The F-word test: first class or feeble?

Link: Take the F-word test that can sort out the first-class from the feeble – Newspaper Edition – Times Online.

According to today’s Times, the following question is "doing the rounds of the e-mail universe, often seemingly targeted at aspirational workers and would-be intellectuals". (The preceding quote is a typical Times quote, meaningless, uncheckable, and lazy, i.e. copied out from somewhere. And, Frank and Bryan, they don’t even say "failed" intellectuals, tut tut, I ask you.)

Whinging aside, here’s the question. Please follow the instructions honestly and look in the comments to see if you got it right at first read.

"Read the following sentence — just once, at normal speed, with no looking back — and say how many times the letter F occurs: “Finished files are the result of years of scientific study combined with the experience of years.”  "

Absolute balderdash

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a new family game. This year’s offering is one called Absolute Balderdash, which I have just spent the last hour playing instead of the more edifying pursuit of catching up with my rss subscriptions.

The game is a combination of trivial pursuit and moving counters round a board. Each turn one player asks a question from a card, which the other players have to answer as convincingly as possible on a piece of paper. The other players have to pick the one they think is correct. The questions involve movie plots, laws in various regions, books and people. The shortest is word definitions, two of which I include here.

What is the definition of cartophily?:

1. The love of maps

2. A word used to describe the cart o’phil, a term used in medieval times. The ‘y’ on the end was just for fun.

3. A person who fills up cartons of drinks.

4. The collecting of bubble gum cards depicting famous people.

Here’s another one — define "sackbut":

1. An insult often used by children.

2. An ancestor of the trumpet.

3. A container made of animal skin, filled with beer or "sack", drunk in historical times.

4. When a person is thrown into a sack and screams "but" as the process is happening.

The correct answers are in the comments. Let me know if you got them right.

Another set victory

Setduelwinner A mere five days late, I see I won last Saturday’s set challenge, by the skin of my teeth (3 seconds). So here is the flag again.

The flag is good for another two days, until next Saturday when a new winner will emerge. Unless I pull off a hat trick.

For more information about this addictive and mercifully quick game, head on over to the deblog, from whence you can do the daily set (and other puzzles) and meet up with the other addicts/participants.

A tardy set result

Setduelwinner_1 Somewhat belatedly, I see that I won the set competition on Saturday. If you go to the link in the previous sentence, you will be at the deblog and can find out more about this puzzle that a group of addicts voluntarily put themselves through most days. Apologies for the delay in posting this compelling piece of news — I guess I didn’t think for a minute I would win in the new-look format, so never thought to go back to check my score. If you like the puzzle, please join in over at the deblog, where you will find plenty of other pastimes of that ilk, discovered by the currently technologically euphoric Debra Hamel.

People collection

‘Remember that it isn’t always the sensational stuff that writers are looking for, it can just as easily be something that you take for granted like having raised twins or knowing how to grow beetroot. Mind you, if you know how to fly a helicopter or have worked as a film extra, do feel free to let the rest of us know about it.’

The above is a rather spooky practice, "people collecting", in which you are charged to provide five little-known facts about yourself on your blog, so that writers can have some research material. I don’t really get it — what are they going to do with the material and who are they anyway?, but I was tagged by Vampiress and Deep Thinker Marie and Clare of Keeper of the Snails via Sharon J, so who am I to object?

So, five little-known facts about me?

1. I have very big feet.

2. I read Lord of the Flies when I was 9 years old and couldn’t sleep for weeks afterwards.

3. I loved the movie "Charlie Bubbles" so much when I saw it as a teenager that I went back the next Saturday and sat in the cinema all day, seeing the movie three times (and the awful B picture twice).

4. My love of detective fiction originated with my childhood discovery of Sherlock Holmes– "The Dancing Men" was my favourite story and not only stimulated my interest in the genre but also in codes and puzzles.

5. I love Darjeeling tea – weak with skimmed milk — and most definitely not made with tea bags.

I am supposed to tag three people, who by the rules of memes will probably either not do it or have done it already, but here I go:

Rebecca (Bec Views); Amy (Amy on the Web) ; and Bonnie (Bonnie Writes).

Ravens and writing desks

"The secret of its allure? Like all the greatest human pastimes — football, drinking, sex — it is a game with very simple aims and rules, but limitless scope for complex ramifications and subtle strategies. But perhaps its phenomenal success really only proves that, whether in Bangkok or Baldock, people everywhere love to escape from the real world, with all its unresolvable dilemmas and random irritants, into a realm where reason rules supreme, and where every problem has a perfect solution — even if the process of finding it leaves us frothing with frustration."

So says Richard Morrison. He isn’t writing about crime fiction, although he could well be, he’s writing about Sudoku, on the occasion of the 600 day anniversary of the Times first publishing the puzzle, and yours truly (as well as Morrison) becoming addicted. A knighthood for Wayne Gould, please.

The article is in the witty  Morrison style. If you want to read it and it is behind a subscription wall, drop me an email and I will send it to you. It contains short paragraphs from correspondents all over the world about the appeal of Sudoku,  but perhaps Mary Ann Sieghart, who recently travelled round South America on the backpackers’ trail, sums it up best: "There were endless long bus journeys and we had only a limited number of English-language books between us. Once we had read them all, they were hard to replace. But wherever we were, we always managed to find a Su Doku book. It didn’t matter if the country’s people spoke Spanish, Su Doku is international. The only words we had to translate were "easy", "moderate", "hard" and "fiendish".

You can post a comment on the Times Sudoku article here.