Friday, February 29, 2008

A's for the Q's

Back in January, I wondered aloud - or apage? And between then and now, well, you know how I love to look things up, so here you go, courtesy moi:

You don't have to dial a 1 before the area code on cell phones because the 1 was a signal to the oldfangled landline network that a long-distance call was being placed, and that a) additional charges were accruing and b) the call needed to be switched to long distance lines. Since cell phones operate in the ether, and since at any given moment your carrier and some nerd working for some nefarious intelligence agency knows exactly where you are and where you're calling, the 1 is just superfluous.

We still say dial the phone because, what can I say, we're creatures of habit. But cell phones don't have dial tones because they're not connected to anything until after we dial, I mean punch in, the number and hit "send." Landline phones are connected to the phone network the minute we pick up the handset - the dial tone served to tell us we were good to go ("GTG" in today's cell-phone text lingo), and that the network was ready to decode the number (is it long distance? did she dial a 1?) and connect our call.

Sweetbreads aren't called organs from baby animals because then far fewer people would eat them. Duh.

It's the whole 9 yards because in WWI, ammunition came in rolls 9 yards long, and when you really wanted to give it to the other side, you gave them the whole 9 yards. My only question is - when didn't you really want to give it to them? Hey Larry, let's take it easy on them Krauts today, just give 'em 3 yards. I don't think so.

I still don't know why you listen to radio stations and watch tv channels. I'm trying, folks, I'm trying.

Turns out you can TiVo the music channels - (now that's tricky, if it's music on tv, is it a station, or a channel? Maybe a stannel?) - unless you can't. And that's that.

Dearth and hearth? That's nothing. The English language is just plain ornery.

The design question - I don't know. It's sort of the car question too. Why can't Detroit design even one car that looks like some of the best-selling Japanese cars? Just one? I don't understand why that's so hard. Oops. I guess that's not really an answer. But I was getting bored anyway.

Oh, and preheat? It's a real, honest-to-goodness word - it means "to heat (an oven) to a designated temperature before using for cooking" (courtesy Merriam-Webster). No hyphen or nuthin'. So there you go. Who knew?

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