Tessa's Tête-à-Tête
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Recent Posts:
September 2005


Battle of Britain

Fertility Treatment

The Plumber's Tale of Woe

Learning to Read and Write

Bureaucracy Gone Mad

What is Really Happening in New Orleans

Hurricane Katrina

The Tooth Fairy Forgot to Come!!!

August 2005

More Surgery!"

How I Met Michael Rennie (1909-1971)

"The Sixth Lamentation" - An Excellent Book

French Onions

Edgar Albert Guest (1881-1959)

I'm Recovering Well

Well, I'm Glad That's Over!

Just Me Prattling

The Russian Mini-Submarine

Amazing Animals: The Sturgeon

The Tower Subway

Surgical Pre-Assessment

July 2005

The Coal Delivery

Spyware and Anti-spyware"

Getting Enough Sleep?

An Insidious Cancer

Americans First on the Moon

"The Lion King"

Update on my Biopsy

Have I had my Head Buried in the Sand?


Animal Intelligence

Fl./Lt. Dennis G. Hornsey, D.F.C.

The English Language

London Bombs

Marriage Advice?

My Biopsy

A Message for the World's Leaders

June 2005


A 'Perfect' Day

Amazing Animals: The Emperor Penguin

Crowned on this Day in 1509

A Sweet for a Special Occasion

King Solomon's Mines

Father's Day

Tiger, Tiger....


Cockroaches and Human Fertility

World's Best Character Actor

Computer Decisions

Food for Thought


World Ocean Day

Daft as a Brush (or Two)

Douglas Jennings, RAF Evader During WW II

Lord of the Rings

Driving Me Mad

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Wednesday, 10 August 2005
Just Me Prattling!
Topic: Miscellanea
Monday was our wedding anniversary and what did we do? Gardening! Hubby has been worried about the annual pruning we usually do in August plus he wanted to cut yet another branch off the plum tree. Last week, he cut off a branch that he kept banging his head on and also cut down a peach tree that was going rotten. That was quite a bit of sawing to get everything into the bags to take to the dump. He keeps saying he might cut down the plum tree next year because it's virtually stopped fruiting. No plum jam for several years now! Anyway, we have a system for pruning with the long extendable pruning pole; he holds the pole and manoeuvres it into position and I pull the rope to cut the branch off. Works very well!

my bruised armTuesday, I had to go over to Worthing Hospital again for some blood tests before the op. So, we thought we would have a day out as well. Arrived at the pathology department and handed my forms in - just about to sit down with the magazine my husband had found for me and I was called in. The nurse didn't do a very good job; missed the vein, I think! She did apologise and off I went with a huge plaster suck over the area. Of course, we went to the hospital canteen and I indulged in yet another jam doughnut! (Hubby had one of the enormous Belgian buns!)

Had a good day in Worthing. I wanted to get some pyjamas to wear in hospital and I very nearly bought a pair I really didn't like in Marks and Spencers. However, I decided to look elsewhere and found just what I wanted waiting for me in another store - and it was reduced as well! Not only that but producing my sales receipt in that shop's canteen gave us 20% off our lunch. There had to be a third bargain waiting for us somewhere and there was. My husband found an aircraft book he wanted. It was already reduced from £40 to £19.99 and he got another £4 off because the bookshop was having a clearance sale prior to a temporary closure for refurbishment.

Watched a video in the evening, one of those 'kung-fu' films. You know the sort, hero rescues people in distress and has no end of encounters with numerous baddies firing off guns and wielding knives or machetes. All rounded up with a spectacular feet flying, forearm smashing, fist thudding fight with the arch baddy who had killed hero's wife many years before. And, yes, our victorious hero comes home with hardly a scratch let alone a bruise or a black eye!

Posted by Noviomagus at 01:15 BST Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink

Saturday, 9 July 2005
The English Language
Topic: Miscellanea
The Reverend Frederic Wagstaff wrote an article in The Boy's Own Paper for Saturday, June 24th, 1882, entitled, "Some Oddities of Speech". In it, he mentions the difficulties arising out of the varying pronunciation of words ending in ough. He gives an example of the world plough which we call plow; but explains that we mustn't say we have a bad cow when we mean cough. Similarly, we mustn't say that bread is made of doff when we mean dough; nor that ground is row when we mean rough. All this reminded me of a poem on spelling which I copied from a book in the Library at Chichester College of Arts, Science and Technology when I did a secretarial training opportunities (TOPS) course about 28 years ago. (It was a great course, not only did I benefit from re-training, I got paid for doing it as well!).

In case you have not come across the poem before, here is the version I copied.

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, lough, and through?
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps
To learn of less familiar traps?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sound like bird,
And dead: it's said like bed, not bead -
For goodness sake don't call it "deed"!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt).

A moth is not a moth in mother
Nor both in bother, broth in brother,
And here is not a match for there
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there's dose and rose and lose -
Just look them up - and goose and choose.

And cork and work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart -
Come, come, I've hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive,
I'd mastered it when I was five.
I remember being very mean and promising my children, then aged ten and eleven years old, £5 if they could read that poem perfectly. Of course, they couldn't!

The Reverend Wagstaff also mentioned the difficulties of forming plural terminations and gave us this 'aid to memory' by an unknown writer.
Remember though box in the plural makes boxes,
The plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.
And remember, though fleece in the plural is fleeces,
That the plural of goose isn't gooses nor geeses.
And remember, though house in the plural is houses,
The plural of mouse should be mice, not mouses.
Mouse, it is true, in the plural is mice,
But the plural of house should be houses, not hice
And foot, it is true, in the plural is feet,
But the plural of root should be roots, and not reet.
Yes, English is an odd, eccentric language - but I like it!

Posted by Noviomagus at 18:06 BST Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink

Tuesday, 28 June 2005
A 'Perfect' Day
Topic: Miscellanea
I have just discovered that the 28th June or June 28th, as is preferred on the other side of the Atlantic, is the only date with perfect numbers, 6 and 28. What is a perfect number? Well, it is an interger which is the sum of its proper positive divisors. [That sounds very erudite, but I copied it!]

Six is the first perfect number because it can be divided by 1, 2 and 3. Add them up and 1+2+3=6. Twenty-eight happens to be the next perfect number because it can be divided by 1, 2, 4, 7 and 14. Just as before, 1+2+4+7+14=28. After 6 and 28 comes a perfect 496, 8128, 33550336 and 8589869056. I wonder if anyone noticed on June 28th in the year 496? So the next extra special June 28th will be in the year 8128. Too bad I won't be here to celebrate it!

If you are interested in the mysteries of Egyptian Fractions, or you want to know how to drive your maths teacher nuts, visit Dr. Stuart Savory's Blog.

Posted by Noviomagus at 01:12 BST Post Comment | Permalink

Monday, 6 June 2005
Daft as a Brush (or Two)
Topic: Miscellanea
Did anyone notice my deliberate mistake this morning?! There it was - the little notice I put at the top of the page for all and sundry to see. You didn't notice! Oh well... I had only put '1944: 60th Anniversary of D-Day"! Seems I am living a year in the past.

I even mentioned it to my husband on Sunday: "I must amend my notices to say it is the 60th Anniversary on the 6th June". "Yes", he agreed. Now, of course, he says he was thinking of the 60th Anniversary of the end of the war! Are we both going senile?

Men in white coats coming....

Posted by Noviomagus at 23:58 BST Post Comment | Permalink

Saturday, 28 May 2005
Petals Around The Rose
Topic: Miscellanea
'Petals Around The Rose' is a game which is traditionally played with five six-sided dice. I was introduced to it via a link on Joanna's Blog - AAAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH! It is a simple game but a really difficult puzzle! I tried it, my husband tried it — we were stumped. Then this evening, my husband tried again and, he got it! It took me a bit longer but eventually an idea dawned as I did some ironing before supper and I got it too. We can sleep soundly tonight.

Have a go here or here if you want a running total of your attempts. I can tell you that the name of the game is significant. That the answer will always be zero or an even number. Once you get it, you can tell someone the answer but not how to do it - they have to find that out for themselves. If at first you don't succeed, don't worry, it took Bill Gates a while too.

Posted by Noviomagus at 00:20 BST Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink

Thursday, 12 May 2005
What's In A Name?
Topic: Miscellanea
Shakespeare wrote: What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet (Romeo and Juliet). Yes, it would. But what about the names people give their children? What do you feel about your own name (I hate mine - especially Thérèse!) Are names important? Do they have an effect on how a child thinks about himself or herself?

What started me musing about names was finding out that Florence Nightingale, who was born on 12th May 1820, was named Florence because she was born in Florence in Italy. Fine, nothing wrong with her name. But did you know that her elder sister, who was born in Naples, was called Parthenope - the Greek name for that ancient city? What a good job Florence's parents weren't visiting Reykjavik or Bratislava when she was born!

Many famous people give their children quite ridiculous, almost cruel, names. What effect does it have on a child to be called "Moon Unit", "Ahmet Emuukha Rodan", "Dweezil", or "Diva" (Frank Zappa's children) or "Inspektor Pilot" (actor Jason Lee's son)? Will they change their names one day? Free Carradine (son of David) changed his name to Tom. Bob Geldorf's daughters are called Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom and Pixie whilst their half-sister is called Heavenly Hiraani Tigerlily! What happended to Christian names, for heavens' sake! I mean, would you like to be called "Apple" (Gwyneth Paltrow) or "Speck Wildhorse" (John Mellencamp)?

Many people give their children a 'flower' name; Rose, Daisy or Lily are fine examples. But my husband, who used to deal with teachers' records, once came across two teachers, spinster sisters, called Fuchsia and Edelweiss. Original names they may have been but they don't exactly flow off the tongue. Were they teased as children (the idle one?), I wonder!

Do you think a name can influence what you become? Take the names of Red Indian Chiefs, Sitting Bull, (Tatanka Iyotanka) for instance. Would he have risen to be a Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux leader if his name had been 'Grey Mouse'? Would Crazy Horse (Tashunca-uitco) of the Oglala Sioux have made it if his name had been 'Lame Duck'. Well, almost certainly they would have, but it is an interesting thought, nonetheless!

Posted by Noviomagus at 12:58 BST Post Comment | Permalink

Friday, 8 April 2005
What's new in Rome
Topic: Miscellanea
For an inside story of what is currently happening in Rome, together with the latest news and photographs, vist the website of Seamus Griesbach.

Seamus is an American seminarian at the Pontifical North American College and he is studying theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Roma, Italy. If you wonder what makes a young man study for the priesthood, read his essays on 'Celibacy' and 'What the Priesthood Means to Me' in his 'writing' section.

Posted by Noviomagus at 01:37 BST Post Comment | Permalink

Friday, 25 March 2005
You Can Count Me Out!
Topic: Miscellanea
Funny what you stumble on weaving your way around the Internet. I was reading a news item and clicked on a 'Google Ad'....

So, you can still send an old-fashioned telegram and order it online. For the princely price of #3.50, you can even send the Royal couple your own special Congratulations Telegram! This will be delivered to Buckingham Palace in London, within 1 hour (during office hours, of course) of you placing your order....

Wonder how many they will receive?

Posted by Noviomagus at 01:33 GMT Post Comment | Permalink

Monday, 28 February 2005
Not One of my Favourite Jobs!
Topic: Miscellanea
BRRrrrrr! I'm sitting here warming myself up with a cup of coffee. Just spent an hour and half washing the car and, 'Baby, it's cold outside'! Sometimes, I wonder if I am going a little bit daft because the car is booked in for a service tomorrow and the garage will probably pass it through their car wash! It's not that I am ashamed of bringing in a dirty car - it was a bit muddy and salt sprayed from the road gritting, but not that bad. No, the reason I shampooed the car is because it was overdue for its coating of "Surelook". What's that? Well, it's a special wax treatment that also leaves an antistatic protective coating on the car. I had it specially treated when it was new two years' ago and I am covered for damage to the paintwork provided, of course, that I keep applying the treatment! At the time, the advice was to do it every four weeks! Four weeks - every four months (or more!) is more like it! My mileage is very low and the car only gets used two or three times a week so it isn't as if I was driving 60 miles to work every day. Or so I tell myself.

So, if the car gets valeted tomorrow and goes through the garage car wash, it will shine like a new penny after its buffing! And, hopefully, it will pass the annual visual test for any marks on the paintwork at the same time. If it's raining and it doesn't go through the car wash, I can relax knowing that I don't need to shampoo and polish the car for at least another four months!

Updated: 2 March 2004
Well, they didn't give my car a clean up so I'm really glad I did it on Monday! What the garage did do, though, was to mislay my Service Log Book and my Surelook Guarantee! Seems they gave them to another chap whose car was being serviced and who also had Surelook. (Ye Gods!!) Very relieved when after a few 'phone calls, they were returned safe and sound. They offered to post them to me but I decided to pick them up today on my way to shop at Tesco.

Posted by Noviomagus at 18:31 GMT Post Comment | Permalink

Thursday, 24 February 2005
The Importance of Punctuation
Topic: Miscellanea

Written language is nothing without punctuation. I like punctuation - it adds a punch(!) to the written word. (Perhaps I overdo it?) I once learnt an extremely humbling lesson: I was involved in the production of a Newsletter for a club I belonged to. When articles were handed in, I typed them out ready for printing and, at the same time, took the liberty of correcting the few grammar and spelling errors I spotted. Although, I must admit that my own spelling is far from perfect (I always have to look in the freezer when I want to add `broccoli' to the shopping list!).

One day, an article was handed in: it was really awful - yet, had the author read it aloud, it would have been very good. It was written in pencil, there were no capital letters for proper nouns, the spelling was another language (he was obviously dyslexic) and, even though he was quoting speech, punctuation was completely non-existent. I got to work. First, I corrected the spelling and the grammar. Then, without changing the order of his words, I inserted punctuation - lots and lots of it! I was very pleased with the result - it was as it would have been had the author read it aloud. With my extreme self-conceit, I'm afraid it didn't even occur to me that my `improvements' might embarrass him or land him in deep water. Well, that is just what happened - I landed him in deep water, very deep water.

At the next club meeting, nominations were invited for committee members. "Simon," (name changed) "Your article in the Newsletter was excellent. Absolutely, top class! How about taking on the position of Press Officer?" I cringed in my seat; what had I done? The poor chap, not knowing what to say, accepted the job. I don't think he lasted in the position very long and, certainly, I could never look him in the eye again!

That story apart, it seems that the use of punctuation on the Internet, particularly on personal websites and Blogs, is on the decline. Well, most people use the full stop, the comma and question marks, but colons and semi-colons are used less and less and apostrophes hardly at all - especially the ones used to denote the omission of a letter. That leads to errors of grammar such as the note once left in my old office: "Will someone whose here tomorrow please ring ..." instead of "Will someone who's here tomorrow ...". Even the use of capital letters seems to be going out of fashion, particularly in Blogs, with 'i' instead of 'I' ( I'm sorry, but I do find that really ugly).

Do you use punctuation marks? They really do add so much to the meaning of phrases and sentences. Have you ever thought that what you meant to say, and thought you were writing down, just might be interpreted by your reader as something quite different - just because of your punctuation or lack of it?

Here is a slightly tongue in cheek example of the effect of punctuation, which I found on the Internet. Have a go at punctuating it:

dear john i want a man who knows what love is all about you are generous kind thoughtful people who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior you have ruined me for other men i yearn for you i have no feelings whatsoever when were apart i can be forever happy will you let me be yours gloria
Done it? To see the answer, View Pop Up.
If you do not have JavaScript enabled, look here for the full-size page.

Posted by Noviomagus at 11:35 GMT Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink

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