Thursday, June 25, 2009

Shoe / Lace / Blue

Is it my imagination, or have shoelaces become shit over the last few
years? The number of times I have started tying my shoes in the
morning, only to have the laces break on me is going up and up all the

Is it one of those things that happens as you get older but no-one
tells you about, and you are left to discover it for yourself?

Are there environmental factors at play? Does living next to a
forest, and walking through the forest expose the laces to something
in nature which attacks the fibres in the lace?

The problem doesn't seem to be limited to one brand or one style of
lace. I've tried both the nice cotton variety, and the
plastic-feeling but "stronger" type (it may well be Mercerised
cotton). They both fail. And it just keeps happening.

Have I become much stronger? Or more inclined to tie my shoes aggressively?

So many questions.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Paper Boy

I'm in the paper. It's exciting.

(The Times, 23rd June 2009, times2, page 15)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Freezing in the light

Well, I've had a good run, but it had to happen some time ...

On Saturday, I was doing my dozenth stand-up comedy gig, and I had a bit of brain freeze, and couldn't remember what I was going to say next.  I managed to pick it up again, and got going.  Then I hit another freeze point, talked about it for a wee bit, and got back on track.  Unfortunately, the two freezes meant that I had less time available to me, so I had to drop some of the material that I had intended to perform.  Hey ho.  It was a learning experience.  I'm going to get my hands on a video of the performance so that I can analyse it a bit, but I think it was a combination of a big meal beforehand, and a lot of socialising, rather than hiding away and going over my stuff.  Once I got back on track, I got the audience on-side big time and got some huge laughs, so it could have been much, much worse.  So I'm not especially daunted or worried about my next performance.  As always, I'm just looking forward to it.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Bogus Osteopaths

The ever delightful Purps is encouraging folks to sign a petition supporting Dr Simon Singh in his efforts to avoid being sued for libel by the blinkered, fraudulent idiots of the British Chiropractic Association. I signed it. I hope lots of other people do, too.

The Telegraph have an article about it, as do most of the other papers, I'm sure.

I was especially taken with this Telegraph paragraph:
The BCA represents a quasi-scientific group of medical practitioners who believe that manipulating the spine can treat or cure a range of other conditions not normally associated with a bad back.
Such deliciously understated mockery. I love it.

There have been a great number of celebrity endorsements, including a very eloquent summary from Sir Steven Fry (okay, I know he's not been knighted yet, but it's surely only a matter of time). Funny man and husband to a doctor, Dara O'Briain also chipped in with this memorable comment:
The preliminary ruling is a worrying development for comedians as well, a number of whom have been ridiculing the world of dubious medicinal and scientific practices for some time. For example, I may now have to reconsider my routine about homeopathy being a 300 year old con trick.
I do hope the courts see sense on this matter, and I'm very grateful to see that James Randi has voiced his committment to back Dr. Singh in any way that he can.

We should enjoy it while we can. We can't know how many years the Queen has left in her, but when that gloved hand has waved its last wave, we're going to be lumbered with a King as in thrall to the looney new age horse-shit spreaders as it is possible to be. Okay, his mum her has own homeopath, but Charlie boy, with his Duchy product range is much more open and outspoken about it. Despite the recent setback of being accused of defrauding the public with his "detox tincture".

Incidentally, I recently read a few very interesting books on CAM (Complimentary and Alternative Medicine), as a result of which I will never have chiropractic again. Some of the manipulations they do can cause stroke! I don't want to be having one of those any time soon. Besides, the whole theory is based on "subluxations" which are made up nonsense. You might as well base a theory on naughty pixies wiggling your vertebrae during the night. I'll stick to regular massage from now on.

Amongst the other claims in one of the books I read, which was backed up with a lot of evidence, were:
  • Chinese herbal medicine was more or less made up in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution
  • Commonly used homeopathic remedies are so dilute that you would only get one molecule of active ingredient in a sphere of water with a radius greater than the distance from the earth to the sun
  • The so-called Detox Foot Bath, or Ionic Detoxification relies on a standard electrochemical reaction
And what on earth are the so-called toxins that build up and need to be flushed from our bodies? Our organs do a very good job of that already, thank you very much. If they didn't, we'd all be dead.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Getting good limeage

When we lived in New Zealand, we bought a kaffir lime bush to provide us with those wonderful, aromatic leaves so essential to Thai cooking. They aren't so easy to come by in the UK, but after our trip to Thailand earlier in the year, and the very pleasant hours we spent at a cookery school learning how to do everything from scratch, we felt the need to get one. So we did. I found a place online that would sell them and ship them to you, and in due course, the plant turned up.

Meanwhile, I've been trying to get my hands on fresh kaffir limes. They're essential to making the pastes which form the basis of Thai curries. We spent quite a long time sweating over a pestle and mortar bashing bits of rind from one of those babies down into its constituent atoms. However, having scoured the Asian food shops with a fine-toothed comb (which I had sterilised first, because I was using it on foodstuffs), I came up empty-handed. I have heard you can buy bits of rind fresh-frozen, but I didn't find any.

We've had the new kaffir lime bush for a while now, and I've plucked a few leaves for immediate use, and harvested a load to go in the freezer (they freeze very well). To my surprise and delight, a couple of weeks ago, the plant started flowering. That hadn't happened to the one in New Zealand, which we'd had for much longer. The flower opened, and it became obvious that it was going to fruit and produce a little kaffir lime. Yay! Then a couple more flowers appeared, one of which is now also turning into fruit. And suddenly, the whole thing is bursting into flower all over. Between last night and this morning, another dozen or so buds had appeared, along with dozens of new leaves. It looks like we're going to have a bumper crop - so far I've counted about forty buds. I'm so happy! And I'm sure the curries will be wonderful.