31 March 2010
So spot on, especially the bit about the obligatory shot of fat people...
So all you media types - your secret is out! I never realised it was quite so formulaic
29 March 2010
28 March 2010
26 March 2010
One day an acquaintance ran up to him excitedly and said, "Socrates, do you know what I just heard about Diogenes?"
"Wait a moment," Socrates replied, "Before you tell me I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the Triple Filter Test."
'Triple filter?" asked the acquaintance.
"That's right," Socrates continued, "Before you talk to me about Diogenes let's take a moment to filter what you're going to say.
The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?"
"No," the man said, "Actually I just heard about it.
"All right," said Socrates, "So you don't really know if it's true or not. Now let's try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about Diogenes something good?"
"No, on the contrary..."
"So," Socrates continued, "You want to tell me something about Diogenes that may be bad, even though you're not certain it's true?"
The man shrugged, a little embarrassed. Socrates continued, "You may still pass the test though, because there is a third filter, the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about Diogenes going to be useful to me?"
"No, not really."
"Well," concluded Socrates, "If what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even useful, why tell it to me or anyone at all?"
The man was bewildered and ashamed and he decided not to tell his story.
This is an example of why Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem.
It also explains why Socrates never found out that Diogenes was shagging his wife.
25 March 2010
This week - "Head bands"
What would possibly possess an adult woman to wear a thin plaited strip of leather around her head. A latent desire to play and being a Squaw? A vague attempt to recycle the 70s and get in touch with your inner hippy? Well it looks ridiculous, especially when you wear it to work. In fact the only thing that looks more ridiculous than a grown woman playing at cowboys and indians is the bloke I saw wearing one in a restaurant last week. Utter Wanker
24 March 2010
The first from Roy Fitz - its not quite AC/DC but its pretty damned good...
The second is related to a NASA study of the impact of various drugs on spiders and the webs they spin. This was a real study and its worth looking at this website before you watch the movie here.
19 March 2010
18 March 2010
The tide is turning, the global success of this movie, culminating at the Oscars, has led to a huge audience, all informed and outraged. The butchers find themselves more isolated and more marginalised on a daily basis – That is a result!
Meanwhile in the Southern Ocean, Sea Shepherd have just concluded their most successful season ever. They shut down the Japanese whaling fleet for over half of it’s season, cutting their kill quote drastically and costing the Japanese tax payer millions of dollars in subsidies. The success of Whale Wars on Discovery Channel has brought extra awareness and with that extra funding for the campaign, increase the number of boats and the chance of success. That awareness has also, finally, forced vote hungry Australian politicians to stand by election pledges and complain openly about the poachers in their waters. Meanwhile the whalers are forced in to more and more desperate measures like, secruity ships, acosutic weapons and running over small boats as the World watches, intrigued, bemused and appalled – That is a result!
Last year the EU banned the import of Canadian seal products so that the butchers of Newfoundland have one less market for their grizzly kill – That is a result!
Today in the UK a hunt observer was cleared of wrong doing in association with the death of a thug who was threatening him and trying to stop his gyrocopter taking off to observe a fox hunt. I don’t celebrate the death of a member of the pro-hunt lobby, frankly I don’t care if he lives or dies, but what was interesting was that a high proportion of comments in the Times Online supported the verdict. I was surprised at that, I thought the right wing readers would be outraged. This perhaps illustrates that the debate has moved on. People are no longer able to hide behind the veil of calling it a class struggle and are seeing it for what it actually is. A law to stop barbaric ritual slaughter for entertainment - That is a result
The world is slowly changing. These changes are made possible by the availability of information, through TV, movies and the internet. The majority of people are intelligent, compassionate and caring. They don’t support this pointless, outdated barbarism and will take a stand. Society is becoming progressively more aware of its power to control nature and th efact that with intelligence and power comes responsibility. Just as slavery was abolished, just as child labour was outlawed so these unnecessary, barbaric acts will eventually be stopped by collective World opinion. Culture is a piss-poor excuse for brutality and slowly but surely we are winning this fight - That is a result!
17 March 2010
16 March 2010
The guys arrived on the late Gatwick flight on Thursday night so we sat around and drank beer until about 1.30. Friday morning we headed up to Voss to check out a 5 pitch route that Sandy had recommended. It has been a bit warm on the west coast in the last week so I thought it had probably melted. When we got there it was still looking ok, so after a fairly grim wade through thigh deep snow Dave and I picked it off. It was longer than it looked but a great start to the weekend.
Drove to Hemsedal and arrived very late, due to a fairly pointless road closure (klonnekkjøring). Next day we checked out a long grade 5 above Ulsåk which looked rotten and rather nasty so we headed to Haugfossen, one of Norway’s more popular ice locations. It’s popularity is totally justified, two really nice falls, sheltered from the wind, fat, great plastic ice and a blue sky day. Sandy cracked off a nice WI5 which I seconded, Dave did another on the same fall while Mike and Clair climbed a route on the left side of the main fall. I then led the long WI4+ pitch on the right side of the main fall. Ice climbing doesn’t get much better than that.
Dave looking realxed on steep ice - Indrehaugfossen
That night we managed to drink a lot of wine (18 bottles between 8), some beer and half a bottle of jeager in the hot tub at the cabin. Not sure where all that booze went but it was a fun evening. Next day, we were all looking and feeling decidedly ropey. Sandy, Helen and Ceclie headed off to ski at the ski-centre and we opted to explore Lærdal. It has some amazing, large and very scary looking ice lines in it, which are way too hard for mere mortals like me, but I had got a guide off Jamie which suggested that buried in the side valleys were some more do-able routes.
We scouted a few before we hiked up a gorge to huge amphitheatre called Nausagrovi, with 4 distinct falls and numerous ice lines. The most obvious was a big fat fall that looked at two pitches of 3+ or 4.
Nausagrovi in Lærdal, 150m of WI4Mike took pictures while I dispatched the first pitch. An unconformable, near-hanging belay brought Dave up who then dispatched the steep second pitch, pronouncing that he wasn’t going to make the top. By this time I had been on the belay for about an hour and a half, why one foot had serious pins and needles, I was cold, hungover and getting spooked by how quickly the ice screws were meting out. I seconded the pitch and lead through to another full rope length and the top. The angle eased off just in time as I ran out of energy and motivation and I reached an awesomely conformable belay at the top and brought Dave up. Some fairly hairy abs got us back down again and we walked back to the car in the dark. A fairly full on day, especially considering the hangover and the previous two days.
My rat is very well fed now, in fact I might have to put him on a diet! Great to see the guys, drink wine and climb quality ice! Now looking forward to spring.
09 March 2010
Its hard to believe but this is in the days before the internet, mobile phones or email. To communicate with the folks back home you wrote letters (how quaint) and every couple of days you went to the Post Office and collected your mail that was sent “general delivery”.
So one day I walk into the post office and see the smiling old lady. I buy some stamps and hand her my cards before asking for my mail.
Out of the blue she asks “Is the Ukraine still apart of Russia?”
Now that’s a curved ball question! But this is the time of the break up of the Soviet Union, so I figure that maybe she doesn’t know who else to ask.
I reply “Yes, I believe it is”
“You speak pretty good English for a Russian”
Getting more random by the minute...
“I am not Russian” I reply
“Oh” She looks confused but not put off she comes back with “Well you sure send a lot of cards and letters to Russia”
At this point I am totally lost and trying to work out if some cold war task force is going to appear and arrest me.
“I have no idea what you are talking about” I reply
“Look!” She exclaims. “All these cards going to the Ukraine”
She points at the UK at the bottom of the address and all is clear…
“No, that’s UK - United Kingdom, Britain, England…”
“Nope its definitely Ukraine” she insists and I give up arguing.
I leave hoping that a) the person in the main sorting office is more geographically aware and b) she didn’t see fit to add “raine” to all my UKs so a confused postman in the Ukraine is looking for a town called Llanwrst.
Arrived Friday evening and we had a curry with some of Katharine’s friends. I was feeling pretty tired after a long week and also a bit under the weather, but it was a pleasant evening. Saturday we headed out to the country for an evening at a very nice country hotel. After a fine dinner I realised it was now or never so I rather nervously asked her to step outside for some air. Once outside I popped the question and she said yes – or something that equated to yes in between a lot of blubbering. We then engaged a bottle of champagne to cap off the evening, Secretly, I think that she is just as excited about having a very large party as anything else, but that’s fine with me.
It’s a strange sensation, practically nothing will change, however maybe it’s the deeply buried traditionalist in me but it feels significant, which probably explains the nerves. I guess proposing is not that big a deal, most of my friends have managed to do this successfully, some have done it several time! But for us it’s a new adventure and sometimes its good to be certain before you dive in there.
And this is something I am certain about
04 March 2010
Evil bastard ninja centipede
This unprovoked attack lead to an interesting discussion. It was clear that this thing was poisonous, my foot was swollen and growing. But how poisonous? Are we talking bee sting or death in 10 minutes? There are plenty of poisonous snakes and scorpions in the area but nobody knew anything about any killer ninja centipedes. My logic was that if it where deadly I would have heard about it, Andy was more concerned, which was ironic since it was my foot. But since we were at the end of the day and the hospital was on the way home we stopped in.
An elderly Afrikaans nurse was highly bemused and said she had never seen or heard of this before. She then proceeded to inject me in the arse, although I am not sure what with, probably with saline solution she keeps next to the band aids the stick on peoples foreheads to cure headaches. That’s now 3 trips to hospital in 4 field seasons!
So this weeks joke is about a centipede...
Rodents vs Insects – Football World Cup
A team of rodents were playing a team of insects in the finals of the very small football world cup. The rodents totally dominated the first half and at half-time were leading 6-nil.
At half-time the insects made a substitution and brought on the centipede. He was stunning, great ball control, very aggressive play and within 15 minutes had personally scored 7 goals and set up another 3. The insects went on to win the game 14-6. In the dressing room afterwards the captain of the rodents was chatting to the insect captain.
"That centipede of yours is terrific," the captain of the rodents said. "Why didn't you play him from the start?"
"We'd have liked to," replied the insect captain, "but it takes him 45 minutes to get his boots on."
02 March 2010
It's my first attempt at timelapse and represents about one week over the view from the living room window at the Lair. It is taken at one frame every 10 minutes and 60 frames per second using a basic webcam attached to an old laptop.
This is version two, there is a bug with the compilation software but I have fixed that now. Enjoy
Comments welcome as always
We arrived and met Andy from Liverpool at the airport and he, Andreas and I drove straight to Lainsburg, 4 hours through the Cape Fold belt, amazing scenery. Simon stayed behind to met the helimap folk. Next morning we headed down to Matjesfontain for breakfast. Entering Matjesfountain is like stepping back about 100 years in time. The town is a single drag along a wide dusty road lined with old colonial buildings. There is a strong Scottish theme with a pub complete with imported stags heads and a large collection of whisky. Breakfast was at the hotel which hasn’t changed very much since it was built. It sits in an ongoing state of dilapidation, steadfastly trying to resist both the erosion of the elements and changing social and political attitudes. The restaurant was busy. The people mirrored the buildings. Once good looking and majestic they retained their arrogance despite looking tired and haggard.
We headed to the field and reccied the first sections, then in the evening we met up with Simon, our friends from helimap and the chopper pilot, an Aussie called Bronte. Bronte was, like most heli pilots I have met, an interesting character. Stories of flying in Angola during the civil war, hanging out with Mandela during the first elections and various other stuff, reminded me that no matter how cool you think your life is, there is always people who have a more interesting time of it…
So we worked the next couple of days. The weather was not especially kind to us. It was either very hot, 40+ degrees c or it was stormy. Andreas and the helimap guys spent a very eventful day being buffeted and bounced around by storm force winds only to discover that the data were no good, I spent a long day as co-pilot collecting lots of data and eventually we got everything done within the time allotted and by Thursday evening we had finished.
Thursday night was spent in Stellenbosch, which is on route back to Cape Town and so different to the Karoo that it might as well be another planet. The town has beautiful tree lined streets with great colonial architecture. We had an excellent vegetarian meal, taken with G&T and fine wine, sat outside a really lovely restaurant. The streets are filled with young people, it’s a student town, and while it is still conservative there is a real sense of optimism. I guess it’s the kind of optimism you get from being rich and privileged and I am sure that if you spent time there it would drive you crazy, but as an antidote to the harsh Karoo it is great.
Friday morning we headed back to Cape Town and spent the afternoon being tourists. Hit the beach at Camps Bay for the sunset, had a quick and bracing body surf before dinner in Club La Med.
The tourist theme continued on Saturday when we drove down to Cape Point. I have been there several times but always in a rush, drive down, quick picture by the famous sign and then whiz off. This time we spent most of the day there including hiking around for several hours. It was windy and classic sunburn weather, but it was nice to get some fresh air and relax a bit. On the way back we stopped at a vineyard and did the wine tasting thing before buying a couple of crates to bring back. The day was capped off with dinner at the awesome Mama Africa followed by cocktails in Cape to Cuba.
Sunday we went up Table Mountain. There was much deliberation about walking or taking the cable car. The lonely planet said “there are no safe hiking trails on the mountain take a rope and be prepared to die”. I was pretty sure that this was bullshit and persuaded them to have a go. In the end the path was absolutely fine, although steep. It was about 600 m vertical of steps and it was bloody hot, but certainly not dangerous. It took me just under 2 hours while the youths did it in an hour and a quarter! Very impressive I am definitely feeling my age and the impact of my sedentary lifestyle.
Quick shower, lunch and then the airport for another 12 hours encased in a very small German torture seat. The bitch at check-in wanted to charge us 400 euro for being 8 kg over weight but after some arguing she graciously said she would be nice and waive it. I hate these people so much…
Arrived in Frankfurt Monday morning and was back in work in the big B just after lunch. While we had been boiling at 40+, Bergen had got another half metre of fresh snow. Amazing!