Eiron’s Archives 03

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[ With kind regards to The Right Honourable Joseph Addison, c. 1709 ]

Dear M0tiv8ta

Sadly, a stiff gin and tonic will typically only contain around 6Mg of quinine – so you would have to drink a very great deal indeed to gain any protection against malaria. I cannot therefore recommend it as a treatment – though I would very much like to be able to do so.

Dear HighLoifinIL

I would need a little more information on the quantities involved before I can answer your query regarding possible hazards of ‘paper-eating’.

It is certainly not something to be encouraged – bearing in mind the chemicals used in the production of ordinary paper and inks. If you insist on carrying on the practice, may I suggest that you invite your correspondent to write his/her letters on Chinese rice-paper, and write using a specially produced non-toxic food colouring ?

I must say that I confess to some degree puzzlement as to why you are eating the letters in the first place – is it to conceal their content ? If so, why not try some other – non-physical – means of communication instead ? If you were to utilise, for example, encrypted e-mails, then you would no need to eat the ‘evidence’. ( If, however, you are eating them for pleasure rather than for purposes of concealment, I would strongly suggest switching to the Chinese method outlined above. )

Dear JoBlokintehwold

Yes, I believe that since this is the first time that you have undertaken to participate in a long distance cycle ride, it may well be wise to take some preparatory measures.

I confess that I do not have the requisite experience to advise on the specifics of bicycle-ride training regimes, but perhaps we could extrapolate from another field ?

A long time acquaintance of mine is a concert hall violinist, and advises me that in preparation for a imminently demanding appearance, he is in the habit of soaking his fingertips in a bowl of vinegar for ten minutes or so prior to his performance. This, he assures me, substantially toughens up the skin of his fingertips.

So, perhaps you could apply the same technique to any parts which you feel may come in for undue punishment during your bicycling marathon ?

Update : Another colleague, a physician, assures me that this may not be an entirely sagacious suggestion. Upon reflection then, please ignore my advice.

Dear hugh_lanford_fernelyshaw

No, you should not be concerned or worried about the growing number of medical practitioners listed in your personal address book. It is perfectly normal for the list to increase year by year – a phenomenon which is firmly correlated with your age.

By coincidence, a friend and colleague Authur D, recently mentioned the exact same phenomena to me. His take on a ‘normal’ address-book medical entries would be roughly as follows :

• year  0>18 [no entries]
• year 18>25 [Dentist ]
• year 25>45 [Dentist, Cardiologist ]
• year 45>65 [Dentist, Cardiologist, Ophthalmologist, Proctologist ]
• year 65>85 [Dentist, Cardiologist, Ophthalmologist, Proctologist, Dermatologist, Rheumatologist ]

My supplemental advice though would be to pay close attention if Geriatrician appears in the list. [ or, even worse, Mortician ].

Dear InTeRgAlAcToR

I recently came across a very good solution to the ‘problem’ about which you enquired. I readily confess that it is not my own idea – I saw it published in my favourite magazine ( which incidentally, for reasons which I fail to comprehend, to this day flatly refuses to give me copyspace ).

Notwithstanding ; the answer to the question “ How do I know if the light goes out when I close the frieezer door “ is as follows. Set your mobile telephone ( or digital camera ) into ’movie’ mode, press record, and place it inside your refrigerator. Then close the door ( of the refrigerator ). After a few seconds, remove the recording device, and check the replay to see whether the light was extinguished as the door closed. Repeat the procedure as often as you feel necessary.

Dear Voxinaclam_shell

I would never dream of revealing such details to you – or anyone else for that matter. Especially not here. I did have a look a your website though, and I have to say, found it quite educational. I really had no idea that there were so many uses for [████████].

Dear gleeful_lee3

Yes and no. Mainly no.


Dear qwizik_14

You asked “ Is it safe to eat burnt toast ? ”

Before anyone dismisses this as a ‘silly question’, I would like to remind readers that almost all burnt organic matter – and that would include toast – will inevitably contain small quantities of chemicals called dioxins. Which are widely regarded as carcinogenic.

I would say then, that there is a very small – but nonetheless finite – risk associated with the eating of burnt toast. My advice would therefore be to avoid it if possible, but I should stress that, if you have already eaten some, small quantities will be very unlikely to have caused you any permanent damage.

In fact, I would surmise ( though I don’t have the ministry figures to hand ) that toast could well be considered to be more dangerous in other ways. Being (by definition) dry and somewhat hard, it could, for instance, conceivably cause choking to a person who was not concentrating 100% on their eating techniques. Perhaps then it would be safest to consume it in conjunction with some other food which has a moderate-to-high liquid content.

My final summation would therefore be : toast lightly : dunk often.

Dear Klippa51

I have mentioned before in this column that I will not, repeat not , be offering any further advice of any kind on the question of ‘ how to raise minnows ‘. I would really very much appreciate if you would desist from contacting me on the subject. Really.

Dear NonSteek

Believe me, I would be the last person to say categorically that ‘time-travel’ is impossible. We can though, I think, be reasonably sure that a viable method has not yet been invented. If it has been, then its inventors are keeping remarkably schtum about it don’t you think ?

But the laws of physics, as we currently understand them, certainly do not preclude its invention at some time in the future. Thus we must ask, as indeed many have, why those future inventors have not made use of their invention to come back to ‘now’ for a visit.

More intriguing still, if such an invention was ( if that’s the right grammatical tense ! ) possible, then its inventors could travel back to an earlier time and inform ‘earlier’ physicists how to viably achieve it . . .

In this way, the invention of such a machine would inevitably ‘feed backwards’ in time – so we shall, perhaps, get to know how to do it considerably earlier than is likely – or even possible.

Excuse me, there’s someone at the door . . . .

Dear grringtonz

I would define scientific research as the ongoing quest to be ‘less wrong’ about the nature of things than previous scientists were.

Dear 2twofour6

I am sorry to hear about your toothache. Your question raised some highly intriguing philosophical points. If I could share them with our readers, you enquired thus : “ When I go to sleep at night, does my tooth still continue to ache – even while I’m asleep and unaware of it ? “

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