Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Beer with someone from History : Jonny Stensby

Jonny has done one with Adam and Eve and Nostradamus.
Pop around and read. This post appeals to my sense of humour.
How about some more contributions!! Anybody, just do it, let me know so we can all share.
I don't want to tag people. Give it a go.

Business as Usual

The short vacation is something of the past. Good stuff.
I returned to find that someone, the who cannot be determined, had fiddled around with my computer, and I had to get the IT people to take it away for intensive care at their workshop. Bottom line is I am still seriously pissed off and am using a "pool" computer that must have been one of the two Noah had in the ark.
I was away for about a week and when I logged in I immediately went to see what had happened to my ratings. Dropped from 197 to 350 something on Amatomu. Goes to show, if you don't read or post, nothing happens. Poor statement, things do happen, but not positive things. Anyhow, will work on that, I was having my best month ever and was heading for 2000 hits, (Chicken feed to most sites,I know, but for me a milestone), and came shy of a couple of hundred
A while ago we went off to Hermanus to look for whales and found nothing. That is how it works. This time we went to L'Aghulas expecting nothing and had whales doing their thing 300 metres from the house where we were staying. Could not have placed an order for any better.
I have had my fix of Lighthouse and shipwreck history that will keep me happy for a while.
Did I miss posting stuff? Yes.
Did I have withdrawal symptom's? First two days....yes.
Anyhow, things need to be done, like finding the Rsole that screwed up my computer.
First Xmas stuff in the shops, countdown in days has started.
Halloween? This now becoming a South African thing as well?

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

A Couple of days leave.

Our season starts in a weeks time, 18 hours a day 24/7 for 6 months.
Stress, bad language, irritable, tired, aggression are all on the menu.
So, I am off until next week to Cape L'Aghulas for a few days of peace and quiet. This image is as close as dammit to where we will be staying, the most southern point of africa.

Lady Godiva : Butt naked on a Horse

One of those "where does that come from?" stuff.
As is often the case there is doubt as to what is fact, fiction or faction. Without splitting hairs this is the story.
Godiva was married to the Earl of Mercia and they founded a Monastery at Coventry round about 1050 AD. She wanted to relieve their subjects of the burden of heavy taxes, and her hubby could do that. But, despite her continual requests, prayers and most probably continual nagging he, the Earl, would not give in. After a while her continual requests irritated him so much that he said " Mount your horse and ride naked, before all the people, through the market of this town. and I will grant you your request". Given the times before streaking, this was unthinkable. But, Lady Godiva had another idea. She passed a decree that forbade any of the subjects to be out of doors, or to look out of the windows at a given time. Naked she jumped up onto a horse and covered the most private parts of her anatomy with her long hair. Escorted by two knights she did justice to the occasion and hubby was forced to reduce horse tax.
Now, it would appear as though one of her subjects, a certain Tom, bored a hole in the wall of his home, and had a good peep while she trotted by. Legend has it Tom was either struck blind or dead, and this is where "A Peeping Tom" comes from.
The End
Image from Wikipedia)

What is this?

In the past I have posted images and asked for captions/comments with dismal results. Despite that, I am doing it again.
Give it a go..........

Beer with someone from History : Carol

Carol from My View of It has done the beer thing. Somehow I knew George Bush would be on the list, and Plato does not suprise me at all.
Read it at My view of it.
A couple of weeks ago I was meandering around one of her other sites and tripped over a post on legislation applicable to Bloggers, specifically in the USA, but, in essence, this post is applicable to all of us. When I started this site "legal stuff" was not part of my terms of reference, "just do it" kind of approach. This post is a must read if your legal knowledge is/was as limited as mine. It is easy to read and makes sense.
Read it at My Reviews and Finds
Thanks Carol.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Beer with someone from History : Marloes

Marloes of Double Dutch has joined in and you can read her post at Marloes.
While reading, I wondered where the term Double Dutch originated from. So I went off digging and came up with the following. (As with most expressions, idioms etc, there are a number of explanations.)
The most popular definition is of English origin meaning "something incomphrehensible", I could not find anything incomprehensible at Double Dutch though.
The Second reference is to a skipping game "a game of jump rope in which players jump over two ropes swung in a crisscross formation by two turners", as per Wikipedia. By all accounts this is a difficult exercise.
The third reference I could find is to a brand of Lager available in the United Kingdom. (I would like to know more abouth this one)
And, a final reference is to the usage of a condom with the pill.
Also, while wondering around looking this up, the "The Flying Dutchman" story popped up. This is the story of a ghost ship still sailing around in Cape waters. That is another story for another time.

Levels of Conversation

My Significant Other (MSO) had four of her friends around a while ago. If I can remember correctly it was her birthday. Anyhow, as the only male around, my job was to be nice, make sure that the snacks were always above the half-full level, fetch and carry drinks, contain my irritation and desist from being rude regarding mobile phone use.
No possibility of disappearing to a male heaven, all part of a deal, that I will not go into.
I can do all of that.
Now, on a point of clarification, these 5, good friends for many years, had not been in one room, together, for a long, long time.
NEVER before have I witnessed five good friends holding six conversations, at once, and having a good time. There was a stage, and I had a double take to make sure I was not hallucinating; each person was talking about her own thing. From where I was standing, as an outsider, this was ridiculous. A gaggle of babbles. I made the mistake of “chipping in” and asking if any of them knew what was being said. Immediately there was a stunned silence, and then I was told in no uncertain terms that each one of them knew exactly what was being said by each person present. Somehow I believe them….
Reminds me of a wise man who classified conversations into three kinds. The first and lowest level of conversation is where people only talk about other people. For want of a better definition a “ gossiping orgy”.
The second level is a conversation where “happenings” are discussed. Example, what was on the news or in the papers.
The third level is where ideas are discussed.
Each conversation in reality can consist of all 3 levels, but the dominant level will give an indication as to the overall level of the discussion.
That Guru should have been present at this table.
Edit: 15 october 2008
Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.
Quote that I found today, attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt.

Rugby: World Cup Final



Saturday, 20 October 2007

Cats: Be what you want to be

This image I like.
On the way to work this morning I popped into Pick n Pay. Rugby fever is everywhere. Green and Gold clothing, flags on cars, even a dog dressed up in Springbok colours. I have witnessed a number of rugby cup finals, and this one has the most public support ever.
Win or lose, it is going to be a great game. Roll on 9pm.


Friday, 19 October 2007

Crazy Kids: Slide

This reminds me of stuff I was forced to do as a youngster, under duress. Not going to go there now....

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Red light district, origin and meaning

I don’t think one has to say anything about the meaning, it is the origin that I found interesting. As with most expressions there is more than one possible source.
The color red and prostitution dates back to biblical times. A prostitute in Jericho identified her house with a red piece of material or rope so that her house could be identified by spies as a safe haven. (Rahab). But this is in a different context.
One most often cited origin is from the United States circa 1900. Railway workers had red lanterns. And when visiting a brothel the lantern would be placed at the door. Either to signify that the particular lady was busy, or as a reference as to where the gentlemen could be found in a case of emergency.
In Japan a red-light district is known as akasen, which means a red line. This is in reference to a red line drawn by authorities on a map to indicate a legal brothel area. A blue line indicated a non legal area. I could not determine how old this practice is.
In ancient china red paper lanterns were reportedly used to indicate brothels. This is the oldest reference I could find.
Somewhere I read that red is a colour associated with passion, I don’t know if this is true, the most common interpretation is anger.
That’s it…..

Beer with someone from history. (Continued)

Five people have either been coerced or volunteered into writing a post on this topic.
JD has done justice to the occasion.
Other contributions on their way:-
David Alexander
I will post those done on the sidebar so we can all read them
Please, this is not a by invitation, if it appeals to, just do it.
Just let me know so we can all share in your endeavour.
The image is of a beer accident in Russia, enough there to go around.
(I have already received a snide remark about a thinly disguised attempt to increase traffic to this site. THIS IS NOT MY INTENTION, I am happy with my hits, and will not refer to this nonsense again)
History defined as someone no longer with us, ie dead
Can be one or multiple persons
If a post has been done on someone, does not mean he cannot be "visited" again.

Rugby World Cup Final: England And South Africa

The final of the rugby World Cup is to be decided on Saturday evening.
The first thing on my mind is what will the score be. The "pool" at the local pub has steadily increased to just shy of 10 Grand. That is a lot of money. I have 4 scores to play, and the result must be an exact match. I have no shortage of help with the scores from by more "informed" colleagues and friends, but I am not going to share 10G's with anybody, being the selfish Rsole I am. All said and done I am going to split my scores both ways for a win. Patriotism is good but 10G's is also good.
We will be off to our favourite watering hole for a spit braai before the game. Then the game, and we will all become delinquent adults.
Percy Montgomery will be playing and my Significant Other will have jelly knees again. Go for it Percy, no matter what, The Significant Other has already voted you Man of the Match.

Reminds me of a joke running around.
The Seven dwarfs were working in a mine.
Snow White took them their lunch.
"Hellooo" she shouted down the mine.
No Answer.
She was concerned, maybe something bad had happened.
Who is going to win the world cup? she shouts
" England" is the muffled reply from below.
Thank heavens, thinks Snow White, Dopey is still alive.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

People from History I would like to have a Beer with.

People from history I would like to have a few beers with and sort out a couple of questions:
Julius Caesar. He would be my first choice. He was known not to be a heavy drinker, but I am sure he would be partial to a good bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. The conversation would include a discussion on the Rubicon fiasco, which ultimately lead to his demise. I would also want to know if he really said “e tu Brute” when stabbed by Brutus, or did Shakespeare think that one up. Clarification on whether flush toilets were invented yet and the protocols and requirements for a good Roman orgy, would be discussed in detail.

Albert Einstein. High on the list. If I was able to communicate with him I would like to know if he could change a light bulb or button up his shirt properly. What would his comments be on the Climate Change scenario? What would he see as the next level of weapons of mass destruction? Also a bottle of wine for this occasion, a good Grand Crux.

Napoleon would also be on the list. A bottle of brandy would most probably be appropriate. First thing I would ask is why his hand was always tucked in under his shirt. Serious indigestion? (Would check out to see if he was really as short as they say). Did he really say “not tonight Josephine”, as viagra had not been discovered?, or is that why his hand was always under his jacket?

Leonardo da Vinci. A must. Red Bull and Vodka to get the conversation going. Who the hell was Mona Lisa, was she real? (That painting is priceless, best valuation I could get on the Net was 175 million US).
Did aliens help him with his inventions? If he had battery or an internal combustion engine what else would he have invented.

Sigmund Freud. This would not be a friendly conversation. A bottle of plonk, no hard tack here, he would most probably run off and tell his Mom. I would explain to him that he made my life hell. My X majored in Psychology and his theories were rammed down my throat every time we had an argument, and there were many. I had no desire to have my father killed, and I loved my mother as any son does. And by the way, Oedipus, did not have any of the emotions as defined in your theory.

Christopher Columbus. A bottle of Rum, a good one. This would be a long conversation. Who was he? Nobody really seems to know. More books written about whom he was not that who he was. Did he really believe he had found the East?

Duty calls, there are a few more, but they will have to wait

If you could have a beer with someone from history, who would it be?

If you could have a beer with someone from history, who would it be? I did a post like that yesterday and I enjoyed it. However, The post should have been one person only, and with more substance. Now, what am I getting to…?
I am going to request, bully, threaten and/or beg three people to write a post on exactly that. A post on what you would discuss with someone from history.
Just the one post, no obligations, no follow ups, no linking, no tagging, just for fun.
The three that are on my list are.
Jonny Stensby – (If he is not wandering about on the high seas)
Marloes – (I know this will be a good one) Happy birthday Marloes!
Carol – (I would like to be a fly on the wall at this meeting)
Over a beer, tea, in a court, serious, funny, whatever, let the right brain out of the box.
If this works I will pressgang another three. (I have them in mind)
On a point of clarification, I am not soliciting for hits here, that is not the point.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Hand Art

This is really good stuff.
Originally found them at JD
with another bunch at
If this appeals to you, go have a look at the whole range.
Good Stuff

Climate Change and Malthus

Blog Action Day (15th) has come and passed. I have been around and read a lot of them, and I will be reading more. One aspect amazes me. The "passion" is there. The need to do "something" is there, but the who, and what must be done is not defined. Graphic verbal illustrations of what is happening are abundant. But not the solution.
The Inconvenient Truth Theory.
Before I run off at a tangent ...focus ...focus.
Inherent in mostly all serious posts is the distorted global balance between population, resources and production. These are the major variables that resulted in Climate Change, (Global Warming, whatever), and one could argue that these are the variables that need to be addressed to do damage control.
To have an informed insight to Population Growth Theory, one should start at the beginning, and that is Malthus, a Classical Economist of the 1700's. Believe or dismiss his theory, that is each persons own choice, but read it.
Otherwise, come back later, I will post a bit by bit background to his theory over the next few days.
What made me think about this was a post by Kim


Soccer: England and Russia.

Sky News had a news flash on the Moscow Police preparing for spectator violence at a Russian/English soccer game in the near future.
The first thing that came to mind was the similarities between the formation and "weapons" of the riot squad and a unit in the BC Roman army. This will make Julius Caesar proud. Helmets, shields, formation, body armour and batons in place of swords, same difference.
The second thing, somebody is going to bleed. As in serious pain. It would appear as though local Russian "gangs" have teemed up to vent their lust for violence and property destruction against the English supporters, in particular, and the world in general. The proverbial writing is on the wall.( Where did that expression come from?)
I have had more than a passing experience regarding riot control. And this is what this situation will develop into. A full scale riot. All the ingredients are there.
Most "peaceful demonstrations" also end up as a riot of some sort, usually due to criminal/political interference that bears no relationship to the original "cause".
The Russian Police will bear the brunt of the criticism after all is said and done, that is the way of "things".

Monday, 15 October 2007

Cape St Francis Iceberg: Mirage or Hoax?

It would appear as though the Intini entered Mosselbay a few days ago and ducked and dived the media on arrival. There are virtually no weekend newspaper reports covering this issue. So, there is no formal explanation from the Skipper or the crew. There are no photos. The general consensus in the media is that, given that there is no proof, and that the crew will not speak about it, it was either a hoax or a “mirage”.
I find it hard to believe that an experienced Skipper would unnecessarily cause this “situation”, given the gravity of the consequences of the “warning”; surely there is an official body that will follow this up?
Having said that, I had a long conversation at my favourite watering hole on Friday evening with two seasoned yachtsmen, who sail these seas regularly. They are adamant that the sea currents around the coast are such that an Iceberg from down South could not land up off Cape St Francis. They maintain it is a physical impossibility, and get pissed off when one “questions” their explanations.
Only the Skipper and the crew know what they saw, and they are not talking about it.
Maybe later.....

Climate Change and 15 October

15th of October, the day to think about Climate Change and put something to paper. When I saw this “exercise” I immediately backed off. Despite the advantages, the cynic in me did not want to go back to where I have been, and re-hash stuff that has been posted. Then I thought to myself, “could you summarize the entire Climate Change concept as per your perception, in a post short enough so that it could be read without taking a breath?” (Based on my subjective viewpoint that any post that is longer than that will not be read by 90% of visitors). That is a challenge. Here we go….
Stop breathing Now.

We need not wait for Global Climate Change to arrive, it is here, now. No Government, Continent, Organization, Individual or Band in the Park, can, or will stop the exponential increase to the damage to the Planet. Stabilization alone will require a paradigm shift to a negative global economic growth theory (e.g. no air travel), which no Government will support until forced to do so by disasters of biblical proportions. The challenge to our children will be to address and adapt to the “new” planet rather than to protect it. Man may be progressing, but the planet is regressing, and man is dependant on the planet. Mother Earth owes us nothing; she was here long before us.

Resume breathing…..there is still enough oxygen.

Half Assed, the meaning of

When something is done half assed, it is not done properly. Why half an ass? So to have a FULL ASS job done, one must screw it up completely? Use the whole ASS. I have never given this any thought. Half ass is half ass. I never questioned why half an ass would be half of a proper job. I keep seeing half a butt in my mind. (Half ass in the hand is worth two in the bush?)
Here is a possible answer to why something is half ass.
An ADZE is a woodworking tool that has been used for thousands of years. It is used to “finish” the surface of timber. So if you ordered a product from timber that was only finished on one side properly, as in the visible side, it was done half adzed. Full adze would be both sides. No need to do extra work or pay for something you will not see.
Over the years this evolved into half assed.
Also a mispronunciation of “haphazard” they say, but I cannot work that one out. ( Haph Assard?)
This is a full ass posting

Son of a Gun, origin and meaning.

Although there are a number of interpretations, there appears to be consensus that this expression is of nautical origin.
The expression is usually used in a derogatory manner when the parentage if a person is questioned. “Son of a Bitch” most probably evolved from this saying, and is more commonly used today.
Originated during the days of sailing ships.
It would appear as though sailors were permitted female company either during voyages or while in ports. A child conceived where the father was “unknown” or where the father was not named, was called “ a son of a gun”. Conception would most probably have take place on one of the gun decks next to the guns, as this would have been the only place of privacy for the sailors. (“Sons between guns”)
Son of a Gun was/is used to infer illegitimacy and convey contempt.
Another version is that women were allowed to enlist in non-combative roles in days past, and would give birth at sea on the gun deck between the guns.
Associated to this version was the firing of cannon next to the expectant mother during a difficult labour, to hasten the process. I was present at the birth of my 3 children, and firing a cannon right next to me during this process would have caused WW III.
My father was English, from a military family and a World War II veteran. He often used the expression “son of a gun”, with admiration. Up until today, I personally never knew that the expression was derogatory. This gives credence to the other possible origin, namely that a “son of a gun” was the son of a Soldier or a bearer of arms.
Post suggested by JonnyStensby, Norwegian expat in South Africa

Friday, 12 October 2007

Customer Satisfaction and The US of A

My experience is that the USA has perfected the art of customer satisfaction to a point where it becomes scary. I was fortunate enough to spend 4 weeks in Washington and Oregon States on business.(Logger stuff, perchance during the Spotted Owl fiasco). An unforgettable experience, but that is not what this is about.
The level of customer awareness is incredible. Three experiences come to mind.
The first one was ToysRus.(I really cannot remember the outlet, somewhere around Seatac or Federal Way.) Just before going home I bought the kids presents, as one does when going home. I bought a video game, hardware plus a "free" game, on a special. 150 U$ instead of 170 U$. I get to the till to pay and I explain to the lady that I am from South Africa and I am not sure whether the system is compatible with RSA. No problems, the friendly lady takes me to a Man in an office. No problem, the Man will phone and find out. One call to the USA somewhere, and that guy had no answer. No problem again, the Man phones South Africa, nobody answers the phone. I am embarrassed, its know working hours back home. No problem, the Man phones the UK. The guy in the UK is not certain either. Now the man says, "Take it, if it does not work we will refund you". Thre cynic in thinks "Yes, I have heard that one before, literally millions of feet walking through this store and you are going to remember this conversation". But, I buy it, and I carry the big box back to RSA via the UK. No space in luggage, its under my arm or between my feet the whole way.
Get back to RSA and it does not work. Need a transformer to convert the signal that will cost more than the game. I write the exercise off to experience and forget it. Two months later a return visit from a business friend from Federal Way. Over a beer The Story comes out. "Where is the receipt?" he demands. I have it in my briefcase. He phones ToysRUs, takes the package back to the USA and I am refunded the full price ,170 dollars, and not the special 150 dollars, that I paid for it.
Where I come from that is unheard of service.
The Scary one. McDonald's. I nearly had a panic attack when I popped into a big outlet and wanted a burger. Try and ask for a "Burger please". The possible permutations for your order rival that of a national lottery, and if you don't know what you want as in EXACTLY, move away and puzzle it out via the pictures on the wall. No jamming the queue here. (Subway!!!....I am remembering the Subways....good stuff)
The last one. " If you are not served within 3 minutes, the meal is free". That concept is totally unknown to me. So I arrive @ 5am in the morning at at "all night" establishment and sit down. I don't want to be late for my "ride" and I am early. "Can I help you?" the cheery, friendly greeting. " No thanks, not now, I am waiting for people". The smile dissapears, another asshole looking for a free meal. Took a a couple of days before she got used to the "guy with the funny accent".
Oftentimes I hear Americans complaing about service, in the bigger picture the USA is light years ahead of anybody else.
Good Stuff

Crazy Kids: The Sneaker

Maybe it was the aroma that caused the sudden bout of sleepiness

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Ducks in a Row : Origin and Meaning

As per usual, the meaning is not a problem. It is the origin that cannot be defined. This expression has as many “origins” as the Whole Nine Yards. Choose the one you like.
Firstly the meaning : Be prepared, get organized, either in preparation for something to happen or to fix something that is not running properly. In other words “get your act together”
Firstly, Duckpin bowling. I have absolutely no insight to this sport so I cannot try and comment. Would appear as though “duck pins” were used in a form of bowling in Europe during the 1700’s. I could not find anything anywhere to confirm this or why “in a row” would be used.
Then there is the duckling theory. Little ducklings follow the mother in a line or “straight stripe”. Kids are organized and under control, etc. This appears to be the most popular source.
Also found a reference to the metal ducks at shooting ranges at carnivals etc. Shoot the ducks in a row.
Another reference to pool hall terminology. Having a ball right in front of a pocket is an
easy shot, therefore a “Duck”, from a “sitting duck”. To have all your balls in a row (Lets not go there) would mean all your shots would be Ducks. I have played a lot of pool in my life and this has never been my experience.
Last reference I could find was reference to cargo containers loaded into ships were/are called ducks, and they must be in a row before loading.
First reference in print to this expression, 1932, Washington post.

Silly Signs: Neuter your weird friends

Cannot think of a wiseass comment for this one

What happened to the Cape St Francis Iceberg?

Last night I went for a beer at my favourite watering hole. This is a small town and the pub is visited by "regulars" from round about, mostly from the farming community. Anyhow, my thoughts on Climate Change are well known. These views are not shared by my drinking buddies, as I am the Prophet of Doom, not in our lifetime, negative etc.
So, I could not help but refer to the Iceberg spotted off Cape St Francis. (I told you so!!)
Now, it would appear as though it has "disappeared". Not sighted by any other vessel, not visible on satellite images, even an aircraft sent out to look for it could not find it. It has only been seen by the Skipper and crew of the fishing trawler Intini. This vessel is on its way back to Mossel Bay and is expected to arrive tomorrow sometime. This Skipper is adamant that they all saw it, gave the size, location the works. This is an experienced skipper.
While this discussion was building up steam, there was a news report on the Pub TV about a Penguin that walked out of the sea onto a beach somewhere. This animal belongs at the South Pole. There is no record of this kind of Penguin ever been sighted here. I never saw the entire news flash, but I did see a yellowy coloured penguin that DSTV has taught me to interpret as an Emperor.
So, now the chirping starts. Maybe, according to my companions, the penguin was hitching a ride on this still be be confirmed iceberg, and just before it melted away, he jumped off and waddled ashore. Plus another bunch of comments I cannot repeat.
I have no Iceberg to stand on, so to speak. An effort to change the topic to rugby, which usually works, was unsuccessful. For a full hour my views were broken down, bit by bit, based on the Invisible Iceberg Theory.
How and why did the penguin land up here? Don't know, but that is another story, and I am going to follow up to get my penguins in a row.
According to the experts the Iceberg would have drifted SE, and should be 100 miles East of Mossel Bay.
Somebody!!,please find it, so I can have a peaceful beer again
The final post on the Iceberg here

Tuesday, 09 October 2007

Iceberg sighted off Cape St francis

Today I am suffering from Bloggers Droop. Internet will not respond, too many people on the LAN, Cannot upload pictures to Blogger, ISP not all there, etc.
Anyway, on the way to the Salt Mine this morning there was a radio report that said an ICEBERG had been sighted off Cape St Francis (70 miles SE to be precise), by a fishing trawler, and shipping had been advised. No mention was made to the size of the Iceberg, but big enough to cause concern.
Geez, an ICEBERG off the East Coast of Africa.
"No reason for concern" said the "Another Man" on the radio, with reference Climate Change, this happens every 100 years or so.
Thanks for the reassurance Mr Another Man, let us bury our heads deeper into the ground, or water for that matter, and while we are down there, lets use the opportunity to kiss our asses goodbye.
Another sign of "Bad things to come"
But, according to most of the people around me I am negative, doomsday advocate, whatever.
Read Part 2 of the Invisible Iceberg Theory here

Best Lawyer Story of the Decade

As a rule I dont cut and paste stuff. But rules have never been my strong point. An e-mail I received and enjoyed. Do not know origin.

Charlotte, North Carolina.
A lawyer purchased a box of very rare and expensive cigars, then insured them against, among other things, fire.
Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of these great cigars and without yet having made even his first premium payment on the policy the lawyer filed a claim against the insurance company.
In his claim, the lawyer stated the cigars were lost "in a series of small fires."
The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason, that the man had consumed the cigars in the normal fashion.
The lawyer sued and WON!
(Stay with me.)Delivering the ruling, the judge agreed with the insurance company that the claim was frivolous. The judge stated nevertheless, that the lawyer held a policy from the company, which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed that it would insure them against fire, without defining what is considered to be unacceptable "fire" and was obligated to pay the claim.
Rather than endure lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the ruling and paid $15,000 to the lawyer for his loss of the cigars lost in the "fires".
After the lawyer cashed the check, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of ARSON!!!
With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case being used against him, the lawyer was convicted of intentionally burning his insured property and was sentenced to 24 months in jail and a $24,000 fine.
This is a true story and was the First Place winner in the recent Criminal
Lawyers Award Contest.

Under the Weather : Origin and Meaning

As it most cases the meaning is not a problem. Usually used to imply that one is not feeling well or things are not going well, drunk etc.
Most references I could find refer to seasickness. During bad weather passengers would get sick due to the rocking and rolling of the ship. Passengers would go below deck to avoid the bad weather, and where the rocking and rolling was slightly less. Therefore under the storm, or bad weather.
Another reference is also to terms nautical, namely “under the weather bow” which is at the sharp end of the ship that takes the brunt of the storm, and could make one seasick.
Anne made me think about this one

Monday, 08 October 2007

The Killer, a Martial Parable

Every now and then one finds a Blog or posting that is exceptional.
One that makes one stand back and reflect.
A Japanese martial parable.


Read it.

Friday, 05 October 2007

Origin and meaning of " The Die Has Been Cast"

“A decision has been made and the outcome cannot be changed” or "a point of no return"

By 49 BC Julius Caesar had significantly extended he Roman Empire. He had conquered Gaul and subdued the Celtic and Germanic tribes. During this period he had become very popular with the Roman people, his soldiers had great respect and loyalty for him, and he had amassed a large personal fortune.
This scared the Roman Senate who saw him as a threat to their power. So what they did is they ordered him to resign his command and disband his army. To ignore this command would make him an “Enemy of State”, which had dire consequences. Pompey, in Rome was given the task to ensure that this edict was enforced.
To make things worse there was a Roman law that forbade any general from crossing the Rubicon River and entering Italy proper, with an army. This would be interpreted as an act of treason. And it just so happened that Caesar was at Ravenna, just on the other side of the Rubicon when he was ordered to stand down.
Should he cross this river with his army his intentions would be known, and mark the point of no return, civil war would ensue.
Caesar took the decision to cross the Rubicon with his army, and face the consequences.
As they crossed the river Caesar cried out “ Let us go where the omens of the Gods and the crimes of our enemies summon us! THE DIE IS NOW CAST!”
"Alea iacta est"
(Source: Suetonius, Roman historian, 50-130 AD, based on documentation and interviews).
It would appear as though the Die referred to, was the singular form of a pair of Dice. In other words one the die had been thrown (cast), the result could not be changed, as in a gamble.
Crossing the Rubicon has the same meaning.
Later references refer to once molten metal is poured (cast) into a mould (die) the form cannot be changed, which is a practical explanation.
As with most of these old sayings there are different opinions as to which one was the correct one. I like the Caesar version

Edit : 7 November 2008
Verbatim from Suetonius
"As he stood in doubt (i.e. Caesar), this sign was given him. On a sudden there appeared hard by a being of wondrous stature and beauty, who sat and played upon a reed; and when not only the shepards flocked to hear him, but many of the soldiers left their posts, and among them some of the trumpeters, the apparition snatched a trumpet from one of them, rushed to the river, and sounding the war-note with a mighty blast, strode to the opposite bank. Then Caesar cried; “Take we the course which signs of the gods and the false dealing of our foes point out. The die is cast (Iacta alea est)"
Suetonius, Da Vita Caesarum, Divus Iulius , paragraph XXXII

Wednesday, 03 October 2007

Origin and meaning of "Cold Enough to Freeze the Balls off a Brass Monkey"

The only consensus to the explanation of this expression is that there is no consensus.
The most popular version is that in the days of sailing ships, armed with cannons, the iron cannon balls had to be close to the cannon itself. In combat there would not be time to run around fetching and carrying cannon balls. The principle makes sense. So, myth has it that the cannon balls were stacked in a square based pyramid next to each cannon. 30 balls to a stack, 16 at the bottom level and obviously one at the top level. The problem was how to keep the pyramid in one piece. Legend has it that a brass plate with 16 indentations was made and placed at the bottom of the “pyramid”. One indentation for each of the balls on the lower level. This brass plate is called the Brass Monkey. It had to be of brass, as iron on iron would rust. Why it was called a monkey I could not determine. Anyhow, when it became very cold the brass plate would contract faster than the iron, and the balls would no longer fit snugly into the indentations, and fall off, causing the pyramid to collapse.
Hence “ Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey”.
This is the popular explanation, and at some museums one can see cannon balls stacked in this way.
In practice however this was not possible. 74 gun ships were common. 74 x 30 = 2,220 cannon balls rolling around the deck in cold stormy weather. This would have caused serious problems, imagine trying to go about your business under these conditions. Guns were lashed securely to prevent them from running around the decks causing damage and killing sailors. Per definition ships decks were, and still are, kept clear at all times. (Origin of a Loose Cannon!!!)
In addition, there is no reference in either the Royal Navy or the US navy of this practice being used, as it is not practical. Naval records refer to a “garland” made of wood with circular holes cut into them. I found no reference as to where theses garlands were placed.
In addition, this weight on deck was not a good thing, and cannon balls were used as ballast.
The only reference I found to “monkey” was that young boys were used to carry powder to the guns were called “powder monkeys”.
First written references to this expression are circa 1850. Not only to freeze the balls of a brass monkey, but also
- Freeze the tail off a brass monkey (Maybe balls was not polite)
- Gall of a brass monkey
- Talk the tail off a brass monkey
- To melt the nose off a brass monkey
- There are lots of them.
OK, so where did the expression come from. The most popular reference is to the statues of the three brass monkeys. “Hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil”. These souvenirs were made in the East and were popular amongst sailors. In addition to the three-monkey version, there was a four-monkey version, the fourth monkey covering his balls.
I have my doubts about that one as well.

Crazy Kids: Frogs, Zero per mouth....

Tuesday, 02 October 2007

Breaking the Sound Barrier : F18 Hornet

Found this image at Wikipedia
"The origin of the cloud is debated; the leading theory claims: "a drop in air pressure at the plane described by the Prandtl-Glauert Singularity occurs so that moist air condenses there to form water droplets- Wikipedia
Speed of sound 660 Miles per hour
First self propelled vehicle to break sound barrier : German V-2 ballistic missile, 1942

Origin and meaning of "Quo Vadis"

“Quo Vadis?” is used often. Restaurants, films, shops even old automobiles have been called Quo Vadis.
I thought it would be easy to find the background to these words. .
The easy part is the Latin translation.
“Where are you going?”
There are other translations with subtle differences, but the essence remains the same.
Earliest references allude to a New Testament verse (John 13.36), translated to the following "Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou?”
More than this I could not find, so I read the book Quo Vadis.
The book was written roundabout 1896 by Polish Nobel Prize winner Henryk Seinkiewicz. He was a Latin scholar and historical researcher.
Legend has it that Peter fled Rome during the persecution of the Christians during Nero’s time. On the Appian Way he was confronted by a vision of Christ.
Peter asked “ Quo vadis, Domine?” ( “Where are you going, Lord?”)
To which the Lord replied “ If you desert my people, I am going to Rome to be crucified a second time”
Peter returned to Rome and was later crucified.
This is the best I could do, somehow I do not believe I have done justice to the occasion, any contributions will be welcome.
Image from Wikipedia
EDIT on 17 October 2008
I have never really felt that this post has done justice to the occasion and I went digging deeper I found this passage in the introduction of the book Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz, first published in 1896. The author was a respected latin researcher. Passage verbatim from the introduction
“Quo vadis, Domine”, or as the apostle Peter would say in common parlance, “Where do we go from here, Lord?” Legend has it that Peter sought to flee Rome after the seeming destruction of the Christian church there, resulting from persecution under Nero. He was supposedly not afraid, but rather wished to preserve the rest of the church in the light of the victory of Antichrist (Nero) in the new Babylon (Rome). But the Lord’s response to “Quo vadis?” was for Peter to return and die with his brethren, not in defeat, but as a sign of victory over the powers of darkness. Whether this legend is true or not, we all know the outcome.”
Still digging, will find more....

Monday, 01 October 2007

Problem Solving Flow Chart for any problem

"You understand what I'm saying...."

This is one of those sayings that riddle many a conversation. The other one is " You know what I mean..."
I find it irritating. It makes me loose concentration on what the person is really talking about. Up until now I have just let it go.
What irks me is that there is in reality no question mark after these words of wisdom. It is more of a statement than anything else.
Five maybe six times in a conversation.
In my mind I think to myself, "Yes, you Moron, I understand, but I am not sure you do" or "No, only you could understand that nonsense" etc.
Couple of days ago I "lost" it after hearing it for the zillionth time.
"No" I said
"No, what?" the answer
"No, I don't understand" says I
Slight pregnant pause as this piece of information is digested. Thinking.
"But it is obvious"
"Well if it is obvious, why keep on asking me if I understand. It is obviously not obvious, I must be missing something...explain to me what I need to understand"
The conversation was not completed.
But, I am polishing my skills for the next time.