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Week of January 16, 2022

Those Letters After Your Name

Sunday

PhD = Doctor of Philosophy

Monday

JD = Juris Doctor (law degree)

Tuesday

MD = Doctor of Medicine, from Latin Medicinae Doctor

Wednesday

MBA = Masters of Business Administration

Thursday

DDS = Doctor of Dental Surgery

Friday

LCSW = Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Saturday

RN = Registered Nurse

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Week of January 9, 2022

Weightier Matters

Sunday

Since lead is a very heavy metal, the term “get the lead out,” originally ended with “…of your shoes” or “…of your pants” and means that you should speed up whatever you’re doing. And of course, “Get the Led Out” is a favorite title of classic rock radio stations for the time they play some Led Zeppelin songs.

Monday

In some cases, however, getting the lead out is a public health issue. Until the 1970s, both gasoline and residential paint sold in the US contained lead, and both products were known to cause serious health problems to those exposed to them, including children.

Tuesday

Lead has long been a standard material in bullets, since it is heavy and can deliver a lot of damage to targets. However, lead bullets can also give off a powdery residue when fired and fragment easily upon impact, leading to some health concerns among indoor firing ranges, wildlife advocates, and game meat enthusiasts.

Wednesday

A habitually speedy or aggressive driver is called a “leadfoot” because their foot is so heavy on the accelerator.

Thursday

While you wouldn’t want lead in your body, you’d want it around your body when dealing with radiation. From lead aprons near X-ray machines to lead walls in fallout shelters, this heavy metal is well known to block radiation.

Friday

The band Led Zeppelin was referencing the dense metal, but removed the “a” so nobody would confuse it with “lead” as in leader. (For the rest of the band name story, see the week of 4/4/2021.)

Saturday

Lead’s chemical symbol is “Pb” instead of “Ld” or the like because its Latin name is plumbum.

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Week of January 2, 2021

Do Treble Yourself

Among the many common terms with musical roots:

Sunday

To be “low key” means to be restrained or mellow, a term which seems to have musical origins, since lower musical keys have lower and more muted tones. Charles Dickens was among the first to use this term.

Monday

Conversely, “keyed up” means anxious, usually in anticipation. To “key up” an instrument is to tune it to a certain key.

Tuesday

To “play it by ear” is to improvise in a given situation, as opposed to following known rules. This began as a reference to people who can play music without referring to printed material, or without formal training.

Wednesday

“To pull out all the stops,” or to give something all your attention and effort, is originally referred to the workings of a pipe organ. Each pipe has a stop which can prevent pressurized air from going into that chamber, and coordinating these stops changes the sound of the music as desired. However, when all the stops are pulled out, the instrument plays at full volume and capacity.

Thursday

The expression “swan song” for a comes from a long-debunked myth that swans live silent lives until just before dying, when they a sing a singularly beautiful, melancholy song. Though even many ancient Romans knew better, this idea was used by Chaucer and Shakespeare, and the phrase remains common to describe a final performance.

Friday

“Toot (or blow) your own horn,” a term indicating praise of one’s self, has roots back to the practice of announcing the arrival of an important person with trumpets.

Saturday

To “march to the beat of a different drummer” is to have different principles and attitudes than those around you, and derives from Walden by Henry David Thoreau, where he writes “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.”

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Week of December 26, 2021

Be A Good Sport, pt. II

Sunday

Likely the only NFL team named for gothic poetry, the Baltimore Ravens get their name from former resident Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.”

Monday

The creation of the New Orleans Saints’ franchise was approved on All Saints’ Day, and “When the Saints Go Marching In” is a song long associated with the city’s jazz heritage. It also helped that the name was also a favorite in a local newspaper’s “name the team” contest.

Tuesday

The digging of a skyscraper foundation in 1970s Nashville unearthed a saber-toothed tiger’s leg bone and fang, a very rare find. Decades later, this unique discovery inspired the naming of the city’s NHL hockey team, the Predators.

Wednesday

Hurricanes Fran and Bertha, having hit North Carolina in 1996, inspired the naming of the NHL’s newly-moved Carolina Hurricanes before the team’s first 1997 game in their new location.

Thursday

The first Catholic Spanish mission in California was in San Diego, so their MLB team is the Padres, which means “priest” or “father” in Spanish.

Friday

“Trolley dodgers” was an early 20th-century nickname for the New York pedestrians who dodged streetcars as they walked the city. Also the name of this New York baseball team, the “Dodgers” stayed with them when they moved to LA in 1957.

Saturday

There a pacer horses that race, and there are pace cars in auto racing, and Indiana has a rich history of both kinds, hence the NBA team being named the Pacers.

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Week of December 19, 2021

Digital Acronym Week #4

Sunday

WPA = Wifi Protected Access

Monday

ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange

Tuesday

HDMI = High Definition Multimedia Interface

Wednesday

SEO = Search Engine Optimization

Thursday

TIFF = Tag Image File Format

Friday

DSL = Digital Subscriber Line

Saturday

SMS = Short Message Service