Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Avoir l'oeuf colonial

Literally 'to have the colonial egg', meaning to have a beer belly, a caricature of the old colonials

Monday, 27 May 2013

Nuts, drupes and legumes


A walnut is a seed from a tree in the genus Juglans. Technically, a walnut is a drupe, not a nut, since it takes the form of a fruit enclosed by a fleshy outer layer which parts to reveal a thin shell with a seed inside. As walnuts age on the tree, the outer shell dries and pulls away, leaving the shell and seed behind.



After pollination, the fruit develops into a legume 3 to 7 cm (1 to 2 inches) long containing 2 to 3 (rarely 1 or 4) seeds, which forces its way underground to mature. Although a nut in the culinary sense, in the botanical sense the fruit of the peanut is a woody, indehiscent legume or pod and not technically a nut.

From Pocket Wikipedia,

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Choosing a meal at a restaurant

When I sit down in a restaurant I skim over the menu and immediately select two items that look good.

From that point on I only debate the one against the other and usually decide what I want within moments.

I'm almost always the first to be ready to order and I'm never one to say after a meal "I wish I would have ordered..." because I picked from two things I really wanted.


Friday, 24 May 2013

Erasmus of Rotterdam

Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (sometimes known as Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam) (October 27, 1466/1469, Rotterdam – July 12, 1536, Basel) was a Dutch Renaissance humanist and a Catholic Christian theologian.

His scholarly name Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus comprises the following three elements:

  • the Latin noun desiderium ("longing" or "desire") the name being a genuine Late Latin name);
  • the Greek adjective ἐράσμιος (erásmios) meaning "desired", and, in the form Erasmus, also the name of a saint;
  • and the Latinized adjectival form for the city of Rotterdam (Roterodamus = "of Rotterdam").


Thursday, 23 May 2013

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Sea Level Isn't Level

Altitude on maps is given using sea level as a baseline.

But sea level is not a constant, NASA/JPL oceanographer Josh Willis explains: “Even though it’s sometimes convenient to think of the ocean as a great big bathtub, where turning on the tap at one end raises the water level in the whole tub, real sea level rise doesn’t quite happen that way. To understand why, you first have to realize that ‘sea level’ isn’t really level at all.”

The JPL/Cal Tech Sea Level Viewer gives some examples of things that can affect the local sea level: El Niño, tsunamis, and hurricanes.

In a global warming context, the sea level has risen an average of nearly two inches since 1993, but it’s a lot higher in some spots than others.

Via What on Earth

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Hart's Rules

Hart's Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University Press, Oxford was an authoritative reference book and style guide published in England by Oxford University Press (OUP). Hart's Rules originated as a compilation of rules and standards by Horace Hart over almost three decades during his employment at other printing establishments, but they were first printed as a single broadsheet page for in-house use by the OUP in 1893 while Hart was Controller of the University Press. They were originally intended as a concise style-guide for the staff of the OUP, but they developed continuously over the years, were published in 1904, and soon gained wider use as a source for authoritative instructions on typesetting style, grammar, punctuation and usage.


Friday, 17 May 2013

Mary Celeste & Maria Celeste

The Mary Celeste was a British-American merchant brigantine famous for having been discovered on 4 December 1872 in the Atlantic Ocean, unmanned and apparently abandoned (one lifeboat was missing, along with its crew of seven), although the weather was fine and her crew had been experienced and capable seamen.
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Sister Maria Celeste (16 August 1600 – 2 April 1634), born Virginia Gamba, was the daughter of famous Italian scientist Galileo Galilei and Marina Gamba
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Galileo's Daughter is a book by Dava Sobel. It is based on the surviving letters of Galileo Galilei's daughter, the nun Suor Maria Celeste, and explores the relationship between Galileo and his daughter.
See more at's_Daughter

Tuesday, 14 May 2013


For the past 30+ years, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture has been performed during countless United States' Independence Day celebrations, due largely in part to an exhilarating performance by the Boston Pops in 1974, conducted by Arthur Fiedler. In an effort to increase ticket sales, Fiedler choreographed fireworks, cannons, and a steeple-bell choir to the overture, as Tchaikovsky himself called for the use of cannons in his score.

Many American's believe that Tchaikovsky's overture represents the USA's victory against the British Empire during the War of 1812, however, Tchaikovsky actually tells the story of Napoleon's retreat from Russia in 1812.

In fact, Tchaikovsky even references the French national anthem ‘La Marsillaise’ and Russia's ‘God Save the Czar’ within the music.


Saturday, 11 May 2013

Booby prize

A booby prize is a joke prize usually given in recognition of a terrible performance or last-place finish. A person who finishes last, for example, may get a booby prize such as a worthless coin. Booby prizes are sometimes humorously and jokingly coveted as an object of pride.

The word "boob" stems from the Spanish bobo meaning stupid, which in turn came from the Latin balbus meaning stammering; the word booby to mean dunce appeared in 1599.

Booby prize literally means "idiot's prize". The OED dates this usage to 1893. Booby trap and "booby hatch" are related terms.


Thursday, 9 May 2013

McGillycuddy & MacGillycuddy

The McGillycuddy of the Reeks (Irish: Mac Giolla Mochuda) is one of the hereditary chiefs of the name of Ireland. The current family head is Donough McGillycuddy, who lives in Himeville, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

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MacGillycuddy's Reeks (Irish: Na Cruacha Dubha, meaning "the black stacks") is a mountain range in County Kerry, Republic of Ireland.

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Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Weaseling out of things ...

Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals … except the weasel.

Homer Simpson


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Beard Tax

The beard tax is the best known of a series of measures enacted by Tsar Peter I (Peter the Great) to transform and regulate the appearance of his subjects.

As early as 1698 the tsar ordered many of his prominent courtiers to shave their beards, and in 1699 he began to mandate the wearing of European fashions at court functions.

See full article at