Pat Shingleton: "Foam, P's and Q's"
Coastal homes in the northeast are coated with ice from the weekend "Nor'easter." Sea water contains dissolved salts, proteins, fats, and
dead algae and is laced with organic matter and sea creature excrement. Shaking seawater in a beaker causes surface bubbles and foam.
This is replicated when the ocean is agitated from wind and waves. Each "coast" manufactures foam in different ways and algae blooms
create thick sea foams, similar to shaving cream. When the blooms decay offshore the algal matter is churned by the surf. As noted in a
previous column, most sea foam is safe, however, on the Gulf Coast, blooms of Karenia brevis create aerosol toxins that irritates eyes with
possible respiratory afflictions. In "days-gone-by," local taverns and public houses or pubs provided lodging, food and drink, especially during
periods of inclement weather. Libations were originally a convenient means of combating the winter chill and a “wee nip” could break the bone-chilling
cold. For politicians a journey was tedious and politicians would utilize their assistants to gauge the opinions of their constituents. These assistants
were instructed to “sip some ale” and hear the people’s political concerns. When they would “go sip here” and “go sip there” the two words were
combined, forming the term “gossip.” Ale would be served in pints and quarts. A bar maid needed to be diligent as to which patrons were
drinking a pint or a quart as this duty resulted in the phrase, “minding your ‘P’s’ and ‘Q’s.”