Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Desperately seeking Molly

In 1987 one of my brothers had come out from England to stay with me in my digs in Durban. I was a student at that time. Before he left England a friend's father discovered that he was coming to Durban and said that he had met a girl in Durban during the second world war and could my brother find her for him. Her maiden name back then was Molly Smith (name changed to protect Molly Smith - well not really - I just can't remember what her name was - this is almost 20 years ago). He also remembered that her dad worked at a sports shop. Durban's relevant population at that time was about 1 million people.

My brother mentioned this to me in passing having already dismissed the mission as impossible but I wasn't as easily put off by the impossible. I happened to know the owner of the largest sports store in town, the famous King's Sports, then run by Allen King. I gave Allen a call and he laughed at what I was trying to do but did say that if there was anybody who would know it was an elderly lady who had worked for the company for many years and would know that sort of thing. He gave me her work address.

On the way to the beach a few hours later we stopped at her work place and told her our mission. She gave us Molly's married name, address and telephone number. Mission impossible accomplished with minimal effort and outstanding results.

Almost Topless

This guy really impresses me. I saw him cutting the palms off the top of this palm tree and grabbed the camera. At the end of the video you'll see exactly how high up he is - third floor. He then absails from the top to the bottom in a few seconds.

I'm not sure what you'd have to pay me to do that but I'm sure it would be a hell of a lot more than this guy was getting paid.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Golf is a difficult game and you are sometimes faced with huge obstacles in this fruitless pursuit of getting a small white ball into a tiny hole. When playing a new course we are helped by reading a description on the hole diagram which is supposed to help us plan our approach to the green. This description does not help if the green is protected by words you've never heard of. The 16th at The 500 Club has one of these:

From an elevated tee, avoid two fairway bunkers 150 yards from the green. The second shot can be tricky with four bunkers and a swale surrounding this shallow, undulating green.

What is a swale?

Well it turned out to be a grass bunker. Earlier, hole 5 (Quail's Trail), had grass bunkers and they called them grass bunkers:

This testy par 3 requires a high tee shot to a green surrounded on all sides by grass bunkers. This green is deceivingly contoured. Par is a very good score.

So why call it a swale when it's a grass bunker?

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Circle Line

The Circle Line, as the name might suggest, is an underground subway that circles London. I'm being patronising, 99% of people reading this already know this but for completeness I mention it. My question to you is: Have you ever, in one journey, been to every stop on The Circle Line? I have. In fact, I believe that I did 3.5 loops of The Circle Line non-stop once.

It was a dark and stormy night. No it wasn't! It was a Saturday afternoon. Ed, Peter, Andy and myself were playing golf and Richmond Park Golf Course. It was at a time when Ed and I were playing particularly badly and Andy and Peter were going through a purple patch. Unfortunately Ed and I drew the same short straws and were teamed up together. Peter and Andy were very excited at the prospect giving us a solid hiding and goaded us into beer bets they felt they had already won.

It was one of those strange days. Ed and I played, as expected, badly, and both our scores were horribly. However, the bets and games did not rest on the total score but on each hole that was won. What I didn't mention was that Ed and I dovetailed playing bad holes and when I had a blowout hole Ed won it and vice versa. I believe that we had the game sown up by about the 15 and had won all bets (beers). Andy and Peter couldn't believe this and didn't believe that our luck would continue for the last 4 holes and so they goaded us into a double or nothing to the end. We won that as well.

So we end up in All Bar One in Richmond at around 5pm and Ed and I don't hold back on our unlimited free beers. Neither of us could hold our drink and we had won more than we could handle so it was effectively unlimited. By 9pm I knew that the combination of gloating and drinking had put me into a dangerous state and I had to get home and sleep it off ASAP.

I jumped on The District Line at Richmond and somehow managed to cross over to The Circle Line when we arrived in Central London. After that I remember opening my eyes every now and then and seeing a station name and realising that we'd past my stop but being on The Circle Line I knew we'd come back to it again and so I closed my eyes and continued to sleep.

At 1:40am I was woken by the driver telling me that this was the last stop and I had to get off. I was at Notting Hill. I estimated that given the time I'd spent on the tube that I'd circled to city 3.5 times. I was feeling dizzy.

It probably took me about an hour to walk home from there. I couldn't for the life of me find a cab.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Turn Here

I have discovered the web site Turn Here. It provides short video clips about travel destinations. I have only searched for 1 city and watched 1 video but I plan on using it for my next trip so I will return to review it again in the future. This is a book mark so that I don't forget about it. From their web site:

TurnHere produces professional digital videos, accessible on the Internet, which convey authentic experiences of places and leisure activities in cities and neighborhoods around the world ... filmmaker’s vision, translated into compelling storytelling, engaging narrators, insider perspective and high entertainment value.

Has anyone tried them?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Restless Toes Syndrome

I had never heard of Restless Legs Syndrome until I saw an advert for a drug to treat it on the telly. I do not believe that I suffer from Restless Legs Syndrome but I have no doubt that I suffer from Restless Toes Syndrome.

This video clip will show you what people with Restless Toes Syndrome have to suffer through.

Somewhat disappointed...

This photo is the skyline (well part of it) in Phoenix yesterday evening. My disappointment stems from the amazing weather. We were promised monsoons during monsoon season with torrential downpours that soak you to the skin just by looking at them through the window and flooding that knocks your front door in and washes away the kitchen, laundry and bed (but not the TV, sofa or your golf clubs which have been carefully secured) and lightening and thunder that power small cities and then deafen the inhabitants. Hopefully this blog post will be the equivalent of the Native American rain dance and summon the real monsoons. The first monsoon of the season (It was a dark and stormy night) was a bit of a damp squib.

Nada Fue un Error

Cuando empezaba aprender español solo sabía dos oraciones en la lengua. Las dos más importantes:

1. Dos cervezas por favor.
2. Mi amigo pagará

Ahora conozco un poquito más pero no mucho.

Mi amiga me envió un link a la canción Nada fue un error por Coti con Julieta Venegas y Paulina Rubio. Me encanta esa canción y por eso comparto con Uds. Por desgracia no entiendo que digan en la canción. Espero que alguien me ayuda entenderla.

Gracias por el link muchacha.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Telemarketing Questionnaire

Yesterday I received a call from a telemarketer selling Dish TV or something like that. I handed it over to my wife because there is a particular channel that she is interested in that our cable company doesn't have. I heard bits of the conversation from my wife's end such as "why do you need to know that?" etc. I felt a bit sorry for the telemarketer because getting personal information out of my wife before you prove that your God's right-hand man is impossible. She's not going to be conned or scammed by anyone over the phone.

In order to ascertain if a telemarketer, "market researcher" or other person calling is a scam or not I've decided to set up questionnaire that I am going to ask them before we start with their part of the call. I'm writing the questions down here so that I remember what I want to ask them and do so in a logical manner.

Me (in reply to their initial question): "For security reasons I need to ask you some questions in order to ascertain that you are who you say you are. I must also warn you that anything that you say may be made publicly available on the Internet. If you do not agree with this condition then please terminate the call now."

1. Can you give me your first and last name (again) please?
2. What is the name of the company that you are calling from?

(Assuming that I'm sitting in from of the computer by that time)
3. What is your company's web address?
4. Where on your company's web site can I find your name listed as an employee?

(My telephone number is both unlisted and on the "do not call" register.)
5. Where did you get my telephone number from?
6. Did you check the "do not call" register before you called this number?
7. What country are you calling from?

(If conducting "market research")
8. Will you at any time during this call try and sell me something?

This list is a work in progress and I'm sure I'll add to it in the future.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Josh Blue Wins Last Comic Standing

I saw Josh Blue on one of the first episodes of season 4 of Last Comic Standing and blogged about it: Not Easily Impressed (I fell off my chair laughing)

I kept on missing episodes and missed the finals but I've managed to watch a number of his clips on YouTube and I continue to be impressed by him. He makes me laugh out aloud each time I see him. Here are a couple of clips from YouTube. There are many more there. Just search on Josh Blue.

I had no doubt when I first saw him that he was going to win Last Comic Standing. I'm not sure how the voting went but I doubt that the others were even close.

Broken Arrow

I didn't think that I'd be able to find the clip for the Broken Arrow quote "I don't know what's scarier, the fact that we've lost a nuclear weapon or the fact that it happens so often that we have a term for it" so I didn't even look for it.

Serendipitiously today I came across the trailer for the movie which has the quote. Here it is:

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Top 5 Film Quotes

I once received a job application questionnaire which alternated relevant technical questions with arbitrary questions that I assume were there to flesh out some personality, if there is one. For example, one of the questions was to write a limerick about a programming language. I don't recall what I wrote but I remember being impressed with the result.

Another question was to list my top 5 film quotes. I happened to be chatting to a couple of friends on Skype while I filling in the questionnaire and they both immediately came up with the quote from Jerry Maguire: "Show me the money" which I immediately shot down as I was sure that it was particularly inappropriate image to portray going into a job interview.

One film quote that I forgot to put on that interview sheet was from the film Broken Arrow:
"I don't know what's scarier, losing a nuclear weapon or that it happens so often there's actually a term for it."

What is your top film quote?

Left Hand Drive Cars

Coming from countries where you drive on the left hand side of the road and therefore in cars which are right hand drive it took a bit of adjusting to left hand drive cars in the USA. In fact I have still not fully adjusted.

On occasion, when I go to the car I walk around to the right hand side of the car to get in. On opening the door I notice that I have arrived at the wrong side. I surreptitiously glance around to see if anyone has noticed and if so I pretend to shuffle some papers on the passenger seat or check the glove compartment. Sometimes I've taken things out of the glove compartment to make it look like I was fetching something before closing the passenger door with authority and walking purposefully around to the drivers side.

On a bad day I will climb into the passenger side of the car and close the door before discovering that the steering wheel is missing. I have yet to work out a way to recover from this. In fact I don't think that there is a recovery. I could climb over the gear changer but if the police were to see that then they'd probably arrest me for impersonating a drunk. Instead, I sheepishly climb out the car and shuffle around to the drivers side hoping that the laughter and giggles I can hear in the parking lot are not directed at me.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Blog catharsism saves murder

I had a conversation with my old-man recently and talked about a bit of advice that he used to give us when we were kids.
"Instead of acting on your anger," he said, "you should write a letter to the person that you angry with and don't send it but put it in your desk drawer. One week later, pull it out and re-read it. You will probably find that you aren't that angry anymore and are pleased that you didn't send the letter or say those things."

Writing down your thoughts in a ranting manner and striking out (on paper) at those that have offended you is cathartic and usually relieves the need to physically act on your current feelings.

I have a theory that blogs often have that effect and when you see someone ranting about something on a blog I bet that when they've finished ranting they feel much better. Take a look at Mando's Self-Indulgent "Ex" Rant (read at own risk) and her comment that immediately follows. I'm fairly certain that Vern feels the same way after some of the posts that he makes.

My theory is that the catharsism (not a real word) from rant blog postings stops many people from going postal. I theorize that there would be more violence if this form of outlet was not available and I feel that people who are that way inclined may benefit from having a blog. If people post comments on your blog agreeing with your comments, feelings and statements then it also makes you feel less isolated with your feelings etc. I'm starting to go off the deep-end so I'm going to stop here.

Of course if people post comments stating that you're a nut-case then maybe you are and the blog isn't working...

Package from Arabia

Today I received a package from Arabia. On inspection of the surface I estimate that about 70% of the front of the package is covered with stamps. (The clear area had my address before I blotted it out.) There are 4 different denominations of stamps and that number could have easily been reduced using a logical collection of the larger denominations - but hey - who wants to be logical when you can almost completely cover a package with many different bright colors? With stamps that bright and so many of them you don't even need wrapping paper on the presents inside - the stamps have done that for you.

A few years ago I was in Guatemala and bought a hammock which I wanted to mail to my dad. I packaged it up carefully in a shoebox and wrapped, sealed and addressed it and took it to the post office in the ancient capital on Antigua. (Antigua is no longer the capital - Guatemala City is.) The package was going to cost the equivalent of $25 to send (the hammock cost $3) and the clerk informed me that they had run out of large denomination stamps and could only sell me stamps that had the equivalent value of 5 cents.

I asked if she could frank the package but she said no and that I had to buy the 500 stamps and stick them on the package. There must have been about 50 stamps per sheet because I recall her pulling out about 10 sheets of stamps, each slightly smaller than an A4 sheet of paper. My mind having excellent 3-dimensional and spacial foresight ability was pondering how I was going to stick 10 x A4 sheets onto a shoe box so that all surfaces were showing. By the time that the transaction was finished and I had my stamps and $25 less in my wallet I had still not solved the problem and asked the clerk for her advice.

This was obviously not the first time that she had done this because without hesitating she showed me how to tear off row by row from each sheet and overlap them so that just the value of the stamp was showing from underneath the last row. Ingenious!

I spent the next hour or so on a hard wooden bench with a water roller, my shoe box and 10 sheets of stamps. Every 10 minutes I ferried the water roller back to the counter to get a water refill.
"Bottle or tap water?" She would ask.
"Tap water is fine," I replied with more and more surprise each time she asked me.

The package looked like a well wrapped Christmas tree by the time I handed it over. I hoped that she wouldn't weight it again because I'm sure that it was now at least 20% heavier with the stamps and water used to stick them there.

The package was destined for South Africa which has a notoriously bad record for delivery of anything by mail and I believe that Guatemala attempts to compete with that record. As such I had zero expectation that the package would arrive.

It did arrive. I know that because I have subsequently lounged in that hammock on a back patio in South Africa. Shame on me for my lack of faith in the international Guatemala - South Africa package route.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Coyote Shocked

Before we talk about why the coyote was shocked (this has nothing to do which why the chicken crossed the road etc.) let's take a look at this saguaro cactus. Do you notice anything unusual or wrong with it. The trained eye will notice a number holes or pock marks in this cactus. These holes are made from an Arizonan insect called the GB which is about the shape and size of a ping pong ball but is much harder and heavier and flies at an amazing speed and pegs itself into the cactus where it lives for the rest of its life.

Sometimes, the GB insect does not fly that fast and bounces off the saguaro and at other times it almost pegs inside but remains clinging to the outside to eventually fall off one day. You may be able to see one precariously holding on to the left arm of the Saguaro - the one closest to the moon. I have blown it up for you here.

The GB insect is typically launched by a driver on the tee. This hole is the number 1 handicap (stroke index 1) hole on the Rancho Manana Golf Course in Cave Creek. The following video clip shows a coyote on the fairway relaxing next to the saguaro cactus. Without warning a GB insect leaves the tee and pings off the cactus scaring the hell out of the coyote which heads off to look for safer places to hunt.

As for my golfing partner. He obviously didn't think that the handicap 1 hole was difficult enough and was going via the desert, a coyote and a cactus to get to the hole.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Melting the Kitchen

Melting the Kettle is small time compared to what I did to our kitchen when I was about 12.

For some reason I'd become obsessed with melting down lead and making things out of it. The only objects for which I could find moulds for were fishing sinkers and so I acquired about 6 different aluminium moulds and then started collecting the lead wrappers from wine bottles.

Using a small pot and the electric hob in the kitchen I melted the lead until it was liquid. Luckily the fumes and smoke from the burning paint and paper on the lead wrappers kept everyone else out of the kitchen. Using a double oven mitt I would then transport the lead across the kitchen to the moulds and pour it before it set.

The last time I ever did this the pot slipped out of my hand, landed on the kitchen table and bounced onto the floor spraying molten lead around the kitchen. About 25% of the kitchen, cupboards, appliances, stools etc. had a thin layer of rapidly cooling and solidifying lead.

Lead melts at 621F (327C) so the paint on most of the surfaces was pretty much toast. Luckily I wasn't hit by the molten metal and the kitchen was in bad need of a repaint anyway and so I don't recall getting into much trouble over that. Perhaps it was the relief that molten lead wouldn't be bubbling away next to the boiling potatoes that saved me.

Melting the Kettle

I burnt our kettle a few months ago. It turned from the brushed chrome finished to a dull bronze/gold color. It's our first wedding gift that I've destroyed. The second was a knife handle.

The kettle burning happened during the day while my wife was at work. I toasted it from about 9am to 1pm by forgetting to put the whistle on. Once it had cooled down I hid it behind other counter objects. When my wife returned in the evening she found it by using her nose.
"You burnt something in here didn't you?" She said.
"No," I lied.
She continued to hunt until she found the kettle and then hit me with it. I deserved it. I should have put the whistle on the nose.

I was reminded of my kettle story by Lucy Tartan's Toast and tea blog posting.

Best Kiss Ever

I mentioned a week ago that I'd post a video clip to the best onscreen kiss ever. The reason for waiting for a week was not to tease you but rather to give me time (and put me on a time frame) to see if I could find a better one. I could not. This is 18 seconds from the life of Ally McBeal.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What good are Hairy Knees?

Following on from my discovery that I can actually grow hair on my knees and that I sometimes have Hairy Knees you may be wondering about the use for hairy knees. If so, you're pretty weird because I've never wondered that. I have, however, without wondering, discovered a use for them.

I was sitting outside a tiki hut on a beach in Thailand. The mozzies had started biting my ankles and neck and so I'd lathered myself in insect grease. I was resting my feet on the table which gave me the chance to admire and keep an eye on my hairy knees.

I then noticed something I'd never seen before. The mozzies were trying to get through the hair and to my skin but because I had hairy knees (and hairy legs) they couldn't get through to bite. So instead they were just getting caught up in the hair like a net and eventually they'd give up and turn around and buzz off.

This also explained to my simple mind why my knees and legs were never bitten but why my hairless ankles and feet were dotted with little red spots.

Water Balloon Bursting in Slow Motion

I was just very very impressed with this water balloon (as the title says) bursting in slow motion. Watch the rubber as it pulls back under the balloon and how the water seems to hold its shape forever.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Hairy Knees

Time and Place: Summer 1999, India House Backpackers Hostel, New Orleans

I was sitting at a table out on the patio of India House in New Orleans chatting to some other backpackers. I looked down at my knees and said, "do you know what I've noticed since I started travelling?"
At exactly the same time, an Ozzie and a Brit replied: "Hairy knees."

It wasn't just me that had noticed this. All of us had developed hairy knees while travelling. Prior to starting a world tour at the begging of 1999 I had been working in an office in London and had worn a suit every day. The trousers of the suit had, presumably, rubbed or caught and pulled the hairs off my knees. I had noticed that there was short stubble on my knees but had never questioned why.

After I'd been travelling for a few months, and had only been wearing shorts because it was summer, the hair had had a chance to grow back and for the first time ever I had hairy knees.

Office Rowing Team

I worked for a company in London that had a half American, half British, and half international staff. Yes, there were 150% of us working there. We needed that number of people because one third of the company was slacking off in the pub most of the time.

During the summer months we'd play softball in Hyde Park against other companies with whom we had business relationships. Because softball is not taught in British schools, nobody is very co-ordinated at the sport and it is much like watching the special Olympics - except we weren't that good.

When I saw this video clip of the Office Rowing Team I suddenly realized that we should never have been playing softball against each other. This must be the ultimate inter-company sport.

When arranging a team to play softball it was often difficult to find enough players and one had to wander around the office cajoling and threatening your colleagues to play. If that didn't work you had to go down to the homeless shelter and pay some of them to be on your team.

One week, one of our American colleagues was visiting our office and I tried to get him to play with us. He was very reluctant because at school in California he was never very good at sports and especially not softball he told me. He really didn't want to play. I forget what I bribed him with but eventually I got him to come and play with us.

To our surprise, and his, he was remarkably good at the game and easily one of the top scorers. What he hadn't realized was that he was coming from an environment where everyone can swing a baseball bat to the land of spastics. As they say, in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. In this case, in the land of mal-co-ordinated... (I couldn't think of an appropriate ending for that).

Having discovered how good he was (relative to our gang) he started planning all his UK visits around our softball games. He had to make frequent trips to the UK office and would insist that we email him the softball schedule so he could get in at least 2 games while there.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Profit share - beware

Having an accounting background I know about profits. Profits are whatever you want them to be. If you've promised your staff 50% of this year's profits then the easy way to eliminate that obligation is to pay yourself an enormous salary bonus performance check before the end of the year and eliminate all profits. Wasn't that easy? No need to pay all the minions your company's money.

The savvy employee will request a revenue share instead of a profit share. It's up to management and the accountants to watch the expenses. Usually, your impact is on the revenue of the company only and not on the expenses side. That way you are being rewarded for the part that you can influence and side-step any creative accounting that your company may be seduced by.

I thought that I'd write this while I was unemployed so that it wouldn't look like I was pointing a finger at a company that employed me.

How significant is your (my) blog?

Exceptionally insignificant. Not only because hardly anybody reads it (which makes it safe for me to spout my mouth off about anything - very cathartic), but because:

On July 31, 2006, Technorati tracked its 50 millionth blog.

That means that if you have a blog, it's 0.000002% of all blogs out there. (That's five zeros after the point.)

If a small country like Belize (population: 287,730) wanted to keep up-to-date with all the blogs on listed by Technorati (which isn't an exhausted list of all blogs) it would have to assign 174 blogs to each citizen. Luckily Belize has 240 miles (386km) of coastline with white sand beaches, warm crystal clear Caribbean sea and fantastic diving so it doesn't have to.

Direction, Time and Location

You've probably seen the a photo in a magazine or on the net and under it there's the question "where in the world is this?"

One of the features that I like about my digital camera is the date and time stamp. I never put the date and time on the actual photo but I keep the time/date on the camera up-to-date so when I transfer the photos to the computer I know that the details are accurate. I admit that when I travel I frequently forget to reset the camera's clock to local time. I'm guessing that 90% of people do so as well.

There are a couple more features that I think would be neat in a digital camera. GPS and a compass. Of course this information would need to be saved with the photo. Can you imagine being able to link your photos to Google Earth with the exact co-ordinates of where you were, which direction the camera was facing and the date and time that the photo was taken? That would be awesome.

Obviously the technology is available to do this but I have not yet seen a camera advertised that stamps a location and direction on to the photos that it takes. But then, I don't read the photography web sites so perhaps this idea is already well in production and already available. If it is, please hit the comment link and let me know.

Creative Math

I received an email today from a friend with some amusing math-not-so-correct examples as attached images. You may have seen them but I thought that this one was good by a student named Peter.

Expand: (a+b)^n

His solution:


Very amusing :)

This takes me back to my teens and some math that I did at school. We were doing vectors and were told by our missing-link math teacher that if we didn't underline the letter in the equation then it wasn't a vector but a variable and there'd be big trouble. We took him seriously because he usually hit us around the head if we didn't listen. Although I was an A-student at math I didn't respect the feeble and simple minded teachers we had teaching us and so was somewhat of a rebel and a favorite target for teachers.

Our close-descendant-of-cave-man math teacher had set us some exercises to do and was cruising up and down the aisles of the silent classroom looking over our shoulders. I felt a whack on the back of the head and my nose hit the desk. When the stars stopped spinning I could see Hall thudding his index finger on my paper.
Hall: "You forgot to underline a vector Ellis."
Me: "That's not a vector sir, that's a variable."
Hall stopped tapping his finger and moved on without saying anything more. About 10 minutes later he was doing an example on the blackboard and I noticed that he hadn't underlined one of the vectors.
"Sir," I shouted out, "you haven't underlined vector k in the second row."
Hall took a couple of steps back from the board and took a look at what he was writing and then went back and underlined the vector that he'd missed earlier.
Dave Baker, who shared a desk with me, piped up: "Sir, can Ellis hit you on head?"
There was a small amount of laughter which quickly stopped when Hall turned around.
"Watch it Baker," Hall said, "or you'll find yourself exiting the room face first."

And that is how we studied math in the early 80's at one of the most expensive schools in South Africa.

Later on that term we were set mid year exams. There were about 100 of us in my year and we all had to do math. The first question in the exam involved vectors and whoever had set the exam forgot to underline one of the variables in the question. I knew how to solve the question and what they wanted but I just wrote "solution not possible because of a mix of variables and vectors" - or something like that. One other person (Raymond McLucky) did the same as me but the other 98 elected to spend the 10 minutes required to answer the question. It didn't really bother that I might score 0 for the question because I knew I'd get the rest of the paper right and still get an A which is a rare luxury that a student might have; That is to test the resilience of the examiners to face up to their errors.

Our teachers were the last people that would ever admit that they were wrong and so it came as a shock that I was given full marks for that question. I was warned that I'd sailed extremely close to the wind and not to do it again - advice which I immediately ignored because of where it came from.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The 3rd Movie Trailer - Kill Bill Trailer 3

This is not the 3rd best movie trailer ever so I'm not going to pretend that it is but there is a theme running here (best movie trailer ever, 2nd best movie trailer ever) so I'll at least call it the 3rd of the trilogy and put it up here for completeness. You will have seen about half of it already from the other two trailers.

Budd (played by Michael Madsen) says "That woman deserves her revenge, and we deserve to die," and sets a new Hollywood record and is nominated for an Oscar in the category of 'Longest time taken to say a 10 word sentence which the audience can understand and follow.' Rumors have been quashed that all sentences in future films will be spoken at this speed because of the dumbing down of America.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Into the sunset

Subtitled: You can fly can you?

I've noticed a trait among the human race when they arrive at airport check-ins. I call it Asshole Syndrome or AS for short. Many people suffer from this dreaded disease that only shows up during check-in or on the way to check-in and almost exclusively at airports.

I believe that it started with commercial airliners. There was a certain prestige associated with being able to afford to travel by air which incited an air of importance among those travellers. This feeling of importance lingers on today in all air passengers and they feel insulted if they, the very people who have paid for these tickets, are made to wait 5 minutes in line to check-in. A person who is pleasant enough on the street or in any other social milieu suddenly becomes an A-hole during check-in.

There's a second reason that compounds AS. A lot of these people are afraid of flying and channel that fear into arrogant behavior. (If only I'd taken a psych credit at university - I'd have so much more credibility with my theories.)

I am reminded of an email joke that I saw years ago but I have no doubt that it is still circling the net and will be through to the end of time:
At a busy check-in a man pushes to the front of the line and demands to be checked-in. He is told to go and stand in line like everyone else.
"Do you know who I am?" He demands.
The check-in assistant picks up the PA microphone and announces, "this man does not know who he is, can anyone help?"

2nd best movie trailer ever - Kill Bill Trailer 2

This is the second in a trilogy of trailers for a duology of films. In the title I've called it the second best movie trailer ever but that's just to allow me to follow a theme (Best movie trailer ever). I'm not sure if I believe that it's the second best movie trailer ever but it's right up there among the best.

Google (I am Google's bitch as well as Wikipedia's) tell me, when I use their "define:" syntax, that the words duology and dilogy do not exist in the dictionary. However, wikipedia comes up with a winner and says:

Duology also known as dilogy is a set of two works of art, usually literature or film, that develop a single theme over two works.
(Source: Wikipedia - Duology)

I quote Uma Thurman from this video clip: "Now I'm about to go on what the movie advertisements refer to as a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and as sure as God made little green apples I will Kill Bill."

Can't think of a better way to start a day than with a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against my granola - I'll drown it in milk - just watch me.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Best onscreen kiss ever

What is the best onscreen kiss that you have ever seen? Was it in Casablanca? Or perhaps in Sleepless in Seattle? Or in Basic Instinct? (If you remember the kiss from Basic Instinct then you were focusing on the wrong parts.)

I have a video clip of what I think was probably the best onscreen kiss ever. It's 18 seconds long so no matter how bad your A.D.D is you will be able to last all the way through to the end of it.

I'll show you the clip in about a week's time. In the meantime I want you to think about what the best onscreen kiss you've ever seen.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Automating the silent alarm in bank robberies

I have an idea about how to automate the pressing of the silent alarm when a bank robbery takes place without any of the bank staff having to actually take the risk of pressing the alarm.

I assume that bank robbers are always armed and one of the dangers of pressing the silent alarm when there's a bank robbery is that the robber(s) will see the bank employee do it and injure or kill the staff member. So the trick is to have the alarm automatically triggered without anyone having to touch anything.

Here is my amazing idea:

All of the employees wear heart-rate monitors which transmit their heart-rates via wireless technology to some monitoring equipment in the branch. The machine self-calibrates each employee to a heart-rate range. You can see where I'm going can't you?

If a gang of bank robbers storm the bank then everyone's heart-rates are going to go way above their normal range. The monitoring equipment would see this and automatically and immediately trigger the silent alarm.

So far so good. An employee's heart-rate jumps way out of the range and the alarm is tripped.

But there are problems with this. If we base the silent alarm auto-trigger on the rate of one employee then it may go off accidentally if an employee's heart-rate started racing for an innocent reason. Say the teller sees a customer that they thought was really hot and then started flirting with the customer. Heart-rates could race under this condition.

Okay, so we modify the system such that at least two employees need to have racing hearts to trigger the alarm. Again we hit another problem. What if two of the bank's employees slip into the bathroom together and have sex and forget to disable or remove their monitors? That would trigger the alarm - I'm guessing.

To combat that we could configure the system such that the majority of employees (or at least a large number relative to the number of employees that would be in the robbery vicinity) would have to have racing hearts to trigger the alarm.

That works but there is a type of bank robbery that this would fail on. I believe that many bank robberies involve a single robber approaching a single clerk with a gun and doing it very quietly without anyone else in the bank noticing.

To get around this you would probably need a hybrid system. If one person's heart started racing (especially someone who could be robbed like a teller) then other people in the bank would be alerted via a silent or other type of system. These people would be any security personnel, other tellers, and managers. A paging device would vibrate in their pockets letting them know which employee's heart was on the go. The employee's pager would not vibrate because the signal would not be transmitted to the source of the fast heart. That way the other personnel in the bank could look over in the direction of the high-heart-rate employee and take appropriate action if necessary. If the employee's spouse is there with a large expensive gift then no action necessary.

I think that I have improved the potential security of banks in high tech countries with a simple blog post. Unfortunately, I have not found a solution that will allow bank employees to slip into the toilets together and have sex while wearing their devices. My advice is just to take them off with your clothes before you do it.

The heart-rate monitors could be tiny devices that you wear like a watch so are not obtrusive or uncomfortable.
The heart-rate monitoring machine could also be used to improve the health of employees by watching their heart-rates over time and alerting to unusual changes.

Best movie trailer ever - Kill Bill Trailer 1

The Trailer for Kill Bill Vol I is, in my opinion (notice it's not humble today), the best trailer that has ever been made for any movie. Every time I see the trailer I want to see the film again. The music is perfect - one cannot go without the other.

At one point Lucy Liu says to her henchmen "Ya shima na" which I am guessing translates to something like "beat her to a pulp and bring me the juicy bits." I have in the past asked a Japanese friend of mine what ya shima na means but she did not know.

The only dialogue in the trailer is:
Lucy Liu: "You didn't think it was going to be that easy did you?"
Uma Thurman: "You know, for a second there, yeah, I kinda did."

There is another exchange that I particularly enjoyed which was between Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) and Elle Driver (played by Daryl Hannah). Kiddo unsheathes Budd's Hattori Hanso sword.
Elle: "Budd told me that he had pawned his sword."
Kiddo: "I guess that would make him a liar now wouldn't it?"
…and then they go on to a fight scene that made it to the top 5 film fights for that year on the MTV film fight award list. I'm not sure if it won or not. I leave that as an exercise for the reader to lookup on the web and post as a comment to this posting. (i.e. I'm too lazy/busy/useless to search and find it myself.)

Anyway, I thought of something that I thought would be amusing - I did this about 2 years ago. I set up the video camera to record me looking straight ahead and then I slowly turned to face the camera and with a straight face said: "Andy says that he's better than me at golf." I then spliced in the part of Kill Bill where Uma Thurman says "I guess that would make him a liar now wouldn't it?"

I thought that this was hilarious. I sent it off to Andy but got no response. When I talked to him sometime later I asked him what he thought. "I couldn't really hear what she said," he said. Maybe it wasn't that funny...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Babel - another Syriana?

The trailer for this film looks very good! It also has both Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett who are both, in my humble (humble yeah right!) opinion, excellent actors. It also has another actor that many of you may not have heard of and that's Gael Garcia Bernal who starred in Amores Perros and the recently release film about Che Guevara's travels around South America on a motorbike. The book was called The Motorcycle Diaries and the film is probably called the same but I don't recall.

I also respect Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the director from Amores Perros, who happens to also have directed this movie and is probably the reason that Bernal is in it.

So everything is looking good for this moving EXCEPT the trailer looks just like the trailer for Syriana did and I hated that movie. Okay I'm going over the top. I probably didn't hate Syriana but I certainly wouldn't watch it again.

Toll to toll - were you speeding?

I have driven on toll roads where you get a ticket at the beginning of the toll section and when you exit the toll road through a slip road or at the end of the toll section then you punch your ticket and pay for the section of highway that you used. I have also heard of this type of toll road giving you a fine at the same time as the charge for the section of road you were using when you exit. When you put your ticket in the machine at the exit toll, it reads the time you entered the toll road and if your average speed from start to exit is higher than the speed limit then you've obviously been speeding so it fines you for that as well.

As I said, I've heard of this but have never seen it and to date it is only possible that it exists in the USA. Today, however, I did read this about the police in France.

In some cases, the gendarmes locate themselves at toll booths on motorways, and fine drivers who have arrived at the exit toll booth too soon since taking a ticket at the entry toll booth. A common tactic by long-distance drivers is therefore to take any breaks (for meals etc) on tolled sections of road rather than untolled sections, thereby reducing their average speed between the toll booths.

The French are usually fairly quick to pick-up on technology so it surprised me to read that they were using their police force to issue the fines and not automating it.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Average, Good and Incredible News

When categorizing this next little news snippet it went straight into the Incredible News category.

Diamonds are no longer a girl's best friend, according to a new U.S. study that found three of four women would prefer a new plasma TV to a diamond necklace.

The Girls Gone Wired survey of 1,400 women and 700 men aged 15 to 49, which was conducted by market researcher TRU, found that given the choice, women would opt for tech items rather than luxury items like jewelry or vacations.

The study found 77 percent of women surveyed would prefer a new plasma television to a diamond solitaire necklace and 56 percent would opt for a new plasma TV over a weekend vacation in Florida.

Is this true? Or is it a very good dream?

(Source: Information Week)