Archive for April, 2012
I’m currently in the middle of two 80 hour weeks of mostly nightshifts. Normally this would suck as I have to pass lots of happy people drinking outside pubs on my way to work and when I arrive I am filled with envy and hatred for my fellow man. (I pass seven pubs between my house and the station, my area is awesome.) But recently it has been pissing it down every day so I might as well get to my office and get paid to watch TV while drinking free coffee.
In case you didn’t know Britain is currently soaked and damp. It’s pretty famous for the rain at the best of times and the country is truly living up to its reputation. It has apparently been the wettest April on record. There have been well over 100 flood warnings and the news is gleefully full of images of cars driving through deep puddles and people huddled under umbrellas. According to this report there has been a month’s rain in four days:
So far you are probably thinking, ‘So what. You’re British. You chose to live there. Wet weather is hardly news.’ Well you are right. A bit smug and I probably wouldn’t want to hang around with you, but yes, good point.
The reason I am writing this is because we are also officially in a drought. Which I find weird. I like weird so thought I would write/pointlessly complain about it. There have been excuses and tedious people blathering on about reservoirs and thirsty plants but it all seems like bollocks to me. I read that there is a massive problem with the pipes. Apparently they are leaking and lose 1000s of litres of water every day. This seems more plausible than a thirsty tree. If I had waterproofed my house and removed the ceiling I could easily fill it up so why aren’t our reservoirs doing the same? (It’s possible that wasn’t a scientifically accurate comparison.)
What is my point? Do I have a journalist angle? Nope. I’m British (mostly-ish) and we love to bitch about the weather. Consequently it was hard to resist a whinge about the worst drought in decades while having one of the wettest Aprils on record. It’s a genetic thing. Bloody weather.
I get a lot of requests on facebook to join groups, play games, take part in a quiz or do something else that will literally waste my life. I nearly always turn these down as I am happy to waste my time playing proper high quality games, or going down the pub with friends, or watching inane violent movies, or gambling on Mexican midget wrestling. I know how to live. I do occasionally enjoy reading articles though and some of my friends are surprisingly interesting in their reading preferences.
The other day, I saw an intriguing looking item that someone had read in the Guardian. It was probably about why the Daily Mail is awful or something, I forget. So I clicked on the link and it said I needed a Guardian app for some reason. (I know, I know, another option was to copy and paste the title into google but the article wasn’t worth the effort.)
Why? Apps are great on phones as they give you a little picture that takes you to a handy programme. Why the balls do I have to install an app to read an article on bastard facebook? I then got annoyed and a little worried. I could read the article but they wanted:
My basic information – which could mean anything.
My email address – why?
My location – piss off, you might burgle me.
My birthday – seriously, why? My birthday? To read an article?
In the end I thought, fuck you Guardian, I’ll read the Mail instead, take that hippies. Except links to the Mail’s site of right wing doom or Yahoo or pretty much anyone else all want the same info. It just seems nosy and intrusive. If I want to do a quiz that tells me what flavour ice cream I am, why do I have to submit the details of all my friends and where I was born or my religion or pant size? It feels as if all major internet sites are currently competing to steal my identity.
Which they will then hand to Facebook.
Who will note it in my timeline.
I know I’m jumping on the bandwagon a bit as more and more people are writing about how facebook shares your data and fucks your privacy. I’m also not naive enough to think that my personal data isn’t already in the hands of a ton of people but I still find it annoying. Twitter and facebook are always trying to find out where I am and I am always telling them to piss off.
I joined Netflix recently and forgot to unclick some box or other and now it’s telling everyone on facebook what I’m watching. I love Netflix and will write about it at some point but publishing what I watch only benefits their advertising, it does nothing for me.
Goodreads and spotify do the same unless you turn off the option. As does my kindle whenever I finish a book. I love technology. I love that by paying a small fee I can effectively carry thousands of films, books, and music wherever I go and access them on shiny little devices but am getting increasingly annoyed with being asked to share it on facebook. Or even worse – sharing it automatically on facebook unless I opt to turn it off which is usually what happens.
The irony is, the moment I finish this rant I will post it on facebook. The difference is that I will have chosen to do so. So there.
Reading: Leviathon Wakes, Book One of the Expanse by James Corey. (Tremendously exciting space romp.)
Listening to: Led Zeppelin II (Zeppelin rules!)
Just watched: episode 11, 1st series of 24. (Never watched it before. Tremondously exciting Kiefer Sutherland romp.)
Last meal: Spicy noodles. (Tremendously exciting rumblings now happening in my stomach.(
Next bowel movement: 8:15 – 8:25am 21/04/12 (Hopefully not too exciting. Depends on the noodles.)
I hope this enriches your life.
I know you are probably thinking that I’m going to mock Belgium and call it dull. Well I’m not. I really like Belgium and have been to Ghent and Bruge half a dozen times and loved them – so there. Even Brussels is good as there is nothing to see but they have 8 billion types of beer. (That figure was a guess but it’s probably close.) They also invented fries which was pretty decent of them.
The reason I am talking about Belgium is just a waffling introduction to a viral video. It is pretty cool. Enjoy.
I seem to be obsessed with apocalyptic google maps at present. Soon after finding The Map of the Dead, another cool map comes along. Nukemap. It is morbid but kind of fun. Basically, you set a point on google maps, select a bomb size (from existing nuclear arsenals), then hit detonate. The map then shows things like the initial blast zone, lethal radiation zone, and so forth. You can even programme the kiloton yield yourself.
We are thinking about a house, so obviously it is prudent to see how far away from the centre of London we should live in case a terrorist blows up Parliament with a dirty bomb. (I think having just typed that last sentence my readership at MI5 just went up.) As I said, it’s a bit morbid but it is interesting. The Nukemap is here.
If you are anything like me you will have (incredibly sensibly) planned what you are going to do when the inevitable zombie apocalypse occurs. My plan involves leather, shotguns, and a castle. In case you are just starting your plan some genius on the internet has just made your job easier. He has made a google map specifically for surviving the zombie outbreak. It is genius.
The Map of the Dead shows you where the nearest essentials are. Things like the nearest camping shop, chemist, hospital, supermarket and so forth. It also shows where the nearest cemeteries are, which is pretty important. I love when people wisely spend their time doing shit like this. The map would work for any kind of apocalypse – it’s just that zombies are cooler. Also, didn’t the Mayans predict a zombie outbreak? Click here for the map.
I just thought I would share this with you. It’s pretty cool. Not brilliant as such but I just like the fact that someone has gone to so much effort to make stuff like this. I should also clarify, before you lose 6 minutes of your life, that this is a fan made film. It isn’t a real movie trailer or anything. Enjoy.
Pakbeng is a small and not particularly brilliant little town. It was clearly just a little village that was fortunate enough to be roughly half way between Houie Xai and Luang Prabang. It exists as it is now because of the boat. The hotels and guesthouses are fine for a night, but in comparison to most places are pretty shit. Our hotel was ok for £10 a night, but you could get a better deal pretty much anywhere in Thailand outside Bangkok. And we were in Laos, which is even cheaper. But it was perfectly adequate for 1 night, so I won’t grumble. The town has beer, ok food, and sold pillows and baguettes. I happily bought a pillow.
The next day we were up at dawn and the Mekong looked stunning below our balcony in the morning light. The evening before I had been dreading the second half of the trip but despite the solid bed and bizarrely huge and rock hard pillows in our room, I found myself eager for the trip. The boat was due to leave at 9am, so at 8am we loaded up on baguettes, and snagged some great cloth-covered seats at the front left hand side of the boat. My buttocks loved the added comfort of the pillow.
The morning was the aforementioned ‘bracing’ and when the boat left at the crack of 9:35, everyone was wrapped up in jackets. The day and the view then proceeded to be pretty identical to the one before. The difference this time was that the temperature remained superb until about 2pm. The scenery remained spectacularly beautiful. Our new improved seats were similarly awesome. We were so content and comfortable we celebrated with a Beerlao at 11am. Others on the boat were enjoying Sangsom Whisky and coffee which was pretty damned civilized of them.
The boat was a nicer one on the second day for some reason. The lady selling snacks, coffee and beer at the back even had a little counter. The toilet was nicer as well although I was still pleased not to have to sit on it. This was fortunate as we were supposed to be on the boat for at least 8 hours. Or thereabouts. We were originally told we would get to Luang Prabang at 4pm. Someone near us said that they had heard 3pm and someone else said 5pm.
At about 4pm I saw something I recognised. The Pak Ou caves. I had been there before on a boat rented from Luang Prabang. The caves are at the foot of massive cliff and are filled with thousands of Buddha statues. It’s pretty cool and well worth a visit. I confidently predicted another 10 minutes or so which was a mighty relief as everyone was getting a bit fed up again. It is a long time to be sitting in boat, no matter how gorgeous your surroundings.
Over an hour later, there it was. Luang Prabang at last. A finger of raised land that sticks into the confluence of the mighty Mekong and Nam Khan rivers. I could see temples and bars all along its side high above the river. It looked like the promised land. It looked lovely and relaxing. The only negative aspect was that, like around northern Thailand, the locals think it is an awesome idea to burn down half the forest. It makes farming easier and if that means a few people choking to death, what the hell. On the plus side, the smoky atmosphere made for some spectacular sunsets. The whole area is beautiful.
The looks didn’t deceive. Luang Prabang remains awesome. The trip was worth it.
In case you navigated to part 3 by accident, part 1 is here.