Back to top

The Smartest Year is my quest to become the world's greatest conversationalist. Every day in 2010, I will learn something new, do a little research, and report back to you with a little humor added. Just trying to make learning fun.

I promise these will come up in conversation at some point or another.

Have an interesting fact? E-mail me- SmartestYear@gmail.com

Follow @SmartestYear on Twitter

End of Smartest, Start of Stupidest Year? (12/31/10)

2010 was a great year for one reason only.  This was the first year to completely take place in the third millennium!  2000-2009 took place in 2 different millennia. 

So this is what living in the third millennium is like.

Blogs.  No flying cars.  No dinners in the form of capsules.  I don’t have a robot wife.  I don’t have a smart house.  I had a blog.

Anyway, thanks for reading and sharing my Smartest Year!  Have a good 2011!

I hate facts so much. 

Gordy Jenkins

smartestyear@gmail.com

Ornery (12/30/10)

The word “ornery” was originally a dialectal contraction of the word “ordinary.”  Originally, “ornery” simply meant ordinary, or commonplace, but eventually evolved into meaning naughty or cantankerous.

Old people love that word.

And they love calling kids “ornery.” 

Old person: “Hey, little kid.  Santa won’t come this year, because you’ve been too ordinary!”

Classic old person.

Golden Gate Bridge (12/29/10)

The official color of the Golden Gate Bridge is “International Orange.” 

It sounds like a flavor of soda that might give me mercury poisoning.

Delaware Lame (12/28/10)

Delaware is the only state without a national park.

I wasn’t del-aware of that.

I don’t know what’s worse.  That pun.  Or the post’s useless title.

NBA Logo (12/27/10)

The silhouetted figure on the NBA logo is modeled after Jerry West, a long time guard and coach of the LA Lakers.

I don’t mean guard as in bodyguard.  Although, nowadays that wouldn’t be a bad idea.

All teams should have a shooting guard.  To prevent shootings.

æ (12/26/10)

æ was a single letter in the Old English alphabet, and was known as the “ashtree.”  Nowadays, it’s commonly referred to as the “ash.”

Because it’s definitely commonly referred to…..

Grinch Song (12/25/10)

The song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” was performed by Thurl Ravenscroft, who was also the voice of Tony the Tiger.

Sorry about getting this one to you at the end of the Christmas season.  You’ll just have to strike up conversation about Frosted Flakes, and try to work this one in backwards.

And one more thing…

Mr. Grinch…?

So Grinch was his last name?  I guess that makes sense.  His first name was “The.”

But are they losers? (12/24/10)

A study performed by social psychologists in 1995 showed that participants awarded bronze medals were happier than competitors that finished with silver medals.  They were happy just to medal, while second place finishers were disappointed they didn’t win.

Thus, I refer to those who receive the bronze medal as “participants,” and those who get the silver medal as “competitors.”  I bet the fourth place person is less happy than every one though.  Except for the second to last place finisher.  I would rather get dead last than second to last.  At least if you are second to last, you can say that you are the first winner.

Bronze Medals (12/23/10)

Bronze medals for third place first started being awarded in 1904 at the Olympics in St. Louis.  Before then, only first and second places were awarded.  Before 1904, we didn’t praise losers.

Two Day Weekends (12/22/10)

Until the early 1930s, the only day of rest in America was typically the Sabbath (for Christians Sunday, for Jews Saturday).  During the Depression there was a demand for “sharing the work,” which resulted in codes of fair competition, which created the 40-hour, 5-day work week.  These codes were adopted in the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933.  This act was later deemed unconstitutional, but the practice remained.  In 1938 the Fair Labor Standards Act renewed the 40-hour week’s basis in law by stipulating that hours worked in excess of 40 were to be compensated at one and one-half times the normal rate.

Now I finally understand the lyrics of that one song…  “Everybody’s working for the weekend (thanks to the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, which, although unconstitutional, created the weekend that we are working for)!”

It’s in parentheses because only the background singers sing it.

Twas the Night (12/21/10)

The poem beginning, “Twas the night before Christmas…,” is titled A Visit from St. Nicholas, and was written in 1823 by Clement Clarke Moore.  This poem largely standardized St. Nicholas as a fat man who flew around with reindeer. 

It is quite remarkable that this caught on.  It almost seems like Clement Clarke Moore combined all of the weirdest things he could possible imagine and created an image of Santa.

It appears one night of aggressive moonshine binging gave us the endearing image we celebrate today!

MSNBC (12/20/10)

The cable news channel MSNBC gets its name from a combination of its two owners, Microsoft and NBC. 

It’s motto, “Lean Forward,” makes it sound like a channel that should be locked by parental controls.

Skivvies (12/19/10)

Why skivvies is slang for underwear is a little unclear, however, it was originally considered nautical slang.  An earlier skivvy/skivey was also used in London as a slang word for a “female domestic servant.”

In Iran, “female domestic servant” is slang for “wife.”

Unicorns (12/18/10)

In Medieval times, unicorns had strong connotations with virginity.

Some things never change.

Starboard (12/17/10)

Starboard comes from the Old English steorbord, which literally means the side on which the boat is steered. 

Sometimes etymology is what it is.   Kinda lame.  And self-evident.