Jan
26
2010
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How do you get around Tenerife by bus?

Photo by Secret Tenerife - CC-BYTourists to the Canary Island of Tenerife often hire a car, but that’s not necessary unless you’re staying in an out-of-the-way tourist enclave. Tenerife’s buses are cheap, convenient and efficient—and there’s a tram too. Services are frequent and regular. There are at least two services an hour between major centres such as Santa Cruz, the [more...]

Jan
25
2010
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What is steampunk?

Steampunk art by D Mattocks (CC-BY)Steampunk is a label applied to a certain form of literature, and also to the subculture that has arisen from it. Before we go further, let’s deal with the “punk” part. “Punk” is just a naming hook that pigeonholes steampunk as a literary movement by analogy with cyberpunk. The “punk” hook, perhaps originally a cheeky [more...]

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Jan
21
2010
4

Which UK towns have their own currency?

Lewes, East Sussex (photo by TravelEden CC-BY)If you visit the bustling county town of Lewes in East Sussex and go into of the shops or pubs, you will be offered the opportunity of exchanging your UK Sterling pounds for the local Lewes pounds. The exchange rate is one-to-one and there are no commission fees to worry about. In exchange you will [more...]

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Jan
21
2010
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What is Annapolis city profile?

Maryland State Capitol - courtesy Joe Shlabotnik - CC-BYAnnapolis is the capital of Maryland and perhaps one of the more exciting of the small state capital cities.  It is certainly not just another ‘big’ small town.  And there is more to it than being the home of the United States Naval Academy. Annapolis was once even the Capital of the United States (1783–1784). [more...]

Jan
20
2010
2

What are the initials and numbers related to classical music?

J S Bach sonata for single violin #1 in E minor BWV 1001 (PD)BWV 1001 KV (or K.) 626 op. 25, D. 795 HWV 56 Op. 72C — What do these five sets of letters and numbers represent? They are musicologists’ catalogue numbers of the works of the composers of classical music: BWV 1001: Bach’s Sonata for single violin #1 in E minor HWV 56: Handel’s Messiah (an [more...]

Jan
19
2010
2

How do you get a taxi in central Siena, Italy?

Siena taxis take a less direct route to the cathedral. (Photo by Gaspa - CC-BY)You may have read that walking is the only way to see historic Siena. It’s true that nothing beats exploring it on foot, and also true that the hilly medieval city has banned most cars from the narrow, uneven streets in the city centre. There is an efficient taxi service though, so if you are [more...]

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Jan
18
2010
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Were “oranges” once called “noranges”?

Photo by audreyjm529 - CC-BYA frequently-repeated etymology of the fruit that we call an “orange” goes like this: The fruit was not grown in England, and when the dock-hands unloaded the cargo ships they heard the fruit referred to by its Spanish name: naranja. From this it became known as “a norange”, but over time this became “an orange” [more...]

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Jan
18
2010
1

What is a Surreal Alphabet?

Photo by gothick matt - CC-BYA surreal alphabet is a witty variation on the way the alphabet is sometimes taught to children. The usual way runs like this: A for Apple B for Banana C for Cat D for Dog … etc A surreal alphabet retains the initial letter and the word “for”, then adds a clever wordplay that generates [more...]

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Jan
18
2010
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When were the first Winter Olympic Games?

Chamonix has changed a great deal since 1924 (photo by phileole CC-BY)With the 2010 Winter Olympic Games almost upon us, it may be interesting to look back to the first games. The first Winter Olympic Games were held in 1924 in Chamonix, France, a well established ski resort. The week-long games were originally called by the French, “Winter Sports Week”. Politics within the Olympic movement prevented [more...]

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Jan
17
2010
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What is Augusta, Maine, city profile?

Maine State Capitol - courtesy jimbowen0306 - CC-BYAugusta is the capital of Maine and one of the smallest state capital cities, though rather large by Maine standards.  It was first inhabited by English settlers from the Plymouth Colony in 1629 as a trading post on the Kennebec River and known by its Indian name Cushnoc.  Later the name was changed to Augusta [more...]

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