Sunday, 30 September 2007


A bit of nostalgia - my grandparents’ house – drawn by my father, Morris Thompson Edwards. It was on Queens Drive, Liverpool, and began it's life as a house well outside the edge of urban Liverpool and with a field opposite in which the Corncrakes croaked all summer. It was demolished in the 1960s to give way for a petrol station which in turn gave way to a flyover at the end of the M62.

Biodegradable Plastic

Here in the UK you can now buy ‘Innocent Breakfast Thickies’, a combination of yoghurt, oats and fruit juice. As well as being probiotic and tasting delicious (allegedly – I haven’t tried one yet) they are environmentally friendly too because the bottles are made from corn and compost down in just six weeks.
They call the material PLA or Poly Lactic Acid. It starts to break down when the conditions reach 50°C and 95% relative humidity. The composting process truly works and we may now have the solution to the worldwide pollution being caused by plastic water bottles that take virtually for ever to degrade. Corn starch bottles are a very new development so there is currently a real lack of composting infrastructure around.
Only 10% of the UK’s recycling centres have machines that can sort these bottles from the normal plastic ones, so if you come across any of these place the cap in your recycling, and the bottle in your compost heap if you have one.

My StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon My StumbleUpon Page

Friday, 28 September 2007

Losing my marbles

Have you ever lost your marbles? When we were children the living room had carpet in the middle but around the edge was stained floorboards. Near the kitchen door was a knot hole in the floorboards. You can guess the rest...

When Mum and Dad moved in with Jo and I the thought of those lost marbles haunted me so I took up the carpet and the floorboard and retrieved them. I also found a cowboy – also from the mid 50’s. The size of the cowboy in relation to the size of the knot hole suggested that some degree of brutality had gone into getting him through!

Incidentally, the origin of the phrase 'losing your marbles', as an alternative to losing one's wits, is unknown though various weird and not too wonderful explanations can be found on the web.


As a child, the writer Sylvia Wright heard a plaintive Scottish ballad entitled `The Bonny Earl of Murray’. One stanza, she believed, went like this: “Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands/ Oh Where hae you been?/ They hae slay the Earl of Murray/ And Lady Mondegreen.”

How romantic, she thought, Lady Mondegreen perishing with her lord in the fierce, romantic wars of medieval Scotland. It was only much later that she realized that they had actually slain the Earl of Murray and ``laid him on the green.''

She began to collect similar mishearings of song lyrics, poems, patriotic utterances and the like, and in 1954 published a small article about them, coining the word ``mondegreen.'' Then she died and 30 years passed and, voila, a columnist in San Francisco discovered the term and founded a small cottage industry -- the collection and dissemination of mondegreens.

....We believe that the most frequently submitted Mondegreen is still "Gladly, the cross-eyed bear" (known in the real world as that fine old hymn "Gladly The Cross I'd Bear"). A close second is "There's a bathroom on the right," a mishearing of "There's a bad moon on the rise" from the old Creedence Clearwater song "Bad Moon Rising."

Third place is still firmly held by "Excuse me while I kiss this guy," actually "Excuse me while I kiss the sky" from the Jimi Hendrix song "Purple Haze." Mr. Hendrix was himself aware that he had been Mondegreened, and would occasionally, in performance, actually kiss a guy after saying that line.

Fourth place is probably occupied by Round John Virgin, a Shakespearean figure occasionally found in "Silent Night." Also high on the charts is a Mondegreen from "Groovin'", a popular song of an earlier era. (Kids, "groovin'" was kind of like "chillin'" except the clothing fit more tightly).

In that song, the Rascals were singing "You and me endlessly," but many people heard "You and me and Leslie," leading to speculation about the exact identity of Leslie and the popularity of multiple couplings in the music world.

Jon Carroll - San Francisco Chronicle

And ScriptorSenex's favourite - The great Crystal Gayle song "Doughnuts Make Your Brown Eyes Blue."

Thursday, 27 September 2007

StumbleUpon Photos

Best Photos on StumbleUpon (September Week 3)

Words, words, words....

Do you enjoy playing with words? Here is a super link to
dictionaries, grammar rules, and loads more –

My Photo Gallery

At long last I have got around to putting some of my general photographs onto a webpage. Previously I have concentrated on insects in my garden and it was quite good fun to put some more varied photos on for a change.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

A Prayer

Convicted forger A. Schiller was serving his time in Sing Sing prison in the late 1800s when guards found him dead in his cell. On his body they found seven regular straight pins whose heads measured the typical 47/1000ths of an inch or 1.17 millimetres in diameter. Under 500 magnification it was found that the tiny etchings seen on the heads of the pins were the words to The Lord's Prayer, which is 65 words and 254 letters long. Of the seven pins, six were silver and one was gold - the gold pin's prayer was flawless and a true masterpiece. Schiller had spent the last 25 years of his life creating the pins, using a tool too small to be seen by the naked eye. It is estimated that it took 1,863 separate carving strokes to make it. Schiller went blind because of his artwork.

Quote of the day

A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing.
Emo Philips
(Please click on the smiley)

Thing in a Jar

Any ideas what this?


Tuesday, 25 September 2007


One day (that famous “One Day”) I shall do a webpage of some of my better photos but until then I shall put the occasional one on this page.

What shall we learn today?

What would you like to learn today? How about twenty insect songs –

or the new maths of global warming
A descriptive slideshow by Craig Damrauer showing the equations for the new math of global warming.

or micro photos of insects by Dennis Kunkel

Monday, 24 September 2007

Pearly Gates

An engineer died and reported to the pearly gates. St. Peter checked his dossier and said, "Ah, sorry, you've been directed to the wrong place."

So the engineer reported to the gates of hell and was let in. Pretty soon, the engineer got dissatisfied with the level of comfort in hell, and started designing and building improvements. After a while, they'd got air conditioning, flush toilets, and escalators. The engineer was a pretty popular guy especially with management.

One day God called Satan up on the telephone and said with a sneer, "So, how's it going down there in hell?"

Satan replied, "Hey, things are going great. We've got air conditioning and flush toilets and escalators, and there's no telling what this engineer is going to come up with next."

God replied, "What??? You've got an engineer? That's a mistake! He should never have gotten down there; send him up here."

Satan said, "No way. I like having an engineer on the staff, and I'm keeping him."

God said, "Send him back up here or I'll sue."

Satan laughed uproariously and answered, "Yeah, right. And just where are YOU going to get a lawyer?"


Don't underestimate a small kindness. You never know how big it is to someone else. David Fricker

It was a strange co-incidence that my brother sent me this quote in an e-mail just when I was writing a brief note about Blessings Chisi for this Blog.

This is Blessings. He lives in Malawi. When / if I end up at the Pearly Gates and am trying to justify my existence to St Peter (or whoever the current keyholder may be) I doubt I shall think of Blessings. Giving £18 a month to the charity World Vision between three of us (Jo, Richard and I) is such a trifle in the great scheme of things that I am highly unlikely to be saying to St Pete that this was one of my major contributions to the future of life on Earth.

But for Blessings that 'trifle' is life on earth – it equals safe drinking water, nursery school education (which includes one nutritious meal a day), cassava cuttings and seed for agriculture, and a whole host of other things that the World Vision project provides for his village such as pregnancy support which has cut the death rate of both mothers and new-born children.

(I'm not a great one for telling other people how to choose which charities to support but if you are interested in sponsoring a child the World Vision site is at

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Ignorance of the law is no excuse

In London, it is illegal to flag down a taxi if you have the plague.
In England, all men over the age of 14 must carry out two hours of longbow practice a day.
In Lancashire, no person is permitted after being asked to stop by a constable on the seashore to incite a dog to bark.
It is illegal for a cab in the City of London to carry rabid dogs or corpses.
It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament.

In the city of York, it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow.
(original picture pinched from a good site of York holiday pics -
In Chester, Welshmen are banned from entering the city before sunrise and from staying after sunset.
And, best of all -
Under the UK’s Tax Avoidance Schemes Regulations 2006, it is illegal not to tell the taxman anything you don’t want him to know, though you don’t have to tell him anything you don’t mind him knowing.

Solar eclipse

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas.

Only 83 years to the next total solar eclipse in Britain. It will occur on 23rd September 2090. The first total eclipse in the UK in the third millennium occurs close to sunset. Its centreline misses the British mainland, but is very close to the Channel Islands. The broad path of totality -- over 240km wide -- covers south-west Ireland, most of the south coast of England, all of Cornwall and Devon, and the Channel Islands, as well as a large part of northern France. Most of the UK will see the Sun set partially eclipsed. Like anyone reading this could care!!!!

Saturday, 22 September 2007

It's the 22nd..

Another Catch-22 Day..
"There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, that specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane, he had to fly them. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of the the clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle."
Joseph Heller

Birds and Bees

A father asked his 10-year old son if he knew about the birds and the bees.
'I don't want to know,' the child said, bursting into tears. 'Promise me you won't tell me.'
Confused, the father asked what was wrong.
The boy sobbed, 'When I was six, I got the 'There's no Easter Bunny' speech. At seven, I got the 'There's no Tooth Fairy' speech.
When I was eight, you hit me with the 'There's no Santa' speech.
If you're going to tell me that grown-ups don't really get laid, I'll have nothing left to live for.'

Friday, 21 September 2007


I have recently discovered a super site called StumbleUpon

It is a great way of surfing the net by seeing sites that have interested like-minded folk. Today, for example, it led me to the brilliant photography (yes, they are photos) of Don Hong-Oai. This, in turn, led me to and then on to
You could just keep going for ever...

Thursday, 20 September 2007

More Useless Facts

The Mona Lisa has no eyebrows. It was the fashion in Renaissance Florence to shave them off!

There are 18 different animal shapes in the Animal Crackers cookie zoo!

Boondock, nurdle, scrunge and squop are all verbs describing things you might do in a game of tiddlywinks.

Your body is creating and killing 15 million red blood cells per second! What happens if it is killing two more than it is creating.....?

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Lesser known animal collective nouns

Clowder of Cats
Crash of Rhinoceros
Cry of Hounds
Drift of Swine
Gam of Hares
Husk of Hares
Knot of Toads
Labour of Moles
Mob of Kangaroos
Paddling of Ducks
Rag of Colts
Rafter of Turkeys
Shrewdness of Apes
Smuck of Jellyfish
Sounder of Swine
Watch of Nightingales

Famous Last Words

“I think it’s time for morphine” – D H Lawrence
“Please put out the light.” – Theodore Roosevelt
“Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something.” - Pancho Villa

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Dr Johnson's Birthday - or is it?

Today is the birthday of Dr Samuel Johnson who was born on 7th September 1709 and died on 13th December 1784. He was one of England’s best known literary figures. A poet, essayist, biographer, lexicographer, critic, wit and prose stylist, he is the most quoted of English writers after Shakespeare.

So, if he was born on 7th September, how come the 18th September is his birthday? The answer lies in the change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar which took place in 1752 when we ‘lost’ eleven days to catch up to most of Continental Europe. After that change Dr Johnson celebrated his birthday on 18th September (New Style) which was 7th September (Old Style).

It is fairly widely known that in September 1752, Great Britain switched from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar. In order to achieve the change, 11 days were 'omitted' from the calendar - i.e. the day after 2 September 1752 was 14 September 1752. This change was as a result of an Act of Parliament - the Calendar Act of 1751 An Act for Regulating the Commencement of the Year; and for Correcting the Calendar now in Use.
What isn't so widely known is a second change which the Act introduced - as named in the first part of the Act's title. The Act changed the first day of the year (or, if you want to impress your friends with a new word, the Supputation of the Year).
Prior to 1752 in England, the year began on 25 March (Lady Day). Lady Day is one of the Quarter Days, which are still used in legal circles. The Quarter Days divide the year in quarters (hence the name, and the Quarter Days are: Lady Day (25 March), Midsummers Day (24 June), Michaelmas Day (29 September), and Christmas Day (25 December).
So, in England prior to the Act, the day after 24 March 1642 was 25 March 1643. The Act changed this, so that the day after 31 December 1751 was 1 January 1752. As a consequence, 1751 was a short year - it ran only from 25 March to 31 December.
To throw some more confusion on the issue, Scotland had changed the first day of the year to 1 January in 1600 (in 1600, Scotland was a separate kingdom). When King James VI of Scotland became also King James I of England in 1603, the possibilities of date confusion must have been considerable.
Historians have to be on their toes with all dates prior to 1752. For example, in The Tower of London there is some graffiti scratched into a cell wall by someone imprisoned in January 1642 for his role in the Battle of Edgehill (which took place on 23 October 1642).

Monday, 17 September 2007


On Friday evening Helen and Ian treated me to a badger watch at Paignton Zoo. A brilliant experience I shall remember all my (pre-Alzheimer's) days. Everyone should be aware of the irrational appoach the government has to Badgers and bovine TB and a visit to will explain the policy of the Wildlife Trusts on Badgers.

If you want to help Badgers you could join the Badger Trust which promotes the conservation and welfare of badgers and the protection of their setts and habitats. It is the leading voice for badgers and represent and support around 80 local voluntary badger groups. The Badger Trust provides expert advice on all badger issues and works closely with MPs, the police and other conservation and welfare organisations.

Or click below to sign a petition against Badger Culling…

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Not easy to photograph...

The following all qualify as British mammals but regrettably getting a photo of them in the wild is unlikely since they became extinct in this country some time ago. (Wild Boar and Reindeer have been successfully re-introduced and groups are seeking permission to re-introduce Wolf and European Beaver.)
Spotted Hyena – c32,200 BC
Bison – c25,650 BC
Woolly Rhinoceros – c22,350 BC
Wolverine – c20,160 BC
Woolly Mammoth – c10,800 BC
Arctic Fox – c10,000 BC
Giant Irish Elk – c8,960 BC
Reindeer – c6,000 BC – subsequently re-introduced
Aurochs – c1,000 BC
Brown Bear – disputed departure dates ranging from 1st to 8th Centuries AD
Lynx – 180 AD
Wild Boar – 13th Century but re-introduced a few times since
European Beaver – allegedly c1300 but may be earlier by a few hundred years
Wolf – c1690 AD
St Kilda House Mouse - c1930

The Reindeer and Wild Boar are the only two now roaming wild in this country and as the Reindeer herds are fed only the Wild Boar can be said to have truly re-established itself. They have even set up their own website!!!

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Gone German

My Blog has suddenly gone German! When I posted the last entry it decided to say "Blog anzeigen..." Help!

I feel Punk...

What does ’Punk’ mean? I thought it was a modern word relating only to a form of rock music until I came across a diary entry for September 15th 1919 in which the diarist, a young American girl, wrote “Monday September 15, 1919 - I didn't dress until 5:00 P.M. and felt pretty punk. “ Another entry of Louise Hancock’s from 1916 read “Ha! Ha! It was awful cold and damp. The show was punk, but we had a good time. “
I looked up punk and found =
Punk rock, an anti-establishment rock music genre
Punk subculture, a subculture associated with punk rock
Punk fashion, clothing styles associated with the punk subculture
Punk ideologies, a group of social and political beliefs associated with the punk subculture
Punk visual art, artwork associated with the punk subculture
Punk (magazine), a 1970s United States punk fanzine
Punk (fireworks), a utensil for lighting fireworks
Punk, one of the Mega Man Killers, robots in the Mega Man Classic video game series
Punk, a street term for a petty criminal or a male prostitute

Eventually I found a reference to it being an informal North American word for "Bad; worthless; a worthless person; a thug; or a criminal."
You live and learn..…

Saints galore

Here are some of those more interesting Saints to whom you may wish to pay homage....
Angina – St Swithbert
Desperate Situations – St Gregory of Neocaesarea & St Jude & St Rita of Cascia
Disappointing Children – St Clothilde
Falsely accused – St Raymond Nonnatus
Headache sufferers - St Aedh Mac Brice & St Teresa of Avila
Fire prevention – St Barbara & St Catherine of Siena
Funeral Directors – St Dismas & St Joseph of Arimathea
Interracial Justice – St Martin de Porres
Lawyers – St Ivo (Fancy lawyers having a Saint)
Lost articles – St Anthony of Padua
Nettle Rash – St Benedict
So if you have nettle rash, a headache and angina attack because you are in a desperate situation, being falsely accused of arson and hoping for inter-racial justice to avoid a trip to the undertakers, and you lose a disappointing child – you know to whom to pray.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Calorie consumption

In 1977 the Columbus Industrial Association Bulletin suggested some possible calorie consumption statistics for 29 office activities. These included –
Making mountains out of molehills – 500 cph (calories per hour)
Running around in circles – 350
Pushing your luck – 250
Flying off the handle - 225
Jumping on the bandwagon – 200
Beating your head against the wall – 150
Jumping to conclusions – 100
Grasping at straws - 75
Fishing for compliments – 50
Pouring salt on a wound – 50
Swallowing your pride – 50
Passing the buck - 25

Union Jack

Most people are aware that the flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland combines the cross of St George with that of St Andrew and St Patrick. (The latter wasn’t really an Irish symbol at all when it was introduced to the Union Flag in 1801 - it was simply part of the arms of the Anglo-Irish family the Fitzherberts). Over the last 200 years most English, Scots, Irish and even the unrepresented Welsh have come to accept this multi-national symbol.

I was taught that the correct name of the flag was the Union Flag and that the jack was simply the end of a ship over which a flag was flown. Union Jack was therefore incorrect. That, however, is untrue. After being used informally for years the name Union Jack was officially accepted by Act of Parliament as long ago as 1903.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Rhinoceros Flea ?

A flea can jump 150 times its size. That is the equivalent of a person being able to jump up 1,000 feet in the air. The rhinoceros beetle can carry up to 850 times its weight on its back. This is equivalent to a person carrying over 50 mini-vans on their back. Now if there were a Rhinoceros Flea that could jump the equivalent of 1000 feet with 50 mini-vans on its back that would be impressive.. though rather hard luck on anything underneath it when it landed.

US Politicians

It is disconcerting to note that Dan Quayle and George Bush are by no means unique among US politicians where stupid gaffes are concerned. In 1948 the US Ambassador to the UN expressed the wish that Arabs and Jews in the Middle East would settle their differences ‘like good Christians’.

Ramadan begins

An elderly Saudi man carries a box of dates at Otaiga market in Riyadh, a day before the start of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan

Today, most of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims began Ramadan, a holy month of dawn-to-dusk fasting, festivities -- and abstinence.
The start of Ramadan, the ninth and holiest month of the Muslim calendar, is traditionally determined by the sighting of a new crescent moon, often dividing rival Islamic countries and sects over the exact date.
Across much of the Muslim world, Ramadan begins today, although Libya kicked off the festivities on Wednesday, the same day as Nigerian Muslims.
During the holy month, Muslims are required to abstain from food, drink and sex from dawn until dusk as life slips into a lower gear during the day, and activity peaks between "iftar," the breaking of the fast at sunset, and "suhur," the last meal of the day before sunrise.
In Indonesia, the world's most populated Muslim nation, Ramadan began under the shadow of the latest earthquake disaster after a massive 8.4 tremor struck off Sumatra island. At least two people were confirmed dead as emergency teams headed for the remote region.
Meanwhile hardline Indonesian Muslim groups have warned they will act against nightclubs and other "dens of vices" that disregard the restricted opening hours for the month. Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, Thailand's army on Wednesday lifted a night curfew meant to smother a separatist insurgency in Muslim provinces, where people will also begin fasting on Thursday.
In multicultural Singapore, Ramadan is just one of the holidays being celebrated, along with the Chinese mid-autumn festival and the Indian Deepavali festival next month.
In Bangladesh, the government has offered rice at a 20 percent discount around the country, while also opening 100 convenience stores around the capital Dhaka to sell other foods at reduced prices.
"We want poor and middle class people to have a comfortable Ramadan," food secretary Dhiraj Malakar said.
In Cairo, a shopping frenzy began weeks ago despite soaring prices, as the faithful prepare for the first day of Ramadan where extended families break the fast with dates and milk, in accordance with Islamic tradition.
In the teeming city of 18 million notorious for gridlock, traffic police have been banned from taking time off during Ramadan, with extra wardens deployed to control pre-iftar accidents as cars clamour to get home in time for iftar.
Confusion about when Ramadan was starting led some people to wake up in the Afghan capital Kabul at 3:00 am on Wednesday for a pre-dawn meal -- just in case it was the first day of the month-long fast. Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, is preparing to receive around one million pilgrims expected to perform "umrah," or a smaller pilgrimage, to Mecca. As generosity peaks during this month of charity, Kuwait is monitoring fund-raising activities by Islamic charities and has banned any cash donations to make sure that charity money does not reach extremist organisations.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

There’s always one...

Merit Prize: Ralph Thompson, Westmount, Quebec

One of the ten best entries from the 15,000 submitted to National Geographic’s 2006 World In Focus Contest

:-) Smileys

The following is from the NetLingo site:-

A smiley is a sequence of characters on your computer keyboard. If you don't see it, try tilting your head to the left -- the colon represents the eyes, the dash represents the nose and the right parenthesis represents the mouth. Smileys usually follow after the punctuation (or in place of the punctuation) at the end of a sentence. A smiley tells someone what you really mean when you make an offhand remark. They are also called emoticons because they intend to convey emotion!

A new generation of smileys has appeared on the scene and NetLingo is fast trying to track them down. We consider these "straight-on smileys" as another form of ASCII ART: those in which you do not tilt your head but rather look at it straight on, such as @(*0*)@ for a koala. A new section is coming soon!

And, lest you think that's all, there are also now assicons and boobiecons... emoticons which highlight other parts of the body! NetLingo has an ever-growing list of smileys...enjoy! :-)

Monday, 10 September 2007

From tittles to elephants...

Did you know (and do you care?) that...

The very first bomb dropped by the Allies on Berlin in World War II killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo.
A cockroach can change directions up to 25 times in a second.
In a lifetime, on average a honey bee produces 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey.
A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and down continuously from the bottom of the glass to the top.

The dot over the letter "i" is called a tittle.

Countries that were formerly somewhere else!

Belize –British Honduras
Benin – Dahomey
Botswana – Bechuanaland
Cambodia – Khmer Republic
Djibouti – Afars and Issas
Egypt – United Arab Republic
Ethiopia – Abyssinia
Greece – Hellas
Guyana – British Guiana
Indonesia – Dutch East Indes
Jordan – Transjordan
Lesotho – Basutoland
Madagascar – Malagasy Republic
Malawi – Nyasaland
Mongolia – Outer Mongolia
Myanmar – Burma
Namibia – South-west Africa
Nauru – Pleasant Island
Oman – Muscat & Oman
Rwanda – Ruanda
Samoa – Western Samoa
Sri Lanka – Ceylon
Suriname – Dutch Guiana
Taiwan – Formosa
Thailand – Siam
Tuvalu – Ellice Islands
United Arab Emirates – Trucial Oman
Vanuatau – New Hebrides
Zaire – Congo / Belgian Congo / Congo Free State
Zimbabwe – Rhodesia


Britain allows its drivers to have 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in the their bloodstream. Abroad one would be well over the limit with this amount. It is eight times the Albanian limit, four times the amount allowed in Norway, Sweden and Poland, nearly three times that of China, and nearly double that permitted in France and Germany. It is perhaps not surprising that the limit in the United Arab Republic and Jordan is 0mg but the same applies in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Uzbekistan.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Passamaquaddy and Susquehannock

A Lakota woman

Some lesser known Native American tribes

There were hundreds of Native American tribes until a couple of hundred years ago and among some of the more unusually named were the Bannock; Bella Bella; Blood; Chicksaw; Clatsop; Dogrib; Eno; Flathead; Fox; Hare; Hunkpapa; Kickapoo; Menominee; Micmac; Neutral Erie; Nipissing; Nooksack; Panamint; Passamaquaddy; Podunck; Poospatuck; Skagit; Skidi; Susquehannock; Tobacco; Two-kettle; Walla Walla; Yazoo; Yellowknife: and Yuki-Wappo. Of these I think I my favourite is the Micmac which sounds like a load of Scots and Irish immigrants went native...

In all about 418 tribes are named in ‘The Ultimate Book of Lists’, a brilliant work edited by Michael Calder.


The only novel to top the best-seller lists for two consecutive years was Richard Bach’s ‘Jonathan Livingstone Seagull’. “Most gulls don't bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight--how to get from shore to food and back again.”

Quiz no 2 - Answers

Angels on Horseback are Oysters wrapped in streaky bacon, grilled and served on buttered toast. Devils on Horseback are prunes, similarly, wrapped in streaky bacon, grilled and served on buttered toast.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Apple Scones

It is time for the apples to be ripe on the trees in the back garden - in fact this year we have already had over five Pounds off the James Grieve. Here is a suggstion for using one up...

My last apple scone -
or to be more accurate (hopefully),
the last one I made.

Main Ingredients:
One medium cooking apple - shredded or finely chopped
8 oz (250g or two cups) self raising flour (all-purpose flour with baking powder)
½ teaspoon salt
Level teaspoon baking powder
2 oz (60g or ½ stick) butter
2 oz (60g or ¼ cup) castor sugar
Up to ¼ pint (150ml or half cup) milk

Ingredients for glaze:
A little milk
1oz demerara (light brown) sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 200C (400F or Gas Mark 6).

Peel and core the apple and then finely chop. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Then rub in the butter followed by the sugar and finely chopped apple and mix. Add milk until you have a soft but not sticky dough.

Roll out on a floured surface to about ¼" thick and 8" round and mark into 8 wedges. Place on a greased baking sheet, brush the top with milk and sprinkle with the demerara (light brown) sugar and cinnamon.

Bake in the pre-heated oven at 200C (400F or Gas Mark 6) for around 20 minutes. Serve warm with butter.


8th September is Goon Day

8th September should really be celebrated as Goon Show Day since half the main cast was born today - Harry Secombe in 1921 and Peter Sellers in 1925. (Spike Milligan was born on 16th April 1918 and Michael Bentine on 26th January 1922).

Harry Secombe was the voice of Neddy Seagoon et al and Peter Sellers was Bloodnok, Bluebottle et al. Milligan played Eccles, Min (Minnie Bannister), Moriarty et al and Bentine was Hugh Jampton et al. In fact, they all seemed to have played Al!

Announcers and musicians on the show were Andrew Timothy; Walter Geenslade; Ray Ellington, Wally Stott; Max Gelday and George Chisholm. The principal guest appearances in The Goon Show were made by John Snagge - doyen of BBC newsreaders; Valentine Dyall – as Baron Seagoon in Drums along the Mersey; Charlotte Mitchell and Cecile Chevreau on the rare when the script called for an authentic female; Jack Train from ITMA; Dick Emery; Kenneth Connor; A.E.Mathews; Dennis Price; and Bernard Miles.

The BBC has announced the 25th Goon Show CD will be released in November 2007. The Goons are not dead they have just fallen in the ....-

Bring back great memories of The Ying Tong Song by clicking here -
The Ying Tong Song

Quiz No 2.

What are Angels on Horseback and Devils on Horseback?
(Answers tomorrow)

Friday, 7 September 2007


Another useful colour site is
This shows a number of basic colours with their RGB and Hex codes.
And while we are on the subject of colours can I point you to one of the best programs I have on my computer - Colorcop. It enables you to take a little eyedropper and put it anywhere on the screen to see what the RGB and Hex codes are for the colour on which it is placed. You can download it from

Auto racing born

1896 Ford Quadricycle with W.Henry Ford, Clara Ford and Henry Ford Jr on board

On 7th September 1896 the first closed-circuit auto race in the world was held at Cranston, Rhode Island. The first auto race track in the US, Narragansett Park, opened in Knightsville in Cranston in September 1915. This was a one mile paved, high-banked oval track but the 1896 race took place on the irregular one mile horse racing dirt track Seven cars responded to the starter's skeptical command: "Go, if you can," for five laps of the circuit. An electric car won that contest, doing the 5 miles in 15 minutes and 1 second, a roaring 20-mile-per-hour pace. Tens of thousands came by horse and buggy and electric trolley to watch.

This photo of the event shows four Duryeas on the left and a Morris & Salom Electrobat on the right.

Buddy Holly

In 1936 on this day Buddy Holly was born. To me this pioneer of Rock’n’roll was the greatest artist of all time! There were people with better voices, better guitar skills, better song-writing skills and yet somehow if I end up singing in the bath it is usually a Buddy Holly song. (Does That Rank as 'too much information?) There are few more fun experiences than singing along to “Peggy Sue” or “That’ll be the day”.

Buddy Holly was born Charles Hardin Holley, in Lubbock, Texas, and the change in surname came around by accident when he was asked to sign a contract which had missed the ‘e’ out. He decided it looked better that way and kept the name. In 1958 he toured the UK with his backing group, The Crickets.

In 1971 Don MacLean released "American Pie" which commemorated the ‘day the music died’, 3rd February 1959, in ‘that’ plane crash which also took the lives of singers Ritchie Valens and J.P.(The Big Bopper) Richardson as well as the pilot Roger Peterson.

Despite his untimely death his music did not die with him. He had recorded so prolifically that new releases were made for another ten years and were awaited by a great following, especially in Europe.

He is ranked no 13 (an appropriate number) in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Quote of the Week

“If you don’t take care of your body where will you live?.”
- Unknown

Trekkies Born

On this day in 1966 "Star Trek" premiered on NBC TV in the USA. This science fiction television series created by Gene Rodenberry became the biggest cult phenomenon of modern times.

The Star Trek franchise is a multi-billion dollar industry currently owned by CBS. In the light of their profits I don’t feel too guilty about possibly infringing their copyright by showing the Starship enterprise. And any way, my lawyers tell me -
Though the picture is subject to copyright. they feel it is covered by the U.S. fair use laws because:
1. The design of the Enterprise is a copyrighted three-dimensional artistic design. Therefore, any representation of said design is a derivative work, and no free image can be created.
2. it does not limit the copyright owner’s rights to sell the show, DVDs, games, posters, models, toys, etc.;
3. it illustrates a fictional ship in a way that text alone cannot.
So there!

Hooker's Green

Hooker aged ??

Yesterday’s Blog about colours really got me hooked on this theme. I am fascinated as to how some of the name’s came about but let me at least put your mind at rest about the appropriateness of having a Hooker’s Green in children’s wax crayons.

Hooker aged 79

This is not a reference to the well-established profession of that name but (I assume) to Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911) who was arguably the most important British botanist of the nineteenth century. A traveller and plant-collector, he was one of Charles Darwin’s closest friends and eventually became director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.

Crayola crayons came into being in 1903 and a brief history of the firm and its colours can be found at
Another site with a history of the Crayola colours is

There are 120 basic Crayola colours but the total number of names is greater than that as there have been various retirements and replacements over the years. Crayola marked their 100th birthday by having consumers name new colours and voted four out: Blizzard Blue, Magic Mint, Mulberry, and Teal Blue to make way for Inch Worm, Jazzberry Jam, Mango Tango, and Wild Blue Yonder. An illustrated list of their colours can be found at
(Note:- if you scroll down that page there is a list in alphabetical order so you can actually see what Fuzzy wuzzy brown looks like!)

Crayola is based in Arundel, Maryland and this is the superb entrance to their shop. It was designed by RipBang Designs of California.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

The Colour of Love

Some lesser known colour names in use at the moment for Crayola crayons, vehicles, etc
Aladdin Green
Amethyst Frost
Antiquarian Grey
Ashes of Roses

Atomic Orange
(replaced Chevrolet’s Daytona Sunset Orange metallic!)
Atomic Tangerine
Bachelor Button
Bibb Lettuce
Bing Cherry
Bishop Brown
Blizzard Blue
Boysenberry Cream
Brandy Alexander
Brown Sugar
Candy Apple Cashew
Cloud Pink
Cremnitz White
Egg Nog
Foggy Day
(Crayola Colour Chart, a digital collage from Jamie Shovlin, exhibited at the Tate. He sorted his crayon’s by hue in an attempt to form tetrads - combinations of colours from four equidistant points around the circle that when combined create perfect greys. There are 720 possible tetrad combinations with this many crayons and although Shovlin started the combinations, he gave up after trying out about twenty or so. Even that shows a heck of a lot of patience.)
Fuzzy wuzzy brown
Hooker’s Green
Kashmir Petal
Koala Bear
Outrageous Orange
Pozzulola Earth
Pralines ‘n’ Cream
Purple Mountain’s Majesty
Radical Red
Screamin’ Green
Sutter’s Gold
Tickle me Pink
Unmellow Yellow

Things you did not need to know!

Peanuts are one of the ingredients of Dynamite !
* * *
Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.
* * *
The cruise liner, QE2, moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns.
* * *
The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze completely solid.
* * *
Women blink nearly twice as much as men
* * *
The world’s grasshopper population peaks every 9.2 years.
* * *
Deer have no gall bladders.
* * *

Tuesday, 4 September 2007


Some Advice
Having just upset most of my female friends by passing on a sexist e-mail somewhat biased towards the male of the species I thought I would redress the balance with -

1. Don't imagine you can change a man - unless he's in nappies.
2. What do you do if your boyfriend walks out? You shut the door.
3. If they put a man on the moon - they should be able to put them all up there.
4. Never let your man's mind wander - it's too little to be out alone.
5. Go for the younger man. You might as well, they never mature anyway.
6. Men are all the same - they just have different faces, so that you can tell them apart.
7. Definition of a bachelor: a man who has missed the opportunity to make some woman miserable.
8. Women don't make fools of men - most of them are the do-it-yourself types.
9. Best way to get a man to do something is to suggest he is too old for it.
10. Love is blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener.
11. If you want a committed man, look in a mental hospital.
12. The children of Israel wandered around the desert for 40 years. Even in Biblical times, men wouldn't ask for directions.
13. If he asks what sort of books you're interested in, tell him cheque books.
14. Remember a sense of humour does not mean that you tell him jokes, it means that you laugh at his.
15. Sadly, all men are created equal.

The Things that Matter

It amuses me to see what makes it on to the ‘On this day’ type sites and how the things that matter in life (like Football) are interspersed with the complete trivia. Here is a little sample for 4th September from one such site......
1939 The Polish ghetto of Mir is exterminated
1941 Yanks beat Red Sox 6-3 & clinch their 12th & earliest pennant
1945 Ruben Fine wins 4 simultaneous rapid chess games blindfolded
1945 US regains possession of Wake Island from Japan
1948 Queen Wilhelmina of Netherlands abdicates
1949 Marie Robie sinks 393 yd hole-in-one

Quote of the Week

“One dies only once and it’s for such a long time.”
- Moliere

Monday, 3 September 2007

Lucozade Prize

I am thinking of having an occasional Prize in my Blog. Today it is the Lucozade Prize for the most sickly sweet compliment. It is awarded to Jacob (Ben Stiller) in that great film Keeping the Faith (2000) for ‘God was just showing off when he created you. ‘ Second prize goes to George Moore (1823-1892) – “Other men it is said have seen angels, but I have seen thee and thou art enough.” Unlikely though it may seem, Homer Simpson comes third with “Marge, you're as pretty as Princess Leia and as smart as Yoda.”

e e cummings

On this day in 1962 the poet e. e. cummings died aged 67.

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance

Edward Estlin Cummings, popularly known as e.e.cummings, was an American poet, painter, essayist, and playwright. He was born on October 14th 1894 and was definitely a man before his time producing in the 1920s poetry which was more akin to that of the 1960s. . His body of work encompasses more than 900 poems, several plays and essays, numerous drawings, sketches, and paintings, as well as two novels. He is remembered as a pre-eminent voice of 20th century poetry, as well as one of the most enduringly popular. I first came across his work in school and have been fond of it ever since.

thank You God for most this amazing
day :for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes


“Sex is like snow - you never know how many inches you'll get or how long it will last.” – Anon.

(With a label like ‘Sex’ that should add a few more visitors to my Blog!)

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Telling it like it is

In America recently prunes were formally renamed to dried plums in the hope of making them more appealing. Here are some other American versions of the names we use –
Offal – Variety Meats
Chips – French Fries or Freedom Fries
Green and Red Peppers – Bell Peppers
Hundreds and Thousands – Sprinkles
Ice Lolly – Popsicle
Icing – Frosting
Jam – Jelly
Jelly – Jello
Mangetout – Snow Peas
Muesli – Granola
Semolina – Cream of Wheat
Sorbet – Sherbert
Spring onions – Scallions
Stock Cube – Bouillion Cube
Sultanas - Golden Raisins
Swede – Rutabaga

It all reminds me of the proverb – Fine words don’t butter no Parsnips!

"Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?"

In upper and middle class circles it was at one time the norm for the wine to be passed around the table (always clockwise) almost constantly at dinner to ensure that no one had an empty glass. If the wine got waylaid by someone too heavily engrossed in conversation or otherwise unaware of its location it was the duty of the next person along to ask “Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?” in order to jog their memory. (One wonders if said Bishop was a noted tippler or simply forgetful.)

Perhaps we should invent some modern equivalents like “Do you know Sir Cliff ?” when the background music is getting monotonous or “Have you seen Sebastian lately?” when someone is hogging the remote control.

Baby Names

Before finally settling on his final seven names the following were considered by Walt Disney as names for his dwarves - Biggo-Ego; Blabby; Crabby; Cranky; Dippy; Dumpy; Flabby; Gabby; Gloomy; Graceful; Hungry; Jumpy; Lazy; puffy; Sappy; Shifty; Sneezy-Wheezey; Soulful; Tearful; Weepy; Wistful; and Woeful.

To someone of my generation, almost as funny as some of these names are the names which comprise the top 100 given by people to their babies in the UK and US at the moment.

With boys’ names the Americans seem to have gone very Biblical. The top ten are Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Matthew, Ethan, Andrew, Daniel, Anthony, Christopher, and Joseph. And they even have Angel as 32 in the boys’ names... In the girls’ names no 32 is Destiny whilst Morgan (which I thought was a boy’s name) is 33.

Most spectacular is Navaeh which was non-existent in 1999 – actually that is not quite true there were eight of them that year. It was given by pop singer Sonny Sandoval to his daughter in 2000 (being Heaven spelled backwards) and the whole of the US followed suit. Perhaps Lamb of God would have been more appropriate with sheep like that for parents. Hard luck on the half dozen parents who previously had used it because “It sounded original!”.

And where did the popularity of the name Aaliyah come from? Presumably as a result of the death in a plane crash of the pop singer of that name in 2001. By contrast the name Buddy dropped 44 places to no 478 in the 1960s after Buddy Holly died in 1959 – an interesting comment on the different perceptions of death perhaps. In the 1960s it would have been considered unlucky to use the name of a dead person whereas nowadays there is a tendency to commemorate their life.

And in the UK the name Niamh is presumably after the legendary Irish Niamh of the Golden Hair – I wonder how many dark-haired girls are going to bear this name when their baby hair changes! And if you are going to base the child’s name on a baby feature why don’t the lists feature Colic, Weep, Howl, Scream, Spew, Poop, and Smell? (It is also unfortunate that Niamh is an acronym for the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health).

Worst of all in the modern name list is the resurrection of the oldies Molly and Martha - surely not something to be glad about! Just don’t bring back Edna please...

For more information please see –

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Things you didn’t need to Know

A "jiffy" is an actual unit of time - 1/100th of a second.
* * *
Babies are born without kneecaps. They have none until a child is somewhere between 2 to 6 years of age.
* * *
February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have had a full moon.
* * *
In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.
* * *
The Hippopotamus is born underwater.
* * *
The venom of the King Cobra is so deadly that simply handling it can put one in a coma.
* * *
The Mona Lisa has no eyebrows – it was the fashion at the time to shave them off.
* * *
On a Canadian two dollar bill, the flag flying over the Parliament building is an American flag.
* * *
A mole can dig a tunnel 100 yards long in one night.
* * *

Jo Time

My partner Jo lives in a world with its own time zone which often bears little or no relation to GMT. I have just discovered that the middle classes of the 19th Century had their own time zone too. If they told their household servants to serve a meal at 7 o’clock it was desired that it should be served at 8.00 o’clock. If, however, they said 7 o’clock precisely the servants were supposed to interpret that as half past seven whilst ‘No later than 7 o’clock’ actually meant 7 o’clock..

Jo’s time may resemble that of the old middle classes and it definitely tends towards the royal. Jo has the kitchen clock set 15 minutes fast – something I cannot understand at all – but Edward VII could. He had the 180 clocks on the Sandringham estate set half an hour fast allegedly so he could have more time on the shoot. George V kept up the tradition and until 1936 Sandringham had its own unique time zone.

Personally I prefer to keep to Greenwich Mean Time (or British Summer Time) but did you know that until the 1830s most places in Britain had their own local time. Whilst travel and communications were slow, these local time differences were of little importance. The guards on the horse-drawn coaches carried timepieces and adjusted them to gain about 15 minutes in every 24 hours, when travelling west - east, to compensate for the local time differences, and, of course, vice-versa. It was only the inconvenience that local times caused to the railways, the telegraph and the post office that caused the government to eventually introduce a standard time in 1880 but for forty years previously the change had gradually been adopted from local time to Railway or London time. As always, it was a case of the Government being behind the times!

And yes, I do realise that with the clocks I use at home I am actually no longer on GMT but on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). UTC has uniform seconds defined by International Atomic Time, with leap seconds announced at irregular intervals to compensate for the earth's slowing rotation and other discrepancies. Leap seconds allow UTC to closely track Universal Time (UT), a time standard based not on the uniform passage of seconds, but on the Earth's angular rotation. We’ve gone a long way from local time – except in our kitchen!

A lot of wind...

The gestation period for an elephant is 22 months – the longest of any land animal. However, it was nearly exceeded by Melanie Wilkes in the novel ‘Gone With the Wind’. According to the battles which took place while she was pregnant her pregnancy lasted for 21 months.

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