Sixes, sevens, nines,

All you will see is a girl you once knew (although she's dressed up to the nines) at sixes and sevens with you. ~Don't Cry For Me, Argentina (Evita).

There are (thankfully) many, many years between me and my Andrew Lloyd Weber days, but over the weekend I found myself dwelling on these lyrics. I still think it clever that ALW worked these number-based phrases into his lyrics, and after a wildly hilarious game of Apples to Apples this weekend in which these phrases came into play, I decided to finally look into the etymology of these sayings.

Dressed to the Nines
AskOxford says that the first recorded instance of "to the nines" comes from a Robert Burns poem in 1793, and is later recorded in a slang dictionary in 1859. The Phrase Finder (UK) points out that the link between material and clothing (9 yards of material for expensive clothing, for example) is weak, but that the number nine has always been used as a superlative. And WiseGeek says "anything is possible whenever dictionaries throw down the etymological gauntlet known as 'origin unknown.'" The phrase could have originally been "dressed to the eyes" for all we know! Today, the phrase means to be dressed most smartly or flamboyantly.

At Sixes and Sevens
The Phrase Finder points out the earliest known instance of the phrase comes from Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, and was a phrase used in gambling language at the time meaning to risk all your fortune on the highest numbers of the dice. Of course, the highest numbers then and now would have been five and six, but the Online Etymology Dictionary says that the phrase could have morphed over the years from the French cinque and sice to sixes and sevens. Today the phrase means to be in a state of total confusion and frustration.

Basically, Eva is all stressed up with nowhere to go. And I need a new earworm. I don't want to be singing songs from Evita any longer than I have been!


artículo post

That's IT! The DH and I were trying to remember this word the whole week...

Polydundant describes those phrases that are redundant because the words in the phrase mean the same thing, but are in different languages. (I first heard the word from the Dictionary Evangelist, which she gathered at the Pop!Tech conference. Her example was Panera Bread Company, which of course means Bread Bread Company.) My favorite example is Agora Market (located on Lyndale and Franklin in Minneapolis). (Agora is a greek marketplace.)

But if you don't want to be trendy, you can simply refer to these types of phrases in the traditional way -- as etymologically redundant expressions.



Oooohhhhhh -- that's why it's called "Black Friday." For companies "in the red" this major shopping day helps them get back in the black! I'm surprised it took me this many years to figure it out -- I use spreadsheets often, so am quite used to seeing the negative numbers displayed in red and the positive numbers displayed in ... well ... you get it.



I have the cutest hairdresser. He's Vietnamese, has a thick accent and a loud high pitched voice, and is always at the ready to great customers with a sing-song "Can I help you?". He's awesome.

During my last haircut he gave me an eight-minute version of Vietnamese history, and focused mainly on the written language. I never really realized that the official Vietnamese language is written with the roman alphabet.

Or, as my hairdresser would have it, "it's written a, b, c."

Basically, there were three manifestations of the written Vietnamese language throughout time. In ancient history, the Chinese ruled Vietnam which (among other things) greatly impacted the development of the language and Classical Chinese was the written language for many centuries. The 1600s brought French missionaries to the area, and they kind of rewrote the language using roman letters for their ease, but it was never standardized or used much outside of the missions. When the French colonial government came, they mandated the use of and standardized the final manifestation of the written language -- quoc ngu. (Actually, the French preferred the French language, but recognized the quoc ngu as the offical language in the early 1900s...). When Vietnam won independence from France in 1945, the provisional government declared quoc ngu to be the official language of The Republic of Vietnam.

Or, as my hairdresser would have it, "the French came in, made up the lanugage. Then they got tired and left."


No limits for governors here

There is some speculation that Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak would run for governor of Minnesota in 2010 (something I would love to see, and at this point would definitely support him). And this lead us to a discussion the other morning about whether our current governor could or would run again, and that lead us to an attempt to figure out if governors had term limits.

And the answer in Minnesota is no.

The Council of State Governments' Book of the States outlines which states follow which practices for state official term limits. (Found via National Governors Association). And it varies from state to state -- some have two-year terms, most have four-year terms; many allow no more than two consecutive terms, others have no term limits in place at all.

The Book of the States (an annual publication) publishes just about everything one may need to know about a state's government, and includes that hard-to-find information along with an expert essay about state trends. (I have never seen this publication -- I work with a small print reference collection, and it doesn't seem to be published in its entirety anywhere on the web).

Another aspect of the governorship that varies in eight states is succession. In most states the lieutenant governor takes over, but in eight states it could be the secretary of state or the speaker of the senate. And, Oregon is the only state that does not have any tools in place to impeach a governor.


Finding dead people

I learned of some resources to discover family connections recently, and although I am not into genealogy, I want to remember these. So, after exploring Ancestry and Heritage Quest online at your local library, these sites might give some additional links...

Cyndi's List
A list of genealogy sites that you can browse by categories such as adoption, oral histories, orphans and various countries.

Dead Fred
A photo archive for the enthusiast. This site seems to depend on contributions from its users, but I like the list of surnames and possibilities. There's also a great mystery section!

WorldGenWeb and WorldGenWeb for Kids
I knew about the USGenWeb before, but missed the WorldGenWeb. A volunteer organization that maintains great starting points for genealogists around the world. Most sites include information about local resources, and I came across several that were in their original languages.

And one tip...

Graveyards and Cemetaries
Lots of cemeteries post their lists of burials (lots don't of course) but finding those cemetaries can be a great starting point, and Cemetery Junction is there to help you do just that. Finding the actual graves can be a good way to get some birth and death dates, and names of relatives. You can also submit (in fact, you are encouraged to submit) graves you know of at Find a Grave in addition to searching for graves. Interment.com publishes cemetery records as well. All of these depend on the kindness (and initiative) of strangers to get the information up there, but there's a lot there already.



I must have been having a day where I signed up for anything and everything I stumbled across online a few months ago.

In my email inbox at work I had a notification that the next issue of Go! was available, and I thought "what the heck is this? I wouldn't register with a women's magazine online..." And, indeed I didn't, for it turns out that Go! is all about transportation...for teens. I'm still trying to figure out why I even signed up for it in the first place, and while I was trying to figure that out I came across a few interesting tidbits.

MyKey is a new technology (currently available in the 2009 Ford Focus) that supposedly works as a self-regulator for bad drivers. "The transponder unit inside your key fob transmits and receives messages to and from your vehicle" and the car's computer adjusts what the car is doing when it hits certain benchmarks. Good driving behavior, according to this technology, involves not exceeding 80 mph (this would never fly in Germany) and maintaining a stereo decibel level no higher than 44.

When a railroad bridge collapses, the rail company that owns it is responsible for funding the repairs (unlike highways and freeways, which are government funded). The Northern Railway Company is responsible, for example, for fixing the downed bridges in Iowa (resulting from the recent floods) and, in the meantime, are seriously losing revenue from having to take the long way around.

A bicyclist in Ames, Iowa was issued a $50 fine for failing to yield at a train crossing (she yielded for the first train, but not the second that was traveling in the opposite direction). This, after she was hit by the train, thrown from her bike and suffered many broken bones. The folks at Operation Lifesaver continue to work to educate and reduce the number of accidents at railroad crossings.


Oh, Grumpy

Aaahhhh, the 80s. I was a child in the 80s, and I like to think that I know my fashions, sitcoms and toys of the decade quite well. (Popular music? Not so much. I basically only listened to Michael Jackson, Madonna and Debbie Gibson. Explains a lot). I had Pound Puppies, Cabbage Patch Kids, Garbage Pail Kids, Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Ponies, a Glo Worm, Transformers...(this started to look like a long list, but no...) and Care Bears.

And, like children today, I watched the shows, read the books and really got to know the stories of my favorite dolls and stuffed animals. I had Funshine Bear, but I thought I took great care in familiarizing myself with all the Care Bears and their cousins.

Why am I writing about this? - Part I
This Halloween someone came dressed up as Good Luck Bear (with a very impressive costume, but I don't remember my Care Bears drinking beer and smoking cigarettes) and of course, some of us started discussing the other Care Bears. My friends were convinced there was a purple bear with a rain cloud, but I, in all my life, had never seen such a bear nor could I imagine that there would be a gloomy Care Bear.

Why am I writing about this? - Part II
I have a bookshelf at the library for some favorite, highly merchanized characters -- Arthur, Caillou, Dora & Diego, Thomas the Train, etc. One of my teen volunteers could not find the Care Bear section when she was shelving books the other day. I started to tell her that the Care Bears don't have their own section, but stopped mid-sentence before I could tell her where to shelve it.

For there in her hands, Dear Readers, was a book was called Snow Fun. And it features Grumpy Bear.

The ten original Care Bears are BedTime Bear, Birthday Bear, Cheer Bear, Friend Bear, Funshine Bear, Good Luck Bear, Grumpy Bear, Love-a-lot Bear, Tenderheart Bear, and Wish Bear. Grumpy Bear shows us "how silly we look when we frown to much" but he also validates the grumpy feeling that children can have, and the rest of the Bear's stories can be found here as well.


The Letter B

Wednesdays are my storytime day.

After we sing our welcome song we check the mailbox for the letter of the day. Usually we get the letters first (which are giant magnetic foam capital and lower case letters) and name them, pronounce them and trace them in the air with our fingers. Then we see what else the mailman has left for us -- which is a bunch of various objects that start with the sound of the day, or have some connection to the sound of the day. I'm not a "theme" person when it comes to storytime, but my first books, songs, fingerplays, etc., tend to emphasize the letter of the day. So in my planning I tend to think about the letter.

Today, we got the letter B.

As it happens words that start with the letter of the day/week stick out for me. (This happens more often than I care to admit.) A few things from this week....

One of the things we learn about Robert Ferrars in Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility is that he is "quite the most popular bachelor in London. He has his own barouche." As I was watching the best version (read: only version worth watching) of Pride and Prejudice over the weekend, I was reminded that I had never seen one.

The fancy convertible of the early 1800s, its features include seats that face each other and a collapseable top.

Not spelled b-a-t-o-n (as I previously assumed), Bataan is a province in the Philippines. Imperial Japan captured Bataan and were able to force a surrender from American and Filipino troops in 1942. They forced their prisoners to walk 60 miles to death camps, and this event is what is known as the Bataan Death March. There is a new

Barack Obama's transition website is Change.gov.


Random tidbits

Just passing along some random tidbits from the week...


One year and prompts

I started this blog one year ago today, and must confess that it lasted about 50 weeks longer than I expected. This is a good thing for me, and I really enjoy the writing and I really enjoy my readers. That's you.

Every blogger I know eventually does a why I blog thing...

..and every blogger I know eventually needs a few tools or techniques to overcome writer's block.

I came across such a tool at the Tragic Optimist just in time (a week ago -- it took me a week to get going on writing something!). "The idea is to give one word answers to the questions, which is cool when you're stuck on writing, because all of a sudden you want to write more. Perfect!"

1. Where is your cell phone? purse
2. Where is your significant other? couch
3. Your hair color? brown
4. Your mother? awesome
5. Your father? awesome
6. Your favorite thing? purple swarovski necklace
7. Your dream last night? none
8. Your dream goal? expatriation
9. The room you're in? narrow
10. Your hobby? quilting
11. Your fear? amputation
12. Where do you want to be in six years? here
13. Where were you last night? home
14. What you're not? snuffleupagus
15. A wish list item? wii
16. Where you grew up? Duluth
17. The last thing you did? sneeze
18. What are you wearing? sweats
19. Your TV? off
10. Your pets? perfection
21. Your computer? macbook
22. Your mood? irritable
23. Missing someone? yup
24. Your car? pos
25. Something you're not wearing? topsiders
26. Favorite store? borders
27. Your summer? hectic
28. Love someone? yup
29. Your favorite color? purple
30. Last time you laughed? Tuesday
31. Last time you cried? forgot

There. I killed two proverbial casual-blogger birds with one post.

I'm all about efficiency here at Oranges and Peaches.