Trivia Tuesday #7

It’s quiz night again tonight, and I don’t have anything much to talk about, so it’s time for another ten random facts that you may or may not have already known. Welcome to the seventh edition of my occasional series, Tuesday Trivia!

1. The national animal of Mauritius is the Dodo. The island of Mauritius is the only place that the Dodo is known to have lived.

2. There are volcanoes on Mars. The largest of them is  Olympus Mons, which is Latin for Mount Olympus.

3. JPEG (as in the file format for pictures) stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. PMG is Portable Network Graphics.

4. The kiwi fruit is also known as the Chinese gooseberry

5.  A dog’s normal body temperature is 101 degrees Fahrenheit, or 38°C.


6. Octopus blood is blue.

7. In Greek mythology, Hades (God of the Underworld) is the brother of both Zeus (God of the Sky and Thunder) and Poseidon (God of the Sea).

8. The highest value Euro bank note in circulation is €500

9. There are 1440 minutes in a day.

10. Nomophobia is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact. The term, an abbreviation for “no-mobile-phone phobia”, was coined during a study by the UK Post Office.

That’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed my little list of facts. Now, wish us luck in the quiz 😉


Trivia Tuesday #6

It’s quiz night again tonight, and we all know what that means… time for me to regale you with fascinating facts that will probably never actually come up in the quiz 😉

  1. The artist who has featured most often on the “Now That’s What I Call Music” compliation series (which recently turned 30) is Robbie Williams.
  2. Sticking with music… the only person to appear at both Live Aid concerts (London and Philadelphia) was Phil Collins. He used Concorde to fly between the two cities.
  3. 5,000-year-old chewing gum made from bark tar, with tooth imprints, has been found in Kierikki, Yli-Ii, Finland
  4. The Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year 2013 is Selfie. 
  5. The sorceror that Mickey Mouse is apprenticed to in Disney’s Fantasia is called Yen Sid (Disney backwards)

    Epcot - Fantasia Topiary Scene - Sorceror's Ap...
    Epcot – Fantasia Topiary Scene – Sorceror’s Apprentice (Photo credit: keristars)
  6. The music duo Simon & Garfunkel originally performed as Tom and Jerry
  7. Tupperware is named after its inventor, Earl Silas Tupper.
  8. The Picture of Dorian Grey was Oscar Wilde’s only novel.
  9. The first commercially sold video game of any kind was called Computer Space.
  10. The closest country to Australia is Papua New Guinea.

That’s all for today. I hope you learned something 😉


Trivia Tuesday #5

I do plan to write about the rest of my weekend trip, but I won’t have time to sort out the photos for my next post before going to the quiz tonight, so for today you’ll have to make do with some more Tuesday trivia. Here are today’s 10 random facts.

Television in Question Marks.
Photo : Wikipedia
  1. The Sesame Street character Oscar the Grouch was originally orange. He became green in Season 2.
  2. Sir Cliff Richard (birth name Harry Rodger Webb) will release his 100th album on 11 November 2013. He is is the only artist to have had at least one UK top five album in each of the last seven decades (1950s-2010s).

    Shredder as seen in the opening credits.
    Mr. Banks, is that you? (Photo: Wikipedia)
  3. James Avery, who plays Will Smith’s uncle (Philip Banks) on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, was also the voice of Shredder in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series.
  4. Botanically speaking, a strawberry is not a berry… but a banana is.
  5. Depending on the species, a jellyfish is between 95 and 98% water.
  6. A group of hyenas is known as a Cackle – very appropriate!
  7. Kazahkstan is the largest landlocked country by area. At 2,727,300 square kilometres (1,053,000 sq miles), its territory is larger than Western Europe!
  8. The Michelin Man has a name… it’s Bibendum, or Bib for short.
  9. Tina Turner’s real name is Annie Mae Bullock.
  10. The Visitors album by Abba was the first CD to be produced, in 1982

Trivia Tuesday

Português: Logotipo para trivia.
Trivia! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s quiz night tonight, so I decided it was high time for another Trivia Tuesday.  I still live in hope that some day one of these posts might even be of use for the quiz 😉 Here are some random facts I’ve discovered over the past few weeks and thought were interesting enough to share…

  • The first web cam watched a coffee pot. The Trojan Room Coffee Pot was created to save employees at The Cambridge University from having to make pointless trips to the coffee machine.
  • Speaking of coffee… Central and South America produce approximately two thirds of the world’s coffee supply. The only US state in which coffee is grown commercially is Hawaii.
  • From coffee to tea… The first tea bags were hand-sewn silk bags. They were originally intended hold samples of loose tea, which was meant to be removed from the bags, but customers found it easier to brew the tea with the tea still enclosed in the porous bags.
  • The highest capital city in the world is Quito, Ecuador. The lowest is Baku, Azerbaijan.
  • The term checkmate comes from the Persian phrase shāh māt, meaning “the king is helpless/defeated”.
  • Almonds are a member of the peach family (they belong to the genus Prunus, which also includes plums, cherries and apricots. Almonds and peaches are classified in the sub-genus Amygdalus).
  • Only female ducks quack. In general, ducks make a wide range of calls, including cooing, hooting and grunting, but the males never quack.
  • One million seconds is roughly eleven and a half days (11.5741 days, to be precise).
  • Albert Brooks, the actor who voiced Marlin the clownfish in Finding Nemo, was born Albert Einstein. He changed his surname to avoid confusion with the famous physicist.
  • The Hundred Years’ War lasted 116 years, from 1337–1453. The Seven Years’ War lasted nine years, from 1754 to 1763, but the main period of fighting was in the seven years between 1756 and 1763.

And that was this month’s ten facts. I hope you enjoyed them! Wish us luck with the quiz…

Trivia tuesday

There is something I want to post about this week, but today I don’t have time to do it justice, so in honour of tonight being quiz night, here’s some Tuesday trivia for you.

  • The romance novelist Barbara Cartland was the step-grandmother of Diana, Pricess of Wales. Cartland’s daughter, Raine, married Diana’s father, the Eighth Earl Of Spencer.
  • The firefly is not actually a fly, but a beetle.
  • Gandhi was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times but never won it. The closest he came was in 1948, when he was nominated a few days before he died. The prize committed decided not to honour him post humously, but instead didn’t award the prize that year, stating that there were “No suitable living persons”.
  • In Sweden, in 1979, a number of people called in sick to work with a case of “being homosexual,” in protest of homosexuality being classified as an illness. Within a few months, Sweden became one of only very few countries at that time to declassify homosexuality as an illness.
  • Air Force One is the official air traffic control call sign of a United States Air Force aircraft carrying the President of the United States. This means, when the president is not there, the plane is no longer Air Force One.
  • California’s vehicle licence plates have been manufactured at Folsam State Prison since the 1930s. That’s the same prison as in the Johnny Cash song “Folsam Prison Blues”.
  • Suzanne Collins, author of the best-selling Hunger Games trilogy, worked as a writer for the television show “Clarissa Explains It All”.
  • Melissa Joan Hart, who played Clarissa in the aforementioned TV series, went on to play Sabrina in Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
  • Kevin Clash, who provides the voice of Elmo on Sesame Street, also played Baby Sinclair in the Sitcom Dinosaurs.
  • Albert Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel in 1952 but turned it down, stating “I am deeply moved by the offer from our State of Israel, and at once saddened and ashamed that I cannot accept it.

That’s ten facts… enough for one day, I think. Need to save some for next time 😉

35 before 35: Reading – Emma by Jane Austen

After reading a couple of other books, I decided it was time to get back to my 35 before 35 BBC Big Read challenge, so I picked up a copy of Emma by Jane Austen from my local branch of Thalia (you can purchase English classics there for the bargain price of  €3.99!). Here’s my review.

Emma by Jane Austen

Plot summary

English: "The sight of Harriet's tears&qu...
English: “The sight of Harriet’s tears” – Emma tells Harriet that Mr. Elton is not interested in marrying her. Austen, Jane. Emma. London: George Allen, 1898, page 144. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Emma Woodhouse, the title chatacter of the book, lives alone with her “invalid” (read: hypochondriac!) father. At the start of the book, the two of them have been “abandoned” by Emma’s old governess, Miss Taylor, who has just married and thus moved out of their house.  Throughout the entire book, Mr Woodhouse refers to the ex-governess as “poor Mrs Weston” (her married name). Emma’s sister, who is also married, is “poor Isabella”. According to Mr Woodhouse, nobody who has moved out of their own house to get married can possibly be happy.

Emma, who has led a charmed life as the spoiled favourite daughter of a wealthy man, fears that she is going to be bored now that her constant companion for years has gone off and left her, so she decides to take a young girl named Harriet Smith under her wing. Because she introduced Miss Taylor (as was) to her now husband, Emma has come to the conclusion that she has a talent for matchmaking and decides to find someone for Harriet. But first she has to persuade her to turn down Mr Martin, a farmer, who she feels is entirely beneath Harriet’s station. Harriet duly does so, and Emma sets her sights on Mr Elton – a family friend of the Woodhouses – as the perfect match for Harriet. Meanwhile, Mr Knightly, another family friend who has known Emma all her life, warns Emma not to give Harriet ideas above her station. He is proved right when it transpires that Mr Elton has never felt any affection for Harriet at all, and in fact had his sights set on someone else (trying not to give too much away here). Harriet is heartbroken, and Emma resolves never to do any matchmaking again.

Later, Mr Weston’s son, Frank Churchill (who was adopted and then brought up by his aunt and uncle after his mother died when he was very young, hence the different surname), turns up and starts flirting with Emma, who duly flirts back causing various people to think there’s something developing between them. Due to a  misunderstanding, Emma then comes to the conclusion that Harriet is in love with Frank and basically tells her to go for it if she wants, but not to expect any help from Emma (who is done with matchmaking, after all). Harriet takes encouragement from this and starts looking for signs that the object of her affections feels the same about her. When Frank turns out to be engaged, Emma assumes Harriet will be upset, only to find out that actually she’s in love with someone else. At which point Emma realises that she, too, is in love with that someone else and has been all along…

My thoughts
So, a rather long summary of the plot (some aspects of it anyway – more does happen). Now for my review.

First of all, I have to say that in the beginning I did not like Emma as a person at all. She’s spoilt, selfish, vain and thinks she knows best about everything. Some of her thoughts about the neighbours are just plain bitchy (and towards the end she even makes one horrible comment out loud, although she does have the grace to feel bad when Mr Knightly points out that what she said was just plain rude and the person being insulted understood her perfectly well). She does redeem herself later when she realises she’s been wrong about pretty much everything, despite thinking herself oh-so-clever.

Harriet Smith annoyed me as well, with her “Oh dear Emma, if you say it then it must be true” attitude. Way to make a spoiled little rich girl even more big headed! And as for the father, with his imaginary illnesses and insistance that practically every food you can think of is bad… including apples (unless they are baked in exactly the right way… Let’s just say I certainly wouldn’t have pandered to his every whim as the characters in this book did! I think my favourite character was Mr Knightly, one of the few people that actually treated Emma like a real person and not some kind of goddess. With everybody else constantly fawning around her and telling her how wonderful she was, every time Mr Knightly pointed out that she had done wrong (the verbal equivalent of the good slap that I felt she desperately needed when the novel started!), I found myself rooting for him.

All that said, I did actually like the book. It was well written, and Emma’s observations were often quite clever, even if there was a mean element to them. I thought the story, with all its twists and turns, was interesting as well and found myself genuinely hoping that Harriet did end up with someone, especially once she got some self-confidence and stopped fawning at the wonderful Emma’s feet. Emma herself did change towards the end of the novel, and at that point I started to like her more. looking back, it seems a lot of her faults were related to her age (at the start of the novel, she was only 21), and the arrogance of youth. Underneath it all, she always did mean well, even if she did go about things in entirely the wrong way and seemed to have trouble understanding that anybody could ever think differently than how she wanted them to. Once she fell in love and started to grow up a bit, she became much more likeable and I was left thinking there was hope that she could actually become a decent person in time!

Overall, I thought that Emma gave some great insights into what life was like in the 1800s (particularly for women), but in many ways the story is timeless. Not many people these days have as much time on their hands as Emma Woodhouse, but how many women can honestly say they’ve never tried to matchmake their friends, or come to an wrong conclusion  based on their own flawed interpretation? At eighteen, I probably could have been an Emma… although hopefully not quite as oblivious to everyone else’s opinion… Emma is not about to become my favourite book, but I’m sure I will read it again some day.

Aside from reading Emma, I have also managed to read one non-fiction book The Importance of Being Trivial: In Search of the Perfect Fact by Mark Mason. Here’s the synopsis: Convinced that our love of trivia must reveal something truly important about us, Mark Mason sets out to discover what that something is. And, in the process, he asks the fundamental questions that keep all trivialists awake at night: Why is it so difficult to forget that Keith Richards was a choirboy at the Queen’s coronation when it’s so hard to remember what we did last Thursday? Are men more obsessed with trivia than women? Can it be proved that house flies hum in the key of F? Can anything ever really be proved? And the biggest question of them all: is there a perfect fact, and if so what is it?

I quite enjoyed this book, although some of his conclusions about women made me want to track the author down and punch him! The random facts he inserted were interesting though, as were the various conversations he had with experts. This was perfect light-hearted reading for my daily commute.

Tuesday Trivia #2

I am going to tell you all about Berlin (and Eddie Izzard) soon, but for now I have to go to a pub quiz. So in honour of that I thought I’d give you some trivia. You never know when useless facts could come in handy!

  • The boat in the film Jaws was called Orca (as in Killer Whale).
  • The name Killer Whale is actually quite misleading. Not only are Orcas not, in fact, killers. They’re also members of the dolphin family.
  • Speaking of whales, the name Starbucks came from the novel Moby Dick – it’s the named after Starbuck, the chief mate of the whaling ship Pequod.
  • In 2011, the American Book Review placed Moby Dick’s first line (“Call me Ishmael”) at the top of a list of 100 best first lines from novels. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen came second on that list, and Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchom was third. The full list is here:
  • The mobile phone is now 40 years old! The first call from a hand-held mobile phone was made on 3 April 1973. The phone was made by Motorola.
  • The first SMS (text message) was sent in 1992 over the Vodafone network. It was sent from a computer to a mobile phone and read “Merry Christmas”.
  • The word merry derives from Old English myrige and originally meant pleasant/agreeable rather than cheerful or jolly.
  • The term Jolly Roger refers to any of various flags flown to identify a ship’s crew as priates – the skull and cross bones is the most common, but there are others.
  • The film Who Framed Roger Rabbit is the only animated/live action film to have won four Academy Awards, and became the first animated film to win multiple Academy Awards since Mary Poppins in 1964

The month of tea and soup

I read recently that January is apparantly National Hot Tea Month. I’m assuming the “National” here must refer to America – I’ve certainly never heard of it! Mind you, being British I have no need for a tea month. A nice cup of tea, according to we Brits, is the answer to everything, therefore every month is tea month!

January is also supposedly National Soup Month. Again, I can only assume the nation in question is America. I think this is one I could get on board with though. What could be better to counteract the awfulness of January than some nice hot soup? (I know it’s an utter cliché, but I think January is my least favourite month of the year, closely followed by November.)

World soup month is the way forward, I feel. Admittedly it’s not exactly soup weather in Australia and New Zealand, but there’s always Gazpacho and… other cold soups. I’m sure there must be some.

Homemade soup!
Homemade soup!

Since tonight, for me, is quiz night (the first one of the year!) here are some random facts about January for you:

Question marks (Photo credit: makeitgreat)
  1. The birthstone for January is garnet.
  2. 8 January is the birth date of Elvis Presley, Dame Shirley Bassey (a Welsh singer) and David Bowie.
  3. The United Kingdom claimed sovereignty over the Falkland Islands on 1 January 1833.
  4. January is named after the Roman God Janus, God of beginnings and transitions
  5. Traditionally, the Roman calendar consisted of 10 months totalling 304 days, with winter as a “monthless” period. January and February were only added in around 713 BC, which explains the seeming weirdness of October, November and December – which mean eight, nine and ten respectively, despite, in fact, being the tenth, eleventh and twelfth months!
  6. The London Underground, the world’s oldest underground railway, opened in 10 January 1863. That means the oldest section, which went from Paddington Station to Farringdon Street via King’s Cross and is now incorporated into the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines, will be celebrating 150 years this year!

Totally trivial!

It’s the first Tuesday of the month, which in my world means it’s quiz night. My team won last month (mostly not through my efforts – I knew two answers). I wonder if we can do it again?

In honour of quiz night, I thought I’d write a post with some (hopefully interesting) random facts. Just in case you ever find yourself in need of some trivia. You never know… it could happen!

Question Mark Graffiti
Question Mark Graffiti (Photo credit: Bilal Kamoon)
  • The shortest war on record – between the United Kingdom and the Sultanate of Zanzibar – took place on 27 August 1896 and lasted 38 minutes.
  • The first country in the world that allowed women to vote was New Zealand in 1893.
  • The Bee Hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world. An adult male measures about 2.2 inches and weighs about 0.06 ounces.
  • The first person on a British stamp other than royalty was William Shakespeare, in 1964. The first self-adhesive stamps were issued by Sierra Leone on 10 February 1964. (Obviously 1964 was the year for stamp-related trivia).
  • Hong Kong is made up of 235 islands.
  • The national bird of India is the peacock.
  • The unit of currency in Ethiopia is called the Birr.
  • The tallest waterfall in the world, at 3,212 feet (979 m),  is Angel Falls in Venezuela.  Second is Tugela Falls in South Africa, which is 3,110 feet (948 m).
  • The first ever official international football match took place in Glasgow between England and Scotland on 30 November 1872. It finished in a 0-0 draw.
  • The first SMS (text) message was sent over the Vodafone GSM network in the United Kingdom on 3 December 1992. It said “Merry Christmas”.

There you are – 10 random facts. Let it never be said that Confuzzledom is not educational 😉