Friday, September 22, 2006

IMG_1295Been busy, so sorry for the LTNP. Admittedly if you go off and hunt you'll find far too many grossly rambling comments adorning other blogs, because comments are supposedly less inherently bad than a full-on post in terms of procrastination, even if I do end up obsessively checking for replies and updates out of monumental boredom (and what would a monument to the boring look like, or would it just be a normal monument due to their innately boring nature; I mean, how much woo-yaying can one do for an inanimate black metal Victorian one has never heard of?). But then I've also been non-thinking enough (blame lack of sleep, which I'm also blaming for the unabridged appearance of some of the comments) to start working through other people's sidebars (usually working to the rule of reading anything posted higher than me, assuming it's not alphabetical; if I want good stuff I should probably stop 5 links up from me, but well...), which adds interesting glimpses into other lives. And which suddenly churns up scans of arching postcarded images, which I recognise (I've got the book; one of the those get-in-free so spend more in the shop than I should have done things), then try to guess the connection before reading what I strongly suspected.

It's odd how random post can enhance... perception is the wrong word - it's not to do with acuity, more reputation, but that's not right either - enhance the standing of someone. I think it's just a signifier of selfless acts and in my wake-addled brain I'm attaching too much importance to it. Not that there's much weight to it, but it just added to the "oh, so he is a nice guy after all" and the after-all is only borne of over-analysis and a shocking negation of my own actions or inactions.

Perhaps I'm just grinding through a period of reflection - past glories have the emphasis on the past - and so evaluating what I was content to leave ill defined. Admittedly mostly it ends with thinking of someone new that they're just a nice guy (just in the kindest sense). I'm not sure where this is going except towards a melancholic "live moves on; sometimes backwards" and as such it's better I skirt that.

So opting for the new and nice, I met up with Dan at the weekend. Meant to do a full enthusiastic write-up of the pair in matching H&M polo shirts and fun with oddly shaped furry things but other things prevailed. Basically, we met to see Avenue Q, having arranged tickets ages ago (or about the time he lasted posted on London Dan). It's very good if clap-heavy, though sometimes it's natural, oh and don't get front row seats lest you find yourself serenaded with The Internet is for Porn, which I reacted to with a stoic purse-lips-and-bear-it and only slight squirming while cursing the lighting designer who allows the front row to be caught in the stage lights, meaning that not only can the entire theatre see Trekkie Monster and his handler aiming half the song to a point off stage, but they can see who is sitting in that point. The first few rows also drown in dry ice at one stage, although because the people next to me were late, the convection currents meant I could still see if I leant right, even if that meant I lost sight of Dan. They were incidentally very good seats, as not only could we see the lumps of wax in an actor's hair (which disappeared by the third scene) and the slightest shimmer of puppet fur, we could also note the slight fur on the lead actress's cheek. It also meant Dan had little trouble focusing on those members of the cast who were easy on the eye, which of course I would never do (said he who might have slightly been looking below puppet height at one point).

So, tremendous fun and for the most part I managed to forget the how-much of the tickets (miser who takes joy in avoiding costly fun thereby avoiding nearly all fun). It does get quite hard not to sing along or to tap your feet not quite in time. Of course this is about the only place I've mentioned it, as it would take too long to explain it to people from the department, my friends are all far too erudite or materialistically philistine to enjoy anything in a theatre, I suspect my brother would count it as embarrassing him (there was a comment about me coming into his office to collect things for which I've yet to forgive him, and which makes me think he's turning into my parents) and my parents would either disapprove or take to it with gusto in an effort out-worldly so-and-so from Pilates when they meet in Waitrose (my mother does seem to frequently have coffee with people she doesn't particularly like all the while engaging in bragging demonstrative tolerance competitions - all 'my son's gayer than yours', 'well, mine's a drug baron', 'my daughter's foetus has an arms contract with the Burmese military junta' and the ever memorable 'It's the queerest thing you know; my daughter-in-law is black'. It's this endless claiming of martyrdom which gets to me; half of it is nothing to be martyred about, yet they use it as proof of liberalism. By engaging in ostentatious tolerance they publicly judge it to be bad. It's as though they had children purely to play Top Trumps with the child's perceived faults. If only they could just have an ever present "and?" following their every comment).

Anyway, retreating hastily from such thoughts (why do you think the lyric is 'let's spend a night in suburbia'?) and getting back to the not particularly gayer-than-thou Dan and general fun and games, such as talk of stolen and forgotten phones, whereupon I touched my pocket with an air of irritation for my own paranoia, went slightly whiter (I am currently hideously white; I think the last time my legs where this white at the end of summer was after I'd been on holiday in Womb), and raced all of 9 yards back to the theatre (we'd come out, gone to the pub over the road, then crossed back to the neighbouring pub to met Dan's friends hoping the equivalent would happen later to even out the flow of glasses between pubs). Fortunately it was waiting for me at the main desk, having been swiftly found beneath my seat. It wouldn't do to spend a year in London unmugged only to lose it the weekend before moving on.

So back to the conversation, talking to Dan in the I-nearly-bought-that-shirt polo shirt - I didn't, thinking it was too sludgy a colour to look good on anyone; Dan proved me wrong by looking far better in it than his constant too-much-beer comments might make one think. Anyway, that just means there's all the more to tickle when he's trying to finish his pint (not that I... oh, who am I kidding? I'm flirtatiously touchy [not that it was then], teasing and mischievous even if it takes a gallant tequila to show it. The gallant tequila was bought by Dan's American, with less of an accent that the English Avenue Q cast, friend with the awful/cute hair [I missed the debate but apparently I broke the consensus] and was only gallant because if I didn't drink it Dan had to, and Dan'd been drinking far quicker than I had, and true friends will willingly drink another friend's alcohol).

So aborting this before I get to the unintentional insults (I might slightly have used the word "worst" when talking of the present state. Sorry Dan, it wasn't meant to be damning) and picking up on the cute Americans theme, it's odd hearing English looking people speaking New Yorkese, even if it did lapse occasionally. It's even odder hearing the edits made for the London audience said by English people in American accents. If we can cope with kid-in-former-big-US-TV-thing, we can cope with the idea of stupid Polacks* (do they make West Side Story locally relevant too? The battle between The Oggys and The Ois? I want to be in Carmarthenshire, everything's free in Carmarthenshire?). To hear Americans loathe the French sounds odd (ignoring the recent contre-temps).

* Yeah, I'd already Youtubed and Wikipedia'd the show.

Ah, and comes the Kubla-Khan; the following were found clustered at the bottom of the post, sans context, so all guesses gratefully welcomed:
(oh don't worry, he doesn't read this)

I'm guessing the last one was due prompting the horrid realisation the equinox is was tomorrow today yesterday (yep, three days, one post; I've got other stuff on). Woe, woe and thrice snow.

While Dan/Flickring, I'm both jealous of the Google schwag and surprised how bad it looks, and I'm also wondering about the inspiration for his new pink, brown and white striped shirt, which is in no way similar to the geekboy polo shirt I wore to the Q, other than featuring pink, brown and white stripes (it was in the sale and I was under duress, having spent hours not-quite-shopping while trying to convince SG to wear anything remotely flattering; having accused her of cowardice I then couldn't be seen to be at all sartorially reticent. And you can tell I'd given up when I bought it; just look at the sleeves if you see me in it).

Anyway, I can't think of much else to add - I met Dan, saw Avenue Q, really rather liked it, left my phone there, went for a drink, retrieved phone, chatted with Dan, FOFs, FOFOFs, drank more, chatted more, ran away having been bought drinks and not bought any, although departing was from necessity, not from choice, then had the joyous thing of working, moving, working, thinking it's nearly over, then working more, then ever more. Hence no blog posts yet displacement-activiting my arse off with endless blog-update-checking and not-knowing-when-to-shut-up comments (Ryan and Sin seem to have born the brunt of these).

Oh, and unless the signal which makes my radio turn on randomly is also prevalent here as well, the electrics in it are literally a bit haywire, as even after the move it is still coming on whenever it likes.

Think that's it.


PS. Bit more on Flickr, with more to come if I have the patience to do a proper view-boosting trickle. Prize for the first person to guess what this is (prize may vary depending on the winner).

PPS. Just remembered. Bad Idea Bears: YAY!

Monday, September 11, 2006

I blame Dan, or Az, or well, pretty much anyone. Today I managed the extraordinary feat of listening to the radio, hearing a song on the radio, liking the song enough to Google it, finding MySpace, playing the songs on it, and turning off the radio to cut out the clashing background noise. I'm guessing that means the radio was slightly too successful at defining my tastes.

Anyway, the song was Relax, take it easy by Mika, who I'd never heard of before and who, and this is going to sound clichéd, but, well, describes himself as a bit Rufus W, presumably Wainwright, which is accurate, even if in another song called Grace Kelly, he manages to do Freddie Mercury, albeit intentionally. Other influences (or subjects of rampant pillaging) include the Beatles, er, and I've just broken MySpace [bloody Murdoch], so I can't say who the others are. Lots of people; it sounds like a mix of a lot of stuff I recognise and like but can't necessarily place.

But perhaps the breaking of MySpace isn't completely coincidental, as I attempted a little bit of cache-based experimenting earlier, so maybe it's retaliating. Not having anything as hideously modern as iTunes, I can't get a legal copy of the songs, and only the first single is out at the moment anyway, so trying to gain a copy of what's not for sale can't be proper bad copyright infringement*. I look on it as if I still like it by the time the album comes out and gets down to a reasonable price, then I'll buy it (and if one thinks of the intervening time as the no-questions-asked returns period, then it's just like buying a jumper. I suppose the fact no record shop will ever offer a full refund, coupled with the stacks of assorted expensive mistakes, probably makes me more reticent, less inclined to spend money on music). Which is pretty much what I'd do if I didn't have access to the mp3s, except I tend to be a bit squirrelish about things, and so usually forget what I have liked, and don't get reminded unless it's right in front of me. So actually having illegitimate copies of the music increases my likelihood of buying it.

So guess who failed despite following woefully complex instructions. MySpace didn't come up with a 404, but neither did it come up with a file as all attempts timeout after apparently failing to connect. Here are what purport to be the links to the raw files, but I haven't got anything out of them yet, but that might be browser and connection based. So in lieu of the liberated mp3s, here's a zipped special bonus track available to people who sign up for the newsletter, and any of those who read the blog of someone who realised that there is no protection for the special reward file at all other than it's not immediately apparent, but of course you'll all be good little boys and girls and submit your best spam-free email address to them.

So go to MySpace to listen, or watch the video below, but the sound quality isn't very good.


* Yay for Bad AIDS. Well, not yay for AIDS obviously, but for Chris Morris.

PS. According to MS Word there's such a thing as a squirrelfish. How very odd.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Antigua - Lizard on palmIn an echo of David Cameron's Tories, the conference will be urged to open up the party's prominent posts to far more women, ethnic-minority, disabled, homosexual and lesbian members.

Because lesbians are none of the above. Trust the Iguanard (because Grauniad's getting a bit stale, and the other options are things like RaguAndI or aduraing, which are a bit nonsensical, and iguanard sounds nicer, and pleasingly suggests that there might be somewhere called Iguana Road, which given the tendency of the paper [how archaic, considering it's electrons or photons] to insert spaces at random, in what I'm beginning to suspect is a ploy to fill space when they haven't written enough, is actually likely to be formed, once the transposition occurs).

Word for the day: lede. It means the initial line or paragraph of a news story; the information heavy hook that gives the gist of item, encouraging further reading but reducing the need for it. So the thing I never do.

Video for the day: Monkey Dust's Blown Hack Dawk (via CasAv's link to the Jihadis).


GF9 600 - 32Two things:

While inflicting rampant patriotism on SG in making her watch the Last Night of the Proms, where the the foot-stamping audience shout not 'Bravo!' but 'Jingo!', I discovered that one of the earlier pieces, which was some Russian thing about Moscow Nights, and which could be summed up with 'summer loving; it happened so fast', and which I didn't remotely recognise, is the tune to which SG's mother does the washing up, although with Chinese lyrics and a different meaning.

I know it's not earth shattering stuff, but it never occurred to me that people in Shanghai would be taught to sing about Moscow to a Russian tune.

And now I've got Jerusalem stuck in my head, only can't quite remember all the words (hence the 'oh' wasn't followed by 'clouds unfold'), and can't find a decent mp3 of it. Trawling brings up a twinkly weak version with a Dutch set of lyrics, a hammed up synth-as-organ version [with a couple of wince inducing clashes and which reminds me of some other song, but I don't know which one], and the only sung version I found is a a load of soprano-heavy Americans singing about England's green and pleasant land. Yet in my head it's an organ rumbling the foundations (or failing that a tortured piano played with an anvil touch) as choir and congregation try to see if they can blow the windows out.

And what's all this about "mental fight"? I'm sure it used to be "mental strife", which Wikipedia [sourcelessly] backs me up on. But then I also remember being taught to sing "burnished gold", which it appears the rest of the world hasn't heard of.

The BBC has the burning-fight version read as the original poem [click listen by 'Preface to Milton']; I'd never realised there was meant to be sarcasm in the last line. Never underestimate the power of a nation to overlook an insult.

And while I'm on songs I cannot quite remember, and this might only apply to the former scouts among you, what are the words to 'a ram sash-sha'?

Here's how I remember them:
A ram sash-sha,
A ram sash-sha,
Golly, golly, golly, golly* ram sash-sha,
Akela; kela, kela, kela-hoo

And that's about all I remember, and the Akela line isn't quite right, but I cannot remember what's missing, nor what follows it (I think it goes back to the beginning).

* Or possibly 'Gooli, gooli, gooli, gooli'. Or that might be a cross over from 'Ging, gang, gooli gooli gooli watcha, ging gang goo, ging gang goo, [rpt], Hey la, hey la shay la, hey la shay la hey la ho', which does follow a very similar structure.

And yes, it is the same tune as 'A Pizza Hut, a Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken in a Pizza Hut, [rpt], MacDonald's, MacDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken in a Pizza Hut' which comes complete with actions and a hideously overstressed middle syllable in MacDonald's.

All of which isn't anywhere near as much fun as teaching the ten-and-a-halfers the Maori national anthem line by line, with suitable translations (unnecessary lessons in grammar always work well), sung to the same tune as 'God save the Queen', using the lyrics 'O-wa, ta-pra, tie-yam' and then getting them to sing it straight through.

But I'd better stop before I start on the myriad forms of 'oh you'll never get to heaven' or 'quartermaster's stores'*, although they tend to be the easier songs because you can just make them up on the spot, rather than struggling to remember any of the lines above two in 'Green grow the rushes oh'.

* Thank god for names which only provide dull rhymes. Never call your son Alex, and I remember being quite proud of the Chris/syphilis rhyme [apparently not all versions follow this model. God Americans Australians are boring]. And does anyone know why the chorus to that is 'my eyes are dim, I cannot see, I have not brought my specs with me, I - have - not - brought - my - specs - with - me'?

But the point of this post was to comment on the foodparcel someone sent me. It doesn't actually contain food, but a book and some CDs, which are nourishment of a sort. But one line in the book is something like (I scrawled it in orange marker late at night, foolishly forgot to add the page number and haven't been able to find it again so I can't check):
Ticklishness has something to do with where your head is.

Doesn't that sound awfully depressing [if one ignores the literal meaning]? To be in a state where one does not allow oneself to react? Whereas I still react too much, reverting to the flailed legs protective style of a six year old (think of a breakdancer showing off and you'll get the idea). Only my legs are a bit bigger, heavier and stronger than they were, and I didn't mean to kick you across the room, it just happens.

But I'd better be getting on with other stuff. Don't expect much blogging this week, so you'll have you amuse yourselves; I'll start you off:

There was Az, Az,
Looking kind of spaz*,
In the stores,
In the stores,
There was Az, Az,
Looking kind of spaz,
In the quartermaster's stores.

*It's ok because we didn't know better at that stage (ok, most of us did, but it's fine to use derogatory and insulting words as long as it rhymes, and nothing rhymes with 'challenged').


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

2005-11-05 Greenwich 001I know it was an exercise in time-wasting to add more photographs to the Flickr map thing, but I didn't think it actually would be quite the waste it seems to be. Not only have Yahoo-Flickr* managed to fail to include streetmap data for anywhere I've looked at so far which is outside London, but a large part of the time the satellite data is poor resolution and offset in comparison to the map dataset [find Guernsey, click 'Hybrid']. Which is a great thing to discover once has diligently added photographs to the right location by alt-tabbing between Google Maps satellite data and the splodges of Yahoo-Flickr (thank God that years of Scout night-hikes have made me an expect in distinguishing the near indistinguishable when assessing landscapes).

*So called after the tendency of the map data to hyphenate neighbouring places so two villages become an entity as meaningless as Paddington-Waterloo. It also has the by now traditional computer map flaw of hideously mangling levels of importance, and thus picking the name of an obscure hamlet** in preference to places with a population over 100,000. As someone raised on Ordinance Survey maps I find it almost offensive when the map can't even be bothered to complete the course of a river, leaving it to end drought-ridden like a derelict canal, or when the map disdeigns to attempt fairly large islands (the coast does look like it was drawn by someone shaking a mouse; as long as it's uneven, it'll look about right. It's as if they drew a line between endpoints and then added noise to authenticate it, like a student mocking up results after their experiment catches fire***).

** Which if one looks closely is drifting in a grey, featureless land, miles from the nearest marked road, river or railway (although this could simply be to avoid covering the relevant feature by placing the name at far remove; the word 'Bosham' is halfway to West Itchenor). And I mean obscure, as it has even me asking 'where?' of an area I know, down to the names of sub-hamlets that feature on no map, and are nothing more than a house, a telegraph pole and a converted stable block (and possibly just an invention of the residents [I think this friend's parents really wanted their address to be ex-directory]).

*** I haven't, but I know someone who has. I never did figure out how they got the duckweed to catch. Anyway, if you're going to fake results, fake them based on the wrong baseline, so make it look exponential when it's supposed to be proportional, then have a merry old time trying to explain it.

I do find it slightly ridiculous that I can differentiate between parts of a churchyard in Antigua on the Yahoo-Flickr map, yet in most other places have to settle for somewhere in the parish [hopefully].

Oh, and of course the comment last time about not being able to tagsearch areas of the map was completely erroneous, as I'd managed to overlook the very obvious searchbox.

So, um, I've added more to my Flickr map, although if they ever improve the data, most of them will be in the wrong place. But maybe the indistinct fuzziness is comforting given that Baghdad, Beirut and Kabul are all shown at the maximum resolution. Tehran incidentally is not.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

IMG_1673Way cool.

I know I've been slow on the uptake, as it was launched on Monday (as I'd have know had I looked at Dan's other blog). Anyway, Flickr has added a funky map thing which allows one to tie pictures to their locations. Admittedly it's not quite there yet as it doesn't have a street map of London (but weirdly can find addresses which come out in the middle of blank maptiles). So I've stuck the photos from the Carnival round parts of Notting Hill, although for any idea of context you'll have to click on the satellite option.

I have to admit to getting very confused over the whole idea of pages (which show the same area but haphazard collections of photographs). And the filters section doesn't seem to be quite all it could be, as I clicked on it expecting to be able to search for tags (so I could look for only things labelled 'carnival' round Notting Hill), but instead get to choose whose photographs get shown (mine, those of my contacts, everyone).

My map. I'll add the others when I have time, but as there are over two thousand images to do, and I don't know where all of them were taking, and I've much other stuff to be getting on with, please be patient.

Must lunch.


Saturday, September 02, 2006

IMG_1636Sorry for belated blogging; bit busy.

Firstly something which appeared in the Guardian a while ago:
Coal still rules but we visit China's biggest wind farm in Huiteng Xile, where - on a gusty day - the 94 turbines can send 68,000kw of electricity per hour to Beijing.

A. It's kW. B. Sorry, how many kW an hour? Hang on, Watts per hour? But isn't a Watt a rate of energy transfer of one Joule per second. So that would mean Beijing is getting 68,000,000 Joules/second/hour. And an hour is 3,600 seconds, so it would be 68,000,000 W / 3,600 s, which is... reaches for a calculator, remembers Google... 18 888.8889 m^2 kg / s^4.

Only now I've got to figure out what Google's done to the units (but I always get confused by what to do with Z in A X/Y/Z (I want it to be XZ/Y, but I think it's X/YZ, and I know that whichever I choose I always get it wrong, and helpfully it's not the type of thing I can make Google answer, as I don't know the right question to ask).

1 W = 1 J/s (I know technically it should be J.s^-1 or similar, but that's too fiddly to type).
1 J = kg.m^2/s^2 (which mirrors E=mc^2)
So 68 MW/s = 68 x 10^6 kg.m^2/s^2.s.s = 68 x 10^6 kg.m^2/s^4

So not only was Google right, but it becomes obvious that the Guardian's quote must be nonsense. If m/s is speed, m/s^2 is change of speed and so acceleration, m/s^3 must be the change in acceleration, m/s^4 is the change of change of change of speed.

Er, I didn't mean it to reach this level, but once I tried showing the stupidity of the Guardian I then had to do enough calculations to overcome mine. Anyway the Guardian reckon you can divide a rate by time. I'm guessing what they actually saw was the production stats for some period, which was expressed in kilowatt-hours (kWh) which they assumed must be kilowatts per hour (kW/h).

The UN claim there 68.5 megawatts worth of turbines at the site. So in the Guardian's terms on a gusty day - the 94 turbines can send 68,000kw of electricity to Beijing.

Oh, and I hope it's not a gusty day, because then the load will be very uneven, and it might be enough to cause the turbines to feather, furl or stall to protect themselves and so shut down. But if the turbines are geared for the peaks of gusts then they're not going to be producing very much in between.

I know it's naive to expect sense from the Guardian, and yet I still do.

Moving on, literally. I've forgotten where I found a flight simulator that relies on Google Maps, but you can change the start point, and so I've very kindly prepared a tour of the Top Gear test track (ok, so I don't know where they start or finish, or which way they go, but other than that...). It's already set up, so just click Start.

And while... I haven't done the Notting Hill Carnival write up yet. Not sure what there is to say. It can be a bit underwhelming. And just a bit deafening (endless lorries trapped in a traffic jam, each slamming the next with their sound systems, all while enclosed in an urban canyon). But I like steeldrums, even if they seemed to spend most of their time tuning up (what's to tune?). Took some pictures, wandered for a bit, went home, managing to chose the judging area as the best route out of the area, discovered Trellick Tower, eventually got down to the canal and walked back (until we discovered the towpath locked after one tunnel), cutting up across the base of Buttercup Hill, then because we were tired having a race to the top (guess who won that and was on the second chocolate chip cookie by the time the other reached the top), a cool damp chat overlooking the city (in typical August clothing of jumper and shorts), then running down the hill again, losing control, slaloming between people, hitting wet ground and just about managing not to lose it only by losing my ability to steer. And then back home. Said there wasn't much to say. Anyway, photographs on Flickr, of variable quality.

Anyway, while adding text to images I snowcloned 'have X, will Y', and then realised I don't know the original. Y is usually travel, but I've no idea what the X is meant to be. Googling comes up with:
Have games, will travel. Have children, will travel. Have kid, will travel. Have dice, will travel. Have browser, will travel. Have ipod, will travel. Have balloon, will travel. Have feet, will travel. Have Gun, Will Travel. Have trunk, will travel. Have spaceplane, will travel. Have blog, will travel. Have transgenes, will travel. Have rocket, will travel. Have Santa, will travel. Have data, will travel. Have music, will travel. Have horse, will travel. Have truck, will travel. Have website, will travel. Have golf, will travel. Have paws, will travel. Have Pilot, will travel. Have fries, will travel. Have BBQ, will travel. Have laptop, will travel. Have dummy, will travel. Have kiln, will travel. Have life, will travel. Have toys, will travel. Have EIS, will travel. Have bag, will travel. Have shorts, will travel. Have story, will travel. Have wheels, will travel. Have cottage, will travel. Have sitar, will travel. Have passport, will travel. Have mini, will travel. Have GPS, will travel.

And that's just the first 50 results. Apparently "will travel" is the dominant version. The first five non-travel snowclones are: Have money, will vlog. Have trumpet, will excite. Have guns, will haggle. Have wastes, will privatise. Have gun, will unravel.

Honourable mention goes to have stake, will slay.

I'm guessing the 1957 US television might had influence on its popularity (but God knows how it got over here; but the phrase might have predated the series).

But it's late and this is going nowhere, so I'd better go to bed. I'll try and come up with something better if I have time, but neither is very likely.


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