Thursday, September 22, 2005

Dullest Headline?

Came across this while browsing the web.

Claude Cockburn's famous candidate in the competition among Times sub-editors for the year's dullest headline:

"Small Earthquake in Chile: Not Many Dead."

Friday, September 16, 2005

About A Word

This is a poem about my favourite word: quinquennium, which means a period of five years. This is fresh from the Incubbator! Track its history there.

Not sure how much literary value it has; there is no theme as such, just some facts in verse. But if you are here for the wordplay, this is it.


English words starting with 'Q'
Are, queerly, but a quiescent few.
Query anyone, "Not many in queue".

A quixotic five-year quest (quite untrue),
Cupid's arrow struck me, a random lexicon view;
I had found the one most q-true-blue!

Quinquennium: It's quite my word favourite.
Quin-quenni-yum: Say it aloud and savour it.
Take my cue: over "half a decade", favour it.

Indeed the Queen Of Words. Aye aye, so true!
Not only does it start with a 'Q',
But it has one to spare too: two!

-Thomas Jay Cubb

Song For The Quinquennium

I reproduce here my submission to My Favorite Word.

Quinquennium. Not too many words start with a 'q', and this one has two 'q's! Really like the way it sounds too.

English's list of Q-words:
Not many in queue.
I searched "five years"!
At last found a good one
not just starting with Q
but which in fact had two!
I just love it, won't you too?
Please do take my cue.

-Thomas Jay Cubb

I wonder why this word is not more in vogue; a quinquennium is a more practical measure to track your life with than a decade is, come to think of it...


This became, very soon, the first version of "About A Word" (final version at CubbSpace)

This is a poem about the word quiniquennium which means "five years", it is in fact my favourite word. somebody had asked me yesterday, so that's where the inspiration comes from all of a sudden..

it's very very experimental.has its rough edges, so let me know what you think... so that i can finalize... .


English words starting with 'Q'
Are, queerly, a quite quiescent few.
Query anyone, "Not many in queue".
A quixotic five-year lexical quest (quite untrue)
And I found the word most q-true-blue!

Half a decade, it's my favourite
(The word's quinquennium)
Say it aloud, savour it
Ain't it cute, sounds so.. yum-yum?
No question, better than all the rest of'em.

For not only does it start with a 'Q',
It has one to spare too: two!

-Thomas Jay Cubb
(September 15, 2005)

Thursday, September 15, 2005


The recently concluded Ashes series saw the floccinaucinihilipilification of the Australian batting order by the English pace bowlers. There! I have used the word! In context!!!

Wonder why nobody else came up with that line... The word was just begging to be used, with even the "Aussie" bit in it!

Ashes 2005: Floccinaussienihilipilification would pretty much describe the series in one word, wouldn't it? For the record... :-)

Floccinaucinihilipilification is the longest non-technical word in the dictionary.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Cake In The Pantry

The birthday-poem...Dedicated to Thomas by Thomas!!!
Written on February 19, 2004 to invite colleagues to share some cake on the occasion of my birthday.

Personally, Thomas Jake-
ub invites you to partake
pieces of his birthday-cake!!
It's in the pantry,
but I remind you to hurry
for the problem with cakes
and other such sweet bakes
is that, a few moments is all it TAKES!!!

And hey on-sites
How I wish you could have a few bites!
A loss!

- Thomas Jay Cubb

PS I (as do you of course! :-) wish me a happy birthday!!

Beauty And The Beast Holder

Wise men and philosophers through the ages have disagreed on many things, but most seem to agree on one - "We become what we think about".

A man is what he thinks about all day long. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
A man's life is what his thoughts make of it. - Marcus Aurelius
As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. - The Bible

It is when we fill our minds with negativism that the world becomes evil. (The beast is within.) Everything we experience and everybody we encounter will carry the scent we hold in our mind.

Everything is a matter of perception; everything is relative, to you. You can choose to see a diamond or a rock. You choose the spectacles you wear - choose blue ones and the world is blue, choose green ones and the world is green.

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder... Cliche! Cliche! ... If you don't have beautiful eyes, everything is ugly!

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Sudoku's all the rage nowadays. Have attempted two thus far, completed one.

The word Sudoku means "single number" in Japanese. The first puzzle was created by Howard Garnes, a freelance puzzle constructor, in 1979. It was originally called Number Place.

Should appear in a quiz near you in the near future...

Monday, September 05, 2005

Krypto's Last Stand: In Memoriam

Krypto, my dog, died today morning. I am very very sad. There are no mixed emotions, just pure sadness.

Though named after Super-Dog, Krypto would have been just a run-of-the-mill black Labrador Retriever to you but he was very special to me. It's because of him that I can identify with the "Parent's choice situation" - no choice but to accept and love whoever is born and, also, believe whole-heartedly in the perfect illogicality that the he's-mine-so-he-is-special line of reasoning is. Cold logic can shake the foundations of love and emotion. He may not have been extra-special or anything, but whatever, Krypto is irreplaceable for me.

Nine and a half years old, Krypto had haemoglobin deficiency; his blood couldn't retain oxygen. That explained why he used to pant such a lot. We had been thinking it was plain old age or asthma-like shortness of breath. Now it all makes sense but it's too late. The doctor said it could have been a dietary problem.

I think, illogically perhaps, that his deterioration was somehow linked to my leaving for Bangalore for a new job three months back as well. Pets need love, demonstrations of love for well-being. Like they need food. Call that my pet-theory, but I think it holds some water. Three weeks back when I was home on vacation, I had found that he had grown senile, forgetting how to climb steps - you know, there's a certain logic to it: which leg goes first and next and so on.

Krypto lived a simple but full life. Simple because, with him it was always have-energy-will-wag-tail-and-play and forever-greedy-for-treats. Full because he'd seen quite a lot of places, with us through three residence-shifts, seen and loved, without exception, a lot of people as well. The only person he ever bit was a trainer who had been very harsh with him. If the trainer was the one who threw the ball, he could very well go and fetch it for himself. Why should I do it? He never learned to fetch, he used to go and get but would not return the object- cutting short many an hour of play and interaction.

The lasting memory of Krypto that will stay with me forever is the image of him refusing to return the towel being used to dry him after his bath after snatching it from me and then play-fighting with it.Another unforgettable image is his sitting in perfect, mock obedience, with his beautiful brown eyes brimmingwith mischievous innocence, but with unwavering attention fixed on the bone in my hand, waiting for the "Take-It-Krypto" nod of assent from me.

I will try my best to not remember you as I saw you last - lying helpless on the wooden plank as the antithesis of what you had been all your life. However, I also realize the importance of our final meeting and thank you for holding on till I could get home and see you.

Krypto had lost the will to live whereas before he was life itself. When I left him on Sunday, I knew that would be the last time I saw him, I sort of knew he did too. From there, I thought jokingly , if he recovered, I would give him a new name - Krysto; the situation was so bad that macabre humour was the only balm.

I hear that just before Krypto died on Monday morning, he tried to stand as best as he could, but failed and then collapsed. That was the real Krypto within, trying to stand up, he did so and left.

I apologize for not having taken you for as many walks as I could have; I did only the regular ones, when I was not "tired". For not taking you for a swim in the sea; I always wished to but never did take you and never made any real effort either. I apologize for not spending enough time with you as I should have (If only you would've returned the things you fetched!). I also regret that I do not have enough snapshots of you; I was never click-happy.

From insignificant excuse to insignificant excuse. Krypto's gone. Nobody to respond to my kri-ptoo whistle now.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Car Sweet Car

My manager Noushad bought a new car. He had organized a grand sweet-treat, but there was no camera that day. So for the company-newsletter , we had to make do with this.


The car, a Santro Xing
Just made us sing
The sweets were yum..mmm..mmphy
We hope the car is comfy
Those near and those afar
Wish you a Happy New Car!

- TJC 2004

The Lime Sublime

Here is an excerpt from my poem "Free Verse I - The Anthem", the first part in my Free Verse trilogy. The first four lines here are to set the background. The snippet, I suppose, can stand on its own.

(From Free Verse - I )

It is the poet’s struggle
To find the words to juggle
To make it a decent rhyme
On lines, each and every time.
If capture the poet’s heart does an orange
(Oh,that lime sublime!)
But alas, which has no rhyme!
How his feelings can he messenge?
Is his to be a still-born rime
For his hapless subject’s ‘crime’?
- Thomas Jay Cubb

PS Other words with no rhymes include : month, nothing, purple. Also check out the limerick by Jim Farrand at

Queuriest - I

Keep Guessing! --- Johnnie Guesser

1. Here's to all you dedicated Googlers. What's the building in which Google's HQ is based called? You are allowed to google only if u get this one! ;-)

2. Question for hairy men? tell me what Occam's razor is.

3. Who was the first Indian cricketer to get a Man Of The Match in the World Cup?

4. What is Korsakoff's Syndrome? Cryptic clue: People who play golf and sum up their scores rarely get it!

5. From sick to verse!

The night has a thousand eyes,
The day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
With the dying sun.

The mind has a thousand eyes,
And the heart but one;
Yet the light of a whole life dies
When its love is done.

Who's the poet?

6. Bland question. Who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1972?

7. Expand JRR as in JRR Tolkien.

8. Who called M.K. Gandhi "Mahatma Major" and himself "Mahatma Minor"?

9.Van Halen's first album with Sammy Hagar as lead singer was 5150. Now 5150 was used as a code for the criminally insane by the police. Their next album was called OU812. What's the story?

10. How many faces does a icosahedron have? Go ahead, sit on it.


From: "SonOfDelphi"
Date: Sat Dec 7, 2002 12:33 am
Subject: Queuriest - I

hi everybody!

here's the first edition of Queuriest. Ten questions for you to crack. Answers in a week.
cool words to know: . . .phthisis. . . chthonian. . .looks like they've been misspelt huh?



lucifer is the light-giver
go ogle in the egg loo,
you'll get goo leg

evil one,
if you didn't get the first one
you deserve it.
(To discourage googling for the answers. Some resorted to other search engines!)

From: "SonOfDelphi"
Date: Sat Dec 14, 2002 12:46 am
Subject: Answers to Queuriest - I

hi everybody!

Here are the answers to Queuriest -I.

well, about the name Queuriest. . .Pronounced kyooriyest. Inspired by `curiouser and curiouser!'. supposed to be curious-est contracted and spelled with Q (the best letter of them all! ). some of you thought it was supposed to be `queer'iest, and so came up with some queer answers. well?

about the words (did all of u know the meaning?)
-phthisis = Involving the lungs with progressive wasting of the body
-chthonian= Of the underworld

the literal meaning of lucifer is light-giver, really. i was not kidding in the anti-google poem . . .and luciferin is a pigment that's there in fireflies.



>1. Googleplex.
It's at Mountain View, CA ? . . .and 1 followed by a googol zeroes is called a googol-plex. yawn? a googol is one followed by a hundred zeroes. ZZZZZZZ.....'googol' coined by Milton Sirotta, nine-year-old nephew of mathematician Edward Kasner.

>2. * It is the principle that explanations should not be unnecessarily complicated and that assumptions should not be needlessly multiplied. now that is very clear, is it not? ;-) ) I've been rather liberal on this one. Some of you mentioned this was the same as Principle Of Parsimony and that it is attributed to Willam Of Occam.

>3.* It was Farokh Engineer, in the match vs East Africa in WC'75 at Headingley
Most of you answered Bishan Singh Bedi for his superb spell of 12-8-6-1 in the same match but Engineer was the MoM. I wonder why though. He scored 54* but was not the topscorer either. Gavaskar got 65*. India won the match by 10 wickets.
Turned out to be the Chinaman of the quiz (since the googly was spotted)!

>4. * Dementia observed during the last stages of severe chronic alcoholism; involves loss of memory for recent events although long term memory is intact. (what did i just say?). Occurs due to Vit B1 (thiamine) deficiency. But mostly associated with alcoholism. Only few of you mentioned alcoholism. Only 0.5 if alcoholism not mentioned.
The clue could've ben worked out as -- people who golf tee, sum up score=total. so they could be called teetotallers? yuck, i feel ashamed about the clue now! so twisted. maybe i should've added something about amnesia as well. I'd meant to as well, but forgot!

>5. * Francis William Bourdillon. The poem is called Light.

>6.* Nobody. The prize money was allocated to the main fund of the Nobel foundation (why?)
This was supposed to be the googly of the quiz but was almost universally spotted! :-(
How I hate you, Google!

>7. * John Ronald Reuel

>8. * Eminently guessable, George Bernard Shaw. Most of you got it.

>9.* When spoken aloud, it sounds like "Oh You Ate One Too". This was a dig at their previous lead singer, David Lee Roth's solo album "Eat 'em and smile" which was released about the same time.

>10. * Twenty (20) . Polyhedron having twenty plane faces. Absolutely no controversy about this one!


The scores (in chronological order)

Raghavendra Achar - 1 (the first! )
Sukhamaya - 7.5 (keep it up!)
Raghav Narayanan - 6.5 (don't know about ur query regarding women's WC. sorry.)
Shashi Shekar - (better luck next time.)
Rajesh Malviya - 1.5 (Your Hypermetropia of memory answer was way cool man!)
Ankur Jain - 9 (good going. keep it up!)
Venkateshwar KR - 2.5 (enjoyed the queery answers)
Vijay Anand Menon - 6 (good show boss)
Soumyadipta B - 3.5 (ur icosahedron has 2 faces? or did u mean 20? add 1 if that was so)
Binoj George - 7.5 (keep it up!)
Naveed Mohammed - 9 (got two .5s you didn't mention anything about DLR's album for 9 and no alcoholism in 4, sorry)
Sathish K - 7.5 (great show boss)
Kamal Rathi - 6 (thanx for the address of Google's HQ.)

* The Van Halen question was the least attempted question int the quiz. (Not too many Halen fans in here?)
* Most of the .5s are 'coz no mention of alcoholism in Korsakoff's syndrome. I know this is gonna be controversial but this tidbit was what i was looking for.
*Most wrongly answered question was the first Indian MoM at WC. Mohinder Amarnath.

DISCLAIMER: The QM's congratulatory remarks regarding the maintenance of the state of elevation* conditional to the respondent's abstinence from the use of deprecated extraneous assistance - automated or otherwise. All responses accepted as accurate transcriptions of the respondent's cranial contents. Reponses not matching aforementioned description, if any, constitute breach of trust and are deplored.

*=keep it up etc

Any inconvenience to genuine respondents as a result of this disclaimer is regretted.

Queuriest - Intro

Queuriest was a series of very "cluesy" quizzes that I ran on Quiznet 3 or 4 years back. If you like cryptic crossword puzzles, it's highly likely that you'll like this also.

The clues were blended into the questions - sometimes as separate clues and sometimes hidden in the framing of the questions. One would not be able to guess the answer from the clue without background knowledge but the clue would help churn out the creamy answer from the depths of your memory. And if one didn't know the answer, when one heard it, one had to have the I-should-have-got-it feeling.

I had a lot of fun compiling the questions and also reading the answers that came in. Be sure to read the comments on the posts as well. There were 10 episodes. It got curiouser and curiouser...

Check them out. These quizzes are also available on Quiznet. You can read the time-capsule versions there if you choose, instead of the retrospective versions here . The answers will be given as comments for each post.