Another Day, Another Blog

May 29, 2007

Giant eyes in the sky

Filed under: curiosities, the joy of life — iamza @ 1:52 pm

I love ferris wheels. The bigger they are, the more terrified I am when the basket I’m in stops at the top while people are loaded into the baskets at the bottom. This is especially true when the wind is not blowing, because the basket I’m in will inevitably rock like a cradle stuck in a gale-tossed tree regardless of actual atmospheric conditions.

You’d think, being, er, cautious of heights, that my body would take one look at a ferris wheel, and bolt away to find the nearest ship anchor or other heavy object with which to weigh itself down. “No, no, we loves the earth, my preciousss. No whirly sky rides for us, no, no, no.”

But there’s something addictive about being terrified out of your wits, and having to hide it. I’m sure my grin on a ferris wheel resembles that of a golden retriever with his head stuck out the window of a car travelling ninety miles an hour down the M1 (tongue and ears blown backwards by the force of the wind, and all).

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May 23, 2007

Yet another pointless post

Filed under: curiosities, humour — iamza @ 7:04 am

Considering I’ve not read the novel yet, I find it highly entertaining that Peter Watts’ Blindsight has brought me more internet traffic than any other post I’ve written so far…

Sorry, Peter Watts fans — I hope that google doesn’t bring you back here twice!

May 22, 2007

Dessert first, please

Filed under: books, the joy of life — iamza @ 8:36 am

As a kid, I tried very hard to finish every single book that I started reading. This made trips to the library tortuous for my sister. She would pick her six books pretty quickly — if they had a horse or a cat on the front cover, they were fair game. I, meanwhile, would pick a book off the shelf, and then read a page near the beginning, a page in the middle, and — finally — the last page, before deciding whether or not to borrow it. In the time it took me to choose my first book, my sister would have had all of hers stamped and ready to go. And by the time I’d finally chosen all six of my books, my sister would have read another two or three from the shelves.  

My deliberation worked, though. For the first eleven years of my life, I had a 100% success rate when it came to finishing every book I started. Then I ran up against Lord of the Rings… Let’s just say that I’m very glad that Peter Jackson made the movies, because now I can stop feeling guilty about never finishing the books.

I think that need to finish every book I start reading is why, even now, I’ll read the end of books before the beginning. Subconsciously, I guess I equate a good ending with a story worth reading. Strangely, knowing how things turn out in the end does not spoil the story for me — it’s the journey to that final page that I’m most interested in.

May 21, 2007

Food, glorious food!

Filed under: humour, what not to say — iamza @ 4:40 pm

Today’s favourite headline comes courtesy of BBC news: Supermarkets devour Indian traders. Beware of supermarkets, people; next thing you know they’ll be looking for dessert!

 

May 18, 2007

Package holidays — never quite what you expected

Filed under: humour — iamza @ 1:35 pm

(It may help to know that the round thing is supposed to be a fish pond…)

“Forward, the Light Brigade!” *

Filed under: the dandelion wars, the joy of life — iamza @ 9:00 am

Father: “No, don’t bother digging the dandelions out. The roots go too deep, and if you don’t get it all, the dandelions will only grow back again. Better to buy yourself a systemic weedkiller, and spray them with that.”

Me: “First power tools, and now poison. No wonder they say owning a home is something best left to adults.” 

The problem with using weedkiller to get rid of dandelions is that dandelions are smart. They snuggle in amidst the rest of the plants that you don’t want to kill, and then spread their leaves and take over the garden. I think I may have lost my mint shrub in last night’s spray-skirmish. And possibly the lavender, too.

Did you know that thistles can grow to the point where they look like miniature prickly palm trees? The thistle beside the pond now has a stalk which has a circumference of — and I kid you not — nine centimetres. Nine centimetres! Forget the weedkiller; what I really need is a hacksaw.

Main lesson learned from last night’s little adventure: Trying to spray a giant mutant thistle (thizilla?) is problematic in that there is no way to aim the spray nozzle that will not result in significant collateral damage elsewhere in the garden and surrounding environs. I think I may have accidentally squirted some weedkiller into the fish-pond, so I’m waiting with baited breath to see if the fish survive. Please, little goldfish, be hardy and strong. “Yes, yes, this is a fertile land pond, and we will thrive.” **

* Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade about describes the level of success I’ve had with my campaign to rid the garden of weeds…
** With apologies to Firefly‘s Wash. 

May 16, 2007

Morbidly yours

Filed under: humour, the joy of life — iamza @ 12:43 pm

Yesterday, my sister was telling me about the first time she visited a morgue. It sounded quite intriguing. The morgue, as per any good Hollywood thriller, was located in the basement of the hospital, and could only be accessed by a very long, shadowy hallway. The overhead fluorescent lighting flickered in a suitably spooky manner, and when she happened to mention that the morgue was located next to the cafeteria, I could feel the hair on the back of my neck starting to rise.

“Hi, I’ll have a cheese sandwich and, oh, do you have any dead feet stored away next door? You do? Great! I’ll have a couple of those to go, too, please.” 

The staff at the morgue also sounded a little, er, quirky. Apparently, the guy signing in the dead bodies was chatting up the corpses as he worked.

“Hello there, my darling. Not wearing any jewellery today, then? I know, I know, it’s over-rated, isn’t it? Come now, don’t be shy.”

Still, I suppose it could be worse. He could have been arguing with the newly departed–

“You’re wrong, and you know you’re wrong, and everybody here knows you’re wrong, and, and…Hitler! There, I said it. By Godwin’s Law this argument is now over, and I win. So there.”

–or doing his best Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal impersonation:

“Well, Clarice, have the lambs stopped screaming?”

“Heh, yeah. Very convincing. Especially with that leather facemask and the straightjacket. So, uh, here’s your body, and I’m just gonna run and do that thing I gotta do. Outside, yeah. Outside and very far away. Bye!”  

Afterwards, I was trying to decide if quirkiness is a job requirement for working in morgue. 

POSITION AVAILABLE: Morgue assistant.

We are looking for hardworking people who don’t mind handling dead bodies. Must be willing to work flexible hours and have an oddball sense of humour. Zombies and golems need not apply. 

Perks: The customer is dead, so politeness is optional.

Scientifically, I guess, the first step to test whether all morgue people are quirky is to visit more morgues (or, in my case, have my sister visit more morgues). And to visit at different times of the day. Maybe all the really quirky people are only on duty during the day shift, and the graveyard shift people are ordinary?

So, anyone want to peg off so my sister can transport your body to the morgue for me? No? Come on, people, where’s your love of the scientific method? :-)

May 15, 2007

Bad weather

Filed under: when natures strikes back — iamza @ 5:00 pm

I find this BBC news story interesting because many recent books and news articles about climate change I’ve stumbled across seem to have the same “Omigod, the climate is going to explode and kill us all tomorrow!” message. Apparently, some climate scientists are now suggesting that the ‘Hollywood-isation’ of climate change is doing more harm than good. When sensational words like ‘irreversible’,  ‘runaway’, and ‘catastrophic’ are employed, the viewing/reading audience is led to believe that global climate change is inevitable, unstoppable — like a juggernaut — and so they are less likely to make necessary lifestyle changes. “Why bother, if the Earth is only going to go to pot in fifty years anyway?”

I admit that I, myself, have been generally apathetic when it comes to making lifestyle changes. And, in part, this is indeed because I don’t think that any changes I make will have a significant effect on the global climate. But, if every person on Earth thinks that there is nothing that they can do to change the inevitable outcome of global warming, then ultimately, we end up with a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Just thinking about meteorological Hollywood-isation, funnily enough my own viewing in recent months has included a number of weather-related disaster stories…

Superstorm: Some mad scientists get it into their crazy heads to try and manipulate the weather by seeding storms and altering the path of potentially killer hurricanes. Things go wrong, people die, and it is, of course, all the fault of the American government. Politicians — man, you’d think they’d have realized by now that dead taxpayers mean less money in the trough…

Storm: A climate scientist (Luke Perry) learns that the secret American government think-tank that hired him wants to learn how to manipulate weather for less than altruistic reasons. Wow, shocker — especially given we, the audience, learn fairly quickly that the American military is involved. Are there any good military folks on TV outside of the Stargate programs?

Supernova: The sun goes crazy, and the world almost catches fire. Scientist Luke Perry is hidden away with other important people in a secure underground location so that when the world has finished ending, they can rebuild the Earth. Or something. I caught this one in a midst of a manic fit of channel-flipping, and didn’t stick around — probably just as well.

Lightning: Bolts of destruction: Intense sunspots cause killer positive lightning bolts that, left alone, will intensify to the point of flipping the Earth’s magnetic poles thus causing a global ice age. Happily, an experimental power station up in the Arctic leaps into action and saves the day because the leading characters in this film are more concerned with soap opera-style family infighting than in, you know, saving the planet.

The Day After Tomorrow: Global warming kills the Gulf Stream, resulting in a bout of supercooling. In Britain, it starts raining helicopters. Some kid and his girlfriend get stuck in the New York Public Library, where they vandalize and burn everything in sight — but this is okay, because otherwise they would have died of the cold. Too bad; I was kind of rooting for the cold…

Twister: An oldie but a goodie, starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton. Based on a script by Jurassic Park author, Michael Crichton, and introducing a whole generation to the joys of stormchasing, in my opinion this is the weather movie by which all others must be judged. I love this movie too much to make fun of it (even if Westerly from The Princess Bride does go up, up, and away…)

Night of the Twisters: I know I watched this, but for the life of me I can’t remember any specifics. John Schneider starred — I know this because he was pretty much the only reason I tuned in. There were tornadoes. And there were screaming kids, I think. Otherwise, this was imminently forgettable.

Tornado Warning: Gerald McRaney plays a scientist who has developed a system for predicting tornadoes, but nobody, including his journalist daughter, believes him. For me, the best part of this film was the mayor/sheriff (of the town that McRaney is trying desperately to save in spite of themselves), who spends most of the film prancing about in a leopard skin-patterned bodysuit and huge cowboy hat, and driving a pink cadillac with antlers attached to the front grille. I mean, there’s a politician who isn’t afraid to make a statement! 

Category 7: This one was so bad that even I couldn’t be persuaded to stick around to watch how it all ended. And, as a general rule, I like Z-grade disaster flicks…

Rain, rain, stay again

Filed under: the joy of life — iamza @ 7:31 am

Yes! It rained almost non-stop the entire week I was away, which, at the time, was a bit of a downer as I had intended to drive around Devon and Cornwall, and do things like finally snap some shots of the incredible folded shale beds in the cliffs overlooking Hartland Quay. Alas, my enthusiasm for landscape admiration takes a nosedive when it gets grey and soggy — I admit, I become a bit of a wet blanket when it rains.

Anyway, the good thing about all this rain is that it has soaked into the ground, and last night, I was finally able to get the garden fork into the hard-packed soil by the front door, and turn the garden over. There’s some good soil in there, too, which was something of a surprise. I was expecting clay and builder’s rubble.

Now, if I can just find a plant that likes lots of shade and cool temperatures, and has pretty flowers all year round, I’m set… 

May 14, 2007

Honey, I’m home

Filed under: elsewhere, the joy of life — iamza @ 10:32 am

No matter how much I enjoy a vacation, it’s always a relief to get back home. It’s a smile that starts as I drive up the hill, past the still pink-coated cherry trees on the islands of grass either side of the road, over the speedhumps and past the corner store. Expands as I go past the RAC van that never moves, and then turn into the dandelion-infested driveway, noting without surprise that the dandelions are about ten times the size they were before I left.

I really know I’m home when I open the front door, and smell the pine-scented perfume from the candle I bought for less than a dollar in Canada about five years ago. Turn on the heating, and the lights, and it’s like the house is a dormant dragon slowly coming back to life.

I love arriving at a new destination — that moment of chaotic confusion when I realize I have no idea where I’m going, or what to do next. Everything is new, shiny and bright, and my eyes are tracking in about fifty directions at once. Everything captures my attention, if only for a moment, and I wish I could sit down, or stand up, or go to sleep, all at once.

But coming home, well, it’s like finding a part of myself that I left behind.

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