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Re: Bet you didn't know this! saw

Posted by jujube on September 28, 2004, at 10:53:11

In reply to Bet you didn't know this!, posted by saw on September 28, 2004, at 9:42:24

I didn't know that. Always wondered where the expression came from. It is one that my mom uses all the time. She has some weird ones, including her most famous which always make me laugh and I always end up screwing up: "That's right cabbage, you've got the head". I just have to think about that one and I start smiling (small things eh).

Tamara

> In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters
> carried iron cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It
> was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon, but how to prevent
> them from rolling about the deck? The best storage method devised was a
> square based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four resting on
> nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could
> be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one
> problem...how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding or rolling from
> under the others. The solution was a metal plate called a "Monkey" with
> 16 round indentations. But, if this plate were made of iron, the iron
> balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was
> to make "Brass Monkeys." Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts
> much more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the
> temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much
> that the iron cannonballs would come right off the monkey. Thus, it was
> quite literally, "Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey."
> (And all this time, you thought that was an improper expression, didn't
> you?)
>
> ************************************************************************
> Sabrina
>


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