The minutiae of everyday life …
last update: 28 January 2022
Watching TV quiz shows I can answer some of the questions, and there are others I know I should have been able to answer. In some cases I'm proud not to have known the answer (e.g. characters of British TV soaps, or the doings of so-called 'celebrities').
I know…… As someone once said "Game shows are designed to make us feel better about the random, useless facts that are all we have left of our education”. Does that mean I don't even have that…?
However, there are questions I can't answer, but I would have expected that I should have known them. For example, How many days currently separate the Gregorian Calendar and the 'old' or unrevised Julian Calendar? I knew it's a couple of weeks, but the real answer is currently 13 days. How about Saint Patrick's Day commemorates what moment in his life? I know it was the 17 March and I would have (correctly) guessed it commemorates Saint Patrick's death. This is not Mastermind or University Challenge stuff, … just Eggheads style trivia.
The calendar of saints is the association of a day with one or more saints. The system arose from the early Christian custom of commemorating each martyr annually on the date of their death, or birth into heaven, a date therefore referred to in Latin as the martyr's "dies natalis" ('day of birth'). And the sense of martyr might actually be a surprise to the reader, and is certainly worth looking up.
I know the word trivia makes you think of obscure knowledge and facts usually about pop culture. But the word "trivia" is the plural form of the word "trivium", which in Latin meant a spot where three paths meet, i.e. “tri” = three and “viae” = roads. The three roads represent the three topics of Roman basic education, namely grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Its only in 16th-century Shakespearean times, that the word started to mean something commonplace or ordinary. Did you know that in the US the 4th January is National Trivia Day? Now that's a piece of useless trivia!
I will admit that I don't read novels (old or recent), don't follow celebrities, don't watch TV soaps, don't remember names of actors or actresses, …, so all these topics are 'blind spots'. And with a bit of luck and a minimum of effort they are likely to stay so.
But I did decide to start collecting the kind of stuff I thought I should know, but didn't.
I've separated the 'stuff' into two different groups.
The first group is really 'stuff', or the collection of questions and expanded answers, along with the occasional list, photograph, etc. I've started with General Knowledge, including stuff on calendars, the naming of days and months, major religious festivals, public holidays, and an odd list of "Paradises, Utopias, Heavens, Hells, and Mythical Places".
The second group is where questions about 'stuff' led me to try to understand and document information in a more systematic way. Topics that fall into this group include:-
English Language, including Parts of Speech in English, Etymologies, Vocabulary (with Unusual Words, New Words - New Definitions, Old Words - Old Meanings with Old Jargon, Slang and Cant, Latin in the English Language and Interesting Latin Phrases, Foreign Words in English, a Glossary of Interesting Sporting Terms, The Language of Geometry and Mathematics, The Language of Science and Technology, Abbreviations, etc., Synonyms, etc., Figures of Speech, Sayings, Eponyms, …