29 April 2011

The scientist, the pig and the monkey

Three agricultural scientists were determined to discover how much a pig could eat before it just had to take a shit. To this end they procured a Yorkshire sow and pushed a large cork into her arse. After six weeks of force feeding, the sow was the size of the Goodyear airship and threatening to burst. Being humane types, the scientists agreed that the cork must now be removed.

No-one wished to volunteer for the job, however, so in true scientific tradition, they decided to train a monkey for the task and swiftly put a small gibbon through a crash course in cork-pulling. The day came and the pig was air-lifted out to the desert for safety's sake. Special equipment was set up to monitor the event. Picture the scene: In the middle of the desert, the pig. Behind the pig, the monkey. One mile behind him, the first scientists with a video camera. One mile behind that scientist are the other two scientists with a seismometer. Finally, the monkey reaches up and pulls out the cork. SPLAT!

When the massive geyser has subsided, the two scientists find themselves knee-deep in pigshit. Grabbing shovels they wade forward and dig out the first man who has been buried up to his neck. When they free him they find that he is laughing hysterically.

"What's so funny?" they ask.

"You should have seen the monkey trying to get the cork back in!"

Royal wedding

The only thing I want to say about this is that I am suprised at how, in the 21st Centuary, educated, rational, intellegent people actually give a shit.
As far as I am concerned the Royal Family is not a bad thing, its not a good thing, its simply irrelevant.

So I wish them luck and I will be having Pizza for my supper

26 April 2011

Wednesday Movie - cool people doing cool stuff

Two movies that are totally inspiring
The first is an insane speed solo of the North Face of the Eiger in 2 hours 40 mins - unbelievable, makes my hands sweat just watching this guy as a runs along an icy snow covered knife ridge.

The second is a complitation of people doing crazy things, many of the clips I have seen before, but I still liked this video.

Easter Holiday

To Norwegians, Easter is more important than Christmas, probably because at Easter the weather is improving, the days are getting longer and there is lots of nice outdoor stuff to do in the mountains or by the sea. Whereas Christmas is dark and miserable and only good for eating and drinking too much, which gets boring after a few days. So this year we opted for the full experience and I spent a day top turing in the Rosendal Alps with Ian Sharp and 4 days at a beautiful house in Nesboe on Fensfjord about an hour north of Bergen. The place was an old village shop on a queyside and was lovingly restored by Helen's mother about 7 years ago. We were there with Helen and Sandy and the weather was fantastic. A couple of 10 km kayak trips, an afternoons climbing and a lot of lazing about in the sun. Just what the doctor ordered. There are pictures on my flickr site here.

Back to Sotra on Sunday and the harsh reality of leaving western Norway soon was brought home by the need to empty the shed and pack up all the gear in the Aladins cave that is the gear room. Still felt good to get it done.

16 April 2011


So I was standing in the lunch queue minding my own business, when suddenly...
Crash! I am showered in orange juice as the short, miserable looking guy in front of me drops his tray, scattering its contents which seem to be mainly glasses of juice, over me, the counter and the floor. The pretty girl behind the till looks initially shocked and then quickly hands him a cloth to begin mopping up the mess. He says nothing, just looks on non-plussed.

He takes the cloth with a look that clearly expresses his dissatisfaction at having to clean up his own fuckin mess and he makes a half- hearted attempt to mop up some of the juice, while I bend down and pick up the scattered but not broken glasses for him. He says nothing, in fact he does not even acknowledge that I exist or that his incompetance has just resulted in me getting soaked.

So the girl mops the counter and I somehow end up mopping the floor with a large wade of paper which she has handed to me while he ineffectually rubs some kitchen paper across his tray. Then without looking at either of us he wanders off back into the queue, pushes some people out the way and gets himself a new lunch. The girl and I continue to mop up his mess from the floor and then the counter.

He returns himself to the front of queue, still without even establishing eye contact, pays for his food before wandering off to find a table. He never apologized to the girl or to me, in fact at no point did he even acknowledge that either of us existed, as we first suffered his clumsiness and then cleaned up his mess.

What a utter twat! I feel a strong urge to follow up and punch his sullen face, or at least ask him how he feels that it is socially acceptable to be so fuckin rude. 

This is sadly typical of a certain breed of middle aged Norwegians, almost always male, who skillfully manage to combine smug aloofness with an introverted arrogance in a way that is so exasperatingly rude. Most Norwegians are not at all like this but there is a minority who are so monumentally crass and socially incompetent that it has become a stereotype.

If most people had dropped that tray we would have been rushing around, smiling awkwardly, cleaning up and apologizing profusely. The people around would have been glad to help and would have felt sorry for someone who was so clearly embarrassed. It takes real effort to absolutely ignore all the people around you, especially when you have significantly inconvenienced them. 

15 April 2011

Friday Joke from Roy Fitz

These weeks friday joke is from Roy Fitz who sent it after complaining that last weeks was crap.
Life in the lair is good. Sophie needs to stop waking up wide awake at 4am and everything would be perfect. It really felt like summer had arrived at the lair earlier this week, we were out in the hot tub. Its raining now for the weekend but Laura "Lolly" has turned up with her own brand of sunshine.

Anyway the Friday Joke....
At the end of the tax year, the IRS office sent an inspector to audit the books of a local hospital. While the IRS agent was checking the books he turned to the CFO of the hospital and said, "I notice you buy a lot of bandages. What do you do with the end of the roll when there's too little left to be of any use?"

"Good question," noted the CFO. "We save them up and send them back to the bandage company and every now and then they send us a free box of bandages." "Oh," replied the auditor, somewhat disappointed that his unusual question had a practical answer. But on he went, in his obnoxious way, "What about all these plaster purchases? What do you do with what's left over after setting a cast on a patient?"

"Ah, yes," replied the CFO, realizing that the inspector was trying to trap him with an unanswerable question. "We save it and send it back to the manufacturer, and every now and then they send us a free package of plaster."

"I see," replied the auditor, thinking hard about how he could fluster the know-it-all CFO. "Well," he went on, "What do you do with all the leftover foreskins from the circumcisions you perform?"

"Here, too, we do not waste," answered the CFO. "What we do is save all the little foreskins and send them to the IRS Office, and about once a year they send us a complete dick."

14 April 2011

Geek Day - the international space station

Terry sent me this link which shows how the international space station has been assembled over the past twenty years. It is very cool but it does also resemble trailer park with various pieces of junk being parked next to a load of old caravans.
"Hey Joe, stick that camper van in the space between the tractor with one axel and the burnt out minibus"

12 April 2011

Wednesday Movie - The Avalanche

If you have ever wondered what it is like to get caught in an avalanche then this weeks movie gives you a pretty good taster - very scary.

11 April 2011


So we have our old friend Graham over at the moment and since the weather was nice on Sunday we headed out to Glesvær for a walk and coffee and cake at the cafe. Glesvær is a pretty little fishing village on the south of Sotra that has a real summer feel to it. It was a favorite spot for sea kayaking and now its works for pram pushing.

On the way back I spotted a sign to Telavåg, which was a place I always wanted to visit, so not being in a rush to get back we followed it. Six km down the road we came to a very pretty village, nestled in a rocky bay. Perched up on a cliff above the village is an excellent museum that tells the story of the tragedy that unfolded almost 70 years ago.

In 1941, following the Nazi invasion of Norway the villages on the west coast of Sotra became centres for smuggling arms and people to and from the Shetland Isles. The service was so busy it became called the Shetland bus.  Back before the Sotra bridge put Telavåg an easy 30 minute drive from Bergen city centre, the area was very remote and isolated. Ideal for illicit partisan activites.

But there are snakes and cowards everywhere and soon the German's had learned of the activites, so they sent a troop, including two senior Gestapo officers to the village to arrest two resistance fighters staying in the postmasters house. They arrived early in the morning and caught the partisans in bed. In the ensuing gunfight the Gestapo officers and one of the freedom fighters were killed. The Germans were enraged and extracted a harsh revenge.

They first rounded up all the men and destroyed the houses of the postmaster and several other key people. The men were all shipped off and ended up in a concentration camp in east Germany, only 41 survived the war. Then they returned, rounded up the women, children and old people before levelling the village. Every house, boat house and barn were destroyed. They sunk the once proud fishing fleet. The survivours were then shipped off to Bergen and later spread around Norway. This was the worst attrocity against civillians in Norway during the war and served to galvanise resistance elsewhere.

After the war, rebuilding the village became a matter of national pride and within four years all of the buildings were replaced. Now its hard to differentiate this pretty village with its colourful wooden houses from any of the others along the coast.

The museum is well worth a visit and has an excellent film that tells the story.

And now

10 April 2011

Tilt shift timelapse - Jackson Hole and Whistler

So the new video craze is "tilt shift" which original started as a method of taking photos with a special lens that removes some of the effect of convergent lines, if for example you need to photograph a tall building. It is also associated with very shallow depth of field. The effect is that it often looks like you are vieiwng a miniature model.

As with many of these things it started with expensive lens and  now can be done with post processing of photographs in special software. Most recently people have started making movies using it.

The best I have found takes us on a ski tour to the Tetons here and another to Whistler here.

The effect is pretty amazing and its well worth wathcing both videos on full screen.

08 April 2011

In the army now

One Sunday morning the pastor noticed little Johnny was standing staring up at the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. The young man of seven had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up and stood beside him and gazing up at the plaque he said quietly, "Good morning son." "Good morning pastor" replied the young man not taking his eyes off the plaque. "Sir, what is this?" Johnny asked.
"Well son, these are all the people who have died in the service", replied the pastor. Soberly, they stood together staring up at the large plaque Little Johnny's voice barely broke the silence when he asked  quietly, "Which one sir, the 8:30 or the 10:30?"

On some air bases the Air Force is on one side of the field and civilian aircraft use the other side of the field, with the control tower in the middle. One day the tower received a call from an aircraft asking, "What time is it?"
The tower responded, "Who is calling?"
The aircraft replied, "What difference does it make?"
The tower replied "It makes a lot of difference. If it is an American Airlines Flight, it is 3 o'clock. If it is an Air Force, it is 1500 hours. If it is a Navy aircraft, it is 6 bells. If it is an Army aircraft, the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 3.
 If it is a Marine Corps aircraft, it's Thursday afternoon".

05 April 2011

Aruora Video

Living in Norway gives the oppertunity to see the northern lights - if it ever stops raining. This is the best video I have found so far that really captures it. Also check his other videos they are also pretty cool.

04 April 2011


A while ago I discovered that a girl who works for us is part of a pair of identical twins. What was more interesting is that she is living in Norway as an expat doing a technical job, like most of her peers she has bachelor and masters degrees. She spends her free time mountain biking and hill walking. She is unmarried. Her identical twin married at 18 and never went to university. She lives in their home town (a parochial place in the north Midlands) with her kids and has a mundane, dead end job. She is utterly disinterested in the outdoors and is over weight.
This contrast is fascinating; here are two people with the same genetic make-up and the same home environment (nature and nurture) who are diametrically different. I asked when the divergence had happened and she told me that they had been very similar up to secondary school and then they had been put into different classes and diverged from there.

Is it really possible that that something as mundane as a different class at the age of 11 could make such a huge difference? It’s an extreme example of chaos theory where a subtle change in initial conditions has caused a totally different outcome. What are the implications of this for the rest of us? I actually find it rather scary.

The girl told me that she thought it was not due to that at all. She felt that despite being identical twins there were subtle differences in their genetic makeup that had lead to such different paths in life. This way be true but if it is then it means that all the nature vs nurture experiments where twins are separated at birth, put into different environments and then compared are meaningless. If this pair of twins with the same home environment had been split up at birth it would have been an obvious, but erroneous conclusion that the different environments had caused the differences in development and lifestyle choice.

There is no conclusion to this piece, its just an interesting observation which perhaps has implications for how we consider the nature vs nurture argument and the possible role that very small changes in our life can lead us down massively different routes

01 April 2011

Friday Joke

The following are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts, and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters that had the torment of staying calm while these exchanges were actually taking place. Courtesy of Angharad.
ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie there.

ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?___________________________________________

ATTORNEY: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo?
WITNESS: We both do.
WITNESS: Yes, voodoo.

ATTORNEY: Now doctor, "isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?"
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?

ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the twenty-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: He's twenty, much like your IQ.

ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?

WITNESS: Are you shitting me?

ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS: Getting laid

ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
WITNESS: Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?

ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Take a guess.

ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about 20, medium height, and had a beard.
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
WITNESS: Unless the Circus was in town I'm going with male.

ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.

ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK?
What school did you go to?

ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
ATTORNEY: And, Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: If not, he was by the time I finished.

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.