Archive for April, 2008

Great day for science

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Well, an interesting day for science news anyway.

Slashdot reports that scientists in Jerusalem have discovered a new naturally occurring element, which for the time being at least will go under the name of Unbibium. Most of the exciting new heavy elements that are found these days are very short-lived, created by smashing smaller atoms together until they fuse, but then they fall apart again after tiny fractions of a second. It’s kind of cheating.

But this one is different – they found it by sifting through a mass of naturally occurring Thorium, which means it’s a “proper” element, that any of us might bump into. The detail is here. It doesn’t seem to have been widely reported yet, but I really hope it’s true.

But wait! There’s more. The BBC links off to the investigation into the colossal squid that was found recently, which is now being defrosted. The science team wrote the following on their blog about the squid:

“the maximum weight of the brain is 22 grams and surrounds the oesophagus. The oesophagus is 11 mm in diametre, therefore everything it eats has to be chopped into tiny pieces as it has to pass through the brain!”

So this huge creature, with tentacle 15 metres long has this teeny tiny brain, which is wrapped around its stomach. I have to admit that being a bloke, the idea of the brain and stomach being very closely linked makes sense to me, but I don’t like the idea of getting brain damage if you don’t chew your food thoroughly enough.

Keep on running

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, I agreed to do the Lisburn 10k Road Race in June to help Acts Ministries, without a massive amount of thought as to whether I’d actually be able to run that far. So today I decided to see how my running is.

I have no idea how far I went, but I did manage to run for a solid hour, with only 2 actual stops (to tie my laces), and a handful of slowdowns (avoiding traffic, going up and down steps). I’m pretty pleased with myself, though obviously now I can barely walk.

Some conclusions:

  • I need some headphones that stay in my ear a bit better. The one for my left ear keeps falling out.
  • Rehab by Amy Winehouse is the best running tune that came up on my ipod. I think it’s a great song anyway, as it sounds like a lost Northern Soul classic, but it’s also just the right speed for me to run to, and a bright, upbeat tune.
  • Going to the gym must be doing me some good, as I’ve probably never run as far as that in my life.
  • But I think I maybe need to investigate those stretching exercises that proper runners do, to see how that helps.
  • I’m going to have to do some work on my stylesheet again to fix the formatting of my bulletted list. I’m not sure why these have all got a blob and a little arrow (on this machine anyway).

If you want to support the Little Hearts orphanage yourself, surf on over to One Million Faces and add your mug shot for a pound.

And yes, for the technology fans among you, this post was written on frodo.

New Toy!

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Frodo, my EEE PC

After doing a bit of research, and some playing in shops and a friend’s house, I went shopping last night and bought myself an Asus EEE.

So this is the first (hopefully of many) blog entries to be written on frodo, my new computer. Since any modern device has to have a name, and the default was horrible, I decided to call it frodo, since it’s small (as you can see from the tape measure), but purposeful.

Since it runs linux, rather than windows, there’s obviously a whole universe of things that I could break horribly, but needless to say I’m very excited about it. I’ve already noticed just from checking out what the internet says about the EEE that the Linux world is a bit different to windows. Nearly everything is open source, and there’s a lot of passion and enthusiasm about everything. I’m really looking forward to getting into it properly.

Birthday things

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Another year older, which is never any fun.

And it’s even worse when the age gets to a round number again.

But some things came to cheer me up.

Exhibit A – a T-shirt found by my sister, one so fabulous that it almost hurts to look at:

New T-Shirt

Exhibit B – a remote controlled dinosaur. Yes, you read that correctly. When I rule the world, I’ll be sure to get some geneticists to make me some real dinosaurs, but in the meantime, what could be better? I’m calling him Rory, since he’s got a roar button.

Rory the dinosaur

Isn’t he gorgeous?

I have to admit that I’m also very tempted by an EEE PC.  I had a bit of a play with one in PC World this afternoon, and it’s completely loveable.

Home thoughts from abroad

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

These are a few of the things that I might have blogged about while I was on holiday, except that I wasn’t on the internet for a week:

  • The church was very friendly. Like many holiday destinations, there was a little English-speaking congregation, and they were very nice. They’re also planning to plant a new congregation up the coast a bit, in partnership with the Scandinavian church, which is cool in lots of ways.
  • I read “Live and Let Die”. Although this was the eighth James Bond movie, it was actually the second one that Ian Fleming wrote, and therefore is actually the sequel to Casino Royale. And it’s not bad.
  • Poor Yeremi Vargas is still missing. Last year, I saw his smiling face all round Lanzarote on posters. And this year I saw even more of them. That’s pretty sad.
  • I saw one of those orange Ford Focus ST in the street. I know they’re a bit loud, but they are quite lovable. The alloys are particularly nice.
  • Someone ripped 2 pages out of one of my other books. I got as far as page 33, just getting into it nicely, when it suddenly jumped to page 37. What kind of person does a thing like that?? Swine…

Hair today, gone tomorrow

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

When you look in travel brochures, you will sometimes see that a hotel advertises that they have a hairdressers on-site. It’s not something I’ve ever thought about much. I mean, it’s hardly going to be a major influence on your choice of hotel. What kind of person gets a haircut on holiday?

Well, it turns out, people like me. My hair was a bit long before I went on holiday, but I didn’t get round to getting it cut. And then it annoyed me a bit on holiday, especially when I was wearing a bicycle helmet. So I decided to get a haircut. And it worked out just fine – I think it’s a perfectly good haircut. But I am aware from conversations with friends that they are very loyal to their hairdressers (or barbers, of course). I don’t really do this, and even at home I tend to change where I get my hair cut every so often, just because it’s more convenient.

So is this attitude breaking all the rules of polite society? Am I courting terrible retribution for my crimes? Or an I just a (mostly) harmless eccentric?

Wow. First the blog entry on shower curtains, and now haircuts. Something’s gone badly wrong round here…