Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Coffee Break: Answers

Oops, forgot to schedule the answers on Monday but I'm sure you knew them already. Just in case here they are.....

Technically speaking, an ounce of feathers is lighter than an ounce of gold. This is due to gold being weighed in Troy ounces which are 480 grains compared to the avoirdupois ounce which is 437.5 grains.




Friday, 14 July 2017

Something Strange About The Boy

From the moment they cut the cord Joel was considered 'special' in certain ways. He had 'abilities' of which he was unaware. The adults knew there was something different about the boy. Joel's paternal grandmother bought him a pack of Tarot cards. Before long he was giving readings to an assortment of aunts, and eventually a few uncles. Joel seemed to have a lot of aunts and uncles.

The adults took the readings far more seriously than Joel himself, he just thought it a party trick and never really believed any of what he said. In general he rarely even remembered what he had told during a reading. It was as though it was Joel's alter ego performing the readings and he wasn't privy to that information. The readings were rattled off in a bored monotone, Joel had better things to do at that age. Perhaps that was why he didn't remember them. It wasn't just the cards that led to the special label though. Joel was particularly fond of myths and legends. He always believed them to be true, just distorted over a period of time, similarly to Chinese whispers.

His favourite place to play was among the dunes of a sandy beach, where he could gaze longingly out over the sea. At low tide Joel and his friends would scour the water-line to see what the parting tide left behind. Mermaids purses, cuttlefish-bones, a huge variety of seaweeds, and driftwood of all shapes and sizes. Some small, others whole tree-trunks. There was always something even if it was just the fine powdery sand. He watched it through sunlight as he let it slip between his fingers.

Sand through a microscope

Like his friends, Joel loved slap-stick on the television. There was just the one television though and Joel didn't really get to choose what to watch. His father certainly had no time for the 'custard pie in the face' antics which Joel found particularly funny. It irked a little that the custard seemed to be more like cream, or shaving foam, and it wasn't even a pie, more a flan. This was typical of Joel's train of thought and as with the myths and legends he wanted to know what it was all about. Joel looked up 'Flaneurs' and found they originated in Belgium and were hecklers, the pies were indeed custard and they ate them if they found no reason to throw them at a speaker. "Why do I even need to know these things?!"

By 14 years old Joel hated reading Tarot cards for people, why did they take it so seriously? The last straw was when he overheard two 'aunts' for whom his mother insisted he do readings.
"Everything he said was right" said one.
"Yes" agreed the other "There is something strange about the boy"

Strange and weird became adjectives Joel was all too familiar with as a kid, it was something that would never go away.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Coffee Break #1

Here are a selection of challenges, trivia, and something to listen to. Answers to puzzles will be posted on Monday.

So let's sharpen you up with the age old question 'what is heaviest an ounce of gold or an ounce of feathers?' I suppose many of you will think you know but do you really know?

Below is my own version of sudoku. Just fill in the missing colours making sure lines and blocks of nine do not contain the same colour twice.



Now have a go at my Crossword which is a mixture of clues some cryptic some straight forward,



Across

7. Introduced the west to arabic numerals and the golden ratio (9)
8. A mixture of finely divided solids with enough liquid to produce a pasty mass (5)
10. Strike-breaker joins a poet that covers a sword (8)
11. It's in the eye of the beholder (6)
12. Letter from Tibet and Greece (4)
13. Never look a gift horse in the mouth for example (8)
15. Country known for inventing the neck-tie (7)
17. A town and county of Ireland (7)
20. Illicit inhabitant seen in French toilets (8)
22. Hardly a stroll in the park (4)
25. Anna _____ English novelist best known for Black Beauty (6)
26. Drag it on (8)
27. An arachnid's legs worth of singers (5)
28. Dramatic soliloquy (9)

Down

1. Sounds like this grassy area is familiar to singers and road-workers alike (5)
2. From the middle to the tip can be only a minor flaw (6)
3. One rodent rising with anorak or without; Region of New Zealand (8)
4. The first was Plato's school of Philosophy just north of Athens (7)
5. One could spoil the whole barrel (3-6)
6. Is quick to anger and likely to cry (9)
9. A punt could help (4)
14. How often do you hear this? (9)
16. Roused from sleep (8)
18. Virtual reality or living dead (8)
19. Number 36 in the Periodic Table (7)
21. These bells could cost you (4)
23. For the love of a narcissist (6)
24. Baden Powell started this movement (5)

Words-worth

Tautological Pleonasms

After a while on a blog / Twitter there is a tendency to repeat oneself. I've done it a fair bit but in my defence I'm not the only one. At least I don't repeat myself in the same sentence like these, like these:-


'It looks like a busy weekend on the ferries, particularly Saturday and Sunday - Peter Powell

'It was a sudden and unexpected surprise' - BBC correspondent

'I've said I've never broken the drug laws of my country, and that is the absolute truth' - Bill Clinton

'It's like deja vu all over again' - Yogi Berra

'I never make predictions, especially about the future' - Samuel Goldwyn

The confusion for many is whether the above are examples of tautology or pleonasms. There appears to be a grey area between the two. Tautology to my mind is repetition in different words. A pleonasm is 'redundancy' or unnecessary use of words already implied. Peter Powell's quote could still fall into either category. Bill Clinton's comment 'absolute truth' is clearly tautology whereas I consider Samuel Goldwyn's gem as a pleonasm, as is Yogi Berra's.

The BBC correspondent gives us a different perspective. In general pleonasms and tautology are to be avoided when writing, yet in common speech they abound. As with the BBC correspondent (I'll give him the benefit of the doubt), repetition is often used for emphasis. There are other words used unnecessarily, oddly enough more common in writing than speech. 'But', 'that' and 'which' are the main culprits. When writing I try to limit the number of times I use these. Try omitting these words when you write and see if your sentence still makes sense.


He didn't know that it was gone
He didn't know it was gone

I started to get bored with semantics, at the end of the day who cares what it's called, just stop it! So the devil in me thought of how to repeat myself without actually doing, there are some curious examples of how to achieve this.


The bandage was wound around the wound.

Your invalid insurance is invalid.

The dump was so full it had to refuse more refuse.

After a number of injections my arm got number.

The farm was used to produce produce.

That's all well and good but if you want to get really silly you could take it to the next level with this:-

If one doctor doctors another doctor, does the doctor who doctors the doctor doctor the doctor the way the doctor he is doctoring doctors? Or does he doctor the doctor the way the doctor who doctors doctors?

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Horizons

We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon - Franklin D. Roosevelt


In my time at sea, I spent many an hour on lookout watching horizons. Staring dreamily, I would let my mind wander and there were moments when it seemed to expand. It was almost as though I had an aura proliferating from my body mingling, combining, intertwining..... harmonising, with all the eye can see. Scale was lost as I became the sky and the sky me. It was an odd but reassuring feeling, one of belonging, almost importance. I, little ole me, was part of this magnificent machination. My pneuma roamed free and I no longer felt alone. How could I feel lonely when I was part of this?

This was particularly true at night when darkness filtered out unnecessary visual distractions and put emphasis on celestial bodies dotted around the sky. The onset of night was a treat in itself, never are night and day so beautiful as when they meet to hand over the reins, they compliment each other. I have watched the sun rise from the top of a mountain, A six hour drive, a two hour trek, and a four hour climb in darkness, for a few seconds of pure liquid gold as the sun rewarded my efforts and signalled a new day. Dawn on a mountain is special but for dusk I preferred an open ocean.

Sunsets anywhere can be awe-inspiring but I was more fascinated with a somewhat less spectacular phenomenon I've only seen at sea. It was a small green flash as the sun dipped below the horizon. A goodnight wink from the sun as twilight finally succumbed to darkness.


We steamed through the nights, unerringly heading for the elusive horizon, like a donkey chasing a carrot on a stick. It never occurred to me back then the horizon was unattainable, just something we followed to get to a destination. The horizon isn't a constant, it is like a rainbow's end. You can never get there. Instead of chasing the pot of gold we should concentrate more on the journey, that alone determines who we are. On many a dark stormy night with thick black clouds blocking the celestial beacons, the horizon was invisible. It was then a case of lowering sights and concentrating on maintaining direction.

Stormy nights could be disconcerting but thick fog was eerie. Sound and depth of vision are mysterious as they chop and change in a heartbeat. Every sense is alive, alert to danger. The hairs on your neck stand on end as your eyes become useless and you strain every other sensory organ to compensate. You can't see an end to the fog and start to believe it will be with you always. Then without warning it lifts, clarity ensues, and your horizons broaden once more.