October 24, 1997

Not too long ago a scientific probe was fired at Saturn. While on the one hand, I think it’ll send back some amazing pictures and information, I also hope that, someday, we’ll be sending humans out that far, and they’re not exactly going to be happy when 72 pounds of Plutonium crashes into the hull. Hopefully the scientists on Earth will remember to tell the astronauts that the probe is there. I also hope the scientists who design the ship and plan the mission will review their science fiction movies because, as we’ve learned from Mir, life sometimes does imitate art. In case they don’t, here are a few suggestions:

  • DON’T design a ship with dark, twisting passageways. Aliens can hide in them too easily.

  • DON’T put anybody in hibernation, suspended animation, or anything else. Have you ever had that experience where the power goes off in your sleep and you wake up late for work? Well imagine if that happened two million miles away from Earth. You’d be pretty upset.

  • DON’T send a computer that’s smarter than the crew. If someone happens to beat it in chess, or if somebody’s floating soft drink shorts out a vital section, or if it just blows its civilized behavior fuse–the most sensitive, delicate, and least protected part–it’ll go crazy and kill everyone–starting with the people in hibernation.

  • DON’T send any trigger-happy psychopaths. Here’s an important note for the screening process: if the applicant wears a cowboy hat or screams "Yeeeehaaa!" at any time, scratch his name from the list.

  • DO send a ship with an escape pod that can hold more than one person. Why is it that whenever a crew of eight or nine on a ship the size of a small city gets attacked by a vicious, blood-hungry, eleven-foot tall indestructible alien, they discover that the escape pod can only hold one person?

  • DO eliminate anybody who says, "Hey, what’s this?" and grabs an object he doesn’t recognize. Natural selection will take care of him eventually, but not before he brings that eleven-foot tall alien on board. And finally,

  • DO let the Russians design it. Say what you like about Mir, but that thing’s been up there for eleven years. The average American car doesn’t last that long.

Enjoy this slightly more down-to-earth trivia.

Courtesy of Pete’s Wicked Ale

It was the accepted practice in Babylonia 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer, and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the "honey month" – or what we know today as the "honeymoon".

Before thermometers were invented, brewers would dip a thumb or finger into the mix to find the right temperature for adding yeast. Too cold, and the yeast wouldn’t grow. Too hot, and the yeast would die. This thumb in the beer is where we get the phrase "rule of thumb".

In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts. so in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them to mind their own pints and quarts and settle down. It’s where we get the phrase "mind your P’s and Q’s".

Beer was the reason the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. It’s clear from the Mayflower’s log that the crew didn’t want to waste beer looking for a better site. The log goes on to state that the passengers "were hasted ashore and made to drink water that the seamen might have the more beer".

After consuming a bucket or two of vibrant brew they called aul, or ale, the Vikings would head fearlessly into battle often without armor or even shirts. In fact, the term "berserk" means "bare shirt" in Norse, and eventually took on the meaning of their wild battles.

In 1740 Admiral Vernon of the British fleet decided to water down the navy’s rum. Needless to say, the sailors weren’t too pleased and called Admiral Vernon, Old Grog, after the stiff wool grogram coats he wore. The term "grog" soon began to mean the watered down drink itself. When you were drunk on this grog, you were "groggy", a word still in use today.

Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim or handle of their ceramic cups. when they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. "Wet your whistle", is the phrase inspired by this practice.

In the middle ages, "nunchion" was the word for liquid lunches. It was a combination of the words "noon scheken", or noon drinking. In those days, a large chunk of bread was called lunch. So if you ate bread with your nunchion, you had what we still today call a luncheon.

One night, a Delta twin-engine puddle jumper was flying somewhere above New Jersey. There were five people on board: the pilot, Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, the Dalai Lama and a hippie.

Suddenly, an illegal oxygen generator exploded loudly in the luggage compartment and the passenger cabin began to fill with smoke. The cockpit door opened and the pilot burst into the compartment. "Gentlemen," he began, "I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that we’re about to crash in New Jersey. The good news is that there are four parachutes, and I have one of them" With that, the pilot threw open the door and jumped from the plane.

Michael Jordan was on his feet in a flash. "Gentlemen," he said, "I am the world’s greatest athlete. The world needs great athletes. I think the world’s greatest athlete should have a parachute" With these words, he grabbed one of the remaining parachutes, hurtled through the door and into the night.

Bill Gates rose and said, "Gentlemen, I am the world’s smartest man. The world needs smart men. I think the world’s smartest man should have a parachute, too." He grabbed one, and out he jumped.

The Dalai Lama and the hippie looked at one another. Finally, the Dalai Lama spoke. "My son, "he said, "I have lived a satisfying life and have known the bliss of True Enlightenment. You have your life ahead of you; you take a parachute, and I will go down with the plane." The hippie smiled slowly and said, "Hey, don’t worry, pops. The World’s Smartest Man just jumped out wearing my backpack."

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