Friday, November 24, 2006

Flying Billboards

I have spent a lot of time flying recently. One of the things I noticed was the fact that airlines are cashing in on any blank space found inside the aircraft.

On a recent US Airlines flight, the tray tables had advertising forSplenda on them. Maybe it's just me, but seeing something on an airline tray table would not make me buy it. Unless it was an advert for some decent food that you could buy on board - but you know that's never going to happen.

There are also a number of US Carriers now accepting advertising on sick bags. That doesn't bother me, but it would bother me if I was the CEO of the company being associated with vomit.

I think the most innovative advertising approach was European budget airline Easyjet's deal with the photo chain Klick PhotoPoint, where the sick bags doubled as envelopes for film processing, but I would hate to be the film technician who opened an incorrectly-sent bag...

Whilst on the subject of travel, the other thing I noticed was the Alaska Airlines logo. It's certainly striking, and is supposed to represent an Eskimo, but to me it looks more like Tommy Lee Jones with an Afro...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Elevator Stares

I ride an elevator every day. (Oops, in proper English, I should say I take the lift each day). Anyway, it is probably the slowest ride in the world, taking at least 5 minutes to climb four stories.

The problem with riding in elevators is that everyone always tries to avoid your stare - or is it just my stare they try to avoid? They look down, They look up. They watch the floor progress indicator like it's the most interesting thing they have ever seen. And they don't have any dreaded muzak to avidly listen to, either.

I rebel against all that. You see, I am one of those "elevator talkers". I cannot ride the four floors without speaking to my travelling companion(s), even if it is just the obligatory comment about the weather.

Do they hate me for it? I am sure some do. But I am also sure that some really want to speak but just can't get up enough courage in the two floors before they get off, so I am providing them with a valuable service.

Until the day they put me in a straightjacket, that is...

Sunday, November 19, 2006


I had a hair cut yesterday. The conversation generally goes something like this: "Number one. Leave it a bit longer at the front. Nothing for the weekend. Thanks very much."

The big issue is that I always end up with a neck full of hair. Those short, shaved strands end up on my shirt collar, and they itch like crazy. It is immensely annoying. Especially if I have to spend an afternoon in the office like that. Why?

We have the technology to put men on the moon, yet no-one seems to have an invention to stop hair getting down your neck during a haircut! Tissue paper doesn't work. Towels don't work. Those rubber pads draped over your shoulders don't work. Come on! Surely there is an inventor out there somewhere who wants to solve this issue?

Whilst on the subject of hair, this weekend saw a major milestone in my life. I found my first grey hair. On my head? On my chest? No, I mean (cough please) down below, if you get my drift. I have had peppery pez on my head for the longest time. My chest is sprouting a big patch of grey grass. But there? When I saw it I had to sit down and take a deep breath.

It is official. It is all downhill from here. Next, someone will be calling me middle-aged.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Six Word Story

I have recently become a fan of the Six Word Story group in Flickr. It's a pool where you post photos where the title is a six word story. For the photo here, the title was "Unread, Her Letter Remained Locked Away". I have posted several other shots to this pool.

Ernest Hemingway was once asked to compose a complete story in six words. His answer, personally felt to be his best prose ever, was"For sale: baby shoes, never used."

Being able to tell an entire story on six words is a difficult but compelling art. Wired magazine recently asked a number of writers to try composing their own six word stories. There were some excellent stories. My favourites include:

Failed SAT. Lost scholarship. Invented rocket.
- William Shatner

Computer, did we bring batteries? Computer?
- Eileen Gunn

Epitaph: He shouldn't have fed it.
- Brian Herbert

Osama’s time machine: President Gore concerned.
- Charles Stross

My Big Head

I recently noticed that my scooter helmet leaves a big red mark on my forehead after I take it off. It is pretty unsightly and takes a while to dissipate. The helmet is fibreglass and does not change size in the heat, which only leads me to one conclusion: I think my head is growing.

So I started looking for other signs. My glasses don't fit too well any more because the frame has stretched - could that be because of my stretching skull?

I also have a lump or knot on the back of my head - I usually joke that this is just my brains trying to escape, but maybe there is more to it? The lump does not seem to have grown - or does it? I searched WebMD in vain to find out what the lump is, but I couldn't find a thing.

So now I am wondering how long it will be before I have trouble supporting my growing box of grey matter. Will it start to become too heavy for my shoulders? Will I start to look like one of those toy dolls with oversized craniums? Will my brains start spilling out of my ears? No, that's wax, and it's tasty! Will people start staring at me in elevators? No...because they already do that.

So now I am on a noggin-watch. I need to take scale of my scalp daily. I like to think I am becoming cleverer as a result of this growth. (I am sure posts like this serve to prove that point). And no, I'm not just being big-headed about it.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Urban Grain - Ice in the City

Being away in a city allows me to experience things I would not normally in Bermuda. Carrying a wallet full of dollar bills for tips is just one of them...

Whilst in Central Park last week I came across the Wollman Skating Rink. This is surprising because a) it is one of two rinks in the park, and b) Donald Trump has managed to emblazon his logo all over it. He even has the Trump logo on the Zamboni machines which resurface the ice.

I whiled away 15 minutes watching the skaters, then another 45 minutes watching the Zamboni driver do his stuff. I am no ice skating judge, but I don't think he would have scored too highly in terms of style - he was far too random in his approach to the resurfacing job. Which got me thinking several random thoughts:
  • I wonder if his performance review is based upon how well he executes his ice-resurfacing tasks?
  • Does driving anti-clockwise invalidate his annual bonus?
  • Where do you get training how to drive a giant kettle?
When I got back to my hotel I decided to do some research on what Dubya calls the google. It turns out that the founder of Zamboni used to give you personal driving lessons, but now all you get is a VCR. That makes it tough - in my experience learning via television isn't that effective - unless it is aerobics with Jane Fonda, which apparently taught thousands of young men how to use the rewind and pause buttons on their VCRs effectively.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Travel Twists

I have been travelling again, which is good for observations but bad for blogging. Managing your entire electronic life via a Blackberry is achievable, but not optimum. The strange thing is that if regular computer keyboards were adapted for thumb-typing, I would be able to work more effectively. I can thumb-type faster than an organgutan. All thanks to opposable thumbs.

Anyway, some things I noticed on my travels:

  • Travelators - In an airport, it is always more satisfying to come across a Dunlop rubber travelator rather than a metal one. They give you a spring in your step and make you feel good about the world. Imagine if every pavement were made of the same stuff - the world would be a much happier place
  • Taxicabs - why have I never been in a taxi where there wasn't some warning light flashing on the dashboard? Oil Level low, Fuel low, Washer Fluid low or Directional Ability low. In one recent ride as I pulled on my safety belt the driver told me I did not need to wear it. As they say in Scotland, "Aye, right"
  • Pavement Portrait Artists - in pretty much every major city you will find a park with a bunch of portrait artists selling their wares and trying to tempt you to pose. My issue is that they advertise their skills with hand-drawn portraits of celebrities. Now forgive me if I am wrong, but I have never seen Madonna or Johnny Depp sitting having a portrait done outside Central Park. Or Orlando Bloom or Penelope Cruz, and definitely not James Dean (unless the tabloids are to be believed).

Friday, October 20, 2006

Pip Pip Away

Pip, aka Phil, aka Chadders is leaving Bermuda this weekend.

I met Phil on my first visit to the island in 1996, and have known him since then. What can I say about Phil?

- He looks like George Harrison and sounds like Ringo Starr
- He loves his Vespas and Lambrettas
- He liked to call himself the "Bug Catcher" - something to do with his current job
- He sneezes when he has drank too much (a useful barometer)
- He was always one of the most stylish men on the island (apart from the Speedos)

Good luck Phil on your new adventures in France. Bon Voyage !

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Cool or Safe?

It is a question I often struggle with. When riding my Vespa do I want to look good or protect myself. Some scenarios:

Rain - do I wear shirt and shorts like a carefree caribbean, or full foul-weather rain gear like an ocean-going sailor? The problem with this conundrum is that if I opt for the former I ride faster to try and stop getting wet, which makes the situation worse

Helmet - half helmet like an Italian Paninaro, or full-face like a proper motorcyclist? If it was a case of money and style no object, then the Reevuwould be the best choice...

Shoes - sandals like a trendy Greek model or full-on motorcycle boots like a full-on motorcyclist? My preference is barefoot, but the tarmac gets too hot and it is sometimes difficult to put your bike on the stand...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Lurking in the Green

My morning regimen normally includes a cocktail of Vitamin Cmixed with Berocca. I follow this up with some Bolthouse Green Goodness - a green fruit smoothie containing lots of good stuff, including Spirulina. Then I go and play squash.

The problem with the Green Goodness is that it tastes so good. Too good, in fact. It makes me think back to that movie from 1973 calledSoylent Green. Could this stuff really made from something more sinister, like the recycled bodies of people who have used government-sponsored euthanasia centers?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cold Cut

I am a big fan of food. The only reason I do so much exercise is so I can eat a lot - if I didn't play squash I would be 300 pound s and ugly. Instead, I'm just...

Anyway, one of the best things about eating is reheating, or not, as the case may be. I love to eat foods that you can stick in the fridge and revisit the next day. And I am the sort of person who generally cannot be bothered reheating - I tend to eat all my remainders cold.

Food remains which are best served cold straight from the refrigerator include:
  • Curry - probably one of my favourites when cold. The garlic and spices really set your tongue alight. And cold Naan bread is even better ...
  • Pizza - not that I eat it that often, but when I do it tastes great from the fridge. Unless of course the topping has all merged together and congealed into a cheesy mess. Then it doesn't look that great, but it tastes fab
  • Chilli Con Carne - Meat, spices and kidney beans - need I say more?
  • Vegetarian Lasagna - my home made aubergine lasagna tastes great when cold, which is good, because I normally make enough to last 4 days
  • Baked Beans - normally after coming in late from the pub. Sometimes I skip the refrigeration altogether and eat them straight from the can.
Needless to say, there are some foods which don't do so well after a night in the Frigidaire. Salad being one of them - designed to be eaten cold, but not stored. A liberal helping of Paul Newman's dressing sometimes helps. And leaving Nutella in the fridge should be a crime - it ruins the gooey goodness of chocolate and hazlenuts altogether.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Queue for a View

As of today I have reached a major Flickr milestone - 500 photos uploaded and 33,700 views - in just over a year on the site.

And when you consider that for every photo I upload, I have taken at least 10 more, that's a lot of photos. As a point in case, at the weekend I took more than one hundred shots of the area around my house, but have only uploaded one.

Here are some of my photos:I was also able to order my Moo mini-cards over the weekend - I can't wait for those to arrive.

Friday, October 6, 2006

Handy Man

It is official. I like using my hands. There is something in me that really likes to be creative with them. That usually involves one of the following:

Coding. After more than 10 years in the IT business, I still only type with two fingers. Some people may not think it is that creative, but I love it. I just hope none of my bad code ever ends up on Google Code Search...

Taking Photos. I am always looking for new challenges with a cameraScoble has just done a great series on Photowalks with Thomas Hawk. I am also looking for a new camera at the moment as well - torn between a Canon 5D, Nikon D200 or a Nikon D80.

Painting. I have finally started to paint. My first painting was of Hamish - almost a still life, you could say. I have moved on to other subjects. He was too demanding during poses. Acrylics are the way to go - all the colour, but they wash out of your clothes easier than oils.

Writing. I really like writing. Recently I have been given the opportunity to take part in an online writing experiment pitching male against female. Very interesting...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Going Environ Mental

I have a strange affliction. I seem to be overly averse to pollutants in the environment. But there are two pollutants which get to me more than any others:

1) Sneezes
2) Diesel Fumes

When someone sneezes in a room I am in, I tend to hold my breath for 45 seconds or so - just so I do not have to breathe in any of their germs. Obviously, I try to be discreet about this, as I would not want to offend anyone. The multiple sneezers sometimes fool me though, as I have just started to breathe again as they fire off another salvo.

When I am on my scooter riding behind a truck blowing out diesel fumes from the exhaust, I also hold my breath. The problem being that if I cannot overtake quickly I end up almost crashing due to lack of oxygen.

So if you see a guy with a blue face weaving about on a white vespa behind a truck, you will know it is me.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hamish Recommends...

Hamish is a discerning cat. He has great taste, especially when it comes to selecting an owner. He also knows a good product when he sees one. And before you ask - No, he is not a target market.

Hamish would like to wholeheartedly endorse the following innovative products and or resources:

  • The Slanket - a blanket with sleeves so you can stroke him whilst he cuddles up.
  • Molli's Choice Beverages - enhanced flavoured water for your pet. The roasted chicken flavour water sounds great...
  • Catster - the place to meet all your cat-friends online. Think of 

Monday, September 18, 2006

Brushing Up

Well, Hurricane Florence has passed, and the only major issue seemed to be with my camera, which has inexplicably died, leaving me very unhappy. It looks like the new camera I wanted will have to be ordered sooner than originally planned. This was a "luxury" hurricane - no power lost meant TV, DVD and internet.

So I spent much of yesterday tidying up after the storm. There was enough foliage on my patio to create a whole new tree, my barbeque was full of leaves, and I had to brush the outside walls to remove all the debris plastered against them.

My only other issue this weekend was taking an 8-mile walk in a vest without sunscreen. That was pure stupidity. Now it looks like I

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Lumix: Bereft of Life

'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies!

'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig!

'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!!

Alas - my camera is dead...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Wind Movements

So the storm is upon us...

Hurricane Florence is much more brazen than her name suggests, lifting her skirts and causing a rush of breeze which makes even the proudest palm trees tremble.

The trees in my garden lean away from her advances, occasionally being pushed flat as Florence heaves a mighty sigh. The rain sheets across the landscape, lashing out at windows, walls and any surfaces it finds.

The lightbulbs flicker, but remain glowing for the moment. The windows shake, but remain intact for the moment. The trees bend,

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Wind Whistles Like a Nightingale...

...Florence Nightingale, that is. Hurricane Florence is approaching the island as I type, with the closest point of approach expected to be 60 nautical miles to the West at 7am.

All hatches have been battened down, all buckets filled with water and all wine bottles prepped for early consumption. It has rained for much of the day, and the tree frogs are croaking in anticipation of the oncoming storm.

I ventured out earlier to do my patented "finger in the air" wind speed check, and reckoned on about 35 knots, with gusts rating higher. It was far too chilly to attempt the much more accurate "nipple-ometer" test, which is accurate to 3 knots , but requires being