Thursday, 15 April 2010

So is that the end of summer then?

Iceland has been hit with two volcanic eruptions in a month. “Big whoop” I here you say, “I’m not in Iceland, so I don’t care”. But when I heard about this on the news this morning I was worried that it could turn out to be really bad. Already, as well as causing hundreds of Icelanders with names like Magnusson to flee their homes in terror it has started messing things up for the rest of the world.

Huge numbers of Flights to the UK have been grounded because jet planes don’t like having their engines packed full of volcanic ash. AS well as shutting all the airports in Scotland, anybody wanting to take flights to Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool or Newcastle is having to rethink their plans. Even flights to London heading into Stansted have been hit.

No-one seems to know how long this volcanic no-fly zone will be in effect, or if it is going to get worse. The thing I am worried about is not flying though. Did you ever hear about ‘the year without a summer’? It’s pretty messed up.

In 1815 Mount Tambora (a dirty great volcano) erupted. It spewed ash and debris into the sky enthusiastically. In 1816, across the world, there was no summer. All that ash and muck made the skies dark. Crops failed, there was rioting and starvation. It was during that summer that never came that Mary Shelley wrote ‘Frankenstein’ because she was stuck inside on holiday by Lake Geneva.

So the weather has just started to get nice after that pig of a winter, is going to go all dark and rubbish for the next 12 months? I hope not. To be fair what happened in 1816 was because of a much bigger eruption, but after two in a month maybe there are more on the way. Could be worse though I suppose, they reckon that the Lake Toba supereruption reduced the population OF THE ENTIRE PLANET to less than ten thousand. Very long time ago that, though.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Lego Hellraiser

Hellraiser was a pretty scary movie when it came out. Clive Barker's terrifying horror story still has the power to shock today. Imagine if that terror were combined with the ultimate evil that is lego, could you cope? Would you open the box and summon the lego cenobites? If the answer is 'yes' then click play on the video below. It is going to tear you soul apart!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

vans up, suckers

I need some new wheels. Shouldn't be too hard. But why is it all the used vans I go to see seem to look quite a lot like this one:

Still, at leas that is fairly honest advertising, you know that what you see will very much be what you get. Most of the rust-buckets I've wasted my time going to see did not have anything like such a truthful picture. Of course just cos a van looks OK doesn't mean its going to keep on running. My friend knew I was looking for vans so he sent me this:

Even if the van is running well you still have your image to think about. I think when most people picture a 'typical van driver' they imagine someone who drive a van a little bit like this one:

Not the kind of look you really want to go for! Still, a van is what it is, there is no hope of disguising it. This guy is fooling no-one:

Quite cool in its own little way though I suppose. Not for me though. Well, I guess I'll have to keep on looking, and keep on forking out for van hire all the time. At least the rentals are all quite nice and new - I think that might be the problem actually. Driving the latest just gives me unrealistic expectations!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

If love is a red dress...

If love is a red dress, Well, hang me in rags. So sang Maria McKee on that song there, memorably included on the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction. Well, after the red dress in that song, it is easy to think of the world's second most famous red dress.

That's right, it has to he the iconic red dress from the adverts for Special K. Apparently this dress had such a following, with women around the world demanding to know where they could lay their hands on the brightly coloured garment.

Such was the demand for the dress in fact that retailer Marks and Spencer are going to be adding one based on it to their range of dresses. Its a nice dress to be sure, and it is easy to see why people like it. Certainly much nicer than the cereal it advertises, which tastes like cardboard. The low calorie breakfast I prefer is black coffee with a side order of cigarettes.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Yeti fail

So yeah, apparently some Chinese hunters are claiming to have captured a living yeti. The yeti is reputed to be an ape like creature living in the high mountains. Sometimes also referred to as the ‘abominable snow man’ one has never been photographed, let alone captured. Nevertheless artist impressions of the beast usually depict it looking something like the picture below.

The supposed yeti (yes that thing in the cage in the picture) looks very little like this. In fact it looks very little like an ape of a description. Perhaps this should be filed under ‘climate change news’, as maybe it was global climate change that led to its sorry state.

Of course we shouldn’t write off finding new species of animal, even large ones. Naturalists found a 2 meter long fruit eating lizard that no-one had seen before. This was described as being ‘dragon sized’, which surprised me. I thought dragons were mythical creatures so how can you compare things to them in terms of size? Also, I have always thought of dragons as being way bigger than that. Oh, wait, alright Komodo Dragons. Gotcha.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

they tried to get a WHAT on the plane?!

I have the privilege of taking flights to Dubai on a fairly regular basis. This means not only that I get to catch up on the kind of movies I wouldn't normally bother with, but also that I am pretty familiar with the procedures in airports. Security, customs, immigration, you have to go through a lot of checks before they let you on a plane. Quite right too. It might have toughened up a little recently, but there have always been checks surely?

That's why this story really amazed me. Two women tried to sneak a CORPSE aboard a flight. Did they really think no-one would notice? The body in question was that of a relative of the women who had died the day before.

The dead man was in a wheelchair, and sunglasses had been put on his face. Perhaps his adventurous female relatives were taking on one last holiday.This has to be a pretty unique crime. Still, luckily enough they were stopped. It is bad enough having to sit next to a big fat person or a screaming child - decomposing human remains is another matter altogether.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Commodore 64 back from dead for Easter

I might be showing my age just a little bit if I start to talk about the Commodore 64, but I’m going to anyway. Growing up in the ‘80’s the C64 was my introduction to computers, or at least to computers I liked. I actually had a ZX Spectrum and a BBC Micro as well – but those were RUBBISH in comparison to the Commodore, especially for games.

The Commodore 64 had a dedicated sound chip, meaning that the music and sound effect for the games were really a cut above the other systems. I love the music from some of those games to this day. Whatever was happening in the music scene back then, the soundtrack to my childhood was definitely some the bleeping-awesomeness of C64 game soundtracks. In realize that most of the people reading this won’t have a clue what I am talking about, so I have been having a bit of a trawl of Youtube looking for something to illustrate the level of Win we are talking about here. Here is a top 10 that is pretty good.

Since you asked my favourite ever C64 game was Bubble Bobble. I think the music for that has been stuck in my head since I was 3 years old. Really I think it was one of the best games ever released. There are a bunch of emulators out there for you to check out what these old-school games were like, or to get nostalgic over if you are a bit older, but nothing really comes close to the experience of sitting cross-legged with your face 6 inches in front of the television in the family living room. Until now.

The whole microcomputer design of the ‘80’s seems to be set for a comeback. Various tablet PC manufacturers have been trying to get consumers to buy into the idea of a laptop without a keyboard, now Commodore USA (a new company from the USA unconnected to the original Commodore) has announced what is essentially a laptop without a screen.

The specifications are impressive. The new machine boasts a 3Ghz Quad-Core processor and 3D graphics processing. Whereas the original C64 had to rely on an external tape-deck or later, if you were flash, one of those floppy drives with the massive disks, the reworked 2010 machine has a 500GB hard disk and a DVD-RW built in. It will ship with Ubuntu installed.

I really want one because of the retro appeal. Also I think it could be really good for using as a secondary PC or media center, as it is a lot less bulky than a full sized PC. If you have a nice widescreen HD TV in your lounge, add this and you will be golden. The manufacturers are selling it on another point though – power consumption .There is a lot of climate change news about, causing concern over energy use. It is claimed that the re-imagined C64 will be a more energy efficient design than the larger desktop machines currently in vogue.