- When film director Stanley Kubrick purchased a Dymo label machine he labelled one draw THINGS. This was later changed to IMPONDERABILIA as part of the Kubrick classification system. (via Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures)
- The nickname “Bunk”, given to Detective William Moreland in The Wire, comes from the military meaning your bunk mate. (via Maxim)
- The “Naughty. But nice.” advertising slogan for cream cakes was the creation of Salman Rushdie, before he became an author. (via Desert Island Discs)
- Cutting paper with fabric scissors can blunt them. (via Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project)
- When Ernie Wise met Eric Morecambe for the first time, Ernie was taller. (via Desert Island Discs)
- The chances of someone shuffling the same pack of cards the same way twice are 1 in 80,658,175,170,943,878,571,660,636,856,403,766,975,289,505,440,883,277,824,000,000,000,000. (via QI)
- Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Pepé Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales, the Tasmanian Devil and many other cartoon characters has the phrase “That’s All Folks” on his gravestone. (via Radio Lab)
- James Mason wanted his luxury item to be the gold Snoopy that he wore around his neck when he appeared on Desert Island Discs in 1981.
- Tom F. Wilson, Biff Tannen in the Back to the Future movies, carries his own personal FAQ to hand out to inquiring fans.
- The voice of Woody, the Toy Story doll, isn’t Tom Hanks it’s his brother Jim. (via Wittertainment)
- Forensic psychotherapist Dr Gwen Adshead wanted to take the Top Gear team on to the desert island as her luxury item. Not surprisingly Kirsty Young wouldn’t allow it. (via Desert Island Discs)
- Roald Dahl is credited with using the word gremlin outside the Royal Air Force. (via Desert Island Discs)
- David Bailey was allowed to take Nelson’s Column to his desert island. As long as he promised not to climb it. (via Desert Island Discs)
- Philips and Sony based the diameter of the inner hole of a CD on the size of the Dutch dime. (via Tech Hive)
- On April 1, 1974, local prankster Oliver ‘Porky’ Bickar flew into the dormant Mount Edgecumbe volcano in Alaska and ignited 100 old tires in the crater. The residents of Sitka, Alaska were convinced that the volcano was erupting. (via QI)
- Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness
- Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn
All these years and I now find out that I’ve been ruminating. Previously I always called it ‘grumbling’. An incessant internal dialogue that could last for days or longer, where conversations, questions, responses, problems, what I said and what I should have said, would churn around in my head. Doing that would only make things worse, I’d just get angrier, my heart would race and I always felt that my blood pressure must be off the charts. I could do all this at a moments notice, no matter what else I was doing. Some problems would be forgotten about within a few days, others, maybe longer. There are things that happened years ago that when I think about them today still have the power to irritate me.
I had read Mindfulness in Plain English years ago but had never thought that it covered depression. Not that I really consider myself as depressed, I just thought that there must be a way to feel happier. In the past, whenever there has been some problem, either at work, personally or even some driver on the road, I’d be miserable about it for a few days but a week later I’d wonder what all the fuss was about.
Just reading the first chapters of the book I recognised myself immediately in the pages. Halfway through I was reading an example of someone who had a problem at work and I was doing the very same thing myself.
The book says that this is just ruminating, the more you do it, the worse it gets. If you don’t think about the problem then the problem goes away and you start to feel happier. They are just thoughts. To get this negativity out of your head you have to have something positive to replace it. So you focus on what is happening to you now. Don’t go through life thinking about something else. Feel the chair against your back and the keys beneath your fingers. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like they’re asking you frolic barefoot through a summer meadow, like the movie version of a hippy. Just bring your mind back to what is happening now. After all they are just thoughts, nagging and irritating they maybe, but just thoughts. You can let them go.
…a whole life of lost moments is a whole life lost.
- Clay shooters in the UK call “pull!” because in the good old days the live pigeons were released from their basket by pulling a string. Nowadays you could say anything as the machine operates via an acoustic release. (via BBC Olympic Oddities)
- The Mycenaean Greeks are thought to have invented the safety pin, or fibula, in the 14th Century BC to fasten garments together. (via BBC Olympic Oddities)
- The Indian statue by the door in Cheers was called Tecumseh. (Cheers Season 8, Episode 21)
- Frederick Crane’s first word was ‘Norm’ but is pronounced ‘Mommy’. (Cheers Season 9, Episode 7)
- Frank Skinner spent £11,000 on a shirt worn by Elvis Presley. Frank wore it once for a TV appearance so that he could claim it as ‘wardrobe’ for tax purposes. (via Desert Island Discs)
I travel with a 1DS Mark III which is actually walking-around-the-city-with-a-damn-cinder-block-around-your-neck so I use the more stealthy, very capable, 5D Mark II. And my favourite lens is the 16-35, it’s a wide and it forces you to get a portrait by basically going right up to someone, getting up close and personal and saying “Hello, my I take a photo of you”. I don’t like to be anonymous taking photos I like to meet the people I’m photographing. I tell people, when they ask me, “Why I don’t take more landscape photographs?”, I always say, “Landscapes don’t hit back”. I like to take pictures of people, because the human experience is the one that’s most fascinating to me.
Two reasons why I watch talks from TED.com:
- Jon Ronson, the man behind Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes, who was wearing The Overlook Hotel t-shirt, talked about the fine line between crazy and sane and how it really isn’t a good idea to fake madness.
- Rob Legato talked about some of the visual effects that he’s created for movies like Apollo 13, Titanic and Hugo.
Always a great and inspiring way to start the day.
- The bitter end is the end of the anchor “cable” that connects to the anchor bitts in the cable locker under the forecastle or poop using the bitter pin. (via Engineering Giants)
- When Spike Milligan appeared on Desert Island Discs in 1978 he requested a Barclaycard as his luxury item, “While I’ve got a Barclaycard there I know I’m saving money”.
- Two pairs of pet racoons were released in Germany in 1934 to give the local hunters something to shoot at. The population of the Waschbär, meaning “washing bear”, has increased to between 200,000 and 400,000 animals in 2008. (via Roderick on the Line)
- Jackie Chan is interested in cups and saucers and collects a lot of them. (via Empire Magazine September 2012)
- Geoffrey Hughes, who played loveable rogue Eddie Yeats in Coronation Street, was the voice of Beatle Paul in Yellow Submarine. (via TV Times)
- Jefferson Bass
I managed to get this for 99p over Christmas when Amazon.co.uk had special offers on Kindle books.
I’d read books by Dr. Bill Bass & Jon Jefferson before, which were completely factual, but not under the pseudonym of Jefferson Bass.
The book is thrilling and probably about as factually accurate as you can get. I wish that I’d read Carved in Bone and Flesh and Bone beforehand as the main plot point concerned what had happened to Dr. Brockton in those volumes. It certainly didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book and makes me want to see what happened in those previous titles.
My Flickr photostream is now down to just 61 images, from over 700 and could possibly fall even further. I used Dan’s version of flickrtouchr to download my entire photostream at the weekend. For the last couple of days I’ve been deleting photos and adding my favourites to OpenPhoto.
I’d already downloaded and deleted all the photos that I had on Picasa a few months ago.
With Flickr I simply grew tired of it. There are only so many bad photographs that have been badly photoshopped that I can stand to see. Photography is about light, it isn’t about the number of affects you can add to a single image. It’s then tagged with the persons name or copyright notice as if it’s a precious commodity that needs to be secured against theft. The best photoshopped images are always the ones that make you think, “Is that real? Or has that been altered in some way”. Take a good picture, one that you’re really happy with and then, if you can, if you need to, improve it. Don’t convert it to black and white and leave a part of the image in colour.
I’ve written before about comments on blog posts being a bad idea, on Flickr the same still applies. Thankfully all the GIF images of horrible medals and banal comments like ‘Great capture’ or ‘Great treatment’ have pretty much died a death. There have always been people who post a photo to as many groups as they can, I’m sure there is a limit, just to try and gets as many views as possible. Really is that the reason you took the photo in the first place?
A while ago Flickr added the ability to tag another member in a photo. It’s a good feature if you want people in an image to see the photo you’ve taken of them at an event. But now I’ve seen photos that certainly can’t contain all the people that have been tagged in the photo. This is basically just another form of spam that I’m sure must have started on Facebook.
From now on any photos that I really like will be on OpenPhoto.
I even looked at 500px again yesterday. They’ve been hard at work improving the site and creating a range of apps for various devices. Maybe I’ll head back there, the quality of photos is much higher than Flickr.
For the second time I’ve had a Squarespace trial and for the second time I’ve abandoned it.
The first time was about a year ago, before I found Jekyll, when I was thinking of moving this site from the customised Enki Rails engine that I was using. At one time they offered a way to import from any kind of blog, including the top blogging platforms. When I had a look they only offered Wordpress, Blogger etc. I didn’t want to copy and paste all my posts so I let the trial expire.
This time they had just released Squarespace 6, with responsive web templates and drag and drop image uploading. It all looks really good but again no way to import all my existing posts, now all in Markdown text files. The reason I looked at it for longer this time was that I really wanted to be able to change elements of the site using a GUI interface. I didn’t want to have to mess about with HTML and CSS any more, I wanted to create interesting things and not have to think about CSS selectors and hosting. The real stumbling block again was importing and there is no API that I could use to push in old blog posts. Last week, before I started the trail, I was even thinking about just archiving all these posts and starting with a blank slate.
Playing about with Squarespace 6 over the weekend I thought that I could use it as a photo blog. I’ve scrapped Picasa and I’ve deleted most of my photos from Flickr. Maybe this would be ideal. A few galleries, just showing my favourite photos and a photo blog of shots that I taken.
Then I started having second and third thoughts: I’ve only taken my camera out once this year, I’ve taken a few shots with my iPhone but nothing really to get excited about, would I really post all that much to it. Besides I already have a blog that I’ve posted photos to in the past. Why not put photos on Amazon S3 and post them here. But I already have photos on S3 via OpenPhoto, why not just keep them there.
So that’s it. I tried Squarespace 6 but it just wasn’t a good fit for me. If I was starting this site again then I’d signup in a heartbeat, using offer code “yourshow” for an extra 10% off a new account. Don’t be creepy.
- Gemma Arterton once had six fingers on each hand, a condition known as polydactyly. (via IMDb Trivia)
- Luciano Pavarotti requested a bicycle as his luxury item when he appeared on Desert Island Discs in 1976.
- Stanley Kubrick liked the industrial band Ministry after hearing the song Thieves which included samples from his film Full Metal Jacket. This is the reason why Ministry appeared as the band at the flesh fair in A.I. Artificial Intelligence. (via IMDb Trivia)
- Taphonomy is the study of decaying organisms over time and how they become fossilised (if they do). (via The Devil’s Bones)
- When Billy Connolly was a guest on Desert Island Discs in 1977 he requested an electrical device to heat shaving foam. That’s certainly a first world problem especially when you see that Billy was sporting a large goatee beard.
Would you believe I’ve moved this site again. From a few php pages on Pipex to AMX Host, Blue Host, Joyent, Slicehost, Rackspace and now to GitHub Pages. I also tried hosting the site on Amazon S3 along the way as all the pages are pre-baked using Jekyll. I may move it again before the year is out.
But why, you may ask? I had a Rackspace Cloud server running Ubuntu, Nginx, Phusion Passenger, MySQL and a few Git repositories. It was all setup and running fine, I rarely needed to touch it, if at all. It was just running two websites and a small Rails application that only I had access to. I had a cron job that was doing a backup of the sites, the code and a dump of the database, bundling it up and transferring it to a bucket on Amazon S3. Months ago, for whatever reason, that transfer failed and I couldn’t get it working again. The backup only really needed to dump the MySQL database as I had all the rest of it locally. Rackspace rebooted the server a few months ago and because I’d deleted a website’s directory nginx didn’t start and it was days before I noticed.
So now it’s running really well on GitHub Pages. All the code and the content was in a Git repository anyway so it was easy enough to get working. GitHub won’t run any plugins as running code on their servers is a security risk so I have to bake the site locally, switch to the gh-pages branch and drop the HTML pages in there, commit and then push to the server. I was using a rake file anyway so now it just has a few more lines in the deploy task.
I do still like to have a copy running locally so that I can see any changes before they’re pushed to the server. I also don’t feel too secure having two websites in public repositories so I’m paying the $7 a month on the Micro plan.
Fender’s custom shop have produced a limited edition 1963 Heavy Relic® Stratocaster guitar.
Why is this interesting? Fender are building a new guitar but with parts, wood and finish that make it look old. Really old. As if an old Delta bluesman had died and left you his pride and joy in his will. A guitar that looks as if it was played every day for hours on end. Except it costs more than a brand spanking new one, because of the extra work involved in this additional manufacturing process.
If this was hung from the wall of some scummy pawn shop in a bad part of town would anyone buy it? This is just the kind of thing that afternoon TV would suggest as an ideal restoration project. Strip it down, sand it, paint it, lacquer it, new pickups and wiring and it’ll be as good as new.
I like it because it isn’t just an old Fender Stratocaster. How do they age the metal parts and the wood? How do they chip away at the paint and wear it down so that it doesn’t look as if it’s been done with a purpose? When it’s done it isn’t just an manufactured product it’s comparable to a work of art.
Why have Fender started this custom shop? There is obviously a market for these guitars and amps. In 50 years time would you buy a Heavy Relic® iPhone 4S? It does seem to work with some things and not others. Jeans are another thing that benefit from being distressed. Any electronics, cars and houses, not so much. Would anyone want a Ford Capri that had ripped vinyl seats, paint chips and a rusted chrome bumper?
Luckily for Fender their guitars are ageless. Not something you can say about iPods and iPhones.
(via The Loop)