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BENJAMIN'. Ready? Okay. Let the games begin.
How did the bread called Pumpernickel get its name?
A gentleman whose acquaintance I made over Thanksgiving
dinner told me this tidbit. It is fascinating. I expand a bit upon the
original. Whether or not it is true is another matter. It seems that Napoleon
had 50 horses one of which had the name of Nicol. While on a military mission
in that part of Europe now known as Germany, Napoleon or his groom gave the
horse some of the local bread to eat. The reasoning behind this was the
disdainful attitude of the Frenchman in charge towards the bread, which--due to
its heavy concentration of grain--he considered unfit for human consumption.
Instead he fed it to the horse stating in a most derisive way: "C'est du
pain pour Nicol". (It is bread for Nicole). This disparaging remark--pain
pour Nicol--became painpournicol and then pumpernickel. There are other
theories--one of them being that the word pumpernickel was a pejorative part of
the German language of the time equivalent to today's "jerk" . . .
perhaps relating the word to those who ate it as observed by those watching the
event as being less than sound of mind. This last part--of course--being only
extrapolation on my part. And now you know--if not the whole story--as least
part of it. Truth is often segmented into smaller particles of nonsense for
We've been pondering your column and our family has gotten
together and think we've got one we don't think you can answer. It is this:
What is the meaning of life, dear Benjamin? Tell us that if you can.
The Lytelle family.
Samuel, Harry, Ida, Thomas and Sybil.
As an aside to your question I must tell you I love
acronyms. That said . . . the answer to your question is truly quite simple.
Life is the means by which food for the planet's inhabitants is preserved for
up to ninety years and more without the need for refrigeration. I hope this
clarifies things somewhat.
I wonder if you know how the Culet got its name.
This question brings us . . . in a most delightful fashion .
. . to the Ass End of a Diamond. First . . . I must warn you that there may be
a bit more than a slight bit of extrapolation here though I tend to think not.
I shall begin with Culus . . . the Latin word for anus. In French the word
would be Cul. A cul-de-sac is a dead end figuratively speaking. Literally it is
the ass end of a sack. Now let's shoot for the diminutive. It is here that I
extrapolate a tad. Every language has its diminutives. Ette is the French
suffix which is used to express its diminutive terms. Hence if Cul is ass . . .
then Culette would be little ass. Of the many parts of the diamond there are
three most of the world is familiar with. There is the Table. (That's the top
flat part.) There is the Gridle. (That's the circumference.) And there is the
point at the bottom called the Culet. (Alternate spelling might once of have
Culette. (Little Ass.) And so . . . when speaking of the tiny pointed end at
the bottom of a diamond . . . are we talking about the Culet? Or are we talking
about the Ass End of the Diamond? These are the questions that torment my soul
Jeremy. The questions are elusive. The answers too mysterious for words. Hope
Whenever I'm with this particular person at a party he
always takes center stage and asks riddles no one can answer. Can you give me a
riddle that's extremely difficult so that I can shut him up and put him in his
place once and for all? Of course you would have to send me the answer by
You have twelve pieces of candy. Eleven weight exactly the
same. The twelfth is poisonous and has a different weight from the others. You
do not know if it weighs more or less. Just that it weighs different. Using a
balance scale . . . find the poisonous candy in three tries. Answer is coming
via email. I promise you will stump the bum.
I have always wanted to know how long I have left to live
barring any illnesses or accidents. Can you help me?
All animals on this planet can measure their lifespan by
heartbeats. For human beings their lifespan is roughly 2.21 billion heartbeats.
Take your pulse in beats per minute. Multiply by 60 to know beats per hour.
Multiply that by 24 for beats by day. Times 365 for beats per year. Multiply
that by your age and subtract those results from 2.21 billion. That will give
you heartbeats left to live. Divide that number by 365 and you will have years
left to live. Add that to your age and you will have your answer. Hope this
This is one of my earliest Tidbits articles and far and away my favorite. It is about an immigrant to the USA who's name is probably known by everyone world-wide. If you'd like to read it ... Click here.