Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tourist attraction

Last year I took a bike trip around Scotland, and it was like biker heaven. The scenery was amazing, the sinuous roads empty and stretching with gentle undulations through gorgeous panoramas that made you glad to be alive and sat on two wheels.

Of course, I could put up some pictures of said scenery to demonstrate my appreciation of the trip, but I'm thinking you might as well go on to a tourism website and look at proessionally captured images. So I won't.

Instead, have a look at this one, taken in the Kyle of Lochalsh just prior to a ride over the bridge to Skye. It demonstrates how the town has embraced modern technology and is at one with the new technocentric order of society:

Useful to know. I was tempted to follow it to see what sort of computer deserved it's own road sign, expecting some sort of Deep Thought artificial intelligence with hordes of technicians hurrying hither and thither, delivering important questions from locals about this year's haggis harvest and digging new single malt wells. Unfortunately, the call of the Talisker distillery was too strong so I didn't divert, so don't expect an explanation.

If you want to see it yourself, it's at the crossroads in the centre of town, just after the 'Microwave - 200 yards' sign.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


According to Kahn and Steeves in their cheerfully titled chapter 'The Experience of Suffering' (1996), suffering is a quintessential part of the human experience.

Now, I'm not one to diminish the experiences of others, but putting perspective aside I would like to share with you a tragedy the likes of which Sophocles or Shakespeare would have thought twice about including in their works, lest it tear the very fabric of society in twain with lamented wails of anguish.

My ukulele fell off the back of my motorbike:

Then got run over by a following Volvo.

Frowny, frowny face.

I know what you're thinking - how can he function? What's the point of carrying on? How has he the power of will to get up, brush himself down and overcome such adversity. Well, as the adage goes, life is problems and living is solving problems, so I came up with a cunning plan.

I bought another one.


Friday, November 28, 2008

A funny thing happened at a funeral the other day . . .

I'm quite proud off my little boy. He's 20 months old at the mo and like an information sponge. You only have to tell him something seventy or eighty times and BLAM, he can sometimes retrieve it within hours. He does like books though, mostly with pictures (which I can relate to) although I have noted he's starting to recognise the odd letter here and there, and I'm encouraging this as best I can.

Imagine my pride when we were attending the funeral of his Great Uncle recently, and he interrupted proceedings to point at a great big wall-mounted crucifix and cheerily shout "Tuh! Tuh! Tuh!"

His Great Uncle would've appreciated that, I know.

It's quite a weird concept the christians have there, with the method of execution of their head wizard becoming their ultimate religious icon. If it was done today, would they all be wearing little electric chairs or syringes round their necks?

Imagine if he'd died of a heart attack during an orgy? I'd wear that pendant.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Inspiring stuff

I prefer to post my own pics on this here blog, as much as I can. In a small way, it gives me a sense of creativity and originality I suppose, even though the photos are just straight off my phone.

Every now and then though, you come across an image on the interweb which just screams achievement, which inspires in you a sense of awe and is a reminder that, at the end of the day, one should always aim as high as possible. The first image is this, tak
en from the conservatory on the International Space Station.Human achievement at it's pinnacle, here. I've got this as my desktop wallpaper.

Of course, such grand accomplishments are not resticted to Homo sapiens, and sometimes it is the feats of other species we can use to inspire:

One word. Orsum.

One word meme sucker!

Well, AV (at nominated me and 4 other suckers for this one-word meme, the rules being that I can only provide one-word answers to each question, and then I have to nominate 5 blogs for the same treatment.

I'm not sure why there isn't a number 10, but I presume it's because answering it would be too revealing. Here we go:

1. Where is your cell phone? There!
2. Where is your significant other? Adjacent
3. Your hair color? Braaaaaaaahn.
4. Your mother? Crone.
5. Your father? Bearded.
6. Your favorite thing? Multitool.
7. Your dream last night? Immemorial.
8. Your dream/goal? Immortality.
9. The room you’re in? Lounge.
11. Your fear? Nothing.
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Younger.
13. Where were you last night? Work.
14. What you’re not? Green.
15. One of your wish-list items? Finglonger.
16. Where you grew up? Willslock.
17. The last thing you did? Nappy.
18. What are you wearing? Out.
19. Your TV? Boring.
20. Your pet? Bert!
21. Your computer? Laptop.
22. Your mood? Positive.
23. Missing someone? Repetitively.
24. Your car? Practical.
25. Something you’re not wearing? Halo.
26. Favorite store? eBay.
27. Your summer? english.
28. Love someone? Absolutely.
29. Your favorite color? Green.
30. When is the last time you laughed? Recently.
31. Last time you cried? Weeks.

Do you lot fancy a go:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Growth - medium.

My old crone of a mother (she refers to herself as that) is pretty good with plants, and seems to derive some pleasure out of gardening. She recently encouraged me to get into it, and advised one of those cheap plastic mini-greenhouses to start off with, as apparently you can get a good amount of herbage even in the dank shade of this North Atlantic island.

So earlier this year I took her advice, ready to delve into the world of horticulture, already imagining hosting a universally lauded gardening programme on BBC2 in a couple of years, not that I get ahead of myslef or anything.

Behold, I give you, the Tropicarium!

Note the bricks and sandbags. You can't have your crop being blown away by a sudden gust, so that's my first bit of gardening advice.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

99% Perspiration

According to recent research, there is no such thing as innate talent, and having an IQ above 120 does not single anyone out for extra success in life. Apparently, in order to become a world expert at anything, you need to do something revolutionary;

Okay, not particulalry startling, but this here research (and by research I mean magazine article) also suggests that, to truly master something, there is a certain number of hours of practise you need to get under your belt, and it doesn't matter whether you wnat to be a virtuoso on the violin or an evil criminal druglord, it's the same figure.

10,000 hours.

That's about 10 years, if you're dedicated, and appears to be the amount of time people thought of as the foremost practitioners in their field have spent getting to the top of their game. So I was thinking, what could I become a master of in ten years if I started in earnest now. I recently carved a hallowe'en courgette, which shows promise, although it's not as scary as might be anticipated:

Imagine how awesome that would be if I'd been doing nowt else for a decade! Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

So, what would you do, if you had the time and support? Ten years from now, you too could be an expert courgette carver, although I think the planet is too small for more than one.

Get your own niche.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Groove armada

Like most blokes, I'm easily distracted, particularly by stuff that pops into my head. The other day, whilst being dragged round Mothercare, I had an awful brainworm - the lyrics to Kelis rap song "My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard . . ." circling round my brain like a budgie in a Hoover. You know the thing, a jingle or snippet of song that you can't get rid of, whether you like it or not. Bloody annoying.

So, to combat the brainworm, I found myself proposing a challenge;
"To voyage around the world in eighty days!"

Actually, no, it wasn't that. That would be silly. It was to take a photo of something amusing in the next minute.

And I found this:

For some reason, the song really suited the close up of the knights grooving on down. I classed this as a success because it amused me, even if no-one else was privy to the humour, although it didn't get rid of the brainworm.

I had to start singing "I should be so lucky, lucky lucky lucky . . ." for that. Thanks Kylie.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cost effective special effects

I'm hoping that the trend to having films with lots of special effects and chuff all content will be coming to an end soon. They should have both, preferably, but if the dosh is being divvied up, it should go to the storysmiths and script writers first, and the CG artists second. I realise that, in this time of crunching credit, the charming little cottage industy of filmcraft is being hit hard, and money for special effects and scenery will be tight. Mr Lucas et al might be after some advice on how to cut costs.

To help, allow me to demonstrate by providing, in toddler building blocks; a flawless rendition of a popular film and television set piece; the stargate off of Stargate, which was some sort of gate to the stars:

Please note, this is not to be confused with the stair gate, which is used to stop said toddler from practicing his unintentional parkour.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The 9 layer meme

There's this here set of questions that's doing the rounds on some of these blogs, and I had ten mins so thought I'd do it as an exercise in self-discovery. And there I am, look, all discovered!

Name: The Jules. Not just any Jules, but THE Jules.
Birth date: One Summer morning in the early seventies, heralded by portentous aurorae and visiting dignitaries.
Birthplace: Lichfield.
Current Location: An island in the north Atlantic.
Eye Colour: Grey.
Hair Colour: Greying.
Height: 5’9” – thus securing my position as the World’s Smallest Giant.
Righty or Lefty: Dextra
Zodiac Sign: The Jumping Flea.

Your heritage: From a long line of bastards.
The shoes you wore today: Steel toe-capped boots.
Your weakness: Invulnerability
Your fears: Being stuck in a locked room with two hungry polar bears.
Your perfect pizza: A real man’s pizza, with all cleavers and mahogany on it.
Goal you’d like to achieve: Immortality. Might have to wait a while to see if I’ve made it.

Your most overused phrase on AIM: “FIRE”
Your first waking thoughts: “Better luck next time, Mr Kruger.”
Your best physical feature: My ha-ha.
Your most missed memory: Where I put my keys.

Pepsi or Coke: Either
McDonald’s or Burger King: Neither
Single or group dates: Orgies
Adidas or Nike: Prefer Non-labels
Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea: Beer
Chocolate or vanilla: Either
Cappuccino or coffee: Both

Smoke: Sometimes
Cuss: Only for fun.
Sing: As above.
Take a shower everyday: Tend to have a shower, rather than take one. But no.
Do you think you’ve been in love: Oh yes.
Want to go to college: Been
Liked high school: Yes
Want to get married: Already there.
Believe in yourself: I’m pretty sure I’m here. Or am I . . ?
Get motion sickness: Never.
Think you’re attractive: Sometimes.
Think you’re a health freak: Nope.
Get along with your parent(s): Yeah - they’ve got half my genes each.
Like thunderstorms: What’s not to like. They’re thunderstorms.
Play an instrument: Ukuleletastic.

LAYER SIX: In the past month…–
Drank alcohol: Yup. In fact, in the last 6 seconds.
Smoked: No.
Done a drug: Apart from booze and antibiotics, no.
Made Out: Yup.
Gone on a date: Married – but yes!
Gone to the mall?: Yeah, and I work shifts so it’s not too bad in the week. Chuffing awful at the weekend though.
Eaten an entire box of Oreos?: Nah.
Eaten sushi: Yes.
Been on stage: A small one.
Been dumped: On? Yes. It’s not a good story.
Gone skating: No. And now I want to . . .
Made homemade cookies: You can buy them 6 for a quid at Sainsbury’s.
Gone skinny dipping: Only in the bath.
Dyed your hair: Yeah – grey highlights.
Stolen Anything: Someone’s thunder.

Played a game that required removal of clothing: Yep. S’fun.
Been trashed or extremely intoxicated: I can’t remember. So yes.
Been caught “doing something”: It’s half the fun . . .
Been called a tease: Nah – I deliver.
Gotten beaten up: Yup. Still missing the tooth.
Shoplifted: No. can’t stand thieving.
Changed who you were to fit in: Possibly, although almost subconsciously as I like to think I don’t care what others think of me. But I’m sure I do a bit.

Age you hope to be married: Minus 6 years.
Numbers and Names of Children: 1 – The Little Jules
Describe your Dream Wedding: Kofi Annan squared up against a purple dragon called Phil, and the profiteroles all had eyes!
How do you want to die: Never.
Where you want to go to college: Done it. A few times. No more though.
What do you want to be when you grow up: More sure of myself.
What country would you most like to visit: New Zealand at the moment.

Number of drugs taken illegally: Four – I get a bigger high rockpooling.
Number of people I could trust with my life: 6 – not including a load of mates who are paramedics.
Number of CDs that I own: about 100.
Number of piercings: None - I like to be unusual.
Number of tattoos: None – I like to be unusual.
Number of times my name has appeared in the newspaper?: Quite a few, worryingly.
Number of scars on my body: Half a dozen or so.
Number of things in my past that I regret: Oh sweet baby Santa, the barnet. THE BARNET!

Happiness is a dog egg.

I've been flicking through some blogs on here, which is dangerous because it's addictive, and I note that a lot of them are about happiness; pursuit of, lack of, acheivement of, loss of, ephemerality of etc etc etc. It seems to be a recurring theme in people's day to day worries. Am I happy enough? Is this the right sort of happiness? Is she happier than me? Am I depressed or just a bit sad?

I don't worry about happiness. If I was permanently sad, for no good reason, what would I be when something bad happened? Extra sad? A realy, really sad bastard? Possibly the latter.

So, in the interests of maintaining a positive mental attitude, which is essentially how you survive in this world without turning into a quivering emotional jelly, I think we should take joy in mildly amusing stuff, no matter how childish or trivial.

To this end, I bring you a thing from my little boy's letter board:

Heh - that totally says 'dog egg'.
Obviously, sanity can only be maintained if we ignore reality, because that shit will just depress the seratonin right out of you, but I'm fairly confident we've all got the wherewithal to do that.
If you find yourself slipping into some kind of reality-induced melancholy, try this link.
Hope it helps.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Another sign . . .

I was visiting inlaws in the awesome metropolis of Uttoxeter a few weeks ago when I came across this sign on the Barclays Bank entrance:

At first, I thought it was amazingly sycophantic, and wondered if it increased their business at all. And then I realised how insulting it is to disabled people.
Apparently, the loveliest people in Uttoxeter walk through them there doors. Yup, if you roll, you can't be one of 'em.
Tough ambulatory titty.


Walking past a local (and very posh) school recently, I came across this:

I'm not sure if this is clever or dumb.
I'm going with dumb because (i) it's a graffito, and that just smacks of someone desperately trying to gain immortality through daubing, (ii) because it's not on a particulalry ugly or pretty building so can't lay claim to either protestation or irony and (iii) because it's not Banksy, who has a license to graffite from the Dept of Daubology.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


We seem to have an upsurge in door-knockers round our parts these days, selling eternal salvation and promises to relieve you of your sinful wages, in return for . . . well I'm not exactly sure what you get. Some stories about being nice to other people, some questionable antics about life-after death which don't seem to have much in the way of an evidence base, and an absence of decent music, I think.

A couple of days ago we even had some missionaries from America who had decided the UK is a heathen, godless society and, rather than accept my hypothesis that it is all the better for it, a one-way discourse ensued in which they described how much better religious folk were than unbelievers. I wasn't convinced, and pointed this out.

To reiterate their point, they asked me where my morality came from, if not from a higher source. My answer was that it seems to stem from an innate morality derived from evolving as a co-operative species, and is common to most humans, whereas they appear to get theirs from a giant CCTV camera in the sky, where it is only the fear of being caught and the possibility of a reward when they die that prevents them from molesting kittens.

Doesn't sound very moral to me.

They were not open to my opinions, and I was also closed-minded to theirs, but only until they come back and provide some evidence and then I'll cumbaya with the best of them. Until then, I pointed out my car sticker - which says it all really:

From my exerience, religion has far too much of a hold on public life, and influences policies in this country that affect me, which just isn't right. I don't want my taxes used to support churches and pay the wages of mystics with ideas of relevance. Can we request that they keep it private, like other passtimes, and not force their hobbies onto the rest of us?

There. I've said it. Now to wait until the mainstream religious machinery is dismantled around us. I expect it'll take a day or two . . .

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

To start as we mean to go on.

Sometimes, the only thing worse than being a pedant is being an observant pedant. I'm not a grammar nazi, and think that the beauty of language is in it's fluidity and dynamism, but sometimes I see something that just makes me have to take a pickcha.

I mean really:

There's no excuse is there? Not even the jaunty capitals at the beginning of every word can save it. I know it's just a supermarket who's name of The Co-Op will go unmentioned here, but surely there's someone in their (see, not so hard is it?) advertising dept who's got a qualification in Engerlese and might have spotted these before they went out to 3,000 stores across the UK (presumably).

Well they didn't. And their lack of a proper checking procedure has resulted in them being BERATED in a BLOG by someone they've NEVER heard of!

I hope they can sleep tonight.