Friday, August 31, 2007

For the Person who has Everything

Some time ago I blogged about a hi-tech toilet seat that I had come across while on holiday in Kefalonia in Greece. The seat in question rotated when you left and cleaned its surface, protecting you from all the hazards of bum-transmitted infections, and the unpleasant "calling cards" of males with aiming problems . I thought this was the ultimate in toilet seats but science never sleeps, and I have just stumbled on a quantum leap in toilet technology: the washlet.

Up till now we have had to be satisfied with toilet paper to do the necessary after we have done the inevitable, but according to the Toto Website, toilet paper merely "moves the problem around". To feel truly happy about your personal hygiene you really need a very sophisticated electronic device to---lets be frank---wipe your bum. The site is very nicely designed with friendly music, and pictures of attractive bottoms and faces. Buttons on the webite direct you to every facet of the washlet you could possibly want to know about. The gadget doesn't just clean the relevant area with scientific precision using water at the prefect temperature, it also dries you at the right temperature, and even controls the rate at which the toilet seat goes down. I think you still do have to remember to put the seat down yourself, though!

I love the bit in the technology section where the guy says that the washlet toilet seat "has more in common with your laptop computer than any toilet seat you've ever come across". When you think about it that's not saying much! The nice folk on the Toto site cover several racial groups and they all seem so happy and secure that their personal hygiene needs are being taken care of.

I really don't know if bog roll is going to be enough for me any more.....

If you think there is something fishy about the washlet, try this!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

An Interview With LizardMan

I have never been keen on the idea of tattooing or body piercing. Both Wosog and Gdog have their ears pierced, and I don't really have a problem with that. Two or three years ago Gdog got a tattoo. I still don't think this was a good idea, but clearly an 18 or 19 year-old is entitled to take their own decisions.

This interesting article shows pictures of folk that have altered their bodies in very extreme ways by means not only of piercing, and extensive examples of tattooing, but also subcutaneous inserts, etc. The leopard man, for example, has over 90% of his body surface tattooed and has altered his dentition quite drastically to make him look more like a big cat. If you watch the video about him, however, he seems a very pleasant well balanced individual! The LizardMan featured here again has extreme tattooing and altered teeth, but he also has a split tongue that, frankly, gives me the creeps. The video shows that he is quite an articulate and intelligent individual, however.

The question is "Why do they do it?" Do they alter their bodies simply to "dress themselves up" in a similar way to someone else donning a designer suit or carrying an expensive bag? It seems to me that there must be more to it than that! A Flickr contact from New Jersey with the Flickr name perhapsiam is a tattooist and body piercer. He says:

"I really don't view most types of body modification as anything more extreme than, say, a haircut. It's more about making what you were given into what you feel it should be than anything else. We all do this in some way or another. What these people have done is nothing more extreme than basic corrective or cosmetic surgeries, and with less potential risk in most cases."

You might argue that perhapsiam has a vested interest, but at least he practices what he preaches, having one or two body modifications himself. Perhaps he's right that these people are not really doing anything more abnormal than a woman having breast implants? Perhaps folk like myself, with a fairly conventional view of the World should be less judgemental about people like the LizardMan and celebrate his individuality and creativity?

I'll give this some thought---but I won't be getting any piercings or tattoos done any time soon!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Amy Winehouse

One of my favourite singers is Amy Winehouse, and I was sorry, but not surprised, to hear that she had been admitted to hospital recently with either "exhaustion" or a drug overdose (depending on who you believe). She has a fantastic voice and, I think, great potential, but I'm not sure she has the temperament to stay the course of a long career.

It would be a shame if she either dropped out of the music scene or, worse still, joined the ranks of those who died tragically young.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Global Worrying

Reasons to be Cheerful
Originally uploaded by Son of Groucho.
I have previously confessed to being a terrible worrier. It should be fairly obvious from my various geeky activities that I am also a great enthusiast about the internet, and other forms of mass communication. Acres of text have been produced in the last year or two about the perils of Global Warming, but I think Global Worrying is an equally disturbing modern trend.

War is awful, and every death in combat is a tragedy for the person involved and their family, but deaths in war are inevitable. Modern mass communications mean that if even one or two British soldiers are killed in Iraq it is splashed across our newspapers and computer screens almost immediately. You could argue that this is a good thing, and makes us constantly aware of the reality of the conflict, but there is no doubt in my mind that it also raises anxiety levels in the countries affected.

Recently, concerns about the American mortgage market led to huge effects on stock markets throughout the Globe within days. Central banks have felt obliged to pump huge amounts of money into the system to stabilise the situation. Opinion is divided on whether this is a temporary blip or represents a fundamental weakness in the US economy. Only time will tell, but the speed and the magnitude of the short-term effects only serve to remind us what a connected World we live in.

Sometimes it's true that "ignorance is bliss".

Friday, August 17, 2007

Pooper Scoopers

Many thanks to behindblueeyes on Flickr for making me aware of this service. I might even go out and buy a pet just so that I can make use of it! I was a bit disappointed that they didn't quote their prices though.

I was intrigued to find that Scoops is a member of aPaws (The Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists). However, it seems this profession only exists in the USA and Canada. Apparently, pet owners in the rest of the World have to "do it themselves", so-to-speak. My Flickr friend The Rocketeer lives near Atlanta, Georgia. I must let him know about the aPaws 5th Annual Scooper Convention & Turd-Herding Contest scheduled for next January.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Unsung Heroes

Many folk, myself included, find this little Dilbert clip hilarious. The question is "Why?" I've always been interested in humour and the reasons why certain people find certain things funny. It seems to me that the main reason people find this video humorous relates to the surprisingly low social standing that engineers have compared to other professions.

This chart shows the IQ ranges for a wide variety of occupations. As a medic, I smugly noted that "Medical occupations: MD and equivalent" occupy the top slot, but as you can see engineers of various types are not far behind. I don't have the figures to hand, but I suspect that, on a global basis, engineers are paid significantly less than doctors.

Much of the hi tech world that we take for granted---the machines we use, the roads we drive on, the internet we enjoy---owe their existence to engineers of various sorts. So why do we treat these guys as figures of fun? Why is Dilbert's mum so upset that he is destined to join their ranks? Maybe it is something to do with the name? The term "engineer" conjures up an image of rolled-up sleeves and hairy arms covered with machinery oil.

Perhaps engineers need to call themselves something else to try and get the respect from us all that they undoubtedly deserve?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Royksopp - Remind Me

This is a clever little video and the song is quite hypnotic, but I'm not sure what the message is.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Ballooning in Luxor

Our "Sister Balloon"
Originally uploaded by Son of Groucho.
A while ago I posted extensively about a balloon flight that I did from Perth, Scotland. At that time Wosog declined the offer to join me, but she did take some excellent photographs of the event. At the end of the first week of our holiday in Egypt I had the chance to take a flight in Luxor, and this time the wife decided to join me. I thought there were some interesting differences between the flight in Luxor and the flight in Perth.

The first difference was the fact that the Luxor flight was early in the morning. This had the twin advantages of (a) being cooler, and (b) allowing us to see the sun rising over the River Nile. The second difference was in the number of personnel involved in the process. On the Virgin flight in Scotland (which was much more expensive) the passengers were expected to help the pilot and his assistant inflate the balloon and carefully fold it up after the landing. In Egypt a veritable army of burly wee guys was provided to (a) inflate the balloon, (b) literally lift the female passengers into the basket, and (c) hastily bundle up the balloon after the landing. Virgin would claim that their set-up provides the passengers with a more complete experience of ballooning but I suspect the difference has much more to do with relative labour costs in the two countries!

The balloon in Egypt was much larger and carried almost twice as many passengers as the Virgin one. The crew timed the launch to perfection, and we got a great view of the sunrise. We also had great views of several other balloons flying at the same time. Highlights of the trip included Hatshepsut's Mortuary Temple and an amazing overview of Karnak. The views of the river as we crossed the Nile were stunning. The only slightly scary part of the flight was when we came down in a fairly small piece of waste ground next to a road in the middle of a built-up area. This was definitely more worrying than coming down in a field in Scotland. If anyone is interested we have gathered pictures from both of us of both flights in a Flickr Group called "Flights of the Sogs".

All in all, it was a marvellous experience, and one I'd highly recommend!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Chocolate Rain

I'm not sure if I should thank my Flickr friend The Rocketeer for showing me this video. Firstly, it's one of those songs that sticks in your head and drives you mad for days. Secondly, despite the fact that they are enunciated with such sincerity, the words are just just as unfathomable as the average REM lyric. Finally, the little guy that sings it is just plain weird! There is no way that voice should be coming out of his small frame.

The vid has certainly been popular on YouTube, spawning spoof versions featuring luminaries as diverse as Darth Vader and McGruff the Crime Dog.

As a wee experiment, I was thinking of going into work today and saying "Chocolate Rain" before every sentence I speak. It would be interesting to see how long it would take before my colleagues (a) called the Police, (b) summoned The Men in White Coats, or (c) beat me senseless just to make me stop.

Maybe I'll give it a miss.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Traditional Dress

While I was in Egypt on one occasion I wore a galabeya, an example of which is shown here as worn by my friend Clive. My reason for showing you Clive rather than me is (a) to maintain my secret identity, and (b) because I looked like a plonker in mine.

You may think it odd that I should wear a traditional Egyptian costume when I have never yet worn a kilt, but I was on holiday and I couldn't get out of it. I have thought about wearing a kilt in the past, but I'm not sure if I've got the legs for it, and there is the question of what one wears under it. I've been to several weddings where there were multiple kilt-wearers, and a few of my relatives have their own kilts.

Kilts, of course, don't look right without the sporran. I'm not sure what Scots of old kept in these, but in modern times they must provide quite a handy place to keep you keys and your mobile phone etc. I abhor bureaucracy, and I was disturbed recently to discover that new legislation may mean that sporran-wearers will in future require a licence for them!

Maybe I'll just stick to the galabeya-----or maybe not!