A very selfish post

All right! All right! I admit it! This is a very very selfish post. This blog has never been about me, but . . . I have finally succumbed to the evil empire of Youtube and have made my first (and most likely last) Youtube video. If you ===>CLICK HERE <===then you can finally be assured that this blog is not written by a seven foot tall bald vampire who has a minor stutter and an major nose hair problem. I would also really appreciate it. Be sure to comment here and there. Thank you.

To keep this post from becoming entirely narcissistic, here is a somewhat short list of things not related to me.

  • In the UK, the GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) is typically taken around age 16. One GCSE is taken per subject. In response to the English question, "Describe the room you’re sitting in," one student wrote, "f- off." Chief Examiner Peter Buckroyd decided to stick to the scoring guidelines and awarded the student 2 marks out of a possible 27. He commented: "It would be wicked to give it zero, because it does show some very basic skills we are looking for – like conveying some meaning and some spelling. . . . If it had had an exclamation mark it would have got a little bit more because it would have been showing a little bit of skill.” Source.
  • Japan now has three singing roads. Built by the Hokkaido Industrial Research Institute and designed by Shizuo Shinoda, grooves are cut into the road at specific intervals which produce melodies when vehicles drive over them. "It works like the head of a record player on a vinyl album." Here is an English video explaining the roads, and here is a Japanese video with clips of the roads. The recommended speed is 28 mph (aprx. 45kph). One Japanese blogger advised, "Driving too fast will sound like playing fast forward, while driving around 12mph has a slow-motion effect, making you almost car sick." Source.
  • Here are two visual illusions to puzzle over: In the first illusion, both A and B are the same size. In the second illusion, are the two outer prongs rectangles or cylinders?

What's in a name?


  • In New Zealand, a judge declared a girl a ward of the court in order to let her change her name. Her given name was "Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii." The judge listed examples of other odd names that had been blocked by the court, including: "Yeah Detroit; Stallion; Twisty Poi; Keenan Got Lucy; Sex Fruit; Fat Boy; Cinderella Beauty Blossom; Fish and Chips." Source.
  • A 30-year-old member of the Ohio U.S. National Guard, changed his name to Optimus Prime. Source.
  • Forty-three-year-old Andrew Wilson of Branson, Missouri legally changed his name to "They." He now has no surname. He explained: "They do this,' or 'They're to blame for that.' Who is this 'they' everyone talks about? 'They' accomplish such great things. Somebody had to take responsibility." Source.
  • Christopher Garnett of PETA changed his name to KentuckyFriedCruelty.com in an attempt to draw attention to his protest against KFC's treatment of chickens. When PETA's campaign was over in 2006, he changed his name back. Source.
  • Given his name by a political father, States Rights Gist became a Confederate general. Source.
  • Robert Craft changed his name to Jack Ass. Bob's brother, Andy, died in an automobile accident, and Bob created a cartoon character named Andi Ass in his memory. Robert also helped found Hearts Across America to place hearts on the roadside where loved ones have died. Robert changed his name in 1997 to Jack Ass in "an effort to raise the awareness of others." He attempted to sue Viacom (MTV's parent company) for up to 10 million dollars for having their show Jackass give "injury to a reputation I have built and defamation of character I have created." The suit was dismissed. He later used a hunting rifle to commit suicide. Source. Source.
  • David Fearn from Walsall, England changed his name to "James Dr No From Russia with Love Goldfinger Thunderball You Only Live Twice On Her Majesty's Secret Service Diamonds Are Forever Live and Let Die The Man with the Golden Gun The Spy Who Loved Me Moonraker For Your Eyes Only Octopussy A View to a Kill The Living Daylights Licence to Kill Golden Eye Tomorrow Never Dies The World Is Not Enough Die Another Day Casino Royale Bond." Source.
  • Terri Iligan auctioned the right for the buyer to rename her. Casino Golden Palace payed $15,199 to change her name to GoldenPalace.com. She said she got the idea when her kids asked to attend a costly summer golf camp. Source.
  • Bill Holland, a painting contractor of San Francisco, changed his name for his business. Instead of handing out business cards, he changed his name to Zacary Zzzra and told his customers to look for him in the very back of the phone book. To stay the last name in the phone book, he has since had to change his name to Zachary Zzzzzzzzzra. While it has been good for business, he receives prank pone calls from places as far away as Australia and regularly has $400 plus phone bills from pranksters charging phone booth phone calls to him. He doesn't pay for any of the prank calls, however. Source.
  • "Autumn, Sullivan, Corbett, Fitzsimmons, Jeffries, Hart, Burns, Johnson, Willard, Dempsey, Tunney, Schmeling, Sharkey, Carnera, Baer, Braddock, Louis, Charles, Walcott, Marciano, Patterson, Johansson, Liston, Clay, Frazier, Foreman, Brown" was named after 25 boxing champions. Her mother, Maria, named her baby this to keep up her boxing-obsessed grandparents' family tradition of long names. Maria has a long name herself, but is proud of it. She wryly comments: "“When I was young I couldn’t ever remember my name. It took me to the age of 10 to memorise it all." Source.

"Dads", balloons, clues and bombs


  • 33 year old Daniel Everett (above) was arrested while trying to meet a 14 year old girl (really an undercover agent) with whom he had been having sexually explicit chats on line under the screen name "danmichelle2004." The irony? At the attempted meeting he was wearing the above "World's Greatest Dad" t-shirt. Source. Source.

  • 28 year old Lefkos Hajji of London wanted to propose to his girlfriend Leanne in a memorable way. He hid a $12,000 ring inside an helium balloon, planning to give Leanne a pin to pop the balloon when he "popped the question." Unfortunately, after leaving the store, wind tore the balloon out of his hands and he spent the next two hours chasing the balloon in his car. He was unable to get the ring back. After he told his girlfriend, she refused to speak to him until he had bought her a new ring. Source.

  • On a more positive note for unusual marriage proposals, Aric Egmont successfully proposed to Jennie Bass through a Boston Globe Sunday crossword. Because both Aric and Jennie were big crossword puzzle enthusiasts, Aric convinced the Boston Globe to design and publish a special puzzle. The clue for number 111 across was, "Generic Proposal." (Jen+Aric=Generic). Aric remembers, "“We get to the ‘Will you marry me?’ clue, and I said, ‘Will you marry me, Jenny?’ I got up, got the ring, and got down on one knee and she screamed, and hugged me. It took her a minute to say yes.” Source.

  • In December 2003, the Oliveras family was fed up with a cockroach and rat infestation. In an attempt to solve the problem, they set up 19 "bug bombs" inside their 470-square-foot rental house. As the family walked to their car, a pilot light on a wall heater set off the bug bombs, exploding the house and causing $150,000 worth of damages. One bug bomb is more than enough for a 500-square-foot house. In 2001 an apartment was blown up by 18 bug bombs. As the newspaper noted, however, "several cockroaches survived the blast." Source.

ancient history

Everyone recognizes the classical white marble statutes of the Greeks and Romans, but most of these statutes were painted. Specialists were able to determine this fact due to trace amounts of paint they found on the statutes and and references to painted statutes in ancient literature and history.
Here are some examples of how we are used to seeing the statutes and how the statutes probably originally appeared.





To see more comparisons, go here.
Source. Source. Source.

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Peterhof, officially began in 1710 by Tsar Peter the Great, boasts a 256 acre territory. It also contains 64 fountains which use 8,189 gallons of water per second. The fountains are operated entirely without the aid of machinery and rely solely on gravity.

The joke fountains are particularly interesting. One fountain, called "A bench," appears like a regular bench but soaks those who sit on it. Another, called "Oak let fountain," contains 500 hollow branches and is surrounded by tulips. It also soaks unsuspecting guests.

To see a satellite image of Peterhof, click here.
Source. Source. Source.

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Charles Seymour (1662-1748) earned the nickname of "The Proud Duke." He did not allow his children to sit in his presence. He refused to talk to his servants, but used sign language instead. When he traveled, Seymour had the roads cleared. He also had a number of houses built between his town and country house so he did not ave to stay at public inns.

Source. Source. Source (page 28).

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Prussian King Frederick William I (1688-1740) was obsessed with his Potsdam Giant Guards. Height was the only criterion for admission, and most of the men were over 7 feet tall.
Frederick was ruthless in his recruitment tactics using bribery, political influence, rewards, force and kidnapping. Every year, a few hundred new recruits were found. At one point, there were 2,000 men in the Guards.
One tall priest was kidnapped in the middle of his sermon. An Austrian diplomat was kidnapped but able to escape. Kirkman from Ireland was kidnapped off the streets at a cost of a thousand pounds.
Frederick also started a genetic engineering program, marrying tall men and tall women together.
When foreign courts caught the hint, tall men became diplomatic tools and gifts to Frederick. Peter the Great, who also admired giants, send Frederick hundreds of Russians all over 6 foot four.
Because height was the only requirement, the men were sometimes mentally retarded. The only case of a man being allowed to leave freely is a Swedish man sent as a gift from Augustus the Strong of Saxony. Despite frequent beatings, the man could not be drilled and was released to die a beggar in Berlin.
Because of the horrible living conditions, many of the men mutinied. About 250 were able to dessert each year, but if they were caught, their ears and nose would be cut off.
The men never fought in battle, but were kept for the amusement of Frederick who would often have them parade and drill for him.
Frederick was 5 foot five inches himself.
After his death, the Guards were disbanded.

Source. Source. Source. Source (p.168).

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Thank you once again to I Beati for this award. Am I allowed to give this award to all my readers? I hope so, because that is what I am going to do. My reasoning? My blog is so fabulous that those who read it regularly must be fabulous too. But seriously, thank you for reading my blog. I love researching and writing it, and having readers makes it even better.