Showing posts from June, 2007

Interesting Fact - Glastonbury Festival - Podcast

Glastonbury uses 30 megawatts of electricity over the weekend - about as much as the city of Bath.

(Of course there is no electricity for your tent, so don't bother taking a hairdryer, but the 200 generators, which use 100km of cabling, are used to supply most of the stages, markets and backstage portacabins.

The festival is also making a big push to use renewable energy. The Green Fields - including the 1,000-capacity Croissant Neuf marquee - only use renewable energy, mainly from solar and wind power. And there are solar-heated showers (although not many visitors use them), while generators in several areas use biodiesel sourced from recycled cooking fat.

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Interesting Fact - Glastonbury Festival

Glastonbury Festival uses about 1.5 million gallons of water.

(This is far more than the normal local supply could provide and so a new water main was installed 10 years ago, supplying two-thirds of the festival's needs, the other third is brought in by tanker from a reservoir seven miles away (hopefully a long way from the "lagoon"). The water is stored in five huge tanks before being pumped around the site to sinks, standpipes, cafes, stalls and any other areas that need it. More than 10 miles of pipes have been built beneath the fields over the years, with another 15 miles laid overground before the festival starts.)

Interesting Fact # 574 - Glastonbury Festival

There were 3,220 toilets at Glastonbury.

(Hang on! That's only one for every 55 people. They are emptied and cleaned throughout using vacuum tankers pulled by tractors. The effluent gets pumped into a huge lagoon (doesn't that sound romantic) at the north of the site, where a machine picks out clothes, phones and other items that have been dropped. Before this separator was installed a few years ago, workers had to do the job in a boat. The waste is then transferred to 5,500-gallon tankers, which make 40 trips a day, day and night, to local sewage works. Most ends up 30 miles away at Avonmouth, on the Bristol Channel. Too much information?)

Interesting Fact # 573 - Glastonbury Festival

177,500 people attended the Glastonbury Festival 2007, creating a tent city with the same population as Norwich or Sunderland. (Well it would be one way to solve the UK's housing problem.)

Interesting Fact # 572 - Glastonbury Festival

1,200 people were employed at the Glastonbury Festival just to pick up and sort the rubbish.

(I remember when you just needed some volunteers and a few bin liners. I guess that's the price you pay for charging so much money for entrance. One litter-picker received a nice bonus after coming across £6,000 in cash.

Two years ago almost 2,000 tonnes of rubbish were produced. That is more than a town of a comparable size, according to festival rubbish manager Robert Kearle, people produce more rubbish when they are partying. Two-thousand old oil drums are used as litter bins, 13 dustbin trucks travel around the site every day from 0600-1700. Two years ago, 50% of all rubbish was recycled - including 230 tonnes of compostable food and biodegradable plates, cups and cutlery - with the other half going into landfill. )

Interesting Food # 28 - Fruit

Fruit can be made into a 'powerful fuel'.(US scientists have said that the sugar, fructose, found in fruit such as apples and oranges can be converted into a new type of low-carbon fuel for cars. According to an article in the journal Nature, the fuel contains far more energy than ethanol. Another, British report on biofuels says all types of waste products, including plastic bags, can be used to make biodiesel fuel.)

Interesting Fact # 571 - Money - Podcast

£1bn worth of £5 notes are lying in the vaults of the Bank of England, but high street banks don't want them.
(Seemingly circulation of the £5 note has not increased in 15 years, but over the same period the average time they remain in the banking system has doubled. This means that those in circulation are really grubby and often torn or damaged. Of course if they want someone to distribute nice, new, crispy ones then I'll willingly help out.)

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Interesting Fact # 570 - Money - Podcast

In the UK the average cash withdrawal from a hole in the wall (ATM) is £100.

(My average cash withdrawal is a lot less. I rarely have £100 on offer.)

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Interesting Fact - Vodka

Traditionally vodka is made using potatoes or grain.

(Modern production methods use less traditional materials, including sugar beet, citrus fruit and grapes. But there are moves afoot to define vodka as "a spirit produced from grain or potatoes" in order to protect its heritage.)

Interesting Places # 55 - Europe

Europe has a vodka belt.

(The vodka belt comprises Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Denmark and Sweden, although it is also produced in countries such as Britain, France, Italy and Spain.)

Interesting Fact # 568 - The QE2

The cruise ship the QE2 was given a really glamorous name "Job number 736" while being built in a shipyard on the Clyde.

(Well it could be worse, at least they didn't call it jobby number 736.)

Interesting Fact # 567 - Electrical Appliances

Britons waste the equivalent of around two power stations' worth of electricity each year by leaving electrical appliances on standby.

(A survey by the Energy Saving Trust found that more than seven out of 10 people leave appliances on standby. A new product called "Bye Bye Standby" cuts power to any devices plugged into it when they’re not in use. According to their web site, the average UK household wastes £37 each year by leaving appliances on standby. I'm not sure how much this device costs, but I'm sure it would pay for itself in no time, especially if you have kids.)

Interesting Fact # 566 - The Longest River

A group of scientists now claim that the longest river in the world is the Amazon, not the Nile.(Usually the Amazon is regarded as the world's largest river by volume, but has always come second in length to the River Nile. But now scientists in Brazil claim to have discovered a new source for the Amazon, which lies in the south of Peru and not the north of the country as had been thought for many years. While the exact location has yet to be confirmed from two choices, scientists say either would make the river the longest in the world. That means I will have to rewrite my pages on comparatives and superlatives.)

Interesting Fact # 565 - Blood - Podcast

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Blood can turn a dark greenish-black - like Spock's - if you take a certain type of migraine medication.

(A team of Canadian surgeons got a shock when the patient they were operating on began shedding dark greenish-black blood, but the unusual colour was due to the migraine medication he was taking. The patient had been taking large doses of Sumatriptan, which seemingly can cause a rare condition called sulfhaemoglobinaemia, where sulphur is incorporated into the oxygen-carrying compound haemoglobin in red blood cells. Actually I think he was really a Vulcan. Live long and prosper.)

Interesting Word # 56 - Prison vs Jail - Podcast

Prison and jail are not the same thing in the United States.

(It depends on the size and governing body of the facility. If you're sent to prison in the US you are serving state time (usually for serious offences), and if you're sent to jail you are serving county time (probably for a less serious offence). Paris Hilton, for instance, was put in jail, not prison. Of course if you commit a crime in the UK, you'll be slapped on the wrist and told to go to bed early.)

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Interesting Fact # 563 - Secure Jobs

Being a judge in the UK, must be the most secure job there is. In the UK only two judges have been fired since the Act of Settlement in 1701, in the settlement only the Lord Chancellor had the power to sack them.

(The first dismissal was in in 1830, for stealing court funds. The second was in 1983, for smuggling whiskey and cigarettes into Britain on a private yacht. Now that's more like it: cigarettes and whiskey and wild, wild women, they'll drive you crazy, they'll drive you insane.)

Interesting Fact # 563 - New Homes

Eighteen percent of all new homes built in the UK are built on residential land, up from 11% a decade ago.

(Homes are springing up in people's gardens as the property boom continues. This is called "garden grabbing", where developers buy a house with a big garden, apply for planning permission to demolish the house and build either flats, or even a mini-estate in its place. Property in the UK has gone crazy, and it's not sustainable.)

Interesting Fact # 562 - Drinking

Drinking aftershave (among other things) has been blamed for half of all deaths of Russian men of working age.

(A Lancet study says that the products contain up to 97% alcohol. Splash it on your face, not in your mouth.)

Interesting Fact # 561 - Life Expectancy

Russian men have an "exceptionally low" life expectancy of 59 years, compared with 72 years for women.

(According to a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, published in the Lancet, Russian men of working age are three-and-a-half times more likely to die than men in Britain.)

Interesting People # 45 - Evo Morales

Bolivian President Evo Morales has snubbed Fifa's ban on high-altitude football matches by playing his own at 6,000m (19,700 ft) above sea level.

(FIFA decided last month to prohibit international tournaments and World Cup qualifying matches above 2,500 metres (8,200 feet). Their reason was concern for players' health and an unfair home advantage for highland teams. But the ban means the capitals of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and the stadiums of leading teams in Peru, Chile and Mexico won't be able to host matches. Morales and the other players flew by helicopter up to a rocky saddle below the peak of Sajama, a dormant Andean volcano, that was after attending the obligatory llama sacrifice for good luck.)

Interesting Fact # 560 - Toothpaste

The world's oldest-known formula for toothpaste is one drachma of rock salt, two drachmas of mint, one drachma of dried iris flower and 20 grains of pepper, all of them crushed and mixed together.

(It was discovered on a piece of dusty papyrus in the basement of a Viennese museum and was in use more than 1,500 years before Colgate began marketing the first commercial brand in 1873. An Austrian dentist who tried it said it made his gums bleed but was a "big improvement" on some toothpaste formulae used as recently as a century ago. I've tried a variant on it and it's ok.)

* a drachma is a measure equal to one hundredth of an ounce.


The world naked bike ride takes place.

(It is hoping to raise awareness of the vulnerability of cyclists on the road and is a protest against car culture. Just be careful of the gear change.)

Interesting Places - Mount Everest - Podcast

Mount Everest was identified as the world's highest peak in 1852.

(An Indian mathematician and surveyor from Bengal, Radhanath Sikdar, was the first to measure "Peak XV" - as it was then known.)

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Interesting Fact # 561 - Life

Scientists are working to build a life form from scratch.

(They have applied to patent the broad method they plan to use to create their "synthetic organism". I think they'll find it's already patented, they're not the first to create life after all.)

Interesting Fact # 560 - Nintendo

Nintendo was originally founded September 23, 1889 in Kyoto, Japan by Fusajiro Yamauchi.

(The company was set up to produce handmade cards for a playing card game called Hanafuda. It didn't start creating video games until 1975.)

Interesting Fact # 559 - Recycling

The first bottle bank in the UK is 30 years old.

(Since the first bottle bank opened in the UK in 1977, twenty-three billion jars and bottles have been recycled. Nowadays 752,000 tonnes of glass are recycled every year.)

Interesting Fact # 558 - Nintendo

Nintendo, the Japanese multinational corporation, is the oldest intact company in the video game console market.

(As of December 1, 2006, Nintendo has sold over 387 million hardware units, and nearly 2.2 billion software units worldwide. I wonder how many hours of people's lives have been spent playing these games.)

Interesting Fact # 557 - Names

There are 14 different spellings of the name Mohammed in the UK.

(The name Mohammed is now the second most popular boy's name in the UK, it's number two just behind Jack.)

Interesting Fact # 556 - Photosensitivity - Podcast

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23,000 people in the UK suffer from photosensitivity.

(This means that flashes, strobe lights and flickering images, typically at rates of 16 to 25 times a second but as low as three and as high as 60, can trigger an epileptic fit. A Pot Noodle advert in 1993 sparked three reports of seizures and prompted concern and a ban on the advert. But in Japan in 1997 more than 600 children were admitted to hospital after suffering epileptic seizures after watching a Pokemon cartoon. More recently in the UK 18 people reported ill effects after watching an animation to launch the London 2012 Olympics.)

Interesting Fact # 555 - Anthems - Podcast

The Spanish national anthem has no words.

(The French sing the Marseillaise, the British chant God Save the Queen. But Spain's anthem, the Royal Spanish March, one of Europe's oldest national anthems, has never had an official verse to go with the tune.

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Interesting Places - Ethiopia

Ethiopia's calendar is more than seven years behind that of the rest of the world - there, it is still 1999.

(So, if you fancy celebrating the new millenium again head over to Ethiopia in September, when they will be celebrating the year 2000.)