Friday the 13th

To all our readers who enjoy an extra bit of trivia today, many people have heard the word “triskaidekaphobia” used in connection with the fear of the number 13 generally. But did you know that there is actually a word meaning fear of Friday the 13th?  It’s “paraskevidekatriaphobia,” which is derived from the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, in English that is Friday), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, which in English is thirteen).

There is no clear origin of the reasons why Friday the 13th has become associated with bad luck and made people superstitious.  Some attribute it to the fact that there were 13 individuals present in the Upper Room on the 13th of Nisan, the date of Jesus’ last supper and crucifixion and the night before his death (Good Friday).  Another historical connection may relate to Friday, October 13, 1307 –   the day Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar— an event referenced in Dan Brown’s 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code.

That said, from a historical view, until sometime in the 19th Century, the unlucky attribution to both Friday and the number 13 together has never been substantiated.

Happy Friday the 13th !

Poet’s Corner

On May 31, 1819, one of the greatest American poets, Walt Whitman, was born. A native New Yorker, Whitman grew up in Brooklyn and became the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle External. Over time he started experimenting with poetry without a regular rhythm or rhyme – now referred to as ‘free verse.’ His famous poem Leaves of Grass was first published anonymously in 1855, but he kept revising and enlarging the poem – the final, ninth edition was published in 1892, the year Walt Whitman died.
P.S. Walt Whitman shares a birth date (but not the same year) with Clint Eastwood.

Useless But Compelling Facts

Back by popular demand, our trivia contests are starting up again . .. for the uninitiated, here’s how it works.

At the beginning of each week, I will post question or conundrum – a puzzlement – generally based on some obscure tidbit of information.  In other words, a perfectly useless, but absolutely compelling (and hopefully fascinating) fact.

I confess it’s getting harder to find anything obscure with anything and everything available through the World Wide Web (thanks a lot Sir Timothy Berners-Lee) but I’ll try.  Besides, some of the questions requiring multi-part or fully complete answers are going to be tricky.

Your objective is to get the correct, complete and precise full answer and get it to me by email (@ Joe Rosenbaum) first.  At the end of the week, I will post the answer, along with the name and affiliation of the person who got me the complete correct answer first.  Now there are some basic rules I will follow:

  • First, if you prefer not to have your name or affiliation posted, let me know in your submission and I’ll leave it out if you win;
  • Second, you MUST put UBCF as the very first item in the SUBJECT line of your email to me when answering.  I reserve the right (and a table at my favorite restaurant) to disqualify any person, entry, submission and their successors and assigns from winning if you don’t have UBCF first in the subject of the email;
  • Third, if I am unavailable at the beginning or end of the week for some reason, I’ll post the questions or the answers or both on a different day; and
  • Fourth, if you or your answer are void, restricted, prohibited by law, avoid any contact with skin and eyes and consult a physician right away – oh, and don’t enter because it won’t count;
  • Last, but not least, if there are any rules I’ve forgotten, I am likely to make them up along the way.  Sorry. My trivia contest, my rules.  Besides, the only prize you can hope for is recognition. Then again, if nothing is obscure on the World Wide Web  anymore, you may just become famous or, based on this last rule, I may decide to award you a prize. You just never know!

Enjoy the fun and thanks for playing along,

The Editor