Jewish World Review Oct. 30, 2003 / 4 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764

Jeff Elder

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Consumer Reports

Buttoning on the 'correct' side; when you breathe on your hand it feels warm, but when you blow on your hand it feels cool?; Why do dogs eat (and enjoy eating) dirt?; more | Q: Why do women's blouses have buttons on the left while men's shirts have buttons on the right? - John Lilley

A: Let's see. Because that mirror image helps couples undress each other faster? Because that way spouses can push each other's buttons harder?

Actually, the reason goes back in time a little.

Most people are right-handed, so it's easier for them to move buttons on the right through holes on the left. So putting buttons on the right helped men get dressed. This also enabled men to unbutton their coats with their left hand while drawing their swords with their right.

(This swordplay stuff pops up in customs. Apparently, that's why the bride stands on the left in wedding ceremonies: So the groom could draw his sword and fight off guests. Weddings used to be cool!)

Women's buttons are on the left because when the first buttons appeared, they were expensive and only the rich could afford them. Rich women did not dress themselves; maids did that for them. Because the maids stood in front of their mistresses, dressmakers put the buttons on the maid's right - or the woman's left. This helped as fashions evolved, because in some eras ladies wore corsets and dresses with many buttons. So they couldn't dress themselves, and their maids had lots of buttoning to do.

There's no practical reason for continuing this practice. But it does make it easy to tell a woman's shirt from a man's.

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Q: Why is it that when you breathe on your hand it feels warm, but when you blow on your hand it feels cool? - Lauren Williams.

A: Lauren, when you blow air out it's slightly compressed by your mouth. As it exits your mouth under pressure, the air expands and loses heat. This same principle is at work in refrigeration.

Check out the air rushing out of a car tire. The pressure makes it really cold!

Q: Why do dogs eat (and enjoy eating) dirt? - David Smith

A: Uhhh ... that ain't always dirt, David.

Dogs eat a lotta stuff out there in the back yard when they get bored. Then they give ya that weird smile, as if to say, "Look what I got on my TEEF."

Vets and other dog experts say pooches eat dirt because there's something appealing in the soil, such as a dead rodent. Or dogs might eat dirt while digging.

For years it was thought that dogs ate dirt to remedy a mineral deficiency in their diet. But some vets now say that's a myth. Dogs might eat dirt because it soothes the pain of a stomach ulcer, however.

Lots of dogs eat grass. Some do so to induce vomiting when they're sick. Others just like the way it tastes.

Q: What and where are the 10 tallest buildings in the world? - Ray Otstott

A: 1(tie). Petronas Tower 1, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1,483 feet

Petronas Tower 2, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 1,483 feet

3. Sears Tower, Chicago, 1,450 feet

4. Jin Mao Building, Shanghai, 1,381 feet

5. Two International Finance Centre, Hong Kong, 1,362 feet

6. Sky Central Plaza, Guanzhou, China, 1,283 feet

7. Shun Hing Square, Shenzhen, China, 1,260 feet

8. Empire State Building, New York, 1,250 feet

9. Central Plaza, Hong Kong, 1,227 feet

10. Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong, 1,209 feet



On beer:

1. What upscale American beer gets its name from a patriot and brewer?

2. What Mexican beer's name means "Two X's"?

3. In what cities did these beers originate? Anchor Steam, Stroh's and Rolling Rock?

4. What beer advised Americans to "go for the gusto!"

5. What beer's makers also published a famous record book?

6. What beer does Homer Simpson quaff?



1. Samuel Adams
2. Dos Equis
3. San Francisco, Detroit and Latrobe, Pa.
4. Schlitz.
5. Guinness
6. Duff

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Jeff Elder is a columnist for The Charlotte Observer. Comment or try to stump him by clicking here.


10/23/03: 'American Pie' explained; Why are tennis balls seamed like baseballs?; more
10/14/03: Origins of comic strips and hush puppies; a college football quiz; dogs that don't bark
09/24/03: Why do snooze alarms go off every 9 minutes?
09/17/03: Glad You Asked: Fun with college football
09/09/03: What's so great about Wiffle Ball?
09/03/03: What kinda wine goes best with heartache?; What did people do before alarm clocks were invented?; which has more caffeine: coffee or tea?
08/26/03: These inventors were just toying with us
08/12/03: Why do wheels appear to turn backward on film?; showdown over high noon
08/07/03: Wood'n you know it? Money doesn't grow on trees; all we are is dust in the wind
08/05/03: Where have you gone, Calvin, Opus and Cow?; fine feathered friend pecking on itself
07/31/03: How a dashing hero became a notorious traitor
07/29/03: Little red caboose rolling outta sight; From my 'I'll be a monkey's uncle' file
07/24/03: Road scholar: A lesson on asphalt; when identical twins marry
07/23/03: The sweet science of Life Savers' sparks; how do Pop Rocks work? ripping newspaper

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