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It's easy to put down a glass. You just put it on the table. It won't spill unless somebody tips it over.
How did people put a full drinking horn on the table? Did they have some sort of thingy to keep it in an upright position? Or were you supposed to empty it always before putting it down?
(If it makes a difference, I am thinking about the Viking period. Lacking direct info about Vikings, any other period would do)
In short, either when it was empty or it had a stand.
Drinking horns were used by many different cultures on different continents (Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe e.t.c.) and in different time periods up to this day. Often, they were not intended to be put down while liquid remained but this was not always the case.
Xenophon, among others, attested to drinking from horns in Thrace and emptying the horn was clearly an expected ritual, be it in the course of a discourse or when drinking to someone's health. The Thracians also engaged in drinking matches.
In Roman Artefacts and Society, Ellen Swift says early Roman drinking horns were mostly small and "drinking from the tip was the norm in the early Roman period" and some "have an applied foot that affords standing on a flat surface". Later examples are larger, mostly drunk from the mouth and seem to be designed to be passed around and not set down until empty.
Roman Glass: Rhyton (drinking horn), 75-125 | Corning Museum of Glass
A late Roman-Republican banquet scene in a fresco from Herculaneum, Italy. 59 x 53 cm. The woman wears a transparent silk gown while the man to the left raises a rhyton drinking vessel.
For Vikings and Anglo-Saxons, the horn would be emptied, for example, when it was passed around at feasts, in friendship and in peace:
According to a saying of the period: “In war is proved what was pledged over ale.” Women also had a clearly defined role in hall etiquette. They acted as cupbearers and were referred to by the bards as “peace weavers,” in the sense that by passing a drink from warrior to warrior, they maintained the friendship between them. The cup, or horn, was handed to the drinker in strict order of precedence-first to the hall lord, often with the injunction to be joyful at drinking, then to the duguo-the elder retainers-next the geoguo-young retainers-and finally to guests.
When the purpose was friendship, feasting, peace or toasting with alcohol, it seems entirely appropriate not to put down a drinking vessel until it has been drained. In fact, the tradition of emptying the horn continues to this day in, for example, Georgia where the "the glass (or horn!) has to be drunk ad fundum".
However, horns were not just used for alcohol but also for milk and water and for decorative purposes, drinking or otherwise. It was common (and still is in poor communities) to use every last scrap of an animal (e.g. the Vikings) so it wouldn't make sense not to make use of something that could be fashioned into an impressive-looking drinking vessel.
At the same time, it would be wrong to think that all horns had to be emptied: there is plenty of evidence of horn stands. For example,
As horn is an organic material and susceptible to decay, metal mounts are nearly all that remain from Early Medieval drinking horns. For example, we have two 9th century drinking horn fittings found in Scotland on display in Creative Spirit; a silver rim mount from Burghead, Moray and a tinned copper-alloy terminal mount from Pierowall, Westray in Orkney. Both of these mounts are the size which would fit locally available cattle breeds. However, metal fittings from exceptionally large horns have been found in high status Anglo-Saxon burials, including those at Sutton Hoo and Taplow in south-east England.
Here are two examples of drinking horns with stands. The one on the left is Viking: "A drinking horn exhibited in the Nordiska Museum in Stockholm, Sweden." The one on the right "Medieval period drinking horn, made from ox horn. (Photo: Åge Hojem, NTNU University Museum)"
The one below is in the British Museum and is late medieval (15th century).
Finally, a couple of aurochs drinking horns without a stand (although they may have had), from the Taplow burial (7th century Anglo-Saxon). Ideal for passing around at feasts?
A drinking horn was not a regular cup. Vikings had plenty of those, they weren't living in the stone age. A drinking horn is a contest, a drinking game: who can empty the whole horn in one go, without spilling the content.
We did the same in the army, with a glass boot.
Source: me, under the table. I wasn't very good at it.
The whole purpose of the drinking horn is that you drink it to the bottom, so that nothing remains, and then you can lay it in the table.
10 Dreadful Ways The Victorians Accidentally Poisoned Themselves
The Victorians were a clever lot. They gave us steam trains, stamps, photographs, and the first public flushing toilet. But they were also rather accident-prone. A bit like letting a child play with matches in a firework factory, the Victorians had a lot of dangerous chemicals at their fingertips. In the days before health and safety, their idea of protection was to print a skull and crossbones on a bottle of arsenic. The flaw with this plan was that they then happily sold the same arsenic over the counter as rat bait, often with dire consequences.
Let&rsquos take a look at a world where appearances were everything and safety came second. It was the 19th century, and the Victorians found some pretty weird ways of accidentally doing away with themselves.
Here’s What Actually Happens During an Execution by Molten Gold
Fans of Game of Thrones know that, in Westeros, death is almost always grisly. Back in season one, for example, a character was killed by having molten gold poured over his head. However terrible this might seem, though, real-life history one-ups it. Centuries ago, having molten gold poured down your throat was actually the preferred means of death by molten metal.
Marcus Lincinius Crassus, an astoundingly wealthy Roman general, is rumored to have died this way, as is Roman Emperor Valerian the Elder (though others contest that he was flayed alive). Spanish inquisitors used this technique and so did tribes in South America—as one corrupt, gold-loving Spanish governor found out in 1599.
Horrific as this sounds, it begs the question: just what killed the victim? Was it the hot gold itself, the steam, perhaps suffocation? The blog It's Interesting points to a 2003 study in the Journal of Clinical Pathology in which investigators decided to find out. Instead of gold, they used lead, another historically accurate (if less expensive) agent of execution:
We obtained a bovine larynx from a local slaughter house (no animal was harmed or killed specifically for this purpose). After fixing the larynx in a horizontal position to a piece of wood and closing the distal end using tissue paper, 750 g of pure lead (around 450°C) was heated until melting and then poured into the larynx. Immediately, large amounts of steam appeared at both ends of the specimen, and the clot of tissue paper was expelled with force by the steam. Within 10 seconds, the lead had congealed again, completely filling the larynx.
After the lead and larynx cooled down, the experimenters examined the larynx by taking cross-sections and looking at them under a light microscope. The throat mucus layer had been completely burned off, and the muscle was cooked or damaged to the depth of about 1 cm, they report.
Having molten lead or gold poured down your throat, they conclude, is a pretty sure way to die: it might rupture your organs, burn your lungs and choke you. Ultimately, though, it's probably the steam that pulls the plug.
Kottabos was an ancient pastime developed in the fifth century BC and was popular at Greek symposiums (aka drinking parties). This kind of game probably wouldn&rsquot be as successful today unless you had servants to clean up after you, as a typical game of kottabos left quite a mess. The game involved players drinking a lot of wine and throwing the dregs at various targets. Sometimes, the name of a loved one would be shouted during the throw.
The drinking cup used for kottabos was called a kylix. It had a wide but shallow body, more similar to a bowl, and handles on each side. The thrower would hold the kylix by one handle and use an overhand technique to cast the dregs. The kylix also featured an almost flat, circular center called a tondo. This area was often decorated with vulgar or humorous drawings that became more visible as the wine disappeared. One well-preserved example shows a man wiping his butt.
There were several variations on the rules of kottabos, but we know of two popular games from ancient art and texts. In one of them, the players had to knock off a disc balanced on a metal stand. In the other, there was a large bowl of water with dishes floating inside. The players had to throw enough dregs onto a dish in order to sink it.
The History of Diets
To put it mildly, dieting wasn't really a concern for our ancestors. For them, the main problem was getting more carbs, fat, and sugar into their systems, not less. That's why, in all of human history, the first person to go on a recorded weight-loss diet was England's first king, William I. Better known as William the Conqueror, by all accounts, he's the fattest man to lead a major country until William Howard Taft became stuck in a bathtub nearly 1,000 years later. Near the end of his life, William became so corpulent that he was unable to get on a horse, a major drawback at a time when that was a key means of transportation and regal honor. To cut his waistline, William adopted a liquid diet with "liquid" here meaning "liquor." For the better part of a year, the king attempted to subsist on nothing but alcohol. Amazingly, this worked better than you might expect and, eventually, he was even able to get back in the saddle. Unfortunately, this also led to his undoing. Not long after losing the weight, the king was riding his horse when it reared, driving the saddle horn into his gut and causing internal injuries that killed him shortly thereafter. To add insult to fatal injury, when it came time to load William into his casket, it turned out his diet hadn't worked all that well, Courtiers still had to squeeze him into the box. Thus, appropriately, the first diet was also the first failed diet.
The first fad diet programs began popping up in the 19th century in America, usually centered around sanitarium health spas. But it wasn't until the dawn of the 20th century that the diet really became part of popular culture. Much of the credit for that achievement goes to Horace Fletcher, a businessman and self-taught nutritionist who became the 20th century's first diet guru. Fletcher's diet was really more of an overall plan for how people ought to eat, whether they were fat or not. To Fletcher, most of America's dietary health, from corpulence to bad dental hygiene, could be explained by one simple fact: people weren't chewing enough. Fletcher taught that, for ideal health, people should chew food until it becomes liquid in their mouths. Yum. From 1895 until 1919, Fletcherism was a part of the American psyche, with believers claiming that it would help you lose weight, keep your teeth clean and healthy, and save you money on food you'd have otherwise wasted in rushed, careless eating. For best weight-loss results, Fletcherites were also urged to eat only when they were really, really hungry and to never eat when their emotions were running high. If they followed these rules, and adequately chewed everything, they could eat whatever they wanted.
Arguable not so much a "fad" as a long-standing love affair, Weight Watchers was started in the small Queens, New York home of Jean Nidetch in the early 1960s. According to her own reports, Nidetch had always been a "big girl," and had never felt comfortable around thin people, preferring to build friendships with people who were struggling with their weight as much as she was. As a young wife in her 20s, Nidetch decided to finally get control of her body, but even after losing 20 pounds in 10 weeks using a diet sponsored by the New York City Board of Health, she found she couldn't seem to stick to the plan in the long term. That was when she realized she needed the support of her friends. Nidetch began holding weekly meetings at her house, passing copies of the Board of Health Diet to anyone who came, with the hope that the more people were dieting together the better they all would do. Bear in mind, this predates the self-help movement and its attendant support-group networks. Nidetch and her friends were making this all up from scratch, and it turned out to be an addictive recipe. Within three months of her first meeting, more than 40 people were cramming into Nidetch's house on a weekly basis. Over the next year, she started several different groups around the New York metro area, finally incorporating her fledgling business in May of 1963. Now down to a trim 142 pounds, Nidetch hosted her first official Weight Watchers meeting, drawing more than 400 attendees.
The Drinking Man's Diet
In 1964, stylish San Franciscan Robert Cameron launched the one diet we would personally be ecstatic to follow. Combining his triple loves (booze, gourmet food, and weight loss), Cameron launched what he christened "The Drinking Man's Diet," aiming it at slightly chubby men-about-town such as himself. Cameron began the business with a simple pamphlet, price at $1 (cheap!) and within two years he'd sold more than 2 million copies. And no wonder. At its core, The Drinking Man's Diet was a pre-Atkins take on the low-carbohydrate plan. In Cameron's time, however, low-carb tended to take the form of country-club lunch foods: fine steaks, meaty fish, French sauces, and high-quality cheese. Cameron called this "man-type" food and supplemented it with a healthy daily serving of booze. Noting that distilled spirits, such as rum, vodka, and gin, all contained mere trace amounts of carbs, Cameron incorporated them into his plan, thus finding a way to stand out from the crowd by crafting a diet perfectly fit for the pages of Playboy. In fact, the Drinking Man's Diet and Cameron himself are still going strong. The pamphlet now costs $4.95 on Amazon.com while Cameron remain svelte at 96 years old.
And Another Thing: The Other "Ayds"
Just a simple appetite-suppressant candy laced with phenylpropanolamine (try it in chocolate, caramel, or butterscotch!), Ayds were the toast of the weight-conscious 1970s. Then, the company hit a small marketing snag. Although company officials claimed that there had been no HIV-related impact on sales in 1983, within five years Ayds had lost 50 percent of its market share and the company was reluctantly forced to "soften" the name to "Diet Ayds," a name that customers were less prone to associate with the horrific virus-related deaths.
The article above was reprinted with permission from mental_floss' book In the Beginning.
From Big Hair to the Big Bang, here's a Mouthwatering Guide to the Origins of Everything by our friends at mental_floss.
Did you know that paper clips started out as Nazi-fighting warriors? Or that cruise control was invented by a blind genius? Read it all in the book!
Aged 9,000 Years, Ancient Beer Finally Hits Stores
Dogfish Head brewery is known for making exotic beer with ingredients like crystallized ginger or water from Antarctica, so it might not sound surprising that one of its recent creations is a brew flavored simply by grapes and flowers. It's not the recipe that makes this beer so special it's where that recipe was found: a Neolithic burial site in China.
Chateau Jiahu is a time capsule from 7,000 B.C., but to hear Dogfish Head owner Sam Calagione talk about what beer was actually like back then, it's not the kind of thing that makes you say "Hey, pass me another ice-cold ancient ale!"
"Probably, all beer thousands of years ago -- to our modern palates -- would have tasted spoiled," Calagione says. "In fact, in a lot of hieroglyphics, people are shown drinking beer using straws because they were trying to avoid the chunks of solids and wild yeast."
So how do you go from "chunks of wild yeast" to a beer that you can get at your local store? You don't start with a brewery. You start with Dr. Patrick McGovern.
The ancient recipe for Chateau Jiahu was decoded from molecular data found in pots from a Neolithic burial site in the Henan province of northern China. Courtesy Patrick McGovern hide caption
The ancient recipe for Chateau Jiahu was decoded from molecular data found in pots from a Neolithic burial site in the Henan province of northern China.
Courtesy Patrick McGovern
Scraping The Bottom Of The Beer Barrel
McGovern is a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. He studies fermented beverages -- otherwise known as booze -- by analyzing the ancient pots that once held them.
"We use techniques like infrared spectrometry, gas chromatography and so forth," he explains. McGovern helps Dogfish Head revive long-dead brews by figuring out what used to be inside the ancient pottery he comes across.
About 10 years ago, he set out to find some of this primordial crockery on a trip to China. In one town, he found pottery from an early Neolithic burial site. The pieces were about 9,000 years old -- as were the skeletons they were found with.
The Neolithic period, which began about 12,000 years ago, is thought to be about the time when humans started settling down, raising crops -- and apparently getting a little tipsy. McGovern suspects that once humans stayed put, it didn't take them long to discover the fermentation process that led to the world's first alcohol.
The molecular evidence told McGovern the vessels from China once contained an alcoholic beverage made of rice, grapes, hawthorn berries and honey.
"What we found is something that was turning up all over the world from these early periods," he says. "We don't have just a wine or a beer or a mead, but we have like a combination of all three."
Ancient Brews For Troubled Times
That's where Dogfish Head comes in. The Delaware-based brewery owns a tiny but respected sliver of the U.S. beer market, which Calagione says it earned by being a risk-taker. Dogfish and McGovern have produced other ancient beverages, including their Midas Touch brew, teased from pottery found in King Midas' 2,700-year-old tomb.
But, like Calagione says, Jiahu is different. It's "the oldest-known fermented recipe in the history of mankind."
This year, Dogfish Head will brew about 3,000 cases of Jiahu -- a small batch by commercial brewing standards. At $13 for a wine-size bottle, Jiahu is about six times the cost of Budweiser. Luckily, Calagione says, his sales of Jiahu and other specialty brews have actually increased during the recession.
"What we do see in this economy is that people probably can't afford a new SUV or a new vacation home, but they can surely afford to trade up to a world class beer," he says.
And while Jiahu may not be cheap, it's a lot easier to get than a plane ticket to Neolithic China.
Climate change helped destroy these four ancient civilisations
Ignorant, malign and evil. This is some of the unapologetically harsh criticism directed at climate change deniers by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Her point is as simple as it is blunt: “Climate change undermines the enjoyment of the full range of human rights – from the right to life, to food, to shelter and to health. It is an injustice that the people who have contributed least to the causes of the problem suffer the worst impacts of climate change.”
It is widely accepted that the Earth’s climate is in a near-constant state of flux. There have been seven ice age cycles, featuring the expansion and contraction of glaciers, over the last 650,000 years. The last major ice age ended approximately 11,000 years ago, ushering in our modern climate era, the Holocene. Since then, the climate has been mostly stable, although there was a Little Ice Age that took place between 1200 and 1850 CE.
But there’s more to climate change than the spread of glaciers and many once-mighty civilizations have been devastated by the effects of locally changing climate conditions.
The Mayan civilization in Mesoamerica lasted for some 3,000 years. Their empire was spread throughout the Yucatan Peninsula and modern-day Guatemala, Belize, parts of Mexico, and western Honduras and El Salvador. Agriculture was the cornerstone of Mayan civilization, with great cities being built as the population grew. Religion was an important part of Mayan life sacrifice – including human sacrifice – was a regular ritual, intended to appease and nourish the gods and keep the land fertile.
However, somewhere around 900 CE, things started to go wrong for the Mayans. Overpopulation put too great a strain on resources. Increased competition for resources was bringing the Maya into violent conflict with other nations. An extensive period of drought sounded the death-knell, ruining crops and cutting off drinking water supplies.
They were not the only ancient people catastrophically caught out by climate change.
More than 4,000 years ago in Mesopotamia – the area currently made up of Iraq, north-east Syria and south-east Turkey – the Akkadian empire ruled supreme. Until a 300-year-long drought quite literally turned all their plans to dust. It was part of a pattern of changing climate conditions in the Middle East around 2,200 BCE that was constantly disrupting life and up-ending emerging empires.
When the effects of drought began to be felt, people would leave the stricken areas and migrate to more abundant ones. These mass migration events, however, increased the pressure on remaining resources, leading to yet more problems.
The iconic Angkor Wat temple is a reminder of the prowess of another of history’s lost civilizations – the Khmer empire of south-east Asia, which flourished between 802 and 1431 CE. It too was brought down by drought, interspersed with violent monsoon rains, against the backdrop of a changing climate.
Even the Viking settlers of Greenland, in the far north Atlantic, are believed to have been affected by climate change. Some 5,000 settlers made the island their home for around 500 years. But they may have had their way of life disrupted by climate change. Temperatures dropped, reducing substantially the productivity of their farms and making it harder to raise livestock. They adapted their eating habits, turning their attention to the sea as a source of food. But life on Greenland became unbearably difficult, leading to the eventual abandonment of the island colony.
Have you read?
The natural cycle of climate change is an ongoing and unavoidable part of life. But history seems to be telling us that when past civilizations have overstretched themselves or pushed their consumption of natural resources to the brink, the effects of climate change soon become amplified. With dire consequences for those caught up in it.
Since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, increasing amounts of polluting gases have been pumped into the atmosphere, triggering an unprecedented rate of warming. According to the IPCC, human activity has caused around 1°C of global warming (above pre-industrial levels). The likely range is between 0.8°C and 1.2°C. Between 2030 and 2052, global warming is likely to hit a 1.5°C increase.
That increase of 1.5°C could put between 20% and 30% of animal species on the fast track to extinction. If the planet warms by an average 2°C the damage will be even worse. For the human population, one of the threats climate change poses is rising sea levels and eight of the world’s 10 largest cities are in coastal locations.
Another is the risk of climate-driven drought leading to mass migration events similar to those seen thousands of years ago. The Climate & Migration Coalition has warned that countries caught up in armed conflict or civil war are particularly vulnerable to famine in the event of drought. The Horn of Africa, home to Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia is an area that has been hit hard by both man-made conflict and climate change. Around 13 million people there face serious food shortages.
In volatile parts of the world, it is exceptionally difficult to address the challenges of drought and famine getting aid to people in a conflict zone is fraught with difficulty and danger. This can make the effects more profound and longer-lasting, which will, in turn, increase the likelihood of large numbers of people uprooting themselves in search of somewhere they can live.
The challenge facing our world due to climate change is something that should not be underestimated. But neither is it cause for despondency. Because unlike the Mayans, the Mesopotamians and other ancient civilizations, here in the 21st century, we are in a position to do something constructive.
The Paris Agreement was one significant milestone in the fight back against climate change. Signed by 195 members of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, it has put in place a serious of goals and commitments to keep the increase in average global temperatures below 2°C. Despite a high-profile decision to leave the Paris Accord, there is now a growing movement in the US political sphere to rejoin. There is also talk of the European Union refusing to sign trade deals with countries that are not signatories to the agreement.
Antiques DRINKING VESSELS OF THE COLONISTS
IT is cider-making time in Connecticut, as well as throughout other northern parts of the country, as it has been since the first crop of apples was harvested in 17th-century New England.
Apple trees were among the first food-bearing plants brought here to help make life more bearable for those who considered themselves English no matter on which side of the Atlantic they chose to live. In an age when water was suspect - as well it should have been for only shallow wells were in use - any sweet juice that could be turned into fermented liquor was considered as necessary as it was popular. And cider - drunk sweet, allowed to harden and often turned into brandy -was the most popular colonial juice of all.
Drinking vessels from which to quaff the beverage were as diverse as the homes in which cider was made and served. The names by which those drinking vessels, all collected as valuable antiques now, originally were known, are equally diverse.
Large bowls in which drinks were mixed, including punch, flip and mulled cider, generally today are lumped together under the common name, punch bowl. And the large glasses, known as tumblers in the 18th century, today are seldom called anything but flip glasses by collectors. Flip, according to an 18th-century recipe, was a ''potation compounded of beer, gin, cider or other spirits and coarse sugar,'' warmed in a bowl by thrusting a heated piece of iron into the mixture.
Of all the colonial containers used to serve drink of any kind, perhaps the most popular were the small vessels known in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries as beakers, cans and mugs.
Beaker, from a Middle English word for a drinking glass with a wide mouth, was used in the 17th century to describe a straight-sided container of silver, pewter, pottery or glass made with a flaring rim. Later, beakers were fashioned in bell shapes with low bases, and from 1760 to 1810 were made in ovoid or egg shapes.
A can or cann, to give it the popular colonial spelling, usually referred to a metal tumbler or handleless cup. Mug was the popular name, as it still is today, for any large, straight-sided cup with a handle and could be found made of wood, glass, silver, tin, pewter, or of earthenware or stoneware.
Today the word bottle generally is used to describe a glass or clear plastic container for any liquid. But in colonial times bottle meant any ''vessel proper to contain liquors, made of leather, glass, stone or wood.''
Bumper and brimmer were popular 18th-century names for glasses or cups used when making toasts. Collectors today usually refer to a glass with a heavy bottom, a type of bar or tavern glass, as a bumper. The term is derived from bump, and was used in the sense of knocking or thumping a glass on a table or a bar top for emphasis following a toast. But in his dictionary in 1806, Noah Webster said that a bumper was just another name for any glass 'ɿilled with liquor to the brim.'' According to Webster, brimmer and bumper were synonymous.
Other common terms brought from Britain to the colonies to describe drinking vessels included biggin, for any small bowl or cup bowl, for any small, round container, and blackpot or blackjack for a waxed or varnished leather tankard.
In 1755, Samuel Johnson described a tankard as 'ɺ large vessel with a cover for strong drink.'' Among collectors today, tankards are thought of as drinking vessels made almost exclusively of silver or pewter. In early America, however, just as was customary in England, a tankard might have been made of a variety of materials, including wooden staves hooped together, leather, glass or earthenware. Originally, tankard was applied to a vessel holding three gallons by the 18th century it signified a small but still good-sized drink container made with a handle and a lid. The phrase still heard today - ''He was tanked up'' - to describe the unfortunate drinker who has clocked more than his share, had exactly the same meaning in early New England as it has today.
The blackjack, known also as a leather bottle, was made of heavy leather made by steam in the shape of a tankard or flagon to which a handle, also of leather, was stitched. The jack was waxed or varnished for appearance' sake as well as to keep it from absorbing moisture. Some jacks were plain, others were decorated with silver rims and sometimes with inset monograms, also in silver.
Blackjacks were more popular in average homes in 17th and 18th century America than they had been in England, where they were considered instruments for use by the lower classes. Thus, John Haywood, giving a description of popular drinking vessels in 1635, wrote that ''other bottles we have of leather but they are used mostly among the shepherds and people of the country, which when the Frenchmen first saw they reported at their return into their own country that Englishmen drink out of their boots.''
Another type of container brought here by English country people was also easily made by the cooper (the carpenter who manufactured barrels and kegs) or by any householder who was handy with a whittling knife. That was the peg tankard or tankard made of wooden staves and bound round with hoops of hickory or other small, pliable green wood. The peg tankard originally was a two-quart ale measure or communal drinking pot or loving cup divided by pegs into eight drafts, and intended to be passed from one drinker to another in a tavern. Old English law, in an attempt to discourage intemperance, ordered pegs or pins fastened to the large tankards. Whoever drank beyond the peg or mark of a single draft was liable for punishment. Hence the phrase ''to take someone down a peg'' meant to subject a person to public shame. A peg's worth, incidentally, was eight ounces.
An equally popular name for the same type of wooden tankard was a hoop or hooped pot, also made of staves bound together. An 18th-century dictionary described such a vessel as a quart pot generally made with three hoops, and ''if three men were drinking, each would take his hoop or third portion.''
The hooped pot had a history that went back even further, however, for it was this style of flagon to which Shakespeare alluded when he wrote in King Henry VI, that in some future, happier times there would be ''seven halfpenny loaves sold for a penny the three-hooped pot shall have 10 hoops, and I will make it felony to drink small beer.''
What I've learned
1. You don't have to drink to have fun.
What a shocker! As someone who's been drinking since senior year of high school (sorry, Mom, we weren't just "hanging out" in the basement), most events in my life revolved around booze.
Almost everything does: Comedy shows, concerts, after-work functions, meetups, dates, conferences, dinner, museum tours. But guess what? The events don't change if you decide not to drink!
You're still you. Maybe you're more "inhibited," but is that altogether terrible? I've found that when I hang out with folks who have been drinking, I start to feel the same way I felt — in terms of becoming silly, goofy, fun — when I was drinking too.
And I remember everything that happened during the events, which is always nice.
2. You have way fewer regrets.
Since I stopped drinking, I've yet to wake up and look at my phone, see something I texted, and go, "Ugh, wwwwwwwhhhhhhhy." I'm in control of my actions basically all of the time.
I think longer before I respond to something someone says. If I'm angry, it gives me more time to calm down. Drinking definitely helped my inner jerk come out a lot more often. Now I’m better at keeping the jerkier side of me locked up. It still comes out, sure, but at least I have more control over when that happens.
3. People will judge the heck out of you.
This was the weirdest one to deal with. Many, many folks will give you attitude for not drinking. Here are a few things I've been told:
"C'mon, dude, just have one beer! It's not like you're going to meetings or whatever!"
"I can't trust someone who doesn't drink."
"You're not fun unless you're drunk."
"When you don't drink, it makes me feel bad about myself, which makes me not like you."
"I can't date someone who doesn't want to get drunk with me, sorry."
I'll bet I said some of these things myself, back when I used to drink — because when you're around someone who doesn't do something you like doing, you can be taken aback by it.
I've had friends who've stopped hanging out with me because I don't drink anymore. I've had relationships end (or not even start) because of it. I have been sent screen shots of people I know talking smack about me to other people because I choose to not do a thing.
It's weird. But it makes you realize the bad relationship with booze that other folks must be having. And for that, I have empathy. And I hope they figure it out.
4. You sleep so much better.
I haven't slept this great since before high school. Man, it's fantastic. I could point you to all the studies that show how alcohol affects your sleep, but hey, take my word for it. This is the sleep I’ve dreamed of for years.
5. You get less sad.
I don't know if I have depression, but I used to get bummed out a lot. There were days when I wouldn't want to leave my apartment, or see anyone, mostly because I hated myself.
I don't hate myself nearly as much as I used to. I'm generally OK with my life and who I am. Positivity is now my go-to emotion, even when something bad or terrible happens to me.
It's like I flipped this switch inside my brain: Instead of going to negativity, I try to find the reason something is positive. It's definitely weird to have this happen to me.
6. You develop more empathy for others.
A few weeks ago, this guy blared on his horn because I was crossing at a crosswalk and he wanted to turn, and he almost hit me with his car. Then he flipped me off and said some nasty words at me.
Old me probably would've stood in front of him, not moved, taken a photo or video of him, shared it on the Internet with the caption, "Hey, look at this jerk who tried to hit me with his car!" And I would have felt smug and wonderful about it.
Instead, after an initial moment of fear and anger, I realized this dude was probably having an awful day. Maybe he was late for an appointment. Maybe he was trying to get to the hospital to see his son who has cancer. Maybe he didn't have parents as loving as mine and that's filled him with resentment his entire life.
Either way, that guy had something going on, and I wanted him to be happier. Then I felt weird, because my brain has been wired forever to be a jerk to anyone who wrongs me. But now? I generally jump to empathy. I like that.
7. You save so much money.
I bought a condo. I'd like to pretend as though it wasn't because of how much money I saved by not drinking and buying food while drunk, but probably one-fourth of my down payment came just from abstaining from booze.
8. You get tired earlier.
It's pretty hard for me to stay up past 11 p.m. these days, even on weekends. When I was drinking, booze was a magical fuel that kept me going, trying to find a new adventure.
Now that I don't drink, I'm not constantly searching for adventure, trying to find one more fun thing that will fill the empty void inside of me. I'm content with what I've done for the day, and my body wants to go to bed. I dig that.
9. You become amazingly productive.
When you're not spending most of your free time at bars, you get a lot done. I read more. I write more. I learn more.
I spend more time working on bettering myself and my skills than I ever would have sitting at a bar, chatting with a buddy or two. I'm much less social than I used to be, but I'm also creating more art and failing a lot more than ever before.
In the end, I know I'm going to die. I'd rather there be a few things of me still hanging around after I'm dead, some sort of personal expression that others can enjoy. That requires me to put in the time to work on projects, and make something tangible and real for people to enjoy.
That seems, now, like a better use of my time than chatting with some pals at a bar. That conversation may have been great, sure, but in the end, it dies with me and those people. If I can create a few things that last longer than me, it makes my life last longer. It means I mattered a little more.
I'm glad I haven't been drunk for two years. Sure, I've done a few shots of Malort (a terribly famous Chicago liqueur, it’s disgusting) with people who've never tried it. And yes, there was that one time a dude threatened to fight me if I didn't drink that shot of whiskey he bought to congratulate me on "being so funny" after hearing me tell jokes about how I don't drink anymore.
If you ever think, hey, this drinking thing isn't fun anymore, it's fine to take a break. I just quit. For me, it's been relatively easy, and I know it isn't easy for everyone. But just know I've found countless rad people who can have fun without booze. And you can too.
25 years later, Thurman Munson's last words remain a symbol of his life
CANTON, Ohio - Six hundred feet short of the runway and decades before his time, Thurman Lee Munson died a quarter of a century ago in the fiery wreckage of a blue pinstriped jet. He was 32 years old. Munson was not planning to fly that day. He was not even going to keep the jet, a $1.4 million Cessna Citation he'd bought three weeks earlier so he could spend more time with his family. It was too powerful, too sophisticated, too much plane for him. "People who know anything about flying and aviation knew this was nuts," Diana Munson says.
She is sitting in a booth in a Bob Evans restaurant, drinking an ice tea, talking about the catcher who was the Yankee captain, the scruffy and gruff and squat-bodied anchor of back-to-back world championship clubs, and about the man of much more enduring achievement, the husband who made sure he gave his children tenderness and love, because his own childhood included neither.
Thurman Munson made a series of fatal mistakes in the last moments of his life so says the accident report from the National Transportation Safety Board. He was also a hero in the last moments of his life, says Jerry Anderson, who survived the crash and believes he owes his life to Munson's poise and tenacity.
"He flew that plane right to the ground," Anderson says. "He never gave up. The same attitude that he took to the plate in the ninth inning of a 3-3 game is what saved my life."
The afternoon of Aug. 2, 1979 brought cool air and broken clouds, and the most jarring tragedy in the 101-year history of baseball's most fabled franchise. It was an off-day, a Thursday. This is the story of Thurman Munson's last hour, and of the man he was.
3:00 p.m. Thurman Munson is back at Akron Canton Regional Airport, after having lunch with his father-in-law, Tony Dominick. Munson had flown in the night before from Chicago, following a game with the White Sox. He drives over in his Mercedes 450, a cigar in his mouth and John Denver - not the usual Neil Diamond tape - rocking in the cassette player. It will be a short stay he doesn't even lock the car. He and Diana are scheduled to meet around 4 p.m. at the office of a business associate who wants to dedicate a new road in Munson's honor. Munson tells Diana he's just going to check out a few things with the plane.
Munson has been flying for about 18 months, and is completely smitten with it. He loves the peace and solitude of flight, the lightness that comes with lifting off the ground. He is a private man, fiercely loyal to family and friends, but one who barricades himself from most of the world, with his gruffness and wariness. When you grow up in a home where there's no Christmas and no toys but a lot of criticism, you learn to build walls fast. Darrell Munson, Thurman's father, was a long-distance trucker.
Thurman was the youngest of four kids, the family poor, the deprivation far beyond material goods. Before writing his autobiography, Munson hooked up with a prospective writer and asked him, "Do we have to get personal in this book?"
"If Thurman went 4-for-5 and had a passed ball, his father would want to know how he could let that ball go by him," Diana Munson says. Darrell Munson was a physically powerful man. Sometimes he'd drop down and show people how he could do one-arm push-ups. Instead of being proud of his son's success, he often seemed jealous of it.
Diana Munson is absolutely against her husband's flying, but she lets it go: it's not a battle she can win. The previous Christmas, Diana had opened a gift from him to find a photograph of the instrument panel of a Cessna Citation. Usually his humor worked with her. This time it didn't.
"You know I'd never take a chance on anything as precious as life," he tells her that day.
Diana Dominick and Thurman Munson were childhood sweethearts and that never changed. She was signing her name Mrs. Thurman Munson when she was in sixth grade. They had a paper route together and played catch together. Even after 11 years of marriage and three kids, she says her heart would go pitter-patter when she'd hear Thurman come in the house after being away. As a girl she'd tell her father, "I'm going to marry Thurman Munson," and he'd say, 'What's a Thurman Munson?' " Diana didn't just love him. She felt secure and safe and whole whenever she was with him. It was a wonderful way to feel.
3:10 p.m. Munson sits in the cockpit of his new twin-engine jet, a seven-seat aircraft with N15NY written on both sides, along with David Hall, his flight instructor, and Jerry Anderson, a real-estate associate and friend he met playing handball at the Canton YMCA. The 5-11, 195-pound Munson liked to call the 5-7, 155-pound Anderson "Munchkin." Anderson has just returned from a flight of his own when Munson asks if he wants to see his new jet. Anderson says sure. Hall is scheduled to take a student up at 3 o'clock but changes plans after Munson asks if he'd like to go up and see how the Citation flies. They sit in the plane, on the ground, for close to a half-hour. Munson enjoys educating Hall and Anderson about the plane, and how it differs from turbo-prop aircraft. It is Munson's fourth airplane in not even 18 months, a rapid climb by any standard. He has logged 516 hours of flying time in all, 33 of them in a Citation.
Thurman Munson never wanted to be famous, or special. One of the reasons he didn't want to live in North Jersey anymore during the season is that the celebrity got to be too much. He just wanted to be the boy from Canton. Once in Manhattan, he stopped for gas with the family. He was dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt and no socks. Munson almost never wore socks. He pumped his own gas and cleaned his windshield and when he was done a guy pulled in and said, "Hey, buddy, can you fill me up?" Munson filled him up. Diana had to push him like crazy before he called Neil Diamond's people to see if he could meet the singer after a concert in Cleveland. Munson didn't want to be a green fly - his term for hangers-on and celebrity worshippers. When he traveled with Munson, Jerry Anderson was struck at how many ballplayers would hook up with women - and how faithful Munson was to Diana and the kids.
Munson never really wanted to talk about baseball with Anderson he'd much rather talk about where a new office park might go, or just joke around. When Anderson, a pilot himself, flew with Munson to Toronto for a Yankees-Blue Jays series, a man at the terminal greeted Munson, who introduced him to Anderson by saying, "I'd like you to meet my friend, Willie Randolph."