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Below are the ten most recent postings from our blog. A link to older items is provided at the bottom of the page. You can also mine our archives, which are not extensive, in various other ways using the tools on the left.

The blog, officially named Half Notes, is mainly about our four other websites and their individual concerns: text services, music education, non-violent games and trivia quizzes. Follow the links at left under Our websites to visit the sites themselves.

November 14, 2011

Broken Globe

Categories: Fun — Tags: ,

There’s already a Shakespeare quiz at TriviaPark.com, so today’s question may have to fit in somewhere else. It concerns an event that to Will Shakespeare would have been both a drama and a tragedy. Find out more, as we play…

Guess the catastrophe

William Shakespeare’s professional home for most of his career was The Globe, a celebrated London theater that unfortunately did not outlast even him. It met its demise in 1613, three years before Shakespeare’s own death. How was The Globe destroyed?

  1. Collapsed: the upper stands gave way when a record crowd rioted during a dull show
  2. Demolished: to build a luxury villa, Rochester Hall, on the same site
  3. Incinerated: when cannon-fire used in Shakespeare’s Henry VIII ignited the straw roof
  4. Torn apart: by a Protestant mob outraged by supposed ‘code-words’ in certain plays


November 13, 2011

Rhythm fascination

Categories: Fun — Tags: , , ,

Today we come to the second-last question in the music theory quiz we’re putting together for TriviaPark.com and AheadWithMusic.com. Looking at the meter — the rhythmic pulse — of some common musical forms, we ask:

Who’s got the time?

Which of the following musical forms typically uses six-eight rhythm?

  1. A Baroque minuet
  2. A Celtic jig
  3. A Scott Joplin piano rag
  4. A Sousa march


November 12, 2011

Sound the retweet

Categories: Zzzz... — Tags:

Freer-spirited writers may dash off tracts and verses then throw the papers to the wind, the fireplace, the sea or a mailbox. Me, I like to save everything, back it up, and re-use it if possible. It probably comes of having both a chary Muse and a bad memory. In that spirit, at all events, so mainly for my own benefit, here are the first 10 messages of my short Twitter history, pruned of strictly-work messages like announcements. Further exciting episodes will appear as time permits.

24 May 08: Mulling the proposition that “Using Twitter is going to change the way you think about staying in touch with friends and family”.

[First Tweet; still mulling.]

29 Apr 09: Which is the best social network for misanthropes?

7 May 09: The future PC not dead but shrunk past recognition? Yes, saith “PC for ever”, a fresh ordering of some old words at my Facebook page. http://facebook.com

7 May 09: ahasoft’s headline of the day: “Electrical stimulation produces feelings of free will”. Fascinating article too: http://scienceblogs.com

[The article is by the esteemed science blogger Ed Yong.]

10 May 09: Just got off 1st Skype4 call. A1 audio. (The other station was also in Victoria, though.) Feedback cancellation superb even when stressed.

12 May 09: Enjoyed today an unusual, modestly-priced, and very pleasant smooth single-malt: Armorik, from Brittany in the NW extremity of France.

13 May 09: No journey is complete that does not end at its starting point. In tweeting one’s followers, does not one also tweet oneself?

14 May 09: From A Word A Day, a curious fact: the past participle of “go”, “went”, belonged first to “wend”, as in “to wend your way”. http://wordsmith.org

15 May 09: Via Slashdot, a scary backup practices reminder: 13 years of irreplaceable data, AND backup, wiped out at a stroke. http://it.slashdot.org

15 May 09: Most email address validators skip the hard stuff, but this PHP code by Dominic Sayers seems thorough and sound. http://isemail.info

[Click the Download tab at the site to access the code]

The taste of revenge

Categories: Zzzz... — Tags:

Since revenge is on the one hand sweet, and on the other hand a dish best served cold, it is possibly a variety of cheesecake, or else some kind of ice-cream confection. This reflection encourages us to enjoy revenge in moderation only, to share with others, and not to go swimming right afterwards.

November 10, 2011

One memorable quatrain

Categories: Zzzz... — Tags: ,

The American Naturalist poet Sarah Norcliffe Cleghorn (1876-1959) wrote and published verse throughout her life, but only one snippet of hers, a solitary gem of a stanza from a satirical poem about child labor, is widely known and quoted. It is indeed a zinger:

The golf links lie so near the mill,
That almost every day,
The laboring children can look out
And see the men at play.

Omar Khayyam (1048-1131) is supposed to have written some 10,000 stanzas of about that size — 30 years’ worth if he was putting a quatrain a day on his blog. It was a splendid feat in itself, and one he buttressed with notable accomplishments in astronomy, mathematics, medicine, diplomacy, and so on. He was, in short, a very tiresome man, considering that he had to work without the benefit of Wikipedia, probably with sand in his eyes much of the time, and still accomplished more of note than we would regard as medically advisable today. Even discounting the rest — the parts he probably viewed as important — an oeuvre of 10,000 verses goes far beyond normal limits of prudence, taste and safety.

For the modern immortality-seeking wordsmith, Sarah Cleghorn is a much more inspiring example. You never know when you’re going to strike it lucky and come out with that one memorable quatrain.

November 9, 2011


Categories: Fun — Tags: , , ,

Today’s question is the eighth of the 10-question music theory quiz that’s currently under construction for TriviaPark.com and AheadWithMusic.com. We cast our minds back to the Italian city-state of Arezzo just about a millennium ago, and ask:

What did Guido do?

Guido d’Arezzo was an 11th-century Benedictine monk who is celebrated for an important contribution to the history of music. What did he do?

  1. Invented the clarinet
  2. Revolutionized musical notation
  3. Was the first to combine voice and instruments in the same work
  4. Wrote the melody that became the song Greensleeves


Press Release Writer

Categories: Fun — Tags: ,

You probably missed the announcement whose first paragraph is quoted below, but that’s OK, you can get one — or dozens, all different — of your own by visiting our old friend Press Release Writer, who has lately taken up residence as a Roland Read visiting fellow at our emerging AHA! Text Services website. For similar entertainments, check out Romance Writer and Haiku Generator at TriviaPark.com.

For Immediate Release

Hi-Tech Robot Takes PR Business By Storm

Victoria, B.C.: Press Release Writer, a self-described “publicity machine” with no other purpose than generating press releases about itself, is at last officially open for business. Speaking this morning on national television, Press Release Writer discussed its unique approach to publicity and media relations in the years ahead.

[Lots more…]

Incidentally, Roland Read is our software tool for generating randomized text. He’ll probably be popping up again in the future.

The microtone

Categories: Fun — Tags: , , ,

Today’s question is the seventh in a 10-question music theory quiz for TriviaPark.com and AheadWithMusic.com. If you have a taste for slightly out-of-the-way musical jargon, you may already know the answer to:

What is a microtone?

Which of the following definitions most accurately captures the meaning of the word ‘microtone’?

  1. A separation of pitch smaller than a semitone
  2. A short musical work stating a single melodic idea
  3. A sound too brief or too quiet to register fully with an audience
  4. A special microphone for recording tones


November 7, 2011

Writing lessons from Saltbush Bill

Categories: Zzzz... — Tags: ,

Good clear expository writing can take a lot of forms. Here’s a beautiful example from the start of ‘Saltbush Bill’ by A.B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson (1864-1941), an Australian poet who romanticized the Outback much as Robert W. Service romanticized the Klondike.

The ballad describes a fistfight between Saltbush Bill, a drover, and a ‘new chum’ from England, a squatter. The droving profession entailed driving large numbers of sheep across miles of inhospitable outback terrain, and delivering as many as possible alive. The squatter, whose vast property the drovers would cross, wanted his own grass for his own stock. The scene was ripe for violence — and for regulation. The law of the day laid out the necessarily quantitative compromise between the drovers’ and squatters’ interests that forms the background for Paterson’s story. In a couple of deft introductory verses, he puts you in the picture, laying out precisely the letter of the law, the cross-currents of interest that it represents, and what happens ‘on the ground’. How dry this could have been:

Now this is the law of the Overland that all in the West obey —
A man must cover with travelling sheep a six-mile stage a day;
But this is the law which the drovers make, right easily understood,
They travel their stage where the grass is bad, but they camp where the grass is good;
They camp, and they ravage the squatter’s grass till never a blade remains,
Then they drift away as the white clouds drift on the edge of the saltbush plains;
From camp to camp and from run to run they battle it hand to hand
For a blade of grass and the right to pass on the track of the Overland.

For this is the law of the Great Stock Routes, ’tis written in white and black —
The man that goes with a travelling mob must keep to a half-mile track;
And the drovers keep to a half-mile track on the runs where the grass is dead,
But they spread their sheep on a well-grassed run till they go with a two-mile spread.
So the squatters hurry the drovers on from dawn till the fall of night,
And the squatters’ dogs and the drovers’ dogs get mixed in a deadly fight.

And thus into the story… Like many of Paterson’s poems, this one is well worth reading. It is available at Project Gutenberg. If you have time, check out “The Geebung Polo Club”, “The Man From Ironbark” and “Mulga Bill’s Bicycle” as well, or the better-known and more serious “Clancy of the Overflow” and “The Man From Snowy River”.

Eric Idle’s “Galaxy Song” from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life is another great example of this kind of writing.

To the Manor appointed

Categories: Fun — Tags: ,

Whether England still swings like a pendulum do, as Roger Miller sang in the sixties, we don’t know, but it definitely marches to a different drummer. And that leads us to today’s new question for TriviaPark.com, which concerns a high-falutin’ and quintessentially English…

Job search

Every now and then someone applies for the post of ‘steward and bailiff of the Manor of Northstead’ in Yorkshire, England. Why would they do so?

  1. In order to get out of doing something else
  2. In order to join Mind Your Manors, a British reality TV show
  3. In order to qualify for membership in the House of Lords
  4. In order to set the decrepit Manor to rights at last


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