Showing posts from April, 2014

Interesting Fact - Doctors

Around two-thirds of Western countries charge patients to see their GP, fees range from 80p in France to £18 in Sweden, with an extra £5 for a home visit.  In the UK it is currently free (see below).

(In some countries patients pay for hospital visits or stays, including Germany, and Sweden where they charge around £7.50 per night, and in Portugal you also have to pay £8 every time you go to A&E.

According to a poll conducted by Pulse magazine, half of British GPs are in favour of charging patients for appointments - with some wanting to impose fees of between £5 and £25 a time.

The problem is that it puts people off seeking medical help. Germany introduced a similar GP charge, but they later scrapped it.)
We've been talking about this in the forum.


30th April 2014 is National Honesty Day in the US.

Allegedly, a man called M. Hirst Goldberg (who interestingly wrote a book about lies), established April 30th as National Honesty Day in an attempt to balance out the beginning of the month, which begins with April’s Fool Day.

I think this should go global!  Like a great big game of truth or dare.  :)

Interesting Fact - Money

According to figures from the Halifax, of every £100.00 spent in the UK (not including credit), debit cards account for £28.87, direct debits for £19.90, so-called ‘faster payments’, which covers internet and smartphone transactions, for £12.81, cheques £11.28, standing orders £7.82 and 'other' methods of paying bills £1.34.

(This means that only £17.99, is spent in cold, hard cash, down by £3.03 on a year ago, So maybe the death knell is already ringing for the money in your pocket.

+Andrey Orlov - It's funny how sometimes people ask me a question in a session, and then it crops up in the news.  :)



29th April 2014 is One Day Without Shoes Day.

I won't wear my shoes around the garden and house, but sorry, I will be wearing them to take the dog for a walk.

Interesting Words - Gainful Employment

In legalese, "gainful employment" is defined as work that a person can pursue and perform for money or activities intended to provide an income to a person.

(This is where wording can have a huge effect, as Tony Hakki, a professional poker player, who allegedly refused to pay child support for his children, has won a legal fight to keep all his poker winnings.  Court of Appeal judges agreed that Tony Hakki's winnings were not from "gainful employment" and so did not meet the regulations governing the payment of child support.

This is what I would call "getting off on a technicality".)


28th April 2014 is Ed Balls Day.

A day to celebrate Ed Balls accidentally tweeting his own name at 4:20pm, on 28th April, 2011.

Interesting Fact - Fortified Schools

The UK government has announced plans to spend £85m building a secure college in Leicestershire that will hold up to 320 young people in custody..
(This should go under "sad facts", because it's in reaction to the number of deaths in custody over the last 10 years.  During that time, 163 young people under the age of 24 have killed themselves in prison in the UK

The secure college is planned to be the first step towards several other so called "fortified schools" that will eventually cater for the vast majority of young offenders.)

Interesting Fact - Tourism

According to the World Tourism Organisation, nearly one in ten international tourists worldwide is now Chinese.
(There were 97.3m outward-bound journeys from China in 2013, of which around half were for leisure. 
Chinese tourists spend most in total ($129 billion in 2013, followed by Americans at $86 billion) and per tax-free transaction ($1,130 compared with $494 by Russians). 
More than 80% say that shopping is vital to their plans, compared with 56% of Middle Eastern tourists and 48% of Russians. 
The Chinese are expected to buy more luxury goods next year while abroad than tourists from all other countries combined.
However, only around 5% of China’s population actually own passports.)

Interesting People - Tom Major

Tom Major was the father of the former Prime Minister of the UK, John Major.  He was a trapeze artist, music-hall entertainer and the owner of a garden gnome factory.

(In his book, "The Old Man", John Major writes:
Tom spent nearly 30 years on the road as a music-hall artist, for much of that time the proprietor of his own show. He cut his teeth working in circuses and travelling galas, but in 1902 formed a double act with a singer and dancer called Kitty Grant, whom he later married – performing acrobatics, baton-twirling, patter, comic duets and comedy sketches. They became known as Drum and Major, and topped the bill at big halls such as the Leeds City Varieties. Forty years later, Major was the name on his son's birth certificate. But Kitty wasn't John Major's mother. That distinction fell to Gwen Coates, a Lincolnshire girl who joined the company as a dancer. She stepped into Kitty's shoes when a steel girder from a safety curtain struck the unfortunat…


25th April

Today is Anzac Day in Australia.

(It is traditional to wear a sprig of rosemary in remembrance.

Rosemary is a herb associated with memory, and it grows wild on the Gallipoli peninsula.)

Interesting Place - Britain

You've heard of the Welsh, the Irish and the Scots, well say hello to the Cornish.

(Not the pasty, the people. Cornwall has won recognition as a national minority.

Flag - St Piran

Language - Cornish

Nationality - Cornish

In the census of 2011, 84,000 people declaree themselves “Cornish”, but only 557 people claim that the Celtic dialect is their main language, although there are now dual-language street signs throughout the county.

I don't think you can call yourself Cornish, if you can't speak Cornish. There should be a test.)

Oh look!  There is!

Can you tell the difference between Dothraki and Cornish?

Interesting Fact - Family Life

According to a survey by the TV Channel Gold, men turn into their fathers at the age of 38.

(The top signs that this might be happening to you are:-

1. You fall asleep in the living room.

2. You have ‘a chair’

3. You enjoy Dad dancing

4. You spend time in the shed

5. You tell jokes that only you find funny

6. You don't know any artists in the top 40

7. You are spending longer on the toilet

8. You keep an eye on the thermostat

9. You get excited about white good sales

10. You enjoy embarrassing younger members of the family

Oh dear - apart from number 3 and number 7, I think I'm turning into my dad!)

Interesting Food - Jelly Beans

There are over 130 flavours of jelly beans.

(The flavours range from the traditional fruity ones to tabasco and beer-flavoured beans.

Americans are mad for them: according to the National Confectioners Association, Americans buy 16 billion beans over Easter. It even has its own holiday today (22nd April).
I had a box for Easter too, but some of the weirder flavours are simply not nice.)


22nd April 2014 is Jelly Bean Day.

Interesting Fact - Chess

According to research carried out at the University of Sydney, playing chess at a young age can raise a child's IQ, improve their memory and teach them how to take responsibility for their actions.

(Dr Peter Dauvergne believes that chess is one of the most effective teaching tools to prepare children for a world increasingly swamped by information and ever tougher decisions

I believe it's actually compulsory in Armenia. I wonder when World of Warcraft will be given the same recognition.)

Interesting Fact - Easter Fact

According to a survey conducted by Travelodge, a third of British children think that Easter, one of the most important festivals in the Christian calendar, is a celebration of the Easter Bunny's birthday.

(Bless.  Maybe they should read our culture page on Easter.

The real problem is that the average child in the UK will clock up 10,000 calories whilst binging on chocolate Easter eggs and sweeties over the Easter weekend.)

Interesting Fact - Easter Fact

According to a survey run by Travelodge, on average British parents splash out £478.25 to take a short break and / or four day trips with their children this Easter,
(The top 10 UK Easter destinations were:-

1. Blackpool

2. London

3. Birmingham

4. Cornwall

5. Brighton

6. Cardiff

7. Devon

8. Bath

9. Edinburgh

10. The Lake District

However, in a study conducted by Sainsbury's, when asked to name their top five wishes for the perfect Easter, kids would most enjoy a family picnic, followed by an Easter egg hunt at home.
I'm sorry if you are reading this after having spent all that money, but maybe you should have asked your little ones.)


19th April 2014 is Record Store Day

Interesting Words - Yes and No

According to research from UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles), a person who grows up in an
average, reasonably positive home is told "no" over 148,000 times before they hit their 18th birthday.

(On the other side, they are only told "yes" around 5,000 times.

According to Dr. Alice Sterling Honig, Professor Emerita of Child Development at Syracuse University, and an expert in early language development, if you just say ‘no’ to a young child all the time, that child doesn'’t learn to use language to reason with you and others.

148,000 nos sounds like brainwashing to me. No wonder we are often negative, and more likely to think we can't do something, than taking the more positive view.)

Interesting Fact - Death

New government guidance in the UK will tell pensioners how long left they have to live.

(Everyone approaching retirement in Britain will be told when they are expected to die.

The UK's Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, is asking pension providers to give people an "estimate" of their shelf life. Seemingly we usually underestimate how long we are likely to live, Mr Webb said, "Many people underestimate how long they will live. If you are thinking about this, what do you do? For best guidance you probably think about how long your grandparents lived, but that is two generations out of date...  Retirees need to gain a sense of how long they might live to help make financial decisions."

Thanks for the concern Mr Webb, but frankly, I would rather not know.)


Today is Haiku Poetry Day.

Interesting Fact - Sexism in the UK

According to a UN spokeswoman on violence against women. Rashida Manjoo, the UK is the most sexist country in the world.

(Rashida Manjoo, a human rights expert from South Africa, says that there is a "boys’ club" sexist culture in the UK.

In that respect, she is correct. The old boys network is alive and well in the UK, and they do know how to look after each other, so maybe we need an old girls network too.  Something she neglects to notice is that most guys don't get to join the old boys network either.)

Interesting Fact - Habits

According to a study carried out by Clipper Teas, Brits are twice as likely to dump their partner, than change their brand of tea.

(The top 10 things we are least likely to change are:-

Our hairstyle.Our hair colour.What we eat for breakfast.Our favourite mugOur bedtime.Our favourite food brands.Our favourite takeaway restaurant.When we do our shopping.Our favourite brand of tea.The time of day we drink tea. I'd agree with 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, and 10. For the rest, I'm pretty flexible.

It looks as if in the UK we like our habits and routine, but aren't that keen on our other halves.)

Interesting Fact - The London Marathon

Mo Farrar is the fastest Englishman to finish the London Marathon.

(He came 8th in the marathon, but broke the British record with a time of 2 hours, 8 minutes and 21 seconds.  Only 4 minutes behind the winner, Kipsang Wilson from Kenya (who set a track record of 2 hours 4 minutes 29 seconds).

Of course the English press are having a field day of negativity at his expense, just because he didn't win, but he will always be a winner to me.)

Interesting Fact - Entertaining

According to a survey conducted on behalf of French mustard Maille one in four Brits feel pressure to perform after watching competitive cooking programmes.

(A quarter of people in the UK, who hold dinner parties, admit to trying to serve "restaurant quality food" and to outdo their friends when entertaining.  In order to make a good impression, the average dinner party host will now spend six and a half hours preparing food and lay out an average of £102.17 on food and trimmings, and one in 10 amateur cooks will spend more than £200 to entertain at home.

The survey almost found that men were more likely to spend to show off. Their average dinner party bill is a fifth more than women’s, and they are more likely to shop at a specialist store. However, women put more care into their entertaining, taking nearly a quarter more time to prepare.

If you are spending that much on entertaining friends, you might as well take them out to a restaurant.


Interesting People - Herbert Jones

The jockey Herbert Jones, who was riding the horse that hit and killed Emily Wilding Davison in 1913, killed himself in 1951.

(He was thrown from his horse, Anmer, and after the incident he suffered a mild concussion, but afterwards claimed he was "haunted by that poor woman's face".

He suffered from depression soon after his wife's death and was found by his son in a gas-filled kitchen.

It's strange, when I was at school we all learnt about Emily Davison, but no one mentioned the jockey.)

Interesting Fact - Names

According to statistics published by the American Social Security Administration, in the US more babies are being named 'Khaleesi' than 'Betsy' or 'Nadine'.

(Khaleesi means Queen in the fictional Dothraki language from Game of Thrones. The character is
actually called Khaleesi — Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, of the blood of old Valyeria, mother of dragons.

Twenty-one babies were named "Daenerys" in 2012.
I bet at least one has been called "Mother of dragons".)

Interesting Fact - Science

Britain has its first cloned dog, a tiny dachshund puppy.

(The crazy thing is that the cloning was the prize in a competition from Sooam Biotech who are launching a £60,000 dog cloning service in the UK.

The "winner" was Rebecca Smith, the owner of a 15 year old dachshund called Winnie.

I guess they will call the puppy Winnie the Mini.)

Interesting People - Richard Platz

In 1913 Richard Platz threw a bottle into the Baltic sea.

(Over 101 years later, the brown beer bottle was found in the catch of Konrad Fischer, a fisherman, and it is now thought to be the oldest recorded message in a bottle.

Much of the message was indecipherable, although the address in Berlin on the front of the card was legible, as was the author's polite request that the note be sent by the finder to his home address. He also included two stamps from that time, which were also in the bottle, so the finder would not incur any cost.

I wonder what he would think of today's instant messaging.)

Interesting People - Charles O'Rear

Photographer Charles O'Rear took the iconic photograph, Bliss, that has adorned many computer screens around the world; the default wallpaper in Windows XP.

(He took the photo 60 miles north of San Francisco in a wine region of Napa Valley called Carneros. It is now a vineyard, so that particular landscape no longer exists, but although the operating system is no longer supported by Microsoft, the image will live on for this generation.

Estimates say that ‘Bliss’ may have been seen by over a billion people around the world, from Buckingham Palace in London, factory control rooms in North Korea to the situation room of the White House in Washington DC.)


April 8th 2014

Microsoft will stop support for Windows XP and Office 2003.

Interesting Fact - Love

According to a survey carried out by adult retailer Lovehoney, 3% of people in the UK admit to saying "I love you" on a first date and and 13 per cent took the plunge in the first week.

(Two-fifths declared their love by the end of the first month, but A third of women have told a partner that they loved them when they didn't, and a fifth of men admitted to doing the same thing. The usual excuse is their partner had said it first and so they felt under pressure to say it back.

I guess they were just being polite, but really - don't say it unless you mean it.)


Today is National No Housework Day and National Beer Day.

(Guess what I'll be doing?)

Interesting Food - Bananas

The Cavendish variety of banana accounts for 95 per cent of bananas shipped to export markets around the world.

(That's interesting in itself, but the biggest nightmare of a monoculture has arisen, and the world’s banana crop is under threat from a fungus; Foc-TR4. According to Nature, a strain of Foc wiped out the Gros Michel cultivar, which was the main exported banana variety until the 1950s. Gros Michel plants were then replaced with the Cavendish variety, which is resistant to that Foc strain, but susceptible to the new Foc Tropical Race 4 (Foc-TR4) strain.

The disappearance of bananas from supermarket shelves in the UK is one thing, but bananas form a crucial part of the diet of more than 400 million people.)

Interesting Fact - Learning English

England Premier League Club, Manchester City, has advised footballers from abroad to watch Teletubbies to improve their English.

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Alvaro Negedro has a better idea - he's going to teach Manchester how to speak Spanish:-


Interesting Food - Beer

Bosses at the Charles Wells brewery have ordered publicans to ensure customers do not exceed the Government’s recommended health guidelines.

(This would limit customers to three to four units of alcohol a day for men and two for women.

Their flagship beer Bombardier contains 2.7 units a pint, which would limit pubs to serving about one and a half pints of beer per person.

No more two beer photos!)

Interesting Fact - British Law

A newly proposed law in the UK would mean that any parent or carer who harmed the 'emotional, social or behavioural development' of a child would face up to 10 years in jail.

(The current law on “wilful neglect” is governed by the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, the update to this law is being called a Cinderella law, and it attempts to address the fact that emotional neglect of a child has been shown to be equally as destructive to a child’s well being as physical abuse. The new law will mean that “emotional cruelty” will be a crime for the first time, ranking alongside physical or sexual abuse.)

Interesting Fact - Facial Expressions

According to research carried out at Ohio State University, the average human only makes 21 facial expressions.

(There are six core emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust, but human Faces Can express21 distinct emotions, combining emotions, such as happily surprised or sadly angry. 
However, according to research carried out at the University of Glasgow human faces might only be able to make four universally recognized facial expressions. They argue that shared key facial signals should be combined:

the wrinkled nose: fear and disgust

widened eyes: fear and surprise

I'm sure my face has shown more than 21 expressions just in the time it took me to write this. Perhaps they didn't count the tongue sticking out of the side of the mouth to help concentration as an expression.)