in flux

Category: Did You Know?

Doing It Wrong: Beach Towels Edition

Spock Beach Towel – GeekAlerts

Beach Towels: They’re more complicated than you think! Gizmodo breaks down why you suck at sitting on the beach with a helpful guide to this unique towel’s many handy features.

Unfortunately, the jury’s still out on how a beach towel matches up against your everyday variety when it comes to interstellar hitchhiking.

Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs

I’ve always been curious about the origins of ‘The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog’ but never bothered to find it out. Turns out its a pangram dating back to 1885.

Firstly: a pangram is a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet at once, making them ideal for testing typewriters, keyboards and selling you on fonts. They exist in almost every language and can be complete proper sentences, like the dog and fox, or a perfect pangram, using each letter a single time, ex: Cwm fjord bank glyphs vext quiz, technically considered an anagram of the alphabet. There are even phonetic pangrams, focused on the pronunciation of the language rather than the letter itself.

It was first seen in The Michigan School Moderator in March 1885 as a suggested writing exercise. Since then, it has been redone (The original sentence began A quick brown fox, not The quick brown fox) and reused by everyone from Western Union to Microsoft. It maintains a firm place in American pop culture.

As I said, panagrams aren’t unique to English, and almost all languages have at least one popular panagram – even Klingon!  Sadly I am unable to reproduce it in the original Klingonian (?) characters, but it appropriately translates to: Because of your apparent audacity the depressed conqueror is willing to fight you.

If you’re bored to death of the fox and the dog, here’s a few other  pangrams to help test out your fancy new pen:

  • Jack, love my big wad of sphinx quartz!
  • My ex pub quiz crowd gave joyful thanks.
  • A quick chop jolted my big sexy frozen wives.
  • Watch “Jeopardy!”, Alex Trebek’s fun TV quiz game.
  • Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs (my personal favorite)

Earwax facts

This particular subject is on my mind for two reasons:

  1. My husband’s  got a nasty ear infection, of which he has a long history.
  2. I got a real humdinger of cerumen out this morning, that so impressed me I just had to brag.

Cerumen – in case you, like me, didn’t know – is just another word for earwax. Like most other gross excretions, ear wax is made by your body, for your body, primarily with dead skin, protein and fatty acids. Earwax helps  you by protecting and lubing up the ear canal. Lesser duties include protection against infection, insects and water – we think. The actual scientific functions of cerumen is not certainly known.

DID YOU KNOW? There are two types of earwax: wet and dry. It’s all in the genes: a single gene mutation determines your wax type, which is believed to be linked to ethnicity. The dominant wet wax is most common in White and Black individuals, while the recessive dry wax is seen primarily in Asians and Native Americans. No more than 3% of those of European and African descent have dry wax, but over 95% of East Asians do.

Obviously, ethnicity is not the final factor in deciding what earwax you’ll spend your life with. I’ll let The NYT take us home:

The single mutation in the earwax gene is one in which a G (for guanine) is replaced with an A (for adenine). People who inherit the version of the gene that has A from both parents have dry earwax. Those who carry two of the G versions, or one G and one A, are destined to live with wet earwax.

I cannot say for sure what gender, sexual orientation or hair color my future babies will inherit, but I do know that my cerumen  will go on. Call me strange, but I find that both comforting and fascinating.