The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number.
Why was that gauge used?
Well, because that's the way they built them in England, and English engineers designed the first US railroads.
Why did the English build them like that?
Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the wagon tramways, and that's the gauge they used.
So, why did 'they' use that gauge then?
Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they had used for building wagons, which used that same wheel spacing.
Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?
Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break more often on some of the old, long distance roads in England . You see, that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.
So who built those old rutted roads?
Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (including England ) for their legions. Those roads have been used ever since.
And what about the ruts in the roads?
Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match or run the risk of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome , they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Therefore the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Bureaucracies live forever.
So the next time you are handed a specification/procedure/process and wonder 'What horse's ass came up with this?', you may be exactly right. Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses. (Two horses' asses.)
Now, the twist to the story:
When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah . The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains, and the SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds.
So, a major Space Shuttle design feature, of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system, was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's ass.
And you thought being a horse's ass wasn't important?
Ancient horse's asses control almost everything......
For my fifty-fifth birthday this year, my wife (the dear sweetheart) purchased a week of personal training at the local health club for me. Although I am still in great shape since playing on my college football team 30 yrs ago, I decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and give it a try.
Called the club and made my reservation with a personal trainer named Belinda, who identified herself as a 26 yr old aerobics instructor and model for athletic clothing and swim wear. My wife seemed pleased with my enthusiasm to get started! The club encouraged me to keep a diary to chart my progress.
MONDAY: Started my day at 6:00am. Tough to get out of bed, but it was well worth it when I arrived at the health club to find Belinda waiting for me. She was something of a Greek goddess -- with blonde hair, dancing eyes and a dazzling white smile.
Belinda gave me a tour and showed me the machines. She took my pulse after 5 minutes on the treadmill She was alarmed that my pulse was so fast, but I attributed it to standing next to her in her Lycra aerobics outfit. I enjoyed watching the skillful way in which she conducted her aerobics class after my workout today.
Very inspiring , Belinda was encouraging as I did my sit-ups, although my gut was already aching from holding it in the whole time she was around. This is going to be a FANTASTIC week!!
TUESDAY: I drank a whole pot of coffee, but I finally made it out the door. Belinda made me lie on my back and push a heavy iron bar into the air, and then she put weights on it! My legs were a little wobbly on the treadmill, but I made the full mile. Belinda's rewarding smile made it all worthwhile. I feel GREAT!! It's a whole new life for me
WEDNESDAY: The only way I can brush my teeth is by laying the toothbrush on the counter and moving my mouth back and forth over it. I believe I have a hernia in both pectorals. Driving was OK as long as I didn't try to steer or stop. I parked on top of a GEO in the club parking lot.
Belinda was impatient with me, insisting that my screams bothered other club members. Her voice is a little too perky for early in the morning and when she scolds, she gets this nasally whine that is VERY annoying.
My chest hurt when I got on the treadmill, so Belinda put me on the stair monster. Why the hell would anyone invent a machine to simulate an activity rendered obsolete by elevators? Belinda told me it would help me get in shape and enjoy life. She said some other ???? too.
THURSDAY: Belinda was waiting for me with her vampire-like teeth exposed as her thin, cruel lips were pulled back in a full snarl. I couldn't help being a half an hour late; it took me that long to tie my shoes.
Belinda took me to work out with dumbbells. When she was not looking, I ran and hid in the men's room.. She sent Lars to find me, then, as punishment, put me on the rowing machine -- which I sank.
FRIDAY: I hate that ????? Belinda more than any human being has ever hated any other human being in the history of the world. Stupid, skinny, anemic little cheerleader. If there were a part of my body I could move without unbearable pain, I would beat her with it!.
Belinda wanted me to work on my triceps. I don't have any triceps. And if you don't want dents in the floor, don't hand me the *&%#(#&**!!@*@ barbells or anything that weighs more than a sandwich
The treadmill flung me off and I landed on a health and nutrition teacher. Why couldn't it have been someone softer, like the drama coach or the choir director?
SATURDAY: Belinda left a message on my answering machine in her grating, shrilly voice wondering why I did not show up today Just hearing her made me want to smash the machine with my planner. However, I lacked the strength to even use the TV remote and ended up catching eleven straight hours of the Weather Channel.
SUNDAY: I'm having the Church van pick me up for services today so I can go and thank GOD that this week is over. I will also pray that next year, my wife (that scheming ?????), will choose a gift for me that is fun like a root canal or a vasectomy.
Late one night a police officer was patrolling a rowdy bar to anticipate possible DUI violations. At closing time, he saw a fellow tumble out of the bar, trip on the curb, and try his keys in five different cars before he found his. Then he sat in the front seat fumbling around with his keys for several minutes.
Everyone else left the bar and drove off. Finally he started his engine and began to pull away. The police officer was waiting for him and turned on his light and pulled the driver over, read him his rights and administered the breathalyzer test. The test results showed a reading of 0.00. The puzzled officer demanded to know how that could be. The driver replied, "Tonight I'm the designated decoy!"
A guy goes into a bar, orders 12 shots and starts drinking them as fast as he can.
The bartender says, "Dang, why are you drinking so fast?"
The guy says, "You would be drinking fast if you had what I had."