Lesson #276 : Winnipeg and Minnesota

Autobiographical note: I intended to do some research into the origins of the Indo-European languages on account of my ongoing (informal) Turkish lessons, but wound up spending the better part of 12 hours in the emergency room with a friend, so today’s lesson will not be very long.

I randomly read today (from a not-so-reliable source) that both the words Winnipeg and Minnesota mean “murky water.” Winnipeg is Cree and Minnesota is Sioux. I decided to look this up somewhere around hour 7 of the wait, having finished the book I had with me.* I have to admit I got a little distracted while looking this up.

I have always known that the word Canada is from the Huron word kanata meaning “settlement” or “village.” I think we were taught that in grade 2. But it turns out that six of the 13 province/territory names are also aboriginal in origin. These include the provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec and the territories of the Yukon and Nunavut. I knew that of Saskatchewan (because, well, just look at it), Ontario (because that’s where I went to school) and Nunavut (again, just look at it). The Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada website has a decent, but by no means exhaustive, list of cities and towns with aboriginal names — including Winnipeg — that can be found here. My favourite? Rimouski, if only because it means “land of moose” and my best friend is convinced that everyone in Canada has a moose for a pet.**

Anyway, once I got back from my educational sidetrack, I also verified that Minnesota means “murky water” in Sioux. Etymonline says “cloudy water.” Good enough for me.

*I have had a smart phone for less than a year and I have absolutely no idea how I lived without one before that. In fairness, I was overseas from the time the first smartphones came out until just before I got my smartphone, but still. It’s amazing how easily accessible information is these days and how quickly I have adapted to having access to that information at all times.

**He doesn’t actually believe this because he’s not a complete idiot, but nearly every time I talk to him, especially if he’s been drinking, moose come into the conversation. It has been this way for as long as we’ve known each other.


Lesson #269: Hot Springs’ Spring Training

My mother is currently deployed in Arkansas and passed this bit of information along.

Her email*: “Did you know Hot Springs, Arkansas, was the premier baseball spring training site from the 1880s-1940s? The Chicago White Stockings, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox and others came to soothe their aching muscles at the many bathhouses using Hot Springs National Park water.”

I did not know this, but let’s get down to the important stuff…

In alphabetical order, the teams whose Spring Training was held in Hot Springs:

Boston Red Sox – 1909-10, 1912-18, 1920-23

Brooklyn Superbas/Dodgers/Robins** – 1910-12, 1917-18

Chicago White Stockings/Cubs*** – 1909-10

Cincinnati Reds – 1910-11

Detroit Tigers – 1908

Philadelphia Phillies – 1912

Pittsburgh Pirates – 1901-13, 1920-23

St. Louis Browns**** – 1911

The earliest team to use Hot Springs as a spring training facility was the White Stockings, (NPR reports that in 1885 Cap Anson took his team — and a reporter — to Hot Springs for training, but I can’t find any research to back this up. It’s NPR though, so I tend to believe them…they likely had access to the newspaper archives.) the last were the Red Sox and the Tigers in 1923.  I don’t know where the 1940s number comes from because after 1900, Baseball Almanac (where the teams/dates are pulled from) is very thorough.

*Clearly a trivia piece she pulled from somewhere (probably the NPS site) because she doesn’t actually talk like this.

**They changed their name to the Dodgers after the 1910 season, then were the Robins from 1914-1931 before going back to the Dodgers — which, incidentally is short for Trolley Dodgers.

***The White Stockings changed their name to the Colts after the 1889 season, the Orphans after the 1897 season and then to the Cubs after the 1901 season.

***Now the Baltimore Orioles.

Lesson #265: Kansas Has No State Fish

I went to see a friend out in the county tonight* and we were watching Hawaii Five-0 and got into a discussion of the state fish. She and her husband are both from Hawaii so they’ve got the whole pronunciation thing down. I…do not. In my defence, it’s not the easiest fish to pronounce. It’s a humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Yeah…you give that one a go. I’ll just wait here while you make a fool of yourself.

Anyway, her husband informed me that every state has a fish and I was not sold on that. My argument was Kansas.** It turns out that most of the states (as of 2008, 47 of them) have either an official state fish or one they’ve all just informally adopted.

The three states without a state fish? Arkansas, Indiana and Kansas.

*It’s amazing how quickly once I moved into the city, I developed an irrational hatred for having to be in the county unless passing through to go somewhere else. We have friends who we barely see anymore because they moved to the county; they might as well have moved to Guam.

**I don’t feel like that needs an explanation.

Lesson #253: A Kentucky Duel

A quick note before today’s lesson: Sometimes, my lessons pay off. There was a question on Jeopardy! yesterday to which the answer was Spartacus. I knew the answer because he was the subject of a lesson back in April.

My cousin in a major Canadian city* sent me a link today to a book she thought I’d enjoy. I need to get my hands on it. It’s a book of recent legal oddities written by a lawyer. My favourite of the examples deals with duels in Kentucky.

First of all, awesomely, under the Constitution of the state of Kentucky, all lawyers must swear an oath that they will not, nor have they ever, engaged in any duel with a deadly weapon, nor acted as a second.** It also bars anyone who has participated in a duel from holding “a state office of honor or profit.”

Now, that part is actually fairly reasonable given when it was adopted (presumably sometime around the end of the 18th century), but in 1998 an amendment was added to make it law for first responders and members of disaster and emergency response organizations to swear the same oath.  The best part of this, though, is that Kentucky (like probably most other states) has mutual aid pacts with other states and a 2004 report for Congress notes that during an emergency, state officials can “waive procedures and formalities otherwise required by law.”

What does this mean? I’ll let the author take it away…

“Thus, during times of disaster, a rogue Kentucky official can repeal the anti-dueling law for Kentucky employees and thereby create a loophole that allows Kentucky workers to duel with disaster aid workers from neighboring states that themselves don’t renounce dueling, all this at a delicate time when teamwork, not the settling of old scores, is vital to citizen health and welfare.”***

*I actually have four cousins living in major Canadian cities, five if you count Winnipeg, which is up for debate.

**A second, in that context, was actually a question on Jeopardy! recently that I only knew the answer to because I’ve seen the duel episode of Firefly about a dozen times. And they say television rots the brain!

***All information and quoted text can be read here. And presumably in the book, which can be purchased here.

As an aside: I do not know this author, nor do I have any vested interest, financial or otherwise, in whether you purchase a copy of his book. It’s just something I found interesting.

Lesson #169: What the Americans Drink

This is completely independent of last week’s post on the Canadians’ awe-inspiring juice guzzling abilities, I promise. I just happened to stumble on this map of the distribution of American drinking today.

Montanans drink the most per capita. I only know one Montanan and he’s a good drinker, so I guess I can go with that. Utahans drink the least per capita, which should surprise exactly no one. I don’t know any Utahans, though my Montanan friend currently lives in Utah.

Oddly, New Yorkers drink very little on average. And apparently the no tax thing in New Hampshire has a lot of people boozing it up there (though I wonder how much of that purchased beer is actually consumed by New Hampshirites  — -ians? -ans? New Hampshans? — and how much of it is taken back down to Massachusetts.) The Nevada number is sort of a misnomer given that Vegas is in Nevada and we all know about Vegas.

Not surprisingly, much of the bible belt falls under the less alcohol consumed than the more. Also not surprising is the tidbit that  Reno has the highest rate of alcoholism. I’ve been to Reno, I get it.

A little surprising…under Kentucky law, most of the lushes I know are still sober! Under Kentucky law, I’ve been drunk twice.

Lesson #51: The 18th Amendment

I was evidently not paying all that much attention in my American History class. Or, more likely, I knew this just long enough to put it on a test and then forget it. Anyway…

Contrary to popular belief, the 18th Amendment of the US Constitution did not prohibit the possession and consumption of alcohol. It did, however, prohibit making, transporting and selling it. So if you had some of grandfather’s scotch sitting around, you were all set. Otherwise, you were illegally drinking questionable liquor. Nothing says fun like bathtub gin, moonshine and potential death!

Incidentally, under the 21st Amendment, which repealed the 18th (and is the only amendment to have been repealed in its entirety), it was — and probably still is — still illegal to transport alcohol into dry counties.* Dry counties still exist. I know this because I used to live in one in a southern state and had to drive seven miles north to the county line to buy beer (at a place with a really awesome name that I would drop were it not the first 18 or so hits on Google), which would have been a hassle had the owners of that place not been a. really knowledgeable about beer and b. totally awesome people in general who special ordered things for me or with me in mind because they thought I’d like it.

As a side note, it is because of prohibition that NASCAR exists. I think that says more than the vault to power of the mafia about how bad prohibition was.**

*This part of the law must only rarely actually be enforced if it is still on the books.

**I am thankful that I live in a time when not only do I have access to beer, but I have access to a wide variety of beers from all over the world. At present my beer shelf has beers from: the Czech Republic (two different kinds, no less), Ireland, Germany and Australia.