Showing posts from February, 2015

Interesting Fact - Children

Young children really believe they become invisible if other people can't see their eyes.
(Studies carried out by researchers at the University of Cambridge found that when children aged between 3 and 4 had their eyes covered with masks, they really believed they could not be seen by the researchers.
On being asked to explain how they were made invisible by simply hiding their eyes, many knew that their bodies remained visible, suggesting a childhood distinction between their physical bodies and the 'self' they connect to their eyes.

Peekaboo! The eyes really are the window to the soul.)

Interesting Fact - The Internet

The highly successful travel website Trip Advisor was founded in February 2000 in a small office above a pizza shop called Kosta’s in Needham, Massachusetts, USA.

(15 years later and the reviews on the site now have more than 10 billion words, that's nearly 12,000 times the number of words in the complete works of Shakespeare.

The most reviewed city is London – with over 1.8 million reviews of the city’s hotels, restaurants and attractions.)

Interesting Fact - Books

According to Matthew Jockers, a University of Nebraska English professor, there are about 6 archetypal plot shapes in fiction.

(Using an algorithm that abstracts the structure of plot by looking at how sentiment changes in a story, resulting in a sort of plot graph, from what he calls the man on a hill story - a mainly positive story in which there is a mid-way peak - to the 'man in a hole' story, which tends to follow a character as they get into trouble and crawl back out again.

People have been looking at this for a long time, probably in an attempt to get computers to write best sellers. In 2004, Christopher Booker published The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, in which he suggested there were 7 types of tales: rags to riches; overcoming the monster; the quest; voyage and return; comedy; tragedy, and rebirth.

Way back in the 18th Century, Italian playwright Carlos Gozzi said there were 36 dramatic situations, which included the revolt; the enigma; madness; involunt…

Interesting Food - Coffee

KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) has just unveiled the UK’s first edible coffee cup.

(It is made from biscuit, wrapped in sugar paper and lined with a layer of white chocolate. The cup doesn't go soggy, and it allegedly keeps the coffee hot.

They are calling it the Scoff-ee cup (groan).)

Interesting Place - Canada

Edmonton, Alberta, in Canada is considering flooding 11km of cycle paths to provide a route for residents to commute through the city on --- wait for it --- ice skates.

(With winter temperatures of -12C (9.5F) the paths would soon freeze over and the Freezeway would be born. Organisers say they’ll give the project a try, as early as winter 2016.

Interesting Fact - The Plague

Scientists from Norway's University of Oslosay, say the Black Death may not have been caused by rats.
(The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, hypothesises that it could have been spread by gerbils who arrived from Asia.

Poor rats. They always get the blame for everything.)

Interesting Food - Peanuts

Almost one in 50 children in the UK is allergic to peanuts, double the rate of ten years ago.

(The innocent looking legume can cause reactions as mild as itching and redness; but in other cases, it can produce vomiting, diarrhoea and anaphylactic shock, where the throat and airways swell and become severely inflamed, preventing breathing. 
You don't even need to eat a nut; peanut oil can be found in anything from processed food and sweets to cosmetics and lipstick. The condition kills more people than any other food allergy.)

Interesting Words - Elementary

Sad to say, Sherlock Holmes never said ‘Elementary, my dear Watson!’ in the books written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

(Holmes did use the word ‘elementary’ in The Crooked Man (1894):-

“I have the advantage of knowing your habits, my dear Watson,” said he.

“Excellent!” I cried.
“Elementary,” said he.
The phrase, ‘Elementary, my dear Watson’ was penned 21 years later by P.G. Wodehouse in his novel Psmith, Journalist, and the phrase is also uttered at the very end of the 1929 film, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, the first Sherlock Holmes sound film.)

Interesting Number - 40

40 is the only number in English that, when written out as a word, has its letters in alphabetical order.
(1 has its letters in alphabetical order - backwards.  Try it!)

Interesting Animal - The Limpet

Research carried out in the UK has revealed that nature's strongest biological material is to be found in the teeth of a limpet.

(The publication, in the Royal Society's journal Interface, says that the teeth are made of a mineral-protein composite, which was found not only to be stronger than spider silk, but the very strongest of man-made materials too: stronger than Kevlar fibres and almost as good as the best high-performance carbon fibre materials.

The idiom to stick or cling like a limpet, makes more sense now: it means to refuse to let go of something or someone.)

Interesting Fact - Tattoos

According to a report on CBC news, about research carried out by IBISWorld market research, the tattoo industry in the US it's worth a staggering $75.5 million up 500 per cent from ten years ago, but the industry in the UK is said to be worth £80m a year!

(As anyone who came to our sessions last year, getting inked is no longer the taboo it once was, and it's also big money.)

Interesting Food - Chocolate

According to a survey conducted by the British Heart Foundation, we Brits go to great lengths to conceal our chocolate eating habits from our partners.
(Apparently many of us have a secret stash of chocolate, and a quarter of us hide our supplies in our drawer at work, a sixth in the bedside table, and a tenth of us hide it in the glove compartment of our car.

I put mine in the fridge, not because I want to hide it, I just like cold chocolate.)

Interesting Fact - Football

Sky TV and BT Sport have paid £5.1 billion for the TV rights to the Premier League from 2016 to 2019.

(Sky paid £4.2bn for five of the seven TV packages ( £11.07m per match), while rival BT paid £960m ( £7.6m per game) for the other two in a TV rights auction.

Between 1992 and 1997 the whole lot cost £191 million. Does anyone else think this is obscene?)

Interesting Fact - Valentine's Day Flowers - Valentine's Day Fact

A dozen roses in the UK could set you back anything from a whopping £44.99, to a mere 3 quid.

Here's a list of the War of the Roses:-

Lidl - £3

Asda - £5

Tesco - £5

Morrisons - £5

Sainsbury's - £5

Marks & Spencer - £12

Interflora £44.99  (Shall we call that £45?)
Gentlemen, if you do go for the Lidl option, might I suggest you remove the price tag?
12 x Fairtrade® red roses from M&S?  £22.00.

Interesting Fact - Alcohol

According to a study published  in the journal BMJ Open, most people get little or no protection against disease from alcohol, even at moderate drinking levels.

(The rather sobering study found that the only exception seems to be women over 65, but even for them the health benefits of alcohol are not enormous.

Sigh. I'll still stick with my weekend tipple, because even if it isn't great for my body, I'm sure it's good for my psychological well-being.)

If you want to know why you should drink less, watch this:-

Interesting Fact - Cigarettes

Illegal tobacco is one of the most commonly smuggled products to the UK.

(Criminals are often managing to beat UK border controls by sending illegal goods by post.

More than a million such parcels are sent to British homes every year. Alongside cigarettes, criminals are sending guns, and drugs!

It's all costing the taxman an estimated £3billion, a year, but I bet they pay with Bitcoins.

Don't these criminals read the Royal Mail's terms and conditions?)

Interesting Place - Australia

Australia has been invited to take part in the Eurovision song contest, as part of the competition’s 60th anniversary celebrations.

(The Australian contestant, is yet to be chosen, but they will fight it out in the semi-final, and hopefully the final, which this year is being held in Vienna, Austria.

It must be down to continental drift.)

Interesting Fact - The Magna Carta

More than one copy was made of the Magna Carta (meaning ‘The Great Charter). (The Magna Carta, which was authorised on 15 June 1215 at Runnymede, is considered one of the first steps towards parliamentary democracy and includes the principle that no one was above the law, including the king. "No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice."Thefoursurvivingoriginalcopiesofthe1215MagnaCartahavebeenbroughttogether forthefirsttimeinLondon. I always thought there was only one copy - hence "the" Magna Carta.)
See more at:

Interesting Animal - Cows

Researchers from World Animal Protection have discovered how to tell if a cow is in a bad mood – by measuring the temperature of its nose. (They carried out the study by stroking the animals to put them in a calm and relaxed state before they took their temperature. How do they know the cows weren't just annoyed, and wanted to get back to the field?)

Interesting People - Jessie Gallan

Jessie Gallan, who recently celebrated her 109th birthday in the UK, has put her long life down to plenty of porridge, and no men. (Jessie, who lives in Aberdeen, told a Daily Mail reporter: “My secret to a long life has been staying away from men. They're just more trouble than they're worth." She also made sure that she got plenty of exercise, and she still eats a bowl of porridge every morning. I guess Goldilocks was onto something.)

Interesting Fact - Time

It seem that we Brits don't like to be kept waiting. According to research by Interparcel we get grumpy very quickly if we are forced to wait for any length of time.

(It seems we will only wait 5 minutes at a bar before walking off, 13 minutes for a delayed train and no more than 10 seconds for a web page to load. It seems strange for a nation renowned for its ability to form an orderly queue, but if you read this, I applaud your patience in waiting for it to load.)

Interesting Fact - Obesity

A cinema in Malvern, Worcestershire has replaced its seats because British bottoms are getting wider.

(The Grade II-listed cinema in Malvern has had to remove 380 of their 17" wide seats because the average cinema-goer no longer fits in them. A spokesman said: “We haven’t had anyone stuck but it can happen.” I think they should let it happen.  Getting winched out of a cinema seat might just be the incentive someone needs to bypass the popcorn stand on their way in.)

Interesting Fact - The Cinema

A study carried out by Theatre Projects Consultants shows that that the average size of cinema (movie) seats in the US has grown over the last 20 years.

(Cinemas (movie theaters) have had to adjust the size of their seats for the ever expanding waistlines of their customers. 

According to the report, the average cinema (movie theater) in 1990 had seats that were 20" wide and had 33" of separation between it and the seat in front of it. Nowadays the average seat is  23" wide and has 38" of space.

More leg room for me.)

Interesting Fact - Pain

According to research carried out at the National University of Singapore, screaming "ow", or "ouch" can ease pain.
(In the research they found that being vocal about your suffering helps you to tolerate pain longer.

The problem with that is I don't want to tolerate pain, I don't want to be in pain. I wonder what "Aagh!" does.)

Chinese - 'Aiyao!'
French - 'Aïe!'
German - ‘Aua!’
Japanese - 'Itai!'
Polish - 'Oj!'

Any more?

Interesting Fact - Starbucks

According to Starbucks’s website, you can order over 87,000 different drink combinations at their outlets.

(This isn't that surprising when you realise they have 6 different sizes for coffee:-

From the smallest, the demi, through to short, tall, grande, venti, to the largest trenta.

Why did they have to make it so complicated?  What's wrong with S/M/L - small, medium, and large? )


1st February

National Yorkshire Pudding Day.

Here's my recipe for Yorkshire pudding.