THE IMPORTANCE OF THE HORSES ASS
sometimes interesting to understand why things are the way they are. It can also
reveal much about the workings of the human mind and the course of
The US standard railroad gauge (width between the two rails) is 4
feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge
Because that's the way they built them in England, and the US railroads
were built by English expatriates.
Why did the English build them like that?
Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the
pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.
Why did "they" use
that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs
and tools that they used for building wagons which used that wheel
Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?
Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on
some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of
the wheel ruts.
So who built those old rutted roads? The first long distance
roads in Europe (and England) were built by Imperial Rome for their legions. The
roads have been used ever since. And the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots
first formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of
destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for (or by) Imperial
Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. The United States
standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original
specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Specifications and
bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification and
wonder what horse's ass came up with it, you may be exactly right, because the
Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back
ends of two war horses. Thus, we have the answer to the original
Now the twist to the story..............
There's an interesting
extension to the story about railroad gauges and horses' behinds. When we see a
Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets
attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or
SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah. The engineers who
designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs
had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad
line from the factory had to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had
to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad
track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses' behinds. So, the
major design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced
transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of
a Horse's Ass!
The Association for Automotive Professionals
Will L. Woods,
Automotive Trade Organizations of CA
3002 Dow Avenue, Suite
Tustin, CA 92780-7234
In times gone by, when
pub-goers drank from tankards, some tankards were made of a poor standard pewter
that contained too much lead. If the acidity of the beverage in the tankard was
high, the lead would be released into the drink. The lengthy, unconscious state
that followed was often mistaken for death and many a drunk was buried alive.
(This was discovered because the coffins were recycled, after a fortnight they
dug up the poor sods, nicked the coffin and used it again. Scratch marks were
found on the inside of the lids - urghh!) Anyway, to prevent this happening the
corpses were buried with string attached the wrist. This went to the surface and
was attached to a bell. Graveyard watchman would sit there waiting for "dead
ringers" to "be saved by the bell".
In Shakespeare's time, mattresses
were secured on bed frames by ropes when you pulled on the ropes the mattress
tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. That's where the phrase,
"goodnight, sleep tight" came from.
The sentence "The quick brown fox
jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter in the alphabet. Developed by Western
Union to test telex/twx communications.
The only 15 letter word that can
be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.
are playing 'possum, they are not "playing." They actually pass out from sheer
The Main Library at Indiana University sinks over an inch every
year because when it was built, engineers failed to take into account the weight
of all the books that would occupy the building.
The term "the whole 9
yards" came from W.W.II fighter pilots in the Pacific. When arming their
airplanes on the ground, the .50 caliber machine gun ammo belts measured exactly
27 feet, before being loaded into the fuselage. If the pilots fired all their
ammo at a target, it got "the whole 9 yards."
The phrase "rule of thumb"
is derived from an old English law which stated that you couldn't beat your wife
with anything wider than your thumb.
When Heinz ketchup leaves the
bottle, it travels at a rate of 25 miles per year.
The name Jeep came
from the abbreviation used in the army for the "General Purpose" vehicle,
Ten percent of the Russian government's income comes from the sale of
On average, 100 people choke to death on ball-point pens every
Only one person in two billion will live to be 116 or
In Cleveland, Ohio, it's illegal to catch mice without a hunting
The world's termites outweigh the world's humans 10 to
In 10 minutes, a hurricane releases more energy than all the world's
nuclear weapons combined.
It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000
years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply
his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer, and
because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the "honey month"
or what we know today as the honeymoon."
In English pubs, ale is ordered
by pints and quarts. So in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender
would yell at them to mind their own pints and quarts and settle down. It's
where we get the phrase "mind your P's and Q's."
Many years ago in
England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim or handle of their
ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some
service. "Wet your whistle," is the phrase inspired by this practice.
ancient England a person could not have sex unless you had consent of the King
(unless you were in the Royal Family). When anyone wanted to have a baby, they
got consent of the King & the King gave them a placard that they hung on
their door while they were having sex. The placard had F.U.C.K. (Fornication
Under Consent of the King) on it. Now you know where that came
Mosquito repellents don't repel. They hide you. The spray blocks
the mosquito's sensors so they don't know you're there.
The liquid inside
young coconuts can be used as substitute for blood plasma.
No piece of
paper can be folded more than 7 times.
Donkeys kill more people annually
than plane crashes.
You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching
Oak trees do not produce acorns until they are fifty years of
age or older.
The first product to have a bar code was Wrigley's
The king of hearts is the only king without a mustache.
Boeing 747s wingspan is longer than the Wright brother's first
Venus is the only planet that rotates clockwise.
not caffeine, are more efficient at waking you up in the morning.
plastic things on the end of shoelaces are called aglets.
particles in your house are made from dead skin.
Barbie's full name is
Barbara Millicent Roberts.
Marilyn Monroe had six toes.
melt in vinegar.
It is possible to lead a cow upstairs...but not
A duck's quack doesn't echo and no one knows why.
reason firehouses have circular stairways is from the days when the engines were
pulled by horses.
The horses were stabled on the ground floor and figured
out how to walk up straight
More Useful Information
The Distance To The Moon -- approximately 240,000 Statue
(kindly supplied by Miss Mary)
The Moon is at an average distance
of about 239,000 miles (385,000 km) from the earth. It's orbit is elliptical and
the distance varies from approximately 221,000 miles (356,000 km) at perigee to
253,000 miles (407,000 km) at apogee. As with the sun, this change in distance
causes a variation in apparent diameter of the moon, as viewed from the earth,
between 29.4 and 33.4 minutes of arc. The diameter of the moon is roughly 2,160
miles (3,480 km). Its period of revolution about the earth and its axial
rotation are the same, 27 1/2 days, thus it always presents essentially the same
face to the earth. The moon is slowly getting farther from the earth. This is a
result of the earth losing energy because of the tides. The moon gains energy.
And the earth-moon system does not gain or lose any energy.