Monday, October 25, 2010

#489: Pumpkin Seeds

So I carved a Jack o' lantern the other day.  First time I've done that in years.  It was fun.  Here's how it turned out:

You can't see it here, but he's got a long curvy stem coming out of the top.
(Jack o' lantern and photo by the Apple Lady)

But the thing I want to talk to you about is pumpkin seeds.  You can roast 'em and eat 'em.

Pumpkin seeds, husk on, prior to roasting
(Photo from

  • While you're carving your pumpkin, separate the seeds from the pumpkin goo as much as possible.
  • Rinse the seeds really well in a colander and pick out the stringy innards and other pumpkin what-not from among the seeds.
  • Dry the seeds the best you can.  Blotting them with a paper towel will get some of the water off. Putting them in a pan on top of the stove while you heat the oven will help dry them out some too.
  • Spread out the seeds in a pan with maybe a tablespoon or so of your favorite margarine/butter/cooking oil, and salt generously.
  • Bake in a 300 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, depending on how wet the seeds are to begin with.  The drier you can get them ahead of time, the less time it'll take to roast them.
  • Stir them around the 10 to 15 minute mark to make sure they're not sticking to the pan.
  • When they're crunchy, they're done.

Pumpkin seeds, husk on, post roasting. I'm eating some of my roasted seeds right now.
(Photo from Life's Ambrosia)

Pumpkin seeds make for a nice alternative to salty crunchy snacks like peanuts or potato chips or tortilla chips.

Even more than that, pumpkin seeds are good for you in a lot of ways:
  • They have most of the B vitamins (stuff like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid).
      • This means they'll help your body metabolize your food, process and regulate cholesterol, aid in the production of certain amino acids, strengthen nerve sheaths, assist in formation of red blood cells -- all essential things that basically help your body keep going
      • Deficiencies of the B's can lead to chronic fatigue, depression, dementia, insomnia, and weird diseases like beri beri and pernicious amnesia.
  • Pumpkin seeds are also fairly high in potassium and calcium.
      • Calcium, as we know, is important to maintaining bone strength. It also may help in reducing the symptoms of PMS.
      • Potassium helps in the regulation of blood pressure, is important to the function of your heart, kidneys, and liver, it helps regulate the body's fluid levels, supports muscle tone, and is important to maintaining mental function.  
      • If you're lacking in potassium, you might feel weak, get crampy or lots of muscle twitches, irregular heartbeat, you might develop kidney or liver problems, or you might get depressed, mentally confused, have trouble sleeping.
  • Alcoholics, you'll want to eat up your pumpkin seeds because alcohol depletes the body's reserves of the B's and potassium.
  • Pumpkin seeds also contain L-tryptophan, that stuff everybody talks about at Thanksgiving, and which is helpful in combating depression.
  • Some people think that pumpkin seeds help resolve bladder and prostate issues.
  • Many people also think that pumpkin seeds help reduce cholesterol.

Pumpkin seeds without the husk, also called pepitas. They're used a lot in trail mixes.
(Photo from Nuts Online, which sells raw pumpkin seeds for about $5.25/lb)

There's gold in them thar pumpkin guts -- the seeds!
(Photo from Brad's Gallery on Picasa)

You might also be interested in my entry on pumpkins.

Jason Earls, The Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds, Health.Learninginfo
Dr. Jerry Gordon, How B Vitamins Work, TLC
WebMD, Live Well Vitamins & Lifestyle Guide, Calcium, Potassium
Charlene Nuble, Potassium and Its Benefits to the Human Body, ezine articles

Monday, October 18, 2010

Apple #488: How Many Leaves Fall

I've been walking around in the woods lately, enjoying the rustle and crackle of walking through fallen leaves on the paths and the leaves turning color on the trees.  This year's colors aren't quite as pyrotechnic as other years because it's been so dry, but some of the colors are still pretty eye-popping.

(Photos by the Apple Lady)

All these leaves turning and dropping to the ground led me to wonder, how many leaves fall each autumn?

Well, of course no one is going to go all across the country and count every single leaf on the ground.  Ho, ho, no, that would be silly (though I am wondering right now if it could be done, if you had enough people....).  So of course such a number has to be an estimate.

It turns out, even counting the number of trees is a near-impossibility.  But there are people at the US Forest Inventory & Analysis program who do count trees.  Or actually, they count a sample of trees within an area of forest and generate an estimate for the total number of trees in the entire forest.

And someone did come up with an estimate for the average number of leaves that grow on a mature tree:  about 200,000.

So, putting together all those estimates, I have a total estimate for you.  Drum-roll, please.

Or instead of a drum roll, how about a stroll across a leafy bridge?  If you want to count the leaves, or even the trees as you go, it would be much appreciated.
(Photo by the Apple Lady)

This number is for
  • In the United States only
  • not including Hawaii, New Mexico, West Texas, or Wyoming
  • forest land only (not counting the trees in your yard or the local city park or along your streets, etc.)
  • does not include timberland either (land owned by industrial companies)
  • hardwood trees only (the best way to get deciduous trees only, and no conifers)
  • doesn't include every single variety of hardwood in existence, but includes the major and most common species
  • only those hardwoods that measure 1" in diameter at breast height (dbh)

Estimated number of trees that drop their leaves in the forests of the US: 203,257,948,035.  (Over 203 billion, in other words)

Multiply that number of trees by 200,000 leaves, and you get, depending on your preferred method of notation:
  • 40,651,600,000,000,000
  • or 4.06516 E+16
  • or more than 40 quadrillion leaves.
Given all the bits & pieces of data (trees) that are not included, I'd say that's probably a third of the actual total.

These leaves strewn all across this path are only a very small sample of the 40 -- or perhaps 120 -- quadrillion leaves that will fall this autumn.
(Photo by the Apple Lady)

USDA Forest Service, Forest Inventory & Analysis, Forest Inventory Data Online, Standard Reports
Wisconsin County Forests, Questions and Answers about Wisconsin Forests

Monday, October 11, 2010

Apple #487: Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live first aired in 1975 on this day, October 11.  There is so much I could say about this show.  To keep it manageable, I tried to find some facts about the show that you might not already know, plus a few memory lane tidbits here and there.

Here's the cast of SNL, season one. L to R: Laraine Newman, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, Garrett Morris, Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase
(Photo from Colm Hogan)

  • George Carlin was the show's first host.
  • Andy Kaufman appeared on the first episode.  He lip-synced along to a recording of the Mighty Mouse theme song.  His bit ran long and though people suggested that it be cut, Michaels decided to cut Billy Crystal's stand-up routine instead.
  • Here's a transcript of a bit that John Belushi did as Martin Gresner, pretending to have had his arm bitten off by a shark.  Phyllis Crawford was played by Jane Curtin.
Victims of Shark Bite  

[ open on title graphic ]

[ Music Over: "Mack the Knife", Bobby Darin ]

[ dissolve to talk show set ]

Phyllis Crawford: Hi, I'm Phyllis Crawford, and welcome to "Victims of Shark Bite." My first guest: Mr. Martin Gresner from Long Island, New York.

[ reveal Mr. Gresner, sitting in a chair with one leg under the other and one sleeve dangling without an accompanying arm ]

Phyllis Crawford: Mr. Gresner.. would you tell our audience just how you became a victim of shark bite?

Martin Gresner: I'd be happy to, Phyllis. Uh.. I was swimming about fifty yards offshore from my summer home in Mattatuck, Long Island. It was high tide, and, all of a sudden, I felt this sharp, piercing pain in my left shoulder. I didn't know what it was at first, uh.. my left arm felt.. numb. Well, my arm was gone. Since then, I've had to learn to do everything with my right hand.

Phyllis Crawford: Just when did this incident take place?

Martin Gresner: [ tilts his head back to think ] Oh, I'd say maybe.. [ his left hand pokes out from under his dangling sleeve as he counts on his fingers ] ..three, four months ago. [ returns his left hand under his sleeve ] I've had, uh.. I've learned how to shave with my right hand, and eat with one hand --

Phyllis Crawford: Excuse me, Mr. Gresner, but it appears to me as though you do have a left arm there.

Martin Gresner: Nope! It's gone, see? [ uses his right hand to toss his dangling sleeve over his shoulder ] Shark bit it off! Nothing there!

Phyllis Crawford: No, Mr. Gresner, that's your sleeve. [ raises his empty sleeve, then flips the side of his jacket to reveal his hidden left arm ] You do have a left arm, and it looks perfectly normal to me.

Martin Gresner: [ lifts his left arm and examines it ] It does?

Phyllis Crawford: Yes.

Martin Gresner: [ taps his left fingers nervously as he looks down at his right leg tucked under his left leg ] Oh, it was my leg! It was my leg! He bit my leg off, see? I have to hop around on one foot, I'm an invalid, I have a wheelchair --

Phyllis Crawford: Uh, Mr. Gresner, you do have a leg there, it's tucked under your other leg. [ grabs his right foot and thrusts his leg out ] You see? You're fine! There's nothing wrong with you.

Martin Gresner: Well, I saw that movie where that guy had his leg bit off --

Phyllis Crawford: [ slightly annoyed tone ] We'll be back with another victim of shark bite after this commercial message.

Martin Gresner: [ points to his chin ] I've got a scar here, where my sister pushed me off a porch, and --

[ fade out ]  

John Belushi and Jane Curtin.
(Photo from Broadway Video)

  • Saturday Night Live is the longest-running late night show.  It has won 21 Emmy Awards.
  • It was originally called NBC's Saturday Night.
  • Lorne Michaels, one of the show's creators, is Canadian.  He got started writing comedy on Laugh-In.  He also produced The Kids in the Hall.
  • Michaels left the show in 1980, its sixth season, and everything went so badly, the entire cast was fired except for Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo. When Michaels returned in 1985, the show was on the verge of cancellation.  He fired the entire cast and started over, and he has not left since.
  • Steve Martin was never a member of the cast.  He guest hosted 13 times and also made surprise appearances.

Steve Martin's King Tut, first performed in 1978, I think.
(Photo from The

    • Gilda Radner was the first person to join the cast.
    • As of 2003, the show had a total of 77 cast members.
    • For each week's show, somewhere between 30 to 45 scripts are written.  Most are rejected during the week's preparation and only a few make the cut to be aired on the show.
    • Tina Fey is the first female head writer in the history of the show.
    • Conan O'Brien wrote many sketches for SNL from 1988 to 1991, though he was often not credited.
    • Cast members who have died:
        • John Belushi, 1982, cocaine + heroin (speedball)
        • Gilda Radner, 1989, ovarian cancer
        • Danitra Vance, 1994, breast cancer
        • Michael O'Donoghue, 1994, cerebral hemorrhage
        • Chris Farley, 1997, cocaine + heroin (speedball)
        • Phil Hartmann, 1998, murder
        • Chris Rocket, 2005, suicide

    Gilda Radner on The Muppet Show with Dr. Bunsen Honeydew. The Muppets were also on the first episode of SNL, and many other episodes afterward. The writers weren't a fan of having them on the show, though. Writer Michael O'Donoghue said once, "I won't write for felt."
    (Photo from The Muppet Show Season 3 DVD)

      • When Lorne Michaels offered, on the air, to bribe the Beatles to come on the show, Lennon and McCartney were watching the show in their apartment in New York. They seriously discussed getting in a cab and going to the studio to perform, but they decided they were too tired and didn't go.
      • Only three shows were not truly live but allowed for a 7-second tape delay.
          • Richard Pryor, 1975
          • Sam Kinison, 1986
          • Andrew Dice Clay, 1990
      • As you might guess, each of these occasions was to allow time to censor any swear words.
      • The F-bomb has slipped out many times -- and not during those three tape-delayed shows.  Here are some of those instances:
          • Paul Shaffer, 1980
          • Prince, 1981
          • Morris Day and the Time, 1990
          • Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), 1990
          • Michael Stipe (R.E.M.), 1994
          • Adam Horovitz (Beastie Boys), 1994
          • Norm McDonald, 1997
          • James Hetfield (Metallica), 1997
          • Jenny Slate, 2009
      • Here's the transcript of the first Weekend Update, the only segment that has appeared on every show:

      Announcer: From Saturday Night news headquarters, this is Weekend Update, with Chevy Chase.

      Chevy Chase: [ talking into the telephone ] What are you wearing right now? [ smiles ] No bathrobe? [ notices the audience, hangs up telephone ] Good evening, I'm Chevy Chase!

      Our top story tonight: dedication ceremonies for the new Teamsters Union Headquarters building took place today in Detroit, where Union President Fitzsimmons was reported to have said that former President Jimmy Hoffa will always be a cornerstone in the organization.

      Now, world leaders in the news: Japan Emperor Hirohito met Mickey Mouse at Disneyland this week. The Emperor presented Mickey with a Hirohito wristwatch.

      Dateline: Washington. At a press conference Thursday night, President Ford blew his nose. Alert Secret Service agents seized his handkerchief and wrestled it to the ground.

      And, yesterday, in Washington, President Ford bumped his head three times getting into his helicopter. The CIA immediately denied reports that it had deliberately lowered the top of the doorway.

      And, Ford was on the campaign trail, announcing in Detroit that he has written his own campaign slogan. The slogan? "If He's So Dumb, How Come He's President?"

      The Post Office announced today -- [ looks around, lost ] Just a second, I lost my place. [ shuffles his papers ] Oh! The Post Office announced today that it is going to issue a stamp commemorating prostitution in the United States. It's a ten-cent stamp, but if you want to lick it, it's a quarter.

      Chevy Chase: Murder at the Blaine Hotel again. For a live report, let's go to Laraine Newman in midtown Manhatten, at the Blaine hotel. Laraine?

      Laraine Newman: [ over the sounds of sirens in the background ] Chevy, I'm standing outside a room on the 15th floor of the Blaine Hotel, where number 38 in a series of grizzly and bizarre murders has occurred just over an hour ago. [ pan down to reveal three legs, each with a yellow sock on the foot, covered by a sheet and poking out of the doorway ] The motive, again - murder, as it has been in the previous 37 slashings. In a fit of pique, the Mayor has called the Blaine Hotel a pockmark on the neck of midtown Manhatten. Once again, grizzly death and murder in the Blaine Hotel. Laraine Newman, reporting.

      Chevy Chase: Still to come: Earthquake Claims San Diego, Four Million Die in Turkey, and Arlene Visits an Art Museum.

      [ dissolve to ad parody for Triopenin ]

      [ dissolve to Blaine Hotel ad card ]

      Announcer: Guests of NBC Saturday Night stay at the fabulous Blaine Hotel in midtown Manhatten. The Blaine, a tradition for more than half a century.

      Chevy Chase: Our final story tonight concerns the birth of a baby sandpiper at the Washington Zoo. It's the first such birth in captivity on record. The pip made its debut at 9:18 this morning, weighing in at just under fourteen grams, and, according to zoo officials, resembled its mother quite closely. The name given our fuzzy little friend? Simply "Pip". One humourous note: the bird was stepped on and crushed to death this afternoon by Goggles, the baby hippo born in captivity last Wednesday.

      Well, that's news this evening. This is Chevy Chase saying, good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

      [ Chevy quickly redials his phone, as we fade ]

      Chevy Chase vs. Billy Murray: one of the biggest rivalries in show business of all time.
      John Landis, on what happened the night when Chase returned to guest host after Murray had taken the spot in the cast that he'd left:  "I've only been to SNL three times, and one time I was there, Chevy and Billy were having this huge screaming fight in the hallway, and Michael O'Donahue and Tom Davis were holding them back, and John and Danny jumped in because Chevy and Billy were really going to come to blows. I mean, it was a huge argument. And the thing I remember about Billy Murray -- I didn't know Bill Murray, but he's screaming, you know, foaming at the mouth, 'Fucking Chevy,' and in anger he says, 'Medium talent!' And I thought, 'Oh boy, that's funny. In anger he says 'medium talent.' That really impressed me. I went, 'So, Bill Murray -- wow, who is that guy?'" Murray went on to suggest to Chase that he, um, pay more attention to his wife, and the argument turned into a fistfight. 
      (Go to if you want the uncensored version of what he said.)
      (Photo from

      Related entry:  Food King and Animal House

      Saturday Night Live Information & Biography Center
      Lonympics, Saturday Night Live - just the facts
      ShareTV, Saturday Night Live Fun Facts
      Saturday Night Live Transcripts
      The Corsair, Bill Murray Versus Chevy Chase

      Friday, October 8, 2010

      Apple #486: Jellyfish

      I went to a nearby aquarium with some friends this summer.  I meant to do a Daily Apple entry about some of the fish & animals & creatures I saw there, but I've only just now remembered.  So I give you: jellyfish.

      I don't know what kind of jellyfish this is because the aquarium decided to get all entertainment-y, and they took all the "boring" stuff off their signs, such as the names for the animals.  But I do know this is some kind of jellyfish.  It was in a tank with curved glass on the outside and it was lit up with that bright pink light so the jellyfish would be visible.
      (Photo by the Apple Lady)

      Some Nice, Easy Facts
      • Jellyfish have existed for more than 650 million years.  That makes them older than dinosaurs, older than sharks.
      • Individually, each jellyfish lives for about three to six months.
      • Jellyfish never stop growing. However, since they don't live very long, "never" for most jellyfish is a short time.

      This jellyfish was in a different tank than the pink one. I don't know what species it is, but it's a different one than in the first picture.
      (Photo by the Apple Lady)

      • A group of jellyfish swimming together is called a smack.

      This is a whole bunch of jellyfish.  A smack of them, I should say.  The colors didn't come out too well in the photo, but the frondy things -- which I guess must be tentacles -- are green on some of them, pale purple on others, and pale pink on still others.
      (Photo by the Apple Lady)

      • Female jellyfish store their fertilized eggs in their "oral armpit," which is actually more mouth than armpit.
      • One fertilized egg turns into a polyp, which is sort of like a  seed pod.  The polyp generates more polyps off of itself.  The polyps  break open and inside of each one are several tiny jellyfish.

      Jellyfish #3
      (Photo by the Apple Lady)

        • Jellyfish are pretty simple, anatomically speaking. They do not have:
            • brain
            • central nervous system
            • circulatory system
            • respiratory system
            • bones
            • scales
            • shells
        •  Jellyfish do have:
            • epidermis (skin)
            • gastrodermis (skin around the digestive system)
            • mesoglea (fancy word for the jelly-like goo)
            • rudimentary digestive system
            • nematocysts (stinging cells)
        • Not all types of jellyfish have tentacles. The stinging cells might be on other surfaces of their bodies.

        Ah, don't these jellyfish look nice and peaceful, almost as if they're dancing?
        (Photo by the Apple Lady)

        The Rest of the Story

        You might be tempted to think that jellyfish are pretty and colorful and nice and simple.  But jellyfish are actually much more complex and capable than you might think.  In fact, it's possible that they could be taking over the world.  Or at least, the oceans.

        • Because of overfishing, jellyfish are able to reproduce pretty  much at will and with far fewer predators.  As a result many of our  oceans are approaching what scientists call a "jellyfish stable state,"  which will be when jellyfish effectively rule the ocean.
        • Echizen jellyfish, for example, are growing like mad off the coast of  Japan probably because of overfishing. This species can get to be over 7 feet in diameter and weigh more than  660 pounds. 

        This is the Echizen or Nomura's jellyfish, which live off the coast of Japan. Pretty dang huge.
        (Photo from Beer Steak)

        • Another species of jellyfish can avoid death.  Not by dodging predators or anything so basic as that.  They can make their cells literally get younger.
        • The fancy name for this process is transdifferentiation, and only the Turritopsis Nutricula jellyfish can do it.  In transdifferentiation, as a cell develops, it gets younger instead of older.  So basically this jellyfish, when it's had enough of aging, can make itself revert to a polyp state and essentially rebirth itself.
        • As far as scientists know, these jellyfish can do this over and over again, indefinitely.
        • Another type of jellyfish, the sea wasp or box jellyfish, kills more  people per year than any other creature in the ocean.  Including sharks.
        • That box jellyfish, by the way, has 24 eyes and 64 anuses. And 64 mouths as well; jellyfish use the same orifice for eating food and expelling  wastes.

        Here are a couple of pictures to show you what a box jellyfish looks like. Its cap -- for lack of a better word for it -- has a dome-like top and it comes down quite a ways over the tentacles. If you see one of these, get the heck away from it fast!
        (Photos from Destination-Scuba and Scubadoc, respectively)

        • What makes any jellyfish's sting so virulent is, to quote a scientist from a National Geographic video, "all the blood cells that are exposed to a jellyfish's venom will immediately swell up and explode." 

        If You Get Stung
        • If you've been stung by a box jellyfish, you've got 3 minutes to get the venom off you before you die.
        • Other types of jellyfish, it's not so dire, though it can be extremely painful.

        Jellyfish sting
        (Photo from

        Box jellyfish sting
        (Photo from Scuba-doc)

        • If you're having trouble breathing or swallowing, or if you're having chest pain, get thee to a doctor immediately.
        • Best thing to do is--no, not urinate on it--is first, get any stuck-on tentacles off of you.  Don't use your bare hands but use tweezers, a gloved hand, a stick--anything to peel off those  tentacles.
        • Then as soon as possible, rinse the area with any one of the following liquids.  In order of preference, most to least effective:
            • Vinegar
            • Rubbing alcohol
            • Either of the first two diluted with salt water
            • Salt water
        • Fresh water, ice, or hot water can make the nematocysts (stinging cells) release more toxins, so you definitely want to avoid using those.
        • If you've gotten stung around the eye, then use a ton of fresh water -- a gallon of it -- so as to overwhelm the nematocysts with a liquid that won't sting the crap out of your eye still further.
        • Even after you've plucked off the stingers you can see and after you've rinsed, you still probably haven't gotten all the stinging cells off of you, so apply shaving cream or baking soda or cornstarch or mud or sand to neutralize the stinging still further.  Then shave.  If you don't have a razor handy, use something like a credit card or a hotel key to scrape the area as best you can. 
        • Then rinse again with vinegar or alcohol.
        • Finally, wrap the area in an Ace bandage the same way you'd wrap a sprain, and take some aspirin.
        • After you've rinsed and bandaged yourself, you might want to go see a doctor anyway.  The doctor can give you Benadryl to calm any itching, steroids to reduce any inflammation, and pain medication if necessary.  It's also easy for jellyfish stings to get infected days later, so you may need antibiotics too.
        • A final word about the urine thing: some people say it helps reduce the sting. But it's a gamble. The thing in urine that works to neutralize the nematocysts is ammonia. But most people's urine has a far greater amount of fresh water than ammonia.  So urinating on a jellyfish sting can actually increase the pain, the same as pouring fresh water on it would.

        Some places in Australia where box jellyfish are particularly prevalent have gigantic hydrants like this one filled with vinegar.  This is because vinegar is the best thing to use to rinse off jellyfish stings.
        (Photo from Life in the Fastlane)

        Aquatic Community, Jellyfish Facts
        Roy D'Silva,, Facts About Jellyfish
        Beer Steak, Jellyfish Facts

        Scienceray, Weird But True: Jellyfish Facts
        Simon Crisp, Asylum for All Mankind, Giant Echizen Jellyfish Invade Japanese Waters
        Rod Brouhard,, How to Treat a Jellyfish Sting, Jellyfish Stings Treatment
        WebMD, Jellyfish Sting Treatment

        Monday, October 4, 2010

        Apple #485: Football Penalties

        Watching football on TV the other day with a friend and regular Apple reader, when a team got called for being offsides he wondered, what's the difference between offsides and false start?  I realized I didn't know the answer.  There are other penalties, too, he went on, which seem awfully similar, like encroachment and illegal motion. What's the difference between all of those, or are they only different words for the same thing?

        All questions for the Apple Lady to investigate, to be sure.

        Turns out, it's not just a matter of a ref preferring one word for the same penalty over another, they are distinct penalties.

        This is Doug Rosenbaum, a current NFL ref who started his officiating career at high school games
        (Photo from Illinois Wesleyan University Magazine)

        I should say, I looked this up for NFL rules only. NCAA (college) rules might be different, as might high school rules.

        All these penalties are related to what you can and can't do before the ball is snapped. The rules vary depending on whether you're on offense -- the players with the ball -- or defense.

        Applet #484: Taxicab

        Hey everybody, I'm working on a new entry, but I haven't finished it yet and I must go to bed.  In the meantime, here's a little tidbit I learned recently:

        Taxi cab is short for taximeter cabriolet.

        Literally, this means a vehicle that measures (meter) the tax (taxi-) to be charged for riding in a horse-drawn two-wheeled carriage (cabriolet). 

        Cabriolets, actually, were named after the Isle of Capri.  The French called their carriages "cabriolets" as a way to say, "riding in our carriages is as smooth as the lightness of goats leaping about the rocky Isle of Capri."

        I guess even the French had rotten cab rides.  The only difference is, they knew how to make their snarkiness sound fancy and divine.

        This taxi in Yambol, Bulgaria, has seen better days. But it might still travel as lightly as goats frolicking on some rocky island.
        (Photo from Yambol Daily Picture)

        Scorpio Tales, Curious Word Origins