Sunday, December 31, 2017

Best of Bytes

I mentioned the following story, posted in Bytes in August 2014, to a friend yesterday and said that I would repost it. The story was first published on reddit and was then picked up by newspapers . . . 

ACTIONS can speak louder than words. 

A man was in a queue at a Burger King fast food restaurant in the US, when a mother and child lined up behind him. 

“I hadn’t had the greatest of days and I had a headache coming on. It was a very long line and I was at the end of it, waiting patiently, when behind me comes this woman yapping on her cellphone with a little monster of a child. This kid was out of control, screaming, punching his mother throwing around a Gameboy whenever something didn’t go right in the game,” the man posted on reddit. 

The mother allegedly did not pay the boy any attention as his tantrum got worse, yelling out: “I want a fucking pie”. 

“After about 5 minutes of the line with these people behind me, I had gone from a headache to a full on migraine, but nothing was going to stop me from getting those burgers. I calmly turn and ask her nicely if she can please calm or quiet her child down. Immediately she gets up in my face telling me I can’t tell her nothing about raising her child and to mind my own business,” the man continued. 

With his head pounding the man decided he could tell the woman something about raising her child and teach them a lesson. 

“I then decide to ruin their day. I order every pie they have left in addition to my burgers,” the man continued. 

“Turned out to be 23 pies in total, I take my order and walk towards the exit. 

Moments later I hear the woman yelling "What do you mean you don’t have any pies left, who bought them all?” 

The man concludes: “I turn around and see the cashier pointing me out with the woman shooting me a death glare. I stand there and pull out a pie and slowly start eating as I stare back at her. She starts running towards me but can’t get to me because of other line-ups in the food court. I turn and slowly walk away.” 

New Year's Eve and Onwards

It’s nearly goodbye to 2017, so let’s have a look at the last special day of the year and the first batch of special days for the new year, courtesy of Brett B who sends me his list of the coming month’s special days . . .

As always, thanks Brett.


31 December
The earliest known New Year celebrations were in Mesopotamia and date back to 2000 BC.  The early Romans used March 1 as New Year's Day. Other cultures used the autumn equinox or the winter solstice to mark the new year.  In 1582 the Gregorian calendar, which marks January 1 as the new year, was adopted by the Roman Catholic Church.
No explanation needed as to what this day is, but here are some interesting items:
·       The order in which the new year takes place:
Samoa and Christmas Island/Kiribati
New Zealand          
South Korea
North Korea
Hong Kong
India and Sri Lanka
Dubai (Happy New Year to my daughter, Acacia)
Abu Dhabi
Greece, Egypt, South Africa
Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Italy
Argentina, Brazil
·       "Auld Lang Syne" is traditionally sung at midnight on New Year's Eve. It was written by Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788, the year of the First Settlement of Oz, and he may have based it on a folk song.  The words auld lang syne mean "times gone by".
·       The first ball dropping celebration atop One Times Square in New York was held on December 31, 1907.  In 1942 and 1943 the ball lowering was suspended due to the wartime blackout. The crowds who still gathered in Times Square celebrated with a minute of silence followed by chimes ringing out from an amplifier truck parked at One Times Square.
·       Internationally, one of the biggest celebrations is in Sydney, Australia. More than 80,000 fireworks are set off from Sydney Harbour Bridge.
·       In Italy, people wear red underwear on New Year’s Day to bring good luck all year long.
·       In Colombia, Cuba and Puerto Rico, some families stuff a large doll, which is called Mr. Old Year, with memories from the past year. They also dress him in clothes from the outgoing year. At midnight, he is set ablaze, thus burning away the bad memories.

NAtional hangover day
1 January
Unknown, nor is there any evidence that it is a “National” day, although generally referred as such.
The aftermath of hard drinking and partying on New Year's Eve. 

new year’s day
1 January
See below.
You don’t need me to tell you what New Year’s Day is either, but here are a couple on interesting facts:
·       Mesopotamia (Iraq) instituted the concept of celebrating the new year in 2000 BC, celebrated new year around the time of the vernal equinox, in mid-March.
·       The early Roman calendar designated March 1 as the new year. The calendar had just ten months, beginning with March. That the new year once began with the month of March is still reflected in some of the names of the months. September through December, the ninth through twelfth months, were originally positioned as the seventh through tenth months. (Septem is Latin for "seven"; octo, "eight"; novem, "nine"; and decem, "ten".)
·       Roman legend usually credited their second king Numa with the establishment of the months of January and February. These were first placed at the end of the year, but at some point came to be considered the first two months instead.
·       Janus, after whom January is named, is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past.

Run up the Flagpole and See if Anyone Salutes Day
2 January
January is the month of new beginnings, so it is fitting that January 2 is Run It Up The Flagpole And See If Anyone Salutes It Day.  The name of the special day comes from the English language expression, run it up a flagpole and see if anyone salutes it, which means putting new ideas and ventures to test and to see if they gain acceptance and popularity, just like a flag would have respect by people saluting it.  It is commonly used in advertising and is a popular phrase in the United States. The day encourages people to be creative and to implement their ideas.
Suggestions for celebrating the day:  Have a great idea? Run it by your friends and family to hear what they think.  Want a style makeover? This may be the day to do it - ask your closest friends what you think of your new style.

"It looks great to me.  Let's run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes."

The world’s highest free-standing flagpole is located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, standing at 170 metres:

3 January
The Festival of Sleep Day was created to catch up on sleep after Christmas And New Year:   all day, a full 8 hours or a power nap, enjoy the day sleeping. Cozy up in bed on the couch, or any other comfortable place. But not at my office, which reopens on 3 January.

3 January
The first Great Fruitcake Toss was held in Manitou Springs, Colorado on January 3, 1996. Each year the entrants compete to see who can hurl or toss their fruitcakes the furthest.
The day was created in order to help people get rid of unwanted fruitcake after Christmas.  Giving fruitcakes during the holiday season has remained a tradition in many parts of the world. Manitou Springs has hosted the Fruitcake Toss tournament every year since 1995. During the competition, fruitcakes are thrown, hurled, catapulted and cannoned into the air using a range of inventive devices.  Participants are expected to bring their own fruitcakes which should contain candied fruits, nuts and flour, and not any inedible substances. The fruitcakes are inspected by the “Fruitcake Toss Tech Inspectors” before they are allowed to be used for competition to make sure they do not contain any substances hard enough to hurt a person that may get hit in the head with a flying fruitcake. However, if you happen to forget your fruitcake, you may rent one.  Competitions are held in Distance, Catching and Accuracy.
I confess, however, that I am never comfortable with events that waste and destroy food.  

3 January
Humiliation Day is not a day to humiliate someone. Instead it is a time to recognize the negativity of humiliating someone, or a group of people.  It can be brought about through bullying, intimidation, physical or mental mistreatment or trickery, or by embarrassment if a person is revealed to have committed a socially or legally unacceptable act.  None of it is acceptable.

4 January
Unknown, nor is there any proclamation etc to make this a “National” day.
National Spaghetti Day on January 4 recognises  . . . spaghetti.  The word spaghetti is plural for the Italian word spaghetto, which is a diminutive of spago, meaning “thin string” or “twine.”
Spaghetti is one of over 600 shapes of pasta. It is by far, the most popular shape. Many people think of Italy and Italian cuisine, as the birthplace of spaghetti. In reality pasta, or macaroni, dates back to ancient times. Ancient cultures were cooking pasta noodles well before they were introduced to Italy and other parts of Europe. Marco Polo has been erroneously credited with bringing spaghetti and pastas to Europe. But, records show Europeans cooking pasta well before Marco Polo began his travels. Peering even farther back in time, Arab cultures were selling dried spaghetti-like noodles in open markets in the early 1200's. The Chinese were cooking pasta noodles as far back as 5,000 B.C.
American restaurants offered spaghetti around the end of the 19th century as Spaghetti Italienne (which is believed to have consisted of noodles cooked past al dente and a mild tomato sauce flavored with easily found spices and vegetables such as cloves, bay leaves and garlic). Decades later, oregano and basil were added to many recipes.

4 January
Robert Louis Birch (1925-2005) was a linguist, punster, librarian, puzzle creator and memory expert was also the creator of various unofficial holidays, including Swap Ideas Day, Lumpy Rug Day, Nothing Day and Trivia Day.  Birch established Trivia Day to raise awareness about the importance of trivia in the progress of human curiosity, science, and fun.
The answers to the questions at the head of this item are:
·       What is the only mandmade object observable from the Moon?
      The claim that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from the moon or outer space has been debunked many times, but remains a common misconception in popular culture. According to astronauts Eugene Cernan and Ed Lu, the Great Wall is visible from the lower part of low Earth orbit, but only under very favorable conditions.  Man-made structures visible from earth orbit without magnification (by mechanical aids such as a camera or binoculars) include highways, dams, and cities.
·       What is the capital of Australia?
      The capital of Australia is Canberra.
·       What common word changes its pronunciation when the first letter is capitalised?
      Some words that change pronunciation when the first letter is capitalised include polish/Polish, job/Job, august/August, nice/Nice, slough/Slough (place in Ireland, pronounced "Slow"), reading/Reading (place in England, pronounced "Redding").  The term “capitonym” means a word that changes its meaning (and sometimes pronunciation) when it is capitalised; the capitalisation usually applies due to one form being a proper noun or eponym.

In this my last post of the year, let me say that it's been enjoyable presenting another year of Bytes.  My journey of discovery of facts, matters of interest and humour has been as great and enjoyable as, hopefully, your reading it. It has been a delight to receive interaction from Byters all over the world as well as contributions and input, and I look forward to another year of byting.  A happy and safe 2018 to you all.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Best of Bytes

The best of . . .

Dear Byters and Readers . . . 

In the coming year, and starting today, I will from time to time post items from past Bytes, not because I am being lazy or because I am without inspiration but that some anecdotes, quotes and stories deserve another airing. Like old friends, old movies, old books and old songs, the good ones can be revisited from time to time without any loss of enthusiasm.

The idea came to me when recounting some Bytes items to various people and realising tghat I would like to reread the original posts.

Hopefully you will feel the same.



Best of Bytes: Sir Archibald Kerr

Caution: risqué content

My father in law, Noel, drew my attention to a wartime letter by Sir Archibald Clark Kerr (1882-1951). Sir Archibald was an Australian who served as a British diplomat, being Ambassador to China 1938 to 1942, Ambassador to the Soviet Union between 1942 and 1946 and to the US between 1946 and 1948. 

Despite his many years of loyal service to Britain, his friendships with Stalin during WW2 and the Kaiser’s sister before WW1, and the fact that he was a disappointed suitor of the Queen Mother, he is today best remembered for a letter he wrote to Lord Pembroke in 1943 whilst he was Ambassador to Moscow: 

A transcript of that letter is as follows:
Lord Pembroke
The Foreign Office
6th April 1943 
My Dear Reggie,  
In these dark days man tends to look for little shafts of light that spill from Heaven. My days are probably darker than yours, and I need, my God I do, all the light I can get. But I am a decent fellow, and I do not want to be mean and selfish about what little brightness is shed upon me from time to time. So I propose to share with you a tiny flash that has illuminated my sombre life and tell you that God has given me a new Turkish colleague whose card tells me that he is called Mustapha Kunt.  
We all feel like that, Reggie, now and then, especially when Spring is upon us, but few of us would care to put it on our cards. It takes a Turk to do that. 
Sir Archibald Clerk Kerr,
H.M. Ambassador.

Superb. One luxuriates in the beauty of the language, simple, informal, yet elegant.

Those we lost in 2017, Part 3



Date of death: 12 September 2017

Age at death: 88

Cause of death: Cause not disclosed


Edith Windsor was the lead plaintiff in the 2013 US supreme court case that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, giving gay and lesbian couples access to federal benefits and laying the foundation for the landmark decision to legalize same-sex marriage across the country in 2015. The case was a watershed moment in the history of the United States’ LGBT rights movement.


Hugh Hefner, 2010

Date of death: 27 September 2017

Age at death: 91

Cause of death: Cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, sepsis and an E. coli infection.


Hugh Hefner created Playboy magazine in 1953 and spun it into a media and entertainment-industry giant, holding himself and Playboy out as emblems of the sexual revolution. Hefner was an advocate of sexual liberation and freedom of expression, as well as a political activist and philanthropist in several other causes and public issues.

He is interred at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles in a crypt beside Marilyn Monroe. "Spending eternity next to Marilyn is an opportunity too sweet to pass up," Hefner had told the Los Angeles Times in 2009.  Monroe featured in the first issue of Playboy as well as being on the cover.



Date of death: 22 October 2017

Age at death: 66

Cause of death: Cardiac arrest


Tom Petty was an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and actor. Petty served as the lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers formed in 1976. He was also a member and co-founder of the late 1980s supergroup the Traveling Wilburys (I love them), and his early band Mudcrutch. Petty recorded a number of hit singles with the Heartbreakers and as a solo artist. In his career, he sold more than 80 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. In 2001, Petty was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Btw #1:
In 1988, Petty joined George Harrison's group, the Traveling Wilburys, which also included Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne. The band's first song, "Handle with Care", was intended as a B-side of one of Harrison's singles, but was judged too good for that purpose and the group decided to record a full album, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1. A second Wilburys album, mischievously titled Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3 and recorded without the recently deceased Orbison, followed in 1990. The album was named Vol. 3 as a response to a series of bootlegged studio sessions being sold as Travelling Wilburys Vol. 2.

Traveling Wilburys: Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, George Harrison and Roy Orbison.

Btw #2:

The term "Wilbury" originated when, in referring to recording errors created by faulty equipment, Harrison jokingly remarked to Lynne, "We'll bury 'em in the mix." Thereafter, they used the term for any small error in performance. Harrison first suggested "the Trembling Wilburys" as the group's name; at Lynne's suggestion, they amended it to "Traveling Wilburys".


Date of death: 22 October 2017

Age at death: 70

Cause of death: Cause of death not reported.


I have previously written about the late George Young, founding member of the bands the Easybeats and Flash and the Pan, and one-half of the songwriting and production duo Vanda & Young with his long-time musical collaborator Harry Vanda. Their song writing hits included "Friday on My Mind" and "Love Is in the Air", the latter recorded by John Paul Young (who is unrelated). Vanda and Young were also the producers of early work by hard rock band AC/DC, formed by his younger brothers Malcolm and Angus Young.

Read the earlier post by clicking on:


Date of death: 24 October 2017

Age at death: 89

Cause of death: Natural causes, according to the coroner's office.


I also previously wrote about Fats Domino having left the building. Read that post by clicking on:

Domino was one of the biggest stars of rock and roll in the 1950s and one of the first R&B artists to gain popularity with white audiences. His biographer Rick Coleman argues that Domino's records and tours with rock-and-roll shows in that decade, bringing together black and white youths in a shared appreciation of his music, was a factor in the breakdown of racial segregation in the United States.[ The artist himself did not define his work as rock and roll, saying, "It wasn't anything but the same rhythm and blues I'd been playin' down in New Orleans." 


Date of death: 9 November 2017

Age at death: 84

Cause of death: Cardiovascular disease


Not a name that comes to mind immediately but those who used to watch Tom Selleck in Magnum PI will remember John Hillerman as the actor who played Jonathan Quayle Higgins III. The show aired from 1980 to 1988. For his role as Higgins, Hillerman earned five Golden Globe nominations, winning in 1981, and four Emmy nominations, winning in 1987. He retired from acting in 1999.


Date of death: 18 November 2017

Age at death: 64

Cause of death: Not disclosed. At the conclusion of the Black Ice World Tour, Malcolm was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was treated at an early stage, so surgery was successful and the cancer was removed. He also had an unspecified heart problem and wore a pacemaker. Young also suffered from dementia for the last 3 years of his life.


Malcolm Young was a co-founder, rhythm guitarist, backing vocalist and songwriter for the hard rock band AC/DC. Except for a brief absence in 1988, he was with the band from its November 1973 beginning until retiring in 2014 due to health reasons. Young and the other members of AC/DC were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. Though his younger brother Angus was the more visible of the brothers, Malcolm was described as the driving force and the leader of the band. In 2014, he stated that despite his retirement from the band, AC/DC was determined to continue making music with his blessing. As the rhythm guitarist, he was responsible for the broad sweep of the band's sound, developing many of their guitar riffs and co-writing the band's material with Angus. 


Date of death: 21 November 2017

Age at death: 67

Cause of death: 
On February 20, 2017, Cassidy announced that he was living with dementia, the condition that his mother suffered from at the end of her life. He retired from performing in early 2017 when the condition became noticeable during a performance in which he forgot lyrics and otherwise struggled. On November 18, 2017, it was announced that Cassidy had been hospitalized suffering from liver and kidney failure, and was critically ill in a medically induced coma. He came out of the coma two days later, remaining in a critical but stable condition. Doctors hoped to keep Cassidy stable until a liver became available for transplant, but he died of liver failure on November 21, 2017, aged 67. According to his daughter Katie, his last words were "So much wasted time".


Cassidy was an American actor, singer, songwriter, and guitarist, best known for his role as Keith Partridge, the son of Shirley Partridge (played by his stepmother Shirley Jones), in the 1970s musical-sitcom The Partridge Family. This led to his becoming one of popular culture's teen idols and pop singers of the 1970s. He later had a career in both acting and music.


Date of death: 30 November 2017

Age at death: 87

Cause of death: Unknown


Best known for his portrayal of US Marine Gomer Pyle in the TV show Gomer Pyle USMC, which aired between 1964 and 1969, He could also sing up a storm as a baritone. Later attempts at a variety show and other acting roles never reached the heights of Gomer Pyle. He thereafter focused on recording and the nightclub circuit. Nabors converted to Catholicism in the mid-’60s and married his partner of 38 years, Stan Cadwallader, in Washington in 2013 a month after gay marriage became legal in that state.

Btw #1:

From Wikipedia:
A longstanding rumor maintains that Nabors "married" Rock Hudson in the early 1970s, shortly before Nabors began his relationship with Cadwallader. Not only was same-sex marriage not yet legal in any U.S. state at the time, at least publicly, the two were never more than friends. According to Hudson, the story originated with a group of "middle-aged homosexuals who live in Huntington Beach", who sent out joke invitations for their annual get-together. One year, the group invited its members to witness "the marriage of Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors", at which Hudson would take the surname of Nabors' most famous character, Gomer Pyle, becoming "Rock Pyle". The rumor was spread by those who failed to get the joke, and because Nabors was still closeted at the time and Hudson never publicly admitted to being gay (despite widespread suspicion that he was), the two never spoke to each other again.
Btw #2:

The United States Marine Corps released a statement on Nabors: "Semper Fi, Gomer Pyle. Rest in peace Jim Nabors, one of the few to ever be named an Honorary Marine."


Date of death: 21 December 2017

Age at death: 78

Cause of death: Not disclosed.


Ken Catchpole was an Australian rugby union footballer who played twenty-seven matches for Australia, thirteen as captain. Catchpole made his debut for New South Wales at age 19 and captained Australia at 21. He is considered one of Australia's greatest rugby scrumhalves. After the win against England in 1966, the President of the English Rugby Union, Duggie Harrison described him as "the greatest halfback of all time". 

Ken Catchpole was forced to retire at age 28 when All Black Colin Meads wishboned his legs while he was pinned under other players in a ruck, tearing his hamstring off the bone and severely rupturing his groin. That was his 27th and last Test for Australia, a sporting history cut short while in his prime.

Meads died on 20 August 2017 of pancreatic cancer.