Friday, 31 October 2008

One fell swoop

Q: What does "fell" mean?

A: It means fierce or deadly. "Fell" is arguably close to being archaic. Apart from Tolkien, I know it only from the oft quoted phrase from Macbeth "One fell swoop". Which is often misquoted as "One foul swoop", precisely because of the unfamiliarity of "fell" to modern English speakers. But "fell" may yet be saved by the popularity of Tolkien - or even by the "Fell Beast" collectibles sold following the movies.

from alt.usage.english

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Hamida Djandoubi

Hamida Djandoubi (c. 1949 – 10 September 1977) was the last person to be guillotined in France, at Baumettes Prison in Marseille. He was a Tunisian immigrant who had been convicted of the torture and murder of 21-year-old Elisabeth Bousquet, his former girlfriend, in Marseille. Marcel Chevalier served as chief executioner.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamida_Djandoubi

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Buckland tries to eat his way through the entire animal kingdom

I have just finished re-reading Simon Winchester's "The Map that Changed the World" which is about William Smith and the founding of modern Geology. Winchester is a marvelous writer with a knack for really interesting digressions. One that made me laugh out loud is this piece on the Former Dean of the School of Earthly Sciences at Oxford, William Buckland:

"He tried to eat his way through the entire animal kingdom, offering mice in batter and steaks of bison and crocodile to guests at breakfast, but reserving the viler things for himself — he declared that he found mole perfectly horrible, and the only thing worse was that fat English housefly known colloquially as a bluebottle. His sense of taste seems not to have been ruined by such experimentation — he once found his carriage stranded in the nighttime fog somewhere west of London, scooped some dirt from the road and tasted it and declared to his companions, in relief, "Gentlemen — Uxbridge!"

He was a great skeptic, particularly where Catholics were concerned. Once, led to a dark stain on the flagstones of an Italian Cathedral, which the local prelate insisted was the newly liquefied blood of a well-known martyr, he dropped to his knees, licked the darkened spot, and announced that in fact it was the urine of a bat."

From http://www.insidethenest.com/2008/08/one-mans-roadkill-is-another-mans

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Sherbet, Sherbert, Sorbet

Now the name of a frozen dessert, the word sherbet appeared in English in the seventeenth century, meaning “a cold fruit drink,” and developed two spellings reflecting its two pronunciations, sherbet (SHUHR-bit) and sherbert (SHUHR-buhrt). Today both spellings and both pronunciations are regularly encountered in both British and American use, to the discomfort of some purists, who argue that only sherbet is acceptable.

Meantime, food fanciers have reborrowed this word in its French form, sorbet, pronounced both in the French way (sor-BAI) and an anglicized (SOR-bet). Standard English now uses all three forms, although Edited English usually clings to sherbet and continues to italicize the French sorbet as foreign.

Australian English now uses sherbert, both alone and in compounds, as another name for beer.

From The Columbia Guide to Standard American English at http://www.bartleby.com/68/37/5437.html

Monday, 27 October 2008

Top 10 Most Amazing Prison Escapes

Maze Prison Escape : In the biggest prison escape in British history, on 25 September 1983 in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, 38 Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners, who had been convicted of offenses including murder and causing explosions, escaped from H-Block 7 (H7) of the prison.

Alfred Hinds : “Alfie” Hinds was a British criminal and escape artist who, while serving a 12 year prison sentence for robbery, successfully broke out of three high security prisons.

The Texas Seven : The Texas 7 was a group of prisoners who escaped from the John Connally Unit near Kenedy, Texas on December 13, 2000. T

Alfred Wetzler : Wetzler was a Slovak Jew, and one of a very small number of Jews known to have escaped from the Auschwitz death camp during the Holocaust.

Sławomir Rawicz : Rawicz was a Polish soldier who was arrested by Soviet occupation troops after the German-Soviet invasion of Poland.

Escape From Alcatraz : In its 29 years of operation, there were 14 attempts to escape from Alcatraz prison involving 34 inmates.

Libby Prison Escape : The Libby Prison Escape was one of the most famous (and successful) prison breaks during the American Civil War.

Pascal Payet : There can be no doubt that this man deserves a place on this list - he has escaped not once, but twice from high security prisons in France - each time via hijacked helicopter!

The Great Escape : Stalag Luft III was a German Air Force prisoner-of-war camp during World War II that housed captured air force personnel.

Colditz Escape : Colditz was one of the most famous German Army prisoner-of-war camps for officers in World War II.

See full item at http://www.13above.com/2008/09/top-10-most-amazing-prison-escapes.html

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Hawking Radiation

Hawking radiation is thermal radiation thought to be emitted by black holes due to quantum effects. It is named after British physicist Stephen Hawking who worked out the theoretical argument for its existence in 1974. Hawking's discovery became the first convincing insight into quantum gravity. However, the existence of Hawking radiation remains controversial.

From Pocket Wikipedia, http://www.free-soft.ro/pocket-wikipedia/

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Airline Announcements

A United Flight Attendant announced, 'People, people we're not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!

On landing, the stewardess said, 'Please be sure to take all of your belongings. If you're going to leave anything, please make sure it's something we'd like to have. '

'There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane'

An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile, and give them a 'Thanks for flying our airline.' He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane. She said, 'Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?' 'Why, no, Ma'am,' said the pilot. 'What is it?' The little old lady said, 'Did we land, or were we shot down?'

As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Ronald Reagan, a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: 'Whoa, big fella, WHOA!'

After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in Memphis, a flight attendant on a Northwest flight announced, 'Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because sure as hell everything has shifted after a landing like that.'

Another flight attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing: 'We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal.'

Overheard on an American Airlines flight into Amarillo, Texas on a particularly windy and bumpy day: During the final approach, the Captain was really having to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said, 'Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Amarillo . Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what's left of our airplane to the gate!'

'Your seat cushions can be used for flotation; and, in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments.'

As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses...... except for that gentleman over there.'

Heard on Southwest Airlines just after a very hard landing in Salt Lake City .. The flight attendant came on the intercom and said, 'That was quite a bump, and I know what y'all are thinking. I'm here to tell you it wasn't the airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it wasn't the flight attendant's fault, it was the asphalt.'

After a real crusher of a landing in Phoenix , the attendant came on with, 'Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Capt. Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we'll open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal.'

Part of a flight attendant's arrival announcement: 'We'd like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you'll think of US Airways.'

Heard on a Southwest Airline flight - 'Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing and if you can light 'em, you can smoke 'em.'

A plane was taking off from Kennedy Airport . After it reached a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the intercom, 'Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome to Flight Number 293, non-stop from New York to Los Angeles . The weather ahead is good and, therefore, we should have a smooth and uneventful flight. Now sit back and relax... OH, MY GOD!' Silence followed, and after a few minutes, the captain came back on the intercom and said, 'Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so sorry if I scared you earlier. While I was talking to you, the flight attendant accidentally spilled a cup of hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!' A passenger in Coach yelled, 'That's nothing. You should see the back of mine!'

from uk.rec.humour

Friday, 24 October 2008

Sentences Ending With Prepositions

A traditional rule of grammar is that one should never end a sentence with a preposition. Facetiously stated, the rule is, "A preposition is something you should never end a sentence with." Although it is generally advisable to structure sentences so that they do not end in prepositions, as this makes for more elegant writing, many dispute that ending a sentence with a preposition is incorrect English, especially when there is no convenient way to reword the sentence.

Sometimes the "correct" wording is humorously awkward, as in, "Mr. Hunter cursed his memory of the milkman, away with which his wife ran."

Winston Churchill once put a preposition at the end of a sentence and was called to task for it. As the story goes, Churchill replied, "That's the sort of pedantry up with which I will not put."

Another interesting sentence that plays with sentence-end prepositions is, "Aw, Mom, what'd you bring that book I don't like to be read to out of up for?" If the book in question was about Australia, the number of prepositions at the end can be increased from five to eight: "Aw, Mom, what'd you bring that book I don't like to be read to out of about Down Under up for?" "Down Under" is used in this sentence as a single noun rather than as two prepositions, but we needn't let a technicality like that ruin our fun.

See http://www.rinkworks.com/words/grammar.shtml

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Nationality or ethnicity idioms

  • Chinese walls - Chinese walls are regulatory information barriers that aim to stop the flow of information that could be misused, especially in financial corporations.
  • Chinese whispers - (UK) When a story is told from person to person, especially if it is gossip or scandal, it inevitably gets distorted and exaggerated. This process is called Chinese whispers.
  • Double Dutch - (UK) If something is double Dutch, it is completely incomprehensible.
  • Dutch auction - If something is sold by setting a price, then reducing it until someone buys it, it is sold in a Dutch auction. It can also mean that something is changed until it is accepted by everyone.
  • Dutch courage - Dutch courage is the reckless bravery caused by drinking too much.
  • Dutch treat - If something like a meal is a Dutch treat, then each person pays their own share of the bill.
  • Dutch uncle - A Dutch uncle is a person who gives unwelcome advice.
  • Dutch wife - A Dutch wife is a long pillow or a hot water bottle.
  • For England - (UK) A person who talks for England, talks a lot- if you do something for England, you do it a lot or to the limit.
  • French leave - To take French leave is to leave a gathering without saying goodbye or without permission.
  • Go Dutch - If you go Dutch in a restaurant, you pay equal shares for the meal.
  • Good Samaritan - A good Samaritan is a persoon wh helps others in need.
  • Greek to me - If you don't understand something, it's all Greek to you.
  • If you'll pardon my French - (UK) This idiom is used as a way of apologising for swearing.
  • Indian file - If people walk in Indian file, they walk in a line one behind the other.
  • Indian giver - An Indian giver gives something, then tries to take it back.
  • Indian summer - If there is a period of warmer weather in late autumn, it is an Indian summer.
  • Like Chinese arithmetic - If something is complicated and hard to understand, it's like Chinese arithmetic.
  • Mexican standoff - When there is a deadlock in strategy and neither side can do anything that will ensure victory, it's a Mexican standoff.
  • More holes than Swiss cheese - If something has more holes than a Swiss cheese, it is incomplete, and lacks many parts.
  • Perfidious Albion - England is known to some as perfidious Albion, implying that it is not trustworthy in its dealings with foreigners.
  • Scotch Mist - The phrase 'Scotch mist' is used humorously to refer to something that is hard to find or doesn't exist - something imagined.
  • Slow boat to China - This idiom is used to describe something that is very slow and takes a long time.
  • Spanish practices - Unauthorized working methods that benefit those who follow them are Spanish practices.
  • Stars and stripes - The stars and stripes is the American flag.
  • Too many chiefs and not enough Indians - When there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians, there are two many managers and not enough workers to work efficiently.
  • Young Turk - A Young Turk is a young person who is rebellious and difficult to control in a company, team or organisation. 

See http://www.usingenglish.com/reference/idioms/cat/6.html

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Bloom's Taxonomy

COGNITIVE LEARNING, one of the three domains from Bloom's Taxonomy, emphasizes intellectual outcomes. Benjamin Bloom identified six levels within the cognitive domain. The six levels are: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

The Six Levels of Bloom's Taxonomy

  1. Knowledge is a starting point that includes both the acquisition of information and the ability to recall information when needed.
  2. Comprehension is the basic level of understanding. It involves the ability to know what is being communicated in order to make use of the information.
  3. Application is the ability to use a learned skill in a new situation.
  4. Analysis is the ability to break content into components in order to identify parts, see relationships among them, and recognize organizational principles.
  5. Synthesis is the ability to combine existing elements in order to create something original.
  6. Evaluation is the ability to make a judgement about the value of something by using a standard.

See http://coe.sdsu.edu/eet/Articles/BloomsT/start.htm

Monday, 20 October 2008

Pachinko

Pachinko is a Japanese gaming device used for amusement and prizes. Although pachinko machines were originally strictly mechanical, modern pachinko machines are a cross between a pinball machine and a video slot machine.

The machines are widespread in establishments called "pachinko parlors", which also often feature a number of slot machines. Pachinko parlors share the reputation of slot machine dens and casinos the world over — garish decoration; over-the-top architecture; a low-hanging haze of cigarette smoke; the constant din of the machines, music, and announcements; and flashing lights. Modern pachinko machines are highly customizable keeping enthusiasts continuously entertained.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pachinko

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Top Mad Scientists

#11. Dr. Robert Cornish
Robert Cornish is a scientist who, in Berkley, CA, 1930, managed to resurrect 2 dead dogs by placing them on a seesaw to circulate the blood and injecting them with a mixture of adrenalin and anticoagulants. Not surprising he was able to find a human volunteer for his experiments with a man condemned to be executed, and the state denied him permission for fear he could do it.

#10. Beaurieux
During the head chopy frenzy of the French revolution, Beaurieux decided to test the hypothesis that the head survived the blade for about half a minute. He discovered that immediately after decapitation the eyelids and lips of the guillotined man worked in irregularly rhythmic contractions for about five or six seconds. In another experiment he yelled at the severed head, it apparently opened it’s eyes in response to it’s name.

#3. Johann Dippel
Lord Dippel worked in the most famous laboratory in the world, Castle Frankenstein. Yes,  THE Castle Frankenstein. It’s real and so is he. His experiments in anatomy, immortality, alchemy, and alleged grave robbing may have inspired the tale of another famous resident of Castle Frankenstein.

#1. Nikola Tesla
No living man has ever been closer to a comic book super scientist then Nikola Tesla. He pioneered the radio and radio control technology which seamed like magic at the time but we now take for granted. He also invented a number of things that will always seem like magic, including the spark shooting Tesla Coil, light bulbs that glow from no known power source, and a pocket sized device that could create devastating earthquakes. His eccentric mannerisms and bizarre vaguely Austrian (actually Serbian and trans-European) accent lead to the iconic german Mad Scientist of film, television and cartoons.

See the full list at http://www.dappercadaver.com/blog/2008/09/08/top-13-mad-scientist-of-real-life

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Police Radio

The following 15 Police Comments were taken off of actual police car videos around the country.

  1. "Relax, the handcuffs are tight because they're new. They'll stretch out after you wear them awhile."
  2. "Take your hands off the car, and I'll make your birth certificate a worthless document."
  3. "If you run, you'll only go to jail tired."
  4. "Can you run faster than 1200 feet per second? In case you didn't know, that is the average speed of a 9 mm bullet fired from my gun."
  5. "So you don't know how fast you were going. I guess that means I can write anything I want on the ticket, huh?"
  6. "Yes, sir, you can talk to the shift supervisor, but I don't think it will help. Oh, did I mention that I am the shift supervisor?"
  7. "Warning? You want a warning? O. K., I'm warning you not to do that again or I'll give you another ticket." (My personal favorite.)
  8. "The answer to this last question will determine whether you are drunk or not: Was Mickey Mouse a cat or a dog?"
  9. "Fair? You want me to be fair? Listen, fair is a place where you go to ride on rides, eat cotton candy, and step in monkey DOO."
  10. "Yeah, we have a quota. Two more tickets and my wife gets a toaster oven."
  11. "No, sir, we don't have quotas anymore. We used to have quotas, but now we're allowed to write as many tickets as we want."
  12. "Just how big were those two beers?
  13. "In God we trust, all others we run through NCIC (National Crime Information Center)."
  14. "I'm glad to hear the Chief of Police is a good personal friend of yours at least you know someone who can post your bail."
  15. "You didn't think we give pretty women tickets? You're right, we don't."

from uk.rec.humour

Friday, 17 October 2008

London tunnel network put on sale

A secret network of tunnels 100ft (30m) under central London has gone on sale.

The Kingsway Tunnels were built in 1940 as deep air-raid shelters which could accommodate 8,000 people.

They have since been used as a public record library and a telephone exchange. The Post Office took over the tunnels after World War Two.

Now its successor, BT, is selling the 77,000 sq ft of space, and the firm hopes the sale could attract offers of about £5m.

Access to the mile-long system of horizontal and vertical shafts is through unmarked doors in the street on High Holborn.

See full story and pictures at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/7672341.stm

and http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/7672374.stm

Thursday, 16 October 2008

You forgot Poland

Reply to someone pointing out a dinky little detail that you didn't mention, but which is basically irrelevant, to demonstrate what a completely anal-retentive idiot you consider them to be.

You: "Of course, James Bond was played by Roger Moore, Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan."

Idiot: "You forgot George Lazenby."

You: "Yeah, well, you forgot Poland."

From the George W. Bush comment to Senator John Kerry in the 2004 American election debates.

Kerry: ...  when we went in, there were three countries: Great Britain, Australia and the United States. That's not a grand coalition. We can do better.

Bush: Well, actually, he forgot Poland. And now there's 30 nations involved ....

From http://www.urbandictionary.com

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Maxim

Maxim - a saying that is widely accepted on its own merits

Hiram Maxim - an English inventor (born in USA) who invented the Maxim Gun that was used in World War I.

Legal Maxim - an established principle or proposition

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Cinnabar

Cinnabar (German Zinnober), sometimes written cinnabarite, is a name applied to red mercury(II) sulfide (HgS), or native vermilion, the common ore of mercury. The name comes from the Greek, used by Theophrastus, and was probably applied to several distinct substances. Other sources say the word comes from the Persian zinjifrah, originally meaning "lost".

Cinnabar was mined by the Roman Empire for its mercury content and it has been the main ore of mercury throughout the centuries. Some mines used by the Romans are still being mined today. It is generally found as a vein-filling mineral associated with recent volcanic activity and alkaline hot springs.

From http://www.chemistrydaily.com/chemistry/Cinnabar

Monday, 13 October 2008

Important Grammar Rules

1. Don't abbrev.

2. Check to see if you any words out.

3. Be carefully to use adjectives and adverbs correct.

4. About sentence fragments.

5. When dangling, don't use participles.

6. Don't use no double negatives.

7. Each pronoun agrees with their antecedent.

8. Just between you and I, case is important.

9. Join clauses good, like a conjunction should.

10. Don't use commas, that aren't necessary.

11. Its important to use apostrophe's right.

12. It's better not to unnecessarily split an infinitive.

13. Never leave a transitive verb just lay there without an object.

14. Only Proper Nouns should be capitalized. also a sentence should.

15. begin with a capital and end with a period

16. Use hyphens in compound-words, not just in any two-word phrase.

17. In letters compositions reports and things like that we use commas

18. to keep a string of items apart.

19. Watch out for irregular verbs which have creeped into our language.

20. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.

21. Avoid unnecessary redundancy.

22. A writer mustn't shift your point of view.

23. Don't write a run-on sentence you've got to punctuate it.

24. A preposition isn't a good thing to end a sentence with.

25. Avoid clichés like the plague.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

plump or plunk?

plump

–verb (used without object)

1. to drop or fall heavily or suddenly; come down abruptly or with direct impact. 

2. Chiefly British. to vote exclusively for one candidate in an election, instead of distributing or splitting one's votes among a number. 

–verb (used with object)

3. to drop or throw heavily or suddenly (often fol. by down): He plumped himself down and fell asleep. 

4. to utter or say bluntly (often fol. by out): She plumps out the truth at the oddest times. 

5. to praise or extol: road signs plumping the delights of a new candy bar. 

plunk

–verb (used with object)

1. to pluck (a stringed instrument or its strings); twang: to plunk a guitar. 

2. to throw, push, put, drop, etc., heavily or suddenly; plump (often fol. by down): Plunk down your money. She plunked herself down on the seat. 

3. to push, shove, toss, etc. (sometimes fol. by in, over, etc.): to plunk the ball over the net; to plunk a pencil into a drawer. 

–verb (used without object)

4. to give forth a twanging sound. 

5. to drop heavily or suddenly; plump (often fol. by down): to plunk down somewhere and take a nap. 

from http://dictionary.reference.com/

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Crooks ram police car at The Timber Yard

Criminals escaped by reverse-ramming the police car that pursued their vehicle after they were disturbed committing a theft at Weston-sub-Edge.

A member of the public alerted the police after witnessing a theft in progress at The Timber Yard, Buckle Street at about 10pm on Saturday.

Officers arrived in a Gloucestershire Constabulary Ford Focus estate car from Stow police station and pursued the intruders when they drove off, towards Saintbury Hill, in a silver Vauxhall pick-up truck.

The offenders deliberately reversed the back of the truck into the front of the police vehicle, causing minor damage to the Ford.

They then drove off and got away.

Nobody was hurt and the police do not yet know if anything was stolen from the Timber Yard.

By Simon Crump, Crooks Reverse ram Police Car (from Cotswold Journal), at http://www.cotswoldjournal.co.uk/display.var.2370303.0.crooks_reverseram_police_car.php

Friday, 10 October 2008

Why can’t cats and dogs get on?

Cats and dogs do not always live in perfect harmony together, but this doesn’t have to be the case.

According to an article in Science Daily, one reason why cats and dogs often don’t get on together is because they misinterpret each other’s body language. For example, when cats are angry they usually lash their tails, but dogs growl and arch their backs. When a cat avert its head, it is a sign of aggression, but this signifies submission in dogs.

If cats and dogs are introduced to the same house when they’re young - under 6 months for cats and under a year for dogs, they can learn each another’s body language and are therefore less likely to fight and more likely to get along well together.

See http://www.omniglot.com/blog/2008/09/09/why-cant-cats-and-dogs-get-on

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Develop Your Sense of Time

Some people are extremely adept at telling when intervals of time have passed or what time of day it is, while others find themselves losing track of entire hours. But if you weren't born with a finely honed sense of time, you can develop it. With the help of a handy tutorial at WikiHow and some free time you too can become a better judge of time. There are over half a dozen great tips in the tutorial, the following are tips that I inadvertently stumbled on while working the graveyard shift, a notorious time distorter:

Every time you think of it, guess to yourself what time it is. Check a clock or watch. Make a point of correcting yourself. Think or say to yourself something like "I thought it was 10:20, but it's actually 10:34. I was 14 minutes slow." This is your time sense gap.

When you work for 12 hours alone in a big building, you have a lot of time to play with the above guessing game. It sounds elementary but just like developing a gauge for anything else in life: distance walked, temperature outside, etc. having a measuring stick to gauge yourself against is critical.

When you start a task that has a specified time frame (like when cooking), set a timer for the upper end of the range given. For example, if you're to cook oatmeal for 3-5 minutes, set a timer for 5 minutes. Assign yourself the task of guessing when 3 or 4 minutes have passed. If you make a mistake, the timer will save you from having burnt oatmeal. But with practice, you'll develop a sense for how long to leave the oatmeal cooking, as many chefs learn to do with various dishes they cook often.

My graveyard shift was at a printer, which was filled with all sorts of things that had set intervals of time associated with them. The length of warm up, cool down, spool up, spool down, print time, finishing time, and so forth of all the machines became a constant reminder of time. It wasn't long before I'd find myself standing beside a machine mere seconds before it finished its run. Find things in your environment that have set intervals or use a timer to create your own intervals. Over a period of practice you'll find you can almost subconsciously determine the incremental spans of time. If you've got a handy trick for keeping track of time sans a stopwatch, share it in the comments below.

From http://lifehacker.com/5049314/develop-your-sense-of-time

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

The History of Paper Clips

Paper clips aren't usually something that cause a lot of controversy in offices, that is, unless they are being flung at people. They are one of the many unsung heroes that go unnoticed in day to day life but have you ever stopped to think about who invented them? The United States Patent Office states that Samuel Fay entered his paper clip design into their product catalog in 1867. Ten years later Erlman Wright introduced an ingenious deign for binding newspapers but it was far from being something that most consumers and office workers would find suitable for everyday use.

The paper clip that most people use today was based on "the gem"; a bent wire piece that loops around itself and can be used over and over until it stretches out of shape or warps. You have the British to thank for the Gem type design but this unique and highly functional design has never been patented so there is no true way to give any one person credit for it.

Why were paper clips even invented? Before the invention of the plastic loop tag system for fastening labels and price tags to clothing, this was done with pins. As you may imagine, this was a time consuming process that also involved more than a few people pricking their fingers. By using a paper clip, labels were fastened quicker, the clips didn't puncture the skin and there was less damage to the item being tagged.

Staples were patented in 1877 and gave paper clips a brief run for their money but just like the pin, it was too hard for consumers to remove safely and the idea was nixed shortly thereafter.

Today paper clips can be found in all shapes and sizes; they are made from plastic, basic steel, brass, recycled aluminum and my personal favorite, the plastic coated ones that seem to last forever. Variations of the clip are just as plentiful; the basic loop design, top end pick and quick slide and diamond mount are just a few of the shapes you can find clips in.

From http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/252413/the_history_of_paper_clips.html

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Britains Finest! True Quiz Show Answers

DANNY KELLY SHOW (RADIO WM)
Kelly: Which French Mediterranean town hosts a famous film festival every year?
Contestant: I don't know, I need a clue.
Kelly: OK. What do beans come in?
Contestant: Cartons?

BEG, BORROW OR STEAL (BBC2)
Jamie Theakston: Where do you think Cambridge University is?
Contestant: Geography isn't my strong point.
Theakston: There's a clue in the title.
Contestant: Leicester.

BBC NORFOLK
Stewart White: Who had a worldwide hit with What A Wonderful World?
Contestant: I don't know.
White: I'll give you some clues: what do you call the part between your hand and your elbow?
Contestant: Arm.
White: Correct. And if you're not weak, you're...?
Contestant: Strong.
White: Correct - and what was Lord Mountbatten's first name?
Contestant: Louis.
White: Well, there we are then. So who had a worldwide hit with the song
What A Wonderful World?
Contestant: Frank Sinatra?

LATE SHOW (BBC MIDLANDS)
Alex Trelinski: What is the capital of Italy?
Contestant: France.
Trelinski: France is another country. Try again.
Contestant: Oh, um, Benidorm.
Trelinski: Wrong, sorry, let's try another question. In which country is the Parthenon?
Contestant: Sorry, I don't know.
Trelinski: Just guess a country then.
Contestant: Paris.

UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE (BBC2)
Jeremy Paxman: What is another name for 'cherrypickers' and 'cheesemongers'?
Contestant: Homosexuals.
Paxman: No. They're regiments in the British Army who will be very upset with you.

THE WEAKEST LINK (BBC2)
Anne Robinson: Oscar Wilde, Adolf Hitler and Jeffrey Archer have all written books about their experiences in what: prison, or the Conservative Party?
Contestant: The Conservative Party.

BEACON RADIO (WOLVERHAMPTON)
DJ Mark: For Pounds 10, what is the nationality of the Pope?
Ruth from Rowley Regis: I think I know that one. Is it Jewish?

THE WEAKEST LINK
Anne Robinson: In traffic, what 'J' is where two roads meet?
Contestant: Jool carriageway?

UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE
Bamber Gascoigne: What was Gandhi's first name?
Contestant: Goosey?

GWR FM (Bristol)
Presenter: What happened in Dallas on November 22, 1963?
Contestant: I don't know, I wasn't watching it then.

RTE RADIO 2FM (IRELAND)
Presenter: What is the name of the long- running TV comedy show about pensioners: Last Of The ..?
Caller: Mohicans.

QUIZMANIA
Greg Scott: We're looking for a word that goes in front of 'clock'.
Contestant: Grandfather.
Scott: Grandfather clock is already up there, say something else.
Contestant: Panda.

PHIL WOOD SHOW (BBC RADIO MANCHESTER)
Phil: What's 11 squared?
Contestant: I don't know.
Phil: I'll give you a clue. It's two ones with a two in the middle.
Contestant: Is it five?

RICHARD AND JUDY
Q: Which American actor is married to Nicole Kidman?
A: Forrest Gump.

RICHARD AND JUDY
Leslie: On which street did Sherlock Holmes live?
Contestant: Er . . .
Leslie: He makes bread . .
Contestant: Er . .
Leslie: He makes cakes . . .
Contestant: Kipling Street?

MAGIC 52 (NORTHEAST ENGLAND)
Presenter: In what year was President Kennedy assassinated?
Contestant: Erm . . .
Presenter: Well, let's put it this way - he didn't see 1964.
Contestant: 1965?

SIMPLY THE BEST (ITV)
Phil Tufnell: How many Olympic Games have been held?
Contestant: Six.
Tufnell: Higher!
Contestant: Five.

FORT BOYARD (CHALLENGE TV)
Jodie Marsh: Arrange these two groups of letters to form a word - CHED and PIT.
Team: Chedpit.

LINCS FM PHONE-IN
Presenter: Which is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world?
Contestant: Barcelona.
Presenter: I was really after the name of a country.
Contestant: I'm sorry, I don't know the names of any countries in Spain.

RADIO 1 EARLY MORNING SHOW
Presenter: How many toes would three people have in total?
Contestant: 23.

NOTTS AND CROSSES QUIZ (BBC RADIO NOTTINGHAM)
Jeff Owen: In which country is Mount Everest?
Contestant (long pause): Er, it's not in Scotland, is it?

THE MICK GIRDLER SHOW (BBC RADIO SOLENT)
Girdler: I'm looking for an island in the Atlantic whose name includes the letter 'e'.
Contestant: Ghana.
Girdler: No, listen. It's an island in the Atlantic Ocean.
Contestant: New Zealand.

NATIONAL LOTTERY (BBC1)
Question: What is the world's largest continent?
Contestant: The Pacific

ROCK FM (PRESTON)
Presenter: Name a film starring Bob Hoskins that is also the name of a famous painting by Leonardo Da Vinci.
Contestant: Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

THE BIGGEST GAME IN TOWN (ITV)
Steve Le Fevre: What was signed to bring World War I to an end in 1918?
Contestant: Magna Carta.

JAMES O'BRIEN SHOW (LBC)
O'Brien: How many kings of England have been called Henry?
Contestant: Er, well, I know there was a Henry the Eighth ... er ... er ... three?

NATIONAL LOTTERY
Eamonn Holmes: There are three states of matter: solid, liquid and what?
Contestant: Jelly.

RICHARD ALLINSON SHOW (RADIO 2)
Allinson: What international brand shares its name with the Greek goddess of victory?
Contestant (after long deliberation): Erm, Kellogg's?

BLIND DATE (ITV)
Girl: Name a book written by Jane Austen.
Boy: Charlotte Bronte.

CHRIS SEARLE SHOW (BBC RADIO BRISTOL)
Searle: In which European country is Mount Etna?
Caller: Japan.
Searle: I did say which European country, so in case you didn't hear that, I can let you try again.
Caller: Er .. Mexico?

DOG EAT DOG (BBC1)
Ulrika Jonsson: Who wrote Lord of the Rings?
Contestant: Enid Blyton

PAUL WAPPAT (BBC RADIO NEWCASTLE)
Paul Wappat: How long did the Six-Day War between Egypt and Israel last?
Contestant (after long pause): Fourteen days.

NATIONAL LOTTERY
Eamonn Holmes: Dizzy Gillespie is famous for playing what?
Contestant: Basketball.

NOTTS AND CROSSES QUIZ
Jeff Owen: Where did the D-Day landings take place?
Contestant (after pause): Pearl Harbour?

DARYL DENHAM'S DRIVETIME (VIRGIN RADIO)
Daryl Denham: In which country would you spend shekels?
Contestant: Holland?
Denham: Try the next letter of the alphabet.
Contestant: Iceland? Ireland?
Denham (helpfully): It's a bad line. Did you say Israel?
Contestant: No.

PHIL WOOD SHOW (BBC GMR)
Wood: What 'K' could be described as the Islamic Bible?
Contestant: Er . . .
Wood: It's got two syllables . . . Kor . . .
Contestant: Blimey?
Wood: Ha ha ha ha, no. The past participle of run . . .
Contestant: (Silence)
Wood: OK, try it another way. Today I run, yesterday I . . .
Contestant: Walked?

NATIONAL LOTTERY
Dale Winton: Skegness is a seaside resort on the coast of which sea:a) Irish Sea, b) English Channel, c) North Sea?
Contestant: Oh, I know that, you can start writing out the cheque now, Dale. It's on the east coast, so it must be the Irish Sea.

THE VAULT
Melanie Sykes: What is the name given to the condition where the sufferer can fall asleep at any time?
Contestant: Nostalgia.

LUNCHTIME SHOW (BRMB)
Presenter: What religion was Guy Fawkes?
Contestant: Jewish.
Presenter: That's close enough.

BREAKFAST SHOW, RADIO 1
Chris Moyles: Which 'S' is a kind of whale that can grow up to 80 tonnes?
Contestant: Ummm . .
Moyles: It begins with 'S' and rhymes with 'perm'.
Contestant: Shark.

STEVE WRIGHT IN THE AFTERNOON (BBC RADIO 2)
Wright: Johnny Weissmuller died on this day. Which jungle-swinging character clad only in a loincloth did he play?
Contestant: Jesus.

from uk.rec.humour

Monday, 6 October 2008

BiblioGeek (Book Geek) Test

Score 1 point for ever yes answer.

Have you ever deliberately bought another copy because it had a different cover than the one you have?
Have you ever spent your grocery money on books?
Have you ever bought extra copies just so you could give them away?
Have you ever bought 2 or more copies of a book, so you could read one and save the other?
Have you ever bought a 2nd copy of a book you loved in case you wear out the 1st one?
Have you ever spent more than 20.00 to replace a book you read as a kid?
Have you ever brought books with you to the store to sell, just so you could by a book you couldn't afford?
Have you ever not read a series until you had every book in it?
Have you ever pre-ordered a book as soon as it was humanly possible?
Do you avoid getting your favorite author from the library because they expect you to give them back?
Have you ever maxed out your library card?
Do you erase other peoples writing in library books as you read them?
Have you ever repaired a library book you didn't damage before you returned it.
Have you ever kept a library book and claimed to have lost it?
Do you donate books to the library that you think they should have on the shelf?
Have you ever borrowed a book from a friend and forgotten to give it back? on purpose?
Have you ever tried to acquire absolutely everything an author has ever written including, text books, liner notes and book jacket blurbs?
Can you sense whether there are books at a yard sale or a flea market booth before you get there?
When you're shopping with friends do they try to rush you past the books and then groan audibly when you stop?
Have you ever not heard your named called in a bookstore on purpose?
Have you ever ended an acquaintance with someone after you realized they didn't read?
Have you ever been asked to leave a bookstore because it was 10 minutes past closing?
Do you scan all the titles at the grocery store even though you KNOW there isn't anything you are going to want.
Do you fix mis-shelved books in bookstores.
Do you check the prices in stores of books you already own?
Do you help customers find books in stores you don't work in?
Have you ever stood outside a bookstore waiting for it to open?
Do you shop for children's books for yourself?
Have you ever gone into a bookstore to kill time?
Have you ever lost track of the time inside a bookstore?
Have you ever left skid marks stopping at a bookstore you hadn't seen before?
How far out of your way will you drive to see a new bookstore? less than 10, more than 10, more than 50?
Do you prebuy your tickets to bookfairs?
Do you save bookmarks from bookstores like some people save matchbooks?
Do you make lists of books you have read?
Do you make lists of books you want to read?
Do you make lists of books that are like other books?
Have you ever scribbled a recommended book title on the back of your checkbook register or deposit slip?
Do you read anything your eye falls on cereal boxes, milk cartons, tabloid headers?
Have you ever unplugged the phone to read?
Have you ever canceled real world plans to read a book?
Have you ever made up fake plans so you could read undisturbed?
Have you ever stayed up all night to finish a book and then called in late the next morning?
Have you ever started reading a book at the store and bought it so you could finish?
Have you ever finished a book you didn't like just because you bought it?
Have you ever flung a book you didn't like across the room?
Do you have a basketball hoop over the trash for books you don't like?
Have you ever written a scathing letter to the author about a book that was less that expected?
Have you ever sent a book back to the publisher that was less that expected.
Do you turn magazines sideways so you can read the book titles in the picture backgrounds.
Do you surreptitiously try to get the titles off the books people are reading on the subway?
Do you wonder why the people on TV don't have more bookcases in their homes?
Have you ever given bookbags as holiday gifts?
Have you ever pre-read a book you were giving as a gift?
Do people give you books that you promptly exchange for other books?
Have people stopped giving you books all together?
Has anyone in your household encouraged you to open a bookstore so you can sell all the books cluttering up the place?
Have you ever wished you had a nickle every time asked "have you read all those?"
Have you ever bought a book you didn't like, just in case it went up in value?
Have you ever kept buying an author's books even after you stopped reading them?
Have you ever made a book out of loose-leaf paper to amuse a child?
Have you ever used something for a bookmark that was important and forgotten what book it was in?
Have you ever sat in the car in the driveway while listening to an audio book?
Have you ever sat in the car in the driveway reading a real book?
Do you keep a book in the car for emergencies?
Do you take more books on vacation that you could read in three vacations?
Do you ignore all the books you brought on vacation in favor of something you found in the airline terminal?
Do you have more bookcases in your bedroom than other furniture?
Is there room for more books on them?
Are your bookcases double stacked? triple?
Have you ever built a bookcase between two other bookcases?
Do you have more than 4 unread books on your bedside table? more than 10? more than 25?
Do you have no bedside table, just a pile of books?
Do you have a bookshelf of books about books? an entire case?
Did you spend more than 15 minutes buying your desk chair?
Did you go to more than one store looking for the perfect reading chair?
Have you ever taken a light bulb from a ceiling light to replace the one in the reading lamp.
Do you have boxes of books that haven't been unpacked in more than 8 years?
Have you ever resorted books by color just for fun?
Have you ever sold a collection off as a lot because it hurt too much to break it up?
Have you ever fantasized about a 10 minute bookshopping spree?
Have you ever made a desert island booklist? for real?
Do you know the dimensions of a quarto? an octavo? Do you know why?
Do you know the home city of all the major publishers by heart?
Do you know an imprint's parent company by heart?
Do you know any publisher's isbn pre-fix code by heart?
Do you own a bookpress?
Can you find the tools you need to fix a book, faster that the ones to fix anything else?
Do you buy mylar dust jacket covers by the roll?
Do you save loose endpapers in a file sorted by width, color & texture?
Have you ever referred to the other side of a sheet of paper as it's verso?
Do you have a pile of books labeled not good enough to sell, but too good to throw away?
Do the workers at the donation center all take their break at the same time when they see you?
Have you ever bought a box of books without looking at them?
Have you ever opened a box of books that you forgot you had?
Have you ever given away boxes of books without double checking inside?
Do you feel a sense of loss when a book you like gets sold?
Have you ever maxed the price to dissuade someone from buying a book you want to keep around?
Do you drive by buildings and analyze it as a possible bookstore location?
Have you ever stood around talking books with a store owner for over an hour after closing?

1-25 poseur
26-50 wannabe
51-75 minor leaguer
76-100 true blue book geek

From http://bibliophilebullpen.blogspot.com/2008/08/geek-to-geek.html

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Skew-whiff

Turned or twisted toward one side

Eg "his wig was, as the British say, skew-whiff"

See http://www.wordwebonline.com/en/SKEWWHIFF

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Grandparents

What Is A Grandparent?

(taken from papers written by a class of 8-year-olds)

Grandparents are a lady and a man who have no little children of their own. They like other people's.

A grandfather is a man & a grandmother is a lady!

Grandparents don't have to do anything except be there when we come to see them. They are so old they shouldn't play hard or run. It is good if they drive us to the shops and give us money.

When they take us for walks, they slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars.

They show us and talk to us about the colours of the flowers and also why we shouldn't step on 'cracks.'

They don't say, 'Hurry up.'

Usually grandmothers are fat but not too fat to tie your shoes.

They wear glasses and funny underwear.

They can take  their teeth and gums out.

Grandparents don't have to be clever.

They have to answer questions like 'Why isn't God married?' and 'How come dogs chase cats?'

When they read to us, they don't skip. They don't mind if we ask for the same story over again.

Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don't have television because they are the only grownups who like to spend time with us.

They know we should have biscuits before bedtime and they say prayers with us and kiss us even when we've been naughty..

A 6 year old was asked where Grandmothers live. ''oh,'' he said, ''she lives at the airport and when we want her we just go & get her. then when we've finished having her stay, we take her back to the airport.''

Granddad is the cleverest man on earth! he teaches me good things but i don't get to see him enough to get as clever as him!

It's funny when they bend over, you hear them blow off and they blame their dog.'

from uk.rec.humour

Friday, 3 October 2008

The Ringwraiths

'Nine [rings] he gave to Mortal Men, proud and great, and so ensnared them. Long ago they fell under the dominion of the One [ring], and they became Ringwraiths,...'

‘... the Black Riders are the Ringwraiths, the Nine Servants of the Lord of the Rings.'

‘What would they have done to me?' ... ‘What were the Riders trying to do?'

‘They tried to pierce your heart with a Morgul-knife which remains in the wound. If they had succeeded, you would have become like they are, only weaker and under their command. You would have became a wraith under the dominion of the Dark Lord; and he would have tormented you for trying to keep his Ring, if any greater torment were possible than being robbed of it and seeing it on his hand.'

‘But why could we all see their horses?'

‘Because they are real horses; just as the black robes are real robes that they wear to give shape to their nothingness when they have dealings with the living.'

‘Then why do these black horses endure such riders? All other animals are terrified when they draw near, even the elf-horse of Glorfindel. The dogs howl and the geese scream at them.'

‘Because these horses are born and bred to the service of the Dark Lord in Mordor. Not all his servants and chattels are wraiths! There are orcs and trolls, there are wargs and werewolves; and there have been and still are many Men, warriors and kings, that walk alive under the Sun, and yet are under his sway. And their number is growing daily.'

'I thought they were all destroyed in the flood'

'You cannot destroy Ringwraiths like that,' ... 'The power of their master is in them, and they stand or fall by him.

From The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Luxury ...

"Luxury. We used to have to get out of the lake at six o'clock in the morning, clean the lake, eat a handful of 'ot gravel, work twenty hour day at mill for tuppence a month, come home, and Dad would thrash us to sleep with a broken bottle, if we were lucky!"

"Well, of course, we had it tough. We used to 'ave to get up out of shoebox at twelve o'clock at night and lick road clean wit' tongue. We had two bits of cold gravel, worked twenty-four hours a day at mill for sixpence every four years, and when we got home our Dad would slice us in two wit' bread knife."

"Right. I had to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad and our mother would kill us and dance about on our graves singing Hallelujah."

"And you try and tell the young people of today that ..... they won't believe you."

from Monty Python's Flying Circus, the Four Yorkshiremen sketch

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

The Steinhaus Cyclus

The Steinhaus Cyclus is 145, 42, 20, 4, 16, 37, 58, 89.

  1. Take any natural number with 4 digits. (abcd)
  2. Add the squares of the digits. (a²+b²+c²+d²)
  3. Handle this sum in the same way. Repeat this calculation.
  4. This procedure comes either to 1 or inevitably to number 145. 
  5. Then the cyclus 42, 20, 4, 16, 37, 58, 89, 145 repeats.

1st example:

  • Take the number 4363.
  • Sequence: 70, 49, 97, 130, 10, 1, 1, 1, 1,...

2nd example:

  • Take the number 9583.
  • Sequence: 179, 131, 11, 2, 4, 16, 37, 58, 89, 145, 42, 20, 4, 16, 37, 58, 89, 145, 42, 20, 4, 16, 37, 58, 89, ...

See http://www.mathematische-basteleien.de/kaprekar.htm#The%20number%20222