Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2007 July 5

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July 5[edit]


The post-office / mail questions above got me thinking. Does anyone know what would happen in the following scenario? If I mail a letter, and I forget to put a stamp on it, the Post Office brings it right back to me (because my return address is on the top left corner of the envelope). So ... let's say that Person S (Sender) wants to mail a letter to Person R (Recipient) and that S is too cheap to buy stamps. So, when S mails a letter to R, S simply (and incorrectly, yet intentionally) puts the return address of R (instead of his own return address) in the top left corner of the envelope. (In other words, he purposely writes the Sender's address in the portion of the envelope traditionally reserved for the Recipient's address ... and vice versa. He flips the two.) This creates the "illusion" that R was sending the letter and that R put his own (R's) return address on the envelope. The Post Office sees this ... and returns the letter to R, who the Post Office assumed sent the letter with no stamps. So, the end result is that S was able to send a letter to R with no stamps. Am I missing something here ... or is this a "fool proof" way to send letters without postage? If so, why isn't "everybody" doing this (i.e., why is this not a widespread problem)? And, more importantly, how would the Post Office even be able to recognize / counter this? Thanks. (By the way, this question assumes that both S and R live in the USA.) —The preceding unsigned comment was added by JosephASpadaro (talkcontribs) 02:58, 5 July 2007.

This might work within the same city, but it's highly doubtful that the postage service would recognize it over any real distance --ʇuǝɯɯoɔɐqǝɟ 01:05, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
In the UK, the letter is delivered, but the recipient must pay both the original postage and an additional fee to cover the extra cost to the Royal Mail. DuncanHill 01:07, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
I'm guessing that if it was done over any real distance. The postal service would realise that the place the mail was posted at was closer to S than R, it could work if S travelled most of the distance to R and posted it, but that would completely void the point. 06:53, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Since it won't cost you anything, I suggest you try it and then fill in the answer your own question.--Shantavira|feed me 08:24, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
I don't think it wise for Wikipedia to be advising questioners to defraud the government. SteveBaker 12:19, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Abbie Hoffman recommended the technique decades ago (in Steal This Book) as a way to avoid paying for stamps. I would imagine that it still works (in the US, anyway), but I've never tried. ergot 20:41, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Drinking and Blurred Vision[edit]

I often have a stange vision experience while drinking and I was hoping someone could explain it to me.

When drinking (Vodka or similar, not beer), sometimes my vision becomes blurry...standard enough. But, one eye (the left one) almost always becomes VERY blurry while the right is mostly unaffected. Is this normal?

What causes it?

Thanks, -- 04:50, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

That's not normal at all, and you should switch brands of vodka ASAP. Also, make sure the vodka is ending up mostly in your mouth - if you're getting it in your eye, you're doing it wrong. Friday (talk) 06:11, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Could it simply be a side-effect of the relaxing properties of the alcohol? I frequently get a stuffed up nose when I enjoy a drink. Perhaps the muscles in one eye are slightly weaker than the other, causing it to relax more easily and lose focus? You may wish to seek medical advice in reference to this. Lanfear's Bane
Don't worry, I don't regularly pour Vodka into my left eye. I've had many different kinds of hard liquor over the years; they all produce the same effect.-- 14:52, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
My eyes have differing focal lengths - my right eye is very short-sighted and my left eye a lot less so. Possibly this is what's happening to you when you're drunk. Totnesmartin 20:37, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Sometimes when I bite into something sour my left eyelid twitches. (Hasn't happened recently but the effect was reliable when I was adolescent.) —Tamfang 19:26, 7 July 2007 (UTC)


how can i contact other users with questions about bindweed articles - not only in Wikipedia?

Hi, sorry -- I don't really understand your question, but we have two article about Bindweed; you could try their talk pages to discuss with other editors. --Haemo 09:09, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
For Wikipedia articles, click the "discussion" tab at the top of the relevant article. It is not clear to what "users" and what non-Wikipedia bindweed articles you are referring. If you have a specific question, try asking it here.--Shantavira|feed me 09:31, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

i am searching for a particular article i saw one time on field bindweed, is there a way to get help from wikipedia with finding it? It showed pictures and gave infromation on a whole continent (long ago) that had been destroyed by roots of field bindweed and also a modern city destroyed by them. The continent was small. i maybe remember it being off the coast of Italy. SisterMarie

Well, you could try asking on the talk page for Convolvulus arvensis, which covers field bindweed. I found this article very extensive, but it's not what you're looking for. --Haemo 09:17, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
A continent off Italy? Do you mean an island? Or could you be thinking of Atlantis? If it ever existed, it was drowned rather than decimated by bindweed. Bindweed is not really that harmful, though it spreads rapidly and could overgrow a city that had already been abandoned.--Shantavira|feed me 10:13, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Bathrooms in single sex schools[edit]

Do all-girls school have boys bathrooms and vice versa? -- 10:15, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

  • I went to an all girls secondary school that had bathrooms labeled "Boys"(Lovely carvings in stone over the door).This was left over from when it was a mixed sex and age school but only girls used them because only girls were pupils at the school.For the first three years ,I entered in a door named "Infants" as well)hotclaws 10:54, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
I guess they would also have boys toilets for any visiting boys from another school or for siblings attending say, a school play, and vice versa of course. Lanfear's Bane
My all-boys school had several female bathrooms for female staff. 11:39, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
This is generally the story. I mean, think about it -- surely some people of the other sex must show up from time to time, and need to use the bathroom? In general, though, there are fewer of them than in a co-ed school. --Haemo 11:49, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Before it was refurbished, I don't remember seeing any female toilet in my boarding house at school. I suppose there must have been one tucked away somewhere though for the cleaners, visitors, female teachers on prep duty etc. After the refurbishment there were a number of individual toilets more like you might find in somebody's home, which could be used by either sex. Our school had (when I started; it went fully co-ed while I was there) girls in the sixth form, so there were ordinary male and female toilets around the teaching buildings. PeteVerdon 19:50, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Of course, they do. As mentioned in the above posts, the bathrooms fulfill the needs of all people in the school building, not just the student body. This includes faculty, staff, family, friends, guests, vistors, etc., who clearly might be of the "other" gender. (JosephASpadaro 21:45, 5 July 2007 (UTC))

Is there an article about bathroom segregation or something similar? A.Z. 04:18, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

I found it. It's Washroom#Gender and public washrooms. A.Z. 04:21, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

Journalism college - fake stories[edit]

Does anyone know of any online resources about the fictional stories jouranlism students write about?--<big>User:Keycard 12:12, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

A very elaborate hoax was the series of stories in "The Daily Egyptian" at Southern Illinois University about Kodee Kennings,a precocious little girl whose father Dan was stationed in Iraq [1]. She told the reporter how hard her life was. Then Dan was killed in action. The problem was, he didn;t exist, and the girl's "guardian" had actually borrowed the girl (not named Kodee, and whose father was not in the military)to play what she thought was a part in a movie, and had also hired a man to play the father. She claimed the reporter was in on it, but he denied it. Edison 14:58, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Try the The Sun. They make stuff up all the time. Totnesmartin 20:40, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
There are some references to plagiarism and false stories by both professional and student journalists on the Regret The Error blog[2]. You'd have to go through the archives to look for fabrications. --Charlene 18:11, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

Exchange Rates[edit]

Me and a mate are curious, which currency is the 'strongest' in the world, that is which can you get the most GBP for currently. What currency is it and how many GBP can you get for 1. Thanks Mysticaloctopus 12:58, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Per our table of historical exchange rates, the Kuwaiti Dinar was worth about 2 British Pounds in 2006. It's worth noting, though, that this is not a proper definition of a currency's strength. For instance, even in the superdollar era, the US Dollar still exchanged for less than one British Pound, even though it was the stronger currency. — Lomn 13:07, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Yes - indeed. It's worthless to use the raw exchange rate. We might say that the British pound is strong because it's worth $2.00 or so - but by the same math the British penny is worth only $0.02 so if we use that metric, we'd have to say the penny was horribly weak! So by that way of thinking is the UK currency (which can be expressed in either pounds or pence) weak or strong? No, we have to consider the relative increase or decrease in value over the longer term historical value. For as long as I can remember, the pound sat at around $1.50 - now, suddenly, it's worth $2.00 - so it's clearly strong right now (or conversely, the dollar is weak). SteveBaker 18:06, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
There are at least two different ways in which the word "strong" is applied to currencies by people knowledgeable about international finance. Neither usage of "strong" refers to the raw exchange rate. One usage refers to the relative exchange rate of a currency. This is the usage of the word in the last comment (by an anonymous posterSteveBaker). In this sense, a "strong" currency is one that has risen relative to other currencies. In recent years, currencies that have risen dramatically relative to other currencies include the pound sterling (GBP) and the Australian and New Zealand dollars. Another, related but different usage of the word "strong" refers to the relative demand by investors for that currency, which in turn tends to drive its exchange rates up and has other effects, such as the ability to issue debt denominated in that currency without offering unusually high interest rates. By this measure, the euro might be seen as a stronger currency than the British, Australian, and kiwi currencies, because its exchange rate has risen despite offering relatively low interest rates, whereas the British, Australian, and New Zealand currencies have risen largely in response to the high interest rates their central banks have had to offer to attract financing for those countries' current account deficits. Because of these two subtly different meanings (and because of popular misconceptions that a high raw exchange rate reflects "strength"), it is probably better not to use the word "strong" but to use more precise and descriptive language instead. Marco polo 16:00, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

The exchange rate itself doesn't mean the country is well off. The Cyprus pound is currently worth £1.15 but you wouldn't say Cyprus is a rich country.

A good example is the Canadian dollar, which is considered to be "very high" now at about 94 cents to the US dollar. That's "high" because the Canadian dollar spent most of the past 30 years in the range of 70-85 US cents. With the Canadian dollar nearing parity with the US dollar, Canada is more expensive to do business in, and American goods are cheaper for Canadians to buy. If it wanted to, Canada could issue replace its currency with "new dollars" at the rate of 10 new dollars for every 1 old dollar. The new Canadian dollar would trade at the rate of 9.4 cents to the US dollar. But that wouldn't make the Canadian currency any weaker compared to the US dollar. It would still be cheaper to buy a Big Mac in the US in terms of purchasing power parity. -- Mwalcoff 02:30, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

Any Diplomacy players out there? I'm Austria[edit]

I'm in Autumn 1902 now, and as a relatively new player to this game I'm just wondering how I would go about repelling Italian and Turkish attacks with only an acquiescent Germany.


AlmostCrimes 13:22, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Not claiming a great level of expertise here, but here are a few ideas for whatever they are worth:
  1. Tell Italy that Turkey is planning to stab them. Tell Turkey that Italy is planning to stab them. Don't give too many details - assume they are going to tell each other whatever you say to one of them - but fuel their paranoia.
  2. Your best ally against Turkey is Russia. Tell him that Turkey wants your support into Rum. With luck he will think this is cover for Turkey grabbing Sev so he will order Ukr-Sev, which Turkey will see as a threat.
  3. France would be a good ally against Italy, but he seems to be in all sorts of trouble. If you can set Germany and England against each other this might take the pressure off France and he might push a fleet into the Med - but I wouldn't count on it. Alternatively (or as well as), you could advise Italy to secure his western flank before there is an English fleet in the Med.
Good luck ! Gandalf61 13:54, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Mar Saba[edit]

While idly browsing wikipedia while waiting for a computer to do something I came across the Mar Saba article. It has no map co-ordinates, but from the description I think I've found it at 31°43′30″N 35°13′12″E / 31.725°N 35.220°E / 31.725; 35.220. I'd like to add the coordinates to the article, but I'm not sure I've got the right place. Can anyone either confirm that I'm right, or tell me where I should be looking? --HughCharlesParker (talk - contribs) 14:01, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

I've taken a look at this location in Google Earth. It looks to me like a recent housing development and not an ancient monastery. Marco polo 15:05, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
According to some Google Earth bookmarks, the Google Earth image itself, and other plausible information, the monastery appears to be at approximately 31°42′18″N 35°19′52″E / 31.705°N 35.331°E / 31.705; 35.331. Marco polo 15:28, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Thank you, and thanks to the editors who fixed the coordinates and the description of the location in the article. --HughCharlesParker (talk - contribs) 11:12, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

Sheets for a non-standard-size mattress[edit]

In September I'll be moving into a dorm where the mattresses are 54"x80". It's becoming clear that if sheets in this size are available at all, they'll be very expensive. Will a fitted sheet made for a 54"x75" or 60"x80" work okay, or will they fail to stretch far enough or bunch up on themselves? NeonMerlin 16:51, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

I get a number of hits by searching Google with the terms sheets for dorm beds. Dismas|(talk) 17:19, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Google offers about 13,000 hits for "long twin sheets" which are available in every store such as Sears or Penney's in the US and by mail order. Nothing expensive ofr exotic about them. Just convirm the size the bed will be and order 2 sets of fitted sheets. Fitted sheets for a wider or shorter mattress would not be very pleasant to sleep on. Edison 17:58, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
But long twin is 39"x80"; this is substantially wider than that. NeonMerlin 18:47, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
54"x80" is known as "long double", "XL full" or similar combinations. There are many available off the shelf, like these [4] [5] [6] Just google for more. 19:18, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
It's likely that other residents of this dorm have encountered the same problem, and know of the easy&cheap&student-appropriate solutions. Try talking to them! —Steve Summit (talk) 01:49, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
Is there any reason why you can't just use ordinary sheets?DuncanHill 11:13, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
By "ordinary sheets" do you mean "not fitted sheets"? To some of us, fitted sheets are ordinary sheets! Skittle 16:59, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
I do indeed mean "not-fitted" sheets. DuncanHill 18:06, 6 July 2007 (UTC)


Is there any reason why I shouldn't go outside and capture some of those squirrels that you can find anywhere, and cook them and eat them.

None that I can think of, provided you catch and kill them humanely, and that it is not illegal in your jurisdiction. DuncanHill 22:22, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
This site [7] has a number of interesting recipes. DuncanHill 22:24, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Well, rabies. But other than that, probably not much. --ʇuǝɯɯoɔɐqǝɟ 22:26, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew. Lanfear's Bane
Wikipedia has some information here DuncanHill 22:31, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Squirrel tastes a bit like chicken. Not a whole ton of meat on one, though. In most jurisdictions I know of, harvesting of wild animals is regulated by law. You'll likely need a license of some kind to trap or shoot them legally. Friday (talk) 22:54, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
I was going to put an educated suggestion here, but then I thought, 'What the hell', some politically correct Wikipedian editor will interpret it as an anti-Islamic-squirrel attack and delete it forthwith, so, I shan't bother. pbuh.
See also this photoessay by the inimitable James Lileks. (Don't miss the punch line on page 5.) —Steve Summit (talk) 01:45, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
I love eating rabbit (my wife bakes them in a plum sauce...mmmmmm!) - but the disturbing thing about that photoessay is how often the company name 'Pel-freez' looks more like 'Pet freez' in the photos...which is particularly unfortunate given the cuddliness of their chosen victims! SteveBaker 14:17, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
I'm reminded that "Squirrels are Rats with good PR agents." SteveBaker 01:55, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
In a city park, where you are not allowed to hunt, the squirrels are ubiquitous. They are pests in every back yard, gnawing their way into plastic trash cans. In the country where (on your own land or with permission) you are allowed to hunt, they are very scarce. You can go to the woods, and watch silently for an hour, and maybe only see the smallest movement up in a tree, and never get a good shot. A shotgun is recommended, since you would have to be an outstanding marksman to hit one with a rifle. A 410 is a good choice, since a 12 gauge would tear it to shreds. You need a hunting license, of course, and a course in gun safety. Kill'em, skin'em and clean em and you have very little meat. But if you stew them with dumplings they are delicious, as they also are fried with gravy made from the drippings. Good with biscuits. Of course they seem way too cute to kill, unless they are gnawing their way through the wooden window sash into your attic, than getting confused and gnawing a second hole to get out. Some groceries have squirrels and other game for sale in the inner city neighborhoods. But there is an old adage that you should make sure it has a paw still on, to make sure it really is a squirrel (or rabbit) and not some other more domestic little quadruped. Edison 15:27, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
.22 calibre is a popular gun for squirrel hunting. No article. Hunting in general is an underdeveloped subject on Wikipedia. Rmhermen 16:18, 6 July 2007 (UTC)


With reference to the question above. Is there any reason why I can't catch, kill, cook and eat those fat, chicken sized gulls I see flying around every day? -- 22:32, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Yes, they taste of rancid fish. DuncanHill 22:33, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

And you know this because...? --Trovatore 22:34, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Why would a gull taste of fish because it sometimes eats fish? -- 22:40, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Well, I suppose if you caught one which feeds on a landfill site, it would taste of land-fill. I grew up near some small fishing ports. Most sea-birds taste of rancid fish, hence their almost total absence from the cuisine of the world. DuncanHill 22:44, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
I saw this recipe suggested
Poached Seagull
Ingredients: One medium whole bird and one large rock
Method: Place both in large uncovered saucepan. Fill saucepan with cold water. Bring to boil over outdoor fire. Bury the seagull. Enjoy the rock.
Lanfear's Bane
Reminiscent of Dr Johnson's recipe for cucumbers. DuncanHill 22:53, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Some (real) gull recipes for you (had to re-find this) - --Kurt Shaped Box 22:58, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
mm, gulls' eggs ARE nice - haven't had them in years. Kurt - you had to RE-find it? You've looked for gull-recipes before? DuncanHill 23:03, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Sounds like the joke that British Army hospitals served shadow soup; take one bird, hang it over a pot a boiling water so that it's shadow falls in the pot. Boil for twenty minutes, and add salt to taste. Laïka 23:05, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Yup, I once had a look to see if anyone was eating gulls (c'mon, haven't we all wondered that?). That site stuck in my mind. I found the dead link on the first page of Google hits. --Kurt Shaped Box 23:08, 5 July 2007 (UTC)
Seagull's eggs used to be a delicacy. You could try that. Totnesmartin 11:53, 6 July 2007 (UTC)
Kurt Shaped Box has an unhealthy obsession with gulls.  :) Corvus cornix 01:27, 8 July 2007 (UTC)

Not gulls, but for seabirds regularly eaten see Muttonbird. Mhicaoidh 22:39, 7 July 2007 (UTC)