25 February 2011

Friday Joke - back to basics

Two dwarfs go into a bar, where they pick up two prostitutes and take them to their separate hotel rooms. The first dwarf, however, is unable to get an erection. His depression is made worse by the fact that, from the next room, he hears his little friend shouting out cries of  "Here I come again...  ONE,TWO, THREE... UUH!" all night long.

In the morning, the second dwarf asks the first, "How did it go?"
The first mutters, "It was so embarrassing. I simply couldn't get an erection.
The second dwarf shook his head. "You think that's embarrassing?" "I couldn't even get on the bed!.."

(1) Fine: This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.

(2) Five Minutes: If she is getting dressed, this means a half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.

(3) Nothing: This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with nothing usually end in fine.

(4) Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don't Do It!

(5) Loud Sigh: This is actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about nothing. (Refer back to # 3 for the meaning of nothing.)

(6) That's Okay: This is one of the most dangerous statements a women can make to a man. That's okay means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.

(7) Thanks: A woman is thanking you, do not question, or faint. Just say you're welcome. (I want to add in a clause here - This is true, unless she says 'Thanks a lot' - that is PURE sarcasm and she is not thanking you at all. DO NOT say 'you're welcome' . that will bring on a 'whatever').

(8) Whatever: Is a woman's way of saying F-- YOU!

(9) Don't worry about it, I got it: Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something that a woman has told a man to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in a man asking 'What's wrong?' For the woman's response refer to # 3.

Christchurch Earthquake

The recent 6.3 magnitude earthquake which has recently hit Christchurch is a disaster for the people who have died, for the people who have lost loved ones and for the people that have lost their homes. No one would doubt that any natural disaster is tragic for all of those involved.

However, the global reaction, at least in the west is interesting. I would argue that we have lost a certain degree of perspective here. Firstly, approximately 100 people have died and another 300 are missing, presumed dead. Last year a magnitude 7 earthquake hit Haiti and 316 000 people died, it hardly made the news. That is a death toll that is 1000 times worse, yet no one in the west really seemed to care. Let’s be clear, that is 1000 Haitians for every Kiwi, the scale is almost unimaginable.

In 2005 an earthquake in Kashmir killed 80 000 people and destroyed the homes of several hundred thousand of the World’s poorest people in the middle of winter. This one only made the news because the Taliban did a better job of helping the afflicted than the West and won the battle for hearts and minds. There was an earthquake in Sichuan in 2008 that killed almost 100,000 people that didn’t even make the news here. Who cares about 100,000 Chinese when there are 1.5 billion of them?

There is clearly an element of “people like us”. The perceived magnitude of any event is related to the proximity. A serious injury to us or family, the death of a neighbour, the untimely death of several strangers in our town, a few hundred people in another western society or a hundred thousand in Kashmir are all considered comparable tragedies. That is human nature, but surely we need to try and at least partially over come this bias if we are ever to live in a truly global society.

Another interesting perspective is the understanding of risk. In the West we are fortunate enough to have an understanding of what causes earthquakes and while we can’t predict exactly where and when they will occur we know which areas are prone to them. Yet we are still shocked when they happen. If you build a town on a fault zone, if you build a house on a flood plain, if you build a city on the top of a subsiding delta in the centre of hurricane alley, how can you be surprised when they suffer natural disasters? We understand all these things yet we choose to ignore them until the disaster strikes. That is not to say that we should not live in such places, but rather we shouldn’t be surprised when, from time to time the inevitable happens.

But none of this changes the magntitude of the event for the people of  Christchurch who have lost their friends, family homes and businesses. It certainly makes you realise how fragile life is and how quickly our world can be torn apart.

24 February 2011

The Solar System

Before the internet, if you wanted to understand the relative motions of the various celestial bodies in the solar system you would have used an astrolabe. A fiendishly clever but also complicated mechanical device that modelled the potistion of the various bodies at different times. They were very difficult to use.

Now its all a whole lot easier with the advent of flash tools such as this one here.

(Click on the image or the link above to see it working)

The detail is fantatsic, if you watch the Earth (third rock from the Sun) carefully you can actually see the six month polar night/day caused of the Earth's tilt.

And just in case, like me you can't remember the order of the planets, here is a nice image from Wikipedia to help.

23 February 2011

Wednesday Movie

Not too much spare time at the moment but here are a couple of unrelated movies that I saw this week that I enjoyed.

The first is about a new dinosaur from Utah, not sure exactly where it was found but the description says Grand County near the Colorado River, so I am guessing its out of the Dakota or Ceder Mountain Fm. It is characterised by very large thighs and is proposed to have had an aggressive nature, so probably not to different to some of the ladies I have met in Green River and supporting a provinance in the Book Cliffs area...

The second is a climbing movie - Dean Potter soling a route in Yosemite. Cool, calm and totally in control, but its really worth watching for the final movie - amazing, my hands are sweating and its about the fifth time I have watched it!

18 February 2011

Friday Joke - medical students

After all this hanging about in hospitials over the last couple of weeks, this weeks Friday joke is on a medical theme. An oldie but a goodie.

First-year students at Med School were receiving their first anatomy class with a real dead human body. They all gathered around the surgery table with the body covered with a white sheet.
The professor started the class by telling them, "In medicine, it is necessary to have 2 important qualities as a doctor. The first is that you not be disgusted by anything involving the human body." For an example, the Professor pulled back the sheet, stuck his finger in the butt of the corpse, withdrew it and stuck his finger in his mouth.

" Go ahead and do the same thing," he told his students. The students  freaked out, hesitated for several minutes, but eventually took turns ticking a finger in the butt of the dead body and sucking on it.

When everyone had finished, the Professor looked at them and said, "The second most important quality is observation. I stuck in my middle finger and sucked on my index finger. Now learn to pay attention."

16 February 2011

Sea Shepherd success

I have been following this years Sea Shepherd campaign to stop the Japanese butchers in the Southern Ocean with incredulous delight. Could it really be true that they have found the fleet and prevented them from whaling? That was certainly the impression one got from reading the Sea Shepherd website over the last two months, but was it true? There was always a nagging doubt that something else was afoot. Was it all a smart Japanese scam? You had to wonder that while the Sea Shepherds boats had shut down one factory ship that maybe the vast southern Ocean hid another, even bigger one going about its murderous business.

Then I heard on the BBC this morning that the Japanese fisheries department has pulled their fleet out of the whaling grounds. This is fantastic news, it makes me so happy to know that in March 950 whales that would have been pointless murdered to satisfy some cretinous vision of culture, will be swimming freely.

Once again this proves that direct action works and is often the only solution.

Wednesday Movie

The first of this weeks movie shows the beauty of western Norway in the Spring time
And just to prove there is some wild winter conditions on this side of the rift valley - some very hard core Scottish Winter action

Of course none of this is for me at the moment but I am having fun anyway

13 February 2011

Welcome Sophie Emma...

Just over a week ago the midwife noticed protein in Katharine's urine. This can be a sign of something called pre-eclampsia which is associated with high blood pressure and can be very bad. Katharine was still very fit and healthy, walking over an hour a day and still active so it seemed strange that there could be anything wrong, However, the scary thing about PE is that it is commonly not associated with any external symptoms. So they started seeing her every other day and checking her blood pressure and doing blood tests.

Last Tuesday we went in for one of these routine checks and her BP was up, so they kept her in. By lunch it was still rising so they opted to induce the baby as giving birth is the only cure for PE. The induction process takes a couple of days and it is still possible to have a natural childbirth, something that Katharine has been working hard for.

By about 8pm the BP was still rising and given that our little girl was showing no signs of wanting to enter the World, they opted for an emergency C-section. At this stage there was about 6 -8 people around the bed all very busy but with an air of calmness that masked the seriousness of the situation.

An hour later we were in the surgery and while they operated on her tummy, I got to hold Katharine's hand and try and comfort her, she was very calm - all things considered. Twenty minutes later and very loud scream announced the arrival of our little girl into the World. Sophie was born at 22.48, weighed 3.1kg and was 50cm long. I got to hold her while the stitched Katharine back up.

Katharine and Sophie were in hospital for another 4 days while Katharine recovered from her ordeal and the doctors tried to regulate her BP. They got to come home last night and she is doing fine and making an excellent recovery, probably helped by the fact that she was so fit before hand. She will be fine and is already doing a fantastic job of being a Mum.

Sophie is obvilious to the chaos she has caused, she is of course beautiful and has a lovely calm manner. Let's hope it stays like that.

The midwives, nurses and doctors were amazing. They did everything right. PE is a nasty aligment and it is fair to say that if we had not been lucky enough to live in the west, with excellent medical care, built on years of scientific research, then the outcome would have been far less joyous. Watching the nurses and midwives over the last couple of days makes you realise how hard these people work and still they manage to remain cheerful and caring. The politicians and the arseholes who are so critical of the NHS wouldn't last 5 minutes doing that job, but such rants are for another time.

How does it feel to be a Dad?
It is of course amazing. I have never been interested in babies at all. I love kids but other peoples babies made no impression on me whatsoever. But its true, there is something special about your own. Holding her, watching her and loving her are the most natural things in the World. I know its evolutionary and that I am pre-disposed to nurture my offspring and to me that just makes it all the more fantastic. I can already tell that the coming months and years and going to be a lot of fun.

     Don't worry she does actually have hands!

Friday Joke - on sunday (it's been a bit busy!)

A family moved into a house next door to an empty plot. One day Joe, Steve and a gang of building workers turned up to start building a house. The young family's 5-year-old daughter naturally took an interest in all the activity going on next door and started talking with the workers.

She hung around and eventually the builders, all with hearts of gold, more or less adopted the little girl as a sort of project mascot. They chatted with her, let her sit with them while they had tea and lunch breaks, and gave her little jobs to do here and there to make her feel important. They even gave her, her very own hard hat and gloves.

At the end of the first week they presented her with a pay envelope containing two Pounds in 10 Pence coins. The little girl took her 'pay' home to her mother who suggested that they take the money she had received to the bank the next day to start a savings account.

When they got to the bank the cashier was tickled pink listening to the little girl telling her about her 'work' on the building site and the fact she had a 'pay packet'.
'You must have worked very hard to earn all this,' said the bank cashier.
The little girl proudly replied, 'I worked all last week with the men building a big house.'
'My goodness gracious,' said the cashier. 'Will you be working on the house again this week, as well?'
The little girl thought for a moment and said...
"I think so. Provided those w*nkers at the building suppliers deliver the f*cking bricks and it doesn't p*ss down with rain."

08 February 2011

Wednesday Movie

Two unrelated videos this week - first whoever thought snowboarding was an on piste activity should check out this stunning video on cross country snowboarding - I think it will remain a minority sport.  (Stolen from Ola - again)

And while the passers by watch with disinterest this old lady kicks crap out of 6 robbers at a jewellary shop in middle England. I guess the guy with the video camera feels like a coward now. Courtesy of Gareth.

06 February 2011

Waiting Game

Made it into the second month of the busiest year of my life. Hanging out in Aberdeen waiting for the arrival of our offspring. Katharine is getting bored of waiting and keen for our little girl to make her entrance. I have been working from the flat during the day, running up a large phone bill and wearing out my new lap top. I rather like working from the couch, its comfy and I may have to get one for my office. Also been getting lots of outstanding jobs done including talking to the architect, wedding planning, etc etc.

A friend advised me that we should do lots of things together before the baby arrives, I guess the subtext is that it won't happen after! So we have been to the cinema a couple of times, been eating out and been for long walks. Its been nice.

Saw the Kings Speech which was a great movie, even if it was pretty much devoid of facts. It totally failed to capture the degree of Nazi symphathy amongst the british royal familiy in the lead up to the second world war. But it was well acted fiction and enjoyable.

Also went to see NEDS which was powerful, funny and very sad, all at the same time. It was a bit unpolished and certain bits were unlikly while others were totally unnecassary (the jesus scene) and the ending was downright random. But it was well worth watching, even with the aberdonian NEDs in the audience laughing at all the very sad bits - freaks.

Also watched the first weekend of the rugby. A rather weak Wales lost to a very lucky England by fortune of a forward pass and some crap kicking by James Hook. Despressing to read the UK (English) papers which were utterly biased both before and after the game. Also watched Scotland vs France which as a totally passive outsider was one of the best games I have seen in years.

Tomorrow heading to Cowieswells to cut down some trees and make a final review of the plans before they are submitted for outline planning permission.

Message to our unborn daughter

At some point in the next two or three weeks we will finally meet and you will begin your life in this World. Your impeding arrival has already changed our lives and I am in no illusion that that impact will decrease after you take your first breaths. We are embarking on a whole new adventure together and it’s going to be a roller coaster ride. As John T said “having kids will ruin your life… In the best possible may”. I am sure he’s right.

I have no doubt you will be beautiful and perhaps more importantly I am sure that you will be tough and smart. The next 20 years will be as big a challenge for us all so in the calm before the storm I have jotted down a few bits of advice that may be useful:
  • Be empathetic, kindness and empathy are the critical attributes that define the essence of what it is to be human.
  • Always try and protect the weak. Being strong and smart is a gift that should be used wisely, the bully is the lowest of the low.
  • Work hard/play hard – there is only one life and most probably nothing after it, so don’t waste your time doing nothing, seize every moment and use it to its full. Carpe Diem.  
  • Cultivate an enquiring mind – try at all times to be open minded and enquiring, question everything and striving to understand the world around you, avoid dogma.
  • Avoid ignorance – despite the belief of a large sub-culture in Britain, there is nothing attractive or endearing about willful ignorance. Being thick is not cool.
  • Avoid arrogance it’s ugly. Be proud of your success but endeavor not to boast or assume superiority. Remember that success is often fleeting.
  • Avoid complacency – never stop striving to be better, never feel like you have arrived at the top because when you do, the only way is down.
  • Embrace diversity – because somebody is different does not make them better or worse than you, in fact it probably means that they have something to teach you.
  • Have fun and enjoy your friends – at the end of the day happiness is what we all strive for.

Very few people are smart enough to plan the trajectory that their lives will follow and even fewer have the capacity to execute such plans. Far better is to define a philosophy and see where it takes you. There are many things that you can do, not because A will lead to B and then to C, but because they feel right, or because it feels like a nice thing to do. Most will not get you anywhere but the most unexpected can lead to doors that you never imagined being opened.

And remember whether you turn into a pink princess or a tomboy, a rocket scientist or a beautician – we will always love you.

04 February 2011

Friday Joke - Facebook

Facebook and social media is changing the World. So in a week where social media is being credited with regime change in Tunesia and uprising in Egypt it is good to remember that 99.999etc% of the time it still used for less heroic deeds.

Almost feel sorry for this poor girl ...

And given the number of people having babies at the moment, here is a handy guide on how to respond if you hear the news via Facebook

02 February 2011

Wednesday Movie - Lofoten

Since I am back in the UK Ian has kindly sent me this to remind me how cool the ski mountaineering is in Norway. This movie is fron Lofoten, somewhere I never got to in winter - maybe someday. I will be sure to book the helicopter.

The movie really shows how amazingly beautiful the place is, riding 1000m mountains to the sea with the northern lights going off - awesome 

01 February 2011

Image resizing

If the image you want to put in a document or webpage doesn't fit, what can you do?
You can:
1. Shrink the whole thing, which means that the bit you are interested in may get too small
2. Crop it, so that you lose context of the subject
3. Squeeze or stretch it, so that it become distorted

And until very recently that was it. There were no other options.
What else could you possibly do?
Check out this short video, its one of the coolest things I have seen in ages. I guarantee you will watch it a second time.

Stolen from Ola's blog