Slave to the 11C

4 Every 40 minutes at peak times...

Sunday, April 25, 2004

The National Psoriasis Foundation Home Page I'm (hopefully) going into hospital tomorrow to get tarred and bandaged up. Anyone who has chronic psoriasis has no doubt been through this regime. This is my third "tour of duty", and will probably be two to three weeks. Adios.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Retro Gamer
This is a new magazine dedicated to old home computers and retro gaming. In the old days, before the technology existed to allow full motion video and surround sound, playability had to count.

Retrospec Gaming
Remember the Spectrum, Amstrad and Commodore? This website is dedicated to the conversion of some of the classic 8-bit games to the pc.

Friday, April 23, 2004

OLGA - The On-Line Guitar Archive

Guitar Tab to a wide range of songs.

BBC News | AMERICAS | US urges curb on Arab TV channel

So much for second opinions. I'm surprised a bomb hasn't been dropped on their station.

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

A must for every movie fan. You'll never have to ask the question "Which film did I see him in?" again.
Complete castings, trivia, reviews, mistakes, etc.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Mental Drippings

The amusing ramblings of a dillusioned bachelor.

I think I'm going to write a book. Its going to be called Airport Karma Control. What is it about airports that bring the worst out of us (or at least set it bubbling under the surface)?

Below I have listed a few contributing factors :

1) Huge queues at check in desks/Departures.

If you've arrived the pre-requisite 2 hours before the flight departure then its usually plain sailing. Though you've probably died of boredom in the departure lounge or are in serious financial difficulty due to the prices at the cafe/restaurant wannabee.

Some of us though aren't so hot on the old punctionality business and usually end up screaming at traffic lights and any poor bugger who's decided to have a leisurely drive on the stretch of road to the airport.

Of course there is no rhyme or reason to the queueing system at the check in desks. About 20 minutes before the scheduled departure times, someone realises we won't all get checked in and opens another desk. Personally I think its more than fair if the queue stays in the shape it is, and the people at the front filter to the next available desk. Of course you get the one smart alec whos just arrived heading for the new desk. Frmph.

Then there's the XRay machine in departures. Its usually at this point it occurs to me that Ive been rushing. In the ensuing panic to get to this point I've been running around like a headless chicken. In a big coat filled with lots of belongings (Some Airlines run a one hand luggage, one cabin luggage or mucho Dinero policy). Therefore being body searched at this particular point would not necessarily be a pleasant experience for either party. So Ive hurled every loose belonging I own into the X Ray machine in the vain hope the buzzer doesnt go off when I walk through. Never works.

2) Airport Facilities

Diners. hmm. Naff expensive food. This is not a phenomenon localised to airports. Every major long distance public transport facility (and motorway service stations) have them. They take the customer friendly approach of you can eat here or starve. One would think that there is some unspoken of legislation preventing more efficient competition moving in. And have you noticed the better shops and facilities on the other side of the departures gate? Too late Now......

3) Smoking Facilities

Some airports are quite reasonable. Im sure many smokers would agree, we don't mind being treated like lepers, but at least give us some place! Belfast Airport has some wonderful little alcoves witn yellow walls and extractor fans where the addicts go to get their fix. And they have one in baggage reclaim. Heaven.
More on this later. Some airports (no names mentioned here) consider a bar to provide adequate facilities for smokers. Apart from being obliged to buy a drink, isnt this the latest PC no-no nicotine linger area?

4) Boarding

OK folks, you know the drill. Disabled People and small children first. Then rows 1-30. Etc Etc. Theres always a small expectant huddle camped at the gate with numbers in the high 80s. Deep breaths. Read the newspaper. Getting annoyed at this is beneath me. No it isn't.

Time to go un-PC again. One of the advantages of having the small children go on first is that they usually take the seats at the front. I usually take my time boarding (have to wait for the encampment to clear) so I can have the relatively unoccupied back part of the plane (away from ear shattering screams). Theres always one late family though. And theyre either beside you or behind you. Those behind you find the seat pockets fascinating and decide to have a rummage. While removing my kidney through the cover.

Those sitting across the way have made a life changing discovery. After months of practice theyve discovered a musical note that causes eardrums to vibrate. Its difficult to read when your left eye keeps blinking involuntarily (a chain reaction from the vibrating eardrum)

And theres always one passenger who got through without getting his ticket ripped. 20 minutes of yelling his surname, his baggage being unloaded and at the last minute he recognises his name and jumps up. Oh joy.

5) The flight

I've watched the safety announcement every single time. I could move my lips along with the words. Its like the Lord's Prayer. Ask me what line 4 was and I couldnt tell you. If the plane crash landed, I would be dead (even at my ripened age double knots are a major challenge).

Once the plane has taken off time is tight (Im talking the 45 minute domestic flights). Its the two lap trolley dash with refreshments. Being at the back of the plane is preferable, as the first dash (dishing the grub) takes a lot longer than the second (the collect the rubbish, we're landing, table in the upright position).

6) Baggage Reclaim

Its taken you half an hour to get to the terminal. Theyve taken you the magical mystery tour round the airport in the Cobus bus so you figure its reasonable the luggage will have arrived at the terminal when you get there. Think again. For the aforementioned nictotine addicts this is hell. All we want is a dingy basement or a back door to have a fag. Hell, it doesnt matter if the luggage is in Manchester. We can wait. But nope, no smoking area. So youre stuck there, leaning against the trolley, struggling to at least get a view of the conveyor so you can dive in when youve seen your bag. When the shutters do open (accompanied by an ear shattering siren) the reclaim crew decide to put on a little show. Somewhat akin to the Tate Gallery. Its amazing. I had no idea a sports bag could stand unaided in that shape or position.
Two phrases. Best Ming Vase. Caber Tossing.

After all this, you may have to prepare yourself for taxi driver gossip. *Insert Major City* International Airport is generally in another county from the actual *Insert Major City*. If youre anything like me, you have to spend the next 45 minutes making polite conversation, which simultaneously watching the meter and watching which roads you're going down.

Here endeth the rant.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | Parties 'must pay' for violence

The hypocrisy of post-ceasefire Northern Irish politics raises its ugly head again. Why can't parties who say they are committed to peace, be committed to peace? Exclusion means back to the old ways, financial penalties a slap on the wrist.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Strong Bad Email

How to draw a Dragon.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

The Exorcist in 30 seconds with bunnies.

Does exactly what it says on the tin.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

ChessWorld:Online Chess

If you're into Chess, this is a great site.

Catch-22 (1970)

Just finished the book and watched the film. The story concerns Yossarian, a World War 2 bombadier who, after witnessing the unpleasant demise of his fellow gunner, decides that flying bombing missions is detrimental to his health.
In order to ground himself as crazy, he has to report to the base doctor. By reporting to the base doctor that he wants to be grounded, he shows the instinct of self preservation, which proves that he's sane, and therefore will not be grounded.

Any thoughts on the book/movie?

musicplasma : the music visual search engine

Ever wondered how your favourite artists linked together? By no means exhaustive, but nonetheless a pretty impressive demonstration of music "mapping".