Showing posts from March, 2015

Interesting Fact - Housework

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, on average British mums spend 3 hours a day on housework and cooking, whereas fathers spend an average of three quarters of an hour.
(In 8 out of 10 couples, women do all the washing and ironing, but things are changing, a magazine survey in 1999 revealed that among the over-60s age group, none of the men surveyed ever did the washing! Of course in 1980 only 31% of women had a full-time or part-time job compared to 55% today.

According to therapist Julia Cole, most men still expect women to do the housework, and if men do it, they act as though they are doing their partner a favour; saying things like: 'I've done the washing up for you' instead of regarding it as something which benefits both of them.)

Interesting Fact - Work

According to a survey by recruitment firm Portfolio Payroll, only 1 in 10 workers in the UK is happy with their job.

(Nearly 40% of respondents were looking for a new post while 54%  were considering a move.  
They also found that 70% would leave 'without hesitation' for a pay rise regardless of the job. The reasons for such unhappiness were poor wages, stress and long hours.)

Interesting Fact - Pay

According to research carried out by The Debrett’s Foundation, the gender pay gap begins even before school leavers are offered a permanent job, with boys being paid 32 per cent more than girls.

(On average, boys in an internship received £116.00 while girls take home was just £88.00.

Start as you mean to go on I guess.)

Interesting Fact - Connections

According to research carried out by The Debrett’s Foundation, 7 in 10 young people use family connections to get ahead.

(One in four claimed their peers have a clear advantage if blessed with a double-barrelled surname, one in five felt the type of school they went to counts, and one in six say their accent “really matters”.

I grew up with the saying, "It's not what you know, it's who you know. So it's no surprise to me to see nothing has changed.)

Interesting Fact - Stereotypes

According to a study from Indiana University, gender stereotypes about women's ability in mathematics negatively impacts their performance.

(Mary C. Murphy, assistant professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at IU Bloomington, who oversaw the study said, "It's one of the ways women end up under-represented in science, technology, engineering and math."

If you tell someone they won't do well, you are pretty much planting a seed of negativity that is more than happy to grow.)


26th March

King Richard III will be buried. The ceremony's official title is "Service of Reinterment of the Remains of King Richard III by the grace of God King of England and France and Lord of Ireland."

Interesting Food - Eggs

Experiments carried out at the University of California have shown you can unboil an egg.

(Scientists have figured out how to pull apart the proteins in cooked egg whites, and allow them to refold into their original shape.

I don't really know whether I would want to uncook my breakfast.)


Interesting Fact - Anxiety

Attendees at the National Union of Students Women's Conference were asked not to clap after some delegates reported feeling anxious during audience applause.

(The NUS Women's Campaign tweeted from its official account: "Some delegates are requesting that we move to jazz hands rather than clapping, as it's triggering anxiety. Please be mindful!"

But clapping was not the only behaviour that caused problems for attendees at the Solihull event.

Another delegate claimed that murmuring was "making things inaccessible", leading the NUS to issue an edict banning "chat" and "whooping".

It's lucky I wasn't there, as I am jazzhandaphobic.  Just tell everyone to sit on their hands, and be quiet.  Back to kindergarten.)

Interesting Fact - Babies

According to a study from Washington State University Dutch babies laugh, smile and like to cuddle more than their American counterparts.
(The study found that U.S. infants, were typically more active and vocal, but Dutch babies demonstrated greater expressions of happiness during routine activities and were easier to calm or soothe when upset. The researchers hypothesize that Dutch infants' relatively calm demeanors were due in part to a more regulated sleep schedule and lower intensity activities.

I know which kind of baby I would prefer at 2 in the morning.)

Interesting Fact - Memory

According to research carried out at Saarland University in Germany, a short nap at the office or in school significantly improves recall, they found that a nap 'produces a five-fold improvement in information retrieval from memory'.

(Participants in the study learned 90 single words and 120 unconnected word pairs.  Some students then watched a DVD while others slept.   When they were then retested, those who had slept remembered more word pairs.

I'm just going to close my eyes for a few minutes now.)

Interesting Food - Coffee

According to consumer research company Euromonitor, the Dutch drink the most coffee per person in the world.

(The Netherlands’ are the only country that averages more than 2 cups of coffee per day, with a  per-capita consumption of 2.4 cups a day, which is almost the same as those of the US, UK, Spain, and France combined.

The US, who brag that they run on coffee, doesn’t even crack the top 15.)

Interesting Fact - The Sun

According to the Office of National Statistics, today's solar eclipse, could cost the UK economy £625m.

(With millions of Brits expected to watch the eclipse, FirstCare, the UK’s largest absence monitoring firm, has warned of a 10 per cent increase in absenteeism, and an additional 6 per cent fall in morning staff numbers as workers slack off and pull sickies.

I say go for it.  There won't be another eclipse in the UK until August 2026, so this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.)


20th March

There will be a partial solar eclipse across the UK and Northern Europe. The longest period of darkness - nearly three minutes - will occur over a spot in the Arctic Ocean at 09:46 GMT

In the past an eclipse was a big event too:-

"The great eclipse of the sun in 1764, occasioned the very following ludicrous circumstance in Ireland: The Earl of H-----------; who, like some of our English Nobles, was much better skilled in driving four in hand than in astronomy, was met in Dublin by the facetious George Nangle on the morning of the eclipse:
- 'Where so fast, my Lord?', cried George
- 'To the College', answered the Peer, 'to see the eclipse'
- 'Then you will be disappointed,' replied George, 'for it is absolutely put off till tomorrow!'
His Lordship immediately turned his phaeton round and drove home, while George proclaimed the joke throughout the city, to the infinite mirth of the public, at his Lordship's expense."
- London Pa…

Interesting Fact - Litter

According to the Marine Conservation Society, the number of used wet wipes littering UK beaches has increased by 50% in the last year.

(Rubbish along the coast of the UK rose by 6.4% from 2013 to 2014, and volunteers collected 2,501 bags of rubbish from coastlines, including 273,747 items of litter. That worked out at 2,457 pieces of rubbish per kilometre - up from 2,309 bits per kilometre in 2013.

Discarded items found included a colostomy bag, a plastic hand, a piping gun nozzle, a bra strap and - on one beach alone - nine pairs of shoes!)

Interesting Fact - Exams

Warning all grannies! A student's grandmother is far more likely to die suddenly just before the student takes an exam, than at any other time of year.
(According to a study carried out by Mike Adams, a Professor of Biology at Eastern Connecticut State University, grandmothers are 10 times more likely to die before a midterm, and 19 times more likely to die before a final exam.

Additionally, grandmothers of those students who are not doing well in class are at higher risk: students who are failing are 50 times more likely to lose a grandmother compared with non-failing students.
Ban exams and save a granny!)

Interesting Animal - Birds

Lots of countries like the US, Sweden, France, Latvia, Bhutan, Jamaica, Mexico etc. have a national bird, but the UK doesn't.

(This might be about to change as a famous ornithologist in the UK is asking the British public to vote for an official national bird.

There are 10 contenders:-

The Mute SwanThe WrenThe Blue TitThe PuffinThe KingfisherThe Red KiteThe Barn OwlThe BlackbirdThe Hen HarrierThe RobinThere are a couple of missing contenders - What about the sparrow, the pigeon, the chicken, or the seagull?)

Interesting Food - Bread

According to The Canal & River Trust in the UK, every year, Britons throw 6 million loaves of bread into the waterways, rivers and canals of the UK.

(The reason?  We love feeding the ducks and swans.  
Apart from the waste, there are other problems: Firstly it's not their natural diet, and secondly the bread is damaging Britain's waterways, casing algae, disease and encouraging pests.
The trust is asking people to feed the birds with grapes and peas instead.

I wonder what the birds will make of that.)

Interesting Fact - Love

Scientists from universities in China and New York have pieced together a “love map” of the human brain.

(Using MRI scans they have been able to monitor the physical effects of love, resulting in the first empirical evidence of love-related alterations to the brain. They have found that several areas of the brain show increased activity in people who are in love, including in the parts of the brain linked to reward, motivation, emotion regulation, and the social cognition network.

These results shed light on the “underlying mechanisms of romantic love” and could pave the way for a brain scan that could act as a “love test”.

So the next time someone says, "I love you", you can answer, "Prove it", put on this brain scanner.)


14th March  (3.1415)

9:26:53 am = Pi Second: the date and time will match up with the first 10 digits of pi, 3.141592653.

Interesting Fact - The Phone

According to research carried out by website, 9 out of 10 landline-users in the UK are bombarded by cold calls – despite half of them being ex-directory.
(8 out of 10 mobile phone users suffer too, and two-thirds also blitzed by spam text messages.

One call centre in the UK has been sending out 6 million unsolicited calls a day, even British Gas made 7,000 cold calls to 900 homes over the course of 2012, about 8 calls to each household.

I got one last night from a company conducting "surveys". I just said, politely, but firmly, "No thank you." Hung up, and then blocked that number.)

Interesting Invention - The Starting Gate

Clay Puett was the inventor of the closed electrical starting gate, which premiered on July 1st, 1939.

(To mark the Cheltenham Festival, I tried to find an interesting "racing" fact. A starting gate (aka called a starting barrier or starting stalls) is a machine used to ensure a fair start to a race in horse and dog racing.

Mr Puett died in 1998, but his company still builds them.

The idiom, "First out of the [starting] gate", means someone is the first to do something that others are trying to do. So, I guess he was first out of the gate.)

Interesting Place - Istanbul

A whole community in Istanbul, Turkey learned how to sign as part of a Samsung promotion.

(In order to promote their video call center for people with hearing problems, Samsung got the neighbourhood of Bağcıla to take sign language lessons.

Cameras were rigged up around the area to film unsuspecting Muharrem, who is hearing impaired, and watch him as spend his day without barriers.

His reaction at the end is priceless.)
It's so lovely that I don't care it was done for advertising purposes:-


11th March

National No Smoking Day - Go on, stub it out.

Interesting Fact - Age

Good news for once! Some areas of the brain do not peak until we are in our fifties.

(A published paper in the journal Psychological Science, states that each cognitive skill peaks at a different age.

For example, raw speed in processing information appears to peak around age 18 or 19, then immediately starts to decline.

Short-term memory continues to improve until around age 25, when it levels off and then begins to drop around age 35.

The ability to recognize faces improves until the early 30s before gradually starting to decline,  but the ability to evaluate another person's emotional state peaks in our 40s or 50s.
At 60 we are still learning new vocabulary skills, and between 60 - 70+: our intelligence actually peaks.

I think the main point is, just keep learning, keep on learning, learn, learn learning.)


10th March

National Pack Your Lunch Day - What's in your sandwich?


Interesting Food - Meat

According to the Vegetarian Calculator page on Facebook the average human, who lives to 80, will have eaten 7,000 animals in their lifetime.

(They will have eaten 11 cows, 27 pigs, an amazing 2,400 chickens, 4,500 fish, 80 turkeys, 30 sheep, and if rabbits, ducks, geese, goats, prawns and squid are included, the total of animals eaten rises to around 7,500.

It reminds me of a joke:
Q: What's the difference between roast beef and pea soup?  A: Anyone can roast beef.

Interesting Food - Meals

After being told to eat 3 square meals a day all our lives, experts are now warning us that eating breakfast, lunch and dinner may be damaging our health.

(Abigail Carroll, who wrote 'Three Squares: The Invention of the American Meal', argues that the idea of eating three meals a day is a European invention from the Middle Ages, supposedly more civilised than eating when you're hungry.

Now experts are saying that fasting can be good for your health. Maybe they are just getting us ready for food shortages.)

Interesting Food - Insects

According to the pest control firm Rentokil, around two billion people around the world supplement their daily diet with creepy crawlies.

(The most common insects eaten tend to be meal worms and locusts. 
The thing is that common "pests" in the UK are wasps, mice, rats, bed bugs, cockroaches, fleas and pigeons.
It sounds as if Rentokil are trying to get us to do their work for them.  However, for me, pigeon pie, maybe, but rat fricassee or bed bug gratin?  No, thank you.)
We are talking about this issue on the forum.

Interesting Fact - Health

According to researchers at the University of Derby, smartphones are psychologically addictive, and should come with a health warning.

(47% of respondents spoke positively of improved social relations, but almost a quarter admitted their smartphones create communication issues in “real life”, and the constant use of smartphones to check your online status on social networks etc, is thought to encourage narcissistic tendencies: 35% of the people studied admitted to using their devices in areas or situations when they were banned (eg while driving).  Their justification was that they knew better than the authorities who created the rules.

I guess that's also why some people still drink and drive.  Maybe the two aren't that dissimilar.)


Post by The Learn English Network.


5th March

World Book Day - Get involved.

Interesting Fact - Work

There are an estimated 100 to 150 chick sexers in the UK, but the industry is struggling to recruit trainees.

(It takes up to 3 years to train to be a chick sexer, where you have to learn to spot 'minuscule differences' to determine whether a chick will grow up to be a rooster or a hen.

After training you are expected to be able to sort between 800 and 1,200 day-old old chicks an hour, that's between three and five seconds per chick, achieving an accuracy of around 98 per cent.

Once trained the pay is £40,000 per annum, but an industry spokesperson said "'I think the problem is the job itself. You are spending hours every day staring at the backside of a chick. That is not seen as being attractive."

I guess you could end up being the butt of a few jokes.)

Interesting Fact - Coffee

Coffee used to be blamed for stunting growth and causing all kinds of health problems, from heart disease to cancer.

(Most modern studies find coffee consumption decreases mortality during a normal lifetime, and actually has many health benefits.

However, for some people with a mutation of the CY1A2 gene, which retards the breakdown of caffeine in the body, there is a heart health risk, because the caffeine is metabolized more slowly, and the longer caffeine remains in the blood stream, the greater the potential for harm.

Luckily one cup of coffee wasn't thought to be a problem, so I'll stick to my one a day policy, if I was told I had to give that up, I would have a heart attack.)