24 February 2010

Run for your life!

Since last April I've been foregoing the car or public transport to travel to work and back for a number of reasons

  1. It's the only exercise I get now I have a desk job
  2. It's the only fresh air I get
  3. It's free
  4. I know exactly what time I need to leave the house without being dependent on buses being on time/traffic etc
  5. It's a nice way to just have some 'me' time. Stick in my headphones and I'm away for half an hour (or there abouts)
I have a few different routes, with the most straightforward taking exactly 33 minutes, the most circuitous over 50 mins. It all just depends on how active I'm feeling.

All in all there are dozens of different ways I could go, and variety being the spice of life, I like to mix it up a bit.

Recently I've been able to use my inner geek to really test out my routes with a little GPS gizmo on my phone that tracks every step of my route, then uploads stats on top speed, average speed, distance etc into Google Maps.

I now know that the shortest route to work is exactly 2 miles, and although it's not really up hill, there are enough ups and downs to climb 91 meters en route. See for yourself here

But as I've accumulated loads of data around what each route encompasses, I still need to make the decision of which one to take each day, and after nearly a year, that is getting boring.

Fortunately help was at hand.

My newest geeky game draws in two of my favourite things.

Techy gadgets, and Zombies.

I have an application on my phone that turns the GPS sensor and map utility, into a Zombie detector.

As I leave home/work, all I have to do is set my destination, and the level of Zombie infestation. Controlled Outbreak (quite a few), Early Local Infestation (lmore), Late Local Infestation (loads), or Total Pandemic (fucking everywhere)

Type of Zombie defines the speed. Night of the Living Dead (2mph), Resident Evil (5mph), or 28 Days Later (8mph).

As today would be my first foray into a Chinton plagued by the undead, I decided a Controlled Outbreak would be a nice gentle start, and being as my previous stat gathering has informed me that my average walking speed is around 3.8mph I didn't want anything either in my way, or following behind me that would cause me to run all the way.The classic 'Romero' Zombie would be my first adversary.

Simply tell the phone where I'm going, and next thing you know there are dozens of little green Zombie icons all over the Map. Some making roads completely impassable, some loitering around in gardens that if I was nippy enough, I could probably scoot past.

Get within about 50m of one, and his little icon goes red, and he makes a beeline for you, and Zombies, having no regard for personal property and privacy, will quite happily wade through a private garden and over fences to get to you.

I got about 10 minutes into my journey without attracting attention from any of them, but as I neared the school on the main road, a crowd of four that were loitering around the playground picked up my scent, and I had to break into a gentle jog to make sure I was clear of them as their virtual hands grasped through the school hedge.

The road ahead was blocked, and there was too much traffic to be sure of being able to lure those ahead of me all onto the same side of the road as me, and still be able to dash across the road to go around them, all without the ones from the school catching me from behind, so I took the next left into the housing estate. There were quite a few in there, but I felt they were distributed in a pattern I could avoid if I kept my wits about me.

The ones from the school eventually lost interest, but I soon had another on my tail, and another up ahead blocking a path through an alley that was too narrow to try to go round him, so I had to lure him out.I walked briskly towards him, and the moment he got my scent, I crossed to the opposite side of the road, and slowed right down. As predicted, the alley Zombie shuffled down his path, and towards the road, just as the one behind me crossed to follow.

Now I had to really slow down and think fast. I stopped to pretend to tie my shoe - eyes still on the screen monitoring the progress of the undead behind me....

I'd timed it just right. With one 5m directly ahead, the other the same distance behind, I leaped to me feet, sprinted across the road at a perfect right angle, and didn't stop running until I'd put a good 30m between me and them.

They still had my scent, but were lumbering so slowly that I knew they would never catch me. I picked up a couple more over the last stage of my journey, but made it to work unharmed - even if a few of them did follow me into the hospital.


Tomorrow I think I'll up the ante a bit with an 'Early Local Infestation', but I'm not upping the speed yet - I can't run all the way to work.

So if you see me zig zagging my way up the road - dawdling then sprinting - don't look at me like I'm mad.....


23 February 2010

Celebrity Divorce

So after whoring their wedding to whatever tawdry magazine it was that stumped up the cash, Cheryl Cole has asked for privacy as her and Ashley go their separate ways. Something tells me you're not going to get it love...

But as have no interest in either which backing dancers arms you go running into*, or where Ashley sticks his cock next, here's a picture of a dog enjoying it's birthday instead.

* if said arms turn out to be Sarah Hardings, I may resume interest

20 February 2010

Daily Fail

I don't know why I do it to myself. I can normally avoid exposure, but having woken up far too early for what I would consider acceptable on a Saturday morning, I resolutely lay in bed, refusing to get up, instead passing away the minutes until my hunger gave in by trawling through the news on my phone.

There's a widgit that has all the national newspapers in one section. It's not really that much more than a selection of internet bookmarks, but it caches the results so it's quicker easier than general surfing.

As they all have different editorial policy, I'll often flick through several in case I've missed a story that only one paper is covering, but what I won't generally do is bother with The Daily Fail Mail, because I know it will piss me off in some way.

Today, boredom and desperation got the better of me, and I hit the link.

My eyes were drawn to a story titled "Revealed: Why all those disabled bays stay empty", and I had to read it.

Presumably some Daily Mail writer frequently gets irked because when the drive to Waitrose they can't park outside the front doors because those spaces are reserved for people with wheelchairs AND THERE'S NOT EVEN ANYONE PARKED IN THEM!!

What this calls for is some shitty number crunching top investigative journalism!

"Hundreds of thousands of prime parking spaces in Shopping Centres are unused because of a legal obligation to provide four times as many disabled bays than are actually needed", it cries out.

It transpires that a car park with 200 spaces or less is legally obliged to reserve 6% of these for Blue Badge holders - larger than 200 and it's 4%

What bothers the Daily Mail is that just 1.4% of the population is registered disabled.

"6% spaces divided by 1.4% disableds = 4!!!" says someone with a calculator app on their iphone.

Yes it does near as damn it, but as usual The Mail is generalising terribly, taking extremes (not the 4% for larger car parks), and ignoring simple common sense.

Let's keep the numbers nice and simple for you Daily Fail, with a carpark with 100 spaces. One space = 1%. Are you still with me?

Firstly, 1.4% of the population aren't going to need 1.4% of spaces in a car park with room for 100 cars. You can't park 0.4 of a car you fuckwits. They'll need 2 spaces. That's now only three times as many as you thought they needed.

Next, I'm going to make the assumption that you have made the assumption that disabled people are so unnattractive they couldn't possibly have a family or relationships. I'm afraid you're wrong (but I suppose you're used to it by now). 100 cars in the car park doesn't mean 100 people shopping, it means 100 households. Some alone, some with husbands, wives, lovers, children...

The figure you should really be looking at is how many households have someone who is disabled living in them. With average household sizes in the UK at around 2.4% (and having already told you that you can't have 0.4 of a person), I'm going to be generous to you and let you round it down to 2 people. But I will now insist on you doubling you're figure of 1.4% to 2.8%. Hell, lets just say you would need at least 3 spaces in a car park with 100 spaces.

Hmmm..now it's only twice as many as you thought. Or 25% less than you need in the larger carparks.

Nextly, let's look at scale deviation. Lets imagine it is the week before Christmas, and the carpark (with still your OMG SIX SPACES) is at 90% capacity. Two cars arrive, one with a Blue Badge, one without. One parks straight away, the other has to wait because 5.6 cars (there's that bit of a car again - shall we just call it 6?) are already using the disabled bays.

If there were only the average number of disabled shoppers they'd be fine! But that's the problem with averages. They're just an average. A number generated from when sometimes there are a few less, and sometimes there are a few more. Yes, it is twice as many as the 3 I told you that you'd need, but it's only 3 more cars

So they wait.

And for every 16 cars that leave a the car park, one of them will be from a disabled bay. Might be the next car, might not.....

We've all experienced the frustration of driving round a car park looking for a space, but imagine if as cars left you were constantly left still hanging because only 1 in 16 of the spots that were being created you could use, just because you were selfish enough to have foregone your mobility in order to blag some easy parking.

But not only have they got their numbers wrong, they've also failed to see the other glaringly obvious factors.

I can walk to the supermarket, and often do. I take the car for 'the big shop', but if I just need a few bits and pieces I am not forced to drive. Others are.

I can take the bus into town, again it tends to be a preference. Not because of the difficulty or cost in parking, but because the journey is so fucking tedious. Stop..start..stop..start..No thanks, I'll sit and look out the window with my ipod on and let some other mug sit in the traffic. Because I have the choice.

Park and Ride? No problem!

For me.

Time of day might also be a factor. If I was disabled and had any control over when I could fit shopping into my schedule, I'd be least likely to want to go when the aisles were heaving, and protected parking spaces might have been taken by some twat who was just 'popping in' for a ready meal (and a Daily Mail), so bays might appear to be less populated when the rest of the car park is busy.

If the Daily Mail really has a problem with a dozen or so protected spaces in large supermarket car parks, they want taking out and kneecapping. That'll let them use the spaces if they're so incapable of walking a little bit further after a hard day at the office hating immigrants, gays, the unemployed, Northerners.....

But it might interfere with their goosestepping.

And it's probably quite hard to get to the moral highground in a wheelchair - that is unless someone has put plenty of protected parking spaces up there.


15 February 2010

Cyber Bullying

I'm not proud of this, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to put my hands up and confess to cyber bullying.

Sort of...

Cyber bullying by proxy you'd probably call it. What I actually do is harbour, care for, feed and cuddle a cyber bully.

And it's not Mrsslippy....

It all started with Twitter, and the strange habit English people have of anthropomorphising their pets...

Comedian and Independent columnist Dom Joly is one such person. He owns a cat called Dr Pepper, who along with Joly has his own Twitter feed. Whereas Dom is a genial type of chap with a far too obsessive interest in Andy Murray, Dr Pepper claims to have Tourettes, and uses this as an excuse to vent obscenities at anyone who dares to leave a comment on his page.

This weekend Joly wrote an article on Dr Pepper in his Independent Column in which he revealed that the Doctor used to kill as many Robins as he could get his claws into, and mice. Never any other type of bird, just dozens and dozens of Robins.

When the time came, as so often does with big tomcats, the Doc had the op, and came back from the vets sans bollocks. Suddenly he was no longer interested in Robins - just the mice, so Dom decided - probably quite rightly that if a neutered Doc had lost the urge, the initial one must have been sexual.

His cat was a murdering sex pest. Who killed Cock Robin? Probably Dr Pepper after violating the body first, and then again afterwards.

This revelation caused many Twitterers to start poking fun at the Doc due to his newly revealed status as a jaffa, with most of these comments coming from fellow cats.

My thoughts were not about the lack of plum in his plumbing, but his interest in the reddy plumage of the little innocent Robin.

But I couldn't post this myself - it wouldn't be right and proper, so I quickly knocked up a profile for my own furry brute, Busta, who responded thus;

@domjolyscat you sick fuck. if you must fiddle with birds, at least go for big ones. partridges have nice red breasts if that's your thing

Within a few minutes there was a response..

@BustaTheBigBoy you look like one of those cats that people bag up and throw in a river with a brick attached-

A little chortle at getting a reply, and then I thought nothing more of it.

It was later on that evening that my phone alerted me that Busta had been receiving followers and messages from 'other cats' questioning his size, virility, and sexual orientation. Busta is gay, but he's not camp with it - he's more like the Ronnie Kray of the cat world.

A few messages back and forth, and Busta and his new acquaintances had established that there was a common enemy, and what we should be doing was planning an attack on Dr Pepper. Before I knew what I was doing I was looking though the Twitterati that he'd verbally abused, and messaging complete strangers cats on behalf of my cat to plan a coordinated attack on the foul mouthed 'celebrity' cat. At 8pm today any cats online were to bundle on @domjolyscat

Online bullying in it's worst form. I woke this morning feeling guilty about even considering it. Hurling abuse behind the smoke screen of an innocent animal. I couldn't go through with it.

So Busta must've done it himself.

Bundle on @domjolyscat !!! Gotcha ya Fat Fuck

He even got Minnie to join in.

Bundle on @domjolyscat ! Dr Pepper - Dr Rubbish, more like

Naughty Busta......

06 February 2010

Avatar blues

An impromptu annual leave day left Mrsslippy and I with some spare time to do that thing that we do so rarely, a trip to the flicks.

Both sceptical of the hype surrounding Avatar, it wouldn't normally have been my first choice, nor hers, but as it's supposed to be a 'game changer', it seemed only fair to give it a look see on the big screen whilst wearing daft glasses.

And my thoughts on it?


It was ok...

If it hadn't been hyped quite so much, then I may have liked it more, and there's no denying that it was absolutely beautifully rendered. Everything did look real, and the 3D worked so much better than the shonky stuff of my childhood, but was still little more than a distracting gimmick at times.

It's probably due to the way our eyes work. In real life if you're looking at something in the foreground, things in the background are out of focus. You look over to them, and your focus pulls the image sharp. In a 2D film the director tells you where to focus. If the camera is on something in the foreground, all that background action will always remain a fuzzy blur.

What 3D cinema does is fool you into thinking you can actually focus on things that the director doesn't want you to. We get a close up of Sam Worthington, and my eyes dance round the screen looking at stuff that my brain is telling me is further away, but no matter how much I squint and stare, I cannot bring it into focus.

We'd been led to believe that this film would have been unmakeable until now, because the technology didn't exist to make it, and now that it does, the only thing that limits what we can do in films is our imagination.

Someone should tell Jim Cameron that, because that sadly was the thing that the film desperately lacked.

It was just Pochahontas/Dances with Wolves in space, and the redskins are now blue.

We were told that Jim had visualised a whole planet with a diverse ecosystem and hundreds of wondrous beasts.

What we got was a CGI rain forest with some very pretty luminescent plants, and a handful of beasts from the imagination of Cameron, with his imagination limited to such deep thoughts as "Imagine if a rhino fucked a hammerhead shark? How cool would that be?" or "What about a six legged horse with a face like an anteaters"

George Lucas (and his team of designers) have imagined and built a whole Star Wars universe in the films and spin off games. Anyone who's wasted far to much of their life wandering through the realms of Azeroth will have seen all sorts of landscapes and creatures. Even a child with ten minutes in the ceature genertaor in Spore could have come up with a few more interesting indigenous life forms. Glow in the dark plants and a handful of hybrids ain't nothing special Jimbo.

"And imagine those drop ships and heavy loaders that I imagined so well in Aliens," I imagine Jim said "Imagine if we used them again because they were so super cool?"

They were cool Jim, but we've seen them before. So why on Earth (or Pandora) have we advanced so far technologically that interstellar travel and conscious transplantation is possible, but in order to blow up a tree we have to have helicopters escorting a mahoosive bomber past floating mountains (not even gonna go there...) in order to push a couple of pallet loads of TNT out the back?

A simple story of boy meets tall blue girl, falls in love, embraces her values and come to realise that capitalism, environmental destruction and genocide are so not cool, but will still use a machine gun in the final Na'vi versus humans battle, because guns still are cool if you're a nine foot neon blue warrior.

And while I'm getting it off my chest Jim, why invent a whole language for your Na'vi, only to subtitle them with an off the shelf shitty typeface like Papyrus?Why not really take the piss and do it in Comic Sans? $500 million to make and you couldn't even be bothered to pay for someone to design a font for you?

But it's not all moan, moan, moan. It's just ..meh...

I loved the look of the film, and would probably have loved it more in 2D where my brain and eyes knew what they were doing. I loved the direction. CGI really let Jim put the camera and follow the action from anywhere he wanted, and he is a great director. I loved Zoe Saldanas turn as Neytiri. It's her subtly mo capped performance that breathes life into the character and makes her so real.

And I hated the one dimensional human characters. Walking cliche's the lot of them. I hated Jims clunky dialogue, and the *spoiler alert* way that Sigourney Weavers death pretty much gave away the ending of the film before the battle even started. The animals saving the day, the oh so amusingly titled 'unobtanium', 3D photos embedded in a 3D film, the touchy feely spiritual bollocks that's about as subtle as Jim carving 'Stop destroying the planet man!' into your chest with a rusty compass - all shit.

On the whole a good bit of escapist nonsense. Nice eye candy, and an easy way to kill a few hours. But not a game changer.

If it's true that we finally have the technology to make anything we imagine look real, we need to make that technology available to film makers that have that imagination in the first place. Step forward Neil Blomkamp. District 9 cost only $30 million to make, and is an incredible film, but will no doubt be over looked for the over bloated Avatar come Oscar season. I'd love to see a 3D fookin prawn.

At least the glasses are reusable. If I pop them on now and look at the cat, it's like I could almost reach out and touch him. Amazing technology.