Saturday, 31 August 2013

Bob's your uncle

Bob's your uncle (sometimes elaborately Robert's your mother's brother) is an expression commonly used mainly in Britain and Commonwealth nations.

Typically, someone says it to conclude a set of simple instructions to mean, "And there you have it", or "You're all set". For example, "To make a ham sandwich, just put a piece of ham between two slices of buttered bread, and Bob's your uncle". (Cf. voilà and presto.)

Copied from's_your_uncle

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Pollarding and coppicing

Late winter is the best time to coppice and pollard (cutting back trees and shrubs hard). It promotes colourful young stems, ornamental foliage and rejuvenates plants that tolerate hard pruning.

Coppicing is pruning close to the base of the plant, pollarding is pruning back to a trunk or stem.


Some say coppicing makes a tree look a bit like a hedgehog on a stick.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Offset Time Zones

Offset Time Zones Are Not One of the Standard 24 Time Zones

While most of the world is familiar with time zones that differ in increments of an hour, there are many places in the world that use offset time zones. These time zones are offset by a half-hour or even fifteen minutes off of the standard twenty four time zones of the world.

India, the world's second most populous country utilizes an offset time zone. India is a half-hour ahead of Pakistan to the west and a half-hour behind Bangladesh to the east.

Venezuela's offset time zone was established by President Hugo Chavez in late 2007. Venezuela's offset time zone makes it a half hour earlier than Guyana to the east and a half hour later than Colombia to the west.

One of the most unusual time zone offsets is Nepal, which is fifteen minutes behind neighbouring Bangladesh, which is on a standard time zone.

See full article at

Sunday, 25 August 2013

On the ball


To be alert; in command of one's senses.


Some authorities have suggested that 'on the ball' originated in the sporting arena, and alludes to runners being on the balls of their feet, eagerly ready to run a race. This has some similarities with being 'up to scratch', which derives from boxers or runners being ready at the starting line. It is a plausible derivation, but has nothing to recommend it beyond that.

A more commonly advocated location for the source of 'on the ball' is the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. This is where the oldest surviving and best known time-ball is sited. The Greenwich time-ball was installed in 1833 to signal the accurate time to passing ships. It was, and still is, raised just before 1pm each day and falls as 1pm strikes on the observatory's clock. Captains needed to have their ships' chronometers set accurately in order to navigate correctly, hence they needed to be 'on the ball'. It's a nice story and there are any number of tour guides around the observatory who are all too happy to repeat it. Unfortunately...

Need I go on? It isn't true.

The phrase 'on the ball' did actually originate in the sporting arena, but relates to the eyes rather than the feet. It is a contraction of the earlier expression 'keep your eye on the ball', which advice has been given to participants in virtually every known ball game. For the source, we need to look to early ball games. The phrase is recorded in early records of cricket, golf, croquet and baseball and many people regard baseball as the origin. Well, that appears to be almost true - the earliest citation that I can find in print comes from the English game of rounders

See full article at

Friday, 23 August 2013

Blivet, poiuyt and devil’s fork

A blivet, also known as a poiuyt or even more often refereed to as “The Devil’s Fork” is an undecipherable figure, an optical illusion and an impossible object.

In most cases, (yet not always necessarily) it appears to have three cylindrical prongs at one end which mysteriously transform into two rectangular prongs at the other end. In our illusion world, it’s most often showcased in a form of a Roman Columns.

See many example in Blivet (Devil’s Fork) Illusion Collection at

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

15 Most Impenetrable Bank Vaults

1. Fort Knox – The United States Bullion Depository
If a bank robber was somehow able to get through the solid granite wall perimeter and past the squadrons of machinegun wielding guards and armed military, the thief would still have to contend with a 22-ton vault door. That 22 ton blast door is held shut by a lock so intricate that it requires a 10 person team to unlock. Is it really any wonder that Fort Knox has never even had a published robbery attempt?
2. The New York Federal Reserve Vault – World’s Biggest Gold Depository

3. The Bank of England Gold Vault
The vault walls are bombproof and so sturdy that bank staff used them for protection during WWII air raids. And when the vault doors do need to be opened, they can only be accessed by an elaborate system consisting of voice recognition, 3 foot keys and other unpublished security measures.

4. The London Silver Vaults
5. Teikoku Bank, Hiroshima – Atomic Bomb-Proof!

See full list at

Monday, 19 August 2013

Crack on

Meaning: Continue doing something with energy

Example: We had to CRACK ON to get everything finished on time.


Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Longest Tunnel in the World

Is the Lærdal Tunnel (Lærdalstunnelen), spanning the mountain between the tiny villages of Lærdal and Aurland but fundamentally linking Bergen and Oslo. At 24.5 km (15.23 miles) long, the Lærdal Tunnel is the longest road tunnel in the world, meaning it’s the longest tunnel that you can drive through.

At 57 km (35.4 miles), the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland now holds the title for longest tunnel in the world (used only by trains), and last September, I rode through the Seikan Tunnel in Japan, which is the longest undersea tunnel in the world.

See full article at

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Tolkien’s Wizards / Istari

In the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, the Wizards of Middle-earth are a small group of beings outwardly resembling Men but possessing much greater physical and mental power.

They are also called the Istari ("Wise Ones") by the elves.

The Wizards – their colour - notes

  • Saruman - White (later Many Coloured) - Leader of the order, until Gandalf cast him out.
  • Gandalf, Mithrandir, Icanus, Tharkun, The Grey Pilgrim, Stormcrow - Grey (later White) - the second most powerful in the order, until he cast out Saruman. He became Gandalf the White when he slew the Balrog.
  • Radagast - Brown -  third most powerful in the order. Saruman deceived him into getting Gandalf captured in Isengard. He was a loved of animals, especially birds.
  • Morinehtar - Blue - nothing is recorded of these people.
  • Rómestámo - Blue - nothing is recorded of these people.

Gandalf and Saruman both play important roles in The Lord of the Rings, while Radagast appears only briefly. Alatar and Pallando do not feature in the story, as they journeyed far into the east after their arrival in Middle-earth.

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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The Siege Perilous

The Siege Perilous (also known as The Perilous Seat) is a vacant seat at the Round Table reserved by Merlin for the knight who would one day be successful in the quest for the Holy Grail.

The Siege Perilous is so strictly reserved that it is fatal to anyone else who sits in it.

Extracted from

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Articles of clothing named after people and places.

Jersey: A knitted garment of wool or cotton

Cardigan: A type of sweater

Balaclava: A type of woollen headgear

Balmoral: A type of hat

Mackintosh: A type of waterproof raincoat.

Ulster: A heavy herringbone or tweed overcoat

See full article at

Friday, 9 August 2013

TAPS, one of history's most difficult engineering feats.

The $8-billion Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), one of history's most difficult engineering feats, was the largest private construction project of its time.

Built in 1975-77, the 800-mile, 4-foot-diameter, zigzagging pipeline carries crude oil from 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle down to the terminal at Valdez, the nearest ice-free port.

About half of the pipeline is above ground as it crosses three mountain ranges, 34 major waterways, and some 800 small streams. Inside Pump Station No. 9, three pumps put through about 1.2 million barrels of North Slope oil a day. Traveling at 5.4 mph, the oil takes 6.2 days to traverse the pipeline.


Wednesday, 7 August 2013

A cruise ain't all plain sailing

(This lot was printed in the Echo on 1 April, but on the next day it was claimed to be genuine.)

COMPLAINTS by cruise ship passengers include one by a woman who moaned about the sea being "too loud", it has been revealed.

And a couple accused a captain of being "rude" for sailing off when they had left a note saying they needed more sightseeing time in port, according to cruise travel agency ####. co. uk.

One woman, having seen that Take That star Gary Barlow had been on her ship on an earlier trip, demanded an explanation as to why the singer was not on her voyage.

Then there was the man who complained about not getting "an impressive tan" and being unable to swim in the pool each day while on a trip around ... Alaska.

A woman travelling with Celebrity Cruises asked for a refund as there were "no celebrities on board", while a Yorkshire couple wanted compensation after forking out "a lot more money than planned" on staff tips due to the excellent service.

The woman who complained about the loudness of the sea said she had not been able to sleep well on her Mediterranean cruise. She demanded cabins be "better soundproofed against the sounds of the sea".

Another female traveller, having booked an inside cabin, then complained about not having a view of the sea and asked for a window to be installed.

####. co. uk cruise development manager Steph Curtin said: "From time to time we come across a few quirky complaints that we can do little to help. "I'm afraid we can't be held responsible for the sea being too loud or the lack of celebrities on board."

From uk.rec.humour

Monday, 5 August 2013

Trust, but verify

Trust, but verify is a form of advice given which recommends that while a source of information might be considered reliable, one should perform additional research to verify that such information is accurate, or trustworthy.

The term was a signature phrase adopted and made famous by U.S. president Ronald Reagan. Reagan frequently used it when discussing U.S. relations with the Soviet Union. The phrase was learned by Reagan from Suzanne Massie, a writer on Russia. She told Reagan, "The Russians like to talk in proverbs. It would be nice of you to know a few. You are an actor, you can learn them very quickly".

After Reagan used the phrase at the signing of the INF Treaty, his counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev responded: "You repeat that at every meeting," to which Reagan answered "I like it”.


Saturday, 3 August 2013

Frederick Forsyth on Martin-Baker

Below his nose was a small white feather on the water, the V—wake of a tiny fisherman. He dived towards it, converting height to speed raced across the staring faces at a thousand feet then hauled back, converting speed to height, pulled the ejector—seat handle and blew out straight through the canopy.

Messrs Martin-Baker knew their stuff. The seat took him up and away from the dying bomber. A pressure-operated trigger tumbled him out of the steel seat which fell harmlessly to the water, and left him dangling ¡n the warm sunshine under his parachute. Minutes later he was being hauled, coughing and spluttering, onto the aft deck of a Bertram Moppie.

Frederick Forsyth, The Cobra

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Types of barns

* Stable
* Barn conversion
* Bank barn
* Barn raising
* Barnyard
* Carriage house/Cart Shed
* Combination Barn
* Dairies
* Dovecote
* Dutch barn
* Farmhouse (building)
* Functionally classified barn
* Granary
* Linhay
* Longhouse
* Oast houses
* Pole barn
* Round barn
* barn (unit)
* Shelter sheds
* Shippon
* Stable
* Tobacco barn
* Tithe barn
* Threshing barn