Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Elusive Shower

Okay, I'm not talking about the smelly bloke in the queue at the post office...or your neighbour.

Nope, I'm talking about the annual Perseids meteor shower. Every year the allegedly spectacular astronomical light show is ruined, in this country at least, by cloud.

At twilight last night I thought I say the odd speck of light darting in the sky in a split second before vanishing and, on whole, things looked promising.

Then, as every year, a big black mother of a cloud came over and that was the end of that.

Tonight, the shower should be at its brightest, hopefully the skies will clear of cloud. But since I'm going to a barbecue in a few hours, I doubt I'll get to see the Perseids, yet again.

Related articles:

Sunday, July 22, 2007

If ever there were proof...

...that what goes around comes around...then it is the life and death of Thomas Midgley.

Thomas Midgley was the bloke who came up with the idea of putting lead in petrol, or gasoline if you insist on calling it that, to stop internal combustion engines buggering up faster than usual.

As a result products of combustion from leaded petrol, sorry...gas, have had a dramatic impact on the environment. We all know lead is not good, unless you're selling it to a scrap metal merchant after stealing it from a church roof. C'mon; we've all done it.

After realising lead was buggering up his lungs, Midgley took on a variety of other projects, too lengthy to list here, most of which had detrimental effects to the environment and its inhabitants. One of his achievements he never lived to witness was the hole in the ozone layer.

Eventually, the inventor and general candidate for assistant to a James Bond super-villain contracted polio, but it was not this that would be his undoing, or at least not directly. No, what caused his death was actually an elaborate contraption he invented to help his polio-ridden body to get out of bed.

The device in question was made from ropes and pulleys and the poor bastard actually hanged himself after getting tangled up in the ropes. He was 55.

And the moral of the story?

Never make a device for lifting your arse out of bed.

  • Related links:
  1. http://www.timelinescience.org/resource/students/midgley/trouble.htm
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Midgley

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Most Annoying Fashion Accessory?

Okay, so I own one as well. Guilty.

But in my defence, it's a very basic one. In fact it's rather old but it serves its purpose and unlike most of my peer group, I use it for one thing and one thing only.

There seems to be an ever growing trend and I don't like it for two reasons.

The first is that the people supporting the trend are being manipulated by a huge industry. The second is that these same people annoy me wherever I go. And sadly, some of these people are my friends (for how much longer, I don't know), sucked in by whatever the latest "viral" is.

Of course, I'm referring to mobile telephones, cell phones if you like.

At one time it seemed like only the affluent would ever be able to afford one. But then the capitalists being what they are pumped money into designing affordable options and communication networks for us lesser people. And there the seed was sewn.

As the market grew, contracts becoming more affordable and the "pay as you go" system being developed, the cancer began to spread.

Beep, beep.

"SMS received."

Usually it's some joke about the mother-in-law or the size of a man's appendage. Then the message gets forwarded to one or more recipients. And in turn it gets forwarded again. All at the expense of those gullible enough.

That was the beginning.

Next came ringtones. And lots of people seem to inists on letting everybody else in a public place exactly how many ring tones they have on their phones, and what those tones are. And it only cost a tiny amount to download. Me? I prefer brrrp, brrrp. And I don't mind if you call me a miserable bastard. I am a miserable bastard, but a miserable bastard who has better things to spend what little money he has on.

Nowadays the ringtones are in MP3 format, for those who have a modern device - mine is still the same old thing I've had for years.

Then came the camera phone. "Oooooo woooopey dooooo! I can send pictures to people." Mostly these pictures are really crappy and the recipient doesn't really want to see somebody sat covered in their own vomit after 18 pints of Kronenberg.

But pictures of such weren't enough. We just had to have video. And with the advent of video capture phones began the advent of "happy slapping."

Then there are the "comedy" videos. People bluetooth things around the pub as though this is healthy social activity. If I want to watch a video, I'll watch it at home. When I'm in the pub I like to play pool or darts, listen to the music...anything but watch a video on a screen so small it makes my eyes hurt.

Mobile phones are for one thing and one thing only and you don't need me to tell you what that is. But I'm going to anyway:

Annoying people.

And I do like some of those jokes.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Expert Wildlife Photography

Taking pictures of wildlife is an art form all by itself. It requires years of training and understanding how wildlife behaves. I'm a long way from achieving any of that. But a few days ago I was feeling quite pleased that I got this shot. I like the reflection in the water, even though I know the light isn't great and my autofocus sucks.
One of the culverts gave way a few weeks ago and the canal is now considerably lower than it should be, which has led to wildlife being in more more convenient places for amateur photographers such as myself.

It was only when I got home and fired up the PC that I realised my hideous, yet quite amusing, mistake.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Barlow's Nightmare

As Barlow Cavendish stepped out of the Moan-a-Tron the guards seemed quite relaxed. Few people ever gave them any grief, of the physical kind at least, after being subjected to the machine’s treatment and Barlow was proving no different.

‘Well, thanks a lot you bastards! You’ve done it now,’ he said. ‘Wait until I see my solicitor.’

‘Now, now, Mr. Cavendish. There’s no need to be like that,’ said Captain Bastard as he approached. ‘Everything is going to be just fine. You are now ready for release.’

‘Release! Ready for release! You can’t do that. I’m not going out there like this. I’m not ready.’

‘You’ll be just fine. Your punishment has done you good,’ said Captain Bastard as he turned to walk away. ‘Guards, take him to collect his belongings and release him.’

‘Yes sir, Captain Bastard,’ they said.

‘And what kind of name is that?’ Barlow Cavendish said.

As the guards carted him off Barlow continued to bitch about things in general: the d├ęcor, the general smell of the place, and how the artificial light made his eyes hurt and that it’s time they had windows installed in this building. After this last suggestion, the guards told him there was little need for windows eighty feet below the ground.

It’s worth pointing out here that Barlow Cavendish is not posh and does not belong to the aristocracy, not even as the most distant of relatives. His name merely sounds posh and his surname was inherited from neither his mother nor father, who had taken far too many drugs in their lives to remember their own names and thus resorted to calling each other, and just about anybody else, ‘man’ in order to simplify things.

The name Barlow Cavendish actually comes from a combination of geography and the name of a pub, the pub just happening to be named after a Lord. Simple as that. Although it’s fair to say that the surname belonged to the Aristocracy even if Barlow never did. And that was good enough for him. Indeed, he never admitted or denied his bloodlines when asked about his pedigree, or rather lack of it. He just left people to wonder, which is a partly to blame for the predicament we find him in.

‘He changed it by deed poll, you know,’ said one of the guards.

‘Who changed what?’ Barlow snarled. ‘And why should I want to know?’

‘Well you did ask about Captain Bastard. He changed his name by deed poll. One day he hopes to be a Major Bastard, although some people think he’s one already.’

‘You’re all bastards, major bastards, the lot of you.’

The other guard unlocked a locker, opened it and removed a box, peering inside the box as he turned. “Jeans, t-shirts and one wallet. We won’t be seeing you again.”

Sunday, May 13, 2007