Some t-shirt slogans:

  • The older you are, the better you get, unless you’re a banana.
  • Do not remove from the bar.
  • I suffer from cdo. It’s like ocd, but the letters are in the order they’re SUPPOSED to be in.

A letter in a recent weekend colour supplement, obviously referring to an article from the week before:

So Jane Doe has two adopted dogs. As opposed to what? Birth dogs?

Finally, apparently from a letter written in French during the 19th century:

I apologise for the length of this letter. I didn’t have time to make it shorter.

Cluster fun

Petr Rösel’s latest post deals with variations in the pronunciation of the word length. He points out quite rightly that it can be pronounced leŋθ, leŋkθ , lenθ or lentθ. The same sort of variation also applies to the word strength.

I have always thought it a shame not to pronounce strength with a three-term final cluster – ŋkθ or ntθ, because this means that the plural of the word is a maximal monosyllable for GB English. By this I mean that it is not possible to have more consonants than seven in a syllable, three at the beginning and four at the end. This is what we have in streŋkθs or strentθs and as far as I know this is the only English word like this.

MS leg-pulls?

A few weeks ago I upgraded to Windows 10. It was a pretty painless operation, but it did take quite a time. I was struck by the oddity of a few of the messages that appeared during the process. Amongst the usual stuff like Installing and Configuring (what does that mean, btw?) I was presented with the marvelously uninformative message:

Taking care of a few things

This was followed after a time by:

Taking care of a few more things

However, I was fortunate not to be presented by the following error message which, so JDL tells me, has been experienced by some poor souls.

Since I started writing this post I have realised what an odd expression to pull someone’s leg is. Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable is no help. My edition simply gives its meaning without any explanation. There is an explanation here, but I have no idea how trustworthy that is. Another webpage dealing with the phrase can be found here.

Phonetic Adventure

More as a bit of nostalgia than anything else I acquired a couple of months ago BBC Basic for Windows. I bought a BBC Micro (pictured) in about 1983 and had lots of fun with it. It turns out that BBC Basic has been available on various platforms all the time since it was first released. The first Windows version was released by R.T.Russel in 2001 and version 6 is the one I have. It is now a very sophisticated programming language.

One of the things about BB4W that caught my attention was the ability to produce stand-alone applications from one’s programs. This means they can be distributed to anyone with a Windows machine, even if they have not got BB4W installed. In order to re-acquaint myself with BBC Basic I have written an old-style adventure game. This is in the tradition of the original 1970s Adventure (also called Colossal Cave or Colossal Cavern). For those not familiar with this sort of game, the player can interact with the program by typing simple commands. For instance, north may take you to another location in the game’s universe. Another example: take ring, assuming there is a ring present at the current location, will add the ring to your list of possessions. Part of the fun of the game is finding out what you can and can’t do.

The only difference between my game and those of the 1970s and 80s is the program’s output is in GB phonemic transcription rather than English orthography. The player, however, must use normal spelling for input. If you like this sort of thing, you can download the game here. This will deliver a 1.81mb zip archive called phon_adv.zip. You should then extract all the files in the archive to the same folder on your computer. There are 5 files: phon_adv.exe, readmefirst.txt, goldallo.bmp, alloblank.bmp and zara.wav.

The game is called, rather unadventurously, Phonetic Adventure. I am sure I have perpetrated some typos in there somewhere. I’d be grateful to know about them if you find any and also to know what you think of the game.

Photo credit: Stuart Brady. In the public domain.

Just nuts

Although the weather has been very disappointing this summer, I have managed to produce a good crop of runner beans. Other crops have been less successful. I normally just slice the beans and steam them, but sometimes it’s good to do something a little more ambitious with them.

A couple of days ago I did a search for runner bean recipes. I didn’t come up with anything very exciting, but in the comments on one recipe I came across a wondrous idea. The commenter said that a neighbour, apparently someone from India, always cooks runner beans with dessimated cocoanut.

Photo credit: Peter Davis/AusAID. Used under this licence.