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Word for the Day; Mark Twain? Lanai Lotto; A Serious Geo-Trivia Quiz

Our Word for the Day is “fathom”, n. measure of water depth, a unit of depth equal to 6 feet/1.83 meters, used mainly in nautical contexts for measuring the depth of water. 

Speaking of fathoms, on Thursday evening we met Mark Twain. Well, at least we met Marvin Cole, a former university dean who has portrayed the author and humorist Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) for the past 30 years. It was a delightful evening at Lake Miona Rec Center, during which Mr. Cole recited long passages from Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer (all from memory), and discussed Mark Twain’s life and times.  
Clemens was one of my childhood heroes, especially since my mother was born in Missouri and I grew up in New Orleans, spending lots of time on the Mississippi River. Clemens was a river boat pilot, and knew the river very well. Two of Mark Twain’s greatest quotes: “Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a congressman can.”  “Always do what is right. That will gratify some of the people and astonish the rest.” 

You are undoubtedly wondering, “So, what the heck is ‘Lanai Lotto’?” Well, if you recall from a  previous blog, our lanai screens endured a painful summer, suffering 7 or 8 golf ball penetrations which left gaping holes in the five year old screen panels. Being a cheapskate, I called up a local company for an estimate to replace just those screens with holes, about 20% of the total. A nice young lady came out and gave me an estimate of $250, which I thought pretty reasonable, especially since several of the panels were in the top of the lanai roof, and I don’t care for climbing roofs and risking a serious fall. Several weeks passed, and I was wondering when the schedulers would call to arrange the work. 

Well, yesterday morning a team of four workers showed up to do the job. I said, “Well, this should only take you an hour or two.” The foreman looked at me in wonder and said, “Oh, no sir, it will take most of the day.” I asked why it would take so long for repairing only seven panels. He laughed and said, “Oh, we were told to replace the entire cover.” (Thoughts of thousands of dollars in unneeded work passed through my mind, and I asked him to call the boss.) The boss said that he had had difficulty reading the estimate, and sent a big crew out for the whole cover. Since the whole team was already there, he said “I’ll just leave them there and eat the extra cost.” I would only be charged for the work I had asked for. Hoo-Ray!!!! I won the Lanai Lotto! (Looking at the before and after photos, it’s like the difference between night and day! Oh, it IS night and day… Duh!) 

Okay, this week’s Geo/Trivia-Quiz is not easy. Take your time, but all answers should be emailed to me at (so you don’t help the other contestants) not later than Wednesday 14 Nov at noon Eastern Standard Time. Here is the five part quiz:
1. What might I be pouring from a machicolation in the year 1400?
2. What group in what African country uses the Aloe dichotoma, and for what purpose?
3. What fine powdery form of carbon is deposited when oils containing carbon are burned?
4. What is the name of a woman’s gown, fitted above the waist, worn with an open front and draped skirt to show the underskirt, worn in Europe in the late 17th and 18th centuries?
5. You are in a hot-air balloon which has developed a serious leak, and you are descending rapidly. Your GPS indicates that you are about to crash at position 48.452N, 71.255W. You call for help on the radio. A. What language does your rescue agency speak? B. You only have time to grab one item from the following list. Which do you grab and why? a. a rifle; b. a hiking stick; c. snowshoes; d. a life jacket; e. a bottle of wine.

A winner will be selected by my now-typical subjective and irrevocably arbitrary decision-making process and announced by Thursday morning 15 Nov (unless I decide to sleep in because of staying up all night judging the entries). The winner will receive a neat prize, which shall not be revealed until the winner is announced. (At least I think it will be neat, but then, who am I to judge? “HA! times 3…”)   

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