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Heavy Plant

Walk past a "Heavy Plant" warning and wonder vaguely if the trees thought it was for them; if whoever put it up had enough imag...

Friday, April 29, 2005

sweets

Can anyone explain to me who the audience for this website is?

It describes itself as "a traditional , old-fashioned sweetshop, online" which strikes me as a bit of a misnomer. Whilst I do occasionally get a hankering for humbugs or a craving for coconut mushrooms I have never had trouble finding them in a sweetshop, ever. There may be somewhere in Britain where you are more than 5 miles from a pick 'n' mix, but I've never been there. In fact most village shops have a better selection of traditional sweets than city shops.

Perhaps a quarter of is aimed at housebound pensioners that can't shift themselves away from Trisha to get their weekly supply of aniseed balls in a noisy and toothless nightmare of pink froth. This doesn't quite tally with the fact that the older generation seems to have taken to the internet like a fish to space travel. Perhaps because they find it unbearably patronising to be called silver surfer (link goes to an over-fifties portal. No really).

Who the bloody hell wants sweets through the post anyway? Differed gratification and confectionary are almost mutually exclusive. If you live in a dodgy part of the world where postmen are less scrupulous than they should be not only are you going to lose your sweets but the rest of your post is going to be sticky and covered in popping candy.

I think it may be the name of the site. If you asked me to finish a sentance that started with; "A quarter of..." you would almost inevitably elicit a facetious reply such as; "...your finest marijuana my good man", or "...an hour with your daughter costs how much?! A tad overpriced for used goods I'd say.".

Perhaps I shouldn't be so quick to laugh, it is probably for expats. As a website this clearly has a global audience and whilst I may take the piss a bit now after 6 months in Australia I will probably start to get a bit misty eyed at the idea of a bag of sherbert flying saucers in all their stale papery foulness, but I doubt it ( I hereby reserve the right to send the occasional email pleading for Marmite).

click on related link for a sick giggle (internet granny related)

Thursday, April 28, 2005

toads

Cheers to Phil for putting me on to this one: exploding toads in Hamburg.

What I particularly like about this story is the suggestion that the toad's dramatic self destruct could be:
"...a defence mechanism against aggressive crows" - Werner Smolnik, animal protection worker

Toad thinks: "Oh shit, that crow's looking a bit tetchy. It's wearing a Burberry cap, it's coming this way..." Toad goes BANG!!

Somehow it just doesn't wash as a defence mechanism.

If only I could persuade the damn turtles to part company in such style. Anyone fancy a trip to Hamburg to see if it works on turtles?

celebrity tongue

You can tell I'm having a slow day at work can't you.

Click on pic for a collection of pictures of celebrities with thier tongues out. The awful example below is in fact Celine Dionandonandonandon.



Why do people collect this kind of shite?

horse's head

For the film nut who has everything a horse head pillow.

I mean honestly what is the point, but I still want one...

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

australia

I think I have now told everyone who would be shocked or surprised now, so I can announce it on here too. I am moving to Australia to live and work for at least a year. I leave the UK on 20 May and Christ alone knows how I am going to get everything done before then.

If you are still shocked and/or surprised by this announcement try reading your email you may have been told and just not picked up your messages in a while. If you still feel aggrieved because I haven't got your email address, or your computer is broken, or you just haven't called me in a while, then tough. Harsh I know but I can't be held responsible for your lack of dilligence.

I have been offered a working visa and a plane ticket to Australia with the help of @www, the web agency the beloved Mrs, works for and I am at a point in my life where I would be stupid to turn it down. Huge thanks to @www. Things might otherwise be very different.

Thanks too to The Place2Be (P2B), the excellent but little known children's charity for whom I have worked for the past 2 and a half years. P2B took me on from being a temp, gave me training and continually took risks on me that have benefitted me enourmously. I will genuinely miss everyone I have worked with there.

One of the main reasons for the recent flurry of activity on this site is because I am trying to get into the habit of posting as often as possible so that this page can be a journal of where I am and what I am doing(and my slow descent into Aussie slang). I will eventually be posting pictures as well and have discovered a thing called a moblog which allows you to post pictures from a mobile phone camera. Updates as they happen.

Monday, April 25, 2005

hubble telescope

The hubble space telescope has been operating for 15 years this week and has taken over 700,000 images most of which are awesomely beautiful and make you feel suitably small and insignificant. They have also advanced the cause of astronomy and cosmology by leaps and bounds, greatly increasing our understanding of the universe (click on pic for more).



Something so good couldn't be allowed to go on indefinitely. Ultimately George W. Bush holds the purse strings for NASA and naturally feels threatened by anything that increases knowledge and understanding. He is running down the maintainence schedule, read cancelling, on Hubble to pay for more ambitious projects (as if you needed another reason to hate him). Namely a return to the moon and a manned flight to Mars, neither of which will tell us anything new about space. It's just being done so that the US can say "We did it first!". It's the national equivalent of "look Mum, no hands!".

The telescope's orbit will soon start to decay and given the amount of valuable kit on board and the size of the thing it will have to be brought down safely. Couldn't they just do some repairs and nudge it back into a stable orbit?

Let us leave aside for the moment the fact that the British contribution to the project was the mirror, which rendered the telescope short sighted for the first year or so of its operational life, and that the European Space Agency has a record of innadequacy and hopelessness bourne of not having even a third of the budget of NASA couldn't we buy or lease Hubble from the yanks just to keep it in service? ESA could use it for practise missions. We could let the Americans do the dangerous exploring bit and we can have the knowledge and understanding bit.

Let's have a whip-round. I'll start us off with a fiver...

Thursday, April 21, 2005

elephants

So these two elephants walk into a restaurant...

In a strangely accurate allegory for contemporary life six elephants escaped from their daily grind in an amusement park and tore through Seoul. Two of them took the opportunity to act like a pair of drunken louts, breaking into a restaurant and engaging in the treasured drunken tradition of garden hopping.

To my mind there are two ways of looking at this:


  1. Don't try and use a creature which is probably as intelligent as you, and which is 70 times more massive, solely for entertainment. It is a foul and inhumane thing to do and eventually it will rebel.

  2. The anthropomorphic (as at the beginning of this post): The elephants as a metaphor for workers service-based economy.
    "It seems one of them panicked, causing the others to also panic and flee the grounds," one official said.

Which presents the intriguing possibility that if one of us freaks out at work our colleagues will charge out of the building with us and cause havoc. Something I have long suspected.

Perhaps it is worth trying to provoke erratic behaviour in our colleagues so that we can get wrecked, destroy restaurants and go garden hopping. Something to think about as May Day/Labour Day approaches...

(related link requires realplayer)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI

Bugger. I suppose it was too much to hope for really. They had the chance to elect the first african pope but instead I find the words:

"For more that 20 years he was head of the congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican - the Vatican's guardian of orthodoxy."
...on the bbc website. Oh well, he's 78, it won't be for long.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

leaving

For reasons that will shortly become apparent on this page I am about to leave my job. This is an event that brings with it its' own set of anxieties and problems, most of them a bit embarrassing.

1. Writing and handing in of the letter of resignation, which is probably the easiest part of the whole process. It's such a formal thing to do that that it needs little or no attention other than to remember to put 'Yours faithfully,' at the bottom instead of 'Yours sincerely,' (something my last minion did on his rather unceremonious departure).

2. The bit when people start to find out before you've told most people in the office. You are from this point until you leave the building on your final day going to be asked the same questions again and again. Culminating in the inevitable 'so why are you leaving?'. This question is always asked with a slightly searching look no matter how content you have been in your job. At this juncture I intend to try bursting into tears and quickly leaving the room. That should raise a few eyebrows. At this stage in the leaving process it is wise to invest in a small tape recorder which you dictate your plans onto in detail. Whenever anyone approaches you with the 'so you're leaving' look on their face you simply press play.

3. The announcement that you have to make by email to everyone you work with. This is something I am not looking forward to at all. My natural tendency with things like this is to be a bit too...er...frivolous. The temptation to misbehave is just too great. For example what on earth do you put in the subject line of that email? My current personal favourite is 'So long suckers!' but I'm not 100% convinced that will go down particularly well with the Chief Exec. It is still better than 'I am rid of you all at last!', or 'Fuck this, I'm off', but none of them look like they will go over at all well. I have had 'The mother ship is calling me home...' suggested to me which I quite like. Any and all suggestions considered.

4. The agonising leaving gifts presentation and cakes etc. in the office. Which requires you to look pleasantly surprised at the touchingly unimaginative gifts they clubbed together to get you whilst trying desperately to find something to say that doesn't make you look insincere or hard of thinking. The temptation here to misbehave is also fairly pressing but is somewhat more intimidating prospect with everyone staring at you. Some surprisingly senior members of staff have misbehaved, or worse, spoken their mind, at this step in a 'screw you guys, I'm going home,' kind of a way.

The fifth and final step in the process is actually divided into parts 5a and 5b. This is the final release after the trauma of leaving day - the drinks after work.

5a. Everyone you have ever had any dealings with at your place of work is entitled if not pressured into coming to have at lease one drink. Which normally means you are surrounded by the people you disliked the most in the situation you disliked them the most in at a venue you hate (the one you like being deemed either too dingy, too loud or too far away). Thankfully the polite maximum number of drinks for people you didn't actually invite yourself is only 3 so you can be rid of them pretty quickly.

5b. All the people you actually liked at work accompany you to a venue that you actually like and get you shouting drunk. This is normally followed by a curry and possibly another louder drinking venue. Sometimes there is also a...
5c. Drunken, and slightly sloppy, clinch with the one you always fancied but never got close to before, but let us draw a veil over this unseemly thought.

I may try and come up with a more dignified exit strategy but will probably stick to the 5 step programme. I doubt I will get as far as 5c, but you never know...

Monday, April 04, 2005

sun guilt

Saturday morning and the sun comes out. I have nothing to do and no one to do it with. Still spaced out from Friday night I don’t feel quite up to calling people. They might want to talk to me, which I don’t think I would respond to particularly well in my current dilapidated mental state. I’m getting sunshine guilt, I have to get outside and do something, anything. Armour on, in the shape of sunglasses, I wander down the hill to pose around Crouch End with everyone else.

The place is a ghastly nightmare of three wheeled buggies and arguing couples. One of the things that unnerved me about moving here with my girlfriend is that people evidently move here to breed. We moved here and she goes to work on the other side of the world for six months, talk about mixed message. I decide to buy a notebook but then resolve not to, as can be seen from this page it is rare that I have particularly important or insightful thoughts that need recording. Spending a tenner on a notebook that I don’t need seems a little pointless. Dodging another three buggies and walking past yet another cafĂ© I wander into a record shop, safe at last. Wandering around buying nothing and adopting a vacant look is accepted behaviour for record shops. Demonstrating an unusual degree of restraint in buying only two CDs I wander out aimlessly for a bit more toddler dodging.

Wandering up the hill again I still have no idea what I am going to do with the day and have to resign myself to the fact that it will be nothing. I am so bored of apathy.