June 29, 2005

Life in Mono

Though the Greywalls garden show can get dull if you're here for eight hours straight, it is indisputably a gorgeous place. I've been thinking about bringing my SLR out here, so yesterday I took my digital around and did a few 'mock-ups' of potential shots to see how things would work out.

The exercise was far from perfect-- my digital has a much shorter lens than my SLR, so some of the wider landscape shots will be pretty much impossible to replicate. Also, I've got a pseudo-macro lens on the SLR which lets me get close-ups that my digital simply cannot manage, so I couldn't do a lot of the shots I would have liked to try out. Finally, the digital lacks a lot of the finer controls that my SLR has, so I coudn't manipulate shutter speed (there's a moving water sculpture that I wanted to get a longer shutter on) or aperture (I wanted a narrower depth-of-field in a few of 'em). And by gum, do I hate the way green looks in B&W photos!

All that said, though, I'm generally pretty pleased with the way these have come out, so hopefully I'll have another sunny day on which I can bring out the SLR. Thus endeth the boring photographic talk.

Geeky HTML joke: Man, coding a table by hand sure is <td>ous!

June 28, 2005


Okay, so my mum informs me that, in fact, "they" have been cracking down lately on people who eat and drink on the bus. So I kind of feel bad for calling my bus driver a contemptible pleb. But you know, he still didn't have to grin with ill-disguised glee at the misfortune he was causing me. That's just nasty. Like, I mean, he really looked happy to be screwing me over. And I think that does make him kind of contemptible.

I'm exhausted, so I'm going to go to bed-- but tomorrow I'm going to post some kick ass photos that I took today, so hurry back.

Buses and Abuses

Hello, howdy, and a big fuck you to Lothian Regional Transport.

About 9am this morning I got wrenched from bed by a call from my boss, asking me if I could manage to get out to Greywalls (the garden exhibition I’m looking after) today. Now, obviously it would be grossly inappropriate for me to discuss my boss’s personal details in a forum such as this, but suffice to say she had a very good reason for dropping this on me at the last minute and I would have been the pettiest person in the world if I’d said no.

Now, at 9am there was clearly no way I’d be able to make the 9:22am bus that I would normally have taken, so instead I planned to take the 10:22am bus.

Cue obstacle number one. I called my dad to cancel our lunch plans, and he reminded me that regardless of whether or not we had lunch, I was supposed to be bringing him his car key at the office, otherwise his afternoon appointments would be scuppered. Fair enough. I figured that if I hoofed it to the university and then on across town, I could probably pick up the same bus at 10:34am in St Andrew’s Square.

Key dropped off successfully, I started my mad dash towards town, but then it struck me that I had neither a coffee to stave off afternoon headaches nor lunch to stave off afternoon hunger. Starbucks was more or less on my way, so I formulated a Plan C: stop at Starbucks, buy myself something for lunch, then hop on a bus which would take me to St Andrew’s Square in time to pick up the second bus out to Greywalls.

Cue obstacle two. After having ordered my coffee and selecting some lunchables, I reached for my wallet only to discover that in my hurry I’d left it at home. Okay, so plan D: I scrounge together enough change to pay for the coffee and an anaemic looking sandwich, and have just enough money left over to catch a city bus to the Scottish Gallery’s Edinburgh location, where I can pick up extra catalogues and borrow enough cash from them to get my second bus out to Greywalls.

Cue obstacle three. Coffee in hand, I leg it to the bus stop and wait for a bus. It arrives after only a minute or two (finally, something going my way!). But as I step on and move to deposit my fare, the driver holds up his hand and says: “Sorry, no coffee allowed on the bus.”

I reeled. Lothian Regional Transport (henceforth, LRT) has a policy of no food or drink on board its buses, but never once in my entire life of riding LRT have I ever seen it enforced. The driver had a leering smirk on his face so I thought he must be having a laugh.

“Are you serious?” I ask.

Smirk growing ever wider with his vile satisfaction, he motioned at the sign by his head that indicated no food or drink was allowed on board. “That’s the rules,” he said. (“Those are the rules,” I thought, though I doubted saying that was going to help me much.)

Now, I realize that with my iPod earbuds, giant Starbucks cup, boyish figure and stunning good looks, I may not have seemed a very likable person to such a fat, contemptible pleb. But hey, buddy, I've got news for you: it’s not my fucking fault you drive a bus for a living, and frankly I find it pretty pathetic that you take pleasure in abusing what meagre authority you have to make life needlessly unpleasant for somebody who’s never done a thing to you.

Note to readers: I was exaggerating for comic effect in the last paragraph; I’m not that conceited and certainly don’t see myself as somehow different from or better than the working class, despite what may be implied from my flagrant self-adulation and use of the word ‘pleb’. However, I stand by my assertion that the bus driver was both very fat and very contemptible, and if pointing that out on my blog is the worst thing that ever happens to him then he’s getting off pretty lightly. In any case, I suspect you now all understand why I began this post by cursing LRT.

Anyway, long story short, I walked to the Gallery, missed the 10:34am bus, and ended up having to wait around for another forty minutes before finally arriving at work an hour and a half late.


June 26, 2005

Confusing Things Seen At An Airport

I drove my dad to Edinburgh airport today, and while he was waiting in line to check in, I went and bought myself a coffee. The slogan on the side of the coffee cup read:

"Costa Coffee: Coffee. Italy. Surely."

Am I missing something? What the hell does that mean? (Judging from the service I received there, I think it could be a typo; it's probably supposed to read "Costa Coffee: Coffee. Italy. Surly.")

Then, after delicately supping on my latte for a few minutes, I got up to go to the bathroom. And in the bathroom, I saw one of those condom vending machines, also bearing a bewildering slogan:

"Durex: Now easy-on."

...Bewildering, because I always thought that putting on a condom was one time when you'd want a hard-on.


June 24, 2005

Conversations With Greatness XXXVI

Can anyone tell me why the crap the text on this page just spontaneously started displaying much larger than usual? (I've fixed it now.) I'm getting a little tired of computers suddenly not working for no apparent reason.

June 22, 2005

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

From Netscape News: Report: Saddam Friendly With U.S. Troops

All my extremely media-savvy readers will no doubt be tired of hearing about Saddam Hussein's behaviour while in captivity-- including his "spanking gestures" and tendency to "get grumpy" when denied his daily Cheetohs (alas! If only they'd been Corn Pops, it would have made for a much better joke, along the lines of "He's gotta have his Pops!").

But want I want to know is...

"The soldiers say Saddam was preoccupied with cleanliness, washing up after shaking hands and using diaper wipes to clean his meal trays, his utensils and the table before eating."

...Where on Earth did he get diaper wipes while detained on a top secret military base?


In other news, I am employed! As of July 31st, I will be getting paid less than minimum wage to deal with obnoxious tourists! So, uh, hurray, I guess.

(You have to be 22 to qualify for the adult minimum wage, so it's not actually illegal-- plus I get a free pass to a crapload of shows and discounts at the venue bars, so I figure it probably works out in my favour. So please, don't write any angry letters on my behalf, as I'm sure you were all raring to do.)

Also, to add insult to injury, my dial-up modem has decided to stop talking to my computer, so I don't even have painfully slow internet anymore. If I want to go online I have to make the arduous five minute trek to my dad's place. Jeez. It's like living in the stone age, or something.

June 21, 2005

Your Licence Fees At Work!

Since I seem to be doing a lot of pointing out bad copy, lately, I thought I'd mention this BBC flyer that the school sent home with my little brother today:

"Are you worried that your children . . .

-Don't eat a very healthy diet?
-Suffer from poor concentration?
-Spend too much time watching TV?

. . . If you've answered YES to the above questions then the BBC would like to hear from you for a brand new programme that aims to improve your children's future health, happiness and well-being."

Oh dear.

June 20, 2005

Ivan Infant!

From The Pensacola News-Journal: Nine months after Ivan, baby boom brewing

I was at the PNJ's website looking for a story about one of my friends, and saw a teaser for a story that went something like this:

"Something beautiful is emerging in the wake of Hurricane Ivan's destruction... Babies."

Well, I just had to read this. The headline pretty much says it all-- after Ivan stormed through Florida last September, people were at a bit of a loose end, and, well, nine months later there are a whole bunch of extra babies being born.

Dr Nicholas Sholty, an obstetrician at Pensacola's Baptist Hospital, gives his explanation for the baby boom: "If you take a look at any natural disaster, this is the case. There's a realignment of people's priorities. They recognize the frailty of life."

Dr Sholty, by the way, is well known for walking around the halls of Baptist hospital with his fingers in his ears, singing "LALALALALALA!" at the top of his lungs; interviews with actual parents suggest reasons for the boom that are a little less noble than 'recognizing the frailty of life':

"When patients call in, we've heard some of them say there was nothing better to do with the lights not on." --Debbie Stearns, executive director of The Women's Group

"You don't have any TV to watch, and you don't have to get up for work." --Jim Zettler, parent

. . . And, my favourite:

"I had already cleaned the house a thousand times . . . I was really bored, so that's how he came here." --Nicole Jordan, parent

Let's hope her kid doesn't know how to use a news archive when he grows up, eh?

June 19, 2005

Nothing To Do With Radiohead

Readers of this blog may remember my story from last summer about overhearing children playing in the communal garden outside my bedroom. Well, here’s another beauty from today.

Kid A: Eleven nil! That’s eleven nil!
Kid B: No, it’s only ten!
Kid A: Eleven!
Kid B: Ten!

[Sound of ball being kicked]

Kid B: Okay, now we can call it eleven.
Kid A: No, it’s twelve now!
Kid B: Eleven!
Kid A: Twelve!

[Sound of ball being kicked]

Kid B: I’m going home.

Okay, hands up who used to be Kid A, and who used to be Kid B. I’ll freely admit to the latter. Anyone else?

June 18, 2005

It's Me 'Art!

Reading over my post from Thursday, I noticed that, even as I sat there complaining about bad copy, my own writing was comically and ironically sloppy. Obviously this was an entirely intentional, meta-textual editorial comment. But just, you know, in case that went over people's heads and they thought I was actually writing badly, I've fixed it now. Ahem.

Speaking of bad copy (again), I started the first of my summer jobs yesterday, looking after this year's special garden exhibition at The Scottish Gallery. Last summer, they spent a good deal of money re-branding the gallery, complete with new logo, corporate typeface, and slogan. The slogan does sort of make grammatical sense if you think about it, but nonetheless I feel it could have been worded better:

"Contemporary art since 1842"

To me this sounds as if they've been selling today's art for the last 160 years which, though impressive, I know to be entirely beyond their abilities.

My job, by the way, is DULL! Essentially, all it involves is my sitting in a garden for 8 hours, occasionally smiling niceties at the old women who come to see the exhibit. Now, I agree that in principle getting paid £4.50 an hour to sit in a garden sounds like a pretty sweet deal-- but it's for eight hours at a time, in the middle of nowhere (ie. I would need to get in a car and drive for fifteen minutes to get to the nearest town, except that the nearest town is so inconsequential it would be a waste of time, even supposing I actually had a car). I can't even listen to my iPod because I'm the 'face' of the Gallery and that would send the wrong message. So I basically just sit there. By myself. Ugh.

June 17, 2005

Conversations With Greatness XXXV

Cher jokes. Ugh. I blame the jetlag.

June 16, 2005

A Compendium of Dummies

Neale’s been doing a series of blog entries about bad design choices, and he’s inspiried me to do something similar. I just saw an advert for Scottish Gas (a utility company). Its closing slogan was a masterpiece of advertising crapness:

“Every 60 seconds, somebody switches back to Scottish Gas.” (Emphasis mine.)

Now, to me, this implies that there was a huge number of people who were with Scottish Gas, were unhappy enough to switch to another company, but then realized that their new company was even worse. It might as well be:

“Scottish Gas: the lesser of two evils.”

Speaking of hilariously bad copy, I enjoyed this headline from Tuesday’s Globe and Mail:

“Short films have to make their point quickly.”

Oh, and I just saw this on TV while writing this:

“Now, they alleged that the elephant had stuck its trunk up its own anus-- and really, unless you’re an anthropologist, how would you know that wasn’t possible?”

And then, the same buffoon said this in a clip filmed years earlier:

“The great anthropologist, who knows more about animals than any of us.”

I think somebody should give him the first volume of an Encyclopaedia for Christmas.


June 13, 2005

They Ain't Got No Alibi

Seen on Netscape...

...they think they're just as important as beautiful children.

Also, in case you were wondering, the most popular pick-up line is "You have beautiful eyes"; a scary consequence of being forty and fat is that you may be more likely to suffer from dementia in your old age; the "bizarre kissing risk" is gingivitis (also, pregnancy and eternal damnation); men want to supervise others at work; and coffee wakes you up because that's what coffee does, poindexter.

Oh, and the real alarming news about ugly children is that parents don't love them as much. Because, claim the researchers, Darwin would have wanted it that way.

June 12, 2005

Another Notch On My Belt...

To add to the list of odd Google search terms that throw up my blog on the first results page: "Asexuals party hardest".

Also, "genital euphemisms" links to my Sillytech page.

I wrote a post about Mr and Mrs Smith last night, but my web browser ate it and I couldn't be bothered re-writing the whole thing. So instead, here's my favourite part from it:

Johnstone: So, you're here to pitch a script, are you?
Screenwriter: Yes. It's called 'Mr and Mrs Smith'.
Johnstone: Hold on, I want to drink some of my brain-damaging juice before we continue.

Mmmmm... brain-damaging juice.

June 10, 2005

Conversations With Greatness XXXIV

Sorry, Bill-- I'm a big fan, but I thought this was a bit much.

June 08, 2005

OK, OK, Calm Down... Who's Trying to Steal Your Brain?

I got a new neighbour today. I didn't catch his real name, but to his friends he apparently goes by 'Crazy Yelling Drunk Guy'. He moved into the garden directly opposite my kitchen window this afternoon, along with his dog and a bottle of what looked suspiciously like White Lightning Cider-- though where he would have gotten such a thing is beyond me.

(White Lightning, for my non-Brit readers, is roughly equivalent in concept to Colt 45. It is a 7.5% alcoholic cider that, until very recently, sold in 3-litre bottles for the princely sum of £3, or around $5.50 US. Then somebody pointed out that three litres of White Lightning provides 22.5 alcoholic units, or more than the recommended weekly intake for an average woman-- so, in the interest of responsible drinking habits, the aptly-named 'Scottish Courage' brewery has made 2-litre bottles their largest available size.)

Anyway, Mr Drunk Guy decided to hang out outside my kitchen window for the afternoon, yelling at trees, yelling at his dog, yelling at nothing in particular, obstructing traffic (while yelling at it), dancing and yelling at the same time, collapsing with a dazed look on his face and then getting up after a few minutes to yell some more, and taking regular swigs from his giant plastic bottle.

I didn't really know what to do. I thought about calling the police, but that seemed like a terribly bourgeois thing to do, especially since he wasn't really doing anything particularly damaging to me or my building. So instead, I made lunch and did dishes, watching him sway to and fro, and trying not to make eye contact with him (passers-by who made eye contact with him got yelled at, predictably enough).

My favourite part was when he started jumping back and forth over a low garden wall, waving his arms around and yelling as he did so, until he looked so insanely smashed that his dog started barking at him in a "For Christ's sake, you're embarassing me!" kind of way.

Oh, the joys of urban life.

June 07, 2005

A Giant Piece of Freedom

From Netscape News: 8-Inch French Fry Sold for Nearly $200

Mindy Marland, a bartender at the 'Checkered Flag Bar & Grill' (across from the Iowa 80 Truckstop) thought that it was just going to be another boring day. Little did she know that she was about to be flung into an exciting world of mystery and intrigue: the world of unusually large food items.

"A waitress was walking by and I saw [the eight-inch fry] sitting right on top of a plate she was getting ready to serve-- I was intrigued by it and took it off the plate," said Marland, reminiscing fondly. "Then I yelled 'finders, keepers!', punched the waitress in the face, and ran off."

Sensing an opportunity for a lucrative pay-off, Marland wasted no time auctioning off the giant fry on eBay. Before long, news of the Biblically proportioned foodstuff had been catapulted around the small but dedicated Oversized Potato Product Society. OPPS' members scrambled to the auction site, and one lucky buyer snagged the few grams of novelly-shaped tuber for a mere $197.50.

Marland has also contacted the Guinness Book of Records, after discovering that the largest fry previously on record was a paltry 6 and 3/4 inches long. Failing that, she is hoping to land the "Most Inane Story That The Associated Press Has Ever Covered" record, though the competition is, as you might imagine, fierce. Said an AP spokesman: "War in Iraq? What? We barely have time to cover boring stories like that anymore."

The fry-buyer remains anonymous, as do his/her intentions for the fry-- but rumours suggest that it will be used to make a sexually explicit Mr Potato-Head doll.

This is a far fry from good journalism.

June 06, 2005

A Sexual Retraction

A propos of my last entry, Mariana informed me last night that it is, in fact, not unheard of for people to be completely devoid of sexual desire. "I'm surprised you haven't heard about it," she said, which I chose to take flatteringly.

Since that above paragraph could be taken somewhat ambiguously (ah, the joys of the English language!), I will now revise it thus:

A propos of my last post, Mariana informed me that it is, in fact, not unheard of for people to be devoid of sexual desire.

In any case, the point is that asexuals are actually an established community seeking recognition and respect, something I didn't realize when I wrote my last post. So, um, sorry if I offended. In fact, I highly encourage all my readers to visit asexuality.org and learn about the wonders of a two-track mind. You can also visit the Asexuality Shop and purchase some fine asexual clothing, including an "Asexuals Party Hardest" t-shirt, and a delightfully ironic asexual thong.

June 04, 2005


Today, a whirlwind tour through some of the cutting edge research that's being done in the field of... SEXOLOGY! Sexology, as you probably know, is among the most rigourously scientific of all the -ologies, despite being largely a lay discipline.

A good example of the weightiness of sexology is this study, where researchers used stopwatches to measure "intravaginal ejaculatory latency time", or, in plain English: the time between when a man puts his Buster McThunderstick in a woman's framazama, and when the man gets his cookies.

(With copious thanks to Starma's Adult Humour for the bewildering collection of euphemisms.)

After timing 1600 men and their partners (!!!!), researchers concluded that the average intravaginal ejaculatory latency time was 7.3 minutes. They also concluded that their job is pretty fucking weird.

A slightly less 'hands on' study was carried about by the American Association for Retired Persons, which found that nearly one-third of Americans aged 45 and above ranked their sex lives as "somewhere between 'yawn' and 'bloody awful'," which I think should be a candidate for the most nebulous survey result of the year.

Another survey result that I enjoyed thoroughly was from this study, which states that "virtually every participant . . . male and female, reported having experienced sexual desire." Virtually every participant? [snip!]

According to an article on Netscape, it's possible that these few people who apparently experience no sexual desire are deficient in oxytocin, a hormone that (quote) "encourages us to cuddle". Researchers determined this by measuring the intrabrachial juxtapositionary temporal duration period in a sample of 2,300 puppies, who were then asked to rate the intensity of the cuddle on a scale of 1 to Thursday.

Now, I'm off to bone up on my genital euphemisms.

June 03, 2005

Conversations With Greatness XXXIII

Okay, okay-- I'll stop with the Pinker jokes. Nothing but real Greatness next week.

June 02, 2005

He's Also a Dick

N. Korea calls Cheney a "bloodthirsty beast".

Hey, Alice: how's Cheney doing on CelebDAQ today?