Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Shot but still at large

But before getting on to the monitor lizard which is still at large somewhere in Florida - it was shot twice but escaped before local police could get to it - who knew there had been an alligator at large in Los Angeles for two years. It "a media darling named 'Reggie'"was finally captured aka "wrestled into captivity" last week. But back to Florida where more than a Disney land is in the offing. The 4-foot lizard had been in the neighbourhood for some months, and although it hadn't bitten anyone, authorities believed it posed a risk to animals and children. Locals agree ... they are keeping their children and pets indoors un til proof of the lizard's demise (its carcass) is produced. (Do follow the link to read about Reggie's life in the wild - and his capture which included live TV helicopter footage of his passage to the zoo!)

Last Supper

It's an interesting notion as raised by Wired in May 1999 (who said I was behind with my reading?) ... they were commenting on Da Vinci's Last Supper and that it has been restored so many times over the years that purists argue that it is no longer a Da Vinci. This reminds me of an axe at the Tower of London that Darien, a colleague at work talks about, that has had it's handle and head replaced so many times, it really is no longer the original, genuine article. I wonder how many important historical artifacts or relics are like this?

Missed opportunity

When talking with my brother yesterday, I mentioned the "Significant Date" and he suggested it would be fun to actually schedule a meeting with someone for then. Darn ... I wish I'd thought of that, rather than taking a rather trivial interest in it!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Significant date

What's special about 31 August 4500? It's the last date you can make an appointment in Microsoft Outlook. (Thanks Colin.) Stay tuned for more exciting trivia!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A disappointment of sorts

A few weeks ago a rocket carrying the ashes of Star Trek actor James Doohan blasted into space - something "Scotty" was never able to do. Alas, it didn't leave him there as I had (mis)understood from the initial reports. Instead, as planned, the rocket and its cargo returned to earth in New Mexico in its designated recovery zone 20 days after Connecticut-based UP Aerospace sent it up. The rocket had achieved 4 minutes of sub-orbital flight so "Scotty" did get to space - just not for that long.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Back in March (I know this has been a while coming ... but better late than never) British church property specialists Congregational & General Insurance ran a competition to find the number one religious slogan - you know, the puns found on notice boards outside churches like "Fight truth decay"; "Come in for a free faith lift"; "Chxxch -- Have you guessed what's missing.UR!" and "God, you're great!". The prizemoney was worth $US985 (or the equivalent in British pounds). I had a look on the net to see if a winner had been announced yet - but, no luck. However, the good news (heh heh) is that you can buy a book of church signs.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

What I learned today

I often wish I had a little more time for surfing the internet because you never know what you will find out. Take today ... I started at antisf.com (reading some speculative flash fiction) and followed a link from one of the author's bios to their website. Once there, I had a look at some of his links - including Real Life Horror Stories - about the bombing of Dresden, and then Images. The image that intrigued me was of Ayers Rock aka Uluru - which I have often seen in photos - but never from the top and which I have always assumed was cigar-shaped (as noted by Andrew J Lloyd - whose website it is). And here's the more traditional view for comparison:
It would be interesting to know which side is shown here. I'm thinking top right of the triangle, but it's hard to know.

Monday, May 14, 2007

But is it art?

Paris Hilton has been the subject of much news lately, but she's also been the subject of art ... as a "prom queen of the dead" which sculptor Daniel Edwards says is a warning against driving while drunk. In his sculpture, the heiress is shown naked, dead, cell phone in hand, tiara on head, and legs asunder, or what that be akimbo, or possibly even apart. Other works by the same artist include a giant head of Cuban President Fidel Castro, and a life-size nude of Britney Spears giving birth on a bearskin rug. (Thanks to the annals of Reuters, Oddly Enough, for this tidbit.)

Taking the Mickey (Mouse)

His ears are smaller and jowls bigger but it's definitely a Mickey Mouse lookalike (aka Farfur) now appearing on Hamas TV telling kids to drink their milk and pray, oh, and there's also something about arming themselves with AK-47s and striving for world domination "under Islamic leadership". Use of the character has been dubbed "pure evil" by Diane Disney Miller, the only surviving Walt Disney child.

An exercise in home invasion

A South African man found himself in a sticky situation last week when armed robbers ransacked his house and drank his best Whiskey. They also made him strip before they superglued him to an exercise bike and glued his mouth shut! Despite the awfulness of this, it does seem like it could be a way to get the exercise-averse motivated - especially if you believe The Simpsons episode where Bart glues novelty items to his face and Dr Hibbard removes them by making Bart break out in a perspiration of pure terror.

Passing time

It's become a tourist attraction of sorts - an elderly man in a remote village in India who spends his days lying in a grave, waiting to die. He's been doing it for six years now - ever since his wife died in the late 1990's. After he buried her, he dug his own grave nearby, and settled in to wait for an as yet elusive death to claim him.

The deep questions

The Associated Press recently obtained a document from NASA (the American space agency) under US Freedom of Information laws. Based on the report written about it (and it would have been nice if I could have found the original article not a report on the report), the document would make interesting reading . It focuses on "what to do" or 'how would you handle" and it raises questions (but doesn't necessarily answer them) about issues to be addressed should NASA mount missions to "deep space" eg:
  • If an astronaut dies on the 3-year mission to Mars, what do you do with the body.
  • How long do you keep an injured/ill astronaut on life support especially if they're using up all the oxygen!
  • Should genetic testing be done to exclude astronauts who might contract a disease en route?
  • Should preventative surgery, eg appendectomies, be mandatory for prospective astronauts?
  • How do you cope with URST (unreleased sexual tension) en route with mixed and/or same-sex crews?
  • How do you cope with astronauts break-ups (romantic and otherwise)
  • Should there be an astronaut age limit?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Cough it up

A report in today's The Daily Telegraph tells of a man on a flight from Vietnam to Australia who started to become ill - and then coughed up a nylon bag of white powder which was suspected to be heroin. The plane, already an hour into the trip to Australia, returned to Vietnam where the man coughed up two more bags of white powder after the plane made an emergency landing. 30 more bags of the powder were found in the man's stomach.

India in the news

Burning of witches seems to be something that should have stopped somewhere way back in history, but it's still happening in India according to a recent Reuter reports. Dozens of women accused of witchcraft are burned each year in India. The latest was a couple who were burnt to death after villagers accused them of practicing black magic, tied them together on a pyre and set them on fire. Both were farm laborers near the southern city of Hyderabad who also practiced traditional medicine. Six villagers have since been arrested.
Still in India, the Supreme Court there has been a stay on the death sentence of a former politician who shot his "unfaithful wife", dismembered her, and roasted her in the tandoori oven of a restaurant. The man is appealing against his death sentence.

Cat 1, Post Service 0

I know one of our cats sometimes seems to have a split personality - rolling over to receive pats one minute, and then lashing out with claws the next - so I believe the Canada Post service which ways it can no longer deliver to a house in Winnipeg, Manitoba, after a mail carrier was scared away by a "very threatening cat". Shadow's owner has a very different view of the eight-year-old, declawed, black cat. He (that would be Shadow) is docile, "likes to eat and sleep and cuddle. You could drop a bomb and he'd just open one eye, take a look, then close them and go back to sleep," owner Samborski, told a local paper (as reported by Reuters). Hmm a likely story - but anyone who nhas cats know they are capable of secret lives and activities!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

War dead

You'd feel pretty lucky to have survived tours of both Iraq and Afghanistan - but perhaps not so much if you were attached to the 763rd Maintenance Squadron. While the squad has not a wartime casualty on location, three of its members have died on home soil in the last two years. The earlier two were from traffic accidents, the latest the shooting of Senior Airman R'Chardrick Markray, 22, who had served a total of 360 days overseas. A second man was also shot and wounded outside the baby shower in a residential neighbourhood in Las Vegas. No suspects, or motive, have yet been identified.

Just a bit to the left

Instructions of where to sit are usually issued at dinner parties and when someone's posing you - but reports of a different type of set-up is in the news today. It seems a man in the US asked his estranged wife Carolyn to sit near the front window of the house and told her he'd be right back. He was right about that - except he left out one tiny detail - that he'd be back with his pickup truck through the front wall of the house in an alleged attempt to kill her. The woman was not injured in the event and she, and her daughter, escaped out the back door. The husband, David E. Monroe, has been charged with attempted murder, criminal recklessness with a vehicle and disorderly conduct.
It seems this was not the first inkling that something was awry. Carolyn told police that she and her teenage daughter had already fled because he had threatened to kill her. It's not clear if it was then or after this attempt that Monroe told police he hoped his wife died and that "I hope to go to prison for this."

Rubik's remembered

Do you still have your Rubik's cube tucked away somewhere? Do you drag it out every so often to practice - and see if you can beat your previous personal best - or the current world record of 10.36 seconds. Yes, that was 10.36 SECONDS. Of course, to get speeds like this the chances are that you'd have to lubricate your cube with silicone spray and/or loosen the screws to make them faster - and do lots and lots of practice. And when you're down to your best speed - why not try something a bit different - like doing solving the cube blindfolded (record: 1 minute 42 seconds).
Me, I'll just settle for getting solving it once. Looks like I might have to think about investing in another cube - bringing Hasbro's total sales of the plastic cubes ever closer to 300 million. Or I could just use the Sudoku cube that's currently in local shops - oops not enough colours.

The big cheese

Well, there was a good possibility it was not going to be an internet success - but that seems to not be the case. So to find out what all the fuss is about, check out the cheesiest show on a television and join the 1 million other visitors who are watching cheese ripen. The Westcombe cheddar from West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers has been on the net since February and has attracted visitors from 119 countries. There's still time to visit - it takes a year for the cheese to mature. Or you can follow the link from their site to see the timelapse of progress to date on YouTube.
Makes you wonder, doesn't it - whether there are sites out there where you can watch grass grow, or paint dry.

Hawking takes flight

Professor Stephen Hawking has realised a lifelong ambition - to fly in space. He went in a specially modified Boeing 727 which took off and landed from the space shuttle's runway at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The plane did parabolic manoeuvres (big ascents and descents - commonly know as 'vomit comets') and it is during these that the feeling of weightlessness occurs. The flight was with US firm Zero Gravity which reportedly waived the usal fee ($US3,750) for the Professor. So, the question is - is it worth that money to find out if my Fisher Space Pen really will write in space (or maybe that's what the Professor was trying to find out).

Karaoke rules

A recent headline on one of the weird news sites was "Plumber breaks karaoke record". I didn't follow it up - fear it be about the plumber actually breaking A karaoke record ... afterall there are some who might say that ALL of them should be broken so never again would the human race be forced to listen to ... but I'm not one of them!