kit and caboodle

Kit and caboodle is everything, the entire of collection of things under consideration. But it’s an odd-sounding phrase to the modern ear. Kit doesn’t seem to make much sense here and what the heck is a caboodle?

The word kit is from the Middle Dutch kitte, a wooden vessel made of hooped staves. This original sense of kit remained current in English at least through the 19th century. It appears in English as early as 1375 in Barbour’s The Bruce:

Thai strak his hed of, and syne it Thai haf gert salt in-till a kyt And send it in-till Ingland.

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Kilroy was here

Kilroy was a mysterious World War II soldier who traveled all over the world scrawling the immortal phrase Kilroy was here wherever a flat surface presented itself. Often, the phrase was accompanied by a simple drawing of a big-nosed man peering over a wall. Clearly, the graffiti were scrawled by thousands of different soldiers, not a single one named Kilroy. But did Kilroy actually exist? And if so, did he start the fad?

Unfortunately, no one knows. There have been numerous people claiming to have been the original Kilroy, but none of the claims can be verified.

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Words On The Web: www.oclc.org\worldcat

The folks that bring the Dewey Decimal System, the Online Computer Library Center, or OCLC, have a great catalog search service. By visiting their web site at http:\\www.oclc.org\worldcat, you can enter in search terms and search a multitude of library catalogs for that book. You then enter in your city or postal code and the Worldcat service will give the libraries that that book in order of the distance from you.

For example, I enter in Word Myths and Emeryville, CA and I’m told that there are 408 libraries in the Worldcat system that have my book. The closest is the University of California Berkeley, some three miles away, followed by the San Francisco Public Library, across the bay some nine miles away. The farthest is the Singapore Polytechnic Library, half a world away.

This is an invaluable resource when you’re looking for a particularly hard-to-find book.

Classifying Human Knowledge, Part I

I’ve spent the last week organizing my library, a task that, surprisingly, has turned out to be quite interesting. In an effort to find a classification scheme that works for me, I’ve been looking at an learning about the various systems in use in libraries around the world.

The most famous is perhaps the Dewey Decimal System. Invented by Melvil Dewey in 1876, it is the most widely used library classification in the United States, used primarily by public and primary school libraries. The DDS divides all human knowledge into ten major divisions, each of these have ten possible subdivisions, these each have ten more, and so on. Hence the decimal.

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