30 September 2010

29 September 2010


I am a geek in that I have a strong interest in science and technology (amongst other things). I am proud of the achievements of science and I thing science should be promoted and encouraged, especially amongst young people but also across the population in general.

Living in a country where the radio and TV are in a language I don't speak very well has forced me to seek other forms of mental stimulation for my drive to work and while sitting at home. I recently discovered podcasts which are a great way of getting something worth listening to onto your ipod/iphone.

If you are interested in science I suggest Radiolab, its a totally awesome science show. They have this unique style which takes a little getting used to, but when you do you will be hooked. Gareth first pointed me towards it and I was a bit sceptical at first. Now I love it. They do 1 hour podcasts of their regular radio shop and also special "shorts" which last about 15 mins and are perfect for my drive to work. I really can't recommend this show enough. I love it. Check out http://www.radiolab.%20orgb/ or go to itunes and seach on radiolab and download and enjoy.

Science weekly from the Guardian - another very good science show, worth listening to

If you want some history, A History of the World in a Hundred Objects is a great series of podcast shorts about history told though objects by the director of the British Mueseum. Again a perfect length for my drive to work and highly educational.

Finally if you want some politcis and current affairs the Young Turks offers an educated, informed and opinionated liberal view on American Politics. It is a fantatsic antidote to the idiots like Rush Limbaugh

To download a podcast, simply go to the very shit piece of software that is iTunes and search for your chosen cast. All the ones above are free so when you find them, follow the instructions download, listen and enjoy

Moped madness

This week is all about small motorbikes and being young and stupid.

The first one from Les goes to show what happens when you let a bunch of chav's lose with a moped and a roundabout. I then found a load more that were all similiar, here, here and here. Strangley enough they all seem to be German.

The next one is a must see and goes to prove that just cos the engine is small doesn't mean it isn't fast or very dangerous.

And then there is this guy who might just be a rocket scientist.

And finally a great three-parter on youtube showing the joys of the Yamaha fizzy and girls in 1970's northern England. Class

23 September 2010

Demotivational posters

Do you remember seeing those utterly hideous motivational posters several years ago showing an eagle soaring with a very cheesy logo underneath? They were designed to hang in the meeting room in some crappy company and make you feel sick.

Well fortunatly they have been rendered largely obsolete by the rather excellent "demotivational posters" at verydemotivational.com. This is a user generated forum and I recently submitted a few. I am not sure of the process that gets them from submission to being on the website but I think it has something to do with users voting. I am rather demotivated to find that none of mine have yet made it.

So in the absence of any crap jokes this week, here they are...

Geek Day - more analemma

A while ago I wrote a post about a guy who had photographed the Sun every ten days for a year. The subsequent pattern reflects the various movements of the Earth. This is called the analemma and is described here on wikipedia. Despite that explanation I was still having trouble picturing how all this stuff was moving.

The other day I was playing around on this site, which allows you to look at a map of the sky from anywhere on Earth at anytime (it is made by the same guy who did the Space Invaders game) and it occured to me that I could re-create the analemma. So I set my location to 60N/5E, which is pretty much at the Lair, then filmed a day by day movie for a year from equinox to equinox. The movie is here.

You can recreate this and try putting in different latitudes and see how it impacts the suns pattern. Its pretty cool.

(Now we just have to see how many perv hits I get on a site called karmasotra with a post called anal emma...)

22 September 2010

White water fun

Back in 1997 I drove from central Namibia along the Caprivi Strip into Botswana and then on to Victroria Falls with the goal of rafting the Zambezi. The first part of this was achieved fairly easily by signing up for a commercial trip, then things got interesting.

I had been on numerous river trips in the US and elsewhere and I had heard the standard saftey briefing enough times to give it. However it normal goes something like "if you fall out of the boat then bla bla". Here in the centre of Africa, the briefing was subtly different, it went "when you fall out the boat..." They even had kayakers following the rafts to pick up the swimmers and stear them away from the crocs in the pools.

We did the trip and the rapids were huge! I have never run anything like that, Lava Falls on the Grand Canyon was big and wide and ferocious, but these are narrrow and very fast and very fierce. We capized once but no harm was done, we portaged one rapid and had a great trip which was all too short.

I was chating about this on Friday night in the pub with Terry and on Monday he sent we the first of this weeks movie. Remember the river surfing in Voss from a couple of weeks back, well this takes it to a whole new level.

And just in case you think I am dissing Lava Falls - check this and this

Bonus Wednesday Movie

Bonus Wednesday movie because it won't really keep until next week.

As spectator sports go, snooker is almost as terminally dull as golf (almost)
However there is always an exception and this is it.

Ronnie O'Sullivan comes to the table, then immediately asks what the prize for a 147 is. How utterly cool is that? But it gets better, because when they then tell him that there isn't one he proceeds to pot all the balls except the last black, leaving the ultimate ball as a protest. The Guardian says that he the ref had to beg him to finish. I am not so sure that was obvious from the vid, but its bloody cool anyway.

18 September 2010

The Levellers

It was October 1991 and I was trying to finish my PhD. This was one of the toughest periods of my life. My daily routine involved getting up at about 10 am, heading into the Geology department and working through to about 1 or 2 in the morning. Seven days a week for about 8 months. I was totally focused on finishing the project and a 4 volume report for the sponsors within the 3 year deadline. I have never been so focused on anything, before or since. In the end I worked for 250 days straight with only one half a day off at Christmas and I narrowly missed the deadline.

One late night in the department I was drafting figures and listening to the radio. This was the days before computer drawing and all the diagrams were drafted by hand using rotoring pens on drafting film, I actually rather enjoyed it. I am not the most artistic person but the mechanics of it all are rather theraputic and the feeling of producing a nice looking figure is very satisfying. So I was there drawing figures accompanied by John Peel's eclectic mix of the weird and the obscure. At some point in the night he put on three tracks from an unknown band called the Levellers. The first two were "One way of life" and "The Game". I don't remember the third., maybe Riverflow or the Boatman, anyway I loved it. "One way", which went on to be a bit of an indi ballard was good, but The Game just sent shivers down my spine.

I hardly ever bought records back then, I didn't have the money, but next day I went straight to the small record shop on Bristol Road and bought the album, "Levelling the Land" and it became a part of the sound track to my PhD. The fusion of folk and punk with a social conscience was so representative of that period in the UK when Thatchers erosion of the foundations of society forced a generation of people to live on the road and fundamentally changed Britain for ever. It's still one of my favourite albums and I still love the Levellers.

Saw them playing in Birmingham 3 times and at Glastonbury in 1992 and again in 1994 when they played an amazing cover of the Devil went down to Georgia. Also saw them in Liverpool in 1994 and 1996. In 2003 I was walking down the road in Salt Lake City when I saw sign on the now sadly defunct, Zephyr club advertising the Levellers tomorrow night. This was a long way off their beaten track so I wasn't even sure if it was the same band. I popped into the club and asked if this was the Levellers from England? The guy at the desk just looked confused, so I tried a bit more, folk/punk, crusties, dogs on string, dreadlocks? He seemed even more confused so I just opted to chance it, rearranged my schedule and turn up.
When we got there it was indeed the same Levellers and the place was pretty much empty. When they came out there was about 20 of us in the audience and they played a blinding set, just for us. It was an awesome evening which ended up with us drinking in the bar with them until closing and getting them to autograph Chris Lepard!

I still listen to them and whenever I hear that distinctive fiddle and base sound it takes me back to the early 90's. Festivals, climbing, juggling, motorbikes, the early days of rave, travellers and long long days on my PhD. It all seems like a different World...

17 September 2010

Friday Joke - More Pope Shit

So that geriatric Nazi war criminal is in the UK trying to attribute the crimes of his youth to people who are intelligent and perceptive enough to question the brutal bronze age fairy tails that form the justification for his church's numerous acts of genocide through the ages.

Meanwhile scumbag apologists like that horror-show bitch Ann Widdecombe are on the TV saying that the press are "rude" to keep mentioning the fact that the church and the Pope have continually protected and supported pedophiles. Apparently being born gay is far worse than being making a conscious decision to rape small children in your care. Can anyone think of anything more horrific than the terror of a young child, with no one to turn to being repeatedly abused by the very people who are entrusted to look after them. I can't, although the systematic obstruction of the use of condoms against the spread of aids in Africa must come pretty close.

So where are the jokes?
First, the only slightly ironic coverage of the Pope's visit by the daily mash is a good starting point. Here, here, here and here.

And if the twat in the white hood hadn't quite got the message that he is unwelcome, then maybe he should listen to this sent to me by Terry. Despite being rather profane the actually lyrics pretty much hit the nail on the head.

16 September 2010

Star trails

Was inspired by a post on OlA's blog with a cool pic and an awesome video, to go out and try some star trails.

Long exposure that captures the movement of the Earth by smearing out the stars

The initial results were OK for a first attempt
Both of these were taken at the lair with a 25 minute exposure.

14 September 2010

Wednesday Movie - Driving in Saudi

Living in a country where the speed limit is 80 km/h and you can go to jail for driving at 120 km/h it's entertaining to look at other parts of the World were people are a bit less worried about such petty things as road safety

Check out this and then this and if you want to see what the chaps from Top Gear have to say about it - go here - "that's what happens when don't let people to drink"

And then they go out to the desert and play on the dunes

13 September 2010

Autumn has arrived

Amazing weather last week, really felt like summer, unfortuantly I was stuck in doors working.
Was then in Aberdeen for the weekend and got to see the Farm for the second time. All very exciting and just a bit scary as well. There is certainly lots to do there.

Looking moody

The house close up
My brother and Ellie were up in Scotland so they came to visit. We went to Dunotter Castle which was very impressive, had chips in the worlds best fish and chip shop in Stoenhaven and food and a beer in my new local. All very exciting.

Free tractor with every derelict farm!

Local Castle

Now back in Bergen and the weather is horrible. First leaves are coming off the trees and it really feels like autumn has arrived.

10 September 2010

Friday Joke - Catholics

Since the Pope will soon be visiting the UK, here are some catholic jokes...

(and if you want something more irreverent, dealing with how he is actually a Nazi war criminal who endorses child abuse, try this and this from the excellent Dailymash)


A man made his way quickly through the carriages of a train in Ireland, calling out "I need a priest! Is there a Catholic priest on the train?". There was no reply. He then went back through the train, asking "Is there a rabbi on the train?". Again, no reply. He made his way through a third time, crying out "OK, is there an Anglican clergyman on the train?". Still no answer. Finally a man in in the corner of the carriage timidly raised his hand and said "I am a Presbyterian minister, if that's of any help". The man took one look at him and said "That's no good, we're lookin' for a corkscrew.".


The Catholic Priest rode his bicycle by the Baptist church every day on his lunch hour for exercise. He and the Baptist Pastor got to be good friends. One day, the Priest came walking by the Baptist church. "Where is your bike?" the pastor inquired. "Someone stole it!" "Well, someone stole some property from our church recently and I preached on the ten commandments last Sunday and the guilty person confessed and returned the property." Next week the Priest rode his bike by the Baptist church. "Hey, I see you got your bicycle back!" exclaims the pastor. "Yeah, that was a great idea you had about preaching on the ten commandments. When I got to 'Thou shall not commit adultery,' I remembered right where I left my bike!"


The Pope goes to New York. He is picked up at the airport by a limousine. He looks at the beautiful car and says to the driver, "You know, I hardly ever get to drive. Would you please let me?"
The driver is understandably hesistant and says, "I'm sorry, but I don't think I'm supposed to do that."
But the Pope persists, "Please?" The driver finally lets up. "Oh, all right, I can't really say no to the Pope."
So the Pope takes the wheel, and boy, is he a speed demon! He hits the gas and goes around 100 mph in a 45 zone. A policeman notices and pulls him over.
The cop walks up and asks the Pope to roll down the window. Startled and surprised, the young officer asks the Pope to wait a minute. He goes back to his patrol car and radios the chief.
Cop: Chief, I have a problem.
Chief: What sort of problem?
Cop: Well, you see, I pulled over this guy for driving way over the speed limit but it's someone really important.
Chief: Important like the mayor?
Cop: No, no, much more important than that.
Chief: Important like the governor?
Cop: Wayyyyyy more important than that.
Chief: Like the president?
Cop: More.
Chief: Who's more important than the president?
Cop: I don't know, but he's got the Pope driving for him!

08 September 2010

Blueman Group

About 5 years ago I was doing field work in Portugal, based in a small town on the coast called Peniche. One sunday evening it was fairly quite in the bar and the barman put on a video on the large screen.

The video featured three blokes with blue faces playing various precussion instruments that seemed to mainly be made up of bits of drain pipe. It was awesome...

And that was my introduction to the Blueman Group! You may already know them, if you do enjoy, if you have never heard of them, then you are in for a treat.

A taster is here and here and if you like it there is tons more on youtube

06 September 2010


Fairly hectic times at the moment. PhD exam in the UK was tough, with the candidate getting super defensive and rather difficult to handle. Then met up with Gary in Gatwick on my way back. He was flying to Bergen to examine one of my students the next day.

Gary stayed at the lair and we did a couple of bottles of red whilst sorting the worlds problems. Not too hungover on Friday and Tore's exam went very well, in fact so well he got an A! He was genuinely shocked, it was really nice to see and well deserved.

Katharine was here for the weekend and we made the most of the excellent weather by buying a load of plants for the garden and planting them in the new garden. Not exactly rock n roll but it felt good to get it finished. I have never been a big fan of gardening but I feel strangly compelled to ensure these things don't die and keep rushing out to water them! Maybe I am metamorphing into a middle aged bloke!

Saturday night we went to Liv's 40th birthday party in Loddefjord. It was a really nice evening, very low key. Some food, drink, a few speaches and good company. Norwegian's do this sort of thing so much better than us Brits. Amongst their friends and family they have no problem being very open, honest and sincere. While the Brits would just be shy coy and rude to one another, the Norwegian put us to shame here. It was a privilage to be there and to see her with her friends and family.

Sunday we pottered around the place and enjoyed the good weather. Summer and western Norway at its best.

03 September 2010

Best of British

Angharad is back with her Friday Fun so I can pillage that in a vague attempt to improve the quality of the Friday Joke.

Have a nice weekend

From the paper...
Commenting on a complaint from a Mr. Arthur Purdey about a large gas bill, a spokesman for North West Gas said, 'We agree it was rather high for the time of year. It's possible Mr. Purdey has been charged for the gas used up during the explosion that destroyed his house.'(The Daily Telegraph)
Police reveal that a woman arrested for shoplifting had a whole salami in her underwear. When asked why, she said it was because she was missing her Italian boyfriend.(The Manchester Evening News)
Irish police are being handicapped in a search for a stolen van, because they cannot issue a description. It's a Special Branch vehicle and they don't want the public to know what it looks like.(The Guardian)
A young girl who was blown out to sea on a set of inflatable teeth was rescued by a man on an inflatable lobster. A coast guard spokesman commented, 'This sort of thing is all too common'.(The Times)
At the height of the gale, the harbourmaster radioed a coast guard and asked him to estimate the wind speed. He replied he was sorry, but he didn't have a gauge. However, if it was any help, the wind had just blown his Land Rover off the cliff.( Aberdeen Evening Express)
Mrs. Irene Graham of Thorpe Avenue , Boscombe, delighted the audience with her reminiscence of the German prisoner of war who was sent each week to do her garden. He was repatriated at the end of 1945, she recalled - 'He'd always seemed a nice friendly chap, but when the crocuses came up in the middle of our lawn in February 1946, they spelt out 'Heil Hitler.''( Bournemouth Evening Echo)

Heard on the tube...
A list of actual announcements that London Tube train drivers have made to their passengers...
1) 'Ladies and Gentlemen, I do apologize for the delay to your service. I know you're all dying to get home, unless, of course, you happen to be married to my ex-wife, in which case you'll want to cross over to the Westbound and go in the opposite direction.'
2) 'Your delay this evening is caused by the line controller suffering from E & B syndrome: not knowing his elbow from his backside. I'll let you know any further information as soon as I'm given any.'
3) 'Do you want the good news first or the bad news? The good news is that last Friday was my birthday and I hit the town and had a great time. The bad news is that there is a points failure somewhere between Stratford and East Ham, which means we probably won't reach our destination.'
4) 'Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize for the delay, but there is a security alert at Victoria station and we are therefore stuck here for the foreseeable future, so let's take our minds off it and pass some time together. All together now.... 'Ten green bottles, hanging on a wall.....'.'
5) 'We are now travelling through Baker Street ... As you can see, Baker Street is closed. It would have been nice if they had actually told me, so I could tell you earlier, but no, they don't think about things like that'.
6) 'Beggars are operating on this train. Please do NOT encourage these professional beggars. If you have any spare change, please give it to a registered charity. Failing that, give it to me.'
7) During an extremely hot rush hour on the Central Line, the driver announced in a West Indian drawl: 'Step right this way for the sauna, ladies and gentleman... unfortunately, towels are not provided.'
8) 'Let the passengers off the train FIRST!' (Pause ) 'Oh go on then, stuff yourselves in like sardines, see if I care - I'm going home....'
9) 'Please allow the doors to close. Try not to confuse this with 'Please hold the doors open.' The two are distinct and separate instructions.'
10) 'Please note that the beeping noise coming from the doors means that the doors are about to close. It does not mean throw yourself or your bags into the doors.'
11) 'We can't move off because some idiot has their hand stuck in the door.'
12) 'To the gentleman wearing the long grey coat trying to get on the second carriage -- what part of 'stand clear of the doors' don't you understand?'
13) 'Please move all baggage away from the doors.' (Pause..) 'Please move ALL belongings away from the doors.' (Pause...) 'This is a personal message to the man in the brown suit wearing glasses at the rear of the train: Put the pie down, Four-eyes, and move your bloody golf clubs away from the door before I come down there and shove them up your arse sideways!'
14) 'May I remind all passengers that there is strictly no smoking allowed on any part of the Underground. However, if you are smoking a joint, it's only fair that you pass it round the rest of the carriage.'

02 September 2010

Geek Day - Retro Games

I have never been a very big fan of computer games, I prefer doing stuff in the real world. However, I did feel a huge rush of nostalgia when I discovered this site where a very clever man, with obviously too much time on his hands, has re-created a series of very early computer games in flash, including space invaders, astroids and snakes.

Click here to waste hours playing and I would be interested to know if you think it has got easier since you played it as a kid

To prove that he has too much time on his hands he has also created his own a multi-res viewer for satalite images across the Earth. Smart arse! That can be found here