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09/18/06

  03:00:35 am, by Nimble   , 134 words  
Categories: Distractions

Hell Pizza?

Link: https://www.hell.co.nz/index.jsp?city=Christchurch

I was looking at threads on Fark as usual and someon had posted a funny billboard as an ad for, well, the sign just listed hell.co.nz at the bottom.

So what is hell, then?

About the funniest site for a pizza place I've ever seen.

All the pizzas have an "evil" theme. (Quite frankly, I'd remember "Hawaiian" a lot better than I remember "Greed") The list of ingredients they put on a pizza ranges from the mundane to the quite bizarre (avocado, tuna, satay... er, refried beans? apricot sauce? pine nuts?)

Also, you can fling the little devils around the screen on the website, which they fully deserve :)

Kinda wish we had one here, but I wonder if its success depends on how much of a sense of Kiwi humour you have :)

09/17/06

  02:11:29 pm, by Nimble   , 110 words  
Categories: Thoughts, Science, Travel

Anticrepuscular Rays

There was an interesting phenomenon that took place on the horizon opposite the sunset when we were leaving the Masai Mara game park one evening. It was a stark diagonal band in the sky, that resolved itself into a couple of bands a little later.

Dena followed up on an "Astronomy Picture of the Day" picture today which looked rather similar to the phenomenon we encountered, and after some digging, she found out what the effect is.

They are "anti-crepuscular rays", and they're caused by the sun shining through and being blocked by clouds and holes in the clouds. The diagonality is just a perspective effect.

They look quite pretty :)

Anticrepuscular Rays

09/16/06

  10:29:47 am, by Nimble   , 117 words  
Categories: Announcements [A]

Code Project is Moving - Literally

Link: http://www.codeproject.com/

The Code Project is one of my favourite programming resources these days, and has a prominent place on my personalized Google home page.

But the link today to an interesting article was cut short by an interesting-looking announcement:

We are Moving!

We are currently hauling our servers halfway across Toronto in a precision operation involving some U-Haul vans, somone's old Pontiac, and a taxi. Once we have located our new hosting facility, untangled the cables and found enough powerboards we'll be back online.

Everything should be back to normal late Sunday, September 17, 2006

It's nice to see the human side pop out of sites every now and again. I don't suppose they'll be thoughtful enough to provide pictures :)

09/15/06

  02:58:43 am, by Nimble   , 398 words  
Categories: Reviews, Games

Prey

Link: http://www.2kgames.com/index.php?p=games&title=prey

This is a profoundly bizarre game. Cherokee plus science fiction. It's entertaining, but it will totally mess with you, at least for a while.

Alright, the stars of the show are admittedly a little stereotypical, but it does square with the occasional bit I've caught on APTN and with Dena's teaching experience up on a fly-in reservation. I must admit to an almost guilty guffaw when I wandered around the bar at the introduction, poked my head into the women's bathroom and as the character, Tommy, contemplates this bathroom rivaling the squalor of the men's room, he remarks "sugar and spice my ass".

Now combine this with a full-scale rather horrid alien invasion, somewhat Doom 3-like in the way it feels. The alien technology is the seemingly standard technology plus disgusting biology.

One of the fun but utterly disorienting things about this game is the fact that you're not always on the floor, and portals, even in boxes, don't have to lead to a sensible spot. There are activated floors that let you walk up walls and on ceilings (as long as they're powered) as well as gravity direction generators and the like.

Add in the almost Soul Reaver spectral-realm type ability to Spirit Walk (though you can pop in and out of spirit walking much more easily, and you always return to your body), which lets you through some force fields, walk over some spectral bridges, and even retrieve ammo and press consoles, but generally not trigger events, open doors, or walk on walls or ceilings... then add in some slightly off-kilter weapons and the biomechadisgusting array of enemies and you have the makings of an odd but fairly engaging game.

The temptation to reload is vastly reduced. You don't die per se, you enter a deathwalk where you can kill spirit wraiths to get your body back in a semblance of non-death.

I've been relatively taken in by the game. Some of it is fairly rote, but the occasional glimpses of outside, the oddities of Cherokees in Space (the typical fight against tradition and grandfather in particular), the tendency of Tommy to occasionally say just what you're thinking (except with a few more swear words), steady progress and a good, occasional "wow, what the hell is that?!" has grown on me somewhat.

Great fun if you like a sort of a Doom/Half-Life/System Shock genre :)

  02:36:13 am, by Nimble   , 64 words  
Categories: Distractions

Sign Generator

Link: http://www.customsigngenerator.com/

Every now and again, you discover something that other people have already known about for quite some time. For me, that's the Custom Sign Generator Page. It's been a hard week of work for my dear wife, so I was enjoying myself, making signs and sending them along.

It's a time-waster (albeit fun), I'm warning you now.

And now, for my most idiotic masterpiece:

That wasn't kitten

09/11/06

  11:44:35 pm, by Nimble   , 252 words  
Categories: Reviews, Television, Science

Mad Labs

Link: http://www.nationalgeographic.ca/features/mad_labs_highlights.asp

Caught this show on television tonight. It's a science show of the type that's been desperately missing from television for the better part of a decade, apart from perhaps Mythbusters: fun, madcap and informative.

The episode today featured a dairy farm which took advantage of robotics from an opposite-of-typical point of view. It's set up so that the cows can get the robotics to milk them whenever they feel uncomfortable, and the machinery estimates how much milk the cow would have produced since last time it got milked, and dispenses the right amount of food for nutrition replacement. This, on top of cow toys, spots they can brush themselves and a relatively free run of the place, makes for pretty happy cows.

They tackled the bread-landing-butter-side-down problem, and determined after a bit of experimentation (pushing 100 pieces of buttered toast off a counter and having 89 of them land butter side down), hypothesized that it was due to the average amount of rotation from that height, and tried it again from a counter that was double the height, getting 82 landing butter side up.

Also on the program, growing mice in germ-free environments from birth versus normal germy environments having effects on their weight gain, trying to dissolve chewing gum with pepsin and hydrochloric acid, and the like.

Had to trip across the History Channel to find this show, too.

Yes, it's not teaching quantum mechanics and the like, but it looks like it ought to be able to get people excited about science again :)

09/10/06

  11:20:11 am, by Nimble   , 312 words  
Categories: Reviews, Restaurants

Coco Brooks

Link: http://www.cocobrooks.ca/

Right next to Memory Express on 32rd, though the sign outside may bespeak a fancy bistro, it's nothing of the sort, really. It's a pretty casual place with lots of seating that serves individual pizzas, calzones, pasta and salads.

The pizzas are pre-made, and in fact part of their business is selling frozen pizzas, for take-home or for fundraising events. They will not customize the pizzas, which is okay because they have a fairly varied selection of thirty-odd flavours, including a few dessert pizzas, pizzas with eggs, and a pizza with pasta on it for kids.

The pizzas themselves taste pretty good, actually. Dena had the Ala Mo Wana (a pretty nice Hawaiian pizza variant), and I had the Hot Wing Pizza, which was chicken, parmesan and a good dollop of Frank's Red Hot (or a clone thereof). Tasty.

Particularly odd are the boxes that the pizzas come in. They've got little quotes up and down the sides, and under the lid, there's something semi-substantial to read. Dena's had a neat little tract on appreciating teachers (mildly odd, Dena being a teacher!), and mine had an entire little blurb on how research showed that you can read scrambled words pretty easily as long as the first and last letters are in the right place, and the blurb itself was scrambled in that fashion, and it's true: you can read it at least as quickly as you can read it aloud.

They recycle the pizza boxes, too, which confuses me a bit. I thought pizza grease and the like would totally prevent that from being feasible. What's the trick?

It's a nifty little spot if you've got a hankering for individual pizzas.

I think I'll have a salad next time I'm back. With odd things like Donair Salad and Peach Caesar Salad, I think I'd enjoy them :)

Here's a link to their menu...

09/09/06

  02:35:27 pm, by Nimble   , 258 words  
Categories: Thoughts, Science

Inconsistent Shadows in the Microwave Background

Link: http://www.physorg.com/news76314500.html

I had always wondered whether the cosmic microwave background radiation ought to have shadows in it where it fails to shine through nearby clusters. Apparently, it should.

Also apparently, it doesn't. At least, not consistently, and that's a problem.

"These shadows are a well-known thing that has been predicted for years," said Lieu. "This is the only direct method of determining the distance to the origin of the cosmic microwave background. Up to now, all the evidence that it originated from as far back in time as the Big Bang fireball has been circumstantial.

"If you see a shadow, however, it means the radiation comes from behind the cluster. If you don't see a shadow, then you have something of a problem. Among the 31 clusters that we studied, some show a shadow effect and others do not."

It's mildly worse than that...

Taken together, the data shows a shadow effect about one-fourth of what was predicted - an amount roughly equal in strength to natural variations previously seen in the microwave background across the entire sky.

"Either it (the microwave background) isn't coming from behind the clusters, which means the Big Bang is blown away, or ... there is something else going on," said Lieu. "One possibility is to say the clusters themselves are microwave emitting sources, either from an embedded point source or from a halo of microwave-emitting material that is part of the cluster environment.

It won't be the final word on the subject, that's for sure, but I'm pleased to see something I've anticipated for some time :)

09/03/06

  01:10:17 pm, by Nimble   , 133 words  
Categories: Announcements [A], Thoughts, Ethics, Internet

From The Ground Up

'Tis a sad thing - it looks like the server my site was on was essentially razed by a hacker. I'll pass along more details as I get them.

Rather sad about the timing - I'd been having troubles getting a backup generated for a very long time, but was going to try again once I was back and set up with customer support.

Google's caching has helped retrieve a number of entries from the abyss (I haven't put them back up yet... that'll be a few weeks of light manual work), but there are some entries that even Google doesn't have cached, or at least the "read more..." part isn't.

Well, they've set me up on a new server, regardless, and it looks like I've got free and clear access to doing backups.

Ugh.

08/25/06

  11:26:07 am, by Nimble   , 1068 words  
Categories: Journal

Passing Through The Land of Fish 'n' Chips

We are in Epsom with my folks, a last stop before coming back home... tomorrow!

To recap the last few days...

We spent another night at the Chavda. I got Dena upstairs in time to catch the included breakfast, but the breakfast was disappointing (as it seems to be in a number of small hotels around here)... buns, some fruit, and the pineapple was unripe. I'd suggest going out for breakfast.

We then went to the Mbweni Ruins Hotel as a last little bit of luxury on Zanzibar. It's got the ruins of a mission that took in freed slave girls once upon a time, and the rest of the grounds has a bit of beach and some rather nice botanical gardens, which had silver palms, screwpines, tamarind trees, pomegranate trees and all sorts of other stuff, with more plantings in the works.

The room itself was the slightly pricy Baobab suite (#5), which had a nice bed, a good cold fridge (enjoyed the water we put in there), and a balcony that you could entertain on... it was about as big as the suite, and essentially hidden from all the other guest rooms.

Full story »

08/09/06

  11:04:09 am, by Nimble   , 491 words  
Categories: Journal

Nairobi Redux

Back in Nairobi. The story so far...

From Kampala, we went to Jinja (still in Uganda) for an unprecedented three days (it's been mostly moving every day). We took a banda, and had a luxury tent upgrade booked for the last day (mid-trip, I thought it would be a good idea, and it was).

It was good, but it rained on day two and didn't really stop. Jinja has this red dirt that turns to mud and gets into and onto everything. Even one of the local dogs, a Maltese, was perennially peach-coloured from living in this environment.

We begged out of quad biking, which would have been a muddy disaster, but partook of the local meal planned anyhow, and it was interesting albeit starchy. We had matoke, mashed green bananas, which are starchy and very mildly banana-tasting, we had ugali, which was like polenta, but white. There was rice, beans, some pork in sauce, cassava (innocuous, and starchy, but not bad), white sweet potatoes and a thin peanut sauce (good on the bananas), as well as saucy chopped cabbage.

Full story »

08/02/06

  10:56:59 pm, by Nimble   , 252 words  
Categories: Thoughts, Travel

Back in Kampala

The odd deal with splitting us into two groups in Rwanda to see the gorillas was one of the small scams they often pull over there, apparently. It's so that they can get two vehicle transfers out of you, doubling your fee, of course. They sent one group on a short trip, and the other (with Dena and I) on a medium trip, guaranteeing about an hour and a half to two hours' difference in trip time, so the first group to arrive back would be tempted to take the transport back. Thank goodness our first group stuck to its guns. We could have had a decently easy trek instead of a literally breath-taking one :)

Ah well, at least the staff heading up the mission was really nice :)

Back in Kampala, did Queen Elizabeth Park, which is a bit devoid of tons of animal life (they had a war there), and were there for two nights, which was a heavenly break from the mad dash out to see the gorillas. Some good old elephants there, and odd wildlife wandering the campgrounds (warthogs, Marabou storks, banded mongeese). Got a little clip of two elephants play-fighting, but not enough bandwidth to upload it from here :)

We woke up to find our tent bags dragged away by wildlife. That was interesting, especially since we discovered it at 5 am when we got up and it was otherwise dark.

Off to Jinja tomorrow for a record-breaking three nights. Yay!

Hope you all are taking care of yourselves :)

07/29/06

  11:18:44 am, by Nimble   , 524 words  
Categories: Journal

Not Hotel But Definitely Rwanda

More of the story so far, but in brief :)

Nairobi was a little disturbingly unmodern in the spot where we holed up on the day before the trip. I am pleased that that turns out not to be the case everywhere :) (I like Nakuru, for example)

The Silver Springs Hotel is quite a nice spot, but in the midst of a bit of squalor. It's a little hard to walk too far down the street. There are a LOT of vendors, and they're persistent.

We met up with Shayne, the tour leader, at the Indaba campsite. The truck was new to him, he didn't have a co-pilot, so the first few days were a bit rough.

I and Dena got food poisoning from the Emirates flight from Dubai to Nairobi. Oh god, that lasted for days and was nasty; haven't had nastiness like that since Hong Kong McDonald's ice cream.

We went to Lake Nakuru National Park. Great lot of game there - I mean, we saw nearly everything except lions and elephants. Lake was filled with flamingoes (don't get too close; it reeks!) We camped out, quite tired (it got dark by the time we got there), and were unceremoniously awoken a little too late to the sight of everyone else already having packed their tents.

Later, things went a little smoother...

Full story »

07/26/06

  07:20:49 pm, by Nimble   , 838 words  
Categories: Travel

The Story So Far

We have finally made it to Nairobi! We took a few days in Dubai on the way over, for a break and to catch our breath (so as not to have to spend more than 24 hours on airplanes and in airports at once).

The flight to Heathrow from Calgary was nothing special, though I appreciated being able to eat my meal with my arms by my sides instead of suspended over it like the previous Air Canada flight. We should have brought more pieces of luggage. Should have taken the fact that the big bag was overweight as a sign that not everyone past the Canadian check-in was going to be so nice to us on this front.

Getting through Heathrow to terminal 3 was an utter maze. It seemed as though they had introduced some extra security measures in a heretofore unused corridor and were herding everything through it.

We waited for the plane to Dubai's emergency lighting system to be repaired - it took a couple of hours. There was a playmat there, a wonderful thing that the kids were playing on like mad. A sort of three-dimensional blocky plane with a couple of holes for "seats", and the kids were tumbling all over. I think our future children need one of these.

Full story »

07/17/06

  10:52:50 pm, by Nimble   , 27 words  
Categories: Announcements [A]

Au Revoir

See you when I get back. Adam is in charge of spamwhacking until I get back (thank you, Adam!). I will have lots of stories to tell :)

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