Showing posts from 2006


4710 vertical feet at Solitude today and I accomplished my target for the year - riding the Sunrise lift and coming down Northstar. The only problem was that to get back to Moonbeam, I had to go up Apex and come down a bloody steep blue run. I swished left and right once then fell over and skated down about 50ft on my arse. After that I was fine. New target for this year then : come down off Apex without falling over. Dad managed to get some pictures of me today. To wit : fat bloke on skis :-).....

Happy new year's eve eve

Thanks to the LDS church, New Year's Eve this year has been moved to tonight in some places here in Utah. Provo, specifically. They interviewed some people on the news tonight and one guy hit the nail on the head. When it was put to him that the entire rest of the world would, surprisingly, celebrate New Year's Eve on the 31st, he said "we don't live in the rest of the world here in Provo". I mean come on - what sort of a bell-end do you need to be to accept New Year's Eve a day early? The crowds must have been in the tens if what we saw on TV was representative. I doubt if there were even a hundred people there because - and this is the best part - the celebrations were largely done by 21:00. So they didn't even do it a day early - they did it 27 hours early. And the LDS church wonders why people have an odd view of them.

Saddam hanged. Which makes us....?

Quite apart from the ludicrous argument that Bush put forward that hanging Saddam would somehow be part of the solution, lets reflect for a moment to ask the burning question: we've seen to Saddam's death, which makes us better than him exactly how? Now on to the obvious comment : EVERYONE PANIC! Congratulations committees and courts of the world, and a special commendation to Bush. You've turned Saddam into a martyr. Of course there won't be any backlash for this at all - not any - nope. And to suggest there will be makes you an anti-patriotic nazi as far as the American government are concerned.

The World's Fastest Indian

We just got done watching The World's Fastest Indian. Nice story and not at all what I was expecting. If you've not seen it yet, I can recommend a rental :-)

The cat and the parents

I've got to admit I'm pleasantly surprised this year by our cat's reaction to my mum and dad being here. Last year she was a panicky neurotic mess. This year she's giving them a wide berth, but at least she's in the house with us at the same time. She curls up on her kitty furniture and walks around the house more or less in her normal routine. It used to be that she'd only have to hear mum or dad moving around and she'd bolt through the cat flap. Now she sits curiously watching and making sure she has a couple of escape routes, but the running and hiding is much less evident. Our cat is so cool :-)

Merry Christmas

Christmas comes but once a year. Jeebus that's a lot of turkey. *burp*

I'm dreaming of a white christmas.

Mother nature performs on cue. Two days ago the forecast was for one snow shower late last night. Last night the forecast changed to snow all day today on and off, then tomorrow evening into Christmas eve, then Christmas day evening into Boxing day, then thursday and/or friday. When we got up this morning, the lake effect was in full force and this was the result. Still. At least we're not in Colorado. Where Mike G used to live in Evergreen they got 40" of snow in the last couple of days.

Emirates - the beginning of the end of flying.

I suppose it had to happen. Emirates are going to allow passengers to use cellphones on their flights next year. That's the beginning of the end, because once one airline allows it, they'll all do it. Great. So it's not bad enough that we're all shoved into low-pressure, super-dry, disease-filled flying aluminium tubes with no legroom and no food, now we're going to be forced to listen to every wanker who owns a cellphone too.? I'm sorry but it's very black and white for me. The first person that gets their cellphone out next to me on a flight is going to find it shoved up their arse. Fuck the air marshalls - if they want to arrest me that's fine because it means I'll be away from the tosser with the cellphone. I hope the airlines are ready for this, because the much-laughed-at "air rage" is going to become very real very quickly when this happens. There's no need to allow cellphones on flights. What possible benefit is it going to br

How cool is this?

Cast your mind (or click your mouse) back to December 29th 2003 when the power was out for 4 days at our house and we made a claim against Utah Power. Well we got our electric bill last night from the new Rocky Mountain Power for the last month and it showed zero owed. We looked more closely and they've applied $213 credit as "An additional goodwill payment for the storm outage in 2003". Wow. To quote Bill Engvall Now That's awesome.


3855 vertical feet : how far I ski'd today on my first day in the newly fitted boots and with my own skis and poles. It took 3 runs down Easy Street to get used to the motions again, and to find out what was different between my own skis and last year's rentals. After that it was up the moonbeam lift 5 or 6 times. I had to call it a day on the 6th run as I was starting to make stupid mistakes and my legs were getting tired. Better to try again fresh in a couple of weeks than carry on and have another yard sale like last year. The Element makes a great vehicle for getting to and from the ski resorts. It has no problem with the mountain roads and I can get all my kit inside so I don't need a roofrack or anything. Sweet.

Mum and dad are here

We met mum and dad at the airport this afternoon - they're here for three weeks now. Our cat was a lot better than last year when they got home. She went out, but she stayed close to the house, and as the evening drew on, she kept coming in and mooching around the kitchen. She's not dared come all the way into the lounge yet but I think she remembers mum and dad from last year so hopefully there'll be less hiding out under the neighbour's deck this year.

I'm back. Again.

I'm back at home after the Dallas trip. I volunteered to have my PC EVO'd last night and today was basically a wash - not a stitch of work got done, but I wasn't expecting to be able to do anything. When a stuffed shirt gives a presentation and says something like "nothing we do during the transition will prevent you from being able to do your job" you know you've basically lost a week of productivity :-) We got a phone call from mum and dad tonight - they've arrived safely in Vegas and will be here on Saturday. Our poor cat is likely to move out again like she did last year but I hope she comes in in the evenings to sleep with us. I hate the idea of her being outside when it's snowing, and this weekend's storm looks like it's shaping up to be a good one.

Ratcheting up the fear in England

Cheery news for the holidays from the UK government if you live in England : you're going to be attacked by terrorists. They've admitted there's at least 30 known terrorist plots to attack England this Christmas and they've also admitted they can't police or investigate all of them. Wow. I guess you'd all better pack up and leave then. Alternatively, grow some common sense and realise this is nothing but fearmongering from Tony Blah and his idiots. I mean come on. 30 plots? Get real. I doubt there's even one.

Pit stop!

I'm back at home, briefly. The Seattle trip was a huge success - we're still way ahead of our competition who are now all crying gently into their budget books. So here I am for the weekend, then I'm off to Dallas for two days tomorrow. Back on tuesday late at night, then a couple of days at work, my 9/80 friday off then mum and dad arrive on saturday. Nice.

IE7 : As crappy as ever.

Bugger! I let windows update run last night and it installed bloody IE7 on my laptop. 3 hours later, I find I've got three trojans on my laptop too. Bloody IE7 is as full of security holes as IE has always been. There's even a news story about it this morning - it's already the subject of a security alert and the target of spyware. It's mind-boggling to me that Firefox has been out for so long and has so few problems, yet every time Microsoft bring something out, it's a security nightmare. I can't imagine where we'd be as a company if we operated on the same principles as microsoft, ie. rush everything to market full of holes then issue patches for it from now until eternity. That's not how you do business.

Lovely, rainy Seattle.

Here I am, back in the hotel at the beginning of a critical week for the company. I'm in rainy Seattle, and boy is there a lot of moss here. It's very wet and very green. The hotel is sort of cool - it's a Residence Inn. I've stayed in these before but never had one of these cool top-floor double-level rooms before. Downstairs is sort of a large living room and upstairs is an open-layout bedroom where you can look over the half-wall and down into the lower area. It's neat. Things went well at Boeing today - really well. The rest of the week will be exciting if it all goes as well as today did. If not, we'll all be bending over and sharing the vaseline.

The dumb thoughts I have

I have a knack, from time to time, of thinking something so idiotic that it's worth telling people about just for the laugh. They're normally thoughts that zing into my head so quick I can't stop them, and for the most part, they're totally retarded when they happen. The most recent was tonight, as I was approaching the front of an Autozone store. It's -14°C outside, and they had a stack of boxes of antifreeze and ice-melting washer fluid out front. Seems reasonable - put the product out front that is most likely to be needed today. But what did I think as I saw them there? "They ought to put those inside or they'll freeze." Seriously. The other three that come to mind from my recent past: I was in a petrol station, filling up my new car, and being sensitive to all the new sounds and smells of a new car, I was alarmed to smell petrol, and despite standing there with my hand on the pump, I thought "Oh hell! Where's that smell of petrol comin

Winter's here!

It's a balmy -12°C this morning and I spent a therapeutic 15 minutes with the snow blower clearing about 20cm of snow out of the driveway and sidewalks before coming to work. "Crisp" is a term that comes to mind.

I see the MPAA are making friends again.

Check this out. If your house has a television larger than 29" with stereo sound and at least two comfortable chairs, a couch or a futon, the MPAA would like to fine you $500,000 for illegally showing movies in your home theatre. Of course for a one-time $50 fee to the MPAA plus a home invasion inspection by them, you'd be quite OK. Fortunately this is a satirical article linked from BBSpot. The problem is that it's so believable given the bullshit we've seen from the **AA's in the past. This almost seems par for the course, so people really don't question it. **AA execs have long been known for their screwed-up, out-of-touch-with-reality views, so why not charge for big TVs in your house or having your friends over to view? It almost makes too much sense. In fact, while we laugh, I bet there are MPAA goons reading Fark, BBspot and Slashdot saying "Holy shit - that's genius! Call the lawyers!"

Mmmmm. Indian.

We ate out at a place called the Himalayan Kitchen last night. Mmmm. Excellent food. Himalayan / Indian cuisine basically but easily one of the best ones we've found here in Salt Lake City. It did rather bring home how expensive everything is back in England though. Our two-course dinner with a tip at the Himalayan Kitchen was just on $40 - about average here in Salt Lake City. When I was back in England a few weeks ago, a two-course dinner at the Cottage Tandoori was $57 just for me. Dayam.

The word is CHRISTMAS !!!!!!!!!

No. No. No, no, no, no. WalGreens - no. It is not "Christian Holiday". It's fucking Christmas. We drove past WalGreens on the way out tonight and their illuminated sign proclaimed that they are our Christian Holiday Headquarters. Jeeeeeeeeeesus. That's worse than last year's "Happy Holidays"! Look. It's really simple. If you're going to eliminate the word "Christmas" from your vocabulary, then you have to also get rid of "Hannukah", "Ramadan" and all the other religious holiday names. But DO NOT get rid of Christmas because you're afraid it's going to offend some other religion, then ram all those other religion's special days down our throats. It's all or nothing people. I'm an atheist and even I find it offensive that these fuckwits want to strike out one holiday because they're scared to death of offending someone. So listen up. It's not "Christian Holiday", "The Holiday

That would certainly explain it.

Pneumonia - sort of explains why I've felt so shitty for two weeks. As far as I can gather, it sort of went like this : I caught something on the plane back from England and fought it off without noticing. At this point my immune system was under attack and I got post-viral bronchitis - the nasty shit I had two weeks ago. I fought that off but it left my mucous membranes susceptible to bacterial infection so on the friday after that when I started to feel bad again (a week ago), it was basically the onset of lobar pneumonia. It's like a disaster movie. Anyway - went to the emergency medical centre today (the regular place was closed because of the holiday) and was diagnosed there. They gave me the option of 10 days tablets, or a shot plus 5 days tablets. I took the shot and literally within 15 minutes was feeling almost 100% better. I've got these nice pink azithromycin tablets to take for 5 days now. The doc said they're the 'nuclear weapon' of antibiotics, by

Chevy asked the web to come up with new ads...

.....and the web responded. Naturally, the results weren't good for Chevy, who are now getting all pissy about it and trying to have those ads removed. For the most part, they're pretty good. YouTube seems to have a lot and has a bunch too.

Delta Centre no more

Great. The Delta Centre has been renamed. Under a new contract, for the next 10 years its now called Energy Solutions Arena. Just to clarify, Energy Solutions are the nuclear reprocessing facility that don't think there's anything even faintly wrong with putting a nuclear waste and recycling facility only 70 miles upwind of Salt Lake City. It's already been nicknamed Energy Pollutions Arena. Still, I'm sure Larry H Miller made a mint out of it.

I really, really, really hate colds.

I feel like a complete wuss. I was off for two days last weekend with that stupid cold and now, despite my best efforts to think straight and stay awake, it looks like I'm going to be off again. I'm sitting ay my desk, coughing, barely able to stay awake. It's not like I'm even "properly" sick - I just feel like shit. I don't understand how so many people can take so much time off "sick" just at the drop of a hat.

Fewer periods?

Ok I know there's a drug for everything here in America but I've just seen an advert on TV for a drug to "treat the annoyance of periods". That's right - apparently if you're a woman, you can now pump your body full of chemicals designed to give you fewer periods. Now I'm not a woman, but even I can see that this can only end badly.

Another cold? Oh come on!

Ok this is just ridiculous. I've got a second cold in two weeks. The last few days I've been fine - today, sweaty, bunged up, streaming nose - another bloody cold! Why?

OJ Finally confesses to murder.

At last, OJ Simpson has confessed to the murder he got away with back in '94. He's given an interview and written a book where he discusses how he "would" have done it "if he had" done it. It can't have been too difficult to write that book then - all he had to do was recount what he actually did. I mean seriously - is there a person alive that doesn't think OJ murdered his girlfriend?

First snow in the valley.

It's late this year, but we had the first valley snow last night. Not much - probably an inch or so, but it was the really heavy wet stuff so it's all but melted now. Temperature today is a nice 5°C

Yay - I'm *cough* nearly cold-free

Apart from a stuffy nose and this hanging-on-in-there cough, I reckon I'll be back to work tomorrow. Frankly, after a couple of days of daytime TV, I'm looking forward to it.


Today's the first day since - when - thursday? - that I've been doing something other than lying on the sofa. Remember that scene in Aliens where the marine is covered in alien mucus? That's been me for the past 4 days. Apparently I have post-viral bronchitis. (?) Either way, on thursday afternoon it felt like someone was kicking my head in. Today's the first day it's felt better, thanks in no small part to my best friend, Codeine :-) Mmmm. Codeine.

Sprawl*Mart have come to their senses

Hooray! . Common sense prevails. WalMart have announced that they're going to be using "Happy Christmas" this year instead of "Happy Holidays". It's probably because of pressure from religious groups, but frankly I'm glad they've come to their senses. After all, the name of the holiday is "Christmas". Fuck the people who are offended by that. If you're offended by the name of a holiday, you've got a mental problem.

We're very insignificant.

I saw the coolest thing today. Russ, our resident astronomer, brought his telescope and solar filter in today and set it up on the grass outside the office. We were able to see Mercury transitting across the face of the sun. We could also see a giant sunspot that was bigger than Mercury, and probably bigger than earth. It was incredible. Made me remember how insignificant we really area. When you get some sort of scale and perspective like that, you realise how gigantic our ball of fire is that keeps us all warm and makes the planet work.

Covering his ass - Rumsfeld's out.

Wow! Things happen quickly in the Bush regime. The democrats took the House last night and it looks like they've got the Senate too. Fearing for his career, one of the four horsemen has "stepped down". That's right - Rumsfeld has legged it. That's an admission of guilt over the mess in Iraq if ever I saw one. Better yet, Bush has finally admitted that there are "problems" with his Iraq policy. Well - better late than never I suppose. Arrogant son of a bitch - it took losing the House to get him to admit his mistakes were 2000+ dead GI's wouldn't.

Great lyrics

There's a track I've been listening to for some weeks now and today I went off to see what the lyrics actually were. The lyrics for the first verse are great and lovely and politically incorrect. Before you go and Leave this town I want to see you one more time Put your dirty angel face Between my legs And knicker lace 10 points if you can name the song and artist/band.

Quite the packed trip

Well that was an adventure. I left for the UK on wednesday last week, arriving at Paula's mum and dad's house on thursday morning. I had a Ford Mundano for a rental car - a truly terrible piece of automotive machinery. The thing was underpowered, had terrible understeer and was an ergonomics nightmare. Why anyone would own one of those piles of shite is beyond me. On thursday I spent the day mostly asleep getting over the brunt of my jetlag and then on friday we went to visit some relatives. We put blind faith in the TomTom GPS and it took us right there, despite going a nice picturesque route that none of us knew about. On the way back we stopped at Paula's brother's house for a couple of hours to visit their family, and their new cat Elmo. On friday morning, I had to get up at 5:00 for a 7:00 flight to Holland. Gatwick hasn't changed - it's still a nightmare shopping mall with aircraft that land there. And as usual, none of the moving walkways were working, b

Save the cheerleader, save the world.

Thanks to the wonders of DVR and BitTorrent, I just caught up on NBC's new show "Heroes". Let's hope it doesn't go the same way as some of their other creative shows. This one is like X-men crossed with the X-files, and I love it. Please NBC - don't cancel this one.

Near death experience.

Today I moved something from my Things I'd Like To Try column into the Things I'll Never Be Doing Again column. That thing was attempting to ride off road on the bike. Hell it wasn't even off-road. It was a hard-packed dirt fire road. Full of off-camber turns, ruts, potholes and slopes, and covered in loose gravel. The two guys I went with, both on bikes the same size as mine, but evidently with much more experienced riders, took off going at least 60 and vanished in a cloud of dust. I could barely get above 15mph. The bike felt like it was going to fall apart. I couldn't steer. I couldn't brake. I couldn't do anything right. It was like I was 14 and on my first bike all over again. I felt like a total retard. By the time I got to where they'd stopped, they'd been parked for nearly 10 minutes waiting for me. I'd evidently chewed off part of my lip at some point because I had blood stuck to my teeth and running down my chin. I don't know how pe

Sign up now!

Look at the picture above. Starship Troopers, right? Wrong. The U.S. military has provided legal immigrants a fast track to citizenship, and they are taking advantage of it in record numbers, even if it means facing the risk of death or injury in Iraq or Afghanistan. Interest surged after President George W. Bush signed an executive order in July 2002 allowing immigrants with green cards to become citizens as soon as they are sworn in, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Since then, more than 25,000 immigrant members of the armed services have become U.S. citizens and another 40,000 are eligible to request naturalization, USCIS said in a statement.

Lowest petrol price so far this year.

Wow! . The national average for petrol is now $2.26 a gallon. This of course has absolutely nothing to do with the midterm elections. The coincidental price rise that will follow in December after the elections will be attributed to something like "refinery capacity being used up for winter heating oil" or some other bullshit. I swear Bush thinks we're all as stupid as he is. It's really obvious that the red states have got expensive petrol and the blue states have got cheap petrol, and it's even more obvious why: he's trying to bribe voters in blue states with cheap petrol. Come on George. Just because your toilet seat has a higher IQ than you do doesn't mean we're all dumb, retarded Texan fuckwits.

Vista is going to suck donkey balls.

Best quote regarding Microsoft's upcoming Vista OS: "To realize the charm and brilliance of Vista, the user has to have a decent graphics card, because otherwise it looks like crap." Do we really need this? I mean Microsoft have produced a consistent stream of expensive, memory-hungry, flaky OS's that must waste millions of man-hours every year, and now they want to release an OS which is going to eat up graphics memory too? And 64bits? For the most part, 64bit ought to be a good thing but you just know the way Microsoft have implemented it means it either crashes twice as frequently or twice as quickly. My bet is that Vista will be released and within a week, there will be more patches and security fixes than you can shake a stick at. It's going to be more of the same, but it's going to run needlessly slower. We don't need a fucking happy shiny interface - what we need is a solid goddamn operating system that can work for more than 20 minutes without

Wolf Creek and Indian Canyon

Another great ride today. We started at about 9:00 and went the indirect route up I80 past Jordanelle reservoir and over Wolf Creek to Duchesne. I think it was about 3°C most of the way but the roads were great. We had lunch at a well dodgy cafe in Duchesne at which point a truck pulled up with an Elk's head in the back of it. All the locals came out to look and coo and gasp. I just looked at the truck and figured it was the typical senseless slaughter, made even worse by the fact that they took the head and left the carcass. Fucking hunters. There's no skill involved in taking a high-powered rifle with a sniper scope, enticing an elk to come to you and then shooting it. That's not hunting, it's the pastime of a trigger-happy, lazy redneck. But I digress. The ride from Duchesne out through Indian Canyon was spectacular - I reckon actually better than Wolf Creek - and we ended up at the mine / power station at Price where the Indian Canyon road meets highway 6. Whilst

Slower graphics card, faster PC?

Here's a good one for you. I put a new graphics card in my PC a couple of months ago - an Nvidia 6600, and since then have had nothing but trouble. Corrupted disks, slow booting, lockups - all sorts of problems. Having had enough, I took it out tonight and put the old card back in - an old GeForce4 Ti4600. The first thing I noticed - the PC took about half as long to boot and get into Winblows. Everything is running quicker and I'm not getting the blackouts on screen every 20 minutes or so. I'm sure I don't understand this so I'm going to pump our friendly IT bloke for ideas tomorrow. Luckily have given me an RMA for the new card so I can get a replacement and see if it does any better. But why a quicker card would cause so many problems on my PC is a total mystery.

Enough already!

A light aircraft crashed into a building in New York today. Without waiting for actual news, CNN went into a terrorist blitz. Turned out it was some baseball player who was flying his own plane and had engine trouble. No less, here's some of what CNN were reporting: The twin-engine plane came through a hazy, cloudy sky and hit the 20th floor of The Belaire -- a red-brick tower overlooking the East River, about five miles from the World Trade Center -- with a loud bang, touching off a raging fire that cast a pillar of black smoke over the city and sent flames shooting from four windows on two adjoining floors. Well first of all, the whole bit about the WTC is totally unnecesary - it has nothing to do with the story other than to scare people. 5 miles? That's not even fucking close. If they were doing it as a geographic landmark, one of the bridges right next to the building would have been much better. Onwards: Large crowds gathered in the street in the largely wealthy New

Ch ch ch ch chillly.....

Jeebus . The ride to work was cold this morning. It was a balmy 4°C. Bike worked well though, with the colder, denser air. The sun's come up now and the temperature has shot up to 8°C :-)

A long and full weekend.

Well that was fun. The first of my alternative fridays off made for a three-day weekend. I collected my season pass for Solitude on friday, sort of fixed the PC (maybe) on saturday, and today went for an awesome bike ride with Mike starting at Mount Nebo Loop (again) and this time going south and east from there via Moroni, Mount Pleasant and Fairview to have lunch in Huntington. My GPS ran out of datapoints the ride was so long, but I know it was 265 miles and we peaked at 9,970ft. SR31 down to Huntington was just incredible - the sort of road full of sweeping turns I've only ever read about in bike magazines. For one section I think we went for a good 10 or 12 miles without a single straight section. All turns, all the way. Sweet. The return route went up through Price and Helper then took in a bit of highway 6 before going off down through Scofield state park to get back to Fairview. From there we slogged it up SR89 and highway 6 back to Payson. If you've got Google Earth,

Cool - blogger beta

Neat. I'm on blogger beta. Doesn't look a lot different but I like the sound of "beta". Adds an air of instability and insecurity to the whole process. Just like using anything written by Micro$oft.

Yet another scheme to suck money out of England's pockets

This is insane: Basically, councils want to weigh the wheelie bins when they collect the rubbish and charge people by weight collected. They've already started tagging the bins with RFID chips. They want to do this to encourage recycling. Well lets deal with those points one at a time, starting with recycling. First, the council needs to have a recycling plan which many (most) of them don't. Second, it really works much better if you give people money to encourage them to recycle rather than raping them blind when they don't. For example, credits on their council tax bill. Third, and this is just the way it is in England, people will simply start throwing their rubbish into other people's bins instead. How exactly is any of this supposed to work? If they must charge for waste collection, why not do it like the rest of Europe and (shock, horror) even America : pay per bin. It costs us $12 a month to have one green and one bl

Two-wheeled porn

2007 Triumph Tiger....

New tyres on Nebo Loop

Wheeee . Got the new tyres fitted to the bike last night - I'm not travelling around on squared off jobs now. Brand new Avon Distanzias. What a difference - the bike actually turns again! I christened them today in on of our off-site motivational seminars (ie. bike rides). We did 200 miles from the office south down the west side of Utah lake, through Goshen Canyon and down to Nephi. We stopped for lunch there then did the Mount Nebo Loop to get back to Payson, then the long slog back up I-15 home. There was a crash on I-15 and every fibre of my being said "filter dammit!" but it's illegal here so we were stuck in hot traffic. True to form with my ability to witness accidents right in front of me, about 10 miles further on, the traffic slowed and five cars in front of me there was an eruption of smoke as some tosser in a Dodge Neon slammed into the side of a minivan. I couldn't be buggered to give a witness statement this time - too hot to stand around, so we went

Gran Turismo HD microtransactions?

Well this is bad news. Apparently for the PS3, the first Gran Turismo game (GT HD) is going to be based on microtransactions. That is, if you want something in-game, you have to buy it with real world cash. The game will be $50 and come with no cars and no tracks. You'll have to buy cars for about 40¢ each and tracks for about $3 a pop. The game has 50 tracks and 750 cars. So if you want to play the full Gran Turismo experience, previously available on PS2 for $29.99 on sell-through, on the PS3 it's going to cost $50 + $150 for the tracks + $300 for the cars. I tell you what - there's nothing micro about those transactions. $500 for a game? You can fuck right off. I'm a die-hard Gran Turismo fan but there is no way in Hell I am paying for in-game content. This had better be someone's idea of a sick joke. For microtransactions to work, the game needs to be free and the cars need to be 1¢ each with the tracks being $1 each. That would make the whole game $50 for the

From the department of the bleeding obvious.

On Reuters today: Airline passengers willing to put up with aggressive new airport security measures are enjoying the unexpected serenity that comes from boarding flights with considerably less carry-on luggage. Travelers and flight crew report faster boarding, less competition for overhead storage and frictionless deplaning in the seven weeks since a foiled terror plot in Britain prompted the U.S. government to crack down on carry-on items. Many travelers responded by checking all their bags. An unintended benefit has been a smoother boarding process. Hmm. Well of course this does seem a lot like the true reason behind the 'alleged' 'plot' 'scare'. The airlines wanted more on-time departures. Like I said - there had to be a reason behind it and it had to be to do with money. We have to buy drinks in the 'secure' area now - money for the airports. And with less carry-on, there are less delays - more money for the airlines. Come on people - it's j

Happy chappie

Nephi brought his new bike in today - a gunmetal grey Suzuki V-Strom DL650. Nice. I'm particularly happy because it was one of my recommendations to him when he came asking for advice on a good 'starter' bike....

Why isn't it terrorism?

You know, if I was a terrorist and I was trying to think of a way to bring fear and uncertainty to a country, I might be inclined to try the roundabout route. For example some e-coli bacteria in the irrigation supply to one of the nation's largest farms. The bacteria would end up on the leaves and in the plants which would be harvested and distributed nationwide, whereupon people would start falling ill and dying. Spinach would be a great place to start. Seriously though - given that CNN etc will blame almost anything on terrorism, it's hard to believe that nobody has even considered that this e-coli outbreak might be something other than random happenstance.

Common sense prevails.

Hurrah! The TSA has finally come to its senses and realised that a total ban on liquids on aircraft is asinine. We're now actually allowed to take stuff on that we buy in the "secure area", and they're allowing certain sizes of toiletries on board too as long as they're in a clear plastic bag. Perfect. Common sense. It's about frickin time - they had these changes implemented in Europe over a month ago.

Common sense prevails.

Hurrah! The TSA has finally come to its senses and realised that a total ban on liquids on aircraft is asinine. We're now actually allowed to take stuff on that we buy in the "secure area", and they're allowing certain sizes of toiletries on board too as long as they're in a clear plastic bag. Perfect. Common sense. It's about frickin time - they had these changes implemented in Europe over a month ago.

Finally the Americans get it.

At last, the American bike market is starting to understand : sport bikes aren't the be-all and end-all of motorbikes. (and let's not mention that filthy HD company). I went to our local bike shop today and lo and behold, a KTM950SM and the BMW HP2 Enduro. Sweet. So very very sweeeeet. Courtesy of the stupid little cellphone camera:


Today's the day folks. Word from the Pentagon is that 2,973 US servicemen and women have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. That means that from today onwards, George W Bush is directly and solely responsible for more American deaths than the 9/11 attacks. Congratulations George, I hope you're proud. Every death from now on makes you a worse terrorist than those who attacked you.

TSA "humour" and who's getting rich?

Those humourless goons at the TSA have displayed at least some comedy today with their revised list of permitted and non-permitted items in hand luggage. Particularly entertaining is this one: Up to 4 oz. of essential non-prescription liquid medications and KY jelly I guess the TSA are all in favour of the mile-high club then. The real question though is this : in England, who is getting rich off the ridiculous carry-on restrictions? Only allowing "small" bags in carryon luggage is nothing to do with safety or security, so someone is making a lot of money off it somehow, somewhere. And I don't think it's the airports - they're suffering because they can't handle all the checked luggage, so the old adage about being on the same plane as your own suitcase is a fucking joke now. Especially at Heathrow. All the people I've spoken to in the last month who've travelled through there have lost their bags. I tell you what - the cynic in me says that this is

More lyrics

Ok, here's a slightly more obscure one: ♫♫ That's when I think of the moment, She's the girl you came to know, Taught me to dance to the beat of the moment, The only way to keep your'self whole... ♫♫ Artist and track title please.

Spot the lyrics, find the film

A difficult one this time: ♫♫ Woh Yaar Hai Jo Khusbhu Ki Tarah Jiski Zubaan Urdu Ki Tarah Meri Shamo-raat Meri Kaynaat Woh Yaar Mera Saiyyan Saiyyan Chal Chaiyya Chaiyya Chaiyya Chaiyya ♫♫ Find the song, find the name, find the film it was used in. We watched the film this weekend and it's a-w-e-s-o-m-e....... Oh and the music isn't bad either.

Nature's winter roar

Holy shit. Over an inch and a half of rain in the last 24 hours. A snow advisory in effect for 6 inches of snow down to 7000ft. I80 up towards Park City is currently in blizzard conditions and we're expecting a rain/snow mix on the benches tonight. And yesterday is was 25°C. Yes, winter is coming on strong. I love snow, but I hope we get a brief warm up again, long enough to let the trees drop their leaves. If it snows down here with all these leaves, we're in trouble. Let's not forget that technically it's still summer for another week......

But I can see the frickin refinery from here!

This is rich. Petrol prices have dropped in America over the last few weeks (that's what happens before an election). Yet here in Utah, prices have been going UP. We're now 70¢ a gallon more expensive than most of the rest of the country. The stuffed shirt on TV tonight tells me that it's because of refinery "issues" specifically that three of the five refineries in Utah are down. Wait. We have FIVE refineries? Wyoming has none and their petrol is $2.29 a gallon. I guess that $3.09-gallon stuff we have to buy must be subsidising them then.

Summer's last gasp!

Here it comes - the Utah 'winter' switch is about to be flicked. Today - 36°C - really, REALLY high for September. 29°C tomorrow. Friday 20°C with thunderstorms and snow down to 7000ft in the mountains. Saturday 14°C but check this out : saturday night 3°C. From there it goes downhill. We're looking to drop 22°C in three days. Batten down the hatches.....

BBC Censorship

The BBC "Have Your Say" page is undergoing some stringent censorship today. They posted the question "How has the world changed since the 9/11 attacks?" and invited public comment. I submitted the following, and it was rejected for being - get this - an "unsuitable" response. By which I can only assume that because I voiced an opinion that was a little unpalatable, they didn't want to publish it. This is what I wrote: Well it's unbearable to travel through airports now because of the "security" checks. People blame everything even vaguely out of the ordinary on terrorism. You can't even go up in an elevator in a tall building now without going through a metal detector. America is mired in a war based on a lie, with an increasing body count. So if their goal was to disrupt daily life and cause grief and aggrevation, I'd say the terrorists won, assisted by the reactions of the US and UK governments. Bush is running America using

5 years on, and it's now a comic book.

Only in America. The atrocity of the September 11th attacks has been turned into ---- a comic book. Yes, "famed" illustrator Ernie Colon has reduced 9/11 to a comic. I don't know who Ernie is, but frankly, if I'd lost a friend or relative on that day, to see the official 9/11 commission report turned into a comic book would be grossly offensive. This Ernie character defends it as being a "graphic novel" to explain the 9/11 commission report, but as far as I can tell, it's another cheap attempt to cash in on the events.

Schumacher leaving Ferrari

Bummer . We just finished watching the Italian Grand Prix and Schumacher announced that he's retiring at the end of this season. Given the body language of the engineers and Michael himself, my guess is Luca De Montezemolo has pushed him. It's a shame, but at least he's going out on top.

The hidden cost of cellphones.

If you read my blog regularly, you'll know what I think of cellphones. Sadly the time is approaching where I'm going to need one - mostly for work. I've been shopping around and I've found the widely unpublished bottom-of-the-line service that T-Mobile offer. It's still nauseatingly expensive - 30 bucks a month. The interesting thing is trying to find out exactly what the "extra fees and taxes" are that get added on. None of the cellphone companies advertise what they are, but I spent a while digging around on the net and as far as I can gather, this is how it's going to pan out: Basic plan = $29.99 Federal regulatory fee (fixed) = $0.86 Federal excise tax (3.00%) = $0.90 Federal universal service fee (9.20%) = $2.76 Charge for state universal service fund (1.00%) = $0.30 State and local sales taxes (6.60%) = $1.98 Utah uniform service fund (0.34%) = $0.10 Utility franchise fee (6.00%) = $1.80 911 service fee (fixed) = $0.53 Poison control (fixed) =

Made me laugh

I came across this today on a forum - someone is using it as his avatar. I don't know why but it just made me laugh out loud. I'm so 80's.

It's done !

It's finally finished! The basement is done. All painted, all cleared up. A bit more vacuuming and dusting, some blinds to put back up and stuff to move back down from upstairs. But all the construction, deconstruction, wiring, plumbing, painting and otherwise disruptive work is all finished. We have our house back! Yay!

Name that song.

Wonderful electric, Wonderful electric, Wonderful electric, Cover me in you. When you figure it out, go to YouTube and look for the music video. It's about the best music video since Peter Gabriel did Sledgehammer.

30 days

We've been catching up on a series on TV called '30 Days' - the brainchild of Morgan Spurlock (the guy who did Supersize Me). The idea is that someone from one walk of life or with one point of view, volunteers to go and live with people from the diametrically opposite life or point of view for 30 days. The most intriguing one so far was where an atheist volunteered to go and live with a Christian fundamentalist family. The wife of the family was relatively open-minded but holy shit - the husband. He was so arrogant and so blinkered I don't know how he manages to live his life. He absolutely refused to believe there was anything other than the Bible's point of view. He couldn't (or wouldn't) accept that people could live their lives without having a (as he put it) reference manuscript (ie. the Bible). The atheist was quite happy to let others have their own views, but this guy was so damned arrogant he refused to let the atheist have any say in anything. He

Nearly back to normal.

I repainted the office today, and tonight, finally got to start moving all the stuff back downstairs. I'm typing this from my PC, sitting in my office. Rather than sitting cross-legged in the guest bedroom, squinting to see the screen on the other side of the room, jammed between a dresser and the bed :-)

New paint, much better results.

I went down to Kwal-Paint this morning with the little tin of paint I found last night. It still had the formula on it so the guy was able to just program his R2D2-like paint machine and 5 minutes later I had a 5-gallon bucket of the stuff. I masked and painted the walls on the stairs today, and now it's dry, the colour is identical in tint and sheen. Phew. Looks much better.


Gart Sports are having their annual 3-day Sniagrab this weekend (that's Bargains, spelled backwards). For those who don't mind shopping for skis on a sunny, 35°C day, this weekend is the time to get some killer bargains. I need skis for this season, or rather, needed skis. Mike met us down there this morning and half an hour later we came away with a pair of 168 Atomic Izor 5:7's, with bindings and poles. Cost new : $572 with tax. Cost to me : $381 with tax. Suh-weet! So when it actually starts to snow, and the ski resorts open up, I'll have everything I need for this year, all paid for in the middle of summer. Nice.

Oh shit - wrong colour!

I got home tonight to find a huge amount of the painting downstairs done. The thing was that the paint was drying a different sheen and a different colour to that already on the walls near the stairs. Tres weird. Once dry, it had a matt finish and a creamy yellow tint. We put it down to being older paint and left it at that, until I left for the evening. As I was locking up, I looked at the siding on the house. Crapola! That was the same damn paint we now had on the inside! Problem was that when we bought the house, there were two giant tubs of paint left - light and dark. The dark is the stuff upside and the light, I'd assumed, is the stuff downstairs. Only the light stuff is what's on the outside of the house. So I went digging in the basement and found a tiny can of paint with a smear on the outside that looked the same as what was on the walls. Turns out the colours are close - really really close. Like about 2% off in the CMYK spectrum. The real kicker was the sheen. So t

The smell of drying paint means only one thing.

The basement is nearly finished! All the texturing is done on the ceiling, and most of the ceilings are painted. Some of the walls are finished too. I reckon it'll be done by the end of the day today. At last we can have the house back! I went tentatively looking for lightbulbs last night for all the new recessed lights we've got to fill. Home Depot only sell the bulbs I need per-bulb instead of in bulk. To do that would cost over $100 in bulbs. I checked out Sam's Club and CostCo - they both sell the bulbs in bulk at nearly half the cost, but I'd need to join up for $50 a year which sort of ruins the plan (as we'd never be buying anything else from those places after the event). Lowes looks promising - I'll swing by tonight, and I'll have to give our local lighting supply shop a bell too. Apart from the sticker shock of needing to buy over 20 reflector bulbs in one go, I'm glad it's all nearly over. Our cat is certainly pleased too - she went downs

Where there's a will, there's a way.

Mmmmmm. DRM-stripping goodness. For ages now, JHymn has been unable to strip DRM from itunes6 files. So with no end to this debacle in sight, and because I don't like being held hostage by Apple and it's nazi-like grip on downloaded music, I took a step sideways. I killed my old itunes account and uninstalled itunes6. I found a copy of the itunes 5 installer on the 'net, despite Apple's desparate attempts to remove all traces of it, and installed that. I then set up a new account, and started from scratch. Now I'm using itunes 5 again, JHymn works properly, and I can strip the DRM so I can use the music I bought legally anywhere I want. Nice.

1200 miles later....

Just got back from the round-trip to Las Vegas to see Raymond and Marie finally get married. I'm glad we've got the Honda Element, and I'm glad we turned up a day earlier than planned. Marie was panicking beautifully about ferrying luggage and parents around between locations and hotels. We were gladly able to help out. The wedding was great, at Arch Rock in the Valley of Fire. It was piggin' hot - 45°C. They were staying at the Red Rock casino and hotel complex, and after the wedding we went back there, had pizza for lunch then chilled out for about 3 hours in the pool. Paula and Marie boiled themselves in the jacuzzi whilst Raymond and I caught up with all the news. The pool area was great - huge pool with speakers underwater. Neat. The Red Rock is a great new complex, miles away from the strip with huge rooms, high ceilings and a lot of natural and wood finishes inside. The big surprise though was on tuesday. As I stood in line at the checkin in the Luxor, my dad wa

America is scared of it's own shadow.

Today's stories of Americans panicking and being scared to death of nothing : two airliners made emergency landings. One because a toilet door was locked, one because a passenger spent "too long" in the toilet. Radical terrorist groups all over the world must just be dying with laughter watching this. Everyone over here is so brainwashed that they're scared of their own shadows now. The news crews interviewed a passenger off the flight that had the passenger in the toilet for too long, and she said "I felt safer once we were on the ground". Safer? Than what? Than being stuck at 30,000ft with someone who had a bad case of the shits? Everyone seems to have take collective leave of their senses over here - the American public, egged on by CNN, the pentagon and Bush, have caused more hysteria, panic and disruption to daily life than any terrorist could ever do. To wit, CNN are banging on about N.Korea again now - nuclear weapons tests and missile tests again. W

Flying through the cosmos....

We sat on the deck again tonight and looked for the space station. Bang on schedule at 9:30 it popped up over the western horizon and flew across the sky to northeast. Cool. And 10 bonus points to the first person who can tell me where the lyrics of the title of this post come from :-)

Starry starry night.

Cool . We've not used the telescope since we moved into the house over three years ago. Tonight we were sitting on the deck looking at a bright object with the binoculars and we decided to get the telescope out again. Put new batteries in the pack, and ran the autoalign, then skewed over and took a look. Jupiter. Not only Jupiter, but with 4 satellites visible: Ganymede, Io, Europa and Callisto. Once I put the super high magnification eyepiece, we could see the bands of cloud on Jupiter too. And for the first time, the telescope tracked properly too because we had enough objects visible to calibrate it properly.

♫ n'ka n'ka n'ka n'ka ♫

Jussi Polet - Positive. Preferably the 'supermodels from paris' remix. Excuse me, I have to turn the volume up.

Gettin' ready for the ski season.

Yes yes I know it's still 35°C outside and we're months away from the first snowfall, but Solitude have their pre-season tickets on sale for $33 a day instead of $55 a day. I bought a pack today, and they'll be paid off long before winter so it'll be like skiing for free :-)

I know this is news, but....

Lady, the rear view mirror in your car isn't there to help you put your lipstick and eyeliner on. That might explain why you drove into the car in front of you at the traffic lights this morning. Just thought you should know. I filed my 11th accident report with the police this morning. In my statement I made sure that I mentioned the lady in front had driven most of the way up 2100E with no hands on the wheel, using her rearview mirror to apply makeup.

Memory is a powerful thing.

Winamp is currently on random-play, shuffling through several gigs of 80's music. It just picked Sign 'O' The Times by prince, and literally within a millisecond of it starting, I could see the inside of a bar in Malta where we went on holiday in 1987. It had yellow and black chequered tiles on the floor, white and black on the wall and neon blue and pink strips around the ceiling with a red London phonebox in one corner. The bar was on the last corner before the steps down to a club called Styx II. It's amazing how memory works. Sign 'O' The Times was playing in there one night when I was on my way out to that with a group of kids I met at the hotel. It was the first time I'd heard it through a decent sound system which is probably why I remember that moment. Weird.

Why does CNN hate America?

I turned on the Pentagon News Network this morning whilst having breakfast, like I normally do, only to be presented with Solenoid O Brien running a piece called "Target : USA". What the fuck? Basically, CNN are busily giving people ideas and instruction on how best to attack America. For example, on of their reporters was "reporting" from Gullfport Louisiana where he merrily told us that several million barrels of oil a day came in on tankers and they only had one security boat to police the entire area. He then pointed out how damaging it would be if one of the boats was hijacked and blown up - not just anywhere - but at the specific oil terminal he was standing at because of the processing capacity. Hey CNN : SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!!!! Jeebus. Now you know this alleged proposed terrorist plot to perhaps blow up airliners (that never happend) was nothing at all to do with safety and security and everything to do with giving Bush and his cronies an excuse to get peopl

Bike trip

I took myself off this morning to go on a little ride out on the bike. Turned out not to be so little - I did 178 miles and ended up in Eureka way south of Utah lake at one point. That's the bike in Eureka on the heavily photoshopped photo on the right (taken with the super crap-o-matic camera in my cellphone). The ride was good though - the air was cool even through midday and for the most part, I only passed other bikers on that road. There was barely another vehicle to be seen until I got close to Tooele.

Supercell madness

Wow! That was quite the storm this afternoon. A supercell parked itself over Sugarhouse and dumped 19mm of rain in 45 minutes along with very large, very damaging hail. Our poor cat had managed to get as far as under the deck before the heavy stuff so I had to go out with an umbrella and look for her. She was crying really loudly and totally waterlogged. I managed to convince her to come out and run the last couple of steps to jump up to the porch and run inside. She hid under the bed for the rest of the afternoon, and frankly having seen the storm, heard the thunder and watching the hail, I'm not surprised.

Only a few more steps to the totalitarian regime.

A clarification was issued today - videocameras, digital cameras, laptops, portable video games and MP3 players and cellphones must now all be in checked luggage. Better still, all the insurance companies have rapidly issues ammendments to their policies saying they won't cover anything lost or damaged in hold luggage now. Better yet, the airlines are forcing passengers to pay excess baggage for all the extra stuff put in the hold AND they're not guaranteeing it will get there on the same flight as you. I'm sorry but this is absolute bollocks. This is clearly not about a terror threat or anything like it. This is a scheme for someone to make money. Either by forcing passengers to pay excess for hold luggage, or to attempt to speedup turnaround on the ground by preventing any carryons. The more I read about this, the less I'm convinced that this is anything other than a device to strip travellers of the few remaining dignities and rights that they had. I believe the TSA

"Potential" = "Unlikely"

I call bullshit on this whole terror plot thing. When you read the news stories carefully, they all say "potential" terror plot. More interesting is the chemistry involved in what was supposedly going to happen. The bombs were supposedly going to be made using a mixture of acetone and hydrogen peroxide. Hmm. That isn't going to do anything unless you add a third chemical - some sort of acid. And even then, it needs to be mixed with precise measures of water, and the whole thing would need to be kept chilled - really chilled - to stop any chemical reaction until necessary. So basically, a full-blown chemistry set would need to have been broken out on board, with chemicals removed from refridgerated bags or coolers, then mixed carefully and in precise amounts. As for the Al Qaeda link - everyone's reporting it, but nobody has the evidence. So in a word : bollocks. There's no way this could have happened. This smells more and more like fear tactics. It's frig

Racketeering at the airport

There's another part of yesterday's saga which is worth recounting. So the security screeners are taking everyone's drinks off them coming through security. Inside the "secure area", there are shops and stalls, so I went and bought a new bottle of water. Get this. At the gate, as we entered the jetbridge, there was another TSA pinhead taking people's drinks off them again. So let me get this straight : if he's taking people's drinks off them, that by default they must have bought after coming through security, the implication is that either: (a) the "secure area" is a total waste of time (b) the security check is a total waste of time (c) the vendors in the "secure area" are all supplying us with bomb-making materials This is totally out of control. And I don't think it's any coincidence that this has happened as we're getting closer to the mid-term elections here in America. Keep people scared.

Beatdown with the TSA

Omaha was a blast - we did pretty well I think. The real story, of course, was today's terrorism of America by the American media. You all know the story so far - homegrown idiots in England wanted to use incendiary devices on flights to America. So on CNN this morning, we had the story evolving from "21 people pulled off flights with bombs" to "4 people arrested at home with bombs" to "21 people arrested at home on suspicion of wanting to bomb aircraft." Despite having no story at the time, and no evidence, CNN were quick to blame Al Qaeda - I think it took them all of 20 seconds to get that in. But on to the meat and bones of this blog entry : flying back home. Well America has gone fucking crazy. The TSA have wigged out completely and banned all "liquids" from carryons. I get to the security checkpoint and the guy hand-searches my only bag, and pulls out my toothpaste, shaving gel and aerosol deodorant. The conversation then went pretty m

Yay. Nebraska.

Be still my beating heart. I'm off to Nebraska tomorrow with a work colleague to once again bail out one of our so-called salesmen. Fortunately it's only a short trip.

Oh come ON!

A brief list of my day: - had to use internet exploder today on a site that didn't like Firefox. Because of that piece of shit software, the laptop got infected with a ton of spyware that took me three hours to clean off. - was backing up both PCs on to an external hard drive when the power went out - had to start again. - was nearly killed by some Asian woman on her cellphone, driving her SUV. Apparently red lights didn't mean anything to her. - wasted nearly 2 hours of my life watching Dukes of Hazzard. Oh. My. God. I was glued to it because I didn't believe it could be that bad - it HAD to get better. Eventually it did - things improved when the screen went black and the credits rolled. - finally got to backing up my PC and the power supply failed, had to buy a new one and pay the "late night idiot" price. Someone tell me why I got out of bed this morning....

E-passports are "brain damaged".

America's new "impenetrable" e-passports, the ones with RFID chips in them, have been hacked by a German technology guru who is going to show the world how to do it at the Black Hat conference this week. This comment was priceless : "Either this guy is incredible or this technology is unbelievably stupid," says Gus Hosein, a visiting fellow in information systems at the London School of Economics and Political Science and senior fellow at Privacy International, a U.K.-based group that opposes the use of RFID chips in passports. "Is this what the best and the brightest of the world could come up with? Or is this what happens when you do policy laundering and you get a bunch of bureaucrats making decisions about technologies they don't understand?" Well duh! RFID in passports? Come on. Could you make them easier to forge? At least at the moment the forger has to have some skill to be able to make the passport look real. With RFID passports, all

Basement passed the next step.

Sweet. The building inspector came around again today to check out the new ceiling before mudding and taping, and passed it off. So we're on the final straight now. Nearly done!

Tornadic supercell!

Jeebus! No wonder the storm this morning did so much damage. It turns out it was a tornadic supercell, the sort of thing you normally see in Texas or the boring flat states. Jinkies.

Only in America

The power has been on and off a bunch of times now and once it sort of settled down we went to get a couple of bits from the supermarket. What we witnessed was classic consumer-driven imperialism. The supermarket's backup power system and generators were running minimal lighting and all the tills, whilst all the fridges were off and the cold goods were being stored in refridgerated trailers in the parking lot. So the power to the tills was more important than the power to the fridges. Classic.

Utah fucking power

This is insane. We had God's own thunderstorm blow through the valley this morning, with 70mph winds, lashing rain, structural damage and torn-out trees, and the power stayed on without even so much as a glitch. Come 2pm this afternoon, sunny skies, no wind, no rain, temperate weather - power goes out. I thought we'd finished with this bollocks two years ago. I suppose this is one of the benefits that goes along with the 10% rate hike that we're all being charged for the corporate rebranding to Rocky Mountain Power. Problem is it's still the same fuckwits at the helm.

Israel - environmental terrorists too.

Not content with the carpet-bombing genocide they're wreaking on Lebanon's civilian population at the moment, (Qana, anyone?) Israel have turned to environmental terrorism too. Thanks to a well-planned bombing of a Lebanese power plant last week, the Mediterranean is threatened by its worst ever environmental disaster because thousands of tons of fuel oil are gushing into the sea. 15,000 tons by the latest count. In fact, enough to show up on satellite imagery. What defies belief is the Israeli response to some questions about their tactics. Last week, some Israeli stuffed shirt was asked "do you think your response was disproportionate?" to which he replied "yes - it was too small. If you had been attacked like we were, you would have responded with far greater force." What? Israel wasn't attacked. Two soldiers were abducted - that's hardly an attack. And it certainly doesn't warrant the war-criminal-like retaliation they've used. You kno

Walmart leaving Germany. At last.

Looks like Wal-Mart jut can't hack it in the real world. They're selling their underperforming German stores to the country's leading retail chain Metro. Apparently they've struggled to capture market share ever since entering the cut-throat German retail arena eight years ago, frustrated by razor-thin margins and tight labor and trade laws. In other words, their policy of piling up cheap overpriced shit and paying their workers next to nothing just didn't wash in Germany. So they've had a tantrum and left. Boohoo.

Doin' the tilt shift thang.

It's always fun to learn something new. Today I learned about tilt-shift photography. Basically a technique using a bloody expensive lens on your camera to adjust the focal plane angle. Alternatively, some natty work in Photoshop can achieve similar results. Specifically, the ability to make a real city look like a toy city. This is a shot taken in Docklands that I found on google. After processing in photoshop, it closely resembles tilt-shift photography in that it looks more like a diorama with toy cars made for a modelling magazine than a real photo. Click the photos for bigger versions. Neato.

And so to reconstruction.

Well the time has come - time to finish the basement off again. The lads were here today cleaning up the edges of the walls and putting furring strips in for the new drywall. Th carpets are covered in sticky plastic again and once more the house is full of dust. I expect by the weekend we'll have the majority of the large panels up. One more inspection then we can mud, tape, texture and paint.

Joggers? Closed lanes? Must be the 24th again.

Eesh . Same as last year. UHP have closed two lanes either direction on Foothill this morning, and refuse to let anyone turn right to get into the research park. Fortunately I was on my bike this morning so I was able to ignore those goons, scoot through the cones and be on my merry way. Apparently, because it's a local holiday, they don't believe anyone should be allowed to go about their normal daily life. Instead we're plagued with joggers, ambulances full of heatstroked joggers, coned off lanes and idiot UHP officers every July 24th. You should see the traffic jam out of my window right now - it's classic....

Every other friday off?

I heard an interesting rumour about the potential for doing L3-style workweeks here, where you do an extra hour every day and then take every other friday off. Everyone here already does way more than an extra hour a day anyway already. I can't remember the last time anyone actually did a 40 hour week. So that basically means no change in work pattern but we might get every other friday off. I'm not sure about that though. I'm inclined to think that if everyone else is away, I might come in because it's likely to be the one day every two weeks where I might actually be able to get some work done. You can't do much with a 3-day weekend anyway - it's not like you can go anywhere. You'd spend all day friday travelling wherever and all day sunday coming back. It'll be interesting to see how this pans out.

Let's hear it for digital downloads I actually want.

The latest record label / website to receive a little praise on this blog is - a key label in supplying Armin van Buuren with stuff for his radio show. They've started a webstore and I purchased a copy of the excellent 'Breathe' by Daniel Kandi - one of their up-and-coming DJs - today.

Prepping America for the $4 gallon.

The media today started the run-up to the record high gas prices that are going to happen around Labour Day weekend this year. Apparently, all-out war in Israel and a hurricane in the Gulf Coast could push oil to $95 a barrel, representing the $4 gallon at the pump. This is all Bush regime and Big Oil groundwork to soften the public up ahead of time. Obviously the reality of the situation is so much different. The API (American Petroleum Institute) publish weekly and monthly figures available to anyone who cares to look, which show exactly where America gets its oil from. In descending order: 1. Canada - 17.8% 2. Mexico - 12.9% 3. Venezuela - 12.9% 4. Saudi Arabia - 11.6% 5. Nigeria - 10.2% 6. Angola - 4.5% 7. Iraq - 4.1% 8. Algeria - 3.4% 9. Virgin Islands - 2.6% 10. UK - 2.4% Taking into account Saudi and Iraq, America gets only 15% of its imports from the middle east, and most of that comes from Saudi - a 'friendly' country to America's oil needs. Not one drop of it

Passed muster

Sweet! Final electrical inspection was done on the house today and we've passed muster. So we're good to go. I'm going to see if the insurance co. will give us their 'renovation' discount now.

We're still here then?

With the escalating war in Israel, it's a pleasure to wake up and still be alive this morning. Israel aren't known for their tolerance and self-moderation, so I was fully expecting them to have nuked Lebanon by now. Bush has advised restraint (pot, meet kettle) but it doesn't matter what the international community tells them, they're playing the victim card (as usual), and when it comes down to it, you just know those f*ckers won't think twice about turning Lebanon into a glass parking lot. Things are getting really bad. The wholesale evacuation of European and US citizens has begun with Blair sending carriers to evacuate the English and Bush sending helicopter to start on the Americans. Meanwhile the troop drawdown in Iraq continues quietly - the war in Israel is a nice diversion from that bit of news. I wouldn't want to be the pilot in the last helicopter picking up the last few Americans from the roof of the US embassy in Baghdad (a la Vietnam).

A private club for members

Utah's liquor laws have to change. I was never a big social drinker before we moved here, but Utah has painted me into a near alcohol-free corner with it's stupid 'private club for members' laws. Basically, you can't just walk in somewhere and have a drink. You have to buy a membership first. But to get a membership, you have to know someone else who has to introduce you. In other words, it's 99.9% impossible to have an impulse drink. I don't understand how any of these places make any money, and when the topic of killing off the membership law comes up, all the owners are all up in arms telling anyone who'll listen that they'll lose business because of it. Hmm. No. Repeal the membership law, and ban smoking, and I'll come in and have a drink. So will tons of other people who'd never considered it before. But for as long as this freakish liquor law stands, I refuse to pay $69 a year for a "membership" ($4 every 3 week for each bar

Target pulling UMDs

Well it had to happen. Target are the first store to stop selling Sony's UMD discs for the PSP. By the end of the month, I suspect BestBuy will be doing the same. Of course we all saw this coming because Sony flat refused to make a UMD burner available. No burner, means no third party, means dead format. I'm amazed that with all the history of failed media types, Sony still haven't learned that lesson :(

No more Rose Tyler. Was that wise?

We watched the season finale of Doctor Who last night and they finally wrote Rose Tyler out of the show. They changed Doctors on us after the first series and now they've gotten rid of the other key character. I'm not sure that's a clever thing for the old Beeb to have done. I could be wrong. They were happily salvaging Doctor Who from the old days of nauseatingly long story lines and changing characters, and now it looks like they've fallen off the wagon. I don't know why they've done it either. The new series has been winning award after award and rave reviews. Changing both lead characters seems like the sort of moronic thing a US network would do. We'll have to see how it pans out later in the year but I'm not holding high hopes for the next season :-( Still - she's trapped on a parellel earth, so if the new assistant sucks donkey balls, I guess they can write her back in. There's a faint glimmer of hope.

Microsoft Argo

Wow. Talk about not learning your lesson. Microsoft's X-Box team are working on Argo - their supposed iPod-killer. This would be less laughable if so many other products hadn't failed to take the iPod crown. It would be less laughable if any division other than the goons responsible for the X-box were working on it. After all - look at the - erm - "resounding success" of the X-box and X-box 360 (neither of which have outsold any of their competition). When you look at the pictures of the Argo, you realise instantly that it's going to be a PDA that runs Windows Mobile. Hence the gigantic, power-sapping screen. That means the battery life is going to suck, the interface is going to suck and the product is going to suck. Windows mobile is slow, bloatware. My current "top of the line" PDA running WM is easily slower and more cumbersome than my wife's dinky little $99 palm. Microsoft are going to make the same mistake they always do. They're going