Sunday, December 20, 2009

Guy on the bus, part two

It just occurred to me, loyal readers, that I should update you concerning the guy on the bus - the only update being that I saw him again, at a different busstop. This was aaaages ago - back before I graduated. Friday the 20th of November, to be exact (so basically, a month).

My Spanish class had just finished our Spanish exam. Afterwards, we were heading to an eatery in Newmarket - Mexicali Fresh - for a celebration dinner (I recommend the place highly). People went their various ways, but the way I went was on foot, with three or four others from my class.

And there he was.

Sitting on a bench waiting for the bus, somewhere on Ranfurly Road. I immediately hid behind the others, to their confusion.

"That's him!"


"The guy from the bus, the cute one I blogged about!"

"You wrote about him in your blog? You stalker!"

"Why do you think I'm hiding?"

We then reached the conclusion that he would not have read my blog and therefore wouldn't have known that I was stalking him, and, having passed him by now, I seized the chance for another ogle.

And until now, I entirely forgot to update the blogizzle about this momentous event. How thoughtless of me.

On a different note, might I highly recommend Ramblings of the Bearded One? Kim Ayres is a bearded Scotsman who blogs about all sorts of things. I find his philosophical posts, and the ones about depression/mental illness, particularly interesting.

Another blog with some pretty philosophical content is Soul Survivor, by someone I've actually met - Naveen! Naveen lives in Christchurch. I met Naveen on the NZIBO training/selection camp (the camp in which the New Zealand team for the International Biology Olympiad was selected). He has interesting thoughts.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I feel sick.


You know when you think "I feel sick, I should lie down for a while"?

It doesn't help.

You still feel sick.

So I'm lying here knowing that for the next half an hour at least I'll be lying here, with my sore stomach and my roommate's godforsakenly noisy laptop and the funny pains that keep shooting up my left shin.

In case you were wondering, the title's onomatopoeic.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The end of an era

Coming to you from Esquires in downtown Auckland, it's Caitlin!
Blogging on the move, woop woop!

Exams are done and finished. I have three days left of school, and then... that's it. No more. That'll be high school over.

Scary? Damn right it's scary.

Thirteen years of education. Seventeen and a half years of being a child. What will that make me now? My illustrious educational institute of the last four years would like to think that that makes me a mature, confident, well-balanced young woman (they don't specify well-balanced, but it is strongly hinted). And yet they don't call us young women anymore. They call us "the newest Old Girls". I object to women with children my age calling me "old". But, no matter. Soon I'll be free. Freeeeee!

Or so I'm supposed to feel. You know, elated at the prospect of leaving school and heading out into the big wide world. And in a way I am. But quietly. One day is much like the next, if you know what I mean. Whether I'm a secondary school student or not, I still have to do the dishes at home and tidy my room. Something I'm quite looking forward to is being able to wear whatever piercings I like. I've been thinking for some time that I'd like to get my earlobes double pierced. I'm not sure if I'm brave enough for a piercing that goes through cartilage.

Without the obstacle that boarding school presents to my employment prospects, I'll be able to get a job. I'll have money! Money that I can spend on useful things, like shoes! And socks, and bus fares!

Being an adult. That's not going to happen for a while. But still, I'm more than I was before. A kid? A teenager? A young woman?

Who cares. I'm me.

Back to blogging!

Now, I'm determined not to become this guy (click to embiggen):

Welll, I'm sort of like that guy. I love to tell people about my dreams, but they tend not to mind, because I have cool dreams. People at school ask me about my dreams - "Hey Caitlin, been chased by anymore tigers recently?" I have terrifying dreams about tigers. I'll tell you them sometime.

But I've managed to post more than four times on my blog. And I can't speak French, but I'm pretty sure I can speak Spanish. And I'm about to leave high school, so if I can speak it beyond my high school years I'll have beaten him. I'd like to beat him. If I were uninteresting, it would be silly of me to write a blog called "Something Interesting To Read", wouldn't it? I like to think I'm interesting.


So here's back to blogging. No apologies. Just new and exciting posts. Well, maybe not exciting. But interesting, hopefully. There you go!

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Guy on the bus", or "Learning to drink coffee - Day 3"

Went to the orthodontist today. After missing the train and having to walk there, I arrived exactly on time, had my teeth looked at, and was free ten minutes later (I don't have braces, but might in the future, depending on how my teeth behave over the next few years). I still had lots of time until I was meant to be back in school, but needed to get some lunch, so I headed to Columbus to grab a sammie and a coffee (three days in a row - pretty good for someone who doesn't like it. Not sure if I've noticed any caffeine side-effects yet).

I bought a "ham roll" (which despite having avocado and being made of some tasty bread, was rather smaller and less satisfying than expected), and a "mocha latte" - advertised as being a "chocolate flavoured latte with chocolate foam". Well, it barely tasted like chocolate at all. It was definitely stronger than boarding house coffee, but was nicely warming on the way down, so I kept drinking it.

After catching the bus back to Ranfurly, I bought a Whittaker's Sante bar (dark chocolate) for it, to try and add some chocolateyness to the drink. The Whittaker's bar usually make very nice hot chocolates - simply dissolve one in hot milk. However, by the time I got to the Ranfurly dairy, bought the chocolate and put it in, my coffee had cooled down significantly. The chocolate melted in sludge without dissolving, and then solidified once more as the coffee reached lukewarmness. I was going to microwave it in the common room once I got to school, but was intercepted by Sinead, who told me in no uncertain terms that it is a sin to microwave coffee. So I drank it cold and sat in the library scraping the solid chocolate out from the bottom of the cup with my fingers.

But! That is not the point of the story! (despite being the third instalment of the coffee saga)

The most interesting thing that happened between the orthodontist's and school was that there was a very cute fellow at the bus stop. Tallish, but sort of small and slim at the same time, without looking especially young - his face looked... not old, but worldly. He could have been anywhere between seventeen and thirty-five. Stripey shirt. Sort of smiley. Scruffyish dark brown stubble, little sideburns and fluffy light brown hair. The sort you want to ruffle.

Anyway, when I came up to the bus stop (well, patch of pavement outside Bivouac), he looked up just as I was checking him out and made eye contact. I looked away. Might have blushed. Pretended not to look at him until the bus came - or buses, seeing as two arrived at once. I got into line for the first one, and he walked over to the second one. I looked in the window of my bus, and saw that there weren't many seats free (I'm one of those people that really prefers not to sit next to strangers on the bus or train), and decided to hop on the second bus. Because, you know, there were more seats free. Not to ogle him or anything (*nonchalant whistle*). I sat a few seats back from the front, on the left, and he sat in the first seat on the right.


So maybe I did ogle him a little. Well, his hair at least, seeing as that was all I could really see. As I ogled I thought, the way I am wont to do when I see interesting strangers out and about. It's quite fun to look at people you see around in the city and try to imagine what their life is like, where they are going and what they are doing. Although he had two seats to himself, he was sitting in the aisle seat, unlike most people (myself included) who would sit in the window seat so that they can stare out the window and pretend to ignore their fellow passengers. I wondered if he was in a hurry to go somewhere, and wanted to leap out of his seat and out the door as soon as the bus came to his stop.I never did find out whether this was his intention, as I got off the bus before he did. Ah well. He fulfilled my eye candy quota for the week.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Learning to drink coffee - Day 2

So today at dinner, I walked up to the table beside the coffee machine to get a mug. The mugs are stacked on trays, and for reasons of structural integrity you should take your mug from the top tray. There were two mugs on the top tray - one was the same as all the other mugs, and the other was also identical, with the exception that it was shorter than the others - more like a teacup. With Paul's advice in mind, I decided to make my own mochaccino. I put milk into the short mug, cappuccino into one normal mug and hot chocolate in another, and took them to my table, having added half a tablespoon of sugar to the cappuccino.

This time I was able to have a few sips of the cappuccino without flinching, but I still played chemist with the three mugs until I had a drink that smelt like coffee and tasted like chocolate. It was good. We had ice cream and this juicy berry stuff for dessert, so I add ice cream and berry juice at some point. And that was good. Sort of drowned out the coffee though.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Learning to drink coffee - Day 1

At dinner, I went to get a hot chocolate from the drink machine, and then thought "Wait a minute, I'm meant to be learning to drink coffee!" Why am I meant to be learning to drink coffee? Because I want to see if I can learn - I love the smell of coffee but not the taste, and people have told me that it can be an acquired taste. So I'm seeing if I can acquire it.

My friend Paul had said "Start with mochaccinos", but the machine only had hot chocolate, hot water, black coffee and cappuccino. So I pressed the button for a cappuccino.

It didn't fill the mug entirely, but I'm used to that - it does it with hot chocolate too, and I usually top it up with milk. So I topped the cappuccino up with milk and took it back to my table. I took a sip, and it taste fine until I got through the froth onto and into the actual coffee.


I put it down and pulled faces at it. Iris leaned over the table and said "Did you add sugar?"


"The machine doesn't add sugar. You have to put it in yourself."

"Oh, right. That might be why it tastes so bitter, mightn't it?" I carried it back to the table next to the coffee machine where the mugs and sugar are kept, and dumped two tablespoons of sugar on top of the foam, where it slowly dissolved through it and into the coffee. I stirred it with one of the little wooden popsicle sticks that they give us instead of teaspoons to stir our drinks with and tried again, back at the dinner table.


I put the mug down again. "That is way too sweet." Note to self - spoonfuls of sugar are usually measured in teaspoons, not tablespoons. Duh. I had thought that that sugar spoon looked a little big. I kept drinking, slowly, and alternating the coffee with orange juice and the chicken curryish dinner glop. At one point I said to Tap, sitting on my right: "Maybe it's like drinking whiskey. You don't grow to like it, you just get used to it." Whiskey's not so bad, but the first time I tried it I told Dad it tasted like turps. He was horrified by my lack of appreciation for fine booze!

People can grow to like all sorts of things, just because they're used to them. Like city traffic noise, or loud music, or going to hospital. Personally I don't mind hospital (getting to lie in bed sleeping and reading and drinking ginger beer!), but I dislike the circumstances that put me there (painful things like peritonitis and broken bones). Although I have to say I prefer coffee to city traffic noise.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Something Interesting Happened In Tauranga

Cat warns owner of fire
The thing I find interesting about this is that the cat was "making noises like a fire alarm". Do they mean that he was wailing like a siren, or beeping like a smoke detector? Was it simply just coincidence that the cat was making fire alarm noises for a fire, or does he make different noises for different emergencies? If the cat made a "WeeeeoooooooOOOOOooooOOO" noise like an air raid siren, would that be a sign that the house was being bombed? Did Julie Woodhouse immediately think "Fire!" upon hearing the cat's fire alarm noise, or did she only describe it as a fire alarm noise after seeing that her house was actually on fire?
If it were a dog making fire alarm noises, I would infer that the dog had learnt the fire alarm noise and learnt to associate it with fire, and so was making the noise in response to the fire. That's how dog intelligence works - although I'm less surprised about fire alarm noises coming from a cat than a dog (cats are inherently much more capable of the wailing noise than dogs). Cats are intelligent too, but not so eager to please, so although they're capable of being trained, they don't tend to "train themselves" as often as dogs do.
If you're in Tauranga and their church asks you for money for their fund for the Woodhouses, you should give them some. If only because they have a cool cat.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sketchbook - 28/10/09

A doodle of a dog. Don't ask me what breed it's meant to be, for I have no clue.
Today's lesson: Red pen + butcher paper + webcam = bad resolution.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Something Interesting About 2Degrees, or somethinginterestingaboutmobilenetworkscontinued

So this new mobile network, 2 Degrees. One of their highly-advertised perks is "free stuff when you top up". Today I decided to test this theory, as I need to top up my "texting Jack and Paul" fund. So I bought a $20 voucher, after walking past a sign telling me that I would get 100 free texts if I did. Well! Not only did I get 100 free texts, but also calling to NZ landlines and 2 degrees mobiles for 22c a minute, for the next 30 days. Hurrah! So I'm going to ring lots of people in the next thirty days.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Something Interesting About Mobile Networks, or Adventures in Foodtown Continued

If you're not from New Zealand, or live under a rock, you should know before reading this that we have three cellphone networks here - Vodafone and Telecom, the two ancient rivals, and 2 Degrees, a relative newcomer.

I've been meaning for a while to get a 2 Degrees sim card, because you can pick them up for $2 at the supermarket, they fit into a Vodafone phone (which mine is), you can call people in New Zealand and 21 other countries for 44c a minute, and you can text people for 9c a text instead of Vodafone's 20c. I'm on Vodafone's txt2000 plan thingy, which means 2000 texts to other Vodafones each month for $10 a month, but I have some friends on Telecom, especially two lovely boys I know who don't live in Auckland.

I don't know why, but something about being female and living in Auckland means you just automatically have a Vodafone. No exceptions. I think it's because of the txt2000 thing - it works best if everyone's on the same network. I know one or two in-Auckland-males with Telecom phones, and one or two out-of-Auckland-females with Telecom phones, but in general it's the out-of-Auckland-males that are the worst offenders. Shout-out to Jack and Paul!

Anyhow, it turns out that 2 Degrees sim cards are actually free! Free, I tell you! Sure, one pays $2 for the actual sim card, but it comes with $2 credit on it, so it's... free. So I grabbed one at the supermarket yesterday, while on a quest with Sinead and Conall to find cannelloni (that's where the photo of me looking all crazy in the supermarket on yesterday's post came from). So now I had a new free sim card! I sent some celebratory 9c texts to Jack and Paul, but then stopped so that I didn't chew through my hard-earned $2 too quickly. And then I got bored, so I put my Vodafone sim card back in and texted Sinead.

This wasn't really all that interesting, come to think of it. I'm just excited that I got a free sim card. FREE SIM CARD! Take that, Rhys Darby!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Lifestyle" Drinks, or Adventures In Foodtown

I just moved some photos off my phone and thought it'd be worth sharing some of them. These were all taken in the Foodtown near my school, but on different occasions. Foodtown: it's where all the cool kids take photos on their phones. Here's the first, and the cause of the post title:

Lifestyle drinks. I don't know why "lifestyle" is a euphemism for sex, but people always talk about "lifestyle shops" and "lifestyle expos" and "alternative lifestyles" - I find that last one particularly irritating. Being gay or into BDSM or anything like that isn't an alternative lifestyle, it's an alternative sex life. An alternative lifestyle would be living in a treehouse. Which would be really cool. But anyway, lifestyle drinks. For the person who has everything; sex drinks now available in the beverage aisle of Foodtown! Unfortunately not. They just turned out to be "alternative" (read: cranberry/tomato) juices and sports-type drinks. Alas. Way to get our hopes up, Foodtown.

Of course, Foodtown is concerned for the wellbeing of peanut allergy sufferers:

No, really? Foodtown, you're not actually suggesting that chocolate peanuts contain PEANUTS, are you? Shop here if you have a peanut allergy and can't read small writing. They'll be sure to make it obvious.

Last of all, me. Posing quite spectacularly. That mark on my right shoulder is the scar from collarbone surgery mentioned in a previous post.

I love that whole split-personality thing my face is doing. Sinead said that this photo was scary. Can't imagine why.

That's all folks!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Something Interesting About managingmusicfilesonyourcomputerandpersonalmusicplayer

Why thank you, Geoffrey.
Today, I proudly informed my friends on Facebook, I gave into "the strange obsession that my peer group has with Disney music", and loaded the Lion King soundtrack onto my mp3 player. When I inserted the cd, a box appeared asking me what I'd like to do with the cd. All well and good. I was given the options of opening it to look at the files, not doing anything, or to listen to it or rip music from it with Windows Media Player, iTunes, Creative Centrale or Nokia Music Manager. These programmes all have their own pros and cons:
Windows Media Player - usually just doesn't work. I gave up on it in 2007 or 2008. Sometimes I use it when I accidentally double-click on a video (when I should have right-clicked to select Open with PowerDVD) and it comes up and plays in Media Player. But most of the time I just never use it.
iTunes - I don't actually have an iPod, but I use this for most of my music needs. It works and I'm used to it. The only problem is that although I don't have an iPod, my sister does, and most of the songs shown are hers. And of those, only a fraction are actually on my computer - the majority ask me to find the file manually when I try to play them. Half of them are by Slipknot, so I don't mind.
Creative Centrale - this is the music programme that came with my mp3 player (a Zen Mozaic - I have the black one. Yes, it looks even more emo in real life). It's good in that it automatically finds music on my computer, and doesn't display all the songs that aren't there like iTunes does. Sometimes I find little gems on Creative Centrale that I didn't know I had - for example, today I realised that Bittersweet Symphony was on my computer, this being a song that had been on my "songs to get" list for months. I use this for putting music onto my mp3 player, even if I take it from a CD with iTunes.
Nokia Music Manager - part of Nokia PC Suite. I don't actually listen to music on my phone, because the last time I tried it took me about three hours to get one song on.
So I selected "Import songs with iTunes". After the Lion King had finished importing I inserted "Housework Songs [Disc 1]", and then realised that I could set up a sort of production line, where as one CD was importing on iTunes, the CD that was imported before it would going onto my mp3 player. In this manner, I copied 16 CDs onto my computer, most of which I also copied onto my mp3 player. Now I've got lots of new songs to listen to, some of which I've never heard before.
The way I organise my music is that everything goes on my laptop. Not literally everything - I don't go out and hunt down things like cheap, crappy modern hip-hop just because it's there. But if there's a chance that I might want to listen to something, or email it to a friend in one of my send-people-random-music sprees, I put it on the laptop - and not just the song, but the whole album, even if I only want one song from it.
From there, it's narrowed down to the music I have on my mp3 player. I tend to listen to my mp3 player on "shuffle all", so if there's an album that I only like one song from, usually I'll just put that song on - though you can discover good music that you didn't know about from listening to the rest of the album that you got for the one song. I found "The Best of Blur" on my computer once (a leftover from my sister), and the only song I knew was Song 2. Everyone knows Song 2. But I listened to the rest of the album, and decided that I liked Country House, Charmless Man, Coffee & TV and Tender waaaaaaaaay more than Song 2.
Since refreshing my mp3 player with this new music ("new" is relative - the CDs are all from my parents' collection), I've come to especially enjoy the addition of the greatest hits albums from The Eagles and The Beach Boys (don't laugh! The Beach Boys are the soundtrack of my childhood!).
If only I didn't now have "Fun Fun Fun" stuck in my head.
And she'll have fun fun fun till her daddy takes her T-bird away...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What time is it in Antarctica?

I noticed this today about settings on Blogger. You're meant to specify which time zone you're bloggging from, and they have multiple city options for each time zone. If you're in a narrow country like New Zealand, you just take the city they've got for New Zealand and shut up. If you're in a wide country like Australia, you pick the city you're closest to, I assume. For example my time zone, GMT + 12:00, has as options Auckland, Fiji, Funafuti and Kwajalein, as well as two very unexpected locations:

"Antarctica/South Pole"

Um, ay?

Soooo, apparently if you are at the South Pole, your watch should be set to New Zealand time.

I was incredulous at this suggestion, so I consulted the source of all knowledge, Wikipedia:

From "South Pole": In most places on Earth, local time is more-or-less synchronised to the position of the sun in the sky. This line of reasoning fails at the South Pole, which has 'days' lasting for a whole year. Another way of looking at it is to note that all time zones converge at the pole. There is no a priori reason for placing the South Pole in any particular time zone, but as a matter of practical convenience the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station keeps New Zealand time. This is because the US flies its resupply missions out of Christchurch, New Zealand.

Well. The South Pole is on New Zealand time. Fancy that.

Now I'm considering the possibilities of blogging from the South Pole. I read a book about blogging recently that featured on the front cover a man sitting in a snowy landscape, dressed like an (insert-politically-correct-term-for-Eskimo/Inuit/etc-here), with a laptop. And it was a photo, too. I inferred from this that he was meant to be somewhere near the North Pole.

Trouble is, I don't think the South Pole has wifi. But if it ever gets wifi, I'll go down there and blog.

And I won't even have to change my blog's time zone.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

An Interesting Way To Get Around

The YikeBike is an electric minifarthing - the minifarthing being a small, foldable and portable bicycle based on a penny-farthing. The designers say they originally considered an electric unicycle, but thought that the difficulty of balancing on a unicycle wouldn't make it terribly efficient. I think the best thing about this is that it was invented by New Zealanders, but there are a few other benefits - and downsides, too.
For safety, it is limited to a top speed of 20km/h - even when you're going down a hill. With full tyres and a full battery, it weighs 10kg - but it carries a maximum weight of 100kg, including the rider and their personal effects. So if you weight 95kg, you're not allowed to ride it wearing a 10kg backpack, and if you weigh 101kg, you're not allowed to ride it at all - unless you want to just ride it anyway and to heck with the warranty!
The range of the YikeBike, with a fully charged battery, is 9km. The creators invisage it as being used by commuters to travel short distances to work - when it's too short to drive, but too far to walk, and cycling would get you all hot and bothered in your suit and tie. If you can charge it at your workplace, great - but tough luck if you can't, cause you'll have to live within 4.5km of your place of work, unless you integrate public transport into your journey - more on that later.

The FAQs make me laugh. In response to the question "What happens when I brake hard?" the website says: "The YikeBike is the first in the world to have electronic anti-skid brakes, giving smoother braking and a shorter stopping distance than a bicycle. It is likely that you will jump off the front of a YikeBike in an emergency braking situation – this is very easy as there are no handle bars in the way." Sounds just like a unicycle in that respect!

As an answer to "Does the YikeBike come with a lock?" they say "No – because you can fold it up and take it with you there is no need to leave it outside where it can be stolen." I disagree with this. Just because you can fold something up and take it with you, that doesn't mean you should. I see the advantage of it folding up to be that you can carry it on public transport (in Auckland you have to buy a "cycle ticket" to take convential bikes on trains and they won't let you take your bike during peak hours - the YikeBike, being the size of a large bag, escapes this rule), or to carry it into your place of work/destination to charge it up for the return journey. Say you rode your YikeBike to a job interview. Would you fold it up and carry it under your arm into the interview room? Possibly. It'd be a great conversation starter. But even though it's the size of a large bag, there are lots of places where I would take a bicycle but not a large bag, because I can lock my bicycle outside.

I do admire the way it folds up. The front wheel goes back into the frame, and the rear wheel turns 180 degrees to rest inside the front wheel, while the seat and handlebars fold down on top. They say that it takes 15 seconds to fold up or unfold - but I'm sceptical of that. I know that it takes about two minutes of tugging and swearing to unfold a fold-up scooter, including locking all the moving parts into place so that something doesn't collapse once you're at terminal velocity. The Yikebike website doesn't specify whether their 15 seconds includes setting all the parts rigidly in place ready to be ridden (say that five times quickly!).

In conclusion, it's definitely interesting. We'll just have to wait and see how, and if, it takes off - although I suspect it might just be a gimmicky fad, like the Segway it was inspired by.

If you thought this was mildly interesting, you may also find recumbent bicycles worth a look. I had never heard of them before today.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Some Interesting Websites

texts from last night

Just what you'd think it is from the URL. Texts from the night before, the morning after. The sort of things you find in your inbox/outbox that make you think "What the hell did I do?" I think that if you found texts like these on your phone one morning, you'd also be thinking things like "Where are my pants? Where is my left kidney? Who is this Ukrainian in my kitchen?"*


It started out as a vocab test in the format of "Word X is closest in meaning to Word A, B, C or D?", but now on Free Rice you can choose to have your geography, science, maths and second-language skills tested too. For every question you get right, ten grains of rice are donated to the United Nations World Food Programme - it's paid for by banner ads on each page on FreeRice. Apart from being a good, nice, altruistic thing to do and all that, it can be fun.

The Adventures of Dr. McNinja

An absolutely brilliant webcomic about a doctor who is also a ninja. It has a sufficiently crazy plot, but is alsoo well-drawn. Enjoy. Your life will never be the same.

The interactive playground of Paul Neave

It's not really anything. Interactive playground is a good way to describe it I suppose. It's full of psychedelic colours and joy. Some of the things - like the dandelion that loses seeds when you blow into your microphone - are just silly. Some of the things are quite useful. If you have a laptop and it's night, click on "Planetarium", click your location on the little map in the corner, then go outside with your laptop and match the stars on the screen to the ones in the sky. Some of the things show you what it'd be like to take LSD. My challenge: Click "Strobe" then watch the black and white lines for a minute or so - then look at something stationary. Your hand works quite well, especially if you let your eyes move around a bit.

*Answers to these questions: On top of the tallest landmark of your area. In me - I replaced my appendix with it. The Ukrainian is the leopard wrangler that you married after the ninth shot.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Something Interesting About Wikipedia

"We did not invent the algorithm. The algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The algorithm killed Jeeves. The algorithm is banned in China. The algorithm is from Jersey. The algorithm constantly finds Jesus. This is not the algorithm. This is close."

Not so much something interesting about Wikipedia so much as something interesting on it. I found this by googling "We did not invent the algorithm":

If you can't be bothered clicking the link, it's a list of deleted Wikipedia articles with strange titles. Some of my personal favourites are "Bewildergoose", "Elephant Thursday", "People's republic of Antarctica" and "Why I Want To Be King of Australia". One in particular that I think my English teacher would appreciate is "Michelle Obama's arms" (to paraphrase a well-known song - it's my blog and I'll insert personal jokes if I want to!).

I found these interesting because I can't read the articles. What were they about? A few of the article titles have a short description underneath; exempla gratia:
"Why not to sleep in a bamboo forest?"
Single sentence. "Because the bamboo will grow through you... resulting in Death."

Some of the articles were just redirects:
"Pitbull with Lipstick"
Was a redirect to
Sarah Palin

I thought an interesting thing to do would be to pick an article title at random, and write a fictional Wikipedia article to match the title. Here's my effort:

"Cow cuddling"

Cow cuddling is the act of cuddling a cow. It is performed by placing one's arms around any member of the Bovidae family (excluding antelopes, gazelles, sheep and goats), but usually one from a domestic species such as Bos taurus.

Cow cuddling can be a hazardous activity, as some cows do not appreciate being cuddled. Trying to cuddle a bull increases the risk.

There are no laws against cuddlying cows in most countries, but it is illegal in 26 U.S. states, including Nebraska.

In popular culture
Erm... got nothing for this one. Cow cuddling in popular culture... can't think of any.


Popular culture's got to hurry up and start cuddling cows.

Next week, join me for Elephant Thursday celebrations. It will be a party of pachydermic proportions.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Nothing Interesting This Week - But here's my theory on Rose-Triffids!

Well, "nothing interesting this week" is a lie. I'm sure plenty of interesting things have happened. It's just that I either haven't found out about them, or I have and they haven't piqued my interest or made me think.

But something happened this morning that made me think. What happened was that I was gardening. I had been assigned to deal with the dead agapanthus stalks (Something interesting! The flower stalks of agapanthus plants are called scapes), but when I had gotten most of the dead scapes I decided to tackle the huge, rambling mess of rose vines next to the second of the two gates on my driveway (that picture's not my rose plant - mine's not nearly as pretty as that).

This thing is intense. It should have a name, really (Victor and Hugo are the two names that leapt into my head at that thought. Suggestions?). It may or may not attract one's attention as one drives through the gate, but its majesty can only be appreciated on foot, examining the vines close-up. The vines (Wikipedia calls them "long, flexible canes") that make up the inner mass of the plant are brown and thicker than my fingers, while the outer exploratory vines are thin and green with deceptively small red thorns (According to Wikipedia, the name thorn refers to modified stems, and the "thorns" of a rose are actually modified epidermal tissues, which makes them "prickles"). I call these thin vines "exploratory" because they were interwoven within the agapanthus leaves, and I couldn't see them until it was too late. I even caught one burrowing underneath the grass that borders our driveway - this one I yanked out quite ruthlessly.

As I waged war on this impressive foe armed with naught but a pair of secateurs - Wikipedia says this is the British name for "pruning shears" - I always thought it was just the proper name? My mother's British, so that might explain where I got the word - anyway, as I waged my war and all that, I thought of Triffids.

For those of you who have not read John Wyndham's "The Day of the Triffids" (an excellent example of 1950s science fiction), triffids are large, carnivorous, predatory, mobile plants with a venomous stinger on a whip-like sort of tentacle-vine. Here's a triffid, as illustrated by the author (click to see it better):

The reason I was thinking of triffids was that the thin vines kept getting wrapped around my hands, shoulders, knees and zebra-print gumboots. I kept having to stop and carefully extricate myself from a net of thorns (sorry, prickles).

The thought I had about triffids in relation to rose vines was: Imagine if wild roses became mobile and predatory and sort of intelligent, like triffids! It wouldn't just seem like the rose vines were deliberately ensnaring you - they would actually be doing it on purpose! The burrowing/hidden/exploratory vines would winkle their way into our homes and workplaces, wreaking havoc with the plastering and blooming unexpectedly! They could "lay down spikes" and devastate wheeled traffic!

John Wyndham's triffids were farmed for their oil - if rose-triffids replaced the ordinary, well-behaved type of roses, rose farming would become a hazardous occupation! The added danger pay would increase the price of roses (which already shoot to exorbitant sums on Mother's and Valentine's days).

Zoos and botanical gardens would be unsure of how to classify this species, and the curators of both may just toss a coin to decide who gets to display them to the public. A new occupation would arise - rose pruners - as dismayed garden owners watch their plants tower malevolently above them. I imagine that being a rose pruner to a rose-triffid would be like being an arborist to the Whomping Willow - but with a greater risk of puncture wounds than broken bones.

In conclusion - if you find any vines from your local rose plant in unusual places, hack them off. We can't run the risk.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Something Interesting About Scars

Is it brainwashing by the beauty industry, or is just that everyone I talk to has a morbid fear of scars? Among my impressive collection of scars, the most recent is the most impressive – a two-inch slash along my right collarbone. But it seems that every other person I talk to is telling me how to get rid of it! This happened with the last set of scars I received, in 2007. What happened in 2007 was that my appendix burst, but instead of the old-style long scar, I got four little scars (one of the miracles of laparoscopy!). And then I was inundated with grave warnings to slather them in Bio-Oil. I’ve grown very fond of those four scars. One is in my bellybutton, and it serves as a great conversation starter whenever I’m in a bikini with people who have never seen my scars before.

I can think of two major reasons for wanting to get rid of a scar – and by “get rid of”, I mean “lessen the appearance of” – this isn’t to do with scar tissue or the actual presence of the scar.

1: If there were bad emotions or memories involved with the circumstances of obtaining the scar. But many people have good memories associated with scars – what if you fell over and cut your knees running in a marathon, then went on to win the marathon? If it were me, I’d associate the scars on my knees with the feeling of accomplishment and achievement from the marathon. I have a friend with scars like this – they weren’t from a marathon. We were orienteering in an estuary in 2006 and she cut her knees falling onto shells.

2: If it were quite a disfiguring scar, or not disfiguring but affected your appearance in a way that made you feel bad about yourself or affected your career. For example, a model would want to limit the appearance of their scars if they were in very visible places. And I can completely understand trying to lessen the appearance of a large facial scar, whether one is a model or not.

As for my scars, they’re nowhere near disfiguring, and the only parts of my body I would consider modelling with are my back and eyes – all unscarred. And there are no horrific memories associated with any of them. The story with my newest scar goes that I was playing soccer, and I tripped (I can’t remember what I tripped over), then tried to do a break fall roll over my right shoulder. Something went wrong in the process, and my hands never touched the ground, so I hit the ground shoulder-first and snapped my clavicle clean in two, resulting in my collarbone requiring an operation to screw a titanium plate into it*. It might be an embarrassing memory, but it is a good reminder to be more careful.

In conclusion, I like my scars. I might use some Bio-Oil or tamanu oil on them, but I haven’t got any hang-ups about the way they look, and there’s an interesting story behind every scar.

*What really happened was that the bone was broken but not displaced, and the people at Ascot Hospital A&E sent me on my way with a sling and a prescription, but then I, still wearing soccer boots, slipped over on the tiles outside Ascot Pharmacy (dangerous tiles!), landed on my bum and twitched my right arm trying to catch myself, which jolted my shoulder and displaced the two parts of my clavicle – this is what resulted in the surgery being needed.

What's interesting?

"Interesting" means different things to different people. Things I'm interested in might bore you to tears. So I'm not commanding you to find any of this interesting. You might not, and that's ok. However, if you find nothing I post interesting, that would be sad, because I intend to post all manner of things, some that I find interesting and some that I don't. Hopefully, everyone will find something interesting in the posts yet to come. I won't be the only one writing things to post here - I'm going to ask my friends to write interesting articles for the blog, and readers are welcome to submit articles also.

And despite the title, not everything here will be interesting things to read! Some people aren't interested in reading (except for blogs, apparently). So there'll be interesting pictures too. Links to interesting websites. Interesting games. Interesting words. If you like interesting things, you'll like this blog. If you don't, and prefer to be bored, go sit in the corner, close your eyes and think of nothing. Then get back to me and tell me how that's going for you.

Just to start the interesting things off, here's a few interesting things:
An interesting website: - Some of you may have heard of MLIA is the version for when your life doesn't suck - it's just normal. Here's my favourite today, just from a quick scan of the front page:
"Today, while typing the word when, the letter E got stuck, so the word became "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee". I was pleased my computer was enjoying itself. MLIA "

Some interesting music:
Tango music! If you speak Spanish, it's fun to try to decipher the Argentine accents and figure out what on earth the songs are about. If you don't, listen to the funky violins and bandoneons.

An interesting thing about Argentine accents:
When I was in Argentina last year, I spent a solid ten minutes trying to tell the teller at the money exchange that I was staying at the Hotel Goya. When I finally thought to show her the word "Goya" written down, she corrected my pronunciation to "Hotel Goizha". MLIS (my life is strange).