Archive for January 2006

More on the toiletness

Just a couple of updates on the toilet front..

Firstly, this update comes from a whiny pommish tourist, currently living in Australia:

Thanks for making me laugh this morning, your toilet piece had me in

stiches. Though it must be noted that the toilet in my house often

requires multiple flushes, im not sure of the make and model of the

throne, I try not to look at it too closely!

And before you ask, yes I am pressing the full flush button. I never use

the half flush button on aussie toilets – it isnt even effective at

clearing urine (you can always tell when the previous occupant has only

pressed half……..

And yes, you should go abroad as i have told you on many an occasion. If

its toilets your after I recommend you go to germany, possibly the most

interesting design, or france if the putrid hole in the floor type is more

your thing – i have been known to use the sink to avoid a french toilet.

Many older european train toilets are interesting, you look down the hole

and you can see the track… Sadly due to health regulations this is

becoming a thing of the past and airline style toilets seem to be the

thing on modern trains. We never had this in my lifetime in the uk, our

trains have had tanks since the 60’s 🙁

American toilets, it must be said do seem to be the most satisfying, both

in terms of performance and sound. Pertiually memorable ones were in the

Pensylvania Hotel, just across the road from Penn Station. I dare say big

people create big depsits and therefore the toilets need to be designed to

cope with this…..

I believe the German toilet referred to is the fantastic German Poo-Shelf Toilet:

The Poo-Shelf comes from a period in German history when Germans were less interested in world domination and apparently more interested in spending quality time with their feces. That, or they were prone to accidentally eating their wedding rings and needed a toilet that allowed them to conveniently rummage through their dung before dispatching it to the abyss. Those must have been fascinating times and I’m quite glad I wasn’t born in them.

Go read some of the comments on that last post, they’re quite scary..

Andy Roddick really is pretty

Sam mentioned this a while ago, and later provided further evidence.

However, me being the cynical untrusting bastard that I am, I didn’t really believe him until I stumbled across this pretty little gallery.

I have just three words: Phwoah, Phwoah, and Phwoah.

I have have to wonder though – whatever happened to the Poo? I remember when he was the Tennis Hottie Of Choice, back in my uni student days. Does he even still play? I’ve not heard from him (or ogled him) in what seems like forever.

Oh well.. Back to the man of the moment, Andy…

Phwoah:

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Phwoah:

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Phwoah!

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Bareback Mountain arrives

Given the name and subject matter of “Brokeback Mountain”, it was quite expected that someone would make a gay porno called “Bareback Mountain”.

Good news: the wait is over, it’s arrived.

Gay Movie Globes

According to the SMH, it seems to be the year for the gay movie.

Highlights:

Best Motion Picture – Drama
Brokeback Mountain
Best Performance by an Actor – Drama
Philip Seymour Hoffman . Capote
Best Performance by an Actress – Drama
Felicity Huffman . Transamerica
Best Director
Ang Lee . Brokeback Mountain
Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana – Brokeback Mountain
Best Original Song
“A Love That Will Never Grow Old” . Brokeback Mountain

Gravelings, anyone?

I just ran across an article on BoingBoing featuring this image:

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Is it just me, or does this creature look a lot like a graveling from Dead Like Me?

In other news, I’m slightly depressed today. This is to be expected though – 7 hours sleep this morning, which isn’t too bad, but none at all the night before.

I’m also recovering from yet another cold, and I managed to lose my keycard on Thursday, which is a right nuisance. I have plenty of cash in my bank account, but can’t access it till monday when the banks open..

This wouldn’t be such a big deal if I hadn’t been out drinking with former workmates last night and ended up spending too much money on drinks *sigh*. Oh well – I have $20 to last till monday morning, and plenty of food in the fridge here at home, so it’s not a big deal really.

Enough of my depressed ramblings – time for me to eat the yummy steak i just overcooked slightly on the bbq…

Poverty

Just ran across this answer from yahoo

Some other facts to keep in mind:

  • Each year over 8 million people die because they are simply too poor to stay alive.
  • More than 800 million people go hungry every day.
  • The gross domestic product of the poorest 48 nations is less than the wealth of the world’s three richest people.
  • Thirty-thousand children die every day due to hunger and treatable illnesses.
  • 6 million children die every year before their fifth birthday, as a result of malnutrition.

Personal update

  1. I’ve caught up on all my feeds – woot! After coming back from my week away, I had ~1000 posts to read. I only managed to catch up by skimming a lot of stuff though – particularly boingboing and the comments from LP 🙁

    I have caught up on everybodies LJ though…

    You can always find out what my feed-reading status is by visiting my aggregator – although of course you won’t see any of the LJ posts there.

  2. There was a second thing, but I don’t remember what it is
  3. I won’t be doing any of the … in the domain this year. I’ve got conflicting plans for Jazz this weekend, I’m working next weekend, and out of town the weekend after.
  4. I’m not happy with my personal life. It’s unfocused and not moving anywhere. People asking me what I’ve been up to always upset me, because the answer is always nothing. I work, I come home and turn my brain off. Sometimes I catch up with friends, but all I ever do with them is turn my brain off and chatter mindlessly.

    I’d like to do something about this, but I don’t know what yet.

  5. The HTML list tages are woefully underused.
  6. That is all.

Today's culture shock

I remember hearing a comment from someone a while back about Australia toilets seeming “weird” to north americans because they’re so different from american toilets.

Today, it suddenly occured to me to wonder what an american toilet would look like..

I haven’t found out yet, but I did find some disturbing links.

These people take their loos way too seriously:

“I’ve had a Toto Ultramax for a year now after replacing my low-flow Kohler which took two or three flushes to do anything. One flush and it’s gone.” Bob

Wow. Such brand-loyalty…

The multi-flush thing was a recurring theme. Apparently it’s common in america to need to flush repeatedly – it seems as though someone decided to save water by using low-flow toilets, but didn’t research the technology, requiring people to flush multiple times and thus negating the water savings..

This strikes me as bizarre – If I have to flush more than once to get something down, it’s such a rare event it would get written in my diary (if I kept one..)

Another great site comes from Caroma USA – apparently they’re trying to introduce Australian-style toilets to the US.

The wash down system has less water in the bottom, hence a brush is usually kept near the toilet to eliminate skid marks — something found common and acceptable in Europe and Asia, and generally unacceptable in North America. The siphon system, especially with low flush, has far more sewage blockages and hence a plunger is usually kept near the toilet and accepted as normal in North America and totally unacceptable in Europe and Asia.

I have to agree with this. I’m used to seeing toilet brushes everywhere, and I’ll use them (and only be slightly grossed out) when I do.

It wasn’t until today that I realised what plungers are for, and what’s going on when you see the man of the house attacking the bow with a plunger on those american movies.. now *that* is truly disgusting!

The most bizarre thing I found thouse was from J Ho’s own little merry band of beaurocrats – a guide to the culture of Australia and how to adapt to living here. I wonder if this is what J Ho meant when he was referring to Australian values?

People who do not know each other generally do not kiss or hug when meeting.

Important exceptions: gay clubs and other *ahem* venues

When meeting a new person, Australians are not comfortable asking, or being asked questions relating to their age, marital status or financial position.

Really? I guess it doesn’t usually come up, but I’ve never felt uncomfortable about these questions..

… people who are dressed to go to the beach or swimming are [not] prostitutes or inviting others to touch them.

But ogling is okay, right?

You should always try to be on time for meetings and other appointments.

Most Australians blow their noses into handkerchiefs or tissues, not onto the pavement

!!!! Yep, this one shocked me. I really need to get out of this country and exposed to some other cultures (but I think I’ll be taking a good supply of hand soap and wearing shoes at all times)

Australian hosts are also specific about how many people are invited. If your whole family has been invited, you should tell your host how many people will go. Usually a family only includes the parents and their children.

This often also seems to mean that “Your friends who I don’t like aren’t invited, so please don’t tell them the party is on”.

If you are a guest in someone’s house for the first time, it is usually polite to ask permission to use their toilet. “May I use your toilet please?” Some people ask “Where’s the loo?”

Now.. I’m really meant to be working. Back to work..

King Kong (or, the night I nearly missed the last train)

Went and saw King Kong while in Brisbane too. Can’t give much of a review though.

I was aware that before the we settled down to the business end of the story, there was quite a lot of PJ’s-special window-dressing to sit through, in the form of gratuitous CG action sequences and the like. I didn’t realise just quite how much of this there was though..

For one thing, there appears fairly early on (around the 40 minutes mark, I think) a nice tribe of almost zombie-like humans who take most of the ships crew captive. However, these humans disappear inexplicably about 30 minutes later, and are never seen again in the movie. I don’t know why, or where they went.. I was on the edge of my seat for a good hour or so after they disappeared expecting them to make a sudden reappearance, but they didn’t..

There are also lots of gratiutius chased-by-dinosaur scenes, running-along-decaying-cliff-face scenes, big insects some lumpy worms.. *yawn* none contributed significantly to the plot – merely to creating some unrelated tension by a sequence of ever larger and more gruesome monsters, all of which was then deus-exed out of the storyline when it was finally time for the plot to go somewhere.

At this point, I got up and left.

All in all, what I saw of the movie wasn’t too bad. As others have said, the window dressing is really quite nice window dressing – if you want to see a really good chased-by-dinosaurs-through-the-canyon-and-along-the-cliff-edge scene, you can’t go past the one in this movie. The only problem I saw was the timescale – 2.5 hours into the movie and we’d just managed to get back to New York. By this point, I was sick of sitting in a seat, and the prospect of another entire hour to get to the climax was just unbearable, so I walked out.

This turned out to be quite fortunate, as I just managed to catch (at 11:30pm) the very last train from Southbank to the city. Brisbane’s trains are… well, scarce.

More on Narnia

Yes, I’ve been to Brisneyland and back. I might even blog about it one day..

In the meantime, here’s some further observations from N:TLTWaTW, which I’ve now seen three times[1]

* Aslan doesn’t strike me as much of a messiah figure. I meant, a wicked witch takes over his dominion and it takes him 100 years to get around to turning up to fix things.. what’s the point of that? He doesn’t even try to turn it into some sort of moral – he just says something along the lines of “Sorry about the mess, had to pop out for a bit, never mind, lets get the cleanup started shall we? *nervous laughter*”

* Edmund is quite clearly portrayed as being gay – or at least, Peter thinks he is. First Peter calls him “Dolly Daydream” after a cricket ball hits him. Then, Peter insists he wear a girls coat, leading to this exchange:

Edmund: But that’s a girls coat!

Peter: (forcefully) I know.

Lastly, Edmund’s “ow!” when hit by a snowball is quite stereotypically feminine.

* Edmund is really the only character I sympathise with at all. Peter’s too obsessed with (as Edmund points out) attempting to fill the role of their absent father for the whole movie for me to be interested (it doesn’t help that in trying to do this he mostly just comes off as an overbearing impatient uncaring tyrant…). Susan is only a little better than Peter, and also is far to unwilling to experience the adventure. Lucy is too young for me to have any connection with.

Edmund spends most of the movie being misunderstood and mistreated, but generally trying to do the right thing. He does make some mistakes, but on the whole I find him much more believably human and much easier to sympathise with than any of the others.

* There are repeated references to Aslan having his camp “at the Stone Table”. However, it’s quite clear that his camp is, in fact, not very close to the Stone Table at all.

For one thing, the LotR-inspired flyover of what starts as a paper (parchment?) map, turns 3D, and then blends into a flying shot over the real terrain is quite explicit – it starts at the Stone Table, crosses (from memory) a mountain range or two, some plains, and a few other features before the camera gets to Aslan’s camp.

For another, the ceremony that the Witch performs to kill Aslan is performed at the Stone Table; clearly, this wouldn’t be happening if Aslan’s followers were anywhere around. At minimum then, the Stone Table is well out of earshot of Aslan’s camp, and not in a direct line of sight or the torches carried by the Witches followers would be seen. Given that the Stone Table seems to be on a rise, and the countryside, being pre-industrial, would be quite quiet, this would seem to place it quite a distance away.

Additionally, it’s reasonable to assume that Aslan’s camp would have some kind of sentrys patrolling its perimeter, if not patrolling around the camp for some distance as well – it is, after all, a military camp, not just a few backpackers enjoying the wilderness. The Stone Table would thus have to be well out of earshot and line of sight from these sentries, who might themselves be just barely within earshot of the camp, or perhaps even beyond it.

* On the other hand, Aslan is able to walk from his camp to the Stone Table during the course of just part of the night. Assuming he leaves fairly early (say, 10pm), arrives just before daybreak (say, 4am), and manages 5km/h the whole time (not unreasonable, given the terrain he’s crossing and the fact that Lucy is able to keep up) – well, that’s maybe 30km between his camp and the Stone Table. Given that Lucy was able to keep up though, I’d expect that somewhere more around 1-2 hours would be the maximum distance, so no more than 5-10km.

* In fact, confusion over sizing seems to extend through the whole movie. As far as we can tell, the children start walking with the Beavers late in the afternoon at the Lamp Post, which is described as being at one extremity of Narnia. They have some dinner with the beavers, see Edmund enter the Witches castle, get back to the Beavers’ house, then flee the wolves. The encounters with SC and the wolves seem to happen fairly early the next day (presumably after an all-night trek?), and then they finally arrive at Aslan’s camp late that afternooon.

* In other words, Narnia can be crossed by a small child (Lucy), on foot, with little/no rest, in around 24 hours. So, not very large.

* Again, after his resurrection, Aslan is able to run from the Stone Table, to the Witches castle, revive everyone, and get them all back to the field of battle – and he doesn’t start till after the battle has started. Again, this is not a very big place we’re dealing with.

* This is borne out by the hunting scene at the very end… I think. Don’t remember exact details, but I’m fairly sure one of the girls mentions that Edmund made his boast in the castle – meaning they’ve ridden all the way from Cair Paravel (described as the other extremity) to the Lamp Post within a day’s hunting

* Just what is Narnia anway, though? N:TMN (the book) describes Aslan singing Narnia into being, just as The Last Battle describes Aslan presiding over its Armaggedon-analoge and the Last Judgement. However, books such as N:THaHB make it clear that Narnia is just one country, not the whole world. Having Narnia (the country) be metonymous for the whole world wouldn’t be particularly unusual, but it’s never clearly explained in the movie (or in the books, as far as I can recall)

* I’ve seen many other people talk about ways in which this is a flawed Christian allegory; one that I’ve not seen mentioned is the way Susan acts toward her bow. The Christian bible teaches quite strongly that one of the most important qualities for a Christian to posess is trust and faith in the divine. Similarly, when Susan is given her bow, she’s told to trust in her bow, and it will always shoot true. However, what does Susan do as soon as she’s decided she’s going to use the bow? She starts practicing – hardly indicating that she trusts the divine power that gave her the bow. This reminds me of several biblical stories – for instance, Moses striking the rock.

* Come to think of it – just why is there a Christmas in Narnia anyway? Christmas is the Christ Mass – unless there was a Christ in Narnia, having a Mass for him makes no sense at all.

That’s all from me for now… on this topic, at least.