Showing posts from January, 2014

Interesting Animal - The Cow

Flatulence from about 90 dairy cattle caused a huge methane explosion at a barn in Rasdorf, in Germany.

(The barn held about 90 cows, and the methane built up for unknown reasons. Police said it was probably ignited by a static discharge, exploding in a darting flame.

The roof was damaged and one cow was slightly injured.

+april sis - No one could blame this one on Laika.)

Interesting Fact - Food

According to retail consultancy Conlumino, food prices will soar by 17.8% by 2018.

(Global food shortages will put an extra 25p on the price of a loaf of bread. The household food bill for the average family in the UK will shoot up; a family spending £500 a month on food six years ago could now have to find as much as £800 – an extra £3,600 a year.  The UK's annual food bill will rise by £19.6 billion.

Erratic' weather, and growing global demand for meat and grain are to blame.
Time to get the spade out and start digging those vegetable patches over, or maybe if we didn't waste as much:-

Interesting Fact - Stress

According to a study by food firm Tilda, just over half of adults in the UK have suffered increased levels of stress and anxiety in the past year.
(As they struggle to find that elusive work-life balance, the average person now gets six and a half hours sleep a day and spends less than 20 minutes preparing weekday meals. 
One in the eye for Jamie Oliver.)


30th January - Today is Bubble Wrap® Appreciation Day.


Today is national inane answering machine message day.

Interesting Fact - Health

Never mind the vitamin C, new research carried out at the University of Alberta in Canada, and the University of Auckland, New Zealand, suggests that the best way to avoid the common cold is to wash your hands.
(If you insist on paying for supplements, a daily dose of 10 or 15 milligrams of zinc sulphate has been shown to lower rates of colds. Probiotics, which boost the amount of friendly bacteria in the gut, may help prevent colds too, and our old friend honey had a slight effect in relieving cough symptoms, but vitamin C and antibiotics showed "no benefit".
I notice they said nothing about the medicinal effects of a hot toddy.)

Interesting Inventions - The Kazoo

Warren Herbert Frost, is the inventor of the first recognizable kazoo, a musical instrument that modifies the player's voice using a vibrating membrane.

(He named the new musical instrument kazoo in his patent #270,543 issued on January 9, 1883.

The modern, kazoo, which was also the first metal kazoo, was patented by George D. Smith of New York, on May 27, 1902.

It sounds just like Apple and Samsung. Kazoo wars!)

Source: Wikipedia


28th January 2014

Today is National Kazoo day in America.

FYI - The kazoo is a musical instrument that adds a "buzzing" quality to a player's voice when the player vocalizes into it.

Interesting Fact - Career Choice

According to ONS (Office for National Statistics) figures in the UK, just over 80% of "science, research, engineering and technology professionals" are male.

(By contrast, 82% of workers in "caring, leisure and other services", and 78% of administrative and secretarial workers are female.)

Interesting Fact - Toys

Research from Washington and Lee University, in the US, suggests that dressing stereotypical girls toys - such as Barbie - in uniforms for stereotypically male fields - such as a firefighter or an astronaut - can influence whether girls view themselves as capable of working in those industries.
(Firefighter and astronaut Barbie both exist.)

Interesting Fact - Computer Security

According to the Federal Office for Security in Germany, the passwords and other details of 16 million email users living in Germany have been stolen.

(Seemingly criminals had infected computers with software which allowed them to gather email addresses and account passwords.

The scale of the attack is the equivalent of almost a fifth of the German population being at risk.)

Interesting Fact - Reading

Psychologists at the New School for Social Research in New York, have shown that reading literary fiction enhances emotional intelligence.

(The fiction found to have this effect was literary fiction, which included books like A Chameleon by Anton Chekhov, The Runner by Don DeLillo, and The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht.

The researchers make a distinction between literary fiction and other types of writing. David Comer Kidd said, "Some writing is what you call 'writerly', you fill in the gaps and participate, and some is 'readerly', and you're entertained. We tend to see 'readerly' more in genre fiction like adventure, romance and thrillers, where the author dictates your experience as a reader. Literary [writerly] fiction lets you go into a new environment and you have to find your own way."
I wonder if there are any books that have the opposite effect, and who might have read them?)

Interesting Fact - Health

According to a study carried out by researchers from University College London and the University of Cambridge, central heating in the home may be making us fat.
(The article suggests that the increase in indoor temperature due to heating the house has reduced the calories we use to stay warm; leading us to store the excess energy as body fat.  It goes on to says that the “thermal comfort zone” provided by modern living may be a factor in the Western world’s increasing rates of obesity.
I'm sorry, but I've been without working central heating for a couple of weeks now, and I haven't lost an ounce, in fact I've been comfort eating and stuffing my face with chocolate, so I want my central heating back. (BTW - The engineer is here! Yippee! Fingers crossed.) )

Interesting Fact - Sleep

Research into sleeping patterns carried out at the University of Surrey, have shown that working night shifts sends the human body into chaos, and could cause lasting damage to health.

(Working irregular shifts has a similar effect to severe jet lag or repeatedly missing sleep. Even more worryingly it has a damaging effect at the level of our DNA, with hundreds of genes, whose activity should rise and fall on a daily basis, losing their rhythm, and other genes developing abnormal cycles of their own.

So basically not getting enough sleep is bad for you, and sleeping at the wrong time is bad for you too.  We can't win!)



21st January 2014 - Britain's first motorway pub opened.

Interesting People - Twiggy Garcia

Mr Twiggy Garcia attempted a citizen's arrest on former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

(Mr Garcia, a barman at a restaurant the ex Prime Minister was eating in, said he had fantasised for years about “arresting” Mr Blair, who is now ironically a Middle East peace envoy, for war crimes.  It was not a plan, he claimed, but “something I have wanted to do for a few years”.

He is the fifth person to have tried to arrest Tony Blair, but they don't call him Teflon Tony for nothing.)

Source - The Independent

Interesting Place - Buckinghamshire

Pub chain J D Wetherspoon are set to open the first motorway pub in the UK.

(After spending more than £1.1 million, they are opening the Hope and Champion pub, at junction 2 of the M40 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. They will be open from 4 am to 1 am, seven days a week.

As you can imagine road safety campaigners are livid.  What people should really be asking is, if I had tried to do this, would I have been allowed to?)

Interesting Animals - Birds

Scientists from the Royal Veterinary College may have solved the mystery of why so many birds fly in a V formation.

(Flocks of birds flying in this peculiar formation is a common sight In autumn and spring in the UK as birds fly from, or return to their nesting grounds.

The scientists fitted data loggers to a flock of rare birds that were being trained to migrate by following a microlight. Analysis of the data revealed that the birds flew in the optimal position - gaining lift from the bird in front by remaining close to its wingtip, thus saving energy.

Basically, they are tailgating each other.)


Interesting Animals - Monkeys

Paignton Zoo in Devon has banned its monkeys from eating bananas.

(Seemingly, the natural sugar content of the kinds of bananas grown for human consumption is bad for the monkeys' health and can rot their teeth. Over the years the banana has been bred to be sweeter and sweeter, and now there can be up to 12g of sugar per 100g of banana, and the sugar counts for 53 percent of a bananas 105 calories.

Monkeys without bananas! Whatever next: squirrels with nut allergies or +Aladdin Pasha at the movies with no popcorn?)

Source: The Wright Stuff - Channel 5

Interesting Fact - Homework

According to a poll conducted by the organisers of the Bett trade-show; two thirds of parents in the UK say they help their children with their homework and a staggering one in six admits to regularly doing all of it!

(Two thirds of parents admitted there are times when they are unable to help because it is too taxing. 
Unsurprisingly, 70% said their children were happy to let them do it.)

Interesting Place - Hamburg

Hamburg, Germany’s second largest city, is planning to ban all cars from its centre over the next 20 years.

( Their new urban development scheme, “Green Network”, will see all vehicles banned in the city centre by 2034. Instead people will move about the port city, either via  public transport, on foot or by bicycle.

Gives a whole new meaning to "on your bike".)

Interesting Fact - Speed Limit

The taxman looks set to be granted the right to break the speed limit in the UK.

(At present only the emergency services; police, ambulance and fire, are allowed to break the speed limit, but under new rules other groups will be included: bomb disposal units, the blood transfusion service and mountain and mine rescue teams, oh and the aforementioned taxman.  The taxman - the fourth emergency service.)

Interesting Fact - Immigration

On my trip to the UK recently I was dismayed to read and hear all the negative press about the opening up of borders to new countries in the EU. It really made me ashamed to be British. Now the figures have started to come in and so far the millions of Eastern Europeans anticipated by the tabloid press and other people who should know better has turned out to be 24.

(Yup 2 dozen, and they are probably wondering what they let themselves in for.

On New Year's Day, politicians, including Keith Vaz, and journalists gathered at Luton airport desperately waiting for the arrival of millions of unemployed Romanians, only to be greeted by two new entrants, both of whom already had jobs.

Of course people will travel to look for work.  That's how I ended up in Germany.)

"Britain's an island; it's always had a constant ebb and flow of immigration - it makes it a better place."
John Lydon

Interesting Fact - Art

According to a Freedom of Information request from the Evening Standard newspaper a committee of British MPs has spent around £250,000 since 1995 commissioning portraits and statues of other MPs.

(Now no one would really begrudge Sir Winston a statue or two, and even a prime minister like Mrs T should have her photo taken for the wall of infamy, but pictures and statues have also been commissioned for junior ministers and backbenchers.

Frank Doran, Labour MP and chairman of the Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art said,

"We've been collecting art in the House of Commons, and Parliament generally, since the 14th century.  We're preserving the history of Parliament through art. We're also doing a number of other things as part of that process: one is supporting young artists.")

Interesting Place - Colorado

Officials in Colorado replaced a "MILE 420" sign near Stratton, about 25 miles from the Kansas border, with a sign that says "MILE 419.99.

(Why? Because people kept stealing the old one.

Why? Well, seemingly, this innocent looking three digit number 420, (pronounced four-twenty), has long been associated with cannabis and smoking cannabis. I found a couple of reasons for this:-
Because a group of pot heads called the Waldos used to meet at 4:20pm.Because 4oz used to cost $20. I guess we'll never know.
But this isn't the first place in Colorado with a fractional mile marker. Cameron Pass in Larimer County has a "MILE 68.5" sign after frequent thefts of the "MILE 69" sign, I'm not even going to try to attempt to explain that one.)
Sources:  The Independent / Wikipedia

Interesting Fact - Death

Statistically speaking more British people die during the first full week than any other time of a year.

(According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, deaths by day during December and January in England and Wales peak during the first full week of the year, and the risk is even higher if you are unlucky enough to be admitted to hospital during that time.

The nice thing is, if you're reading this, you survived! Well done.)

Interesting Fact - Money

Walt Disney, Henry Ford and Henry Heinz were all bankrupts before becoming rich.

(Walt Disney got cheated when he started a small film company. Henry Heinz got his fingers burnt with horseradish, before he tried ketchup. Henry Ford's first car factory only made 20 cars in two years and unsurprisingly the enterprise went bankrupt in 1901.

There's hope for me yet.)

Interesting Place - Swansea

Swansea has been named the most likely place for a person to have a one night stand in the UK.

(Runners up for this dubious honour were:-

Edinburgh (11%) Birmingham (11%)
London (10%)
Chelmsford (9%)
Coventry (9%)
Brighton and Hove (9%)
Oxford (9%)
Manchester (8%)
Belfast (8%) For this to actually make sense you need to know what a one night stand is, in this context it means a sexual relationship lasting only one night.

Now, before you think "What a great idea!" and start booking your tickets, research has shown that one night stands are linked to depression and suicidal thoughts.)

Interesting Fact - Eating

Research carried out at Swansea University suggests that babies who are spoon-fed by parents are more likely to become overweight.

(The researchers believe the results of the study show that babies allowed to feed themselves during weaning are less likely to overeat and be overweight as toddlers as they can regulate their intake and stop eating when they are full.

Their study also revealed that spoon-fed children were more likely to grow up to be "fussy-eaters" than those left to their own devices.

This might explain why the phrase to be spoon-fed something is negative.  It means to be treated in a way that discourages independent thought or action. So don't be spoon-fed your English. Feed yourself.)
Source - Journal of Pediatric Obesity


Today is the anniversary of the London Underground - or what we actually call it: The Underground or The Tube.

It is a real icon of London, and the Guardian have written a nice little tribute to the tube and how it has been represented over the years.


Today is National English Toffee day.

English toffee recipe

Interesting Fact - Speed

A 60mph (mile per hour) speed limit is set to be introduced on some sections of motorways in the UK.

(Currently the speed limit is 70mph, and there had been talk of increasing it (Of course this never applies if there are roadworks, or you're on the M25 (good luck getting above 25mph on that monster, I never realised it was named after its top speed)).  The first motorway to be affected will be a 32-mile stretch of the M1 in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire.  
The idea is to cut pollution levels to meet EU regulations, and if you're laughing at people in Derby, don't ... it could be brought in on other sections around the country if air quality is deemed to be at risk.
The problem for me is that whenever we travel back to the UK, after German motorways, the British motorway system seems to be so slow.)
Source: The Independent

Interesting Fact - Holidays

According to a study commissioned by Teletext Holidays, Brits spend 18 days on planning their holiday

(On average, people in the UK spend 14 days choosing a holiday destination. We spend just over 13 hours researching the accommodation, and 11 hours sorting out all the transport from the flights to car hire.
A further nine hours are dedicated to washing and ironing clothes, and eight hours are spent on trips to the hairdresser and tanning salons.
We then spend another two days packing our suitcases before finally jetting off.
They have even come up with a new phrase PHT - Pre-Holiday Tension.)

Interesting Fact - Christenings

The Church of England has introduced new wording to the Christening service so parents and godparents no longer have to "repent sins" or"reject the devil".

(The current version, used since 1998, asks parents and godparents if they “reject the devil and all rebellion against God” and if they “repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour”.

The new text will ask them to “reject evil, and all its many forms, and all its empty promises”, with no explicit mention of the devil or sin.

It reminds me of a quote by Charles Baudelaire, "The devil's finest trick is to persuade you that he does not exist."
Famously paraphrased in the film The Usual Suspects "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.")

!Note - Christening = Baptism

Interesting Fact - Holidays

According to a study commissioned by Teletext Holidays, Brits on holiday spend just six days actually having fun.

(The first two days of the holiday are spent trying to relax and unwind, and the last two days people are stressed out about returning to work.

As a result 19 per cent of us book our next break shortly after returning from our last holiday.

Well, it's nice to have something to look forward to.)


Today is National Trivia Day.

Interesting Fact - Driving

The British government has announced that all UK driving licence records will be put online.

(The project, called My Licence, is due to be launched by the DVLA in March.  It will allow access to drivers' information through the website using an individual's licence number, national insurance number and postcode.

I guess that this is the only way they could go as their bid for id cards failed.

The good news is that the paper counterpart to the driving licence card will be phased out by 2015.)

Interesting Fact - Time

The average CD (compact disc) can hold 74 minutes’ worth of recorded sound.

(What's interesting about this is why they chose 74 minutes.  Why not 60 or 120?  Well allegedly, when CDs were developed by Philips and Sony in the 70s, one of the developers, Norio Ohga, decided that a single CD should be able to contain the longest recorded version of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which is 74 minutes long.

Luckily they didn't decide on the symphony Victory at Sea, by Richard Rodgers, it is 13 hours long!)

Interesting Date - 2014

2014 has been designated by the UN as the following:-
The International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
The International Year of Small Island Developing States
The International Year of Crystallography
The International Year of Family Farming
So, if you are a family farmer, with an interest in crystallography, and living in Palestine or on a small island developing state.  This is your year!

Interesting Place + Interesting Food = London - New Year Fact

Revellers who attended London's New Year celebrations would expect a great fireworks display, but they were also treated to apple, cherry and strawberry mist, peach snow, orange flavoured bubbles, and edible banana confetti.

(Food artists Harry Parr and Sam Bompas devised the sensory elements of the display. Famous for exotic and unusual jelly making, they have created other immersive flavour based experiences ranging from an inhabitable cloud of gin and tonic, and a chocolate climbing wall.
Nice work if you can get it.)