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OVER OVER 4 4MILLION MILLION Readers Weekly Readers Weekly Nationwide! Nationwide!

September 18, 2012 Published by PTK Corp.




of the River Region

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by Patricia L. Cook This Tidbits delves into idioms. An idiom is “a group of words whose meaning cannot be predicted from the meanings of the constituent words.” In other words, they really don’t make sense! • If you live in the rainy Pacific Northwest, the steamy Southern states or a rain forest, you have probably heard the idiom “It was raining cats and dogs.” The origin of the phrase is unknown. One theory is that in olden days in England, dogs and cats would sleep on the thatch or hay roofs of houses. When it rained, the roofs became slippery and the animals would slide off. Hence, it was “raining cats and dogs!” • On the other hand, if you are sitting in a theater, you may be in the “peanut gallery.” This term was popularized in the late 19th century and referred to seats located in the balcony of the theater, the “cheap” seats. People in these seats would sometimes throw peanuts, common theater food of the time, on those seated below. The term was also used for those seated in the first row on the floor seats where the patrons could throw peanuts on stage if they weren’t pleased with the performance. • Regarding theater lingo, when “the plot thickens,” it means that the situation is becoming more difficult or complicated. • Many consider theater performances to be luxuries for the wealthy, those who “live high on the hog.” This expression came about because only the rich could afford the choicest cuts of pork, like loin, which comes from the top of the pig. • The best cuts of pork were usually consumed at the time of butchering. The other cuts were salt cured for preservation to be eaten during the winter. When spring arrived, people were “scraping the bottom of the barrel” looking for any scraps remaining. The term is now used to refer to the last food in the pantry, money in the budget, last one chosen turn the page for more!

Vol 1 Issue 36

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West Nile Virus We’re experiencing a seasonal epidemic for West Nile virus, brought on by infected mosquitoes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. West Nile virus can cause serious illness for some people, even leading to death in a small percentage, especially those who have other medical conditions and those who above the age of 50. In 2011, the total number of cases of West Nile virus for the whole year was 712. So far in 2012 the CDC has logged 1,590 cases and 65 deaths. In other words, it’s getting worse, and we need to know how to protect ourselves. A fact sheet from the CDC gives some good advice. Outside your house: Empty any containers that can hold standing water. This can include saucers under flower containers and any pots or buckets. Empty water in birdbaths weekly. It recommends emptying a pet’s outdoor water bowl weekly as well, but I would suggest doing it daily. You don’t want your pet to drink water that might have mosquito larva in it. Inside your house: Make sure all your screens are tight to the window and do not have holes. When you go out: Taking care that you don’t get bit by mosquitoes is probably the most crucial of all the preventions. Wear long sleeves and pants if you’re out when the mosquitoes are most active, which is dawn and dusk. Use an EPA-registered insect repellent. If your community decides to spray for mosquitoes as a way of controlling West Nile virus, take care not to be outdoors when they spray. Keep windows closed. For more information, especially the symptoms, go to the CDC site ( and search for West Nile virus, or call it at 1-800-232-4636. Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible. Write to her in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to (c) 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.

Tidbits® of the River Region IDIOMS (continued): for a team, etc. • Another term for the wealthy is the “upper crust.” This term comes from England, where the smell of bread wafted from the kitchens of country estates. The upper crust was the superior un-burnt part of a loaf that was served to the “gentry” or high society. • In Biblical times, the “upper crust,” or upper class, was offered the “fat of the land.” This meant the fattest and best livestock. • Another familiar expression with origins in the Bible is “salt of the earth.” Salt was not only expensive, it was also a vital preservative. People referred to as the “salt of the earth” were and are very precious. • Again thinking of the precious commodity of salt, a compliment that someone is “worth his salt” means he is doing a good job and is a valuable worker. Salt was so valuable in ancient days that Roman soldiers were sometimes paid with salt instead of or in addition to coins or currency. • In stark contrast to a good worker stands one who isn’t. A sorry or less-than-stellar worker may get “canned” or “sacked.” This terminology came from coal miners who were given a chit, a “statement of an amount owed for food and drink,” which they could use at the company store. When let go, their severance pay was a can of food usually put in a sack. • Just as a bad worker can affect the attitudes of his co-workers, a “bad apple” can ruin a whole bag or box of apples. This term has been used with all kinds of produce and people as well. You don’t want to be the “bad apple” in the crowd! • If you find yourself in the unsavory position of being the person viewed as the “bad apple,” you may find yourself “eating humble pie.” This saying came about in a circuitous way. In the 14th century, the heart, liver, entrails, etc. of animals were called the “numbles” (noumbles, nomblys, noubles). In the 15th century, they were called “umbles.” The umbles were used as an ingredient in pies. Only lower class folks ate “humble pie.” Hence, abasing or lowering oneself was seen as taking oneself to a lower class.

• Bakers in Europe were not usually baking “humble pie” but pastries, cookies, rolls and other fine treats. Because they could receive stiff punishment for shorting customers, bakers would usually put 13 or more pieces in their orders just to be sure. This is where the “baker’s dozen” originated. • British sailors on war ships in the 1700s might have appreciated some “humble pie” or a generous “baker’s dozen.” Their ships did not have the best living conditions. Usually, a sailor’s breakfast and lunch was only bread and a beverage. The third meal of the day included meat and was presented on a square tray. Hence the term “square meal” was coined to identify the most substantial meal of the day. • A popular topping for pizza, “Canadian bacon” has hog geography behind its name. It doesn’t have anything to do with the country of Canada other than its location relative to the United States. Traditional bacon is cut from the underbelly or south side of the pig. Canadian bacon is cut from the loin area, the upper part of the pig. Since it is from the north — Oh, Canada! • In England, it is customary to extend hospitality to visitors, even complete strangers. However, when the host chose to serve a “cold shoulder” of beef, it signaled that it was time for the guests to move on. Think about this the next time you snub someone or give them the “cold shoulder.” • When wood stoves were used to cook beef shoulders and more, cooks used the front burners for intense heat and for stoking the fire to avoid a reach across the hot stove top. When it was time to slow down or simmer the food, it was put on the “back burner.” Now that term is used for putting something on hold, such as a chore you need, but don’t want, to do. • Now for “a toast” to our Tidbits readers! Toasting is a medieval tradition that honored a host with a gesture for long life. The gesture entailed placing a crust of bread into a goblet of wine and raising it to the host, an adaptation of Holy Communion.

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Bring Home Country Living Raise chickens in your back yard in the city? “Why not?” said 36-year-old Alison Holmlund of Santa Cruz, Calif., when the opportunity came her way this past summer. The busy Silicon Valley software executive and mom of three kids under 5 might appear to have enough going on in her life without adding “chicken farmer” to her resume. “I simply couldn’t refuse when two adorable chicks became available for adoption after being lovingly cared for by children at a farmyard summer camp. I thought adding Ruby and Penny to our family would be a great way to help my city-raised kids better understand where their food comes from,” she told me on a recent visit. Just then, 3-year-old Jude announced that he found a “Penny egg” in the “Holmlund Hen House,” a sturdy structure built with recycled paneling from a 1970s bedroom remodel, a repurposed refrigerator shelf for a screen, and simple knobs from a dilapidated cabinet. “It’s so much fun for the boys to check for eggs during the day -- sometimes we get up to four. Penny lays light-green-colored eggs, and Ruby’s are brown,” says Alison. Raising chickens is a real-life application of recycling and learning about the food cycle. “We give them food scraps from our kitchen, and they fertilize the garden and eat pests,” she adds. Raising chickens might not be on your to-do list this fall, but there are other activities to bring home a bit of country life. HARVEST FALL FINDS While farmers bring in their crops, your pre-schoolers also can “harvest” natural items on walks. Look down and not just up as you hunt for acorns, branches with berries, pinecones and fallen bark. As leaves turn brilliant colors, press them in a book between waxed paper when you get home. On a rainy day, make collages, necklaces, place cards and centerpieces for your kitchen table. MAKE IT A COUNTRY WEEKEND Spend a Saturday in the country and enjoy a prearranged farm tour for an up-close look at farm life. Hang out with chickens, goats, cows and sheep. Climb in a hayloft. Or go to a pick-your-own farm to experience how fruit and vegetables are grown. GARDEN IN YOUR BACKYARD For nonstop learning, clean and dry remaining herbs growing in your garden. Pick the last sunflower, press and frame it. Till the soil and plant some bulbs for colorful blooms next spring. *** Donna Erickson’s award-winning series “Donna’s Day” is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit and link to the NEW Donna’s Day Facebook fan page. Her latest book is “Donna Erickson’s Fabulous Funstuff for Families.” (c) 2012 Donna Erickson Distributed by King Features Synd.

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Tidbits® of the River Region

To Your Good Health By Paul G. Donohue, M.D.

Restless Legs Ruin Sleep DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have suffered with restless leg syndrome for 25 years. What causes it? Is there a cure? I do take Requip. Some say that having the veins in your legs stripped helps. Does it? -- C.K. ANSWER: Stabbing pain, a burning feeling and a creepy-crawly sensation in the legs are some of the ways people describe restless leg syndrome. The sensation mostly comes on in the evening when sitting in a chair or, more often upon going to bed. The night is punctuated with interruptions of sleep, as the sensations wake a person. They drive the person to get up and walk about until these annoying feelings go way. Walking does get rid of them, but the respite is only temporary. The attacks reach peaks at midnight and again around 4 a.m. For most, a cause cannot be found. Sometimes it’s a family affair, passed by the parent to the children. In a few instances, iron deficiency anemia, renal failure and Parkinson’s disease are associated with it. The anemia connection is worth checking out, since it has a definite cure -- iron tablets. The medicine you mention, Requip (ropinirole) is one often prescribed for this problem. If you’ve been taking it for some time without relief, you ought to try some of the other medicines used for it. Mirapex (pramipexole) and Neurontin (gabapentin) are two others. A new variety of gabapentin called Horizant comes as an extended-release tablet, so medication is delivered to the body throughout the night. A warm bath before going to bed, coupled with a leg massage afterward, often can cut down on the number of attacks and their intensity. Restricting alcohol and caffeine works for some people. Removing leg veins will not help. The booklet on restless leg syndrome and nighttime leg cramps goes into greater detail on both these subjects. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue -- No. 306W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery. *** DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My mother has lived in an assisted-living facility for two years. She’s mentally clear, but physically unable to take care of herself. The last time I visited her, a nurse was taking her blood pressure. She told me that my mother’s pressure in her right arm was normal, but the pressure in her left arm was 165 over 95. Which is her true blood pressure? -- E.L. ANSWER: A 10-point discrepancy in blood pressure between the two arms is considered acceptable. With a larger difference, the actual blood pressure is the higher one. *** DEAR DR. DONOHUE: How does pancreatitis relate to cancer of the pancreas? Is it an early stage of that cancer? -- D.B. ANSWER: Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas brought on by many different conditions, including viral infections. Pancreatitis is not an early stage of cancer. Chronic pancreatitis, a long duration of pancreas inflammation, is a slight risk for eventual development of pancreatic cancer, but even it is not a common prelude to cancer. Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. (c) 2012 North America Synd., Inc. All Rights Reserved

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Wild Animals Pose Threat to Pets

by Samantha Mazzotta DEAR PAW’S CORNER: Last week a really tragic accident happened just down the street. Our neighbor was walking his 1-year-old German Shepherd, ?Champ,? on a sturdy leash. The dog tended to tug on his leash or jump away from his owner when something grabbed his attention. Sadly, when the owner paused to let his dog sniff at a tree on the curb while he waved to a neighbor, Champ suddenly darted into the busy street. Before his owner could tug him back on the curb, Champ was struck by a car and killed almost instantly. Please warn your readers to keep their dogs under control and on the sidewalk, even while on a leash, and to pay attention to their dogs during their walks. My neighbor is suffering terrible grief, and I hate to think of anyone else, or their pets, suffering from preventable

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accidents. -- Sharon in Utica, N.Y. DEAR SHARON: You’re right: While accidents do happen, many can be prevented by knowing how to correctly walk your dog on a leash. Reinforcing your dog’s basic obedience training, including sit, stay and heel commands, is an important daily task. If you’re having trouble controlling your dog on the leash despite following common leashtraining techniques, contact a professional dog trainer for group or private sessions so you and your dog will learn to walk together safely. Send your questions or tips to, or write to Paw’s Corner, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. For more pet carerelated advice and information, visit www. (c) 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.

This week’s winner receives a $25.00 GIFT CERTIFICATE from Style Connection

Register to win at and click on “Tommy Tidbits”. Fill out the registration information and tell us how many times Tommy appears in ads in the paper for this week. From the correct entries, a winner will be selected. You must be 18 years of age to qualify. The gift certificates will range in value from $25 to $50 each week. Entries must be received at the website by midnight each Saturday evening or at PTK Corp, PO Box 264, Wetumpka, AL 36092.

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Tidbits® of the River Region

1. When Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel set a rookie record in 2011 for saves in a season (46), whose mark did he break? 2. Name the last majorleague team to have an ERA below 3.00 for a season. 3. Carolina’s Cam Newton had 14 rushing TDs in the 2011 season to set an NFL record. Who was the former record holder? 4. Who recorded the highest points per game average as a freshman for Duke men’s basketball team? 5. In 2011-12, Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos set the record for most overtime goals in a season (five). How many other players had been tied with Stamkos? 6. What school has won the past two championships in NCAA women’s bowling? 7. In how many weight classes did boxer “Sugar” Shane Mosley win world titles?

1. Is the book of Goliath in the Old or New Testament or neither? 2. From Exodus 10, who made a false confession to Aaron and Moses? Herod, Malachi, Satan, Pharaoh 3. Who was bespoken by an angel to save Israel from the Midianites? Ishmael, Job, Gideon, Philip 4. From 1 Samuel 9 and 10, who was the first king of Israel? David, Saul, Solomon, Jehu 5. Who laughed on hearing she would have a child in her old age? Sarah, Ruth, Lydia, Esther 6. From John 8:44, what is Satan the father of? Sin, Lust, Scepters, Lies

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1) Neither; 2) Pharaoh; 3) Gideon; 4) Saul; 5) Sarah; 6) Lies

1. Neftali Feliz had 40 saves for Texas in 2010. 2. The Los Angeles Dodgers had a team ERA of 2.95 in 1989. 3. Steve Grogan had 12 rushing TDs for New England in 1976. 4. Johnny Dawkins averaged 18.1 points per game in the 1982-83 season. 5. Nine others. 6. Maryland Eastern Shore. 7. Three -lightweight, welterweight and light middleweight.

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Tidbits® of the River Region

by Samantha Weaver * The Rose Parade, popularly known as America’s New Year Celebration, was originally started in 1890. These days, hundreds of* It was American actress, screenwriter and notorious sex symbol Mae West who made the following sage observation: “You only live once. But if you do it right, once is enough.” * At the 2012 USA Memory Championship, Nelson Dellis set a new record for the memorization of random digits. At the annual event in New York City, Dellis accurately recalled a whopping 303 numbers in sequence. thousands of people crowd the parade route each year, and millions more view the television broadcast worldwide. The amount of work that goes into the display is astonishing: Each float has anywhere from 30,000 to 150,000 flowers on it, which are applied during the 700 to 900 hours spent on preparing each float. * Beloved film icon James Dean was missing his front teeth; he had to wear a bridge to fill the gap in his smile. * If you’re like the average American, at least onetenth of the garbage you produce is made of plastic. * The first sound recording ever made was created in 1877 by Thomas Edison. It was a musical selection: “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” * Those who study such things say that American English has roughly 20 swear words (depending, of course, on how one defines swearing). In contrast, residents of ancient Rome had a lexicon of about 800 “dirty” words to draw upon. * If you’re planning a trip by air anytime soon, you might want to keep in mind that the busiest day in airports is Thursday. *** Thought for the Day: “The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” -- Terry Pratchett (c) 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.

Tidbits of the River Region  

Vol 1 Issue 36

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