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Viewer Question Submissions



This page is a forum for viewers of Ralph's U.B.I. Page. Submit your questions here for posting. Feel free to submit your responses! Answers will be included as they are received (whether right or wrong--This could be VERY interesting!).


  • From David T. Dwyer III: What does "KMG365" from the television series "Emergency" mean?
      From Ralph: KMG365 is the station's call sign. In the first few episodes LA had a response code too; it was KMG941.
  • From David Finkel: I was asked why pants are referred to as a "pair". I can't find the answer, do you know? Any help will be appreciated.
      From Ralph: Pants" is a word shortened from the French 'Pantalon' and the Italian 'Pantaleone', both circa 1590. The official Webster's Dictionary definition is '"an outer garment covering each leg separately and usually extending from the waist to the ankle -- usually used in plural".
  • From Howard Solomon: WHY DO HOUSE PAINTERS (OR COMMERCIAL PAINTERS) ALWAYS WEAR WHITE?

  • From Ralph: What is the difference between modern day carnivals and fairs?
      From Steve Lucas: In the UK Carnivals involve an element of "processing" from one place to another, whereas fairs are static. The word Carnival itself comes from the latin Carnelevanem which means to give up meat and was first used to describe processions to church at the start of Lent.
  • From Ralph: Why are Saturday and Sunday considered part of the week-END, when Sunday is actually the BEGINNING of a new week?

  • Weewilly asks: What are the bee's knees? What are the cat's pajamas?

  • Keilah Ramey of the USA is pondering...How do the manufactures of bubble-wrap get the air inside the bubbles?
      From Steve Lucas: The product is made by fusing together two films of bi- or tri-laminar plastic. The films are fed between two rollers the bottom roller of the pair is positioned slightly forward of the top one and is "dimpled" like a golf ball. Each dimple has one, or a number of holes in it, depending on the size of the dimple and these lead to the centre of the roller where a vacuum is created by an external pump. This sucks the film into the dimples before it comes into contact with the second film and the top roller. The two films are fused together by a combination of heat and pressure thus trapping the air in the dimples.
  • From Howard Solomon: WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF THE PHRASE "RAINING CATS AND DOGS"??
      From Ralph: The saying "It's raining cats and dogs" comes from Norse legend. They believed that witches, in the disguise of cats, rode the storms. This symbolized the rain. Odin, the Norse god of storms, had dogs by his side. These dogs provided the howling winds. Thus it rains "cats and dogs".
        From Ralph: Another theory emerges--From houses that had thatched roofs. Thick straw, piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the pets...dogs, cats and other small animals, mice, rats, bugs lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying, "It's raining cats and dogs.
    • From Kevin J. Carroll: I wonder if you might know something of the places and dates of death of Joe Kirk and Gordon Jones. Although they both did other things in their careers, they will probably best be remembered for their work on the Abbott & Costello TV show.
        From Ralph: The info I have so far indicates that Gordon Jones' most recent film credit was "Treasure of Ruby Hills", in 1955.
    • From Quentin Sellar: I am a student studying for an MBA at De Montfort University in the UK. We have been posed a question: "What is the origin of the phrase: Chinese Whispers"? I have been recommended to visit your site and pose you the question - so King of Trivia can you give me an answer? I will be very grateful for a reply as it will gain me great cred and brownie points.
        From Ralph: The New Model Army was a highly trained and motivated fighting force that turned the course of the English Civil War in the 1640's. It was led by Thomas Fairfax and was the nearest thing England ever had to a revolutionary army. After the war was won, the common soldiers became highly politicized and the army became a hotbed of ideas about democracy (universal suffrage), religious freedom and socialist principles. As to exactly why and who decided the name still remains a mystery. There are numerous musical groups, hearing aids, etc. that cash in on the phrase.
    • From Mwbentley: Please tell me what is the song played at the beginning of the show "Cupid"?
        From Ralph: The song is done by Chrissie Hynde, lead singer of the band "The Pretenders". It is one of the singles off her new CD, which is due to be released right after Christmas 1998.
    • From Corrinne Brooks: We can't decipher this riddle - any ideas?
      I sit stern on the rock while I'm raising the wind,
      But the storm once abated, I'm gentle and kind.
      Kings sit at my feet who wait at my nod
      To kneel in the dust on the ground I have trod.
      I'm seen by the world and known by but a few.
      The Gentile detests me, I'm pork to the Jew.
      My weight is three pounds, my length is a mile,
      And when once discovered, you'll say with a smile -
      That the first and the last are the pride of the isle.
      The answer is a word of one syllable.

    • From BleuIceTea: There are 3 words in the English language that end in "GRY"
      One is angry and the other is hungry
      Everyone knows what the third one means and what it stands for
      Everyone uses it everyday
      And if you listened carefully I've given you the third word
      What is it _____________GRY?
      This has been bugging me for the last few days and I cant get the answer. Anyone know the answer?
        From Howard Solomon: ACCORDING TO ALL THE DICTIONARY SOURCES, THERE IS NO THIRD WORD THAT ENDS IN "GRY". THE PHRASE "WHAT IS IT___________________. TELLS ALL. THE THIRD WORD IS "WHAT". THIS IS MUCH LIKE THE OLD ABBOTT AND COSTELLO ROUTINE, "WHO'S ON FIRST" OF COURSE, "WHO" IS ON FIRST, "WHAT" IS ON SECOND, AND "I DON'T KNOW" IS ON THIRD, ETC, ETC.

      • *Corinne Brooks provided the following definition of -gry from the Oxford English Dictionary:

        1) n. the grunt of a pig. v.rage or roar
        2) n. dirt found under fingernails
        3) n. small unit of measurement
        She also found this URL: http://www.punpunpun.com/
        It states that "the -gry question is one of the most outrageous and time-wasting linguistic hoaxes in our nation's history. The poser slithered onto the American scene in 1975 on the Bob Grant radio talk show on WMCA in New York City. The answer to the infernal question is that there is no answer, at least no satisfactory answer. I advise anybody who happens on the angry+hungry+? poser to stop burning time and to move on to a more productive activity, like counting the number of angels on the head of a pin or the decreases in our property taxes. There are at least 50 -gry words in addition to angry and hungry, and every one of them is either a variant spelling, as in augry for augury, begry for beggary and bewgry for buggery, or ridiculously obscure, as in anhungry, an obsolete synonym for hungry; aggry, a kind of variegated glass bead much in use in the Gold Coast of West Africa; puggry, a Hindu scarf wrapped around the helmet or hat and trailing down the back to keep the hot sun off one's neck; or gry, a medieval unit of measurement equaling one-tenth of a line."

    • From Ralph: What is the burial custom of royalty regarding adornments, etc.? For example--What was Diana, Princess of Wales buried WITH--a tiara, special jewelry...? What about other European Royalty? Any input is appreciated.
        From Steve Lucas: It was recorded at the time of the funeral of Diana Princess of Wales that Prince Charles had placed her favourite earrings in the coffin. He had done this when he travelled to France with her sisters to escort the body back to England. There is no mention of any other jewellery being buried with her. It is said that Queen Victoria was buried with a favourite ring and pearl necklace, both of which were presents from her husband.
    • From Beta Stolinsky: Is Michael Talbot, author of The Holographic Universe, dead?

    • From Howard Solomon: WHO ( WHAT PITCHER) HOLDS THE RECORD FOR THE MOST INNINGS OF BASEBALL IN WHICH HE HAD RECORDED 4 OR MORE STRIKEOUTS??(REMEMBER IF THE CATCHER DROPS THE BALL AFTER A SWINGING OR CALLED STRIKE THREE, AND THE BATTER GETS TO FIRST BASE BEFORE BEING THROWN OUT OR TAGGED OUT, THE BATTER IS SAFE, BUT THE PITCHER GETS CREDIT FOR A STRIKEOUT JUST THE SAME?
        Answer from Howard Solomon himself: THE ANSWER TO THE UBI BASEBALL QUIZ IS: THE LATE DON DRYSDALE FORMERLY OF THE L A DODGERS. I DON'T KNOW THE EXACT NUMBER OF 4 OR MORE STRIKEOUT INNINGS, MAYBE SOMEONE ELSE COULD PROVIDE THAT PART OF THE ANSWER.
    • From Kelly Behan: When someone's being sentenced to death and they're giving the person the lethal injection, why do they bother to use alcohol to clean the area before they administer the needle? It's not like he's going to get some nasty infection and turn around and sue the prison.
        Answer from Charlene Vickers: They clean the area for various reasons. The lethal injection isn't really an injection; it's an IV drip. A saline drip is begun, and only once the drip is going does the executioner add the poison to the saline solution. It has happened that the governor has stayed execution in between the prick of the needle and the flick of the switch that sends the poison into the prisoner's bloodstream. Not that the prisoner would be likely to sue if he did contract an infection; but he could pass on the infection to other prisoners, staff, etc., and the cost of treating the infection would have to be borne by the state. Cleanliness is also an issue for the person administering the IV. If there is a spill of blood, wiping the prisoner's skin with alcohol beforehand can make it less likely that the person administering the IV will contract a disease.But the most important reason is the due process of law. Execution is not supposed to be a hateful, vindictive, vengeful process. That would make the State and its employees no better than any convicted murderer. For the executioners to be able to do their work properly without undue psychological harm, they must be able to see the execution as a routine procedure, and every detail must be impassive, impersonal, professional. If executioners were to express vengeance or hatred towards their subjects, they wouldn't last a year in the job.
    • From Cathy: What was the first album to be recorded on CD? I'm at war over this one - I say "Born in the USA" and my adversary says "Dark Side of the Moon". What do you say?
        From Wesley Reinsch: Well, both of the these albums were analog (recording and master), so I would have to say neither. Also, "Born in the USA" was released in 1984 which is two years after the arrival of CDs. The first CDs were also mostly classical.
    • From Chris Forsberg: Do you know what Charlie Brown's father's occupation was? One of my friends asked me, and I can't find the answer anywhere.
        Answer from Ralph: He was a barber. Charlie Brown once pondered the rising cost of living and imagined a sign outside his father's shop that exhibited an exorbitant price for his father's services: ten dollars.
    • From Kevin J. Carroll: Please help me !! I have been a fan of Sidney Fields work on the Abbott & Costello show since I was about 5 or so. But as much as I try, I can't find any biographical information about this man. I can't find where he was born, his acting backround, etc. If you will help out with this one, I will be forever in your debt.
        *From Kandis: I found a reference to Sidney Fields in the book, "Movie Comedy Teams," by Leonard Maltin. It isn't what he is doing currently, but I thought you might be able to use it anyway. In 1952, Abbott and Costello decided to produce their own television show, "The Abbott and Costello Show," which lasted for two seasons. Sidney Fields, who played their landlord in the series, wrote many of the scripts. He was an ex-burlesque comic himself, steeped in the classic skits and blackouts familiar in that field of entertainment, and he didn't hesitate to lift old routines and place them verbatim into the Abbott & Costello Show. The show's regulars were Sidney Fields, as the landlord, Gordon Jones, as Mike the Cop, Hillary Brooke, as a lovely neighbor, Joe Besser, as Stinky, the obnoxious brat, and Joe Kirk, as Mr. Bacciagalupe.

        *From Delf:
        1) The great (I say great cause I grew up watching him on The Abbott And Costello Show) Sid Fields had a thick black mustache and was often seen holding a cigar. He was the perfect foil to Lou Costello, getting his start on the vaudeville stage and becoming a familiar face on TV. He was born in 1898 and died on September 28 1975. After a short career on radio he become a regular on the Frank Sinatra Show (1950-51) before joining Bud and Lou on The Abbott And Costello Show (1951-53). A decade later he returned to TV on The Jackie Gleason Show (1964-66). He was very funny and an expert on the Lemon Gag (a famous vaudeville act that he performed on The Abbott And Costello Show as well as on the Tonight Show With Johnny Carson (1967).
        2) The second Sid Fields was born in 1904 and died from a heart attack in 1950. He was a fast-talking English comic who also gained fame on the vaudeville stage with her partner Jerry Desmonde. Sid made only three movies "That's The Ticket" 1940, "London Town" 1946 and "Cardboard Cavalier" 1948.
        I found no info on a third Sid Fields who was alive to have appeared on the Seinfeld program.

    • Have you ever noticed that the hand of a person using a computer mouse is always much colder than the other hand that is sitting there doing nothing?
      • From Kathy W: The reasons are twofold...either he has a form of carpal tunnel or arthritis which, in either case, restricts the blood's circulation. He should raise the base of his hand with a mouse pad wrist rest, or any soft cushion. The other less obvious reason could be that his tower could be located where the airflow from the fan is deflecting back from the wall of his work area, blowing gently on his hand. Both incidents occured to me and others.
    • Daniel Balderose is looking for:
      1) Sparkie's last name on MASH
      Be sure to see my new link to Henry'a M*A*S*H* site! Return to the main page for the link. 2) Tony Banta's 2 goldfish (Banta is Tony Danza's character on Taxi)
      3) Who lives at 320 Sycamore Lane?
      • Daniel found the answer to number 3: 320 Sycamore is the address of George and Mary Bailey from the movie "It's a Wonderful Life".
      • From Henry R. Christensen:
        --Hawkeye's grandfather was named Sparky Pierce.
        --BONUS UBI: Hawkeye's great-grandfather's nickname was "Tombstone" Pierce.
        --Another "Sparky" in M*A*S*H was the operator that Radar was always talking to and his full rank and name is "Sgt. Sparky Pryor." So M*A*S*H actually has two Sparkys (Sparkies?).

      • ***Be sure to see my new link to Henry's M*A*S*H* site! Return to the main page for the link***

    • From Race Fan: RICHARD PETTY WON 200 NASCAR RACES IN HIS CAREER. MOST OF THE WINS CAME WHILE RUNNING A BIG BLOCK CHRYSLER HEMI ENGINE. MY QUESTION IS HOW MANY RACES DID HE WIN AFTER THEY PUT A RESTRICTION ON THE ENGINE SIZE? [cubic inces]. WHAT YEAR WAS THAT RESTRICTION ADDED TO THE RULES?
        --Race Fan found part of the answer to his question: OF HIS 200 WINS, 176 OF THEM CAME IN A DODGE OR PLYMOUTH [CHRYSLER CORP.] FROM 1958 TO 1979, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF 1969 WHEN HE WON 9 RACES IN A FORD. HE THEN WON 15 MORE RACES FROM 1980 IN GENERAL MOTORS CARS UNTIL HE RETIRED AFTER THE 1992 SEASON.
        --From Dennis S: The rule was established around 1975; haven't found it listed anywhere, though.

    • From Randi Robbins: What do the initials in J. D. Clampett's name stand for??
        Answer from John (1/26/98): I asked Buddy Ebsen directly about this...he said that perhaps the "E" was left out of Jed....but I am not so sure about this.....I will check further on this.... and get back to you. Perhaps I should hire Barnaby Jones.
    • From Dave L.: Why do beer/soda/champagne bubbles always seem to from from the bottom of the drinking vessel? Obviously, CO2 is inherent in these beverages, but why do bubbles become visible at the bottom of the glass?
        Answer from Robert M. Drimmie: The bubbles form fairly evenly along the bottom and sides of the whole glass, and a lesser amount form in the middle. They are most apparent at the bottom, because there aren't any other bubbles to obscure the vision. They form along the bottom and the sides more so than in the middle of the glass because of inconsistencies in the smoothness of the glass.
    • From Steve Lucas: There are allegedly only three words in the English language which end in "shion": Cushion, Fashion... what is the other one?
        Answer from Gary Scheele: Since it's a separate word from "cushion", I believe "pincushion" qualifies. (Note from Ralph: The Merriam-Webster dictionary online confirms that Gary is technically correct)
    • From Mark Zemrowski: A dingo chased a sombrero for two miles at 12 mph. The sombrero was blown by a 15 mph wind that slowed to 7 mph twice for a minute. A man, 6'6" in height, was completely sunk in sand at the end of the chase. Question, in two parts:(1) How many minutes passed before the sombrero arrived, and (2) How many seconds was the dingo late? Hint: How many inches per hour did the man take to sink? If anyone could answer this question, I would be very grateful. Also if it is not too much trouble could you also post the formula? A dingo is kind of like a prairie dog. This actually is a serious question that has a real answer, but my math skills are not quite good enough to solve it.
        Answer from Wesley Reinsch: Assuming that question is based on the dingo's 2 mile chase at 12 mph as the entire length of the chase, the dingo traveled for 10 minutes [2m/12mhp=0.166...hours=>10 minutes].
        Assuming that the wind slowed instantaneously each time it slowed (not likely, but otherwise there is no question), it blew for 2 minutes (.033 hours) at 7mph, which moved the sombrero .23 miles [.033h * 7mph] which leaves 1.77 miles for it to blow at 15mph. This takes 7 minutes 5 seconds [1.77m/15mph=0.118h=>7 minutes 5 seconds]. The sombrero arrives at the destination after 9 minutes 5 seconds [2m+7m5s=9m5s].
        The dingo is 55 seconds late. [10m-9m5s=55s]
        The man, being 6'6" is 78 inches tall. He has 10 minutes to sink, so 7.8 inches per minute is the slowest he can sink to still be totally submerged at the end of the dingo's 10 minute run [78i/10m=7.8ipm]. He can of course sink much faster and still be submerged at the end.
        Hope this helps you get your sombrero/dingo/man back...

    • From Ralph: During construction of taller buildings, cranes are raised to the upper layers of the structure. What is the method used to bring the cranes down once they are at the highest level?
        Answer from Steve Lucas: Most modern cranes can build, and disassemble, themselves using a device called a climbing frame. The first few sections of the tower are assembled by a smaller crane, the jib is then lifted into position and the now functional crane can insert new sections into the climbing frame. This is an open sided section of tower large enough to take a normal section. Once in the climbing frame a hydraulic ram raises the new section into position, the climbing frame is moved up and the process repeated. Disassembly is the reverse process.
    • From Dr.C.: Why does a modem make that horrible screeching sound when it's connecting? The programmer who finds a way to quiet it or make it sound more pleasant could make some serious money.
        From Skylar Byrd: The "horrible screeching sound" is the sound of bits going back and forth as the modem establishes a connection. It makes the sound so the user can know what is happening with the connection, like if it suddenly is cut off. There are already internal modems that do not make noise. I used to have one.

        From Rick Curry: Actually, the sounds one heard when you first connect into another computer are the two modems communicating back and forth to establish a working connection. These tones allow the modems to set the fastest transfer rate, the error correction protocol and the compression techniques that will be used with this connection.
        Nearly all modems have the ability to turn off these tones. The modems are set by default to sound them out so that you will know that the connections are being made. This stems from the first modems (that ran at a blazing 300 and 1200 baud!) not being very reliable and would not always make a connection. Check your user's manual to see how to turn the modem tones off. Most modems use the command set established by the now defunct Hayes Microcomputer Products company, the company that basically made the modem and household item (for those with computers, of course). The command to turn the modem tones off is ATM0, to set them to LOW ATM1, medium, ATM2 and high is ATM3.
        If you cannot deteremine how to adjust these tone with your software and are using an Intel (Cyrix or AMD) processor running DOS, Win 3.x, Win9x, WinNT or OS/2, you can use this command at a command prompt;
        echo ATM0 > COM1:
        This assumes that your modem is set to use COM1: as its communications port. Adjust the values of this command as you desire.

    • From Russell Beach: How much of the winnings does a NASCAR racedriver actually get? Some people say he has to pay his crew. I say the car owner and sponsors pick up the tab for crew and expenses; the purse is his to keep.
        Answer from Dennis S: The racecar driver gets a percentage of the money, depending on his contract.The car owner is not the driver. And there's the team owner. The contract determines what percentage goes to who, but the driver usually gets the biggest cut, then the money is divided among the crew, etc.
    • From Kathy: How do scientists know that no two snowflakes are alike? How can anyone count them? How do they look at one under a microscope without it melting?
        From Ralph: Every unbroken snowflake ever observed has six sides; each are different due to atmospheric conditions during its creation, similar to DNA or fingerprinting.

      • From Dr.C: I have actually heard, although cannot remember when or where so I can't verify it, that there actually were discovered two identical snowflakes. Regarding the DNA metaphor, remember that identical twins produced by division of the same zygote have identical DNA! And as far as looking at them under a microsope without them melting, one way this is done is that the scientists, microscopes, and snowflakes are all in a walk-in freezer. Another way is the flakes are kept frozen on glass microscope slides and then quickly photomicrographed before they melt. And remember, don't stick your tongue to a frozen light pole!
    • From Russell Beach: What year was the infamous snowplow game played, when the convict on work release plowed the football field so the kicker had a clean area for the field goal try? I think it was New York vs. Miami.
        Answer from J.P. Kirby: The infamous Snowplow Game was in 1982, where New England kicker John Smith kicked the only points in a 3-0 win over Miami in Foxboro, Mass.
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