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Universalpsykopath tugs our coat and says: Tell us about your feats of deduction and the little mysteries you've solved. Alternatively, tell us about the simple, everyday things that mystified you for far too long.

(, Thu 13 Oct 2011, 12:52)
Pages: Popular, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

This question is now closed.

Luke, my bulldog
chased a hare through the country.
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 18:51, Reply)
i looked at my balls and found a hairy dog
she wasnt very good looking
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 18:44, Reply)
I looked up the dog's balls and only got air through.
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 18:40, Reply)
I threw up a dog's ball-'air.
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 18:16, Reply)
I threw the dogs balls in the air
and he looked surprised
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 18:13, Reply)
I threw my balls in the dog
he definitely looked up
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 17:05, Reply)
I threw a dog in the air
and my balls looked up
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 16:43, Reply)
I threw a ball in the air
and discovered that dogs can, in fact, look up, contrary to what I'd always been told.
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 15:58, Reply)
How do strippers work whilst on the blob?
Question posed six pints in on droll Friday night.

Curiosity is a foul thing.

The answer is 'with a tampon in'. I won't tell you how we found out, but suffice it to say it is hard to keep a straight face when string is tickling your nose.
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 15:56, 6 replies)
I've always had this suspicion
that america only invaded iraq so they could nick all the oil.
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 15:52, 5 replies)
My family practically lived on toast and weak tea when I was a kid. Every meal that wasn't Cooked Dinner was toast and tea.
There was no cereal for breakfast, for example, as Mother pronounced it a 'waste of milk', or pork pie and salad for tea. Just toast.

So we became experts at toastmaking and often volunteered to watch the grill for siblings as it kept us warm in winter. (The kitchen fire was rarely lit, being a 'waste of coal'.)

Crusts would roll up at the corners and sometimes burn, because we toasted the white side first. However, one day I had the brainwave of toasting the BROWN side first. The toast did not curl. I was a genius.

I churlishly delined to share this revelation and for a while I basked alone in the glory of flat, un-corner-burned toast.

My triumph didn't last long after my brother sneaked up and caught me at it. Still, eh - I did it first.
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 15:23, 12 replies)
Be sure your sins will catch up with you...
A mate of mine is an Environmental Protection Officer, which means he deals with chemical spills, hazardous waste and so on. He was having a problem with a prolific fly-tipper, who they just couldn't seem to catch. Then one day, while examining the latest pile of rubbish which had been dumped in a country lane, he noticed something odd.

It was a broken mug. Not too surprising, but this one seemed rather familiar: it was an old Charles and Diana Royal Wedding one, which had been broken so that the couple were split apart. He remembered that a week or so before, at a friends house in a completely different town, there had been a mug which had broken in exactly the same way, with the inevitable humorous comments about how appropriate it was to break Diana away from Charles.

Sure enough, when he called that friend, they confirmed that they'd paid a Man With A Van to take away some rubbish the day before. They could even supply the phone number of the offending scrote.

Serendipity Doo-Dah!
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 13:06, 4 replies)
Another tecchie one
We used to have a printer/copier in the office, and it would go wrong. After working fine for months, it would start acting up. The engineer would come out and announce that he could find nothing wrong, it was working perfectly - but after he left it would be just as bad. Then, a few weeks later it would be working perfectly again for several months. This went on for two or three years.

Eventually, someone worked it out. In spring and autumn, for a few weeks, the sun would be at exactly the right low angle for part of the day to shine in throw the window and into the works of the machine, confusing its sensors. Of course, when the engineer came, he would stand with his back to the window and block the sunlight...
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 12:56, 4 replies)
The Great Paper Round Motorcycle Mystery!
14 years ago I used to do my paper round on my Kawasaki AR50 which in case you don't know anything about motorbikes is the best motorbike ever produced, and after a pint of lager top and a packet of cheese and onion it was capable of 200mph. Ah the priceless memories of yoof.

Everyday I would whizz around the paper round deliver all my papers, yet on the ride home it would start to struggle and the engine would die. I could just about keep it running in first gear but only if I stepped of it and walked along side it and let it run on tickover (any throttle and it just died). It never went wrong before or during the round and after I got home and got ready for school it was always fine again to ride to and from school only then break down again on my paper round the very next day.

This went on for so long that I eventually got so used to it that I could ride it home from my paper round standing on the left hand footpeg, in first gear and still make pretty good time. But it remained a mystery until one day I was reading up on changing the jets on the carb and came across a section in my Haynes manual about the air intake. On the AR50 it was under the seat. Everyday after my paper round I would have to ride past the local secondary school who were bitter rivals to my own. In order to look like a cool biker and not a spotty 16 year old oik I would take my paperbag off and stuff it under my seat and in doing so blocked the air intake. Stepping off relieved the pressure just enough to let enough air in so it could run on tickover.

So instead of looking cool I got to push my bike past groups of jeering school kids, every day, for months.
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 12:19, 10 replies)
Apologies for length but Prof KM reminded me of this one.
Case of the mystery car stalling on the same corner of the same road.

Back when I was working for a certain car manufacturer there was a request from service to deal with a problem that was occurring with a customer's car and it was practically a case of 'look, I'm telling you it does it' even though the dealer technicians couldn't reproduce it. On the same bend of a road near his house in Aberdeen he claimed his car regularly cut out, leaving him with reduced steering assistance and diminished brake servo. It was serious enough for him to talk about returning his new car.

A buy-back is the worst thing for a car maker's reputation- plus, thanks to the Lemon Law in the states, if word of this got out people would be falling over themselves to claim the same thing so they could in effect 'borrow' a brand new car for a few months and then get their full retail price refund at the end of it.

Now service were baffled and were asking all departments to brainstorm what was going on, and as the diagnostics bloke in the department it fell to me.

First of all I got on to the AA to see how many cars they recovered from that area and what the symptoms were- maybe there's a crop of callouts suspiciously clustered in and around the same area;- but nothing really stood out as the statistical analysis only came to the conclusion that you get more callouts in the winter for non-starts than anything else, and there's less call out the further out of town you go. Rat's cocks. Next.

There was a suspicion that electromagnetic interference could be causing the problem, and despite the fact Google Maps showed 200kV (edited, I originally put 400kV but I've since found my file on the whole thing) power lines nearby, the vehicles have to be tested for electromagnetic immunity at the prototype stage so it would have to be something fairly unusual to cause this. Hang on, this is Aberdeen- don't they have an airport up there?

Out came Google Maps again. Yes indeed there was, Dyce airport. Airports have all sorts of electromagnetic sources, from VHF/UHF communications with aircraft, ILS, taxi cab offices, police radios, staff PMR radios, cellphone towers, observation radar for the runway, interrogation radar and navigational radar. But Dyce airport was a good few miles away, across the valley.

Aha- what's this on the map though? The airport was a few miles away BUT the radar head was actually stuck in a field out near the coast- less than 250 metres from the road where the guy was having his problem! The data from the radar head was beamed back to Dyce using a line-of-sight microwave link so we had a potential extra bogey to suspect.

More intelligence gathering was done- the interrogation radar was microsecond pulses which were designed, when recieved, to make airliners' on-board transponders send a burst back with their ID/altitude/heading information encoded, but the main navigational radar dish operated in the S-Band which was far and above the frequencies that cars are tested to. Suspicious....but surely it points up at the sky, not down at the ground?

Ah well now. The radar 'beam' formed by those 'goal net' parabolic reflectors actually makes a rather curious shaped compound pattern, with 'side lobes' almost perpendicular to the main beam. These emanated in such a way that the lobes may indeed project downwards and 'touch' the ground some 250 metres away where the road was.

Drawing the map and doing some triangulation I went to the boss to explain my theory. The big man thought it was an incredible unlikely story but then there were no other ideas and he almost wanted it to be right so he could be seen to have solved it where all others had failed. So, armed with a spectrum analyser I drove 500 miles up to Aberdeen in the same model car.

The plan was to log its internal computer module communication network signals while going along the same route and to measure the magnitude of the EMI that was coming from the
tower. Up I went, staying the night in Aberdeen and starting the next day.

Having contacted the local police to explain that I was measuring the radar, not trying to interfere with it (I had visions of being bundled into the back of a police van while being 'helped' by officers with MP5 machine pistols and heavy boots poised for a kicking, looking for terrorists trying to bring down airliners) I fired up the analyser and looked in amazement at the frigging peaks of radar energy zipping up and down the measurement scale as the dish swept on its constant circular scan. That's plenty of interference right there, in fact I'm surprised my eyeballs haven't clouded up from getting that much microwaving just standing there.

A quick word with the farmer whose house was just at the end of a track some 50 yards further on confirmed- oh yes he said, the TV's always buggered, remote control cars zip across the room without being controlled, mobile phone signal is ruined etc. and it turned out that once I got back and checked with the radio regulation rules from Ofcom, the levels actually exceeded what you should be exposing people to.

I did consider ringing up NATS and saying, in an offhand way, you might want to turn that down a bit, but the odds of them kowtowing to my request was minimal - NATS have data sharing responsibility
with the MOD and having a radar looking out over the North sea was considered quite a good idea from a point of view of those regular incursions that Russian bombers make into our airspace just to test the water. MOD 1, RWH 0.

Despite all this, I could not reproduce the fault with an identical car to the one that was supposedly giving the punter all this trouble. No cut out, no anomalous data on the in-car network systems. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Then out of the blue, after a quick look at what the guy did for a living, it turns out his company supplied marine safety beacons with a satellite uplink (INMARSAT I think) and after a chat it turned out he would regularly carry them in the boot of his car. The bloody things were becoming active after a jolt on that corner (which he must have been taking rather quickly) and from INSIDE the car blasting out several watts of RF energy - supposedly destined for a satellite 60,000 miles up in space, which instead was going up the nearest cable loom and confuddling the f*ck out of the car's internal systems.

Buy-back avoided, problem set to rest, tempers calmed and clashing with the civilian aviation authority unneccessary. However I was utterly and completely shagged out by doing a 1000 mile round trip in under 36 hours. Never again.
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 11:56, 11 replies)
OK, so here's a serious one for the science geeks amongst us
For light, the primary colours are red, blue and green.
For pigment, the primary colours are red, blue and yellow.

I can handle the fact that they're different - one is transmissive the other is reflective; one is additive, the other subtractive. But what has always baffled me is why they are partly the same and partly different... All the same or all different, fine, but 2 the same and 1 different? How does THAT happen?

The universe is shoddily designed, if you ask me.
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 11:55, 15 replies)
Rubik's cubes?!
'Member them, eh? 'Member Rubik's cubes?

What were all that about?!
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 11:33, 1 reply)
At some point in early 2006 my phone rang
and a distant, familiar voice quoffled in my ear. It was an old friend, The Moz. He kept shouting "I've found her, I've found her" over and over again.

"Found who?" "Pinkie".

The Moz, Pinkie and myself had been members of the same circle of friends in the mid-nineties. The Moz and I had been students while Pinkie had frequented the same dodgy indie club we had. The Moz and I didn't speak more than every couple of months, but we were still mates.

The Moz had had a crush on Pinkie. There were hints of things happening but he got kicked out and moved away. Both had got on with their lives.

Two years, he said, it's taken me two years.

The Moz had secretly acted on his ten year old teenage crush. Her old number didn't work, and he'd lost her address, so he had tried to find her using the internet. It was before the facebook boom, so social networking sites mostly dealt in aliases. He had tried friends reunited, but failed to find her. He put her name and hometown into search engines. He had trawled fora and usegroups for bands that she liked and the things she was into, hoping that one of the cryptic internet masks would slip to reveal her face behind. Nothing.

He kept this up, off and on, for the full two years. He spent hours, days, no luck, no joy. Eventually he conceded defeat. I will never find her, he thought, late one night, as he kicked a discarded tin can in a darkened, brick-lined street. Light flickered as a train passed on the bridge overhead with a mornful rumble. He looked at the night sky and it started to rain.

"And then, just as I gave up, it was there in my Inbox". She had found and contacted him, despite his common name and near-exclusive use of a pseudonym online. "How amazing is that?"

I looked at my fingernails. "She asked after you a while ago", I said.
"You know I've had her number the whole time, right?"
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 10:56, Reply)
NotSaying's post reminded me.
I used to live across the road from some bushland.
Regularly (about once or twice a week) a couple would turn up in different cars (a new Jeep for him and an Alfa for her - this was in a pretty dodgy 'burb).
Usually around lunchtime, they would then get a picnic blanket, accouterments & head off into the bush.
About an hour later they would emerge. A quick peck on the cheek, into their cars & they would be off.
So - ornithologists? Married couple being romantic? or having a lunchtime fuck in the bush close to work? (there's an "industrial estate" in spitting distance).
Either way they had to endure lots of cat calls from me & my 'start-early-finish-early-&-get-on-the-piss' mates, always with a sheepish grin from her & a big cheesy from him...
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 10:48, 1 reply)
The progressive majority
Those of my friends who are into politics keep telling me that the majority of people in Britain are progressive and vote for progressive parties (anyone except the Tories, UKIP, BNP I think).

I'm not really sure that this is true, and using some cunning numerical analysis, I think I'm onto some serious evidence that the largest of people in Britain don't give a crap either way, and are swiftly followed by another massive bunch of people who have voted both "progressive" and "non-progressive", sometimes even simultaneously when there are local/national elections co-inciding.

This leads me to believe that people with a settled and definite political viewpoint are wierdy freaks. But they disagree with my analysis. Occasionally quite emotionally.
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 10:05, 9 replies)
I work at a local fast food place and have recently found myself working the drive thru. For the past few weeks I've observed a middle aged man and woman both arrive alone and meet in the car park where much kissing and hugging takes place. They then come inside for a coffee and a sneaky feel, return to their seperate cars after a prolonged kiss goodbye and then drive off into the sunset until the next day when it all happens again. My weekly observations allow me to deduce they're having a very public affair and armed with this information I decided to share this scandal with my co-workers. I open with the line "Do you know that man and woman..." and before I can finish everyone speaks up "the ones having an affair". Turns out I'm not a great observer of people as this affairs been going on years and years and they use us as their meeting point and have done for as long as people can remember. I don't think I'll make detective just yet!
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 9:12, 1 reply)
how is max clifford so 'great' at his job...
...if everyone else thinks he's a twat?
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 9:06, 6 replies)
So, you put a bit of bread in the toaster
and a few minutes later, toast comes out.

Where does the bread go??
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 8:57, 2 replies)
The Princess and the Pea
I was 4 years old. Someone was telling the story of the princess who could feel a pea through 13 mattresses. I said,"Oh, she must have smelled it."
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 4:08, Reply)
Has anyone seen any evidence of these supermodels, Honda Accords and massive drugz that a lot of people on here claim to have?
Cos I suspect it all to be lies!
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 2:56, Reply)
Not exactly detective work
But memo to PR companies: When you tell a journalist your announcement later this week is top secret and they'll never be able to find out what it is unless they agree to go to your lame event for three hours, you might want to warn the client you're representing not to tell everything to the first person who calls and says: "So what's happening?". I've done this a thousand times and did it again yesterday and they're still surprised/shocked that it happens.
(, Tue 18 Oct 2011, 0:50, Reply)
Who buys the Daily Fail? that is.. a mystery
I have never seen the bodies with imploded heads.
(as "nature abhors a vacuum")
But surely they should be there? logic says it must be so.
Who is tampering with the evidence?
(, Mon 17 Oct 2011, 22:13, 35 replies)
Lost my car keys this morning.
Found them before I was late for work though.
(, Mon 17 Oct 2011, 21:28, 10 replies)

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