Monthly Archives: September 2006

Bus momentum

Sitting on the top deck,
kissing you on your neck,
feelings drowned in Malbec,
listening to Jeff Beck,
tomorrow I will be a wreck,
but I don’t give a feck.

Three men are sitting in a room smoking cannabis

Three men are sitting in a room smoking cannabis. After a few spliffs they run out of gear. One of the men stands up and says
‘Look, we’ve got loads more tobacco, I’ll just nip into the kitchen and make one of my speciality spliffs.’
Off he goes into the kitchen where he takes some Cumin, Turmeric and a couple of other spices from the spice rack, grinds them up and rolls them into a spliff.
On his return he hands it to one of his smoking partners who lights it and takes a long drag. Within seconds he passes out. Ten minutes go by and he is still out cold, so the others decide to take him to hospital.
On arrival the nurses immediately take him to intensive care. A doctor returns to the friends and asks
‘So what have you been doing then? Smoking cannabis?’
‘Well sort of’, replies one of the guys, ‘But we ran out of gear, so I made a home-made spliff.’
‘Ahh’ replies the doctor, ‘And what did you put in it?’
‘Oh, just a bit of cumin, some turmeric and a couple of other spices.’
The doctor sighs. ‘Well that explains it.’
‘Why, what’s wrong with our friend?’ asks one of the men.
‘He’s in a korma’ replies the doctor.

A family moved

I noticed a new family moving into a flat near me the other day. The father was in the van picking and choosing the next heavy thing he was going to lift while the kids were running back and forward with some smaller plastic bags and so on. I didn’t see the mother she was inside with the last heavy consignment no doubt.

At the particular moment that I was walking past the father was in the van while his eight year old daughter walked up to the van and said, “Daddy why do you think Mummy has so many clothes”?

“Baby,” he said back, “I just don’t know but one day I think you’ll know a lot better than me.”

To which she replied, “Nah. I don’t think so.”

Maybe I’m just lucky

Since I wrote about being shat upon by a pigeon the other day (Unlucky) I have been told many times that I was very lucky.

Yes it really did seem that some people thought it was lucky to be pooed on by a bird or more specifically that it would make me lucky.

This really does seem to be counter intuitive. But then perhaps that what I should expect from trying to intuit what’s going on with superstition. Some of them do kind of make sense though.

For example if you spill salt you get bad luck. And I suppose at the time this nugget came up was the time when salt was very expensive and it really was bad luck to spill it. And what’s the remedy? Throw more of it over your shoulder. By making the waste explicit in this way really makes it clear what you’re doing. Also it being unlucky to walk under ladders or cross on the stairs sort of make sense in that they are dangerous.

But what about the less obvious ones? Why is it unlucky to let a black cat cross your path? Perhaps it is because the cat might get under your feet and trip you up? But then why specifically a black cat. And what happens when you cross its path? I walk past a black cat every morning that is so docile there isn’t a rat’s chance in gouder that it will run under my feet. Put it this way he normally sits there looking incredibly bored at all of the pigeons that are wondering around. And how do I know I’m not crossing his path? From the look on his face he certainly thinks that he owns it.

So what of this luck that comes from enduring avian target practice? Is it simply to console a poor unfortunate or is it enough to win the lottery or a bet? And if the latte why don’t all the pigeon racers come first equal and betting shops have a roost available for those who are down to their final couple of quid?

I think the answer is we’ll never know but with a bit of luck we might find out.

I want to tell you something

“I want to tell you something”.
“Well the other night…”
“Yeah? That other night?”
“Yeah that other night”
“Well… after the… well… you know”.
“Well you were asleep and I wasn’t”.
“And you were looking so peaceful and I was just watching you breathing and you looked so beautiful”.
“Ahh, you are so cute you know that”.
“Thanks, and just as I was looking at you a spider walked right across your forehead and…”
“A spider walked right across..”
“And you didn’t wake me up”?
“No you looked”.
“You just let it walk – urgh”!
“Well it wasn’t doing me any harm”
“Yes it was I HATE spiders”!
“Well I didn’t know that we’d just met”.

What’s the first sign of madness?

Suggs walking out on stage.

If you don’t get this then try this.

This morning a guy tried to be a movie star

As my train was attempting leave the station he ran for the closing doors and made it all the way through. The only thing he’d forgotten was the fact that he had a backpack on. Which contrived to get him caught in the doors.

Now I wonder what was going through his mind, other than the obvious, “I hope I can get this bag through the door with me”. But maybe he was thinking that if this had been a movie then right around now the director would be shouting out cut and he would be attempting it again.

But this being real life he had something quite different in store. The platform guard walked over to the door and started to help pushing the bag into to train. While he was doing it the guard was giving the guy a lecture, “maybe next time you’ll stand clear of the doors”. The man could clearly feel the bag coming his way and so he said, “maybe next time you’ll fuck off” and with that he flipped the guard the bird and pulled the bag clear and stepped back expecting to see the doors close and for the train to pull him away from the enraged guard. But once again the movie in his head didn’t turn out the way he had been plotting as the guard had managed to get his hand between the doors just in time and pulled them back open. “That’s the end of your journey mate,” he said as he looked over his shoulder, “can we get security over here I want this guy off”.

And for the rest of my journey I was feeling pleased right had won, wrong had been punished and all was good. Until we got to waterloo and waited for two minutes at the station because none of the people near the door understood that they might have to push a button to open the door. Even after everyone else on the train had explained it to them loudly several times. I feel that guy would have known what he was doing – although based on the kind of day he was having perhaps not.

The chicken and the horse were the best of friends

And one day while out walking in the farm the horse fell into a pit of quicksand.

The chicken was frightened but thought quickly and ran to get the farmers BMW which was sitting there with the keys in the ignition. He attached a rope to the back of it and drove it over to the pit of quicksand. And the horse grabbed hold of it and the car pulled the horse to safety.

A few days later the horse was woken from his sleep by a few plaintive cries. He got out of bed and saw to his horror that the chicken was drowning in the same self quicksand. He looked over to the farmhouse and suddenly realised that tonight was the night the farmer always drove into town for his rotary meeting. And seeing no rope anywhere he did the only thing he could and stood over the top of the quicksand and lowered his body down and said to the chicken, “grab hold of my dick and we’ll get you out of here”. And the chicken was able to grab hold of his penis and was hauled to safety.

And what’s the moral of the story? If you’re hung like a horse, you don’t need a BMW to pick up chicks.

Harnessing people’s boredom

People, it turns out, are generally bored. And boredom itself is a pretty interesting concept. I like to believe that I never get bored as there is always something to do. But that’s because I’m always using the old definition of bored that we all used when we were kids. When I was a kid other kids would plaintively look up to their mothers and say “I’m booooooooreeeeedd Mum, what can I do?” And I think a lot of other kids mothers would then find something for their child to do. “Here’s a game you could play or a movie you could watch”. Whereas my mother was more old school, she would say, “well I do need a hand picking gooseberries in the garden”.

Asking my mother for something to do wasn’t a mistake you made often. But it was a really useful way of making you never get to that bored stage. If you knew that the alternative was something that you didn’t want to do you would you would always make sure that you never ran out of things that you wanted to do (this is rather similar to the concept of dwarf bread – you take on a trip with you something so awful that you’d really have to be hungry to eat it and the knowledge that you have it with you conspires to keep you less hungry).

But once you’ve learnt the valuable lesson of how to stop yourself being bored you find yourself doing increasingly odd things to stop yourself from hitting rock bottom – watching tv programs that you don’t like, randomly surfing the internet hoping something comes up or playing solitaire?

In 2003 people around the world played solitaire for 9 billion hours! To give you a comparator it took 7 million hours to build the empire state building and 20 million to build the panama canal. The rate of humans to hours means that we are generating more than 1 million man hours of work for each hour of time that passes.

So researchers, led by Luis von Ahn have been trying to work out a way of harnessing this latent energy for productivity. Basically they’ve been trying to come up with a game that people still find fun to play, is simple enough that you can play it while your brain is on downtime (like solitaire) and that the result of playing is something productive.

The game von Ahn came up with is breathtakingly simple. It is “say what you see”. A picture pops up on screen and you have to type in a word or phrase that describes what it is that you’re looking at. At the same time another player is trying to do the same with the same picture. If you get the same label then you get points and you move on to the next picture. The productive part comes next when you realise who has been funding some of von Ahn’s research – Google. Google has a lot of pictures and doesn’t really have very good labels for these pictures. If two people who can’t communicate any other way both agree on the label for a picture then that is probably what is in the picture. If you would like to have a play it is here:

I wonder what the next stage of this will be? With that much power available there has got to be some good stuff to do.