Monday, 20 November 2017

Recorded for posteriority


You know … if you drive non-stop for 23 hours and 55 minutes you’ll be 5 minutes from Tulsa!

Anyway … as I was about to tell you before I interrupted myself, what an eventful day today has been.

I started the morning by visiting my doctor.

The poor man was not well and I thought it’s kind to visit the sick.

As soon as I entered the doctor’s surgery he asked me to lie down on the couch. I asked him why and he said: “I want to vacuum clean just where you’re standing!”

Then he looked at me and asked “Do you get severe headaches in the morning, followed by stomach pains and trembling of the knees?”

I replied “No … why?”

“Because I’ve been getting these symptoms for a week and I wondered if you knew what they were!

“Anyhow … what are you here for?” he continued.

I showed him my arm and said “I’ve hurt myself in three places …”

He replied, “Stop visiting these places!”

“And another thing doctor,” I went on, “when I drink tea I get this very sharp pain in my eye.”

“Take the spoon out of the cup before drinking!”

As I got off the couch the doctor asked me, “Tell me, do you have a horse?”

“No I don’t!”

“Pity,” he said, “I have some horse pills I got from a vet … you wouldn’t like to try them do you? You’ll soon be off at a gallop!

When I returned home I found the postman in my front garden.

“Is this letter yours,” he asked, “the surname’s obliterated.”

“My surname is Moubarak” I replied.

He gave me the letter. It was from a lawyer. I had been left two valuable items in Aunt Matilda’s last will and testament.

I took the items to an antiques dealer and he confirmed them as a genuine Stradivarius and a Rembrandt.

Unfortunately, Rembrandt was bad at making violins and Stradivarius was a terrible painter!

Friday, 17 November 2017

Great Expectations


Life isn't always as it seems. We might be going on with life as normal, or so we think, and then suddenly something unexpected happens.

Like for instance that day I went upstairs to visit the bathroom only to find out I live in a bungalow.

That really threw me that did. And then there's the time when my neighbour and I went to an antique auction. Let me explain. We have this program on TV over here where they invite you to go somewhere locally, like a stately home, museum, or such like with your old possessions and they value them for you by experts and then, if you agree, they auction them for you.

We had one of those events locally and my neighbour, who is 85 years old, wanted to go and show them a collection of old dentures which had been bequeathed to him by his grand-father who used to be a dentist. As my neighbour could not drive, I took him to the stately home and subsequent auction. What I did not expect is that the dentures did not sell; but they sold my neighbour for £10.

And that's what I mean by a totally unexpected turn of events.

Like the time I bet on a horse that did not even exist. Let me tell you straight-away that I do not bet. Never have, except this once. A friend of mine took me to the races and suggested I put a small bet on a horse just for fun. I did not know how to do it. He said, "Just go to the betting window over there. Tell the man what horse you think will win, and give him a £1. A small bet just for fun."

I went to the window and the man there told me my horse does not exist. To be fair, he asked, "Name?" I told him, "Vic Moubarak." He replied, "There is no such horse racing here today!"

I looked at him in a dumbfounded way and asked, "Why would anyone name a horse after me?"

He said, "Who?"

I replied, "The people who own, or race the horse!"

He searched through his booking papers and said, "I have looked everywhere. There definitely is not a horse called Vic Moubarak."

I said, "I didn't expect there to be. This is my name."

He told me to step away from the window or else he will call security. And that was an unexpected turn of events. What are the chances do you think that there is no racing horse bearing my name, yet that betting man thought there was, because he searched for it in his books. I can't understand why he thought someone would name a horse after me. It's not as if I am famous or anything like that.

I also remember another unexpected thing that happened to me some years ago. We were on holiday at a sea side resort and we went out on a tourist boat out to sea to swim with dolphins. As soon as I got into the water all the dolphins swam away. They said, "We don't want to swim with him!" and left. Now you wouldn't expect that in a "swim with dolphins" tour, would you? I should have taken the cheaper tour and swam with sardines instead.

But I tell you folks, the most unexpected thing that ever happened to me. And only recently too. It is fashionable these days that instead of moving home to a new larger house, people tend to expand or extend their present homes instead. It is cheaper building an extension than having to move to a bigger house, pay removal expenses, lawyers' fees and government taxes, estate agents costs and so on. And even in the new house, there will always be things you need to do, like decorations, new carpets and so on which will cost money. Better to extend the house you live in.

So I called an architect and explained that we needed some extra room and asked him to design something that will look nice, modern and fit with the local environment.

He suggested we put a couple of motor homes on top of the roof. We took off the wheels, welded the vehicles back to back to make one open space, and with a big crane we fixed them on top of the house, and hung a rope ladder at the back of the house so we could climb up there when we want to.

That architect explained that as an optional extra, for £53, we could have a helicopter landing pad on top of the motor homes. We did not go ahead with this because we thought it would be too ostentatious, and anyway, we do not have a helicopter.

So we got an instant expansion of our present house with two motor homes on the roof.  An unexpected outcome and a tourist attraction also, I gather!!!

Have you had anything unexpected in your life?

How about clicking HERE for some.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Ancient Romans


THE ANCIENT ROMANS 

History can be a dull subject to learn and teach depending of course on who’s doing the learning and the teaching.

As a child I once talked in class and the teacher threw a piece of chalk at me. He then said: That’ll teach you to talk in class!

And as it happened a long time ago it is history; so I learnt then a history lesson which I remembered to this day.

If you pay attention; you’ll learn a bit more history in the next few minutes or so.

Let’s go back to Roman times. When men were tough and strong and women told them what to do. Women always had the ability to make men obey their wishes by hiding the remote control even then. But I digress.

In ancient Roman times there were a lot of sculptures of Roman emperors and famous people; these were usually sculptures of their heads and busts and faces, although you could also get sculptures of the whole person if you were rich enough to have one done.

The history behind all these sculptures is quite fascinating I must say.

You see, in Roman times there were a number of check-points by the Roman guards along the Appian Way. That’s the strategic main road connecting Rome to Brindisi and Apulia. The road was named after the Roman censor Appius Claudius Caecus.

He it was who held a census in the year something or other AD, and having discovered that most Romans did not like broccoli was frightened out of his census.

Anyway, the Roman Centurion guards along the Appian Way always stopped all chariots and checked that the drivers had a driving license.

Unfortunately, as cameras had not been invented at the time, all owners of chariots, such as emperors, senators and the like, carried a sculpture of their heads or faces with them as a form of Roman Identity Card.

That’s why there are only Roman sculptures of famous people and not the peasants and plebs.

As I said, some Romans were rich enough to carry a sculpture of their whole body with them in their chariots rather than just the head or face. Unfortunately the statues were so heavy that they often broke the chariots and fell to the ground.

This happened to a Roman lady called Venus whose statue fell off the chariot and the arms got broken. Historians have still to work out why she was not wearing any clothes when her sculpture was made; and exactly where her arms were when she posed for the stonemason.

When asked by Venus’ angry husband whether she had posed in the nude for him, the stonemason tried to deny it and said that he did the statue from memory. This didn't help his case and the husband punched him on the nose.

History also teaches us that ancient Romans collected urine. By that I don’t mean that they resisted going to the toilet and walked around cross-legged. I also don’t mean that they collected it like you or I would collect stamps, or books or whatever else people collect as a hobby.

No … they collected urine in large tubs left around in the street. People would walk by and when nature called they deposited their half-pint in the tub – there in public!!!

The collected deposits were then used in washing all those white togas. Apparently the ammonia in the urine acted like a bleaching agent and turned the togas extra clean and white.

And when all the senators met and debated in the senate and some jeered at one of them making a controversial speech by shouting “You stink!” – they meant it quite literally as well as referring to his speech.

And whilst we're on this subject ... what subject? 

Keep quiet and pay attention!

I want to mention another person born in Italy who was a famous Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, astronomer and all round big head know-it-all.

His name was Archimedes and although he was a Greek he was born in Syracuse in Southern Italy. No doubt his mother was on vacation there at the time; but the least said about it the better!

Anyway, one day this Archimedes fellow was asked by King Hiero II to find out whether a crown he had made was pure gold or whether it contained silver; which is cheaper.

Archimedes thought hard about this problem, especially since he was not allowed to break or damage the crown in any way. 

One night as he got home tired he decided to have a bath. Now in those days they didn't have baths like we do today with running water and drainage. All they had was a metal tub which they placed in the middle of the living room and sat in it washing themselves and watching TV.

As TV had not yet been invented they normally put a statue in the corner of the room and watched that instead. 

Anyway, as Archimedes entered his house pondering about the crown dilemma he discovered the tub there in the living room with water already in it. He was so tired that he gladly took off his clothes and jumped in the water thus displacing some of the volume therein.

Unbeknown to Archimedes, his wife had filled the tub with sea water and put a few crabs there to keep them fresh until lunch.

Archimedes jumped out of the tub and ran in the street naked shouting "Eureka" which in Greek means "I've found it". However, he also added a few other choice words in his native language which loosely translated mean "Who is the **** who put crabs in my bath? My manhood will never be the same again!"

Later on, as he calmed down a little and nearly got arrested for indecent exposure, he realised that as a body, (his and the crabs), is placed in a tub of water it/they displace an equal amount of water as the volume of said bodies. That didn't mean much to him; so he Googled his crown problem and solved the mystery of how to ascertain whether it was pure gold or not. He could of course have checked for any Hallmarks as we do now and save himself all the trouble of an encounter with a dozen crabs.

This concludes our history lesson for now. I hope you’ll remember what you’ve learnt here today. 

More funny stories HERE

Monday, 13 November 2017

Earthly Science - Facts you should know.

Today's lesson is about the most important planet in the universe - the earth.

Just think about it. Why is the earth the most important planet in the universe? Simple. If there were no earth we would all be flying through space and bumping into each other. This would make dating very difficult, as well as meeting a partner in life, and having children. All you would have is a lot of people floating through space and no sooner you meet someone you might like that person would have flown away bumping their head into someone else.

With the existence of the earth we can all have our feet firmly planted on terra firma, (or is it terra cotta?) and feel safe once more. The presence of the earth is like having a tree in your garden. It is comforting. Imagine placing a ladder against a tree and climbing to the top. If the tree was not there then you would be climbing up the ladder and finding nothing.

Years ago, people wondered how big the earth really is. They saw the moon at night and deduced that it was smaller than the earth. They believed that the moon was no larger than a few feet in diameter and had completely not taken into account that distance made it look small. On the same principle they believed that the stars were no bigger than a couple of millimetres in diameter.

So these ancient people decided to measure the earth. They quite rightly deduced that the largest part of the earth would be in the equator; because they had noticed that as some people get a little (or much) overweight, usually the area that is the largest is around the middle - near the belly button. So they bought a very long measuring tape and started measuring the earth, at the equator, six metres at a time. This task took too long, putting the tape on the ground, measuring its length, marking the spot, moving the tape over and measuring once again, and adding it all up. Unfortunately, this task was never completed because they reached the sea and many of the people measuring the earth drowned in the process.

It wasn't until many years later, at the time of Galileo in Italy, that a pizza salesman discovered that the earth's circumference, at its largest point around the equator, is just under 25,000 miles. Apparently he had read it in a book somewhere.

Now that fact is important - remember it. Around the equator, the earth's circumference is just under 25,000 miles - let's call it 24,000 miles.

Since we know that the earth goes round a whole revolution, from left to right, in one day, then it is right to assume that if I stood at the equator facing East, I would be travelling at 1000 miles and hour: 24,000 miles divided by 24 hours = 1,000 miles an hour. In fact, it is faster than that because as we said earlier, the circumference is just under 25,000 miles.

At that speed my wig would fly off. As I do not wear a wig, then my hat would fly off. And any lady standing there wearing a dress or skirt would have her own Marilyn Monroe moment.

And if I stood at the North pole, right at the top of the world, I would spin round ever so slowly and get back to the original point where I started in 24 hours - and I'd be very tired standing all this time without a toilet break.

However, if I stood at the South pole, right at the bottom of the world, all the blood would rush to my head because I would be upside down.

And if I were in Australia I would always celebrate the New Year first and all the fireworks seen on TV would show that country before all others.

Hence the saying: Do not worry about tomorrow. Because tomorrow has already happened in Australia.

And the saying: An apple a day keeps the doctor away. And if you want to keep everyone away try garlic.

More lessons for your education and edification and without obfuscation here soon.
 
Make sure you return otherwise we will start without you.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Let's talk sense


In Catholic churches we have incense burning at certain Masses - e.g. Christmas, Easter and special occasions. It's nice I suppose and reminds me of ancient traditions when people burnt incense in churches and homes. The wise men, as we know, brought incense to baby Jesus as a gift. Burning incense traditionally was part of worship. The smoke going up to Heaven no doubt took up our prayers with them.

Does your church burn incense during services?

Do you burn incense at home?

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Nun on the run

It was Friday evening and Father Ignatius was alone in the Parish House listening to his favourite classical music. He sat in his armchair by the fire, eyes closed, and with his hand slowly moving his index finger in the air as if holding a baton and conducting an orchestra. Just as the music reached his favourite piece of Verdi’s Aida … The Triumphal March … just then, the front doorbell rang and interrupted his grand moment of triumph.

He jumped off his chair, switched off the record player and said sotto voce, “OK … hold it there all of you … we’ll return to this piece presently …”

He opened the door to be confronted by Sister Martha.

“I’m not interrupting anything?” she asked.

“Oh … only Giuseppe Verdi …” he replied.

“Yes … I’ve heard him through the open window … he’s getting better under your leadership … mind if I come in?”

He moved aside and let her in.

“Would you like tea or coffee …” she said as she made her way towards the kitchen.

“Tea please,” replied the priest as he walked back to the living room.

Sister Martha was in her late sixties yet she was as youthful and energetic as anyone half her age. She lived at the Convent nearby with a dozen other nuns, and she taught at the local Catholic schools. She often called in on the priests at St Vincent for a chat and a cup of tea on her way home, especially on Fridays when she stayed a little late at the school.

Moments later she entered the living room carrying a tray of tea and ginger biscuits; the priest’s favorite, as she knew very well.

“Ah … I didn’t know we had ginger biscuits,” said Father Ignatius, “I didn’t find them earlier on when I looked …”

“Mrs Davenport has shown me where she hides them …” said Sister Martha pouring two cups of tea, “she told me if you’d find them you’ll finish the whole packet …”

A few minutes of silence later as they slowly sipped their tea Sister Martha was first to break the quiet.

“Ignatius … have you heard about Sister Cecilia?” she asked.

“No … I can’t say I have …” he replied, “what’s the problem …”

“I am not breaking any confidences Ignatius … she asked me to speak to you … she’s already spoken to Mother Superior today …”

“Sounds ominous …” said the priest putting his cup down.

“Well … she works at the hospital as you know … she’s a nursing assistant there … well, not to put too fine a point on it … she’s fallen in love with a young doctor there …

“She told me she doesn’t know how it happened …” continued Sister Martha, “they got attracted to each other and she feels she can no longer continue her vocation …”

“You say she spoke to Mother Superior?” asked Father Ignatius.

“Yes … today. She told her she’d been thinking about this for about a month or so … she wishes it didn’t happen but it has … she wants to leave the convent and pursue a new life with him …

“She told me that Mother Superior was very understanding and suggested that she leaves the Convent for another one down South to give her time to think …

“But Sister Cecilia doesn’t think it will help … she wants to leave her vocation altogether.”

“I see …” said the priest calmly, “and you say Cecilia asked you to speak to me …”

“Yes … she wanted your advice …”

Father Ignatius smiled weakly.

“The poor soul …” he mumbled, “what advice can I give her Martha?” he asked rhetorically.

“When we decide to take up our vocation to serve the Lord,” he continued, “we do so after a lot of soul-searching, a lot of prayers, and a lot of training. It takes years as you know Martha … this is perhaps deliberate to give us a chance to think seriously on what we’re doing and the commitment we’re undertaking …

“Yet … despite all that … it does sometimes happen as in this case, that individuals can no longer continue their vocations and wish to leave. It happened some years ago to a priest I knew well … he has left the church and is now married with a family of his own …”

“It’s terrible …” Sister Martha said quietly.

“I suppose it is …” he replied, “as a Church we frown when people break their marital vows and divorce or separate … and I suspect this is no different …

“When a priest or nun break their vows and no longer wish to continue their vocations … it is perhaps the same as couples seeking divorce …

“Yet Martha … whilst I understand what people like Cecilia or that priest I spoke of are going through … I cannot condemn them …”

The nun looked up at him with a frown.

“I cannot condemn them, Martha …” he repeated, “I agree that it is wrong to break the vows they made freely … but at the same time … who am I to stand in the way of true and genuine love … if that is what’s happened in this case. I know it was exactly what happened in the case of that priest … I knew him very well.

“He fell in love with a teacher … he shouldn’t have … but he did … He wanted to leave the Church … just like Cecilia … He confessed to me … it was heart breaking … he told me he could not go on serving as a priest.”

“What did you do?” asked Sister Martha.

“I forgave him of course …” replied Father Ignatius, “how could I possibly withhold absolution … He was repentant and he knew that he could no longer serve as a priest … even if he gave up his lover and was moved to another Parish … He knew that he would not be a good priest and that deep in his heart he’d be a fraud … He’d be serving against his will and would be cheating the Church as well as God Himself …

“Yes …” said Father Ignatius thinking back to that event in the distant past, “I forgave him and absolved him …

“When we forgive someone else, we touch his very soul with the merciful love of Jesus Christ our Lord. How could I stand in the way of such love?

“Eventually … the bishop let him go … and as I said, he’s now married with a family.”

“What do you want me to say to Cecilia?” asked Sister Martha.

“Tell her that I’ll be praying for her …” he replied, “tell her to think about what Mother Superior advised … and that I’ll be always available if she wishes to have a talk with me … How old is she?” he asked.

“Thirty … last month!”

“She’s young and no doubt very frightened …” said Father Ignatius calmly, “I believe that whatever we do … our role is not to condemn but to forgive … She is doing what she feels is right for her life …

“Our Lord forgave many sins when He walked this earth … who am I to stand in the way of true repentance?”

MORE FATHER IGNATIUS STORIES FREE FROM HERE

Monday, 6 November 2017

How Time Was Invented


Have you ever wondered how we first learnt to measure time?

Here's a quick lesson you'll never forget.

Many years ago at the time of the Romans there was an Italian called Role. He was the tenth son of a tenth generation of men called Role - in fact he was known as Role the Tenth. Which in Roman times was written Role X.

Anyway Role X, and everyone else for that matter, noticed that it was sometimes daylight and sometimes night. "But how do we measure such a recurring occurrence to see how long is daytime compared to night time." thought Role X.

So he asked the opinion of his friend Galileo who at the time was looking up at the sky and wondering why the sun was always in different locations.

This is not the Galileo physicist, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher who lived between 1564 and 1642 - but most probably an earlier ancestor of his; which shows that the Galileo family were very clever for generations. But I digress. 

Anyway, after a short discussion with Galileo, Role X planted a big candle which he had borrowed from his local church right in the middle of his garden. (The candle was in the middle of the garden - not the church. Just pay attention).

He measured the candle carefully. He waited until the sun was right above the candle, (i.e. no shadow), and he lit the large candle and left it lit until the following day when the candle had no shadow again. He then blew the candle out and measured the bit that was left. From this he deduced how much candle had burnt over the period it was lit.

He then got another candle with exactly the same dimensions and marked with his pen 24 equal segments from top to bottom. That's the candle's bottom not his bottom! Are you really paying attention?

He called each segment "hours". He quite rightly thought that if he lit the new candle at the same time as the previous day, (i.e. no shadow), he will call that MIDDAY and then every segment as it burnt down would be an HOUR, until the following day when there will be no more segments on the candle; and when there was no shadow (i.e. MIDDAY again).

Are you still paying attention? Good.

Role X decided he'd call the 24 segments one DAY.

He lit the candle and waited. But the experiment did not work because it was windy that night and the candle blew out.

He prepared a third candle which this time he kept indoors. That did not work either because the sun did not cast a shadow indoors.

So in total desperation, Role X bought himself a watch and solved all his problems about time.

Well ... I did promise you a quick lesson you'll never forget. Go buy yourself a watch and forget about lighting candles in the wind.

THERE WILL BE MORE HISTORY AND SCIENCE LESSONS HERE SOON

SO MAKE SURE YOU RETURN AND LEARN SOMETHING YOU DID NOT KNOW

THEN IMPRESS OR CONFUSE YOUR FRIENDS WITH YOUR KNOWLEDGE

WHY NOT CHECK MY HUMOUROUS BOOKS HERE?
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