Question: I am one of the greatest wits you have ever met; unfortunately, I'm always a day or two late with my witticisms. I do this all the time: Some thing happens, and then hours later I think of something I should have said. Is there a term for this experience? -- V.L.C., Salem, Calif.
Answer: I take it you are not going to be nominated for the Dorothy Parker Wisecracks and Other Sarcastic Comebacks award. You have "the wit of the staircase." The phrase refers to those biting or witty retorts you think of as you are going down the staircase to leave. In French, it is called "l'esprit d'escalier."
Q: I've heard of the movie "The Perfect Storm." Is there such a thing as a perfect storm? -- T.R.M., Cookeville, Tenn.
A: Yes, there is. The phrase has been used since the early 1700s, although back then it had a positive connotation. The first use of the expression in the meteorological sense was in March 1936, when a meteorologist described the rare combination of events that led to a "perfect storm."
When journalist and author Sebastian Junger began researching a book about the devastating 1991 Halloween storm that hit the Eastern seaboard, he interviewed a Boston meteorologist who described the different weather-related phenomena that combined to create the perfect situation to generate such a storm. He liked the way those words sounded. His book, "The Perfect Storm," was released in 1997, and the movie followed in 2000. Since then, the term has been used to describe anything from financial crises, workplace conditions and even tumultuous marriages. In 2007, Lake Superior State University added the phrase to its list of words that deserve to be banned.
Q: I was in a diner with high-back bench seats. A woman sitting behind me was talking about her pet, which she described as being "the most adorable creature you have ever seen." She went on to say it was small and bushy tailed, with soft fur. She said it was incredibly friendly. Early in the con versation she called it her "sugar" something. I don't know if this is her nick name for the pet, or if I've provided enough informa tion for you to figure out the type of animal this is. -- E.N.A., Wyomissing, Pa.
A: "Sugar" something is enough information for me to at least give you a good possibility. I think she has a sugar glider. They are native to Australia and Indonesia. This little creature is a member of the same order that includes kangaroos, opossums, wombats and Tasmanian devils! The sugar glider's head and body measure five to six inches long, and it has a bushy tail of equal length. The adult glider weighs 4 to 6 ounces. They live for about 12 years.
Sugar gliders are not cheap. The price range is $200 to $600. The features the woman described are accurate. They are cute. However, as for being "the most adorable creature you have ever seen," I'm more inclined to nominate my red border collie, Tinge, for that distinction. Then again, maybe I'm biased.
Q: Let's say I'm hiking in the woods one day, and I stumble upon a chuck of gold. It's exactly 1 cubic foot. How much does it weigh? -- A.L.B., Amster dam, N.Y.
A: One cubic foot of 24-karat gold weighs a bit over 1,200 pounds.
Q: A few years back I used to go to auctions, hoping to buy my million-dollar item for a buck or two. It never happened. At the end of each auction, leftover or unsold items are put into boxes and sold for less than a dollar -- I bought several. I just went through them. There is an old baseball in one. It's signed by someone with the last name "Brady," and it looks like the first name starts with an "S." On the opposite side of the ball, someone wrote "Chicago WS." I can't find anyone on the roster with that name. Do you have any clues? -- P.L., Lakeville, Minn.
A: If you checked the Chicago White Stockings, you would have had some luck. The White Stockings were the forerunner to the Chicago Cubs. Very possibly the ball was signed by Michael T. "Spike" Brady. He did not have much of a major league career. Brady played in only one game, on Sept. 25, 1875. He had one hit (a triple) in four at-bats, scored a run and had three errors in eight chances in center field. I'm sure you want a value on the ball -- I'd look for a dealer who specializes in baseball memorabilia.
Q: Are the members in the country trio Lady An tebellum related to each other? What are their names? Where are they from? -- M.T.L., Chatta nooga, Tenn.
A: The three members who make up Lady Antebellum are Hillary Scott, Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley. They are not related. Hillary Scott was born April 1, 1986, in Nashville, Tenn.; she is the daughter of country artist Linda Davis and musician Lang Scott. Charles Kelley was born Sept. 11, 1981. Dave Haywood was born July 5, 1982. Haywood and Kelley were childhood friends in Augusta, Ga., where they were both born; they begin writing music together when they were 14.
Q: Some co-workers are trying to come up with a word for the close rela tionship one has with a colleague. As one put it, "It's almost like I am mar ried to that person for eight hours a day." -- M.R., Myrtle Beach, Va.
A: You don't have to try to create a new word. According to Merriam-Webster, there is already such a term: work spouse. Its definition: a work colleague with whom one has a close working partnership and relationship that in many ways mimics a marriage.
Q: I'm at a party, and I'm very bored. I'm looking at a large bowl of shelled peanuts. How many pea nuts are there in a pound? -- J.G., Spring Hill, Fla.
A: Wow, you MUST be bored. That's the last thing I'd be thinking about at a party. But, since you asked, I have the answer for you. I'm looking at the nutrition facts on the side of a container of Planter's Extra Large Virginia Peanuts and it says there are about 34 peanuts in an ounce. There are 16 ounces per pound. So 34 peanuts times 16 ounces equals 544 peanuts in a pound.
Q: I got an email claiming that March 2013 will have five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays. The email goes on to say this occurrence is rare and happens only once every 823 years. Is all of this true? -- H.L, Rowena, Texas
A: It is true that March 2013 will have five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays -- just take a peek at your calendar. While you're at it, look at July 2011, August 2014 and July 2016. You'll see that this is far from a rare occurrence. All that has to happen is for a 31-day month to begin on Friday.
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