Friday, May 25, 2007

YourSpace? You can keep it!

MySpace - what a stinking pile of shit.

Discuss.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Dancing Queen

Saturday night was spent in G.A.Y. Late watching the Eurovision Song Contest. There were tears. There was laughter. There was disappointment from the crowd that the UK did so badly, although I strongly suspect the fact that Scooch had completely ripped off a Pandora song might have had something to do with that.

We were joined by the lovely JC and his man Rob, and the delightful Sven and KazzieBoo, and later by the magical genius of Stevie D and his new beau, Si. It was a fun, fun evening, and we cheered and booed along all night. Personally, I thought Spain, Turkey and Russia where the best three.

But what the hell was going on with the act that won???? It was probably the most shit Eurovision winning song of all time. More worthy than a bus-load of Sally Army tin-rattlers. I mean, alright, it was nice seeing a fiesty l'il dyke take the Eurovision crown, and she was surrounded by women doing their best to look like 70s shop dummies, or perhaps original Charlie's Angels extra-wannabes. Hilarious as they were, they couldn't detract enough of my attention away from the sheer shitness of the song.

And they voted for it in droves, all over Europe! Well, mostly Eastern Europe, it has to be said.

On the way home, we were treated to a delightful performance from a high-octane young queen who'd obviously been hitting the meths quite hard that evening. Bless!

Bear in mind when assessing his performance that this was carried out on a moving underground train. And for the nosy amongst you, I do flip the camera around a couple of times to take in my Lovely Husband™ who it sitting opposite me.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Making Everyone Cross


When I was working in Norwich last year (which I'll be doing again soon, although for a different client), I first encountered a new style of pedestrian crossing which I have recently learned is called a Puffin Crossing. I wasn't impressed. They are confusing, and to my mind not very user-friendly, despite what the acronym stands for (see Wikipedia article). Incidentally, the name is obviously a desperate attempt to crowbar some meaning into the word Puffin whilst keeping the name of the crossing aligned with names of other crossings: Pelican, Zebra, Pegasus (equestrian), Toucan (bicycles), Panda (now defunct), Tiger (rare). Feel free to grab any of these crossing names and produce a convincing acronym.

Trouble is, they're cropping up everywhere. I've encountered them in Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and Leeds. It looks like they are going to become the new norm.

I've tried to understand the logic, and I think I get some of it, although my conclusions differ from the reasons they give.

Okay, having the red and green man on the same side of the road as the pedestrian might make it easier for the visually impaired who might struggle to see him from across the road. On the other hand, if there's a crowd at the crossing, only those immediately next to the controls will be able to see the indicators, everyone else's view being obstructed by the people closest to the controls.

In contrast, with a standard Pelican crossing, the vast majority of the people at the crossing can see the green/red man, even though he is across the street, and provision is made for those of restricted vision by the audio signal. In some cases, for both Pelican and Puffin crossings, there is an additional tactile feedback device built in to the crossings controls that make additional provision for the visually and/or aurally impaired.

They claim that the benefit is that as you wait, you can check out the traffic at the same time that you check the status of the red/green man. This isn't a particularly strong argument at all. It means you might be aware of traffic coming towards you from the first half of the road you are going to cross, but you are facing in the opposite direction to traffic coming from the second half of that same road. With a Pelican crossing, the red/green man is in the middle, so you can easily direct your attention to either side, and see traffic coming from both directions.

The only justification I can think of - and I haven't see it in any of the literature that attempts to convince the great unwashed that Puffin crossings are A Good Thing - is that the signals used by a Pelican crossing draw your eyes, attention, and direction across the road, making you more inclined to cross. The Puffin signals, by drawing your eyes to one side, make you more inclined to wait.

It also occurs to me that the introduction of this new style of crossing is going to mean a lot of guide dogs need to be re-trained, and for quite a while, there's going to be a period where those dogs will have to cope with two different set of signally systems. So does the introduction of this new thing really help the visually impaired? I doubt it very much.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Technology Joy

I got some new technology toys yesterday, and one of them in particular has made me a very happy geek. It's a watch. It only cost a tenner, but it looks surprisingly good, and it has a USB connector built into the strap so that it can be used as a flash drive (1GB). Great.

I'm told (by adam who sometimes pops in here) that this is now obsolete because there's a new version that uses bluetooth rather than USB. However, I'm still very, very happy with my purchase because it works well with my car stereo. The car stereo (which was a purchase from a few months ago) has connectors for USB and SD cards. I usually have an SD card full of music in there, and then take the card out to slip into my MP3 player when I arrive at the gym.

(MP3 player - £8; 4GB SD card - £20; the look on the faces of iPod owners when you tell them how much your MP3 player cost - priceless. There are some things in life that a lot of money can buy. For everyone with sense, there's shopping around.)

However, last night, I loaded up the watch with some choonz, and when I went to pick up my Lovely Husband™ from the station, I popped the USB connector on the watch into the USB socket on the car stereo. And lo, there was music.
Numa Numa - or Dragosta Din Tei if you'd rather - by O-zone. And I defy anyone not to love that song - it is so innocent, joyful and uplifting - it fills my eyes with tears of delight.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Nipples 101


I neglected to point out some months ago that I have been blogging for a year. That said, I did shut my virtual gob for a few months, so perhaps that why I didn't think the anniversary was worth registering.

However, I recently spotted that I was approaching my first blog century. Circumstances conspired to make my 100th blog entry a sad one. This is now post 101. And not a dalmatian in site.

I've been thinking about nipples.

The word "nipples" is, oddly enough, hugely unpopular with my mum. Say it in front of her, and she usually grimaces and says "Ooh, I hate that word!" I have no idea why.

My nipples are a bit crap and non-existent. I've never been a big nipple far, in either sense - a big fan of nipples, or a fan of big nipples. Having mine tweaked, prodded, flicked, teased, nibbled ... none of it does anything for me. Similarly, doing these things to other people doesn't really get me where I want to get to, if you follow me.

I've known people who are the opposite. Indeed, one chap of my acquaintance (not intimate, I hasten to add) was reputed to be able to get from a non-standing start (sic) to that place with nary a need for anything beyond someone giving his nips a lot of love and attention. And a fair bit of twisting. If it were a radio, you'd have been through all the stations several times.

The piercing that I got a few months ago was an effort to enhance my fun life with an additional pleasure option. I forgot to mention on here that said piercing lasted about 6 weeks before I gave up with it. I think the bar didn't work too well for me, and a ring might have been more appropriate. Hey ho.

It occurred to me today to ponder: do straight men play with their own nipples? Do they like having them played with? It always seemed to be quite a significant thing on the gay scene, back in my single days. It's one of those places you automatically go to with a new playmate to see if it elicits a response. Yet I've never heard a straight male friend mention it, despite having quite detailed and revealing conversations with straight men over the years. There's no physical difference, so presumably straight men are as able to get off on having their nipples played with as their homosexual counterparts. Yet I've never heard mention of it.

Anyone have the answer?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

End Credits

Late last night UK time, the brother of my Lovely Husband™ finally conceded defeat in his long and painful battle with cancer. We were amazed that he found the strength to keep going for as long as he did, and by all accounts remained cheerful, determined to make the most of what he knew would be his last few months, weeks, days, and hours.

Over the weekend, my Lovely Husband™ had to make a tough decision about whether to stay in the UK, or travel back to NZ so that he could be there, hopefully before Brad died, but if not, at least for the funeral. In the end, he decided not to go, for a variety of reasons. Instead, we will both head over there for a week or two at Christmas.

Brad leaves a potent legacy in his feature film, In My Father's Den. His diagnosis had arrived when he was editing and then publicising it. The film garnered much critical acclaim on the festival circuit, although I think the general release in the US and the UK was bungled, so it didn't get the mainstream attention that it deserves. I wish he had the opportunity to make more films. He was a great story teller - and if he had ever turned his attention to horror, I'm sure he could have equalled Hitchcock with his ability to terrify.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

No Con Do

Last night, as I stumbled my way from the office to my nearby hotel, towing K9* in one hand, and hefting my laptop back in the other, I was approached by a man in his 60s. He looked familiar, and as he engaged me in conversation, or more accurately, began his monologue, I realised almost straight away why I recognised him.

His opening gambit was to ask me to confirm the time showing on a big clock on the side of a nearby building. I confirmed that it was correct, 18:30. His next line was "Never buy a frickin escort". Little did he know that I'm a happily married 'mo, and therefore have no need of the services of such gentlemen. Although I was a little puzzled, since I'm sure the more usual approach is to hire an escort, not buy him outright.

Unaware of my internal non sequitur, this fellow was ploughing on with his monologue, explaining how he had locked himself out of his car and now couldn't get back into it; that he had locked himself out whilst wearing his slippers (he pointed to them as proof); that no-one was going to come and get him, his son-in-law couldn't pick him up, and he had left his wallet in the car, so he couldn't get a bus; the police wouldn't ... actually I stopped him with the following observation:

"I met you last week, mate. It was the same story then."

For this was indeed the case. Last week, he had approached me in exactly the same way as I walked from a restaurant to my hotel. Asked me for the time. Then straight into "Never buy a frickin escort". And so on.

The objective of this fellow's ruse is to con you out of £2.40 - his alleged bus fare. I'm not sure how many times he pulls this stunt, or how often he succeeds. He's certainly very plausible, on a first encounter at least, although I didn't give him any money first time, either. A second encounter makes the con that much more obvious.

This has been my defining experience of Liverpool so far.



*K9 is my Samsonite suitcase. I've had him for about 10 years, and he's still in great nick, despite having travelled all over the world. I call him K9 because when I pull him along behind me using the rolly-up cord thing that's build into one of his curves, he trundles along in a manner not at all unlike The Doctor's erstwhile robot dog companion.