Monday, December 10, 2007

HELL EXPLAINED By Chemistry Student

The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid term.

The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well :

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today.

Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, "It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over!

The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct......leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting "Oh my God."


School Absence Notes

Real School Absent Notes from Parents.


























45 Oxymorons

About Oxymorons

An Oxymoron is a combination of contradictory or
incongruous words, such as 'Cruel Kindness' or
'Jumbo Shrimp' (Jumbo means 'large' while Shrimp
means 'small'). It is a literary figure of speech
in which opposite or contradictory words, terms,
phrases or ideas are combined to create a
rhetorical effect by paradoxical means.

Top 45 Oxymorons

45. Act naturally
44. Found missing
43. Resident alien
42. Advanced BASIC
41. Genuine imitation
40. Airline Food
39. Good grief
38. Same difference
37. Almost exactly
36. Government organization
35. Sanitary landfill
34. Alone together
33. Legally drunk
32. Silent scream
31. Living dead
30. Small crowd
29. Business ethics
28. Soft rock
27. Butt Head
26. Military Intelligence
25. Software documentation
24. New classic
23. Sweet sorrow
22. Childproof
21. "Now, then ..."
20. Synthetic natural gas
19. Passive aggression
18. Taped live
17. Clearly misunderstood
16. Peace force
15. Extinct Life
14. Temporary tax increase
13. Computer jock
12. Plastic glasses
11. Terribly pleased
10. Computer security
9. Political science
8. Tight slacks
7. Definite maybe
6. Pretty ugly
5. Twelve-ounce pound cake
4. Diet ice cream
3. Working vacation
2. Exact estimate
1. Microsoft Works

Friday, November 23, 2007

Jovial Genesis

In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth, and populated the Earth with broccoli, cauliflower and spinach; green and yellow and red vegetables of all kinds did He create, so Man and Woman would live long and healthy lives.

But Satan, using the great gifts which God had bestowed upon him, created Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, and Krispy Kreme Donuts. And Satan said, "You want chocolate with that?" And Man said, "Yes!" and Woman was heard to add: "As long as you're at it, add some sprinkles." And they each gained 10 pounds. And Satan smiled.

Then God created the healthful yoghurt that Woman might keep the figure that Man found so fair. And Satan brought forth white flour from the wheat, and sugar from the cane, and combined them. And Woman went from size 6 to size 14.

So God said, "Try my fresh green salad." And Satan presented Thousand-Island Dressing, buttery croutons and garlic toast on the side. And Man and Woman unfastened their belts following the repast.

God then said, "I have sent you heart-healthy vegetables and olive oil in which to cook them." And Satan brought forth deep-fried fish and chicken-fried steak so big it needed its own platter. And Man gained more weight and his cholesterol went through the roof. God created a light fluffy white cake and named it "Angel Food Cake," saying "It is healthy and good." Satan then created a tastier, richer dessert and called it "Devil's Food Cake."

God then brought forth running shoes so that His children might, by healthy exercise lose those extra pounds. And Satan gave them cable TV with a remote control device so Man would not have to toil so onerously changing channels. And Man and Woman laughed and cried before the flickering blue light and gained pounds.

God then gave lean beef so Man might consume fewer calories and still satisfy his appetite. And Satan created McDonald's and its 99-cent double cheeseburger. Then Satan said, "You want fries with that?" And both Man and Woman replied, "Yes! And Super Size them!" And Man went into cardiac arrest, and Satan said, "Hey, this is good! This is very very good."

God sighed wearily and created He quadruple by-pass surgery.

And Satan created HMOs.

Friday, June 22, 2007

April Fool's Day

Here are 10 of the top April Fool's Day pranks ever pulled off, as judged by the San Diego-based Museum of Hoaxes for their notoriety, absurdity, and number of people duped.

-- In 1957, a BBC television show announced that thanks to a mild winter and the virtual elimination of the spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. Footage of Swiss farmers pulling strands of spaghetti from trees prompted a barrage of calls from people wanting to know how to grow their own spaghetti at home.

-- In 1985, Sports Illustrated magazine published a story that a rookie baseball pitcher who could reportedly throw a ball at 270 kilometers per hour (168 miles per hour) was set to join the New York Mets. Finch was said to have mastered his skill -- pitching significantly faster than anyone else has ever managed -- in a Tibetan monastery. Mets fans' celebrations were short-lived.

-- Sweden in 1962 had only one television channel, which broadcast in black and white. The station's technical expert appeared on the news to announce that thanks to a newly developed technology, viewers could convert their existing sets to receive color pictures by pulling a nylon stocking over the screen. In fact, they had to wait until 1970.

-- In 1996, American fast-food chain Taco Bell announced that it had bought Philadelphia's Liberty Bell, a historic symbol of American independence, from the federal government and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell.
Outraged citizens called to express their anger before Taco Bell revealed the hoax. Then-White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale and said the Lincoln Memorial in Washington had also been sold and was to be renamed the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial after the automotive giant.

--For the 10th anniversary of San Serriffe, a small republic located in the Indian Ocean consisting of several semicolon-shaped islands. A series of articles described the geography and culture of the two main islands, named Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse.

-- In 1992, US National Public Radio announced that Richard Nixon was running for president again. His new campaign slogan was, "I didn't do anything wrong, and I won't do it again." They even had clips of Nixon announcing his candidacy. Listeners flooded the show with calls expressing their outrage. Nixon's voice actually turned out to be that of impersonator Rich Little.

-- In 1998, a newsletter titled New Mexicans for Science and Reason carried an article that the state of Alabama had voted to change the value of pi from 3.14159 to the "Biblical value" of 3.0.

-- Burger King, another American fast-food chain, published a full-page advertisement in USA Today in 1998 announcing the introduction of the "Left-Handed Whopper," specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, the new burger included the same ingredients as the original, but the condiments were rotated 180 degrees. The chain said it received thousands of requests for the new burger, as well as orders for the original "right-handed" version.

-- Discover Magazine announced in 1995 that a highly respected biologist, Aprile Pazzo (Italian for April Fool), had discovered a new species in Antarctica: the hotheaded naked ice borer. The creatures were described as having bony plates on their heads that became burning hot, allowing the animals to bore through ice at high speed -- a technique they used to hunt penguins.

-- Noted British astronomer Patrick Moore announced on the radio in 1976 that at 9:47 am, a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event, in which Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, would cause a gravitational alignment that would reduce the Earth's gravity. Moore told listeners that if they jumped in the air at the exact moment of the planetary alignment, they would experience a floating sensation. Hundreds of people called in to report feeling the sensation.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Office Thoughts

Here are some inspirational thoughts for those secretaries, receptionists and stenos in offices nationwide.

If it wasn't for the last minute, nothing would ever get done around here.

I can only please one person per day. Today is not your day. Tomorrow is not looking good either.

I love deadlines. I especially like the whooshing sound they make as they go flying by.

Tell me what you need, and I'll tell you how to get along without it.

Accept that some days you are the pigeon and some days the statue.

Needing someone is like needing a parachute. If he isn't there the first time, chances are that you won't be needing him again.

I don't have an attitude problem; you have a perception problem.

My reality check bounced.

On the keyboard of life, always keep one finger over the escape key.

I don't suffer from stress. I am a carrier.

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, because you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

Everybody is somebody else's weirdo.

Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level, then beat you to death with their experience.

A pat on the back is only a few centimetres from a kick in the butt.

Don't be irreplaceable - if you can't be replaced, you will never get promoted.

After any salary raise, you will have less money at the end of the month than you did before.

The more crap you put up with, the more crap you are going to get.

You can go anywhere you want if you look serious and carry a clipboard.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Math Nerd #3

Each of these has an easily discernible solution, yet most people get these wrong. Proceed with care.

1. The birthdays of two friends fall on the same day, although one of them is exactly 2,555 days older than the other. How old are they?

2. In one year of 365.25 days, how many complete rotations does the earth make on its axis? Round your answer to the nearest whole number.

3. Tom Swift took off in his new experimental airplane and flew 1,000 miles north, 1,000 miles west, 1,000 miles south, and 1,000 miles east, returning to the precise spot from which he had departed. He then took off from the same location as before, but this time he flew only 500 miles north, 500 miles west, 500 miles south, and 500 miles east before landing. Where did Tom land?
(Believe it or not, he did not land on the spot where he started from.) This is not a trick question based on a verbal quibble, and there are no obscure physical laws involved. The rotation of the earth is not to be considered, and Tom was more than 160 miles from both poles at all times. A rough but acceptable answer can be given without any numerical calculations.

4. A seafaring native is shanghaied aboard a tramp steamer shortly after noon on January 1, 1980. Each day thereafter, he makes a notch on a stick to represent a day he has served on the ship. The ship sails in an easterly direction and circumnavigates the globe, returning to its point of departure and freeing the native in his home port. As the native walks off the ship shortly after noon, he counts 365 notches, including the one he made for that day. What is the date? (a) January 1 (b) December 31 (c) December 30

5. A bullet is fired from a level rifle aimed out over the Atlantic Ocean at the exact moment that another bullet is dropped from the same height and place. Which bullet will hit the water first? Assume ideal conditions - that is, no wind turbulence and a perfectly calm sea.

6. January 1, 1901 was a Tuesday. Find the day of the week for January 1, 2001. (The computation for this problem is short and easy.)

7. "Little Joey seems to be growing twice as fast as any other child I ever saw," said his mother. "I'll say," said his father. "Two days ago he was just three years old, and next year he'll be six!" Explain this curious situation.

Can be obtained by email to

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Poetry 101

These are entries to a Washington Post competition asking for a two-line rhyme with the most romantic first line, but the least romantic second line:

My darling, my lover, my beautiful wife:
Marrying you screwed up my life.

I see your face when I am dreaming.
That's why I always wake up screaming.

Kind, intelligent, loving and hot;
This describes everything you are not.

Love may be beautiful, love may be bliss,
But I only slept with you 'cause I was pissed.

I thought that I could love no other --
that is until I met your brother.

Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you.
But the roses are wilting, the violets are dead, the sugar
bowl's empty and so is your head.

I want to feel your sweet embrace;
But don't take that paper bag off your face.

I love your smile, your face, and your eyes --
Damn, I'm good at telling lies!

My love, you take my breath away.
What have you stepped in to smell this way?

My feelings for you no words can tell,
Except for maybe "Go to hell."

What inspired this amorous rhyme?
Two parts vodka, one part lime.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Boxer's Puzzle

Attributed to the greatest American puzzlist, Sam Loyd, this little gem of a puzzle is both simple to play and complex to solve.

Let's assume two players, Dick and Jane. Jane writes 16 letters on a sheet of paper, in a 4 X 4 grid, then draws a line from A to B, then passes the sheet to Dick for his move. Dick connects E with A.
If Jane, whose turn it is next were to connect E with F, Dick could then enclose the box by connecting B to F, and score "one box." He would then have to connect another two points on the grid and pass the grid to his playing partner. The winner of the game, obviously, is the player who scores the greatest number of boxes.

Now consider the second graph shown. Obviously, Dick and Jane have played this game enough times to become quite expert at it. Let's assume it is Dick's turn to connect two grid letters. If he connects M to N, Jane will then have the right to connect I to J, E to F, B to F and C to G, scoring 4 boxes. She would then have to go again, and connect two more grid points. If she connected H to L, Dick would wind up the loser as he would have to connect any of the remaining options without making a "box", leaving Jane the ability to enclose all the rest, and thus win the game handily.
Remember, two players alternate to connect letters and attempt to score "boxes". Once a player completes a box or boxes, he then has another go before passing the grid to his opponent. The winner is the one who scores the greatest number of boxes.

HINT: To avoid arguments as to who owns which enclosed box, it is useful for a player to place an initial within any box/boxes they have just scored, thus preventing arguments later.
Also note the Game of Slither, presented elsewhere in this blog. Another fine strategy game.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Game of Slither

This is a much more challenging two-person game, than one first imagines. Let's start with a grid of 30 dots, in a 5 x 6 configuration, as shown below. You can set up a smaller, or larger grid, if you wish.

Two players alternate by joining two dots, but each player (except the first) must add his or her line to either the beginning OR end of a line already placed. The player who is forced to complete or enclose the figure LOSES the game.

In example No. #1 (below), the next player to move can NOT move without completing the figure, so LOSES the game.

In the next example, (No. #2, below), the next player would still have a move open to avoid completing the figure, so the game continues.

You might be interested to learn that I have researched this game fairly thoroughly, and have not been able to find a formula for a winning solution.

Name Matching Puzzle 1

Every fact here is important, and there is no catch or trick answer. A few very bright people can work out the solution in under 10 minutes, but most of us take much longer to solve the problem, if at all. Give it a try.

On the redeye express from Los Angeles to New York, the pilot, co-pilot and navigator are named Smith, Robinson and Jones, albeit not respectively. Three passengers on this plane have the same names: Mr. Smith, Mr. Robinson and Mr. Jones.

1. Mr. Robinson lives in Boston.
2. The co-pilot lives exactly halfway between New York and Boston.
3. Mr. Jones earns exactly $50,000 per year.
4. The co-pilot's next door neighbor, one of the passengers, earns exactly three times as much as the co-pilot does.
5. Smith beats the pilot at racquetball.
6. The passenger whose name is the same as the co-pilot's lives in New York.
Question: Who is the navigator?

Now if you solved the above logic problem, try this one on for size.

In 1918, on the day that the WWI Armistice was signed, 3 married couples celebrated by having dinner together.

1. Each husband is the brother of one of the wives, and each wife is the sister of one of the husbands; that is, there are 3 brother-sister pairs in the group.
2. Helen is exactly 26 weeks older than her husband, who was born in August.
3. Mr. White's sister is married to Helen's brother's brother-in-law. She (Mr. White's sister) married him on her birthday, which is in January.
4. Marguerite White is not as tall as William Black.
5. Arthur's sister is acknowledged to be prettier than Beatrice.
6. John is 50 years old.
Question: What is Mrs. Brown's first name?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mind Bender #4

This test is like those prepared by Mensa, the organization made up of people who rank in the top 2% on standardized IQ tests.

1. This group of words is most unusual. Why? If you look at it, you can probably find out, but a solution is not all that obvious.

2. Andrew's estate was worth $100,000. His will left 55% to his wife Susan, and 15% apiece to each of three friends, provided that they survived him. If any of the four predeceased him, that share was to be divided evenly among the others. One friend died the week before Andrew, and one died in an accident on his way to Andrew's funeral. How much money did Susan get?

3. We have a new system of Roman numerals.
???? = NINE

4. Jane's brother Paul has one more brother than he has sisters. How many more brothers than sisters does Jane have?

5. You have eleven coins in your pocket. They total more than $1, but you are unable to make exact change for $1. Which eleven coins do you have?

6. If Joan is younger than Sally, and Sally is older than Ruth, and Betsy is older than Joan, who is the youngest?
(a) Joan (b) Sally (c) Ruth (d) Betsy (e) cannot determine.

7. All Puzzlist readers are intelligent. Many Puzzlist readers are men. Many men drive cars. Some male drivers have accidents. Which of the following conclusions can be drawn from these statements?
(a) All Puzzlist readers who drive cars are men.
(b) All male drivers who are also Puzzlist readers are intelligent.
(c) Any driver who has an accident does not read Puzzlist.
(d) None of the above.
(e) All of the above.

8. You come upon a signpost that says: London, 12 miles; Parma, 16 miles; Auburn, 1 mile. Using the same system of determining mileage, how far would York be?

9. In the following sentence, the same seven letters can be rearranged to make two words that fit appropriately into the blanks.
"The beautiful _______ was not easy to _______, because she had been exposed to many unusual situations in her career."

10. How many cubic metres of dirt are there in a hole which measures 50 cm. wide, 50 cm. long and 50 cm. deep?

1. There is no 'e' in the entire group, although 'e' is the most commonly-used letter.
2. $60,000. Susan gets her 55% plus one-third of the $15,000 left by the friend who died before Andrew. The other friend who died in the accident became deceased after Andrew's death.
3. Answer: VCVX = NINE because V=N, C=I, V=N and X=E.
4. Three.
5. Amongst other combinations, three quarters, four dimes and four pennies.
6. (e) cannot determine; the information is not sufficient.
7. (b)
8. 25 miles. The mileage is the number representing the numerical place in the alphabet of the first letter of each place name.
10. None - it's a hole.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Word Nerd #5

More word puzzles for those who enjoy exercising grey matter.

1. The word "gymnasium" describes a building where sports are played. Etymologically, it refers to a condition which describes the athletes competing within. What's the condition?

2. What breed of dog gets its name from a region along the former Yugoslavian coast?

3. In the early years of the 19th century, Elbridge Gerry, the Massachusetts governor, was held responsible for reshaping (for voting advantages) the state's Essex County. To what familiar political word did the reshaping give birth, and why?

4. The letters in ROBERTSON DAVIES' name can be rearranged to spell out READ IT OVER, SNOBS. What do we call such rearrangements?

5. You meant to say: "I have in my mind a half-formed wish." Instead, you utter "I have in my mind a half-warmed fish." What does one call such slips of the tongue?

6. The Spanish use guau-guau to represent this common sound. The Romanians hear it as ham-ham, the Russians as vas-vas, the Italians as bu-bu, the Turks as hov-hov and the Chinese as wang-wang. What do we say?

7. How many of these nouns can you define?
(a) gaboon; (b) gadroon; (c) rigadoon; (d) dragoon; (e) galloon; (f) picaroon; (g) festoon; (h) ratoon.

8. Name at least two compound words each containing 6 consecutive consonants.

9. What part of London is in France?

10. What single English word contains seven 'i's?

1. Nakedness, from the Greek word 'gymnos', meaning 'naked.'
2. Dalmatian
3. Gerrymander. A reporter noted the new area looked like a salamander, and gave it this new name.
4. Anagrams
5. Spoonerisms, after Rev. W.A.Spooner, warden of New College, Oxford, who was prone to such gems.
6. Bow-wow (dog barking)
7. (a) a cuspidor; (b) ornamental carving; (c) a lively 17th-18th C dance; (d) mounted soldier; (e) narrow lace trimming;
(f) rogue or pirate; (g) decorative chain or band; (h) a shoot of a perennial plant.
8. Catchphrase, Watchstrap, Latchstring
9. The letter 'n'
10. Indivisibilities

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Word Nerd #4

Although I primarily taught science & math at the high school level, I knew that all of us were English teachers as well. I would occasionally give my students quizzes, assignments or puzzles to pore over on week-ends; some even demanded these because I gave them a few marks extra to help boost their grades. My file of these puzzles grew over the years...

1. Etymologically, this word means "eating money"; i.e. money to buy food. It's usually granted to women, and only under certain circumstances. What's the word?

2. What's the shortest English word containing all 5 vowels?

3. It's sometimes called "glossolalia", but there's a more common term for it. What is it?

4. The definition in one dictionary is: To make a sudden violent spasmodic audible expiration of breath. What's the word for this?

5. Coeverden, an industrial town in the Netherlands, was home to the father of a famous explorer. The father, being one of the nobility, added the name of the town to his own surname, and that led to the name of a well-known city. Which one?

6. What's the next letter in this series: O T T F F S S _ ?

7. What short word, in all its uses, has the longest entry in the Oxford English Dictionary?

8. What familiar drink gets its name from a Hindi word meaning "five," referring to the number of ingredients. (One early recipe was arrack, tea, lemon, sugar & water.) What's the drink?

9. NATO is an abbreviation which has become a word in its own right. SCUBA is another. What are such words called?

10. What war-related English word is derived from a French word for a kind of wooden shoe?

1. Alimony
2. Sequoia
3. Speaking in tongues, as when members of some religious sects speak an unintelligible 'language'
4. Sneeze
5. Vancouver
6. E (for eight)
7. Set, which takes up 22.5 big pages
8. Punch
9. Acronyms
10. Sabotage, from 'sabot'

Math Nerd #2

Another interesting example of these math-related puzzles which encourage thinking 'outside the box.' Click on each of the 2 panels holding the questions for an enlarged view, or to print the set out.


Sunday, May 6, 2007

High School Entrance Exam 1876

When the decision was made in 1874 to establish the first two high schools in British Columbia (one in Victoria, the other in New Westminster), it was also decided that the first students should be selected by a competitive entrance examination. This extraordinary test, and those of succeeding years, are all preserved in the annual Public Schools Report. Here are typical questions that faced would-be high school students of 1876.

No. 1- Arithmetic

1) Divide 3587 yards 9 inches into 27 equal distances.

2) How long would it take to count a million coins, at the rate of 100 a minute?

3) Multiply 5 acres 3 rods 27 poles by 70.

No. 2 - English Grammar

1) Name the parts of speech.

2) Give the plural of the following nouns: day, beauty, leaf and fox.

3) What is an abstract noun?

4) Name the degrees of comparison; how many are implied in each?

5) Compare fair, elegant, noble; explain these different forms of comparison.

No. 3 - Spelling

This is a grand and sollem picture, highly suggestif and full of deep feeling and elloquent expresiveness, and most beutifuly ilustritiv of the idea saught to be convayed by the poit who rote: "Now faids the glimring lanskip on the site
And all the air a sollem stilnes holds."

No. 4 - Geography

1) Name the principal countries in Europe and the most remarkable rivers flowing through each.

2) What countries and seas would you cross in going in a straight line from Peking to Madrid?

3) What countries would be passed in sailing from Montreal, Quebec to Victoria, British Columbia?

NOTE: Of the 160 total candidates, only 68 passed. The question remains: Would You?

Frog Dissection

This light-hearted introduction on how NOT to do a frog dissection kept many of my junior science students in stitches. Click on each of the two panels to show an easily readable and printable page...

Teacher Qualification Exam 1885

The following is a section of the British Columbia Government Teachers' Qualification Examination for the year 1885. In format, these tests were not unlike the high school entrance exams of the same period. Spelling questions were particularly exotic, since they demanded the correction of preposterous mis-spellings. Merely to identify the word in question was sometimes a major challenge. Here is the delicious list for July, 1885.

(100 marks for the following list of words: 2 marks will be deducted for each word incorrectly spelled or omitted.)

1. abayanse 26. kneshshense
2. taboo 27. hemmorrage
3. fushshea 28. spermacetee
4. izayah 29. errysyppelass
5. koalless 30. remminissence
6. vassillate 31. pusillanimity
7. sinnister 32. sinsinnattee
8. kerosene 33. argillaceous
9. poinnant 34. sursingle
10. asserbitee 35. pluro-knumonea
11. perrifferry 36. phantazea
12. porferry 37. finale
13. amythist 38. wrecoshay
14. enskonse 39. eschelong
15. supersede 40. o-de-kalone
16. tizzic 41. idiosyncracy
17. knewralgea 42. posthumous
18. wrankkorrus 43. sighnee dyee
19. arkkeollogy 44. pommelling
20. wrettorishon 45. appothem
21. ekkleziastez 46. farmasutical
22. ure (not your) 47. phantazmagorea
23. benefited 48. polyglot
24. assephphalst 49. et setterra
25. vermaselly 50. dillettanta

Word Nerd #3

More thought-provoking questions to stimulate students to dive into a dictionary or thesaurus; not a bad exercise.

1. There is a valid English word the first few letters of which signify a man, the addition of a single letter make it signify a woman, a further addition of a letter make it signify a great man, and a further addition of some letters make it signify a great woman. What is the word?

2. Find the only word in the English language in which the letters (a) -GNT-, and (b) -ROOR-, occur in consecutive order (i.e. no letters between them.)

3. Find the English word in which 3 different sets of double letters occur in consecutive order, with no other letter(s) in between.

4. List at least 2 valid English words in which all the vowels, including y, appear once, in order throughout the word.

5. What valid English word starts with a consonant which is then followed by 4 consecutive vowels?

6. "Lollipop" is the longest word a typist can type on a keyboard solely with his/her right hand. Find the longest word he/she could type with only his/her left hand.

7. Find the words in the English language which rhyme with each of the following:
month; orange; silver; and purple.

8. Find the only word in the English language which ends with the letters "mt".

9. Find at least 3 words in the English language which end in "dous".

10. Find the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of a keyboard.

1. Heroine
2. (a)Sovereignty (b)Microorganism
3. Book-keeper
4. Acerbiously;Facetiously;Abstemiously
5. Queue
6. Stewardesses
7. If you can find some, great; noone else can find words which rhyme with these words.
8. Dreamt
9. Tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, hazardous. Any more?
10. Typewriter

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Chemical Man

The Chemical Element Man

Symbol - Ma

Atomic Mass - Reputedly 160, but isotopes range from 85 to 250. Solid evidence for rare isotopes up to 1000

Occurrence - Rather common. Found most everywhere in both the combined and free state. Found wherever Woman exists (although most of the species claim they prefer a man's world.) Usually hard to find when needed for work around the house. Younger, starry-eyed isotopes readily tend to leave the single state to form compounds.

Common Variations - All men are alike.

Physical Properties - Capable of instantaneous explosion. Can disappear quicker than quick-silver if needed to assist in certain tasks. Very acidic. Has a low heat of combustion. Enters readily into bionic reactions. Biodegradable with a half-life of 40 years. Undergoes strange reactions when left alone. Admits age but takes pride in not acting it. In older specimens this is called Second Childhood. Resistance in affairs of the heart may be lowered through the use of aromatic and tasty dishes.

Uses - Handy for splitting firewood and atoms (prefers atoms.) In California may also be used for hunting grunion on certain moonlit nights. Highly effective income-producing element. Decorative, pleasant to have around. Useful for opening doors, carrying packages and supplying money. CAUTION: Capable of developing heart condition. Violent catalyst!

The Chemical Element Woman

Symbol - Wo

Atomic Mass - Reputed to be 120. Isotopes with mass numbers 90 to 180 are known to exist.

Occurrence - Found both free and combined. In combined state, it is found wherever the element Man is found.

Physical Properties - Boils up at nothing and is capable of freezing at any second. Melts when properly treated. Very bitter if not well used. Surface is frequently covered with a film of paint or oxide in various colors and layers. Density is not as great as generally supposed.

Chemical Properties - Possesses great affinity for the elements Gold and Platinum. Violent reaction if left alone. Deteriorates rapidly. Able to absorb great amounts of food matter. Turns green when placed beside a better-looking specimen. Highly explosive in inexperienced hands. Changes state with pressure. Extremely reactive in the presence of Man.
Contains enough fat to make seven cakes of soap, enough Carbon for 9000 pencils, sufficient Phosphorus to make a box of matches, has sufficient Iron to make a small nail, enough Sulphur to deflea a dog, and enough Water to fill a 10 gallon tank.

Uses - Highly ornamental, useful as a tonic in acceleration of low spirits, and an excellent equalizer of the distribution of wealth. Probably the most effective income reducing agent known.

Unsolved Problem - Chemists and engineers are puzzled why the most streamlined and proportional specimens offer the most resistance.

The Stress Diet

Half grapefruit
1 piece whole wheat bread, toasted
6 oz. skim milk

4 oz. lean broiled chicken breast, no skin
1 cup steamed zucchini
1 oreo cookie
1 cup herb tea

Mid-afternoon Snack
rest of package of oreo cookies
1 quart Rocky Road ice cream
1 jar hot fudge
mug of hot chocolate, large dollop whipped cream on top

2 loaves garlic bread
large mushroom & pepperoni pizza
large pitcher beer
3 bars Milky Way
entire frozen cheesecake, eaten directly from the freezer

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Accident Reports

These are all actual statements made by motorists who had been involved in accidents, and were asked by insurance companies to summarize the details in the fewest words possible.

1. As I approached the intersection, a sign suddenly appeared in a place where no stop sign had ever appeared before. I was unable to stop in time to avoid the accident.

2. To avoid hitting the bumper of the car in front, I struck the pedestrian.

3. My car was legally parked as it backed into the other vehicle.

4. An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my car and vanished.

5. I told the police that I was not injured, but on removing my hat, found I had a fractured skull.

6. I was sure the old fellow would never make it to the other side of the road when I struck him.

7. The pedestrian had no idea which direction to run, so I ran over him.

8. I saw a slow moving, sad faced old gentleman as he bounced off the roof of my car.

9. The telephone pole was approaching. I was attempting to swerve out of its way when it struck the front end.

10. Coming home I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don't have.

11. The other car collided with mine without giving warning of its intentions.

12. I thought my window was down, but I found out it was up when I put my head through it.

13. I collided with a stationary truck coming the other way.

14. A truck backed through my windshield into my wife's face.

15. A pedestrian hit me and went under my car.

16. The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.

17. I pulled away from the side of the road, looked at my mother in law, and headed over the embankment.

18. In my attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.

19. I had been driving for 40 years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident.

20. I was on my way to the doctor with rear end trouble when my universal joint gave way causing me to have an accident.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Very, Very Bad Puns

Although puns aren't my favorite things, I know people who delight in such word play and cannot get enough. Ones which make the normal person groan and wince are especially treasured.

1. It's colder than a teacher's wit.
--- Richard Lederer, Concord, NH

2. The frustrated golfer drove over the river and threw the woods.
--- Eric S. Hansen, Evans, CO

3. I refuse to converse while eating lamb. I will not mince words with ewe.
--- Stephen Weiss, Miami Beach, FL

4. A good pun is its own reword.
--- C. Burris, Topeka, KS

5. My husband gave me a permanent wave, and now he's gone.
--- Dawn Messer, Sicklerville, NJ

6. Q: What do you get when you roll a hand grenade across a kitchen floor?
A: Linoleum Blownapart!
--- Amy Ensign, Kameula, HI

7. Puns are just some antics.
--- Michael Schlichting, Neskowin, OR

8. We trussed each other... let our marriage knot be undone.
--- Dick Warwick, Oakesdale, WA

9. As a master said to his confused disciple: "That was zen, this is Tao."
--- Michael R. waynick, Carleton, MI

10. Homicide: a dead battery.
--- Willard Hastings, Santa Barbara, CA

11. Nevada - the NV of the nation.
--- Karsten Carr, Carson City, NV

12. My brother loves Eskimo culture, but I don't get Innuit.
--- Gary McBride, Columbus, OH

13. The priest's sermon denounced nuclear weapons. The church members came to a critical mass.
--- Beth Byron, Grand Rapids. WI

14. Two American astronomers were visiting a French observatory. One asked the other, "Comet Halley view?"
--- Bertrand A. Lampron, Lew, ME

15. Each New Zealand day dawns new, clear, free.
--- R. W. Harper, Auckland, N.Z.

16. Gertrude Stein on the monotony of Spanish cuisine: "Arroz is arroz is arroz."
--- Stephen Carlyle Cronig, Miami, FL

17. Burlesque show ad: HERE THE BELLES PEEL.
--- A. Bradbury, West Valley City, CT

18. Boxing razes the consciousness.
--- Patti-Jane Wesel, Mount Pleasant, SC

19. If you don't pay for an exorcism, do you get repossessed?
--- Joseph Nadeau, Newtown, PA

20. Actual newspaper headline about a woman who knocked her husband unconscious after learning he'd been unfaithful: SHE CONKS TO STUPOR.
--- Miles Klein, East Brunswick, NJ

21. "Frankly, my dear, do you think I give a damn?" That would have been a Rhettorical question.
--- Troy Dickson, Lake George, NY

22. Salutation to a tasteless punster: "Sir, I would toast you if you were better bred."
--- Toni Gross, Honolulu, HI

23. Requesting more ice water in a Mexican restaurant, a man said, "Aqua frio, pour some more."
--- James D. Waterman, Florissant, MO

24. If you burn the pasta, just explain to your guests that you cooked it 'al Dante'.
--- Alex Mackenzie, Bellingham, WA

25. My friends and I rate puns. We categorize them as P.I. or P.U. (pun intended or unintended). A pun that is intended and really good is Magnum P.I.
--- Robert J. McCauley, Houston, TX

26. Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married. The ceremony wasn't much, but the reception was excellent.
--- anon.

27. A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says, "I'll serve you, but don't start anything."
--- anon

28. A man walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and says, "A beer please, and give me one for the road."
--- anon

29. "Doc, I can't stop singing 'The Green, green Grass of Home."
"That sounds to me like Tom Jones Syndrome."
"Is it common?"
"Well, It's Not Unusual."

30. Two cows are standing next to each other in a field. Daisy says to Dolly, "I was artificially inseminated this morning."
"I don't believe you", says Dolly.
"No, it's true," exclaims Daisy. "No bull."

31. An invisible man marries an invisible woman.
The kids were nothing to look at either.

32. I went into an army surplus store last week to buy some camouflage trousers but couldn't find any.

33. I went into a seafood disco last week. Pulled a mussel.

34. What do you call a fish with no eyes? A fsh.

35. Two termites walk into a bar. One asks, "Is the bar tender here?"

36. Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says, "Dam."

37. Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.

38. Mahatma Gandhi, as we all know walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet,he suffered from bad breath. This made him...
A super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

39. Hear about the person who sent 10 different puns to his friends with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.

Rules of Grammar

Reported to be copied from a poster in the Washington Post newsroom, circa 1983.

1. Don't use no double negatives.

2. Make each pronoun agree with their antecedents.

3. Join clauses good, like a conjunction should.

4. About them sentence fragments.

5. When dangling, watch your participles.

6. Verbs has got to agree with their subjects.

7. Just between you and i, case is important.

8. Don't write run-on sentences when they are hard to read.

9. Don't use commas, which aren't necessary.

10. Try not to ever split infinitives.

11. It is important to use apostrophe's correctly.

12. Proofread your writing to see if you any words out.

13. Correct speling is essential.

14. A preposition is something you never end a sentence with.

15. Eschew obfuscation.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Student View of History

Every teacher who has taught English, Socials or History for any length of time has received an occasional gem of student "wisdom" to add to their list of bloopers. The following are all certified, genuine bloopers, collected from students in grades eight to college level. The collation is from VERBATIM, The Language Quarterly, and is the work of Richard Lederer.

The inhabitants of ancient Egypt were called mummies. They lived in the Sarah Dessert and traveled by Camelot. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere so certain areas of the dessert are cultivated by irritation. The Egyptians built the Pyramids in the shape of a huge triangular cube. The Pyramids are a range of mountains between France and Spain.

The Bible is full of interesting caricatures. In the first book of the Bible, Guinesses, Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree. One of their children, Cain once asked, "Am I my brother's son?"

God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Montezuma. Jacob, son of Isaac, stole his brother's birthmark. Jacob was a patriarch who brought up his twelve sons to be patriarchs, but they did not take to it. One of Jacob's sons, Joseph, gave refuse to the Israelites.

Pharaoh forced the Hebrew slaves to make bread without straw. Moses led them to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread without any ingredients. Afterwards, Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the Ten Commandments.

David was a Hebrew king skilled at playing the liar. He fought with the Philatelists, a race of people who lived in Biblical times. Solomon, one of David's sons had 500 wives and porcupines.

Without the Greeks, we wouldn't have history. The Greeks invented three kinds of columns - Corinthian, Doric and Ironic. They also had myths. A myth is a female moth. One myth says that the mother of Achilles dipped him in the river Stynx until he became intolerable. Achilles appears in the Illiad, by Homer. Homer also wrote the Oddity, in which Penelope was the last hardship that Ulysses endured on his journey. Actually, Homer was not written by Homer but by another man of that name. Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went about giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock.

In the Olympic Games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled the biscuits and threw the java. The reward for the victor was a coral wreath.

The government of Athens was democratic because people took the law into their own hands. There were no wars in Greece, as the mountains are so high that they couldn't climb over to see what their neighbors were doing. When they fought with the Persians, the Greeks were outnumbered because the Persians had more men.

Eventually the Romans conquered the Greeks. History calls people Romans because they never stayed in one place very long.

At Roman banquets, the guests wore garlics in their hair. Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the Battlefields of Gaul. The Ides of March murdered him because they thought he was going to be made king. Nero was a cruel tyranny who would torture his poor subjects by playing the fiddle to them.

Then came the Middle Ages. King Alfred conquered the Dames. King Arthur lived in the Age of Shivery.

King Harold mustarded his troops before the Battle of Hastings. Joan of Arc was cannonized by Bernard Shaw, and victims of the Black Death grew boobs on their necks. Finally, the Magna Carta provided that no free man should be hanged twice for the same offense.

In midevil times, most of the people were alliterate. The greatest writer of the time was Chaucer, who wrote many poems and verses and also wrote literature.

Another tale tells of William Tell, who shot arrows through an apple while standing on his son's head.

The Renaissance was an age in which more individuals felt the value of the human being.

Martin Luther was nailed to the church door at Wittenberg for selling papal indulgences. He died a horrible death, being excommunicated by a bull. It was the painter Donatello's interest in the female nude that made him the Father of the Renaissance. It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented the Bible.

Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented cigarettes. Another important invention was the circulation of the blood. Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100 foot clipper.

The government of England was a limited mockery. Henry VIII found walking difficult because he had an abess on his knee.

Queen Elizabeth was the "Virgin Queen." As a queen, she was a success. When Elizabeth exposed herself before her troops, they shouted "Hurrah!" Then her navy went out and defeated the Spanish Armadillo.

The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. Shakespeare never made much money and is famous only because of his plays. He lived in Windsor with his merry wives, writing tragedies, comedies and errors. In one of Shakespeare's famous plays, Hamlet rations out his situation by relieving himself in a long soliloquy. In another, Lady MacBeth tries to kill the king by attacking his manhood. Romeo and Juliet are an example of a heroic couplet.

Writing at the same time as Shakespeare was Miguel Cervantes. He wrote Donkey Hote. The next author was John Milton. Milton wrote Paradise Lost. Then his wife died and he wrote Paradise Regained.

During the Renaissance, America began. Christopher Columbus was a great navigator who discovered America while cursing about the Atlantic. His ships were the Pinta, the Nina and the Santa Fe.

Later, the Pilgrims crossed the ocean, and this was known as Pilgrim's Progress. When they landed at Plymouth Rock, they were greeted by the Indians, who came down the hill rolling their war hoops before them. The Indian squabs carried their porpoises on their backs. Many of the Indian heroes were slain, along with their cabooses, which proved very fatal to them. The winter of 1620 was a hard one for the settlers. Many people died and many babies were born. Captain John Smith was responsible for all of this.

One of the causes of the Revolutionary Wars was the English put tacks in their tea. Also the colonists would send their parcels through the post without stamps. During the war, the Red Coats and Paul Revere were throwing balls over stone walls. The dogs were barking and the peacocks were crowing. Finally, the colonists won the war and no longer had to pay for taxis.

Delegates from the original thirteen states formed the Contented Congress. Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the Declaration of Independence. Franklin had gone to Boston carrying all his clothes in his pockets and a loaf of bread under each arm. He invented electricity by rubbing two cats backwards and declared, "A horse divided against itself cannot stand." Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.

George Washington married Martha Curtis and in due time became the Father of Our Country. Then the Constitution of the United States was adopted to secure domestic hostility. Under the Constitution, people enjoyed the right to bare arms.

Abraham Lincoln became America's greatest president. Lincoln's mother died in infancy and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands. When Lincoln was president, he wore only a tall silk hat. He said, "In onion there is strength." Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address while traveling from Washington to Gettysburg on the back of an envelope. He also freed the slaves by signing the Emasculation Proclamation and the Fourteenth Amendment gave the ex-Negroes citizenship. But the Clue Clux Clan would torcher and lynch the ex-Negroes and other innocent victims. It claimed it represented law and odor. On the night of April 14th, 1865, Lincoln went to the theater and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in the moving picture show. The believed assasinator was John Wilkes Booth, a supposingly insane actor. This ruined Booth's career.

Meanwhile in Europe, the Enlightenment was a reasonable time. Voltaire invented electricity and also wrote a book called Candy. Gravity was invented by Isaac Walton. It is chiefly noticeable in autumn, when the apples are falling off the trees.

Bach was the most famous composer in the world and so was Handel. Handel was half German, half Italian and half English. He was very large. Bach died from 1750 to the present. Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf he wrote loud music. He took long walks in the forest even when everyone was calling for him. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this.

France was in a very serious state. The French Revolution was accomplished before it happened. The Marsellaise was the theme song for the French Revolution, and it catapulted into Napoleon.

During the Napoleonic Wars, the crowned heads of Europe were trembling in their shoes. Then the Spanish gorillas came down from the hills and nipped on Napoleon's flanks. Napoleon became ill with bladder problems and was very tense and unrestrained. He wanted an heir to inherit his powers, but since Josephine was a Baroness, she couldn't bear children.

The sun never set on the British Empire because the British Empire is in the east and the sun sets in the west. Queen Victoria was the longest queen. She sat on a thorn for 63 years. Her reclining years and finally the end of her life were very exemplary of a great personality. Her death was the final event that ended her reign.

The nineteenth century was a time of many great inventions and thoughts. The invention of the steamboat caused a network of rivers to spring up. Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick raper, which did the work of a hundred men. Samuel Morse invented a code of telepathy, Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbis. Charles Darwin was a naturalist who wrote THE ORGAN OF THE SPECIES.

Madman Curie discovered radium. And Karl Marx became one of the Marx brothers. The First World War, caused by the assignation of the Archduck by a surf, ushered in a new error in the anals of human history.