James Explains Toppling Penguins Amongst Other Things

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Welcome back to another James Explains, the place where I answer the questions that no-one else can.

Mostly because they weren’t asked those questions.

I was.

So I will answer them.

Because it would be rude not to.

Tragically Uncool has noticed the fairly regular posting of stuff on this blog of late and asks the following:

I got bored and abandoned my blog months ago. Where do you get the energy and inspiration to keep this up?

The truthful answer to this is that I blog more often when I’ve got other stuff I should be doing. The more I post on here, the more real-life work I’m avoiding. On the occasions I disappear from the blogoshpere, it’s never because I’m too busy, but more that I haven’t got anything I’m desperately trying to avoid doing. In recent months I’ve been alarmingly busy at work, and so the blog has blossomed…

Giggling Fattie didn’t think she was asking a question when she wrote the following (but she totally was so I shall answer it):

Every time I see one of these post I always want to comment but I never have any questions to ask! Why don’t I ever have any questions?!

Essentially you don’t have any questions because you already know everything you need to know. The only thing you apparently don’t know is that you know everything. Which is ironic. But thanks to me, you now know that too.

Suze asks this brainteaser of a question:


The six year old next door, we shall call him Sam…of course we will as that is his name…anywho, Sam asks: “how comes you write silly stuff?” good luck with that.

Is Sam talking about your blog or mine Suze? Because I know why I write silly stuff, but I have no idea why you write silly stuff. Unless it’s for the same reason I write silly stuff. Which it might be. In which case, I write silly stuff because I think it’s better for my general sanity if this stuff is written down rather than in my head.

Pete, takes advantage of the discount I gave him last week (see last week’s post if that makes no sense) to ask this:

Here’s my first discounted question – hang on, that means you will ignore it doesn’t it?

No Pete, no question is ignored on James Explains and I will answer this one too. By writing this.

But fine though all those other questions were, it’s Glen who has given us the conundrum of the day by asking this:

Do penguins topple over when they look up in fascination at a plane going overhead?

Of course they do Glen. And if they’re standing in a line (as I understand that all penguins do) then there’s a spectacular domino effect. It’s one of nature’s true wonders.

 

And that’s it for another James Explains. If you have a question that only I can answer then why not post it in the comments below?

 

James Explains Some Stuff That No-one Asked Him To Explain

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Welcome back to another James Explains.

It’s been a while since I last donned my explaining socks (which are, essentially, just ordinary socks that I’ve chosen to call ‘explaining socks’), to answer the questions posed to me by other people. People like you. Assuming you are people. Which is the only assumption I can make, given my (probably limited) understanding of the way things  work. Maybe you’re an alien, or a robot, or a dog that can read. Or all of those things. Or none of those things. How can I possibly know? What kind of crazy world do we live in now, where alien-robot-dogs are able to read my blog? And why would such a being even want to read my blog?

To be fair, the answer to that is probably that, in anticipation of a world in which we are taken over by alien-robot-dogs, all of my content has been specially crafted to appeal to such beings. It’s why, if you’re a human reading this, you might sometimes feel slightly alienated, almost as if this stuff was never really meant for your consumption.

But enough of this nonsense. Just so long as everyone understands that come the day our supreme overlords decide to take control, I will be in a position of significant influence and power.

But until such a time, lets pretend that this blog is meant to be read by people and that those people have questions that they need me to answer.

The only problem is that it’s been over a month since I last wrote a James Explains, so I don’t have any questions that need answering.

I don’t think I do anyway. I could go back and look at the comments section of previous James Explains to see if there are any questions I didn’t get around to answering, but that seems like quite a lot of effort to go to. Instead I could just use this post as an opportunity to announce that James Explains is back and if you do have any questions that you need answering, then post them in the comments section below and I might, one day, get around to answering them. Possibly even as soon as next week.

Then again, it wouldn’t be a proper James Explains, if I didn’t at least answer some questions. I have been known, in the past, to answer questions that I’ve posed to myself, but even that seems like more effort than I’m really prepared to put into this today.

Instead I’m going to answer some Frequently Asked Questions that appear on some websites that I looked at. They’re all from different websites, because it turns out that people frequently ask different things of different businesses. In most cases the businesses have already answered these questions themselves, so all I’m offering here is a helpful second opinion.

Question 1, which may have something to do with air travel, is:

Can I bring infant equipment?

As opposed to fully grown equipment? If you think it’s up to the job then please do. I always say if it’s up to the task, it’s old enough, but you will be responsible for any equipment in your care, infant or otherwise.

Question 2, which might have something to do with TV licencing is:

How do I tell you about an unoccupied address or empty property?,

However you want to tell me. There’s no right or wrong way of doing this. It’s not especially bad news, so you don’t need to prepare the ground, particularly. If you’d like to compose a sonnet or a witty limerick to convey the information then that’s always appreciated, but a simple mundane email should suffice.

Question 3, which might have something to do with paying credit card bills, is:

What sort code and account number should I use for my payments?

It’s generally good form to use your own sort code and account number. I believe anything else might be construed as fraudulent. But I’ll leave it to your own discretion.

Question 4, which might be related to staying in a hotel, is:

Can I chat to someone in Customer Services?

I’d prefer you didn’t. They’re all busy people and they really don’t have time to chat. I’m not paying them to sit around chatting. Admittedly I’m not paying them at all. But I imagine the hotel chain feels the same as I do about this. Although you wouldn’t know that from their own answer, which provides a phone number and everything. That’s no way to run a business is it?

 

There we go, some FAQs answered, and answered well, if I do say so myself. If you have any LFAQs (or Less Frequently Asked Questions) for me, then do ask them in the comments below.

 

James Explains The Art Of The Nap Amongst Other Things

James Explains

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Today represents a tragedy for fact-seekers everywhere, as this will be the last ‘James Explains’ for a while. I might bring it back in a few weeks or I might not. Only time will tell. There’s inevitably going to be something of a grieving process for some of you at this news. We’ll get through this together somehow. There are lots of other people who are still explaining stuff on the internet. You’ll be OK. But, just to tide you over, while you try to find another site that quenches your never ending thirst for knowledge as well as this one does, let’s enjoy one last Q&A together.

Pete, who has managed a question every week, is back again with this query:

Can I ask a question?

Now, it’s abundantly clear that you can ask a question Pete as you have asked many before. You are quite the accomplished questioner. But, alas, there will be no further opportunities for you to ask me questions that I will actually bother to answer. At least not for a few weeks. But you can still ask questions. You can always ask questions Pete.

Bear R Humphreys, who may or may not be the same person as regular contributor Bryntin asks:

Why can’t you stop once you’ve popped? I would have thought that was pretty much the end of your balloon trip myself.

Well Bear, that is a question, and you’re absolutely correct, the popping of a hot air balloon would indeed result in a fairly imminent ‘stop’. But there are other forms of popping. Most of them can also be stopped. For example, if I pop to the shop, I tend only to need to do it the once.

Even in the context of the savoury snack Pringles, which is where the claim about being unable to cease post-pop appears to originate, the claim is misleading. Presumably one will inevitably stop when one runs out of Pringles. Also, I once had the misfortune to try Mint-Choc flavour Pringles, which were a novelty flavour released for Christmas one year. I had no difficulty stopping on that occasion. No difficulty at all.

Meanwhile my friend Andrew, who doesn’t have a blog but occasionally likes to heckle me from other social media (I wrote about him before in this awesome post about Glastonbury and David Bowie, and he was also the ‘Second Bow Street Runner’ in this post I wrote on Friday), queries my assertion from last week that there are multiple ways to nap while at work. Less a question and more of a demand he says:

There are more ways to nap at work? I want to know what they are.

Obviously I don’t actually nap at work. That would be incredibly unprofessional, even for me. But if I were to nap at work I would do any one of the following, and fully expect to get away with it.

  1. As discussed last week, I might  pretend to have a meeting but, instead, not have a meeting and nap in the meeting room.
  2. I might sleep in a cleverly constructed den under my desk, like George Costanza does on that episode of Seinfeld
  3. I might well pretend to have a medical condition which necessitates the wearing of sunglasses at work, and then just sleep wherever and whenever I feel like it, while also looking cool.
  4. I could also make a mask of using a picture of my ‘awake face’, and then wear it over my actual sleeping face.
  5. I could design and make a robot that looks and sounds exactly like me, as per the trope of many a sci-fi film and TV show. Then I could have the robot live my life for me, while I stay in bed. Technically I wouldn’t even have to go into work for that one.
  6. Most likely though, I would just openly sleep at my desk without any form of pretence and see if anyone even notices or cares.

 

And that’s it for James Explains. Possibly forever. But maybe not. You can still ask questions in the comments section below. But those questions could be in vain,

James Explains Onomatopoeia Amongst Other Things

James Explains

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Hello truth seekers, and welcome back to the bit of my blog where I answer the difficult questions that other blogs choose to ignore.

Mostly because they weren’t asked them.

But I was asked them.

So I will answer them.

Because that seems like the polite thing to do.

To kick us off, Pete asks:

WHY NOT?

This is something of a callback to a question that Pete posed a couple of weeks ago, and like then I will refer you to the answer my parents gave me to this question back in my youth, which in this case was… BECAUSE I SAID SO!

Pete also asks:

My cat, sitting on a mat, has just had a urinary accident………Is this onomatopoeia?

Alas Pete, it isn’t. Onomatopoeia is when a word sounds like itself. Which is, to be fair, all words. They all sound like themselves. I may have misunderstood what onomatopoeia means. There must be more to it than that. But I know it doesn’t refer to cats urinating on mats. The word you’re thinking of is catonomatopoeia.

Bryntin asks:

James, why haven’t I got any questions this week?

I had so many last week.

I tried but I simply couldn’t conjure one up, even when I looked in my wardrobe.

I must admit, I was perplexed to discover that you didn’t have any questions Bryntin, but I think I understand why. It’s because questions aren’t kept in wardrobes. Fictional lands with witches and lions and never-ending winters are kept in wardrobes.

Stolzy’s five year old son is back with this scatalogical question:

Why is it that my poop is brown when I ate nothing brown?

I was going to come up with a silly answer to this, but then I realised that I was answering the question for a five year old boy and so I feel that I would be doing him a disservice by not taking the question seriously.

So Stolzy, please read the following answer out to your son, in order to further his education.

Poop is brown because of a tetrapyrrolic bile pigment called sterconilin.

Or it could just be because the poo fairy likes brown.

Take your pick.

Suze asks:

“WHY do men collect crap?” Model parts, dried out glue bottles, modeling paints that are dried up with the cap on crooked…none of which can be thrown out as it “might be needed later”.

Now I can see why you’ve asked me this question Suze, because, as a man I’m fully qualified to answer. Although I don’t actually collect any of that stuff, because I’m the kind of maverick who hurls caution to the wind and throws stuff away. That said, I’ve often been left to rue my cavalier attitude when I’ve desperately needed some dried out modelling paints and haven’t had any to hand. What a fool I was.

And that’s it for this week’s James Explains. As ever, if you’d like me to explain the seemingly unexplainable then pop a question in the comments below.

 

James Explains Nothing Very Much At All

James Explains

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Admittedly it was something of a risk when I started a regular feature on my blog that was entirely reliant on ‘audience participation’ that there might come a day when the audience chose not to participate.

Or more specifically when I started a feature, which was entirely dependent on other people asking me questions, that there might come a week when no questions were asked.

And that time has arrived, for I have no questions to answer this week.

Or very few anyway.

The ever-reliable Pete did ask a question this week, and actually I believe there remain some unanswered ‘Pete’ questions from previous weeks.

But this is not all about Pete.

It’s a bit about Pete obviously.

But it’s not all about Pete.

Yet.

So I’ll answer one or more of Pete’s outstanding questions next week, but this week I thought I might try my contingency plan for when the day arrives that even Pete can’t be bothered to ask me any questions.

And my contingency plan is that I will ask myself some questions.

Because, if I’m honest, I am the kind of person that talks to myself quite regularly anyway, so there’s really no harm in doing it in blog form. They say it’s the first sign of madness, but in reality I’m pretty sure that the ship of sanity sailed a long time ago for me.

I mean I’m obviously not claiming to be mad, because that would be conclusive proof that I’m boringly sane and a bit on the dull side. And while I offer no denials that in real life I am a mind-numbingly dull person to spend time with, I’m not sure I always make the sanest of choices.

I’d give you an example of what I mean, but actually that might save this car crash of a post with something resembling interesting content and I’m far too committed to making this as perplexingly bad as I possibly can to allow for anything resembling an interesting narrative at this juncture.

Instead, in for a penny, in for a…

…well a pound seems like bit much, but I’ll certainly go as high as 20p…

So, without further ado, here are this week’s questions:

James, from James Proclaims asks:

What’s going on right now?

Well James, you appear to be having something of a breakdown on your own blog. It’s all quite distressing really.

James, who is also from James Proclaims asks:

Seriously though, why is this happening?

Great question James, and truthfully I’m not sure. Maybe this is some kind of self-aware satire that is genuinely meant to be funny, or maybe this is the very worrying decline of a man in his late thirties, who has finally realised that many of his long-held ambitions are pipe dreams.

James, who to be clear is still the same James as before and is in fact me asks:

Am I going to get through this?

I’m not sure James. Only time will tell. Perhaps lay off the red wine for a few days though eh?

And that’s it for another James Explains. If you never want to see anything quite as tragic on these pages again then please ask a question, any question, in the comments below.

James and I are depending on you.

Disclaimer: I actually did end up getting asked a few questions this week but I’d already written the above nonsense and decided to post it anyway, so apologies if your question went unanswered this week, I’ll definitely answer it next week! Although still ask more questions below and consider the above a cautionary tale of just how low I’m prepared to sink on these pages if I don’t get my own way…