Saturday, 31 October 2009


Halloween is an annual holiday celebrated on 31 October. It has roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Christian holy day of All Saints. It is largely a secular celebration but some have expressed strong feelings about perceived religious overtones.

The day is often associated with the colours black and orange, ad is strongly associated with symbols like jack-o-lantern. Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, wearing costumes and attending costume parties, ghost tours, bonfires, visiting haunted attractions, pranks, telling scary stories and watching horror films.

Halloween has origins in the ancient festival known as Samhain (pronounced sow-in), which is derived from Old Irish and means roughly 'summers end'. This was a Gaelic festival celebrated mainly in Ireland and Scotland, though the ancient Britons held similar festivals. The celebration has some elements of a festival of the dead. The ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the next became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. It is believed the wearing of costumes and masks was to ward off evil spirits. Samhain was also a time to take stock of food supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. Bonfires played a large part in the festivities. All other fires were doused and each home lit their hearth from the bonfire. The bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames. Sometimes two bonfires would be built side-by-side, and people and their livestock would walk between them as a cleansing ritual.
The term Halloween, originally spelled Hallowe'en, is shortened from All Hallows' Even - e'en is a shortening of even, which is a shortening of evening. This is ultimately derived from Old English but is now known a 'Eve of' All Saints' Day, which is 1 November. In the 800s, the Church measured the day as starting at sunset, in accordance with the Florentine calendar. Although All Saint's Day is now considered to occur one day after Halloween, the two holidays were once celebrated on the same day.

On All Hallows' eve, many Irish and Scottish people have traditionally placed a candle on their western window sill to honour the departed. Other traditions include carving lanterns from turnips or rutabagas, sometimes with faces on them, as is done in the modern tradition of carving pumpkins.

The name jack-o'-lantern can be traced back to the Irish legend of Stingy Jack, a greedy, gambling, hard drinking old farmer. He tricked the devil into climbing a tree and trapped him by carving a cross into the tree trunk. In revenge, the devil placed a curse on Jack,
condemning him to forever wander the earth at night with the only light he had: a candle inside of a hollowed turnip. The carving of pumpkins is associated with Halloween in North America where pumpkins are both readily available and much larger - making them easier to carve than turnips.

The imagery surrounding Halloween is largely a mix of the Halloween season, works of Gothic and horror literature, in particular Frankenstein and Dracula, and tends to involve death, evil, the occult, magic, or mythical monsters. Traditional characters include the Devil, the Grim Reaper,, ghosts, ghouls, demons, witches, goblins, vampires, werewolves, zombies, skeletons, black cats, spiders, bats and crows.

Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Halloween costumes are traditionally those of monsters such as ghosts, witches and devils. They are said to be used to scare off demons.There are several games traditionally associated with Halloween parties. One common game is dunking or apple bobbin. Another common game involves hanging up treacle or syrup-coated scones by strings, these have to be eaten without using hands, while they remain attached to the string. An Irish and Scottish tradition is to carve an apple in one long strip, then toss the peel over one's shoulder. The peel is believed to land in the shape of the first letter of the future spouse's name. Unmarried women were told that if they sat in a darkened room and gazed into a mirror on Halloween night, the face of their future husband would appear in the mirror.
Pictured right: In this Halloween greeting card from 1904, divination is depicted: the young woman looking into a mirror in a darkened room hopes to catch a glimpse of the face of her future husband.


Did You Know?

In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.
If the population of China walked past you, 8 abreast, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.
Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.
Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.
Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.
The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing


Today we have a really clever brainteaser puzzle for you to solve. Get this right and you will certainly go right to the top of the class. Try and work it out over a nice cup of coffee!

Seven words. What do they have in common?

01 Banana
02 Dresser
03 Grammar
04 Potato
05 Revive
06 Uneven
07 Assess
No, it is not that they all have at least 2 double letters, nor is it about the vowel arrangements, tempting though they are at first glance.

Today's Smile

Friday, 30 October 2009

Looking Back - Mother Jailed In Dingo Baby Murder

On this day in 1982, Lindy Chamberlain was found guilty of the murder of her nine-week-old daughter after a jury dismissed her claim that a dingo took the baby.
The court was told that she cut the baby's throat and disposed of the body whilst at a campsite near Ayers Rock.
Mrs Chamberlain, who was expecting her fourth child would now start her mandatory life term with hard labour after being sentenced in Melbourne, Australia.
Her husband Michael Chamberlain, was found guilty of being an accessory to the murder of baby Azaria, but had not yet been sentenced.
Azaria Chamberlain went missing from the campsite in 1980. Her body has never been recovered but her bloodstained clothes were found and formed the main part of the investigation.
In an earlier inquest the judge accepted the Chamberlain's claim that a dingo had taken their baby but further investigation by British pathologists showed the wounds, indicated by bloodstains on the baby's clothes, could not have been caused by a dingo and a second investigation was started.
Australian experts disagreed with the findings and claimed that assertions Azaria's throat had been cut were completely unfounded.
During the seven-week trial the jurors were taken to the Ayers Rock site. Among questions raised was the possibility that a dingo's jaw would not be strong enough to carry off a baby.
The case took the country by storm and became known as 'Australia's murder trial of the century'. It was expected to end with an acquittal and it was thought there then would appeal.
Four years later on 2 February, a matinee jacket worn by Azaria was found partially buried in a dingo's lair at Ayers Rock - this seemed to back up Lindy Chamberlain's version of events.
She was released five days later. The Northern Territory government said it was because she had "suffered enough".
In September 1988 judges in Darwin pardoned the Chamberlains. Another inquest in 1995 returned an open verdict. The body of Azaria has never been found.

Ghetto Chicks

The Loving Husband

A man had two of the best tickets for the FA Cup Final but sits alone. As he sits down in one of the two reserved seats, another man comes along and asks if anyone is sitting in the seat next to him.
"No, he says, "the seat is empty."
"This is incredible!" said the man, "Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the FA Cup Final, the biggest sporting event of the year, and not use it?"
He says, "Well, actually, the seat belongs to me. My wife was supposed to come with me, but she passed away. This is the first Cup Final we haven't been to together since we got married."
"Oh ..... I'm sorry to hear that. That's terrible. I guess you couldn't find someone else, a friend or relative or even a neighbour to take the seat?"
The man shakes his head ..... "No. They're all at the funeral."

A Once In A Lifetime Opportunity

These animals were photographed just north of the Wisconsin border on a highway near Marenisco, MI. Once in a while there is an opportunity to take in a piece of nature that you may never see. In these says of unrest and turmoil it is good to see that God still produces some wondrous beayty.
The odds of seeing an albino moose are astrnomical and to see this in the upper peninsula of Michigan, near Wisconsin is even greater than astrnomical.
To see two of them togther is nearly impossible.
Enjoy these pictures of a lifetime, you will probably never have a chance to see this rare sight again!!!

Funny Signs

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Warren Buffett

One evening, earlier this week, a television programme came on in which I became absorbed. The subject of the programme was Warren Edward Buffett (pictured right). I had not previously been aware of Warren Buffett, but it turned out that in 2007, he was listed among Times 100 Most Influential People in the world, furthermore, in 2008 he was ranked by Forbes as the richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of approximately $62 billion.
Buffett is also a notable philanthropist, having pledged to give away 85% of his fortune to the Gates Foundation.
Buffett is often called the "Oracle of Omaha" or the "Sage Of Omaha and is noted for his adherence to the value investing philosophy and for his personal frugality despite his immense wealth.
Warren Buffett was born, 30 August, 1930 in Omaha, Nebraska, the only son of Howard Buffett and second of three children. He worked at his grandfather's grocery store. In 1943, Buffett filed his first income tax return, deducting his bicycle and his watch as a work expense for $35 for his work as newspaper delivery boy. After his father was elected to Congress, Buffett was educated at Woodrow Wilson High School, Washington DC. In 1945, in his freshman year of high school, Buffett and a friend spent $25 to purchase a used pinball machine, which they placed in a barber shop. Within months they owned three machines in different locations.
Buffett first enrolled at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, 1947-49. In 1950 he transferred to the University of Nebraska, where he received a B.S. in Economics.
Throughout the 1950s Buffett worked as an Investment Salesman, as a Securities Analyst and from 1956-1969 at Buffett Partnership Ltd, Omaha as a General Partner and from 1970 to the Present at Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
In 1953 Buffett married Susan Thompson and together they had three children Susan Alice. Howard Graham and Peter Andrew.
In 1957, Buffett had three partnerships operating the entire year. He purchased a five-bedroom stucco house in Omaha, where he still lives, for $31,500 . In 1959. Buffett had six partnerships operating and at this time he was introduced to Charlie Munger who is still today his partner and great friend. His empire continued to grow and in 1962, Buffett became a millionaire. In 1962 Buffett bought Berkshire Hathaway for well below the companies true valuation.
Despite his enormous earnings Buffett lived solely on his salary of $50,000 per year, and his outside investment income.
In 2006, Buffett announced in June that he gradually would give away 85% of his Berkshire holdings to five foundations in annual gifts of stock, starting in July 2006. The largest contribution would go to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
In 2008, Buffett became the richest man in the world dethroning Bill Gates (Microsoft), worth $62 billion according to Forbes and $58 billion according to Yahoo. Bill Gates had been number one on the Forbes list for 13 consecutive years. However, at 11 March 2009, Bill Gates regained number one of the list according to Forbes magazine, with Buffett second. Their values had dropped to $40 billion and $37 billion respectively, Buffett having (according to Forbes) lost $25 billion in 12 months during 2008/2009.
After many years living apart, Buffett's wife Susan died in 2004, her closest friend Astrid Menks had cared for Buffet during the years of their living apart and subsequently Buffett and Menks married in 2006.
Despite his huge wealth Warren Buffett continues to live a relatively frugal lifestyle. He still lives in his original house, his offices are far from ostentatious, his 'wine cabinet' in his personal office is a fridge filled with cans of coca cola, and he dines out every day in the local Diner on T-bone steak and fries.
The most telling statement he made during the programme was "I have never used a computer or a calculator in my life."

The Golden Years

Worlds Worst Jokes

I bought a train ticket to France and the ticket seller said, "Eurostar" I said, Well I've been on telly but I'm no Dean Martin."
I phoned the local gym and I asked if they could teach me how to do the splits. He said, "How flexible are you?" I said, "I can't make Tuesdays or Thursdays."
I went to the local video shop and I said, "Can I borrow Batman Forever?" He said, "No, you'll have to bring it back on Monday."
A waiter asks a man, "May I take your order, sir?" "Yes", the man replies. "I'm just wondering, exactly how do you prepare your chickens?" "Nothing special, sir. We just tell them straight out that they're going to die.

Did You Know?

A 'jiffy' is an actual unit of time for 1/1000 of a second.
A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.
A snail can sleep for three years. (I know some people that could do this too)!
An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain. (I know some people like that also)!
Almonds are a member of the peach family.
Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until the child reaches 2 to 6 years of age.
February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.

Brainteaser - Wednesday's Answer

Yesterday's brainteaser was a set of ten 'Trivia' questions. The answers to which can be found below:

01 Hieroglyphics.
02 The Horse.
03 Jazz.
04 A kind of flower.
05 The cockerel.
06 Mt. Kilimanjaro.
07 Dublin.
08 Botany.
09 Nitrogen.
10 Ligaments

9/10 Excellent 7/8 Very Good 5/6 Good - Below 5 Never mind there's always retraining!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Looking Back - Cuban Missile Crisis Ends

On this day 1n 1962, the world breathed a collective sigh of relief after the superpowers reached an agreement ending the immediate threat of nuclear war.
Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev agreed to dismantle all Russian missiles based in Cuba and ship them back to the Soviet Union.
The announcement was made in a public message to President John F Kennedy (pictured) broadcast on Moscow Radio.
In response, President Kennedy said the decision to remove the Cuban missiles was an "important contribution to peace". He has also promised the US will not invade Cuba and will eventually lift the US naval blockade imposed on the island. The blockade will continue until effective UN inspection ensures that the missiles in Cuba have been dismantled.
The crisis began on 14 October after a U-2 reconnaissance plane revealed the existence of several nuclear missiles based on the Caribbean island capable of reaching the US.
A week earlier , President Kennedy made an address to the nation denouncing the Soviet actions. He declared a naval blockade on Cuba and threatened the USSR itself with attack if any Cuban missile were launched against the USA.
Since then the world has been on tenterhooks wondering which superpower would back down first, desperately hoping this was not the beginning of a nuclear World War III.
Four days before the announcement, faced with a huge US fleet including eight aircraft carriers that had formed an arc 500 miles (800km) from the eastern tip of Cuba, Soviet vessels approaching the island turned back.
The British Foreign Secretary the Earl of Home welcomed Khrushchev's decision to dismantle the weapons in Cuba and praised President Kennedy's diplomatic skills. China has expressed anger at the Soviet climb-down and said it will support Cuba "through thick and thin".
As part of the settlement Cuba's president Fidel Castro, angered that he was not consulted on the agreement, ordered all Americans off the American base at Guantanamo used by US military for 60 years.
The US ended its blockade on 20 November 1962, the Soviets removed their nuclear weapons by the end of the year and, as part of the agreement, US missiles in Turkey were withdrawn in 1963. A hot line between the USA and USSR was set up to prevent such a crisis happening again.

A Royal Trip Down Memory Lane

Presidents and Prime Ministers come and go, but The Queen continues to reign, as she has done for more than 56 years, since the 2 June 1953. Take a Royal trip down memory lane with these pictures of Her Majesty. See how many other faces you recognize in the pictures:

Dementia Quiz

Dementia Quiz

Below are four (4) questions and a Bonus question to test your perception, reasoning and the quickness of your logical processing.

They are stated simply so you should try to answer them instantly.

To assure the accuracy of the results, you should not take your time, but instead, answer each of them immediately.

OK? Lets find out just how clever you really are .....

Ready? GO!!! (scroll down slowly to uncover Questions then check your Answers at the end).

First Question:

You are a participant in a race. You overtake the second person. What position are you in?

Now answer the second question, but don't take as much time as you took for the first question. OK?

Second Question:
If you overtake the last person, then you are .....?

Third Question:
Very tricky arithmetic! Note: This must be done in your head only. Do not use paper and pencil or a calculator.

Take 1000 and add 40 to it. Now add another 1000. Now add 30. Add another 1000. Now add 20. Now add another 1000. Now add 10. What is the total?

Fourth Question:

Mary's father has five daughters: 1 Nana, 2 Nene 3 Nini 4 Nono and ??? What is the name of the fifth daughter?

Okay, now the Bonus round, this might be a chance to redeem yourself:

A mute person goes into a shop and wants to buy a toothbrush. By imitating the action of brushing his teeth he successfully expresses himself to the shopkeeper and the purchase is done. Next, a blind man comes into the shop who wants to buy a pair of sunglasses; how does HE indicate what he wants?
Now scroll down to check your answers:

Answer to first question:
If you answered that you are first, then you are absolutely wrong! If you overtake the second person and you take his place. You are in second place!
Answer to second question:
If you answered that you are second to last, then you are wrong. Tell me sunshine, how can you overtake the last person???
Answer to third question:
Did you get 5000. The correct answer is actually 4100 ..... If you don't believe it, check it with a calculator!
Answer to fourth question:
Did you answer Nunu? No! Of course it isn't. Her name is Mary! Read the question again!
Answer to Bonus question:
It's really very simple. He opens his mouth and asks for it .....



Today we offer you another chance to test your general knowledge in our 'Trivia' quiz. Ten questions requiring ten answers. Simple! Or is it ....see what you think:

01 What system of writing survives on Egyptian monuments?
02 The croup, the hook, the stifle and the gaskin are the names of parts of the body of a four-legged animal. Which one?
03 What type of music did Louis Armstrong play?
04 What is a primula?
05 The lion is the symbol of England. What is the symbol of France?
06 What is the highest point on the African continent?
07 What is the capital of the Irish Republic?
08 What is the scientific study of plants called?
09 What mineral is put into the ground by lightning?
10 What are bones held together with?

Best of luck with the above questions!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Looking Back - Hunt For Missing Atomic Scientist

On this day in 1950, the British Intelligence Service MI5 were brought into the hunt for the missing atomic scientist Bruno Pontecorvo who has not been seen for about seven weeks.

Professor Pontecorvo and his family arrived in Finland at the beginning of September but they later disappeared. There was speculation the family may had gone to the Soviet Union. The professor had recently left his post as a principal scientific officer at Harwell atomic research station in Oxfordshire and was due to begin a new job at Liverpool University in January. His disappearance came just 10 months after another Harwell scientist, Klaus Fuchs, confessed in January to spying for the Soviet Union.

The Minister of Supply, George Strauss, had told MPs the professor had had only limited access to 'secret subjects' for some time. But he admitted it would have been possible for the professor to gather information, at Harwell or while he was in Canada which could be of value to the enemy. He said Professor Pontecorvo had been screened several times in the last few years by security officers.

Professor Pontecorvo was born in Italy, moved to France in 1936 and from there to the United States in 1940. In 1943 he became a member of the joint Anglo-Canadian atomic energy team at Montreal. He was posted to Harwell in January 1947.

Information on Professor Pontecorvo's disappearance has been passed to the United States. The professor's sister, Anna Pontecorvo, who lives in Hampstead in North London, travelled with her brother, his wife and three sons to France and Italy in July. She said her brother had not mentioned any plans to go to Russia during the time she spent with them. However, a passenger in the airliner which took the family from Stockholm to Helsinki said that during the flight the Pontecorvos' five-year-old son Antonio had told him they were going to Russia.

Confirmation he had fled to Moscow came in March 1955 when he appeared at a news conference in Russia.

Documents released by the Public Records Office under the 50 year rule revealed an administrative blunder had led to Professor Pontecorvo being given security clearance to work at Harwell - even though a search of his home in 1943 had uncovered many documents on communism.
He was awarded the Lenin Prize for nuclear research in 1963. He died in 1993

The Golden Years

Who Am I? - Yesterday's Answer

The answer to Monday's
Who Am I? puzzle
Paul Merton

Westminster Bridge, London

At noon, a strange phenomenon happens when sunlight passes through the balustrade of the bridge, forming a small army of ..... well ..... see for yourself!

Thought For Today

And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.
Abraham Lincoln

Monday, 26 October 2009

Trivial Pursuit

It was the board game Time magazine called 'the biggest phenomenon in game history. "Trivial Pursuit was first conceived on 15 December, 1979, by Chris Haney and Scott Abbott. At the time, Chris Haney worked as a photo editor at the Montreal Gazette, and Scott Abbott was a sports journalist for The Canadian Press. The two friends came up with the basic concept of Trivial Pursuit within a few short hours. However, it was until 1981 that the board game was commercially released .On 10 November, 1981, 'Trivial Pursuit' was trademark registered. The same month, one thousand and a hundred copies of Trivial Pursuit were first published in Canada. Haney and Abbott had taken on two more business partners (Ed Werner, corporate lawyer and John Haney, Chris' brother) since 1979 to form the Horn Abbott company, and had raised their initial funding by selling five shares in the company for as little as $1,000. Eighteen-year-old artist, Michael Wurstlin agreed to create the final artwork for Trivial Pursuit in exchange for his five shares.
The first copies of Trivial Pursuit were sold at a loss, the manufacturing costs for the first copies came to seventy-five dollars per game and the game was sold to retailers for fifteen dollars. Trivial Pursuit was licenced to Selchow and Righter a major U.S. game manufacturer and distributor in 1983. The manufacturers financed a successful public relations effort and Trivial Pursuit became a household name.
In December 1993, Trivial Pursuit was named to the 'Games Hall of Fame' by Games magazine.

The Government Cat

The Four Cats!

Four men were bragging about how smart their cats were.The first man was an Engineer, the second man was an Accountant, the third man was a Chemist and the fourth man was a Government employee.

To show off, the Engineer called his cat, "T-square, do your stuff." T-square pranced over to the desk, took out some paper and a pen and promptly drew a circle, a square and a triangle.

Everyone agreed that was pretty smart.

But the Accountant said his cat could do better. He called his cat and said, "Spreadsheet, do your stuff." Spreadsheet went out to the kitchen and returned with a dozen cookies. He divided them into 4 equal piles of 3 cookies.
Everyone agreed that was good.

But the chemist said his cat do better. He called his cat and said, "Measure, do your stuff." Measure got up, walked to the fridge, took out a quart of milk, got a 10 ounce glass from the cupboard and poured exactly 8 ounces into the glass without spilling a drop.

Everyone agreed that was pretty good.

Then the three men turned to Government employee and said, "What can your cat do?" The Government employee called his cat and said, "CoffeeBreak, do your stuff." CoffeeBreak jumped to his feet .....

ate the cookies .....

drank the milk .....

pooped on the paper .....

screwed the other three cats .....and
claimed he injured his back whilst doing so .....

filed a grievance report for unsafe working conditions .....

put in for workers compensation .....and

went home for the rest of the day on sick leave .....

Worlds Worst Jokes

I phoned the local builders today, I said to them "Can I have a skip outside my house?" He said, "I'm not stopping you!"
This cowboy walks into a German car showroom and says "Audi!"
I fancied a game of darts with my mate. He said, "Nearest the bull goes first" He went "Baah" and I went "Moo". He said, "You're closest."
I was driving up the motorway and my boss phoned me and he told me I'd been promoted. I was so shocked I swerved the car. He phoned me again to say I'd been promoted even higher and I swerved again. He then made me managing director and I went right off into a tree. The police came and asked me what had happened. I said, "I careered off the road."
I visited the offices of the RSPCA today. It's tiny: you couldn't swing a cat in there.
I was stealing things in the supermarket today while balanced on the shoulders of two vampires. I was charged with shoplifting on two counts.

Today's Smile+