Spurs 1(1) – 1(3) Shakhtar Donetsk

Spurs drew 1-1 with Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine), but they had already lost the first game 0-2 so Shakhtar progress to the last 16 of the UEFA Cup and Spurs’ European adventure is over. Spurs’ goalscorer was Giovani (Mexico), 19 years old.

Shakhtar are a very good team, but Spurs played an important game on Monday evening, and they have an even more important game on Sunday (the final of the Carling Cup against Manchester United), so they rested their best players and most of the team were teenagers.

Who invented the pencil sharpener?

Of course the very first pencil sharpeners were knives and blades, but the first patent for a tool especially for sharpening pencils was made by Bernard Lassimone, a French mathematician, in 1828. It looked something like this:

This isn't Lassimone's sharpener but it is similar.
This isn’t Lassimone’s sharpener but it is similar.

However the first mechanical pencil sharpener was invented by Therry des Estwaux, also from France in 1847. It looked something like this:

The Marion pencil sharpener
The Marion pencil sharpener

Now there are sharpeners with revolving handles, and even battery operated electric sharpeners, but I like the simple wooden ones like this:

Simple is best
Simple is best

Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 Spurs

It looks like Spurs’ European adventure will soon end. In the first leg of the UEFA Cup match against Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) a very weak Spurs team lost 2-0.

In the return game at Spurs’ home ground Spurs will have to score at least three goals to progress to the next round, but if Shakhtar score one goal then Spurs will have to score four! It’s not looking good.

Friday 13th

Tomorrow is Friday 13th, which is considered to be an unlucky day in some Western cultures.

In one year there can be one, two or three Friday 13ths. In 2009 there are three, and the next one is next month, March 13th, and there is also one in November.

Paraskevidekatriaphobia is fear of Friday 13th. It comes from three old Greek words, ‘paraskevi’ means Friday, ‘dekatria’ means 13, and ‘phobia’ means fear.

Where is Jason?
Where is Jason?

Why is Friday 13th considered an unlucky day? Nobody really knows, but it seems that it is the combination of the unlucky number 13, with the bad day, Friday, which equals the mega-unlucky day of Friday 13th.

There is no doubt that 13 is considered by many people to be unlucky, for example:

Many buildings have no 13th floor.

Many cities have no 13th Street nor 13th Avenue.

Many airports have no Gate 13.

Many hospitals and hotels have no Room 13.

Many people will leave a party or a meal with 13 guests.

And there are many more examples, plus of course Apollo 13!

So why is 13 so unlucky?

The most popular view is that there were 13 guests at the Last Supper of Jesus Christ, before he died, as shown in a famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci. Added to this is the view that 12 is a ‘complete’ or ‘perfect’ number. There are 12 months in the year, 12 signs of the Zodiac, 12 apostles of Jesus, 12 tribes of Israel, and many more, which suggests that 13 is an imperfect (and evil?) number.

And what about Friday?

Christian belief is that Jesus Christ died on a Friday, and it is also thought that Eve gave Adam an apple on a Friday.

So, 13 and Friday make a strong combination. On Friday October 13th 1307, about 700 years ago, King Philip of France arrested, tortured and killed thousands of Knights Templar, who were a very powerful group that protected Christians (though there are many stories of their corruption), and who are included in the  book, ‘The da Vinci Code’.

There is also the fact that every month that includes Friday 13th starts with Sunday 1st which, according to Christians, is God’s day of rest, but why this is a sign of bad luck I don’t know.

One other fact: research in the UK shows that on Friday 13th there is less traffic on the streets (lots of people stay indoors), but there are more traffic accidents than normal. Is this because of bad luck, or because people get more nervous and panicky?

To be honest I’m not at all superstitious about Friday 13th, but I’m glad that my children weren’t born on this day.

Exams over

For most of my students the exams are over.

Sometimes I imagine what you will be doing during the long spring vacation. Many of you tell me that you will be sleeping. I hope you don’t follow this guy’s example.

Don't roll over
Don't roll over

Pencil: mechanical

What do you call it?
What do you call it?

What do you call this type of pencil?

Mechanical pencil? Propelling pencil? In Japan most of my students call it a Sharp pencil.

This type of pencil was invented in Britain in 1822 by Sampson Mordan and Gabriel Riddle.

The mechanical pencil became popular in Japan and in 1915 Tokuji Hayakawa first made the type of mechanical pencil that is still used today. He called it the Ever Ready Sharp Pencil.

At first sales were small, but after a few years sales suddenly boomed. Hayakawa started a company which he named Sharp. This is the origin of the world-famous electronics company which now makes everything from fridges to Aquos TVs.

Pencil: colour

Most pencils in The USA are a yellow colour. This was started by the Hardtmuth company in 1890 with their Koh-I-Noor brand pencil. Before this pencils were usually just unpainted wood.

But in other countries different colours are more popular. For example in Germany most pencils are green, and in Australia they are red.

Where are blue pencils popular?
Where are blue pencils popular?

Pencil: grading

You have all seen the letters H and B on your pencils.

‘H’ means hardness and ‘B’ means ‘blackness’.

The standard writing pencil is HB.

What is your pencil?
What is your pencil?

‘F’ is also used and this means fine.

This system was started in the early 1900s by an English pencil-maker named Brookman.