Wednesday, 29 March 2006

Troublewrap

It doesn't matter which office you walk into, there is always an idiot hanging around in the deliveries section, popping the little bubbles on the protective plastic wrappers. I don't know what the fascination is but the facts are; bubblewrap attracts morons.
Before you accuse me of being judgemental I will just point out that more often than not, I am that idiot. In particular I love the bubblewrap with bubbles so large that in order to pop them you have to stomp on them with a foot so they go *BANG* making everybody in the office jump. Unfortunately I can only get away with doing the big ones once or twice a day before people loose their patience.
My recommendation is to start off with a sheet with only small bubbles, it will take quite a few minutes before people start sending you annoyed glances. Then stop for five minutes, to let people think you're done and then you pop a big one.

Thomas, 38 years of age (soon 39).

Admit it, you want to pop some bubblewrap now, don't you? Come on, just click here....

Sunday, 26 March 2006

Elbow Grease

This morning I was doing the weekly bathroom cleaning. To get rid of the damned mildew I still had to use quite a bit of elbow grease when scrubbing the wall grout at the bath tub, despite heavy use of enviroment damaging chemicals that probably will have my descendants curse me for centuries to come. Well... fuck'em, we prefer a clean bathroom.
The expression "elbow grease" had me reminiscing about my childhood, when I used to read the Donald Duck cartoon magazine on a regular basis. Scrooge McDuck always had Donald Duck polishing his coins with elbow grease when he had screwed up something. From the downtrodden reaction of Donald Duck when he was told to use elbow grease, I deduced that elbow grease must be a very smelly cleaning product.
Now I know better.

Friday, 24 March 2006

A Lesson in RTFM

I can't stand listening to radio for any long period of time, I hate most of the music played there and I soon grow weary of the radio hosts and their inane chit-chat. So for the last couple of months I had taken to burning CD-RW's with music and audio-books for listening in my car, while driving to and from work. I gave up using my iTrip, a radio transmitter for the iPod, since there is too many stations crowding the radio bands in the London area, making it hard to find an empty channel. Besides iTrip and other radio transmitters, even with the very limited range they provide, are illegal to use here in England. So I have been burning and re-burning CD's week after week, what a bloody hassle it was.
Then the other day I had a flat tyre and was leafing through the car manual to find the lifting point for the jack, when I came across the radio section where the headline: "Auxiliary Input Plug" caught my attention. It turned out that a standard 3.5mm jack-plug had been installed in the glove compartment for easy connection of third party music players into the music system. Suddenly my car was the biggest and most expensive iPod accessory I ever had.
A classic case of RTFM.

Monday, 20 March 2006

Leprechaun 4: In Space

Some movies are so bad that they are good, where the line goes is individual from person to person. Enter Leprechaun 4, looking the movie up on the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) will reveal that fans of the Leprechaun series think that the fourth outing is so bad that it's not even good.

I have only seen the fourth one myself and I think it’s in the so bad that it’s good category. I only saw it by coincidence, one night when we were living in Singapore I woke up in the middle of the night and could not fall asleep again. My cure for that back then was to go into the living room, turn on the TV cuddle up on the sofa clutching the remote and then channel-surf until a B-movie was found and then crawl back in bed when my eyes began to droop.
I missed the beginning of the movie and didn’t have a clue of what it was I was watching. It took place aboard a spaceship and some marines, looking like they had been taken straight out of Aliens, were discussing how to get rid of a menace troubling them. Great, I thought, a cheap Alien rip-off should send me right back to sleep in no time. I soon realised that the alien they were chasing was a Leprechaun. Everybody was playing it straight, treating the Leprechaun as a fearsome intruder and I found that extremely comical. I saw the movie to the end without feeling the least bit like going back to bed and had a great time.
The other day I found the movie in HMV on DVD at a budget price of course and I bought it on the spot.
Finally I saw it from the beginning the full story.

The Leprechaun has kidnapped a Princess that looks like an extra straight out of the original Star Trek TV-series, scantly clad and ready to seduce Captain Kirk. The Leprechaun manages to convince her that she is much better off with him and his gold. Just as she agrees to marry him (jewellery never fails), the space marines “rescues” her, kills the Leprechaun and steal his gold.

Back on the mother ship and after a groin-bursting scene (yes! groin!) by the not-so-dead Leprechaun, the traditional kill-them-one-by-one scenario ensues.
A classic scene, not shown in the Singapore TV-version, is when the princess towards the end of the movie is flashing her boobs at the remaining marines and female scientist. It turns out to be the traditional declaration of the death sentence of her home planet; this is the most stupid excuse I have come across in any movie to show tits and this includes some very deranged X-rated movies... erm.. I... eh.. have heard about... In the final battle the female scientist also mangage to strip down to her undies, real first class schlock.

I might even check out the first three movies and the two further sequels, if this is the worst one of them, the others must be pure heaven. Warwick Davis stars as the Leprchaun in all of them and Jennifer Aniston co-stars in the first one, as victim I presume, and Ice-T can be found staring in one of the sequels to this fourth one. Ice-T must have a sense of humour after all behind that grumpy exterior

Warwick Davis; I salute you.

Want to know more?
Warwick Davis
Leprechaun 4

Sunday, 19 March 2006

Punch The Wall

Every once in a while, the world around you makes you wanna punch the the wall and scream.
No more, just visit http://khaaan.com/.

Friday, 17 March 2006

555-CARDBOARD-BOX

Saw a bloke outside the supermarket today, selling The Big Issue while talking on a mobile phone. Apparently the main deterrent for homeless people not to have a phone in olden days was the need for a land-line.

Reminded me of a TV add in Australia were a tyre service company had joined up with the Salvation Army. For every tyre sold the company would donate a small amount of money to the Salvation Army to be used to buy tyres for poor people.
Can poor people afford to buy and run a car??? Maybe they are given a rope as well so they can hang the tyre from a tree branch, gives them something to play with while waiting for the big lotto jackpot (just like the rest of us).

Thursday, 16 March 2006

Outback Tourist Traps

If I have learned one thing from traveling it's; tourist attractions are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get.
I have been down countless caves where the signs at the ticket office promised world class stalactites and Stalagmites. All the caves were originally found a hundred years ago by bush farmers that initially used it as their garbage dump until the advent of cars brought tourism to the outback.

The placards will tell of an extensive cave and tunnel system that goes on for hundreds of kilometers, most of still unexplored to this day. Some might even throw in an unlikely story of bushrangers using it as a hideout from the authorities. The short story is some farmer decides that the hole on his land would fetch him a lot more money if he puts a sign at the nearest highway; This way to The Famous Golden Crystal Diamond Caves, knocks up a ticket booth at the cave entrance and then wait for the suckers (me) to come running.
When you turn down that dirt road towards the caves you already know you will be taken for a ride, but there's nothing else to see and you are bored. After driving 20 Kilometers, just when you are about to turn around because you thought you might have made a wrong turn somewhere, you see the next sign; Golden Crystal Diamond Caves, 15 Km. At this point you are already past the halfway point so you really don't feel like turning around. Finally there, you find that you have just missed the hourly guided tour of the caves, so you hang around for another 45 minutes until the next tour. Once down there you will hear the usual stories of how long the dripstones have taken to form, about the white bats living there and how the temperature is always the same.
Don't get me wrong, I do find these thing interesting it's just that I've been to so many caves now that promised something special, but all look like carbon copies of each other.
Oh yeah, they only charge entrance fee in order to preserve the caves as they were before humans began their intrusions.

Another time, on one of our many outback treks, we followed the signs to a meteor crater called something like; The Spectacular Outback Meteor Crater. Only to find a ticket shed in front of a circular wooden fence about ten meters in diameter. A sign proclaimed that the crater was first found by aboriginals thousands of years ago and their original name for the crater was something uncommon as; Mungawoollatagua, meaning; Star that fell from the sky during Dreamtime. A closer examination of the name by a professor in linguistics or just by asking an aboriginal elder, would probably reveal that the name really means; Hole we use for our morning dump. Any way this enterprising individual only had one problem, his place of business was to close to the road, if we had driven 20 Kilometers to see his hole we might have paid his admission fee but in this case it was; Close, but no cigar.

This brings me to our Nullabor crossing trip. Made cynical by experiences like described above and it being late afternoon with onset of darkness closing in, I was almost inclined to give The Great Australian Bight Marine Park and the whale watching spot a miss, when we passed the sign on the highway. The whole thing is so remote that only people who crosses the Nullabor really ever come there. We expected a tourist trap but were positively surprised. A reasonable admission fee included a nice shiny booklet and a ticket were the top was shaped like the tail-fin of a whale, I still use it as my bookmark.

A walkway had been built from the visitors center down to the water, to protect the area from intrusion of humans. At first we didn't see much other than some rocks sticking out of the water way out from the coast. Suddenly one of the "rocks" blew a geyser of water up into the air. It was the Southern Right Whales that comes to this area to nurse their calves before heading south.

Even at this remote distance you could comprehend the size of these animals, in fact the distance probably was the key to realising the size of them. So far away and you could still make out the mothers playing with their calves and brushing off horny males out for one last fling before the big emigration.

Fantastic, my advice is to never pass up chance of seeing whales, it really is an incredible experience.

Want to know more?
Great Australian Bight
Southern Right Whale
Bushranger
Cave
Stalactite
Stalagmite

Monday, 13 March 2006

Saint Patrick's Day in London

It appears that the Irish living in London lacks the patience to wait until the 17. March and celebrated Saint Patrick's Day on Sunday the 12. March. It was only by coincidence that we passed the parade while window shopping.

I'm not sure about the significance of the caterpillar in relation to St. Patrick's day, other than it is green, but there you are...

There were also some people dressed up as a pint of Guinness, they made a lot more sense. I should have been faster with my camera phone though.

Want to know more?
Saint Patrick's Day

Saturday, 11 March 2006

Toe Curling Car Trouble

We all have memories of situations we found our selves in that makes us laugh or curl our toes in embarrassment or both.

One such situation was from way back when I was around 18 years old (gee, it's been 20 years already!), when I was hanging out with some guys very much into cars. Every weekend we would tinker around with the old wrecks they had gotten on the cheap.
I've never been into cars at all, for me it's just a means of transport, all I know about my company car is that it is a Ford Airbag, you know the make with a trumpet logo on the steering wheel and that's all the information I need. My lack of interest in cars didn't stop me from enjoying working with them tough, it's after all a machine and machines fascinate me.

Back then DIY auto workshops had suddenly risen out of the outrageous prices of car repair. You could rent a cubicle with or without a lift at a reasonable price on an hourly basis and any special tools you might need such as crankshaft remover, caliber fitter or spot-welder could be rented there. The sizes of these DIY outfits ranged from places with room for two to fifty cars, the first would be a small local mechanic trying to cash in on this latest fad in the weekend.

We favoured a particular medium size place with room for around eight cars, were the on-site owner/mechanic where very knowledgeable and would always have time to give advice. The bloke was almost a caricature of a mechanic, a bearded rugged appearance, always to be found in his dirty dark green coveralls with a cigar in his mouth (I made up the cigar bit, but you get the picture). Despite his looks, his advice hardly ever involved a big hammer and a chisel, because he actually had all the tools you could think of in his immaculate workshop.

One Saturday Bent and me were trying to get Bent's car ready for the Vehicle Inspectors cruel probings into secondary functions such as brakes, steering and carbon emissions. For the engine tuning we had signed out an expensive looking engine analyzer set on a small table on caster wheels for easy transport. We placed the instrument a couple of meters from the car with cables trailing into the engine compartment and connected the to the various appropriate spots. I was sitting at the back of the car making sure the small tube needed for the exhaust readings stayed in place and to keep the exhaust extractor hose from popping off. Bent was at the steering wheel attempting to start the engine. First time nothing but a click was heard, Bent fiddled around in the motor and got behind the steering wheel again for another attempt. This time the motor ticked over for half a second before dying. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something move and turned my head to see what it was. Nothing but the trolley table with the analyzer on top could be seen in that direction and I was about to stand up a tell Bent when he, encouraged by the first engine cough, turned the key over again. This time the engine started with a roar and my world went into slow motion. The cables between the analyzer and engine were drawn tight and the trolley table began moving in the direction of the car. With a bump the table hit the front of the car and the analyzer was yanked off the table and disappeared into the engine compartment and with a loud "BANG" the engine went quiet. Bents vision was obscured by the open bonnet and did not see anything and he got out of the car, looking back at me with a puzzled expression on his face, asking: "what was that?". We both went to the front of the car and there in the midst of the mess of cables that had been tangled up in the cooling propeller was the analyzer face down. At this point everybody in the workshop were looking in our direction alerted by the noise and the mechanic came running out of his small glass walled office. He never even looked at us he only had eyes for his mangled up equipment, pulled from the safety of the cleanest workshop in the northern hemisphere into the dirty interior of a car 25 years past it's use-by date. He pulled a wire cutter from his pocket (he must have known what was coming when he saw two pizza faces) and started cutting the cables to liberate his analyzer. When he got the thing out I could swear he was cradling it like a baby in his arms as he carried it over to the table trolley. It didn't really look damaged and when he connected up a few cables, one of these miracles that the universe sometimes throw our way occurred, everything worked.
He turned towards us and said: "I don't ever want to see you two idiots in here ever again!". When we drove off, Bent remarked: "That's was the most embarrassing situation of my life, I have never felt like a bigger fool before" I agreed, though I could probably come up with worse.

Since then, every time I drove past this auto workshop I would feel a dread and half expected the mechanic to hang around the window just waiting for me pass by so that he could run out and shout IDIOT! at me.

Electric Nostalgia

It's funny how a glimpse of something can start a nostalgic trip back in time. Seeing a picture of a Nixie Tube on "http://electricstuff.co.uk/" reminded me of the local candy shop when I was a child were the cash register had these tubes in the display. I was very fascinated by all the filaments coiled up in the shape of numbers inside a glass bulb and could stare at it for hours if not for my mother and her busy shopping schedule. I must have been an easy child to take shopping, other children would beg for candy and behave in the most unruly manner to get it, while I would just stand around staring into the cash register display.

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Friday, 10 March 2006

Pavement Art by Julian Beever

These pictures are all done with crayons on the pavement and seen or photographed from a certain angle, they appear in very realistic 3D.




I wish that I could do something like this. I would draw up a weeks worth of work on a monday, show it to the boss on tuesday and go home for the rest of the week.

See more here.

Thursday, 9 March 2006

Pudding

When I see a running woman with a deep cleavage showing, I always come to think of pudding. Very confusing, I don't even like pudding.

Wednesday, 8 March 2006

Take from the rich and give to the poor (me)

There's lots of old castles around the English landscape and every time I see one, like Windsor Castle depicted above, I half expect to see Ivanhoe come riding or Robin Hood jump out from behind a tree in his green tights. I would really like that, Robin would immediately recognise me as a poor peasant and give me a bag of jewelry robbed from some rich rappers. I'm not exactly poor, but I'm certainly not rich either so I won't bog him down with too many details of my financial situation, I'll just thank him and take the bling-bling.

The Box Factory

On our Australian transcontinental trek last year we came through Adelaide. Besides popping in at some friends (JackJack, Trax & Dazza), we also went past a box factory, I kid you not. The wife had through her work bought some boxes from them that she needed for a job and were so happy with the boxes that she wanted to buy some for herself. Whenever she mentioned the box factory I would say: "We just make boxes here". Even with her wide knowledge of Simpsons she didn't get it (and she has extensive knowledge, she had to pass a test before we got married) and I ended up buying the fifth season DVD box-set just to show her the "Bart Gets Famous" episode.

Guide: Many interesting and important things have been put into boxes
over the years: textiles, other boxes, even children's candy.
Milhouse: Do any of these boxes have candy in them?
Guide: No.
Milhouse: Will they ever?
Guide: No, we only make boxes to ship nails. Any other questions?
Martin: When will we be able to see a finished box, Sir?
Guide: Well, we don't assemble them here -- that's done in Flint,
Michigan.
Bart: Have any of the workers ever had their hands cut off by the
machinery?
Guide: No --
Bart: And then the hand started crawling around and tried to
strangle everybody?
Guide: No, that has never happened.
Bart: Any popped eyeballs?
Guide: I'm not sure what kind of factory you're thinking of; we just
make boxes here.


Want to know more?

Star Wars Radio Drama

I did the find of the year the other day at a charity shop: Star Wars The original radio drama, as heard on National Public Radio. All three of them on Compact Disc! Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of The Jedi, about 15 hours worth of the greatest adventure ever committed to film (disregarding the awful (well (to be fair), not-so-good) prequels of course). They were only £5 each and will provide entertainment driving back and forth to work in my X-wing fighter (it's really a Ford Airbag..... I think, that's what it says on the steering wheel anyway).

Also came to think about when me and the wife went to see the Special Edition Star Wars in Sydney. It was on the first night showing in Australia and people were dressed up as Storm Troopers, Princess Leia (nice buns), Han Solo, Boba Fett, Darth Vader and even a Chewbacca. I didn't notice any Luke Skywalkers, nobody wants to be a whiner.
Blaster fights were fought in the theatre and just in the last moment before the curtain fell (erm.. moved to the side) Leia was freed from the grasp of Darth Vader.
During the trailers some bright people were shining laser pointers up at the screen. This went on for a few minutes before a huge bearded biker looking bloke down on one of the front rows stood up and turned towards the packed theatre and shouted: "If I see any laser dots on the screen during the movie, you'll have me to deal with!". The whole theatre cheered and the only lasers seen during the screening of the movie was the ones put there by George Lucas (even if he did put in one too many in his new version).

Want to know more?
Star Wars
Star Wars (radio)

Saturday, 4 March 2006

Sounds of Peas

Tasmania, Christmas & New Year 2004-2005.

On a warm summer day I heard some clicking noises from the bushland behind my in-laws house. I went in there to investigate, I was sure it was some insects making those sounds and I wanted to see one close up. Even though I was surrounded by pops and clicks, I could not find any creeps to blame, only a scary looking fly-without-wings-thingy, that did not appear to emit any sounds at all.
I asked my father-in-law if he knew where to find the insects. He then explained that the sounds came from the pea-like pod growing on some plants found in the bushland.
The sun will dry the pod until it's brown and crisp and on a hot day the heat will finally make the pod crack open with a sharp click and spread the seeds inside on the ground.

I don't know if they tasted like peas as the wife refused to taste them and she's the one insisting that we have vegetables with every meal!

Thursday, 2 March 2006

The Star Trek Hot Dog Eating Scenario

The other day driving home from work I got thinking about that small Japanese guy I saw on TV winning a hot dog eating contest. Some big fat guys had entered the contest too but they just couldn't beat this little guy.
The thought stayed with me long enough for me to look it up on the web when I got home. His name turned out to be Takeru Kobayashi and he won the Nathan's Hot Dog eating contest five times in a row. His name and his all his winnings amused me to no end, those big fat guys trying to beat him had faced their no win situation, they had their Kobayashi Maru...

It also reminded of back when I was working as an electrician on a construction site many years back. Every Friday we would have a cheese burger eating contest. I ended up with the record in speed eating a McDonald's cheese burger at 47 seconds. Another guy could do it in 45 seconds but because he did not like cheese (what a wimp!), he ate hamburgers. So I could still claim the top position.

Want to know more?
Nathan's Hot Dog eating contest
Takeru Kobayashi
Kobayashi Maru

Wednesday, 1 March 2006

The Little Difference (one of them)

How come women don't fart as much as men? My wife claims that we work differently, I don't believe that for a minute. Yet, in eight years of marriage I have only detected five farts from my wife (yes! I keep count), three by sound, one by smell and one by her reaction when I farted myself, did the sniffing thing looked around and asked: "who farted?".
So what do they do with all that gas? I once tried for a day to keep all farts in, it required a concentrated effort and it was hard work. Also when pressure were building and restraint was in demand, people would say things like: "You look troubled, are you alright?" and all I could do was shake my head while trying not to pollute the immediate atmosphere with bodily produced gases. I had bad breath for a week after.
If a man does a high-legged fart in the company of other men, they will applaud him for his wit and charm. They might even express admiration for a particular loud fart and if he can change key halfway through he will be a legend. Women do not like this one bit and men know this so we try our best not to fart in their company. But please, all women, sometimes our shields are down and if one slips, couldn't you just be happy to be considered as "one of the boys"?

Want to know more?
Farts
Toilet Humor