Saturday, December 27, 2008

Himalayan Grill Flagstaff

I have to write about this restaurant because it's the best Indian food I've tasted in America and one of the best (yet hardly known) restaurants in Arizona. It's the Himalayan Grill and it can be found at 801 S Milton Ave in Flagstaff, Arizona.

This evening we had the Shrimp Saag and Chicken Tikka Masala, both to die for. For the last 2 years they've won Best Indian and this year Best Ethnic as well. One thing that makes them stand out though is the fantastic service. They're exceptionally accommodating and very friendly. This is the fourth time that we've been there and we wish they'd open a branch in Phoenix.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Target Gift Card

I was wondering what I was going to do with the $60 Target gift card that I'd been given by a friend for Christmas when a spark of an idea entered my head.

I took the gift card to Target and bought six $10 gift cards. One of them I gave back to the person who'd given me the $60 card and the other five I gave to six friends (two of them I told to share a card).

So, dear reader, the question is, can you be cheaper than me?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Automatic Millionaire summary

I mentioned that I was reading The Automatic Millionaire and that it was making me poorer. That was obviously tongue-in-cheek and generally I think that this is a good book. I learned nothing from this book because I already knew or was doing everything mentioned and more.

The one thing that I very much disagreed with the author (David Bach) on was the rainy day (emergency) fund that he recommended that people set-up. Personally I think that this is a bad thing if you own a house.

Your emergency fund has a multiple of your monthly spending to tide you over if you are unemployed or otherwise need emergency cash. This is sitting in a rolling CD or savings account earning 2%. It is also money that you will hopefully never need and so will most likely sit there for years. You are also being taxed on this 2%.

A much better option, in my opinion, is to put that money into your mortgage where it will save you 6% to 7% (tax free). Then setup a HELOC against your house that you never use except for that emergency. If you do the math, then you'll see that the cost of using an 8% to 9% is very cheap compared to the rainy-day fund because you will never or rarely use it and when you do you'll pay it down first instead of making extra payments to your mortgage.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Phoenix Light Pantless Rail

The Merciless Flirt has an interesting post today called C'mon 'n ride it: No Pants on the Phoenix Light Rail. Apparently the 8th annual no pants subway ride takes place in New York on Saturday, 10 January and if she gets her way we'll be pantless on the Phoenix Light Rail on that day as well. Sounds good to me.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Joan Jett and The Blackhearts

I remember rocking to Joan Jett and The Blackhearts' I Love Rock N' Roll in the early 80's as a teenager and never thought that I'd be doing it again 25 years later but this time just 10 yards from her playing live.

Our company hired Joan Jett and The Blackhearts as the feature band for the evening at our Xmas party. Before that we had 38 Special and (separately) Sinbad the comedian.

I'd never heard of Sinbad but was impressed with his impromptu and he had me laughing out loud a couple of times.

Joan Jett Rocks!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Automatic Millionaire

I've recently started reading The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach. I'm still at the beginning of it and so far haven't learned anything new and have gained nothing from it. However, I hold out high hopes that there will be at least one small nugget of information hidden somewhere in there.

The book discusses the Latte Factor which is a fairly widely known concept that cutting out your daily latte and muffin and investing it in the market will make you a millionaire over your working life.

However, this has had the opposite effect on me. Before I started reading the book I would never buy a latte. Now that I read about lattes everyday I've developed a craving for them and I'm started to drink them. Perhaps this book will change me from a potential automatic-millionaire to a nothing...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Polo Sticks

I was walking past the Ralph Lauren shop in the Biltmore Fashion Park and noticed their fine polo sticks in the window. You can never have too many polo sticks and these were splendid looking sticks.

There was, however, one small problem. The mallets had beige shafts and my string of polo ponies are chestnut. It would obviously be a fashion faux paux to mix beige sticks with chestnut ponies so I passed on the purchase.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New hire boosts productivity

Our team of three recently hired a new employee and instead of boosting productivity by 33% as expected it's jumped by 100%. I think that we've discovered a new incentive...

Our team consists of only men. We had a choice of hiring anybody we wanted. We decided that we could hire someone with comparable skills or a smoking hot babe with no skills. We choose the latter.

The babe now sits in a corner of our office and says and does nothing. At midday, whoever has been most productive gets to go to lunch with our new team member.

[Edit: This blog post is about a fictional employee working in a fictional team at a fictional company. Don't confuse this with real life.]

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Kidney Stone

Yesterday (1 November 2008) I had the pleasure of passing this kidney stone. I say pleasure because it's wonderful to know exactly what caused all this pain. It's amazing that something so bloody small can cause so much pain.

The pain hit me shortly after eating my wife's excellent chicken curry so you can guess who's cooking immediately got the blame for the pain. I'm still trying to work out how to dig myself out of that one. I'm thinking diamonds and gold.

She graciously took me to the ER and shortly after checking in the pain disappeared completely and the staff were convinced from the symptoms that it was a kidney stone.

I was not so convinced because about 15 months ago I ended up in the same ER with the same symptoms and the standard pain killer for kidney stones did nothing to alleviate the pain and the CAT scan showed up nothing.

After seeing the stone I am now a believer. It's a great relief knowing what caused all this pain. I think that having pain without knowing what causes it is always a worry because you don't know what to research or adjust to prevent it from happening again.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wild Fiction - the novel

I've finally got my one and only novel (Wild Fiction) back up on the web. The web site isn't finished yet but I believe that it's now usuable and you can read the book here: Wild Fiction

Friday, October 24, 2008

Family Planning Advice

I've been living in the USA for a while now and one of the things that I missed from England was the NHS and the excellent (and "free") service that I would receive from this marvelous institution.
I recently received this image showing the type of advice that's now being given out by the NHS. I don't think that I miss it anymore.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Close your eyes

My wife was on the Wii Fit this morning and I noticed that the background of the screen went black which I'd never seen before. I asked her why that was and she said that it was because she was supposed to be doing this exercise with her eyes close.

I then realized that the reason that I'd never seen that screen was because when the Wii Fit told me to close my eyes I closed them.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Guy's Bathroom Laws

Guy's Bathroom Laws
  1. You will only discover that the lock on the bathroom door of your new house does not work when you get your first guests. 
  2. If your brother is passed out in the bathroom with his head just to the left of the toilet bowl and you try and use the toilet standing up you will miss to the left.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


When was the last time you went to the drive-in? I think it was in 1982 - about 26 years ago. This evening we went to the drive-in at 5650 N. 55th Ave., Glendale, AZ, 85301 - run by West Winds Drive-Ins. There are 9 screens there.

The last time I was at a drive it you picked the sound box off a post and hung it on your window. Now you tune your radio station to a given channel to get the sound.

We took our SUV and parked it backwards and had an inflatable mattress already pumped up in the back with the seats folded down and a few cushions. Popcorn, pretzels and beer. It's still pretty hot out so we had to keep the windows down. A number of people had chairs out and plenty of kids running around.

We watched Tropic Thunder (average to bad) and then the first half of Iron Man which was enjoyable up to when we left (had to get home for a call) and it looked like it could have had potential.

We'll definitely be doing that again. Next time might try the one in Scottsdale.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Gas Saving Tips

Are you tired of reading the endless lists of things that you can do to save gas? I am, but I bet you haven't heard of this one.

When you and your buddy decide to take your bikes into the desert for a ride roll up to the pump just after he's started filling and as he's finishing take off the gas cap and ask him to top up your tank. Doesn't even appear on your credit card.

Thanks Graeme!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Motion Sick in Bed

I've just been evicted from the bed while sitting on it and brushing my teeth because my vigorous brushing was rocking the bed and making my wife motion sick.

Getting Paid to look at Topless Photos

Today I was working away on a project which involved looking at emails that our automated software had been unable to process into our customer management system. Although solving the problem was technically interesting it became more so when one of the emails had photos of topless babes. Can the day get any better?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Property Tax

I just got my property tax bill today and I'm a bit confused by it. The total is due in 2 equal parts, the first on 1 October 2008 and the second on 1 March 2009. That part I understand. Then it goes on to say "For tax amounts more than $100, if the entire amount is paid in full by 31 December 2008, no interest is charged."

This leads me to believe that I will be charged interest if I follow their instructions and pay it in two parts. What do you think?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Evaluating a job

About 15 years ago I came up with 4 criteria to evaluate my current job and have since used them to evaluate jobs that I've applied for. They are:
  1. People - Do I like the people I work with? (Would I voluntarily go out to dinner with them?) Are they clever, creative, inspiring, and supportive? Do they challenge me and help me to progress?
  2. Location - Is this the country, and city that I want to live in? Is my commute enjoyable or can I easily make it enjoyable? Is the office located somewhere I want to work? (e.g. what other business are next door?)
  3. Work - Is this the type of work that I want to be doing? Is the company moving in the direction that the work that I'll be given be the type of work that I want to do?
  4. Remuneration - Is the package good?

I allocate a rating for each one on a scale of 1 to 10 and then add it up. Anything above 30 is a good score.

There are times when you'll sacrifice one of the points for more of another because it brings your overall score up. A case in point:

My wife recently changed jobs so that she now works from home (doing the same job) rather than work in a store. For that she took a pay cut. Although we didn't use these 4 points to explicitly evaluate her new job we would have probably reduced point 4 by 2 points. However, she loves working from home so point 2 has probably gone from a score of 2 to 10 for a net gain of 6 points.

Your job score might change from month to month so evaluate it and write it down and check it every now and then.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Suzuki DRZ-400

I have a new ride. It's a Suzuki DRZ-400. It's too tall for me to touch my feet flat on either side but when I become obese I'm hoping that I'll be able to weigh the shocks down enough to flat foot it.

It's great fun in the desert but a bit slow on the open road. I'm planning on a trip from Lake Pleasant up to Crown King via the forest back roads in the next few months. Let me know if you're interested in joining me.

Allergic to Unicorns

I was just watching a movie (Stardust) which has a unicorn and a thought suddenly struck me, am I allergic to unicorns? I'm allergic to horses and unicorns look damn like horses so their genetic makeup might be similar so I could well be allergic to them. I know that this is going to bother me for a long time - or until I find the answer.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Airline Fat Tax

Because of the cost of fuel, airlines are looking for ways to keep their prices the same and yet still make a profit. To do this they've started charging for trivial items that you don't need to consume on a flight like water, pillows, and blankets.

To reduce the cost of fuel that they burn, arguably the only but definitely the largest variable cost that the flight will bear they've started to reduce the weight of the plane by carrying less fuel and replacing the heavy metal food carts with plastic ones.

How else can airlines reduce the weight that they carry and therefore their costs?

One way to do this is to charge each passenger by weight (both body biomass and luggage) instead of by "piece." A person weighing 300 lbs is going to cost more to move across the country than a person weighing 150 lbs. Just ask the pilot of a Cessna.

At first blush this may seem unfair because you're taxing the fat. This is discrimination dammit!

But is it?

Are we not already discriminating against the passengers whose combined body and luggage weight is below the average? Are they not paying an implicit subsidy for their heavier co-passengers? I think so.

If it costs the airline (say) $1 per pound in fuel to fly our biomass and luggage from Phoenix to New York and our total weight is 30,000 lbs then it's going to cost the airline $30,000 in fuel. If that 30,000 lbs is represented by 200 passengers weighing an average of 150 lbs each then the airline is going to have to charge each passenger at least $150 just to cover the fuel costs.

Now consider that 100 of those passengers each weigh 200 lbs and the other 100 each weigh 100 lbs. It's going to cost the airline $200 per heavy person and $100 per light person to move them across the country. The total cost to the airline remains unchanged at $30,000. However, the lighter passengers are paying $50 more and the heavier passengers $50 less for the costs that they contribute towards.

What would happen if an airline were to implement a fat tax policy?
What if they were to diplomatically call it an "underweight discount" instead of a fat tax?
Would that airline attract lighter people?
Would fat people boycott that airline? If they did, that would shift the fuel cost from this airline and onto other airlines. Good or bad?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


I have no idea how we got on to this subject but a co-worker described a Chuckwalla to me and when I heard the description I realized that I'd seen one on a hike at Pinnacle Peak on 4 August 2007.

I must confess that I didn't recall the exact date (or the year) but when I found the photo my ability to read the date off the image file didn't let me down.

This is apparently a large lizard (could you tell?) and part of the genus Sauromalus and the iguana family.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Flush the Toilet

I was listening to an interesting podcast this morning. One of the hosts said that the acid test to see if someone can really speak a language that they claim to speak is to ask them if they know how to say "flush the toilet" in that language.

Apparently each language has its own idiomatic way to express this. In French you would say "pull the chain." In Spanish you would say "tirar de la cadena." I didn't know that until right now so I can't claim to be able to speak Spanish.

I wonder, however, about languages such as Zulu. Do they really have an idiomatic way to express something that is so new to the culture/language? Please could all the Zulu speakers who read this respond with a comment...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Size of Head

My wife sometimes tells me that I have a big head. This evening I had cause to measure it and discovered that it's 57cm which lead me to looking up my head size and I discovered that in fact I have a medium sized head which is defined as:

57-58cm or 22 3/8 - 22 3/4 inches and a hat size of 7 1/8 - 7 1/4.

Do you know your hat size?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wii Fit

We've just bought a Wii Fit and I'm very impressed. I've been wondering how the Balance Board would help and now I think I know how.

When you're setting up the Wii Fit it records your height (you need to input that) and weight (it measures that).

If you're doing something like a lunge you're supposed to put a certain percent (I'm guessing 50%) of your weight on your front leg. Because this leg is on the Balance Board the Wii Fit can measure the percent of your weight on that leg and provides a marker on the screen showing you if you need to put more or less weight there.

I've now used it twice in two days. I'm sure I'm going to post more about this soon...

Triple Digits at Midnight

I'm guessing that we finally hit triple digits at midnight last night. I was watching telly and noticed at 11:35pm that it was 102 but forgot to check again at midnight. I keep an eye on Rob's Blog to let me know the first triple digit midnight of the year and he mentioned a few days ago that he thought it was close.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Mongoose XR-Comp

A couple of months ago I bought a Mongoose XR-Comp mountain bike. Over the last 2 months I've covered about 380 miles on it, mostly over desert terrain. I really like this bike, however, I had to return it to Wal-Mart because of the quality of the inner tubes and unavailability of aftermarket alternatives to the inner tubes that Pacific Cycles provide with the bike.

During the two months that I had the bike both the front and back tire inner tubes split. I am guessing that this happened for one or both of the following reasons: (1) The inner tube supplied is 1/4 inch smaller in diameter than the wheel diameter and/or (2) they are very low quality.

Usually this wouldn't be a concern because you can buy high quality replacements from companies like Bell. However, because of the design of the wheels these inner tubes require an extra long valve stem and even though I live in the 6th largest city in the US no one carries stock of this type of inner tube. Even if they did it's inconvenient having to replace one a month.

The only way that I managed to replace the inner tubes was by calling Pacific Cycle on the East Coast and having them shipped which means that I have to pay for postage as well as the new inner tubes.

When I read the reviews about this bike there was one person who marked the bike as "not recommended" for the sole reason of the inability to buy an inner tube. I'm not sure why that didn't concern me at the time but it should have. If Pacific Cycle stop making or supplying those inner tubes then the wheels on this bike become useless and your have to spend several hundred dollars replacing the wheels.

It's a real pity because it's a great mountain bike.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dead Roadrunner

I decided that I'd had enough of the roadrunner so on Wednesday evening I went out and bought a shotgun. One of the great things about living in the United States is that all you need to buy a gun is some sort of ID (I borrowed a friends library card) and hard cash.

It was 12-gauge, double barrel and with a hacksaw from Ace Hardware I reduced the barrels to a manageable length.

So I was cruising down the path this morning with the shotgun taped to the handlebars like a rotating tail gunner from a Lancaster Bomber when I saw the little bastard at the usually spot. It froze as if staring down the barrel of a gun. I grabbed the stock with my left hand and squeezed both triggers in its direction but hit the desert scrub to its left and raised a cloud of dust that I had to cough through.

Now remember that I haven't even slowed down at this point. I reloaded by holding the stock between my legs and shoving 2 more AAA's into the barrel. By now the roadrunner had taken off but was still in front of me unable to leave the path because of a high wall and line of trees.

This time it was easier to aim because it was holding a steady height above the ground and not quivering. I decided to let rip with one barrel at a time. The wide spread passed just below it to the right knocking him slightly up and left. The choke barrel caught it up the tail and it exploded into a cloud of feathers.

I swallowed a fist full of feathers as I sailed through the aftermath and set a new record cycling to work.

Of course I ditched the shotgun behind a bush before I got to work because we're not allowed to guns at our desks.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Double Roadrunners

There were two of them waiting for me this morning. By the time I saw them they were already running at full speed along the path. I tried to work out which one was the regular one I'd been racing against but couldn't tell - they looked identical.

I couldn't help wondering if they were a husband/wife team taking me on or Roadrunner Olympic Contestants. I'd like to think the latter.

They'd obviously planned this. We arrived at a fork in the path and they split. My regular fork at that point is slightly uphill so I selected the easier route. I think this took them by surprise as I quickly caught my single competitor and forced it into the bushes.

Again I am victorious!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Reach 11 Bobcat

Yesterday (9 June 2008) evening I was cycling back home through Reach 11 and came across a bobcat on the track. My first thought was "wow, a bobcat on the track." My second thought was "is this the roadrunner's doing?"

For those that know Reach 11 I saw the bobcat in the section between Tatum and 56th on the paved path just north of the perennial pond. As soon as it saw me it dashed back into the undergrowth on the north side of the pond.

This morning there was no sign of the roadrunner. I'm sure it's plotting something...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Tricked Roadrunner

I was cruising down the path this morning keeping a beady eye out for the roadrunner. Around a corner I came across it but it ran right past me in the wrong direction. I slowed down and looked back to see it standing in the path, that look of bewilderment hanging off its beak.

My guess is that the roadrunner doesn't understand the concept of weekends and thought that because it hadn't seen me on the Saturday or Sunday that I'd given up and wasn't coming back to the races.

How very wrong it was and how very easily I beat it today.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Sneaky Roadrunner

The roadrunner made an unexpectedly early appearance this morning. I was still mulling over this morning's race strategies when it (gender neutral) appeared in the path.

Usually it starts to run as soon as we lock eyes on each other but this morning it just stood there. I started pushing hard on the pedals expecting it to take off running at any minute.

As I drew up to where it was standing a Gambel's Quail with 5 tiny chicks came running out of the bush right across the path. I slammed on brakes and came to a skidding sideways stop just managing not to wreck.

After the dust had settled there were no witnesses left except myself. The roadrunner had disappeared into the bushes with its accomplices. I disqualified the roadrunner and declared myself the winner.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Roadrunner cheats

I was cycling to work today as usually and the roadrunner appears again except this time a little earlier along the ride than before and at the beginning of a decline for me. This gave me a distinct advantage. I changed into a higher gear and pedalled hard. The roadrunner increased his (it must be a male because it's so bloody competitive) speed and I increased mine.

For the first time I drew up parallel to him and knew I was going to overtake him. That's when the bastard cheated and took off and started to fly and rose up to eye level with me. I stared him straight in the eye and he returned my glare and then I decided that if he was cheating so was I. As we approached a tree I took a quick swerve to the right and tried to head-butt him. Lucky for him he swerved out the way but had to go around the tree.

When he appeared again on the line of the path, still flying, he was a few yards behind me and I saw him land and give up. He just stood there in the path with a bewildered look on his face.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Racing Roadrunner

On my cycle to work I come across many small desert animals as part of my ride is along the Central Arizona Project canal. Desert cottontails, gophers, squirrels etc.

The last 2 days I've encountered a roadrunner. I'm not sure if it's the same one - I'm guessing yes. Like the Racing Lizard this roadrunner has been racing me.

Roadrunners can run at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour (24 km/h) and generally prefer sprinting to flying. I cycle along that part of the desert at around 12 MPH. The roadrunner keeps a steady pace ahead of me and when I push a bit faster he (or she) picks up the pace to keep the same distance. When we get to the end of the path the roadrunner turns off and disappears into the bushes.

Did the roadrunner win or did I? I think it was yours truly because the roadrunner gave up and I continued.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Image IQ #6

What is this building or what is it used for? In which cities and states could you find this or similar buildings?

I had a bit of fun blurring the name out of the picture so you couldn't read what it is. I thought that the word pixelate was the correct verb nowadays for blur but it turns out that (excellent paint replacement for windows) uses the very blur for the function of blur. Had I used the obvious it wouldn't have taken me so long to find.

Friday, April 25, 2008

No trespassing beyond this point

I recently came across this sign just outside the Continetal Golf Course which said "NO TRESPASSING BEYOND THIS POINT". Is it just me or does the English and logic appear to be wrong? I get the impression that trespassing BEFORE this point is okay but BEYOND this point is not okay...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The time is right to reach your goals

The fortune cookie (which I rarely eat) that came with lunch today said "THE TIME IS RIGHT TO REACH YOUR GOALS." The caps are theirs not mine.

This couldn't be more off target. They've given it to a man who has no goals.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wellness Score

Work is having a wellness drive and we've been encouraged to fill out a wellness survey with our health provider. Apparently I'm 96 well and 4 unwell. I'm not sure what the units are, perhaps it's percent. If so, I think that the 4% unwellness is my nose which is easily big enough to represent 4% of my body and has been sneezing recently.

Aparently I don't eat enough fruit and veg...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I sweat asymmetrically

I wear a helmet when cycling to work and I've been doing this for a few months now. Yesterday I noticed that the right strap that keeps the helmet on my noggin has turned white and stiff from salt crystals. Careful inspection of the left strap shows no salt. I can only conclude from this that I'm a right-hand-side sweater or as we in the sweating business call it right-asymmetrical-sweater.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I dreamt in Sixes

I had a wacky dream last night. It was about bees and their math. I dreamt that the reason that bees create combs with six sided hexagon shapes is because, as insects, they have six legs and hence count to the base six.

Computers count in binary, 1's and 0's. That's because each of place in memory can be either on or off. Humans count in decimal because we have 10 digits, 8 of which we call fingers and 2 thumbs.

It's obvious then that bees should use base 6 to count and that should make it equally obvious why the cells in honeycomb are hexagonal.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Talking Stick

I've just discovered what the Navajo's Talking Stick is. I always thought that it was magical stick that spoke to the Shaman. It turns out that in debates or council meetings, only the person holding the talking stick can talk. If you want to talk you have to wait until the stick is passed to you and you cannot take it. How cool is that? The next time I go drinking with Vern and Rob I'm taking a Talking Stick along with me. Then at least I'll get to say something...

Lost Miles

A friend at work introduced me to a really cool site: which allows you to measure your hike/walk etc. On the plus side this is great because it means that I can accurately measure my cycle to work. On the down side I discovered that I'm cycling 7 miles and not 7.6 so I'm losing 1.2 miles a day or a total of 29.4 miles since I started this route.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Racing Lizards

My cycle to work takes me along 6 miles of the Central Arizona Project Canal (CAPC). I'm kept out of the water by an 8 foot fence. This fence is also troublesome for the wildlife that are in the track which are trying to get out of the way of the bike. They are mostly desert cottontails, quail, and lizards. Eventually they find a hole in the fence and dart through before I catch up to them. The quail remember that they can fly and take off at the last minute.

This morning a large lizard took off next to me and kept pace for about 100 yards. It never found a hole and eventually just stopped. I couldn't work out if he'd stopped because he was exhausted and had run out of steam or just didn't consider me a threat anymore.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Blogger's Captcha

Whenever I post a blog to this blog here on Wild Fiction I get asked to answer and solve a captcha. I'm sure you have seen this type of thing before and are familiar with it so I'm not going to explain it.

Here is the captcha that I've been given for this blog post before it will "go live."

Now what do you think it says? I'm guessing that it's "oogafk" and I'm pretty sure that I'm right.

However, I've noticed that blogger never accepts my initial guess when posting a blog. No matter how right I am it says that I'm wrong and gives me another captcha. The second one I always get right. I'm guessing that this is a bug.

Flexible online menu

I've just been tasked with ordering a vegetarian pizza from CPK. Their menu is big and paging through it online looking for the vegetarian options is a chore.

That's when it struck me about how cool it would be if restaurants gave you the ability to reduce their online menu to what you can eat and perhaps even allow you to order it by your favorite types of food.

So if you're allergic to fish or nuts or if you're a vegetarian, kosher or halal eater you can select what is acceptable and what is not. Also, by ranking your preferences for different food types those dishes that had your favorite bits in them would be listed at the top.

Does anybody know of any online menus that do this?

Do I look fat in this?

My wife approached me from behind and asked me "Do I look fat in this?"

Now I know the answer to this question so I had already answered it correctly before I had turned around to look at her.

"Phat is spelled P.H.A.T." she said. "It stands for Pretty Hot And Tasty."

"In that case you're definitely phat," I replied.

This question promises to be more and more difficult to answer in the future...

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Full Gospel Church

I was driving along a back road in New Mexico yesterday when I saw a sign for the Full Gospel Church. I have never seen one of those before. I'm guessing one of two things:

1. The Gospel Church is full and cannot admit any more members, or
2. There are fractional Gospel churches. There might be a Quarter or Half Gospel Church.

This requires further investigation...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Peggy Light

Today I crossed the 200 mile mark in the Peggy Light 1000 mile challenge. I feel that this is going to make it difficult to achieve my New Year's resolution of doing less exercise this year.

At the beginning of this month I was 77 miles behind target. I need to average just over 2.7 miles a day to make it so I started cycling to work and have managed to notch up 190 miles this month.

Early, in a desperate attempt to make up miles, I asked the organizers if I could include distance skied in the figures. They said yes but I decided not to add those miles as technically you don't propel yourself to the top of the mountain and gravity pulls you down. So cycling to work it'll be.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Real Cost of Timeshare

My parents-in-law recently bought some time-share in Vegas. They were under strict instructions to not go to any time-share presentations and if they ignored that instruction they were not to buy any. My wife and I arrived in Vegas the following day and took them to the time-share office and returned the time-share under the 5-day cooling off period.

On the face of it, time-share often looks cost effective and appealing but there are a whole bunch of hidden costs that you don't take into account.

In the worst case scenario, I would be paying $55/day on top of my timeshare for staying there. That's $10/day for the safe, $10/day for the Internet connection, and $35/day for cleaning service. Can you believe that there's a safe in each room but they charge you to use it? All of these costs are included when you stay at a hotel apart from maybe the Internet which is included 90% of the time.

There are other annual fees that the timeshare company will charge you that will also add up. There's the annual maintenance and then they nickel and dime you with other taxes and fees. They often state that the annual maintenance fee is "only" $790 and then further down the contract there's an annual $89 charge for something and then another $59 charge for another item.

In the case of my parents-in-law, when we added up the annual and daily costs (excluding the purchase price) they can stay in a great hotel in Vegas for that period of time without buying the timeshare.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mexican Interior Design Mistakes

My skill at interior design has never before allow me to criticize or look down on anyone else's handiwork, until now. Have a look at the image, can you spot the mistake?

We just spent a great weekend at the Mexican resort town of Puerto Penasco (there's a tilde over that n but I'm too lazy to go looking for it). I was admiring the Las Palmas condo that we were in and came across the coat hooks in the cupboard. I was somewhat surprised to see one of them upside down. You had spotted that by now hadn't you?

In my best Spanish I asked the front desk to explain it. In his best Spanish (which is excellent by the way) he said: "It's for when the polarity of gravity inverts and you still need to hang your coat or umbrella."

I got my money's worth out of my dictionary to give you that translation.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


That was a pathetic attempt on my part to blog every day this month. Maybe next month...

Sunrise was great. First time I've skied there when all the slopes were open. Interesting to see the other two mountains; Apache Peak at 11,100' and Cyclone Circle at 10,700'. The black runs on Cyclone have some great names like Tempest, Thunder, Suicide, and Hurrican Ridge.

Driving back from the ski slopes I saw some guys doing some ice fishing and curiosity got the better of me and I walked out onto the lake to see how they do it. They've got this massive drill bit that's the diameter of a medium sized tree trunk that they screw through 3 feet of ice and then drop their line in. A few pan sized rainbows were lying on the ice next to their coolers. You never have to worry about keeping your catch fresh when you go ice fishing.

Friday, February 01, 2008

A Month of Blug

I've decided that I'm going to blug every day this month. Well not quite. I'm hoping that 1 out of every 5 posts will qualify as a blog.

I almost missed today. That wouldn't have been a very good start.

Straight after work we drove up to the Mogollon Rim town of Show Low. There's snow everywhere and this is easily one of the most beautiful places I've been to. Tomorrow we ski.

So how did Show Low get its name?

According to the legend, the city was named after a marathon poker game between C.E. Cooley and Marion Clark, they decided there was not enough room for both of them in their settlement. The two men agreed to let a game of cards decide who was to move. According to the story, Clark said, "If you can show low, you win." Cooley turned up the deuce of clubs (the lowest possible card) and replied, "Show low it is." The stakes were a 100,000 acre (400 km²) ranch. Show Low's main street is named "Deuce of Clubs" in remembrance.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Great Quotes

Just read this great quote from Edward Tufte with reference to the computer industry:

"There are only two industries that refer to their customers as 'users'."

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Tortoise and the Hare

My wife's uncle needed a scooter when we recently visited the Sonora Desert Museum. She and her nephew showed my uncle how to operate it and later I heard complaints that the electronic scooter was too slow and they wanted to take it back so the expert (yours truly) was called in to examine the control panel.

I discovered a button on the dash with the picture of a tortoise and another with a picture of a hare. It seemed fairly obvious that pressing these would increase and decrease the speed of the scooter. Testing the buttons showed that my guess was correct and I point this out to the two geniuses that had been in charge of the original operating instruction with the question "Just what did you think those buttons were for?"

It turns out that they thought that since this was a zoo (even though it's called a museum) that you pressed the hare button when you spotted a member of the rabbit family and the tortoise button if you saw a tortoise.

Sometimes you have to give up.

2008 New Year's Resolutions

One of my goals for 2008 is to blog less. Ironically this meant that I had to delay the writing of my first 2008 blog to help achieve this goal. I found that I was too prolific last year and provided more humor than you deserved.

Another goal is to do less exercise. I covered over 200 miles of self propelled distance in 2007 mostly swimming, hiking and cycling. This meant that quality time in front of the TV watching Law & Order repeats, Oprah, and Doctor Phil was never realized. I've calculated that if I can cut down my exercise to just 50 miles this year I can add about 2 hours of extra telly per week.

My wife claims that I am the best husband in the world and spoilt her rotten during 2007 by taking her out, on holidays (remember Vegas honey?), and buying her stuff. There doesn't appear to be any room for improvement this year (my bad) so I'm going to have to cut back there to look good again in 2009.