Showing posts from June, 2013

Interesting People - Michael and Xochi Birch

Michael and Xochi Birch are a British couple who set up social networking site Bebo,

(What makes them really interesting is that they sold the site for $850 million (655 million euros) just six years ago, and now they have bought back the company for just $1 million and say they will relaunch it. Bebo was the destination of choice for teenagers to chat and share pictures, they had 40 million users by 2008, but it was all down hill from there and Bebo filed for bankruptcy in May 2013.

It all seems to point to one thing, don't invest capital you can't afford to lose in social networking sites. Basically you are gambling.)

Interesting Food - Fussy Eaters

According to a poll carried out in Europe by the website,British children are the fussiest eaters in Europe.

(Seemingly 26% of British children reject their meals every day, and 69% of children under five in the UK sometimes refuse to eat what they are given. The league table for fussy eaters is:-

1st - United Kingdom - 69%
2nd - Netherlands - 63%
3rd - Germany - 58%  and  Sweden - 58% 4th - France - 54%
5th - Spain - 40%

Italy doesn't appear, probably because 37% of mothers in Italy said they are 'not bothered' about what their children eat.)


Interesting People - Bernie Ecclesston

Bernie Ecclestone says he doesn't know what happiness is.

(The billionaire controller of Formula One says that fame and fortune have not brought him joy.

Hi is currently being charged with bribing a banker to undervalue Formula One shares, and now faces prison in a German court. Maybe that will teach him what unhappiness is.)

Interesting Place - Europe

Holidaymakers from within Europe using their mobile phones abroad are in for a pleasant surprise this summer as the EU brings in a lower cap on mobile phone roaming charges.

(These cuts, along with others in the past mean data roaming is now up to 91 per cent cheaper to check email and get online through your phone than in did in 2007.
You never know, I might actually be able to stay in touch with work when I'm on holiday.  No!)

Interesting Fact - Canoes

The canoe is officially one of the seven wonders of Canada.

(It was voted for by over 1 million voters, in 2007 and as a result, the Canadian Canoe Museum declared June 26th National Canoe Day.

Just remember to, paddle your own canoe.)


Today is LEON day.

Does this mean it's the Learn English Online Network day?  No, unfortunately not, it's simply Noel spelt backwards, because there are exactly 6 months to go till Christmas.

Interesting Food - Biscuits

Eating too many biscuits can put you in a coma.

(This became clear when food writer, Kevin Shalin, tried to beat a restaurant’s customer record of scoffing hundreds of butter-rich biscuits failed - and he slipped into a coma. He told friends he feltdizzy after he had eaten 412, but he continued with the 413th and fell on the ground convulsing.

Doctors believe the butter from the biscuits blocked signals coming from his brain.

Yesterday hospital officials said they had already drained approximately two gallons of butter!  Luckily they expect him to make a full recovery.

I remember I made myself sick eating peanuts, but I was about 9 at the time.)


Interesting Place - Portugal

It is illegal to play bingo in Portugal.

( 30 customers at a pub where bingo was being played were arrested by police in Portugal for. These dangerous criminals were questioned by police for four hours and those who were not playing the game were arrested for "observing a crime".

Strict gambling laws in Portugal mean organisers of bingo or raffle nights have to apply for a one-off government licence. So, how many millions were being won and lost at this game? Well, the prizes consisted of biscuits and chocolates.

The police officers took the remaining prizes, the bingo machine, cards and pens. plus a microphone and speakers, as "evidence".

I hope someone counted the biscuits. )


(This one has to be for +João Crespo.)

Interesting Fact - Cost of Living

According to the 2012 league table of food and drink costs, Britain pays more for food and alcohol than most of Europe.

( The staples, milk, cheese and eggs are 7% more expensive and across all food and non-alcoholic drinks, the UK pays 4% above the EU27. In the same study, Norway came out as the most expensive for food and drink and Macedonia the cheapest.

All this came as no surprise to me; doing a food shop in the UK is always more expensive than Germany, but the biggest surprise is alcohol in the UK is around 43% above the European Union average, in France alcohol costs are 12% below the average and Germany 18%  lower. However, this is not why I moved to Germany.)

Interesting Fact - Happiness

According to Dr Cliff Arnall, a happiness coach for celebrities and business leaders (make of that what you will), the third Friday in June 2013 will the happiest day of the year for Brits.

(His formula is O + (N x S) + Cpm/T + He. P
(outdoors (O) plus nature (N) multiplied by social interaction (S), added to childhood summer memories and positive thoughts (Cpm) divided by temperature (T), and added to holiday excitement (He).

The International Day of Happiness is officially March 20th, according to the United Nations, but we  like to be perverse. )


Today - June 21st 2013 is the happiest day of the year in the UK.  (See Interesting Fact.)

Interesting Fact - UFOs

The MOD (Ministry of Defence) has announced plans to scrap its RAF UFO hotline.

(The reason for this decision is not because they don't believe in aliens, but because they get so many calls.  The problem is the calls aren't because there are little green men invading, but because of Chinese lanterns; people spot them flying around spookily and think they are UFOs, which I guess they are really, because UFO simply stands for Unidentified Flying Object, and so it stands to reason that if you see something flying around and you can't tell what it is, then it is de facto a UFO.

Maybe Chinese lanterns are a cunning alien plot?)

Interesting Fact - Work

According to a report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 60 to 80% of job seekers used personal connections to get their current job.

(Now these connections could be friends and family, or online connections and acquaintances. So, if you're looking for a job, get networking.
John Bennett, from the McColl School of Business said, "So much of the social networking today is more about people within a smaller network, so you’re talking with the same people over and over,” Bennett says. “Good networking skills involve reaching into new networks, not just the ones that we know."
And you know what we say in the UK, don't you?  "It's not what you know, it's who you know.")

Interesting Fact - Happiness

According to the ONS (Office for National Statistics) Britons in their late 60s are happier and more carefree than any other age group, including young people.

(Incidence of anxiety and depression in the UK drops by almost a third between the early 50s and late 60s.

 It must be the 1960s that did it.)

Interesting Fact - Age

According to the Office for National Statistics in the UK, retirement makes people feel happier and healthier than they have done at any point since their mid-30s.

(The statistics, part of the national happiness study, showed that people's sense of health and well-being goes down from their teens until late middle age and then there is a sudden bounce when they hit their 60s.

Retirement experts said that for some people the relief of finally retiring made them feel happier. I can't wait to find out.)

Interesting Fact - Hair

Researchers at Proctor and Gamble have discovered that water piping made of copper, may be the cause of bad hair days.

(Washing your hair with water containing the metal can lead to split ends and unmanageable hair. The metal gradually builds up in in the outer layers of the hair, helping to speed up damage caused by sunlight, causing split ends, fly-away strands and less shine. The effect is even more pronounced in those who use hair dye.

The research, published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, says that treating hair with chemicals more commonly used in washing powder, known as chelants, could reduce the action of the copper.

I really can't imagine washing my hair in Daz, so maybe the answer is to wash your hair less, and let it grow naturally grey.)

Interesting Fact - Fitness

According to a recent review to assess levels of fitness in Britain's police, over half of Metropolitan Police officers are overweight.

(To be exact, 52 per cent of male officers and staff were overweight, 22 per cent were obese and 1 per cent were morbidly obese.

You would think that chasing all those criminals would keep them fit.)

Interesting Places - Man space

According to research by Big Yellow Self Storage, 61 per cent of men in the UK have a designated "man space.

(A quarter of them admit they flee there to escape their wife or partner, and 8 in 10 men say relationships are better for having such a space.

6 in 10 ten women agree with them.)

Interesting Food - Whipped Cream

Laughing Gas is used in canned whipped cream.

(Yes, nitrous oxide, aka "laughing gas, is a recognised food additive, usually seen as as E942 on labels.

In aerosol whipped cream, it dissolves into in the fatty cream until it leaves the can, when it becomes gaseous and creates foam. Used in this way, it produces whipped cream four times the volume of the liquid, whereas whipping air into cream only produces twice the volume. If air were used as a propellant, oxygen would accelerater ancidification and nitrous oxide inhibits such degradation. Carbon dioxide cannot be used for whipped cream because it is acidic in water, which would curdle the cream and give it a seltzer-like 'sparkling' sensation.

However, the whipped cream produced with nitrous oxide is unstable and will return to a more liquid state within half an hour to one hour. Thus, the method is not suitable for decorating food that will not be immediately served.

I can honestly say I never experience any urge to lau…

Interesting Place - Billericay

A public toilet in Billericay costs more than £19,000 each year, which must make it the most expensive toilet in the UK.

(The rather futuristic, revolving door, public toilet is used on average 9 times a day, and this means each flush costs local tax payers, £5.78.   Money down the drain, so to speak.

You might think the best solution would be to close the underused loo, but Healthmatic, the firm which provides the futuristic WC would charge the local authority a financial penalty of £125,000 if it pulled out of its 15-year contract early.  So, I suggest that the residents of Billericay get down there and start making the most of it.)


Interesting Food - Police Canteens

According to an article from the Sun newspaper, Police canteens in the UK serve mostly junk food and it's all subsidised by the tax payer.

(In Humberside, a fry-up is £3.80 for “ten items, including bacon, sausage, eggs, beans and crumpets."

Lunch choices in Cumbria include scampi and chips, burger and chips and deep-fried spicy battered chicken, all for £3.20, which wouldn't buy you a sandwich in a normal cafe.

In Herts a pizza costs £2.35, and Manchester sells pies for £1.12.

I think I'll have the chicken piri piri and rice from the Met. I visited the website to see if I could find the price, and it told me it uses cookies (I bet it does.))

Interesting People - Andy Sharp

Andy Sharp is Britain’s fattest policeman.

(Mr Sharp weighs in at a whopping 29st. How could he be a policeman you might ask, well - there's only one fitness test you need to pass, and that's when you join. I don't know if it's the same in other countries.

Mr Sharp was hunted down by the Sun newspaper, which let's face it couldn't have been difficult, you couldn't really miss him and once you spotted him he probably couldn't run away.)

Interesting Fact - Time

According to a survey run by Direct Line insurance, we need an extra 2 hours 45 minutes every day to do everything we want to do and have enough time to relax.

(A basic need for most humans is to have seven hours of free time every day, but the average person nowadays (2013) only manages four hours, 14 minutes.

In 1995, people had six hours and 57 minutes downtime, by 2000 that was reduced to six hours and 34 minutes. but nowadays it's a measly four hours, 14 minutes.  The culprit?  Technology.  So go on, switch off your computer and go and sit on the couch, or go and chill out in the garden, if you don't have a garden, take a walk in the park to feed the swans and get some fresh air.)  

Interesting Fact - Money

According to figures compiled by local councils, London is the most expensive place to die in the UK.

(It costs up to 60x more for a basic burial or cremation in London than some other parts of the UK. The borough of Lambeth is the most expensive place at a whopping £5,329. But if you want to be buried or cremated in Nottingham, it costs just £87.)

Interesting Fact - Largest Flag in the World

The world's largest flag is big enough to cover three football pitches.

(It measures 1,145 feet by 744 feet, weights 5 tons, and was sewn with 44 miles of thread, breaking the previous Guinness World Record held by Lebanon

It took 200 volunteers to roll it out at an airfield in Clinceni, near Bucharest, Romania but it was too heavy to flutter in the wind, so I'm not sure it can be called a flag really.)

Interesting Fact - Clothing

Male students at Oxford University can wear skirts when taking their exams.

(In the past only ceremonial clothing "specific to gender" was allowed, the outfits were known as known as subfusc, where male students were required to wear a dark suit and socks, black shoes, a white bow tie and a plain white shirt and collar under their black gowns, and female students had to wear a dark skirt or trousers, a white blouse, black stockings and shoes and a black ribbon tied in a bow at the neck.
Since 2012 the regulations have been amended to remove any reference to gender, so male students are free to sit their exams in said skirts and stockings and women have the option of wearing the suits and bow ties.
Guess what I sat my exams in?  Yup - jeans and a t-shirt.)


4th June 2013 - Old Maid's Day in the UK.

I don't like the term old maid, so I've coined a new term - SWUN, which stands for Single woman, unfettered.

So, happy Swun Day.  :)

Interesting Fact - Friendship

According to anthropologist Robin Dunbar, you can only have 150 friends.  This is called the Dunbar number.

(Now we're not talking Facebook friends here, but meaningful friendships, and these can be broken down into groups:-

As humans we can cope with anything from 5 to 13 very close friends, the norm is 5.  (The ones you can't afford to fall out with because they know too many secrets about you.)

An extra ten friends on top of that make up people you care about and mix with most.

Another 35 people create an extended circle of friends, friends from school, groups, work or clubs. And then a final 100 – acquaintances, kind of friends of friends. 
A paper published in 2011 found that on Twitter the average number of other people a user regularly interacts with falls between 100 and 200. The limit on how many Facebook friends you can have is a generous 5,000, but the average user has 190.)

Interesting Numbers - 6 × 8

According to research 6 × 8 is the hardest sum in the times table.

Interesting Fact - Questions

According to a study commissioned by, mothers are the most quizzed people in the UK.

(Mothers are asked about 300 questions a day, in fact they are asked more questions per hour than a primary school teacher (19) even doctors and nurses only have to cope with 18 questions an hour. The study also discovered that girls around the age of 4 are the most curious, asking an incredible 390 questions a day; that's about one question every 2 minutes.

From breakfast at 7.19am to tea time at 7.59pm, the average mum faces a testing 12.5 hour day of questioning - working out at one question every two minutes 36 seconds.

The toughest questions asked are:-

1) Why is water wet? (35 per cent)

2) Where does the sky end? (34 per cent)

3) What are shadows made of? (33 per cent)

4) Why is the sky blue? (20 per cent)

5) How do fish breathe under water? (18 per cent)

Maybe I'll ask these in the next LEN Quiz session on Kitely.)