Tag Archives: research

Valid (and Silly) Questions

Hello, dear reader.  How are you?

Today’s blog is a bit of a random one, based entirely on my realisation that there are some very simple questions in life that I just don’t know the answers to.  So on behalf myself and anyone else who is baffled by the universe, I’ve done some very (very, very) basic research and investigation into a few random wonderments.  Enjoy.

  • Why can’t we see stars during the day?
    One of my favourite weird things about nature is that sometimes we get to see the moon during the day.  I love the moon.  It’s such a maverick: “I know it ain’t night time yet, but screw you guys!  I’m coming out now!!”  However, it seems a bit unfair that stars, which are after all the basis of many wishes being made and songs being written, do not get to show off whenever they feel like it.  I am reliably informed (by a guy who is training to be a physics teacher, no less) that this imbalance is because the moon is perspectively much bigger than stars are, so it reflects enough of the sun’s light to be visible during daylight hours.  Clearly bigger is indeed better!
  • Why do we have earwax?
    No, seriously, what the heck is it for?  It’s gross and weird and does not – despite what the movie Shrek tells us – make good candles.  Having done a bit of (reluctant) research, I can tell you that earwax is similar to tears, mucus and other joyous bodily fluids, which actually serve a cleansing purpose even though they’re pretty disgusting themselves.  Let’s move on…
  • Why do the English pronounce “lieutenant” “leftenant”?
    The word “lieutenant” comes from two French words: “lieu” meaning “place”, and “tenant” meaning “holding”.  Thus, a lieutenant is someone who holds the place of a superior officer, should said superior officer die or go to the loo at an inopportune moment or something.  The confusion over pronunciation derives from the fact that the Modern French “lieu” was occasionally written as “luef” in Old French.  As far as I can tell, the United Kingdom and Commonwealth armies tend to say “leftenant” (whereas the Americans stick to the more modern pronunciation) purely because we’re a pretty old-fashioned bunch.
  • What the heck is a mint julep?
    Whenever my flat mate and I are pretending to be Southern belles (which is a lot more often than we’d like to admit), we inevitably claim that we need a mint julep.  It occurred to me yesterday that I don’t actually know what a mint julep is, but thanks to the good people of Wikipedia I can tell you that it is a cocktail traditionally comprised of bourbon, mint leaves, sugar and water.  Fascinating, no?
  • And last, but by no means least:
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I genuinely don’t know.  Have a gorgeous Wednesday.

Revision Panic

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Good morning to you, dear reader!  I hope that you’ve been enjoying this sunny weekend.  Is it barbecue weather yet, d’you think?

If you’ve read this post from a couple of weeks ago, you will already know that my house mate and I recently auditioned to go on the television show Pointless.  I am delighted to announce that our audition was successful, and on Tuesday we will potter off to the studio in hopes of being on the show.

Our appearance isn’t entirely guaranteed, because they have to allow for things like a good spread of age groups, specialist subjects, unexpected drop-outs, etc.  So basically we’ll turn up on Tuesday, but if the other contestants are all drama graduates in their mid-twenties with an unfortunate propensity to get distracted by shiny things, Ash and I might not make it onto that show.  C’est la show business.

Although we’re both very excited, Ash and I have come up with two pretty major concerns.  The first is that we’ve been asked not to wear black clothing or patterns; respectively speaking, that screws me (who never entirely grew out of my ill-advised goth phase) and Ash (who loves a pair of patterned tights) over pretty thoroughly.  We had a mooch round the charity shops yesterday and found a couple of potential outfits, but we each have to take FIVE clothing options to the studio for the wardrobe people to choose from.  FIVE.  If we’re not including hoodies and pyjamas, I’m not sure I even OWN five outfits.  Although my red hoodie is quite presentable, and it’s very comfy…no.  Stop it.  I can’t go on television looking like I just fell out of bed.

I know it shouldn’t worry me too much what I wear, since it’s a show about knowledge rather than appearances, but still: we’re going to be on television.  We don’t want to look rubbish.  Apparently they’re going to do our make-up for us as well, which Ash and I both baulked at.  Ash is a connoisseur of vintage make-up stylings, and is more than capable of making her face look its lovely best.  I usually go for the Claudia Winkleman/panda look myself, and I think it works for me, so I would prefer to be left alone with my gallons of black eye-liner and vampish mascara, thank you very much.

The second concern (which is actually a bigger one than the clothing issue, I promise) is that I don’t think I actually know anything.  Nothing useful, at any rate.  If you put me on QI I would absolutely rock out (mostly because I’ve seen every episode a thousand times, but also) because I’m the queen of the random fact.  But I don’t know the kings and queens of England, or the periodic table, or ANYTHING about geography.  I’ve been watching some episodes of Pointless this week as research, and I can tell you now that if a round about the England cricket team or celebrity culture comes up when we’re on there, I am screwed.  Ash is a clever girl and an excellent actress, so if we get a bad topic I’m sure she’ll style it out, but odds are I will just stand there in open-mouthed horror.  The other possibility is that I will swear loudly, which is probably not the way to go…

Even stuff that I think I do know about, I’m now beginning to second-guess.  When you apply to go on the show, you have to put three specialist subjects on the form.  I put Theatre (I have a Drama degree and I run a theatre company- fair enough), Literature (I read a lot) and Dad’s Army (mainly a joke, but I do love that show).  I HAVE STARTED WATCHING EPISODES OF DAD’S ARMY AS A FORM OF REVISION.  I’m not even enjoying them, because I’m too scared that Alexander Armstrong is going to ask me an obscure question that I won’t be able to answer!  My life has turned into this scene from Short Circuitexcept that I’m panicky rather than curious.

The obvious solution is to calm the heck down, have a cup of tea and brush up on whatever we realistically have to time to revise.  This is perfectly sage and sensible advice.  I will endeavour to do just that.  But could someone please explain to me why, when I was always terrible at exams, have never had a good memory for general knowledge and am almost twenty-five, I have deliberately put myself into a position where I am forced to revise?  Glutton for punishment, perhaps.  Or just a subconscious craving to look stupid on television.  If that’s the case, I sort of wish I’d just applied to Big Brother

Enjoy your Sunday everyone.  Go to the park or something while the weather’s nice.