Monday, September 30, 2013

Lookin' Up My Back Door...

Party pooper

I fixed an appointment today for a colonoscopy on Oct 21. It will be my second; the first was five years ago. They say the first time is always the hardest. I say: What a load of c**p!

So I'm already prepping myself, thanks to this parody song "Lookin' Up My Back Door" by someone who calls herself Butt Meddler:

Dave Barry too has something to say about the notion of a doctor sticking a tube "17,000 feet up your butt"...

Seriously, if you are 50 years old or more, and have never had a colonoscopy, don't be a party pooper. Poop for a cause -- yours!


Party (balloon) pooper

I spy a bunch of party balloons...

Gotta check them out...

Oh no, they're moving further away...

It's the yellow one that I want to sink my teeth into...



What, me? A balloon pooper??

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sexy, ah? Let me count the ways...

Somebody turned "sexy" today! (Not me, I reached that elevated situation three years ago; well, almost three years ago.)

Here's evidence of the celebratory mood that accompanied the milestone occasion:

So what do I mean by "sexy"? Here's my definition, courtesy of Google:

If the noun is sexagenarian, then the adjective is sexy. QED.

Sexy seems to be such a sexy word, it has become quite versatile:

So, from this survey above, sexy suggests "highly appealing, interesting". I rest my case.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Broken Arrows (no, they have nothing to do with The Hunger Games!).

Imagine, 30 years ago this month, the world as we know it might have become a wasteland -- if the US and the then USSR had gone to war using nuclear weapons (ST, Sept 28).

Were there other near-misses? A US B-52 bomber broke up in mid-air over North Carolina in January 1961. Its two nuclear bombs plunged into earth too. There have been other near misses involving the US' arsenal:

We do not know much about nuclear near-misses (ie military, as distinct from civilian) elsewhere. But one site has compiled a list of known "Broken Arrows", ie, nuclear weapon accidents:

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Cappella singing that'll blow you away!

No 1: I need thee O I need thee (Sam Robson)
(there will be a lag -- ignore the "no response from website" cue -- before the site kicks in, but it's certainly worth the wait)

No 2: Gospel Singers Incognito (on Britain's Got Talent)

No 3: A Cappella Only -- Theme Songs

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The lengths some people go to...

An 'OMG!' headline (TODAY)...

When I told some people about this headline, "OMG!" was indeed a typical response. One even offered to be a voyeur when such training starts. (And then there's that use of the silly word loansharking again!!)

A long and winding headline that leaves one in a mental grope-block (ST)...

Well, if there's so much space for a longish headline, why not write something like this:

He cops a feel; she drives him straight to the cops 

Meanwhile, from the sports pages (ST and TODAY)...

Got five skin shades too! Hmm, I wonder why it's called the Whizzinator (seems more like a Urinator):

I've always wondered... if an athlete fails a dope test, that makes his smart, right? 'Cos if he passes the dope test, he's a dope. Right?

Finally, it's not a fork in the road but a fork in the rod...

I can't recall the story that came with this X-ray pic above, but it's about a man who stuck a fork up his weenie!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A love story.

CC sent this remarkable love story which may be true or simply made up. My own check online showed that it has been around for some time, at least since 2000 (even much longer if the reference to "60 years ago" is any guide):

The Letter

As I walked home one freezing day, I stumbled on a wallet someone had lost in the street. I picked it up and looked inside to find some identification so I could call the owner. But the wallet contained only three dollars and a crumpled letter that looked as if it had been in there for years.

The envelope was worn and the only thing that was legible on it was the return address. I started to open the letter, hoping to find some clue. Then I saw the date. The letter had been written almost 60 years ago, in 1924.

It was written in a beautiful feminine handwriting on powder blue stationery with a little flower in the left-hand corner. It was a "Dear John" letter that told the recipient, whose name appeared to be Michael, that the writer could not see him anymore because her mother forbade it. Even so, she wrote that she would always love him.

It was signed, Hannah.

It was a beautiful letter, but there was no way except for the name Michael, that the owner could be identified. Maybe if I called information, the operator could find a phone listing for the address on the envelope.

"Operator," I began, "this is an unusual request. I am trying to find the owner of a wallet that I found. Is there anyway you can tell me if there is a phone number for an address that was on an envelope in the wallet?"

She suggested I speak with her supervisor, who hesitated for a moment then said, "Well, there is a phone listing at that address, but I can't give you the number." She said, as a courtesy, she would call that number, explain my story and would ask them if they wanted her to connect me.

I waited a few minutes and then she was back on the line. "I have a party who will speak with you."

I asked the woman on the other end of the line if she knew anyone by the name of Hannah. She gasped, "Oh! We bought this house from a family who had a daughter named Hannah. But that was 30 years ago!"

"Would you know where that family could be located now?" I asked.

"I remember that Hannah had to place her mother in a nursing home some years ago," the woman said. "Maybe if you got in touch with them they might be able to track down the daughter."

She gave me the name of the nursing home and I called the number. They told me the old lady had passed away some years ago but they did have a phone number for where they thought the daughter might be living.

I thanked them and phoned. The woman who answered explained that Hannah herself was now living in a nursing home.

This whole thing was stupid, I thought to myself. Why was I making such a big deal over finding the owner of a wallet that had only three dollars and a letter that was almost 60 years old?

Nevertheless, I called the nursing home in which Hannah was supposed to be living and the man who answered the phone told me, "Yes, Hannah is staying with us."

Even though it was already 10 p.m., I asked if I could come by to see her. "Well," he said hesitatingly, "if you want to take a chance, she might be in the day room watching television."

I thanked him and drove over to the nursing home. The night nurse and a guard greeted me at the door. We went up to the third floor of the large building. In the day room, the nurse introduced me to Hannah.

She was a sweet, silver-haired old-timer with a warm smile and a twinkle in her eye. I told her about finding the wallet and showed her the letter. The second she saw the powder blue envelope with that little flower on the left, she took a deep breath and said, "Young man, this letter was the last contact I ever had with Michael."

She looked away for a moment deep in thought and then said softly, "I loved him very much. But I was only 16 at the time and my mother felt I was too young. Oh, he was so handsome. He looked like Sean Connery, the actor."

"Yes," she continued. "Michael Goldstein was a wonderful person. If you should find him, tell him I think of him often. And," she hesitated for a moment, almost biting her lip, "tell him I still love him. You know," she said smiling as tears began to well up in her eyes, "I never did marry. I guess no one ever matched up to Michael."

I thanked Hannah and said goodbye. I took the elevator to the first floor and as I stood by the door, the guard there asked, "Was the old lady able to help you?"

I told him she had given me a lead. "At least I have a last name. But I think I'll let it go for a while. I spent almost the whole day trying to find the owner of this wallet."

I had taken out the wallet, which was a simple brown leather case with red lacing on the side. When the guard saw it, he said, "Hey, wait a minute! That's Mr. Goldstein's wallet. I would know it anywhere with that bright red lacing. He's always losing that wallet. I must have found it in the halls at least three times."

"Who's Mr. Goldstein?" I asked as my hand began to shake.

"He's one of the old-timers on the eighth floor. That's Mike Goldstein's wallet for sure. He must have lost it on one of his walks." I thanked the guard and quickly ran back to the nurse's office. I told her what the guard had said. We went back to the elevator and got on. I prayed that Mr. Goldstein would be up.

On the eighth floor, the floor nurse said, "I think he's still in the day room. He likes to read at night. He's a darling old man."

We went to the only room that had any lights on and there was a man reading a book. The nurse went over to him and asked if he had lost his wallet. Mr. Goldstein looked up with surprise, put his hand in his back pocket and said, "Oh, it is missing!"

"This kind gentleman found a wallet and we wondered if it could be yours?"

I handed Mr. Goldstein the wallet and the second he saw it, he smiled with relief and said, "Yes, that's it! It must have dropped out of my pocket this afternoon. I want to give you a reward."

"No, thank you," I said. "But I have to tell you something. I read the letter in the hope of finding out who owned the wallet."

The smile on his face suddenly disappeared. "You read that letter?"

"Not only did I read it, I think I know where Hannah is."

He suddenly grew pale. "Hannah? You know where she is? How is she? Is she still as pretty as she was? Please, please tell me," he begged."

"She's fine, and just as pretty as when you knew her." I said softly.

The old man smiled with anticipation and asked, "Could you tell me where she is? I want to call her tomorrow." He grabbed my hand and said, "You know something, Mister? I was so in love with that girl that when that letter came, my life literally ended. I never married. I guess I've always loved her."

"Mr. Goldstein," I said, "Come with me."

We took the elevator down to the third floor. The hallways were darkened and only one or two little night-lights lit our way to the day room where Hannah was sitting alone watching the television. The nurse walked over to her.

"Hannah," she said softly, pointing to Michael, who was waiting with me in the doorway. "Do you know this man?"

She adjusted her glasses, looked for a moment, but didn't say a word. Michael said softly, almost in a whisper, "Hannah, I'm Michael. Do you remember me?"

She gasped, "Michael! I don't believe it! Michael! It's you! My Michael!" He walked slowly towards her and they embraced. The nurse and I left with tears streaming down our faces.

"See," I said. "See how the Good Lord works! If it's meant to be, it will be."

About three weeks later I got a call at my office from the nursing home. "Can you break away on Sunday to attend a wedding? Michael and Hannah are going to tie the knot!"

It was a beautiful wedding with all the people at the nursing home dressed up to join in the celebration. Hannah wore a light beige dress and looked beautiful. Michael wore a dark blue suit and stood tall. They made me their best man.

The hospital gave them their own room and if you ever wanted to see a 76-year-old bride and a 79-year-old groom acting like two teenagers, you had to see this couple.
A perfect ending for a love affair that had lasted nearly 60 years.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It's not just fear of all sums, it's dyscalculia!

I know what I'm good at. I am a storehouse of trivia, both useful and useless. That's how I could immediately -- without any hesitation, I must emphasise -- zero in on what was wrong with this graphic which I posted yesterday:

Today at the office, I asked several colleagues -- fellow experienced journalists, mind you -- if they could tell what's wrong with the illustration. Even after my prompting them with words like "present-day Russia", none could spot the anachronism, ie, the hammer and sickle, and the red star.

I am also a good proof-checker, and can easily tell what's wrong with many a headline, like this one:

Did you? I'll tell you at the end of this blog entry.

In an earlier posting, I had also pointed out an "error of commission" -- an unnecessarily added word that drastically changed the speaker's intended meaning:

Read the last quoted remark carefully... "has enabled them to live according to their station in society without extra sources of illicit income". Aiyoh! That means their salaries are already a source of illicit income!

I am a superb spotter of dangling participles:

What the sub-heading above is saying is that these scientists are squids and mussels!

And I'll show you a double entendre faster than you can say "double entendre"!...

How do you see more of a person? Other than??...

But I'm hopeless with numbers, in a certain way. This letter below made me realise that I may be having the same condition as the writer's daughter (who happens, also, to have a flair for the English language):

I checked online and, yes, I now have a handle on why I am possibly a "dyscalculic"!

(Incidentally, I could not help but easily spot the error above... "between 3% and 6% of the population" is affected, not are affected.)

Oh dear, from that checklist for Teenagers and Adults, I have to confess to "all of the above".

The two screen grabs above were taken from:

One can also watch this enlightening video:

Finally, so what is wrong with this headline?

Data is the plural form; the singular is datum. So the headline should be: "China factory data reinforce...".

Monday, September 23, 2013

Spot the...

Spot the bloopers:

The New Paper on Sunday (Sept 22)

ST (Sept 23)

Both the cartoon and the illustration used the hammer and sickle (and red star too in the latter) to represent present-day Russia. Nope!... the Russian Federation junked this communist-era symbol soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its empire in the early 1990s (so why didn't anyone ask the old-timers like me?).

Spot the ambiguity

ST (Sept 23, page 1 blurb)

Hmm, some about-to-be-hitched people are just "too round"? What must they do to "get flat first"? Simple solution: add the article "a"...

Get a flat first,
then get

Or read the inside page blurb, which is unambiguous (even without the article "a"):

RazorTV blurb (Sept 23)

It could mean:
a) Pamelyn Chee does not even deserve to be called a token Asian beauty, let alone a real Asian beauty; OR
b) she is more than a token Asian beauty, ie, she can actually act.

Did this headline work for you?

TODAY (Sept 23)

It is either:
a) a clever play on words; OR
b) too literal, ie, mocking in its tone, whatever the merits of the story itself.

A letter that's too pollyannaish?

ST Forum (Sept 23)

(And, besides, I did a double-take on the circled part; I initially read it as Singapore having a military presence in Sarawak! Better editing would have sorted that out.)

Bouquet: A very good letter that nails the issue down

TODAY (Sept 23)

Bouquet: I learnt a new idiom from this headline!

ST (Sept 23)

If you were as curious as I was about the idiom "country mile", here's an explanation:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

International Rabbit Day and all that hare-raising stuff...

Apparently, today is...

So what? How about this slightly naughty quote:

I've told rabbit jokes here. This one came my way recently:

Widdle Wabbits  

A precious little girl walks into a Pet store and asks, in the sweetest little lisp, between two missing teeth, "Excuthe me, mithter, do you keep widdle Wabbits?"  

As the shopkeeper's heart melts, he gets down on his knees so that he's on her level and asks,
"Do you want a widdle white wabbit,or a thoft and fuwwy, bwack wabbit, or maybe one like that cute widdle bwown wabbit over there?"  

She, in turn, blushes, rocks on her heels, puts her hands on her knees, leans forward and says, in a tiny quiet voice, "I don't think my Python really cares.”

It looks like a bad joke but I think it is actually a clever joke devised by a computer programmer with a wicked sense of humour. Rabbits/wabbits are, after all, fantastical mathematicians; hence, their ability to multiply quickly.

There is a rogue computer program called Wabbit that keeps on "self-replicating" (ie, reproducing like rabbits!) once it gets itself into a computer system. Such a program -- also known as a "fork bomb" -- thus uses up a tremendous amount of the computer's resources, slowing it down greatly. There is also a computer programming language called Python that apparently is known to have been infected by the Wabbit fork bomb. Now you know!

And, now, to wrap up, here's a good, clean, harebrained joke:

A man was driving along the highway, and saw a rabbit hopping across the middle of the road. He swerved to avoid hitting the rabbit, but unfortunately the rabbit jumped in front of the car and was hit. The driver, being a sensitive man as well as an animal lover, pulled over to the side of the road and got out to see what had become of the rabbit. Much to his dismay, the rabbit was dead.

The driver felt so awful he began to cry. A woman driving down the highway saw the man crying on the side of the road and pulled over. She stepped out of her car and asked the man what was wrong. "I feel terrible," he explained. "I accidentally hit this rabbit and killed it."

The woman told the man not to worry. She knew what to do. She went to he car trunk and pulled out a spray can. She walked over to the limp, dead rabbit, and sprayed the contents of the can onto the rabbit.

Miraculously, the rabbit came to life, jumped up, waved its paw at the two humans and hopped down the road. 50 metres away the rabbit stopped, turned  around, waved at the two again, hopped down the road another 50 metres, turned, waved, and hopped another 50 metres.

The man was astonished. He couldn't figure out what substance could be in the woman's spray can! He ran over to the woman and demanded, " What was in your spray can? What did you spray onto that rabbit?" The woman turned the can around so that the man could read the label.

It said: " 'Hare Spray' Restores Life to Hare. Adds Permanent Wave."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Interesting, useful, healthsome...

The pictures I posted yesterday under the header "Just a spoonful of sugar?" could not appear on smartphones and tablets. I searched online and found that the website carried those pictures. They are a revelation on how much sugar is found in different food items. So, go back to yesterday's blog entry to see those pics in the link I provided.

Thanks to that earlier glitch, I discovered Here are two more interesting items that it carries:

Interesting facts about the human body

Useful and handy info you must know


From the BBC, here's why you should not skip breakfast...

Breakfast linked to 'healthy heart'

Finally, here's why (from Mind Your Body) going nuts ain't a bad thing...

Friday, September 20, 2013

1) The Harley 2) Just a spoonful of sugar?


The inventor of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle,
Arthur Davidson , died and went to  heaven.

At the gates, St. Peter told Arthur. 'Since you've
been such a good man and your motorcycles have changed the world, your reward is, you can
hang out with anyone you want to in heaven.'

Arthur thought about it for a minute and then said,
"I want to hang out with God.'

St. Peter took Arthur to the Throne Room, and
introduced him to God.

God recognized Arthur and commented, 'Okay,
so you were the one who invented the Harley-Davidson motorcycle?
  Arthur  said, 'Yeah, that's me...'

God commented:
'Well, what's the big deal in inventing
something that's pretty unstable, makes
 and pollution and can't run without
a road?'

Arthur was a bit embarrassed, but he
finally spoke, 'Excuse me, but aren't you the
inventor of woman?' 

God said, 'Ah, yes.'

'Well,' said Arthur,
'professional to professional, you have some
major design flaws in your invention.

There's too much inconsistency in the front-end
2..  It chatters constantly at high speeds
3..  Most rear ends are too soft and wobble
about too  much
  The intake is placed way too
close to the exhaust

5..  The maintenance costs are

you may have some good points there,' replied
God, 'hold on.'
God went to his Celestial  supercomputer,
typed in a few words and waited for the results.

The computer printed out a slip of paper and God read it.

'Well, it may be true that my invention is flawed,' God
said to Arthur, 'but according to these numbers,
more men are riding my invention than yours'..

Just a spoonful of sugar?
(Sugar cubes in our food!)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The brain game, or why the pickpocket always wins.

Ah Swan posted this TED video clip, of someone called Apollo Robbins giving an intriguing presentation titled "The art of misrepresentation". After watching it, you'll realise why the pickpocket always gets his loot from you, or why the magician always fools you!...

For better or for worse, the brain can be fooled. You may even like being fooled, hence there is a National Geographic TV series, "Brain Game". TODAY (Sept 17) ran a story on it...

This joke below is an old one but I still like its play on words:

Finally, try this quiz:

Mind Games: Play with your memory

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Midweek trivia.

Having delved into the supposed origin of "hard-nosed" (yesterday), I got curious and wanted to find out more about other familiar terms and phrases. Still on noses, how do you think "to pay through the nose" came about?

Here's one explanation:

PAY THROUGH THE NOSE Meaning: To pay a high price; to pay dearly. Origin: Comes from the ninth-century Ireland. When the Danes conquered the Irish, they imposed an exorbitant Nose Tax on the island's inhabitants. They took a census (by counting noses) and levied oppressive sums on their victims, forcing them to pay by threatening to have their noses actually slit. Paying the tax was "paying through the nose."

How about "hooker" or "to pull the wool over someone's eyes"? I found these and many others in this link:!jEaWG

But caveat emptor! A number of the readers' comments insist that not a few of the explanations given were simply made up. So lap them up, but with a pinch of salt, the origin of which is explained here:


Next up... first read this article carefully:

If you want to test yourself on how good a proof-reader you are, try and spot the extraneous word that should not have been there! Clues: it is a five-letter word, it is found in a quoted remark, and its inclusion totally changed the meaning the speaker had intended. Sorry, no answer shall be given. ____________________________________________________________

Finally, and still on trivia, I can't believe this ad... it really insults readers' intelligence:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On hard-nosed diplomacy.

This snippet (TODAY, Sept 17) sheds further light on the diplomacy of a small state, Singapore:

The speaker, who was the Foreign Ministry's former Permanent Secretary, provides us with an insider's perspective:


I suppose Mr Lee Kuan Yew could be described as a hard-nosed Realist. ST also used this label to describe the new Australian foreign minister:


Moving on, to language matters, how did the term "hard-nosed" originate? The dictionaries were happy to give their definitions but were coy on the origin of hard-nosed (why not "hard-teeth"? someone asked). I did find this speculative explanation -- from the sports section of an American online news site:

Tracing the origin of the phrase "hard-nosed" with dogs, rhinos, bullets and surgeons

Then there is this tongue-in-cheek explanation from Yahoo! Answers (UK)...

I believe it originated with Michelangelo, in despair at his wonderful statue of David. Took a bit of re-sculpting, it did. The phrase in Italian is quite musical.