins of Some Sayings...

...and some other things.  Via my mom:
There is an old Hotel/Pub in Marble Arch, London , which used to have a gallows adjacent to it. Prisoners were taken to the gallows, (after a fair trial of course) to be hung.

The horse drawn dray, carting the prisoner, was accompanied by an armed guard, who would stop the dray outside the pub and ask the prisoner if he would like ''ONE LAST DRINK''.

If he said YES, it was referred to as ONE FOR THE ROAD.

If he declined, that prisoner was ON THE WAGON.

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & sold to the tannery. If you had to do this to survive you were, "Piss Poor", but worse than that, were the really poor folk, who couldn't even afford to buy a pot, they "Didn't have a pot to Piss in" & were the lowest of the low.

The next time you are washing your hands and complain, because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be.

Here are some facts about the 1500's:

Most people got married in June, because they took their yearly bath in May and they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a bouquet of flowers, to hide the body odor.

Hence the custom today, of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water..

The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water!"

Houses had thatched roofs, thick straw piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom, where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top, afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, "Dirt Poor." The wealthy had slate floors, that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing.

As the winter wore on, they added more thresh, until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way.. Hence: a thresh hold.

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day, they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight, then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: ''Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot, nine days old''.

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon, to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "Bring home the Bacon." They would cut off a little, to share with guests and would all sit around talking and ''Chew the fat''.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning & death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided, according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or ''The Upper Crust''.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of ''Holding a Wake''.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So, they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, thread it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.

Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night, (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, ''Saved by the Bell '' or was considered a ''Dead Ringer''

And that's the truth.

Now, whoever said History was boring ! ! !

I was unable to verify any of these with a few minutes of searching, though I did run across an etymology site that dismissed the “threshold” story here as mere “folk etymology”.  True or not, they're all entertaining...

Weather in Lawson Valley...

The NOAA weather forecasts for yesterday were rather intimidating – up to 6 inches of rain, gusty winds to 60 MPH, possible thunderstorms with inch-diameter hail...yikes!  But we had none of that, though the weather has been interesting nonetheless.

First, the rain.  As I write this, we're at 2.4 inches (62mm) for the three-day storm (see the top graph at right, click to enlarge).  More is definitely coming, today and tomorrow.  As you can see from the graph, we had a couple brief periods of heavy rain, and then last night a long, steady, slow accumulation.

The barometric pressure is falling very quickly as I write this, indicating a storm front is passing through (see graph at left, click to enlarge).  You can also see the two downward blips from the earlier waves in this storm.  The pressure at the moment is the second-lowest I've recorded in over 7 years of data collection.  The record-holder occurred just last month, concurrent with the heavy rains we received then.

Finally, here's the NOAA radar from just a few minutes ago (at right, click to enlarge).  The scale at the left of the chart shows intensity of rain vs. color.  We don't often see large areas of “heavy” rainfall on our doppler radars, but in this series of storms these areas have been commonplace.  Yesterday there were some smaller areas trending toward the purple of “extreme” rainfall rates, but I forgot to take a snapshot of them.  Watching these radar images over time one can visualize the path that the storm cells are taking; for this storm, the cells moved from the WNW to the ESE.  Most of the intensity seemed to be knocked out of them by the time they reached Lawson Valley (which is indicated on the radar display by a circled plus sign to the right of the words “San Diego”).

I wonder what we'll see over the next couple of days?