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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Curiosities - Part I

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, April 20, 2008

 

In a past column, I mentioned that all nonfiction titles in the library collection satisfy the "curiosities" of the reader.

 

That is correct in a broad sense, but there are many book titles that concentrate on the "curiosities" of our world, and answer every odd and unusual fact to the fascination of the reader.

 

I reviewed several titles to highlight curiosities that might have interest to a broad readership.

 

Trying to obtain the history of curiosities was a challenge, particularly when doing an Internet search.

 

Why do the hands on a clock operate "clockwise?"

 

Clocks with hands were first made in North America where the clock's predecessor, the sundial, worked by a rotation to the right.

 

Therefore, clockwise means that the hands of a clock rotate to the right when viewed face forward.

 

The opposite is called "counterclockwise" in North America, and "anticlockwise" in Great Britain.

 

As our society moves to digital timepieces, this terminology is often confusing to younger people.

 

Clockwise motion has been adapted by the nut and bolt industry for tightening and loosening.

 

Connected to the hardware industry, the Phillips screw was patented in 1936 by Henry L. Phillips of Portland, Oregon.

 

It is considered a better fastener as it is self-centering and is better adapted to power tools.

 

Mr. Phillips lost the patent in 1949 as it was too-easily copied.

 

Did you ever wonder the name of those white "half-moons" at the bases of our fingernails and toenails?

 

They are called "lunulae" and are the only visible portion of the nail matrix that produces the nail.

 

A phrase that is lesser used today is the whole "kit and caboodle."

 

Both words are Dutch in origin, with "kit" being a drinking cup, and "boedel meaning household stuff.

 

Kits became the name of the knapsacks carried by soldiers, and gradually the terms together came to mean "everything" in a general sense.

 

The first documented use came in 1948 when the "Ohio State Journal" made reference to it.

 

What is "cottage cheese?"

 

It is probably the oldest cheese produced in the world because of the ease and simplicity in production when compared to other cheese forms.

 

It was made in homes all over Europe in the Middle Ages, and the word "cottage" was added as it was produced in the farmer's cottage using the milk remaining after the cream had been skimmed for use in butter manufacturing.

 

The term was first documented in the U.S. in 1848.

 

I still have doughnuts, ketchup, and Oreo cookies to tell you about.

 

They were certainly examples of the impact of the Internet on information research.

 

Books provide a better-balanced view of the history of those curiosities.

 

The Internet has history as interpreted by the various companies who currently produce those products.

 

Wikipedia information is slanted to whichever company last posted, or edited the information.

 

Next week, I will try to untangle a balanced history of those products.