Wednesday, 30 April 2014

What is a ‘GRAIL’ watch and why?

To me a grail watch is one that you usually covet for ‘some time’ but that you will never sell.

Typically grails are watches that are sought after by collectors for long periods. However I will say ‘usually’ covet for some time as I believe there are instances where a watch becomes available that you never thought would, or that you never even knew existed,  but instantly generates a level of desire and need similar to that of something coveted for a long period.

However for it to be a true grail it must fall into the category of never to be sold.

See full article at

Monday, 28 April 2014

How to take a hat off

Handle it by the brim, not the crown. I’ll admit that I like doffing my hat by grabbing it by the crown. It just looks cool. But unfortunately, while it may be suave, it’s no good for your hat. All that pinching will weaken the crown’s ability to holds its shape or create a crease that can’t be fixed. Oils and dirt from your hand will also soil the hat. Take off or pick up your hat by grasping it at the front and back of the brim. Always handle your hat with clean hands to avoid transferring grime to it.

See more at

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Restaurateur or restauranteur?

The French word for a person who owns or runs a restaurant is restaurateur, with no n, and this is the spelling used most often in English, especially in edited writing.

Restauranteur, with an n, appears in English about once for every ten instances of restaurateur. But while this spelling is common and has a long history, many people consider it wrong.

The Oxford English Dictionary notes restauranteur as originally from the U.S. and lists examples from as far back as 1859, though a historical Google Books search covering the 19th century uncovers no more than a handful of instances of restauranteur. Many more examples are found in texts from the first half of the 20th century, including many from outside the U.S. Today, the misspelling appears about equally often throughout the English-speaking world.

See full article at

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Hat Law

THE WORLD'S first hat revolution took place in Turkey in 1925. On November 25 of that year, the parliament passed a law that made it mandatory for all men to wear Western-style hats in public places; all civil servants had to wear them, and no other type of hat would be allowed. Those who went hatless would be left alone, but if one wanted to wear a hat then one had to either wear the proposed model (and not the traditional turban or fez) or face the consequences, which could be as severe as the death penalty.

See full article at

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Are "recant" and "retract" interchangeable?

RECANT is likely to indicate rejection of a previously adhered-to belief or position accompanied by admission of error and acceptance of a sanctioned belief

  • Shostakovich, as our newspapers have told us, has suffered from official criticism and been forced to recant and rewrite -- W. C. Huntington
  • if Christians recanted they were to be spared, but if they persisted in their faith they were to be executed -- K. S. Latourette

RETRACT indicates a withdrawing or calling back, often of a statement or implication to someone's discredit

  • give the present writer an opportunity of retracting criticism from his own pen which he now feels to have been unjust -- Richard Garnett
  • they ... retract what they have said, and say publicly that they were mistaken -- Rose Macaulay

from alt.usage.english

Monday, 14 April 2014

The longest canal tunnel in Britain

At 3.25 miles long, Standedge is Britain's longest canal tunnel

Opened in April 1811, Standedge Tunnel is over 200 years old

Typical cargos through the tunnel included wool, coal and horse manure!

Before diesel power, boats were legged through the tunnel

See more at

Standedge - disused since 1940s, re-opened in 2001, width restrictions, boat passage is escorted and must be booked


Friday, 11 April 2014

What are antigrams?

Antigram is a new word.

It is an anagram but which renders the opposite meaning. 

Here are some examples!

silent listen
funeral real fun
violence nice love
forty-five over fifty
united untied
earliest arise late

See more at

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Simpson's paradox

In probability and statistics, Simpson's paradox, or the Yule–Simpson effect, is a paradox in which a trend that appears in different groups of data disappears when these groups are combined, and the reverse trend appears for the aggregate data.

From <'s_paradox>

Monday, 7 April 2014

Hue and cry

In medieval England ... what would you do though if you discovered a crime being committed?

You would be expected to raise the alarm or in other words give hue and cry.

In 1285 the Statute of Winchester declared that anyone who witnesses a crime shall give hue and cry. All able-bodied men, upon hearing the shouts, were obliged to assist in the pursuit of the criminal. The sound of the hue and cry varied from place to place but was most likely a shout and would probably have varied depending upon the nature of the crime.

See more at

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Why Did Pirates Wear Eye Patches?

Pirates frequently had to move above and below decks, from daylight to near darkness, and … the smart ones "wore a patch over one eye to keep it dark-adapted outside."

When the pirate went below decks, he could switch the patch to the outdoor eye and see in the darkness easily (potentially to fight while boarding and plundering another vessel).

See full article at

Thursday, 3 April 2014

The Bedsheet Problem

The bedsheet problem is an urban legend that states the following: any piece of paper (no matter the dimensions) cannot fold more than 7 times . All who claimed the myth was valid could only cite empirical evidence. They could not explain or prove it mathematically. The puzzle was both mysterious and inexplicable.

Theoretically if we are given an infinitely long sheet of paper, then there would be no absolute folding limit. However, this result does not seem true when the experiment is conducted. In December 2001, Britney Gallivan created a mathematical representation of the bedsheet problem in which she described the interaction between the thickness, length, and number of folds that were possible. Gallivan's mathematical model describes the reality of the physical system. Her derivation gives the loss function for folding a piece of paper in half.

Britney Gallivan, who was at the time a junior in high school, solved this well-known problem. She was asked by her teacher to fold a sheet of paper 12 times and as an incentive she would get extra credit. She failed multiples times. Later she succeeded after using a thin gold sheet and proved the assumption wrong. Gallivan was able to achieve 12 folds by folding a roll of thin toilet paper that stretched over three-fourths of a mile. It took seven hours in a shopping mall with her parents, but Gallivan was able to bust a myth as well as derive a formula relating the width, thickness of a paper and the number of folds achievable. The urban legend of 7 folds was disproved in 2001. Gallivan wrote a 40 page pamphlet on her discovery in which she explained the mathematics, the story and other information about her project.

See full article at

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Top Works by Russian Authors

1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1877).

2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1869).

3. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955).

4. The stories of Anton Chekhov (1860–1904).

5. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866).

See more at