30 October, 2009

Finks Links #80

Another week is over!

So let's start with "I'm the daughter of a serial killer"...

Meet Gay Wilkinson, the world record holder for launching anvils into the air with explosives (yes, you read that correctly)... [video]

A nice impressionist cake... ;)

35 Years of the World’s Best Microscope Photography [pics]

A huge archive of those old "read-along adventures" - kids books with cassette tapes...(sure to come in useful at some stage)... ;)

Realtime demonstration of some ABB robots neither dropping, nor knocking over a selection of empty fanta cans...just awesome! [video]

Night Vision driving...

Deliberately mummified animals...

...and finally a funny calculus answer fail and a rather good wanted ad fail...

More (hopefully) next Friday...! :)

29 October, 2009

Box Hill Village Hall - Funny sign

Funny Sign in Box hill village hall
Spotted this notice addressed to the "Gentlemen of the Organ Club" in the "facilities" of Box Hill village hall the other day...someone obviously thought they were being rather clever...those long winter committee meetings must just fly by... ;)

28 October, 2009

Baby Gap Socks

Baby Gap Socks
Flipping £6! That's a pound a sock!
But then you couldn't exactly deny him, could you... ;)

Very, very important update - these are the only socks we have owned which managed to stay firmly attached to Thomas' feet (rather than get lost half way round Tesco) - definitely worth every penny...!

27 October, 2009

Fishbourne - Statue of Child Nero

Fishbourne Roman Palace
Wow, funny that this bit of news has surfaced just after our little trip to visit the Roman Palace at Fishbourne, but there you go! It turns out that a couple of weeks ago some scientists from Bournemouth University headed down there with a 3D laser scanner to take a look at the bit of statue we saw while we were there (my picture above) and confirmed that the fragment isn't of some mysterious Anglo-Romano youngster that lived thereabouts, but actually an incredibly rare bust of the Emperor Nero (one of only three surviving examples in the entire world)!

We should have stood and stared at it a bit longer! ;)

26 October, 2009

Smiling Baby Thomas

Thomas Smiling!
Well, we've had a few "wind-based" false positives (those smiles that quickly turn into squirming and crying), but now we *really* are getting proper happy smiles...It's just every now and again (at this stage) but incredibly rewarding when it does happen, he's also started (just in the last couple of days) to get very, very interested in what is being said to him, and chipping back in with his own gurgled comments and enthusiastic arm and leg gestures when he can get a word in edge-ways...Last night I read him the first chapter of "The Hobbit" laying together on the big bed (and while not understanding a word I said, obviously) we had a lovely time - Thomas responding to my dramatic pauses with widening eyes and gaping mouth, and joining in with an excited babble as I made up tunes for the Dwarven songs - finally - a little payback for Mummy (especially) and Daddy for all those mucky nappy changes...it seems like the tiniest of things - a little smile - but it feels like a million pounds... ;)

21 October, 2009

Getty Images - One Canada Square

So we have a new little shop at the base of the office, run by "Getty Images", I've been lured in a few times to nose around the photographs (it being such a hobby of mine), but this shot appeared about a week ago, and it's the first time I have actually been inclined to take a peek at the price...
Gordon Picture at Canary Wharf
(Hopefully they will forgive me this blurry cameraphone shot (of one of theirs) in exchange for the free publicity... ;)

Any guesses as to how much they want for it?

20 October, 2009

Autumn Weather - That most awkward time of the year

Canary Wharf - rain storm
Bah...here we are again, that most awkward time of year...boiling hot on the tube (not quite as bad as the sauna (he says with experience) at Oxted pool, but almost) and a combination of freezing cold (two frosts so far - here is Poppy the Beetle's roof as proof) -
- when the skies are clear and rain and wind most of the rest of the time...

At the moment I am employing a strategy of trying to avoid "outside" if at all possible, keeping my jacket in my bag, and then, just before I have to go out into the cold again, throwing it around my shoulders...but soon, I know, that cold the coat is supposed to be protecting me from will be too severe for any garment capable of folding neatly up into my rucksack...

One really lovely thing, though, is the smells of Autumn are also becoming more and more common (something I love), even today at West India Quay, one of the party boats was obviously having a log fire on board, and there is nothing quite like that to awaken those dusty thoughts of Christmas... ;)
West India Quay
*distant sound of rhythmically shaking bells* ;)

19 October, 2009

Weekend update

Well, you couldn't exactly call the weekend just gone *relaxing*, but it was filled with fun, starting with getting up really early on Saturday to look after a little boy who wouldn't stop throwing up - five times in the space of an hour - four times into Flyingpops hair and once all down my front, but luckily I hadn't bothered to get dressed by that stage...we started the day proper with a trip to my folks (who had helped baby-sit on Friday night while Flyingpops was at a "book party" at her sisters house) for a hair cut and then a super-off-road dog walking session through some hugely overgrown paths out the back of Oxted (which the Bugaboo coped with incredibly well), then a quick stroll down the hill for an hour in the swimming pool, this time I went on the 70m water slide *and* had my first ever Sauna - incredibly, the temperature inside was roughly the same that I use to cook my roast chicken on a Sunday (I know because they have a thermostat on the wall), and there are scary signs warning you to remove all jewellery as the metal can get incredibly hot if you stay in too long...but you do actually get used to the heat extremely quickly and it does sort of become rather therapeutic, I swapped myself between there and the steam room (which feels like it's cleaning out your lungs, and probably is) and then (when you absolutely can't take it any more) you dive into the pool (which is 30 degrees, but feels like minus 50)! Thomas enjoyed being in his little inflatable again, especially when the wave machine kicked in (we missed that last week because we were only in the water for about 20 minutes... ;)

Anyway, later on in the day we went out for a lovely meal at the Box Hill Smith and Western, I couldn't make up my mind so I had the combo (where you get steak and chicken and ribs - just to make sure I didn't feel left out if anything tempting looking left the kitchen that I hadn't ordered), then we headed over to Box Hill village hall for Charlie's birthday party (which tried *very* hard to wake Thomas up with extremely loud music, but failed)...

Sunday morning Thomas decided we weren't having a lay-in, so we headed over to Tesco a bit early, discovering happily that they start serving breakfast long before the main store opens (so we totally skipped the normally enormous queue for the cooked breakfast - hehe)...anyway, we got half way round the store picking up our food for the week and then Thomas decided he didn't want to be shopping either, so we cut the visit short and ordered the rest on the Internet, I cooked us up an early roast (lamb) which we ate as we watched the F1 - Well done Jenson! - and then after X-Factor, it was baths and bed...and now I need another weekend (a quiet one this time), and so does Flyingpops (as I think she's coming down with a bug), but we won't get that for another working week...although at least Flyingpops can have a bit of a duvet day - don't think that would go down too well in the office... ;)

16 October, 2009

Finks Links #79

Okey, dokey, here we go again!

So let's start with the fact that one can now officially become a "fan" of Auschwitz! Yes, the former Nazi death camp now has an official Facebook page...(wtf?)

Japanese sniper prank (*very* cruel)...

Some new (and rare) video footage (time lapse) of the sun erupting material into space (hopefully not in our direction)... [video]

Sleeping beauty cosplayers visit the aquarium [pic]

An *incredible* new "Little Dog" demonstration... [video]

Japanese space saving products...

A melty spectrum cake! [pic]

...and finally the rather surprising entrance to the Wheelchair foundation and a rather nasty hand-drier fail...

More (hopefully) next Friday...! :)

15 October, 2009

Shhh...the baby is sleeping through the night! :0

You know what? I was this close to not even starting to open my mouth on this subject, just in case my doing so caused the universe to lash out and punish me (purely on the off-chance that my motivations for doing so would be smugness and complacency, even though all that *really* exists in my mind is peace and joy) that I nearly didn't write anything about it at all...

However, a few factors coaxed me into (haltingly) doing do, i.e. - it's not a thundery night, my wet copper armour is still hanging in the hall cupboard, I decided not to walk up to the top of the hill and stand under the blasted oak, and profane exclamations against all those who could reasonably argue a bit of shelf space in the Pantheon are (frankly) the furthest things from my lips at the moment...(thank you Terry)...

So let's get to the (whispered) point (although you probably guessed some of it from the post's title) -

Thomas is regularly sleeping for almost six and a half hours a night!


He's having a *huge* bottle at 10pm (with very wide eyes and frantic sucking action) and then collapsing into an almost catatonic state until 4.30am, when Flyingpops is giving him a little feed, and then (check this out) he goes back to sleep until the alarm goes off at about 6.30am...! This means *all* of us are currently enjoying a good night's sleep!

How long can we expect to enjoy this? Weeeeell...Who knows...but let's just cross all our fingers and toes that the swap back to GMT on the 25th of October isn't too disruptive...! ;)

14 October, 2009

Rambo III - America and Afghanistan

Not sure why I picked this particular film, but (perhaps) in a fit of desperation (awaiting new season House/Lost/Dexter/South Park/Amazing Race/etc.) I decided a week or two ago to rewatch the 1998 movie "Rambo III"...yep, I already said I'm not sure why, I don't need any other opinions as to my dodgy decision-making process to join my pre-existing confusion (that could get messy)...But actually (I am pleased to report), it turned out to be a surprisingly good choice... ;)

The last time I saw this movie was on a rubbish pirate video sometime in the late eighties (yes, it's that old) at a friend of a friend's house party...there was a lot of "male" behaviour taking place at the same time (probably involving beer and fighting) and to be honest, as a result I really couldn't remember much about the film apart from a lot of helicopter gunships and Rambo managing to single-handedly drive and fire the big gun on a tank (meaning that on top of all his other powers, he must also be able to stretch out his arms like Mr Tickle)...

Anyway, it just so turns out (I'm still tittering to myself about it), the story revolves around Troutman storming into Afghanistan to punish the *eviiiil* Russians for their dreadful treatment of the poor Afghan freedom fighters (awww)...and it lays it on *extremely* thick - how *dare* the Russians invade this country - the tense, steel jawed exchange between Troutman (when he is inevitably captured, prompting Rambo to take up arms and come to rescue him) and the Russian commander are an ironic cinematic treasure..."We've already had our Vietnam"...and the simply brilliant exchange when Rambo rides out with his adopted Taliban brave local freedom fighters -
Mousa: This is Afghanistan...Alexander the Great try to conquer this country...then Genghis Khan, then the British. Now Russia. But Afghan people fight hard, they never be defeated. Ancient enemy make prayer about these people... you wish to hear?
Rambo: Um-hum.
Mousa: Very good. It says, 'May God deliver us from the venom of the Cobra, teeth of the tiger, and the vengeance of the Afghan.' Understand what this means?
Rambo: That you guys don't take any shit?
Mousa: Yes...something like this.

Oh dear...*sigh*...I'm wiping the tears from my eyes even as I type these words...I won't ruin any more of it, just in case you need a good laugh yourself... ;)

13 October, 2009

Baby Gap Canary Wharf - Window Dressing

Pile of Bodies in Baby Gap
Only shop dummies, I know, but something about the way they had just been piled up in the window of Baby Gap in Canary Wharf made me do a little involuntary shiver! <:0
Pile of Bodies in Baby Gap
Especially that shoe just thrown on top...

12 October, 2009

Eventful Weekend...

Crikey, where do I start...

One of the things you notice straight away when you leave the house with a tiny (although rapidly expanding) baby in tow is the number of people who sidle up to you (smiling) and ask the usual questions (name, age/sex(usually assuming the wrong one)/location birth weight), make some cooing noises, assume a wistful look and then walk off in a manner that suggests they are now surrounded by an invisible blanket...

On Saturday, when we took Thomas to Oxted leisure pool, we experienced a slightly different phenomenon...after all getting changed into our costumes (Thomas in his little waterproof swimming nappy with a picture of Disney's "Nemo" on the front) in one of the spacious unisex family changing rooms (with nappy facilities), blowing up his little yellow floating chair and parading down towards the water...I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that every single eye in the place was on us as we waded into the warm water, the unspoken group assumption being that as soon as baby met pool there would be a colossal screaming down of the place and we would (red-faced) turn tails, get dry and go home again...in actuality he *loved* it (although we did sort of suspect he'd be okay, as he happily hops in the bath every night with one or other of us - the purpose built baby bath only ever saw water the once)...all in all I suppose we spent about 25 minutes splashing around, Flyingpops even managed to do a couple of lengths in the sensible bit of the pool, while Thomas and I played in the wave area, and he only nearly drowned got ducked the one time, ironically when we were in the shallow end (and he didn't even get upset about that, just blinked his eyes a couple of times and got on with sucking the water off his fingers and staring around at the spectacle)...

Saturday lunchtime we spent at my folks, eating home-made soup and garlic bread, meeting potential new pet, Greek rescue dog "Bobby" (who is so laid back as to be almost horizontal)...then in the evening we went to Vodqueen and Uncle Scammell's house for a last-minute family party (which Thomas managed to pretty much sleep right through)...

Sunday morning we nipped over to Tesco to do the week's shop, Thomas got cooed over at the checkout by a sweet elderly couple, we pack up the car, just pull up at the Hookwood roundabout waiting for a gap in the traffic, Flyingpops commenting on the debris left by an earlier accident and how dangerous it is (despite the new traffic lights) and, as if calling down an accident upon us - **BANG** - Poppy the Beetle is shunted forwards - someone has crashed into the back of us!

I fly out of the passenger seat and wave both Flyingpops and the Fiat that has collided with us to the side of the road, peer through the back windscreen to make sure Thomas is okay (in typical Thomas fashion, he is still fast asleep - completely oblivious) and when the driver of the car behind clambers out (rather red faced) it's only the husband of the elderly couple from the supermarket...the wife is rooted to the passenger seat looking absolutely mortified, covering half her face with her hands...

Anyway, despite the initial shock and violence of the noise of the collision, there isn't actually much damage to see, the boot still opens, the bit of glass that fell out of the light from the number plate slots neatly back into place...leaving just two small scratches on the bumper, but we swap insurance details anyway and go our separate ways (amid many apologies and blushes)...

After dumping the shopping at home (and giving Flyingpops a cuddle) we head to Reigate and take a lovely fresh constitutional around autumnal-themed Priory park, stopping to score some sweet chestnuts to roast later on in the oven and I tell Flyingpops the names we used to call all the different hills (Bluebell, Break-neck etc.) to comments like "You took a sledge down that??", showed her the storm drains we used to play in (to looks of absolute horror) when we were kids and then we stopped for a drink and a shared four cheese pizza in the little cafe (which was a very messy, but satisfying affair)...

Sunday afternoon Thomas would not settle down, so in between putting things into roast or steam Flyingpops and I both spend time walking around jiggling him until he stopped whimpering, then put him down for 2 minutes, then picking him back up when the complaining resumed...but we could hardly moan ourselves as we'd had such an easy ride for all the rest of the weekend...

09 October, 2009

Finks Links #78

Friday again!

So let's start with a day at the Magic Kingdom (tilt shift)... [video]

A photoset called "movie posters for minimalists"...love the Star Wars one... ;)

The rather interesting Wikipedia reject pile...

What's it like to live in a conveted ICBM silo?

Advanced tactical laser gunship "blowtorches" truck [video]

Tree hits high voltage electrical cable [video]

...and finally an amusing pregnancy fail and a rather chilly window fail...

More as soon as I have enough to share...! :)

08 October, 2009

Canary Wharf Crossrail building update

Crossrail building
Definitely time for a quick Crossrail project update, the last one I managed was on the 22nd of *July*, believe it or not...! The shot above I took just after coming back from paternity leave...
Crossrail building work - Canary Wharf
As you can see, while I have been away, they have been drilling down the tubes (it makes the building vibrate, despite the fact that we are twenty storeys away from the action) and then clean them out with *lots* of water (you can just about see them doing that in the bottom right of this shot) -
Canary Wharf Crossrail
- and finally (I guess) top them up with re-enforced concrete (you can see the steel struts sticking out)...

05 October, 2009

Earlswood Station National Customer Service Week

Earlswood Station Customer Service Week
Spotted this sign at Earlswood station this morning (sorry for the terrible photo, only had my mobile with me and it isn't wonderful in low light) - anyway, apparently it's "National Customer Service Week" this week (Hurrah...!) and to help celebrate customer service (in all it's various forms), our local railway station has decided to do a (wait for it!) "guess the number of sweets in the jar" competition...! It nearly made me choke on my yoghurt drink as I muffled my guffaw, but sadly it's actually more brilliant than the *terrible* suggestions for things to do that I found on the ICS website, for example - Why not answer the phone with a cheery "Thank you for calling during customer service week!" - or - Why not bring in a photo or cuddly toy that makes you smile to put on your desk? - or - have a poetry day! - (would have loved to see them try to organise that with the grumpy commuters) or the simply brilliant - Form an Action Group/Committee! I'm sure the single employee of Earlswood station was thrilled when she was asked to form a committee (on her own) to come up with an idea...

I'm just left at a complete loss to understand what *any* of this does to improve customer service?

02 October, 2009

Finks Links #77

Friday again!

Let's kick things off this week with the "Mr Stay Puft" of the US Armed Forces, the P-791 (watch the video and you'll see what I mean)... ;)

It's exactly this sort of thing that ends up turning young Jedi Knights towards the Dark Side...

A 1 million spider, golden silk cloth...

One time, at D&D camp...

Don't trust anyone you meet online... ;)

The incredible breakfast machine...

Meet the OmniZero 9 transforming bipedal robot...

How to build your own "Zombie Ground-breaker"...

...and finally a good Engrish "manicure fail"...and a picture entitled "I’m fairly certain plumbing is not supposed to look like Cthulhu entering the mortal plane"...

More as soon as I have enough to share...! :)