The Opening Sequence Of ‘The Simpsons’ … for real!

25 04 2013

I still love the opening sequence of  The Simpsons… subtly different every time.

Now try it “for real”

The Opening Sequence Of ‘The Simpsons’ Reenacted With Humans –

Photobombs in the UK

20 04 2013

Kudos to ShortList for finding these great photos.

A bored commuter strategically folds his morning newspaper and “stitches” a head onto unsuspecting morning commuters.

Bored Commuter’s Newspaper Photobombs – Photography – ShortList Magazine.

Bored Commuter's Newspaper Photobombs - Photography - ShortList Magazine Bored Commuter's Newspaper Photobombs - Photography - ShortList Magazine

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

18 01 2013

Some of my Canadian friends embarrass themselves occasionally by referring to my “British” accent. In an attempt to educate, I recommend the following video which helpfully explains the differences between England, Britain, the UK, Great Britain and the British Isles. Yes – they’re all different. The only thing missing is a mention of Yorkshire… but I’ll let it pass.  🙂

Thanks to a helpful Rover Scout for pointing this YouTube video out to me.

The Difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England Explained – YouTube.

Images From NASA’s Suomi Satellite |

14 10 2012

”                         ”

Take note of this day. Mark it on your calendar. The day the Quieter Elephant was totally speechless. It didn’t last very long, admittedly, but this image blew me away. It’s one of several on Wired’s site from the Suomi satellite. (I remember from my stamp collecting days that that is Finnish for, well Finland!)

Gorgeous! The UK is clear of the cloud at about 9 o’clock. Oman at 6 o’clock.

Amazing Aurora: Best Images From NASA’s Suomi Satellite | Wired Science |

Amazing Aurora: Best Images From NASA's Suomi Satellite | Wired Science |

Quite Interesting: Oh the delicious irony.

23 02 2012

Many thanks to Misfits’ Miscellany for pointing the QE at QI…a TV series from the UK. Started watching it tonight, and heard this little titbit originally printed in the UK’s Independent newspaper on 20 JANUARY 1993:

RECENTLY a suspicious-looking cardboard box was found outside a Territorial Army centre in Bristol, Police magazine reports. The TA called the police, who called an Army bomb disposal unit, which blew the box up – to find it full of leaflets on how to deal with suspicious-looking packages.

Sank a set

10 02 2012

So it is often remarked how the UK and America are two nations separated by a common language. Canada, always liking to play nicely with everyone, sits neatly in the middle and accepts either country’s spellings and idioms as its own.

I still struggle, 11 years into my Canadian adventure, with “healthful” though. What, in the name of all that is good for you, is wrong with “healthy”?! And WTF is “normalcy”?!

Webster, the well meaning Victorian reformer that he was, massacred much of the language in the name of rationalising it for the American people. “Colour” and “labour” were trimmed, as the ‘u’ is silent (though in Yorkshire, “culler” would be more phonetic but just as long), yet “cough” is left unsullied instead of being changed to an Orwellian “coff”, or double-plus-coff if it’s a serious one.

Wikipedia: Noah Webster

Wikipedia: Noah Webster

Shakespearian-era “fall” was crystallised in lingual amber in North America, while the rest of the English speaking world moved with the times and accepted the more trendy French “autumn” in preference. After an experimental airing with Chaucer in 1374, “autumn” came to us for keeps via the Bard himself in The Taming of the Shrew – 1596. These mini-facts come to you via The Daily from Washington Uni.

But the French language suffers a similar lack of transference too. Plainly it’s something to do with the mysterious lingual effects of the Atlantic.
Studies should be done!
Taxes should be idly squandered!
Oh… they are already?!

French (Parisian) French is taught in Europe, and some bizarre blend of this French French and English schoolboy French is spoken in Quebec, New Brunswick, and by association, the rest of Canada (but only when really pushed… like at exam time!). I was brought up to pronounce the French for “now” (maintenant) as man-te-non, with lots of nasal emphasis. My daughters, both taught French in BC, and therefore in the style Quebecois, pronounce it main-te-nant… exactly as it’s spelt! On reflection, this trait does explain the bizarre North American pronunciation of Worcestershire (as in sauce) exactly as it’s written, instead of the correct “Wustersha”.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah” I can hear my regulars moaning… “get to the point, assuming there is one!” So here it is…

In France, when they say “cinq à sept“, which literally means “five ’til seven”, they are referring to a bit of private time with their mistress. In France, having a mistress is mandatory, and written into the marriage contract. (A mistress of course being defined as “somewhere between a mister and a mattress”). There are hotels which cater for the needs of such liaisons with few questions asked beyond “And how will you be paying for the room Sir?”. Such is the way of life in La belle France.

However, as the language came over to North America with those lusty young Frenchmen, who’d been lured with promises of high adventure and seemingly limitless beavers (I didn’t say they were smart!), things got a little skewed. Here in Canada, (at least the almost-French speaking bits of it, like Montreal), “cinq à sept” has come to mean, rather boringly, “after work drinks”. Tame, or what?!

Anyway, if you happen to be out that way and have lost your usual beaver, here’s a few places to go look for a new one: | Notable Cinq a Sept Hotspots in Montreal. cinq à sept cinq à sept

Christmas Tradition

22 12 2011

OK, so let’s say you want to do something a bit “unique” for Christmas. The Douglas Fir’s just not cutting it for you any more.

OK – well how about making one out of Lego? Actually – it’s been done. Really. St. Pancras Station, London. 33′ tall. Unless you’ve got seriously high ceilings, you can’t compete. Move along…

CBBC Newsround – The giant Christmas tree made entirely out of Lego.

OK, but it was a good idea – well how about a Father Christmas out of Lego then? Still a bit sedate? How about a Dalek Father Christmas out of Lego? Now THAT’s unique. We could put a white beard on it, and a floppy red hat too.

What do you mean it’s been done?!

BBC News – Lego Dalek Santa is ‘Christmas tradition’ for Huntingdon family.

It takes 100,000 bricks and two months to build, is 7′ tall… and they claim it’s not an obsession?! I think Calvin Klein might disagree…

Degrees of Separation

17 12 2011

So it’s well accepted – at least in the chattering classes – that we all have at least some bigotry lurking in our psyche. The more thoughtful of us will regretfully admit it (though occasionally only after having it pointed out by a trusted friend or colleague), the rest (being bigoted) will simply blame others.

Being a child of the ’60s.. 1960’s, just to remove any ambiguity there… I have no less bigotry than most, more than some, and less than a few. I was brought up in the UK with an unquestioning assumption that the United Kingdom had been always thus (united). The violent political unrest of the early 70’s gave me an uncomplimentary opinion of Ireland I am ashamed to say, and regret never having visited its reportedly lovely shores prior to moving over the pond. Wales was where people went to have their holiday cottages mysteriously burned down (See Ethnic cleansing the Welsh way – The Independent), and Scotland was where men wore skirts and ate dodgy food out of sheep stomachs (which in fairness is actually quite tasty – the food not the hairy men in skirts.) Thankfully as I grew older and relied less on assumptions and “truths” passed down by family and society, I began to seek out and acquire my own versions of the truth. I’d like to think I’ve become more questioning and less assumptive. It’s a work in progress. I intend to never quite finish.

I’m always interested in how one comes by new information – all part of the building blocks of ones reality. Information is really just the current opinion of course. As you acquire differing views and opinions one is forced to reevaluate the previous “truth”.

All this preamble just to say that I recently learned something! I was writing a previous post about Dame Margot Fonteyn, and discovered she lived and eventually died in Panama. Interesting enough, but then I learned she had a peripheral role in an attempted coup there in 1964. In an attempt to learn more about THAT, I discovered that in the 1690’s Scotland had a colony in Panama. Huh – imagine that! The Darién scheme was a complete financial disaster, not least because something like 25% of the entire Scottish available currency was tied up in the scheme.

Wikipedia: New Caledonia

Wikipedia: The Bay of Caledonia, west of the Gulf of Darien

At the demise of the scheme, the hitherto independent kingdom of Scotland succumbed to the  Act of Union in 1707. So it wasn’t through the might of the English redcoats… it was more due to an unsuccessful financial gamble. Obviously the real history of the uniting of the kingdom of the UK is much more rich and a veritable tapestry of different threads – but this part at least was utterly unknown to me prior to this morning.

Long live the internet! Long live learning!!