A Christmas Carol Podcast

Penguin books are releasing A Christmas Carol as a free podcast download, read by Geoffrey Palmer who’s best known to UK readers as the guy from As Time Goes By1. That’s a really great idea. As mentioned by the BBC and Boing Boing, amongst others.

There are countless versions of A Christmas Carol – what’s your favourite? Personally I adore A Muppet Christmas Carol – “this is my island in the sun!”

  1. two new episodes of which are being broadcast this christmas []

How not to lose The Game

Have you heard of The Game? If so, sorry. If not, the rules are as follows:

  1. To know The Game is to play The Game. One can never stop playing.
  2. To think of The Game is to lose The Game.
  3. When one loses The Game, one must announce to all present that one has lost.

And that’s all there is to it. Barry and I have been playing for probably two years now. Tonight we both caused the other person to lose first, thereby not losing ourselves. Here are two proven strategies:

  1. Describe fnords. I am assured that it is a word only visible to members of the Illuminati, and brings comfort and joy. Bunnies, for example [UPDATE: Untrue, and I’ve linked to the wikipedia entry – see Simon’s comment]. Chances are, the person will state a word themselves. You then say ‘ah, but you’ve given it away now’. Chances are, this will cause a logical link to The Game, and he/she will be forced to admit his/her Losingness.
  2. Quote verbatim from Life, The Universe and Everything, specifically the passage regarding the secret to flying unaided being to aim at the ground and miss. Describe how this requires a moment of total surprise nanoseconds prior to hitting the ground, and you must not concentrate on the act of flying, or you will be noticed by gravity and fail. Again, chances are he/she will think of The Game, and be a Big Massive Loser.

Obviously, you cannot attempt either of the two tactics consciously. You must think of them now, and forget the reasoning behind them. This is the path to victory.

Playing With our Food

Later, after a chance comment regarding the rumoured powers of cornstarch, a visit to Tesco was called for. We stocked up on cornflour, hoping it was the same thing, then proceeded to make one hell of a mess all over my kitchen…

Cornflour Experiment

The instructions in Penn and Teller’s How to Play With Your Food were to add a little water and ‘just play’. So we did. It’s such cool stuff! If you push your finger slowly the mixture sloshes like water, but if you scoop up a load it globs and you can roll it around. Once you stop it immediately ‘melts’ back into liquid and flows away. The harder you push, the more resistance there is – it even cracks if you punch it!

The Cornflour Mess

It’s more fun than is legal in some countries. It also lends itself to incredibly filthy comments, but we didn’t make any of those; oh no. We messed about for ages, getting mixture everywhere. After a while it becomes a little too solid, but a touch more water fixes that. We added food colouring, which worked surprisingly well…

Dyed Cornflour

…and managed to avoid the temptation to start a cornflour-fight. We eventually killed it by adding washing-up liquid. As Tamsin pointed out, we should have realised that wouldn’t work – washing-up liquid is designed to get molecules to separate, after all.

I highly recommend you have a go 🙂 One caveat, though: it’s a complete git to clear up. I’ve wiped down the surfaces twice now and the damn stuff keeps coming back.

Eat Brains!

Zombies – attack!

S.F. Zombie Mob

In one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard, San Francisco was yesterday invaded by flashmob zombies. The undead prowled from St. Mary’s Square to Union Square, eating any passers-by they came across before supplying them with fake blood and goo to join in the zombie prowl. As Boing Boing reports, they then headed for a picnic in the cemetery. Damn, I’d have loved to have done that 🙂 There’s not much on flickr as yet, but there are a some cool cellphone shots here.

Update: Via Waxy, some great shots here.


A few weeks back I went to a Spice preview evening. I’d read the brochure and thought it seemed pretty interesting, so one Monday night headed into Sutton Coldfield for the free presentation. Like they said at the meeting, it’s easier to describe what Spice isn’t. It’s not an adventure sports club, or a dating agency, or an outdoors club. It was described to me as a large group of people – 10,000 members nationwide and 3,000 in Birmingham – who do interesting things. The thing that surprised me was the sheer number of activities. I hoped that there’d be an event to attend every weekend, or something, but it’s way more than that. Here’s the next week, for example:

Sat 16th:

  • Come and Try Mountain Biking Sutton Park
  • Flying Lesson Wellesbourne Airfield, Stratford on Avon
  • Helicopter Pleasure Flights Gloucestershire Airport, beside M5 J 11
  • Jet Skiing Church Wilne, Nr East Mids Airport
  • Multi Activity Day Carsington Water Peak District
  • Paintball Massacre Bassetts Pole
  • Riverboat Shuffle – Jazzamatazz Upton upon Severn, Worcs
  • Rudyard Reservoir Ramble Rudyard Reservoir, Northern Peak Dist
  • Team Challenge on a Double Decker! Join Brumbus at Colmore Row bus stops
  • Wightwick Manor Tour 3 miles west of Wolverhampton

Sunday 17th:

  • Aromatherapy Workshop Lea Marston Hotel, just off A4097
  • Badminton Afternoon at Barr Beacon Barr Beacon Leisure Centre
  • Cannock Chase Improvers Mountain Biking Birches Valley Visitor Centre
  • Cruise to Chocolate Heaven Gas Street, Birmingham
  • Drumming Workshop at Madhouse Studios Madhouse Studios
  • Llama (and Camel!) Trek with Lunch Speech House, centre of Forest of Dean
  • Monmouth and Offas Dyke Ramble Monmouth, Forest of Dean area
  • Servant of Two Masters Harvington Hall, Kidderminster
  • Water Fun Day Darley Abbey, Near Derby

Monday 18th:

  • Badminton NIA Community Hall, St Vincent Street
  • Preview Evening (Sutton) Ramada Hotel, Penns Lane, Walmley

Tuesday 19th:

  • Botanical Gardens Tour Outside Main Entrance, Botanical Gardens
  • RAC Control Centre Visit Brockhurst Crescent, Bescott, Walsall
  • Unihoc NIA Community Hall, St Vincent Street

Wednesday 20th:

  • Bodymoor Heath Evening Ramble Bodymoor Heath – Kingsbury/Sutton area
  • Evening Horse Ride Middleton Equestrian Centre
  • Lichfield Bike Amble Evening Lichfield
  • Pilates Session Club Motivation, Solihull Moathouse, Hom
  • Rounders Holly Lane Social Club
  • Tamworth Evening Walk By Robert Peel in Market Place
  • Wolverhampton Pub Night Goose in the City

Thursday 21st:

  • Beer and Skittles at Lea Marston Lea Marston Hotel, on A4097 nr J9 of M42
  • Stoneleigh Abbey Evening Tour Stoneleigh, Warwickshire
  • Volleyball NIA Community Hall, St Vincent Street

Friday 22nd:

  • Beginners Luxury Horse Riding Weekend Peak District & Sherwood Forest
  • Exmoor and the Somerset Coast Weekend The Beach Hotel in Minehead
  • Luxury Experienced Riders Weekend Peak District & Sherwood Forest
  • Owl Prowl / Dusk Walk Wyre Forest Discovery Centre
  • Sherwood Forest Bike Amble Weekend Nottinghamshire
  • Soul and Motown Party at 52

Google Earth

Google Earth

Google Earth is possibly the most impressive free application I’ve ever seen. Aside from the fascinating maps, the integrated local search and directions are great – all the info is overlayed onto the one map. There’s also an excellent flickr ‘network link‘ that links into geobloggers. Google have apparently pulled the download for a while, but you can get it over at majorgeeks.

The Girl in the Café

This evening BBC1 showed a new film written by Richard Curtis. The Girl in the Café was a rather sweet romance set at a fictional G8 summit. Richard Curtis is one of the major forces behind Make Poverty History, and this film was written to highlight the issues and their importance. I thought it did a great job. As it pointed out, “you don’t know all the facts” isn’t a rebuttal when 30,000 people are dying needlessly per day. Counter that, if you will.

I had a long paragraph here attacking the media (mainly newspapers) for the cynicism they’ve shown toward something so noble. However, I deleted it. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all; sure it’s a cliche, but I don’t see that it makes such a bad mantra.

In tonight’s film Richard Curtis called Africa a ‘casual holocaust’. I wasn’t going to be travelling anywhere next Saturday because I’m supposed to be dog-sitting. I’ll just have to sort something, though, because I’m now going to Edinburgh. Maybe it won’t do any good, but maybe, just maybe, we can.

Incidentally, fifteen minutes ago I emailed about seat availability and I’ve just received a non-automated reply saying that seats are available and that I’ll be contacted on Monday to book. At 2345 on a Saturday. That rocks.