Saturday 28 July 2012

And Now for Something Completely Different!

The first two videos play out continuing aspects of the same story, the third, I just put in because I like it and I think it's fun. Although it continues a theme, cinematographicall from video number 2, the storyline is unrelated.


Why are some things olympic sports and others not? How about cabinetmaking... See, he's got a lovely dovetail joint there, but the North Koreans are already inlaying rosewood, and pearl around the lock, Oh no! Gunther's chisel has slipped, it's a nasty gouge, oh my, that will cost him an extra sheet of sandpaper... what? Oh, I see? this year of course, the sandpaper allowance has been reduced, and I think... Yes, the  judges are holding up a finger, he's used up all his chances, poor chap, but! Look! he's converting that chisel slip into a carved decoration on the lid, the north koreans are glancing over, nervous, and oh my, look, the camerounian, always an outsider, this lad's only fifteen, only took up a tenon-saw for the first time a couple of years ago, and he's already starting his first coat of varnish. Well, from here, we'll report further in a little while, but now our cameras are going over to the hundred-meter lawn-mowing finals...."

Friday 27 July 2012

Poo Wi-Fi!

Okay, it's in Spanish, but you'll get the gist of it.
Stop press: No, it isn't, I found a version in english!

An encouragement to clean up after your dog... or somebody else's, in the park.

Meanwhile, in Gilbert, Arizona, Arizona State University's developed a dog-waste powered methane digester that runs a streetlight in the dog-park.

Saturday 21 July 2012


by Amit Majmudar

for Jorge Luis Borges

I stand before the books as I might stand
beneath the night sky. They’re in stacks and stacks
of self-contained infinities demand-
ing exploration. I have neither maps
nor ladders to pursue these stars,
these books that burn within themselves. That’s when
he comes and shows me where to start,
a blind librarian with a lantern and
a hand that takes my own. He knows the books
for me, he knows exactly where they are.
When he points, I at last know where to look.
The deep night sky he navigates by heart,
and as he shows them to me, one by one
I find those far stars opening into suns.

Working Title. Thats what I'll call it.

I carry a notepad.
A moleskine.
Is that too pretentious?

I carry a notepad. I have lots of them. So many that notes get lost. Sometimes I even carry a pen too. My notepads are legion. there are ratty old spiral-bound ones, measurements, stains, sketches, lists, recipes, stories. Most of my stories never make it out to paper, most never make it out to anywhere, they stay in my head, crumble, decay, and are gone, overwritten, forgotten, fragments of sentences, sometimes whole words and letters,  or maybe just a crushed ampersand in the dust. Were it ever to happen that a pathologist scooped out my brain, I'm sure beneath it would be all the leaked words, stories, dreams.

Today, this morning, I had to go out to the phone shop, yet again. That's a saga in itself.
Afterward I found a cafe, sat on a leatherette bench, looking out at the world and at the other customers. Across the cafe, in another bench/table/bench booth, was a young woman with her two small children. She had a laptop open, and was obviously trying to concentrate, as her children swarmed over her.

I was fascinated. They weren't loud raucous kids, they were inquisitive, experimentative, I can't guess the age, maybe two or three, maybe twins? One slightly bigger than the other, girl and boy, the girl slightly bigger. Clean, neat, moderately affluent, the thing that struck me was that there were no boundaries between them, like puppies in a heap, they squeezed into the space between her and the wall, tried to climb over her back behind her neck, and she grabbed the clamberer, hushed and repositioned it, without taking her right hand from the keyboard, nor her eyes from the screen. They clambered over her thighs, played with her hair, tipped over a sippy-cup, tried to poke a straw in her mouth.
At all this, she seemed unperturbed, quietly coping, looking around a curly head as it blew bubbles against her neck.
Nothing they did seemed to faze her. I'm, of course, sitting there with my coffee, yes, coffee, not tea, though tea is my default beverage, and scribbling, drawing, trying to write something completely else, trying to concentrate on a zillion things I need to get done, but which slip through my fingers like greased piglets, not that I've ever actually encountered a greased piglet.
I'm trying to look as though I'm the sort of person who sits in coffee emporia and knows what all the things listed on the menu board are. I'm always totally humiliated when I try to order.  Still, unlike the 'barista', a sternly goateed young man, who's probably studying Nietsche, I do know who Starbuck was.

Here's an interesting digression. I always digress, y'know, I'm doing it right now, digressing from my digression. And that's why I'll never ever complete my novel, (apart from the fact that I never started writing it). Where was I?. Oh yes digressing, Starbuck, oh.
The first Hawaiian royalty to visit London.   King Kamehameha and Queen Kamamalu. They travelled to London on a whaling ship, captained by Valentine Starbuck.
I don't recall where or when I learned all this stuff, but the sad gist of Kamehameha's story was that, just like Pocahontas, he died.
The Hawaiians had no defence against measles, and that once-common childhood disease killed their king and queen.
Anyway, Starbuck. I'm not sure if he was the one who Melville based the first mate of the 'Pequod' upon.
Something I didn't know, and just learned, whilst looking up Kamehameha's name's proper spelling, is that the captain of the royal naval vessel tasked to return the bodies of the king and queen to Hawaii, had consulted with Captain Starbuck upon sailing directions, and Starbuck had mentioned an uncharted island and plotted its position. The captain, George Anson Byron, charted the island, in the Kiribati group, and named it "Starbuck Island"

Meanwhile, the small girl makes a grab at mummy's top, pulling at her shirt, and as she grabs, a breast pops out. Pale and rounded, ripe fruit, with dark areola and upright nipple. Mother calmly scoops it back into the briefly revealed pink bra, does that settling jiggle, and... I'm busted. She looks up, catches my eye. I pretend I didn't notice but I'm blushing. More embarassed than she is.

I'm thinking though, of the way the children  see no boundary whatsoever between themselves and her, I'm musing on motherhood, and how my own lady's kids are, though much older, forever as much a part of her. How its understood without words that the bond is absolute. They're growing up, starting to fly free, but where it matters, there's no distance between them. You can disagree with them, get mad at them, but they know, when it comes to it, there's always forgiveness, always love, always closeness.

I think of children, how they start, completely part of their mother, how they take over her body and mind as they gestate, how totally reliant they are when born, how that bond is created. They've been part of her body on the inside, then they cling to it to suckle and sleep, how fearful they are when she passes out of sight, how her reappearance is what they need. I'm a man, I have no children, I've no claim to any of this, I'm an observer from the outside.
The woman in the coffee shop.
Maybe she thinks I was ogling her and staring at her boobs.
I was envying her.

; "His Love of Semicolons"

His Love of Semicolons

The comma is comely, the period, peerless,
     but stack them one atop
the other, and I am in love; what I love
     is the end that refuses to stop,
the promise that something will come in a moment
     though the saying seem all said;
a grammatical afterlife, fullness that spills
     past the fullstop, not so much dead
as taking a breather, at worst, stunned;
     the sentence regroups and restarts,
its notation bespeaking momentum, its silence
     dividing the beats of a heart.
"Amit Majmudar is a diagnostic radiologist, specializing in nuclear medicine, practicing full-time in Columbus, Ohio. "
So says the Wiki.
We label people by their work, their hobby, their family, their tragedy, whatever glib ticket we can stick on the box.
I'm always aware of this, of how when someone asks "What do you do?', meaning, "what is the occupation that pays your bills?". 
And I'm always aware that the answer is the tiniest possible clue as to who the person is. 
Do we expect our radiologist to be a poet?  
And I look at people, try to see beyond the facade, wonder what mysterious, imponderable world they inhabit. 

Saturday 14 July 2012

Honest, It's not what it looks like...

No, I swear, Boss, we were studying and just fell asleep!
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Siren Song

Picture by Bo Bartlett

is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in
even though they see the beached skulls

the song nobody
because anyone who has heard it
is dead, and the others can't remember.

Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me

out of this bird suit?

I don't enjoy it here
squatting on this
looking picturesque and mythical

with these two feathery
I don't enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This

is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are

at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.

by Margaret Atwood

Via 3 Quarks Daily

Earlier This Year,

The Red Dirt Girl and I went to the Natural History Museum in Houston to see the Terracotta Warriors exhibition. In the evening, we were booked into The Planetarium to see the Led Zeppelin laser-show, sound and light, projected in 3D, seemingly all around.

Nowhere on the interwebs can I find the opening sequence, a sci-fi zeppelin, light-oars waving like an intergalactic galley, moving slowly through the space above us, toward a fantasy horizon.
Some of the later part of the show's on Youtube, so here it is.

If you like Led Zepp, and this comes to anywhere near you, take your sweetheart and swoop through mystic worlds. You won't be disappointed.

Google Doodles Klimt

Gustav Klimt, happy 150th birthday!

Klimt Body-Art
Barbie as Klimt model!

Monday 9 July 2012

Olympic Cheating: Even the Horses are in on it!

"After high-profile doping offenses by Irish riders at both the 2004 and ’08 Olympic Games, Horse Sport Ireland officials embarked on a massive campaign to eliminate such infractions from Irish sport. In 2004, Irish rider Cian O’Connor won individual show jumping gold but had the medal revoked when his horse Waterford Crystal tested positive for prohibited substances. There was a scandal when the horse’s B sample was stolen before it could be tested, but in June 2005, the FEI stripped O’Connor of his medal and disqualified the Irish team, which had placed seventh, from the ’04 Olympic Games."
You couldn't make this stuff up.
Stolen horse-pee!
About as unlikely as cup-peeing fairies

Or here(drug user racehorses)

My feelings about cheating in sport are pretty rigid.
Get caught just once and that should be the end of your career.
Either that, or as one wag suggested, have a third, cheat's Olympics:
  1. The Olympic Games (No cheating allowed)
  2. The Paralympics, (where it's kinda hard to figure out how to compare different handicaps)
  3. The Everything Goes, Doping, Cheating, Backstabbing Wacky-Races Olympics.
And in number three, well, you're free to sniff coke, inject rocket-fuel, transfuse kangaroo-blood, wear motorised skates, and nobble the competition. Whatever you like, to gain an unfair advantage.

Like strewing chocolates in front of half-starved gymnasts, for instance.

The Everything Goes Olympics would no doubt have a fair number of competitors dying from the overindulgence in  bath-salts, or whatever, but we could have a special extra section for morticians, and taxidermists, to collect those whose bodies couldn't take the increased stresses.

It seems Oscar Pistorius will be running in the Olympics, not the Paralympics, on his carbon-fibre prosthetic blades. I'm overawed at what he's done, to be a world class athlete, but I don't think this should be happening. Different studies disagree as to whether his blades are an enhancement or a handicap. However you look at them, they're a significant disparity.

Yes, have a race with blades versus feet, but recognise you're not playing like against like.


Saturday 7 July 2012

My Google Search Ranking Triumphs....

I'm at number 1 for search term "fairies peeing in a cup"!!!!!

Total Visits:
Smyrna, Tennessee, United States
IP Address:
At&t Internet Services (99.**.**.***) [Label IP Address]
Search Referral:
Visit Page:

Now, I may be pretty big in stuff about "Youtube not playing in Firefox", and I'm top on the list for searches about Gene Seski and his fatal crash with a truck load of bananas in Scranton, Pennsylvania. 
Google also thinks I'm the go-to guy for tractor-porn, despite my post being more satirical than actual. 
If you want to see how to get around "running out of space in blogger", Google sends you here. 
Neil Gaiman's Saucers, 
Subliminal gnomes... 
Camel Toe?
Oh yes Despite my feeling that I know too little about everything, it seems that in many areas, Google deems me to be the expert. What can I say?

Other than "Don't believe that Google always knows best!"

My most important question is "Why is someone in Smyrna, Tennessee looking for information on the cup-peeing habits of fairies?"

Friday 6 July 2012

Perfidious Albion

The Albion, on Armley Road, Leeds.
A few years back, it was a thriving pub with cosy rooms, tiled fireplaces with coal fires in winter, very traditional, dark varnished wood, stained-glass decorations and fine woodwork.
My brother and I would often drop in for a couple of pints, and a game or two of pool, maybe a plate of sandwiches, (the sandwiches, like the beer there, were excellent). A friendly place, the front bar was across the width of the pub, that was the place to lean on the bar, chat with the regulars, and the back rooms, on the left was a cosy sitting room, and on the right, the room with pool table, dart board etc. Old blokes playing dominoes. On the walls, pictures of local history, the big engineering works and railway yards that, like the pub, are just memories now.

"The building dates from the 1860s when it comprised of two shops, one originally a beerhouse which became the Fleece Inn in 1873, and the other which became the Albion Hotel around 1886. Both were later bought by Peter Walker & Sons. After the First World War the council began refusing to renew licences to uneconomic pubs and the Fleece and Albion were threatened, but were given a reprieve when they agreed to a merger instead. The name The Albion was chosen for the merged pub, which was sold to Tetley's in 1925."

As you can see in this picture, the old windows and doors were quite ornate.
Tetleys, in the 1970s declared it a 'Heritage Pub', a distinction they gave to pubs that had retained much of their original character, this designation was supposed to confer protection to the pub against the scourge of regular onslaughts of 'themed' interior decoration, which robbed so many of them of their character.

A year or so back, I noticed it had closed its doors. The windows were boarded over, the sign fascias were ripped off. Recently, however, it's been sold. It looked for a while as if the demolition men were moving in, but it seems they stopped at just ripping out the interior, and those ornate windows. Oh. And the front door. In place of the fine woodwork, nondescript pvc framed windows, no more stained glass, but at least they didn't knock it down.
stop press: it's a grade 3 listed building, an application to demolish would probably have been rejected, on the grounds that it's a handsome piece of history.

It might be too much to hope that the sign will be saved?

This sign will soon disappear. The old pub's about to become offices.

Beautiful red tiles, the colours and the inserted borders mark them as products of the  Burmantofts Pottery Works, from north-east Leeds. Across the road from the pub is the railway, and one of the more unusual claims to fame the pub might have is the fact that it appears on numerous model railway layouts! In the 1980s, a model railway accessory firm, called Superquick, sold a card model of the Albion, as a typical victorian town pub. If my internet connection had not just died, I could look to see if it's still available, and I could post this.
Ha. I can find plenty of references, but no examples. I also just learned that the Luftwaffe managed to damage the Albion during WWII. That's a surprise, as Leeds got off very lightly compared with many other industrial cities. The raid that damaged the Albion was probably aimed at the railway, or maybe a straggler from the raids on Kirkstall Forge, a couple of miles further up the Aire valley.

Stop Press! Ead-itter's  note: From the comments, I realise that 'Perfidious Albion' has crunkled many a brow, so I have to claritify my title. 'Albion' is one of the oldest known names for Britain. It goes back a couple of thousand years, when it was just a mysterious place on the map, a distant land on the edge of the world to greek and roman, carthaginian, phoenician alike.

Perfidy is treachery. I think it was a frenchman who coined the phrase Perfidious Albion, but I refuse to look it up. A pub called "The Albion" is thus quintessentially british, redolent of roast beef, Union Jacks, St George, Nelson's navy, british bulldogs.
This pub now not a pub? Perfidy!
Office workers where once flowed the foamy beer. I shudder at the thought.
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Tuesday 3 July 2012

Patents Pending.

I went to the Patent Office yesterday to register some inventions. The lady at the main desk pulled out a form. She wrote down my personal info and then asked me what I had invented. I said, "well, a folding bottle, to start with" She said, "OK. And what have you called your folding bottle?" "A Fottle", I replied. "What else have you invented?" she queried. "A folding carton", I said. "And what have you called that?" she replied. "A Farton", I confirmed. She sniggered and said, "Those are silly names and one of them sounds a bit crude." I was so upset that I walked out without telling her about my folding bucket.

Flee! The Robots are Coming!!!!

'Calculord3' is on facebook. I don't do facebook, but for those of you who do, I'd suggest 'friending' a power-crazed, six-inch high monomaniac tyrant just might be your only hope of salvation.

Monday 2 July 2012

Music Monday?

I saw this first on the Presurfer.... it's elsewhere too. But in the spirit of my gritty gears, I thought you might like to see Laurel and Hardy and some dancing girls with a snappy tune sung by an Azerbaijani pop princess.
The song? Ohh, the Andrews Sisters did it way back, but this is more fun.

"Bei Mir Bist Du Scheen", sung by Ilhana, got to number one in the Azerbaijani charts. Where else but here could you listen to an Azerbaijani number one AND watch Laurel and Hardy (and a chorus line, whew!), dance?


Sunday 1 July 2012

Pots from my Past

I was at my sister's house for a party, and met a few pots I'd made back in yesteryear. I think the teapot will date from about 1988?  Or thereabouts.

Nice to see them, I'd forgotten that she has a fair collection of my stuff.

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Driving Home Yesterday.

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Saturday in the Rain


My pal, Ken, and I, went to Howarth, West Yorkshire, to try out the beers of the Howarth Steam-Brewing Company.  On the way into the village (famous as the home of the Bronte sisters, all that Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre stuff... "Take me, Heathcliffe!")
we passed over the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, and I thought I'd stop to grab a couple of pics of  the scene outside the engine-shed. As I turned to go, I heard a whistle behind me, and spun around in time to film an approaching train.
I was drenched, it was raining heavily, the pics are blurry, but hey. It's fun.

The beer and new friends were good too. 

The Red Dirt Girl shares my enthusiasm for trains, and I wished she was there. I confess, last time I took her to Howarth, I bullied her into mountaineering up the steep village street, when I could have parked at the top.
I think, though, that struggling to get somewhere makes you appreciate it all the more.  Sorry, my dear.

Some pictures from an earlier, sunnier visit:

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