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Sunday, January 27, 2008

a Cloverfield review

I went to see one of my most anticipated movies last weekend, Cloverfield, JJ Abrams take on the monster film genre.

This film is quite complex (dare I say postmodern? I do!) in the way that it deals with storytelling. The camera is the true storyteller here, no voiceovers from Kevin Costner explaining the finer details and wrapping everything up nicely at the end.

This film throws us in the deep end, we have no introduction to warm us up, we, like the characters are soon going to be, are set to make sense of it all and find our way with wits alone. Except we have popcorn, and they do not.

Early on, while still in the party at the apartment, we are participants in a conversation between Rob and Hud (on the ever-present handycam) where Rob expresses great disappointment that Hud is recording over whatever tape was left in Rob's camera.

First impression is that this is a throwaway scene, but it's actually integral to the full story, as the previous footage on the tape interjects in a couple of key scenes throughout the movie to just rattle us that little bit more. The fact that these people had lives and hopes before this catastrophe drums home the realism that, although this is a monster movie, horrific situations could happen to anyone at a moment's notice.

What I think this movie portrays successfully is the way different types of people react, and how really, the true test of us all is not how we react when everything is going well, but when it all comes crushing down.

This film has enough frills & spills to keep anyone remotely interested in the genre glued to their seats.

The one fault of Cloverfield is also one of it's blessings: the camera work is very jumpy, and if you get motion sickness easy I will go as far as saying that you will hate this film. In fact the only detractors of Cloverfield I have spoken to are those who did find that the camera work made them ill.

I did not get ill, and I loved it.

Oh, I think one person said they didn't think it was realistic, I disagree, but marking down a sci-fi film because it is not realistic is like marking down a romantic comedy for being mushy. Scifi does not exist to be realistic, it exists to make us imagine new imaginings.

I give Cloverfield a 8.5/10.

.. pssst, and don't forget to stay for the secret snippet after the credits ;)

Went to GSC at Times Square yesterday to see 'Sweeney Todd', the new Tim Burton / Johnny Depp movie.

While I enjoyed it, and even though I did know it was a musical, I wasn't prepared for how much of a musical it was. Honestly, I think about 90% of the dialog is sung!

The only other thing that detracted from this for me was the fact that the do-gooder Malaysian powers that be find it necessary to edit the film to remove the more unsavoury elements.

Normally this wouldn't be so noticeable, but Sweeney is singing as he's slicing throats, and there are second long chunks of the songs just cut out.

I found that more disturbing that any throat cutting :).

The directing is really good, and the sets are your typical Burtonesque dank London town, perhaps a bit less gothic than much of his other work.

Don't see it if you hate musicals, I'll give it 7.5 /10.

Scientists Build First Man-Made Genome; Synthetic Life Comes Next

Scientists have built the first synthetic genome by stringing together 147 pages of letters representing the building blocks of DNA.

The researchers used yeast to stitch together four long strands of DNA into the genome of a bacterium called Mycoplasma genitalium. They said it's more than an order of magnitude longer than any previous synthetic DNA creation. Leading synthetic biologists said with the new work, published Thursday in the journal Science, the first synthetic life could be just months away -- if it hasn't been created already.

"We consider this the second in our three-step process to create the first synthetic organism," said J. Craig Venter, president of the J. Craig Venter Institute where scientists performed the study, on Thursday during a teleconference. "What remains now that we have this complete synthetic chromosome … is to boot this up in a cell."

With the new ability to sequence a genome, scientists can begin to custom-design organisms, essentially creating biological robots that can produce from scratch chemicals humans can use. Biofuels like ethanol, for example.

"The J. Craig Venter Institute will be able to take a file stored on a computer and using synthetic chemistry, turn that information into life," said Chris Voigt, a University of California at San Francisco synthetic biologist. "I would be shocked if it doesn't come out in six months. I think they've done it."

The technique is basically a reverse of the Human Genome Project, which translated DNA into the letters A, C, T and G, which represent the body's building blocks: the nucleotides adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine. Synthetic biologists' ambitious goal is to arrange those letters to create never-before-seen organisms that will do their bidding.

The first phase of Venter's three-step process, which he published last year, involved transplanting and "booting up" the genome of one species of bacterium into another. The remaining step is to combine the first two steps, then insert the new synthetic genome into a standard bacterium. Scientists said they expect the announcement of man-made life this year.

The ability to synthesize longer DNA strands for less money parallels the history of genetic sequencing, where the price of sequencing a human genome has dropped from hundreds of millions of dollars to about $10,000. Just a few years ago, synthesizing a piece of DNA with 5,000 rungs in its helix, known as base-pairs, was impossible. Venter's new synthetic genome is 582,000 base-pairs.

"The largest piece that had been published in the scientific literature was 32 kilobases," Venter said. "This is on the order of 20 times the size."

"I would think that you could get to a million base pairs," said Jim Collins, a professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University. "I don't think there's anything that's hindering the use of these approaches to go for much bigger genomes."

The key to the new technique is the yeast's natural ability to staple long strands of DNA together.

"What's really interesting about yeast is that … (it takes) multiple incomplete synthetic parts and assembles them," said Daniel Gibson, a synthetic biologist at the Venter institute and senior author of the paper.

Hamilton Smith, a synthetic biologist who led the Venter Institute research, said that the team's new technique should work for other genomes, although the full potential of the technique is unknown. But scientists were enthusiastic about the possibilities.

"Once this becomes routine, it allows us to build whatever genome we want," Voigt said. "You can design a genome to incorporate a particular chemical process to change what the cells are eating and what the cells are making. You can make robotic cells."

One goal of synthetic biology is to create a so-called minimal genome that would consist of the smallest amount of genes necessary to keep the organism alive. Such a bacterial "chassis" would provide an ideal platform for mounting modules like biofuel production to create tiny biological robots.

Other researchers, like Tom Knight of MIT, Drew Endy of Stanford, and a host of synthetic biology startup companies are all after this prize, which could lead to a replacement for fossil fuels. Voigt sits on the scientific advisory board of a biofuels startup, Amyris.

But synthetic biologists are also planning to scale up from the simplest organisms to the most complex: human beings. The first bacterial genome was sequenced in 1995 and was followed by the landmark sequencing of the human genome in 2001. Based on that trajectory, Voigt estimated that a synthetic human genome -- which could be used in human cloning research -- could be created by 2014.

But before researchers can do that level of synthetic biology, scientists will need to automate their methods. Beyond this work, Voigt said, scientists will need programming tools, in the same way computer scientists use higher level programming languages like Fortran, C++ and Java, to control computer function.

"(Otherwise it's like) writing Vista in binary," he said. "It's just not going to happen."

.. from Wired

Friday, January 25, 2008

New James Bond film:
Quantum of Solace

New James Bond film Quantum of Solace sees the British super spy out for revenge on a mission that takes him to Austria, Italy and South America.

British actor Daniel Craig is back as the secret agent, after critics and cinema-goers hailed his debut in Casino Royale, and the first blonde Bond looks set to continue the role longer term.

"We have talked about doing some more films with him and he seems very happy to do that," said co-producer, Barbara Broccoli. "So we will do it one at a time."

First details of the 22nd instalment in the Bond franchise were unveiled overnight at Pinewood studios in London.

Co-producer Michael G Wilson said the title was taken from a short story by Ian Fleming, the author who created Bond.

"We thought it was an intriguing title and referenced what is happening to Bond and what happens in the film," he told reporters.

According to the synopsis, Bond girl Camille, played by Ukrainian-born Olga Kurylenko, leads the secret agent to Dominic Greene, member of a mysterious organisation and a ruthless businessman, seeking to control huge natural resources.

The plot follows on directly from Casino Royale, as Bond aims to uncover the truth about Vesper, the beauty who betrayed him. He discovers that she was blackmailed by Greene's organisation.

"James Bond is after revenge, and Camille is after revenge. They have slightly different goals, but in the end they are going to have to collaborate," Kurylenko told reporters.

Wilson said Quantum contained about twice as many action sequences as Casino Royale which was praised for relying less on gadgets and special effects and making Bond more realistic and vulnerable.

The villain Greene is played by Frenchman Mathieu Amalric, who starred in the Oscar-nominated The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

He said he drew inspiration from several European political leaders.

"I was trying to see the smile of Tony Blair, maybe Nicolas Sarkozy - it's the worst villain we ever had," he said.

British actress Judi Dench is back as Bond's boss M.

"The thing about James Bond, isn't it that it appeals to an incredible cross section of people?" she said. "The appeal for my grandson's is fantastic and ... for their fathers too."

On a tour of the main Bond set at Pinewood, journalists were shown three stages, all of them set in the Italian city of Siena.

In the largest, two actors including Craig's stunt double, swung from ropes and fought in an old art gallery.

Quantum of Solace is due for release in theatres on November 7 this year.

Transplant girl's blood change a 'miracle'

"SHE'S got purple highlights in her hair and bright blue fingernails, but to doctors at the Children's Hospital at Westmead, Demi-Lee Brennan is a one-in-6 billion miracle.

The 15-year-old liver transplant patient is the first person in the world to take on the immune system and blood type of her donor, negating the need to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life.

The phenomenon, which has been documented in the New England Journal of Medicine, has amazed doctors, who say they have no idea how it occurred.
Demi-Lee, of Gerroa on the South Coast, was nine when she contracted a virus that destroyed her liver. She was given less than 48 hours to live when a donated liver from a 12-year-old boy became available.

"She's my little hero," her mother, Kerrie Mills, said yesterday. "When she was admitted to intensive care, she was very sick, and yellow … We were told we were losing her." With only hours to spare, Demi-Lee had a 10-hour operation and was started on a cocktail of immuno-suppressant drugs, the standard fare for transplant patients to ensure their bodies do not reject the donated organ.

Nine months later, when her condition worsened and she was readmitted, doctors were shocked to find that her blood type had changed. The head of hematology, Julie Curtin, said she was stunned when she realised Demi-Lee was now O-positive, rather than O-negative.

"I was convinced we had made a mistake, so we tested it again and it came up the same. Then we tested her parents and they were both O-negative, so it was confirmed that Demi absolutely had to have been O-negative."

Dr Curtin said Demi-Lee's blood then began to break down, requiring more medications. "We then realised it was her own residual cells which were causing the problem and we needed to get rid of them. And that's when we knew we had to convince the doctors that Demi's immuno-suppressant drug regime should be stopped, rather than increased."

But paediatric nephrologist Stephen Alexander says he wasn't easily convinced.
"We didn't believe this at first. We thought it was too strange to be true," Dr Alexander said. "Normally the body's own immune system rejects any cells that are transplanted … but for some reason the cells that came from the donor's liver seemed to survive better than Demi-Lee's own cells.

It has huge implications for the future of organ transplants."
Demi-Lee, who has now been off all immuno-suppressants for 3½ years, is playing sport and working towards her school certificate. "I feel quite normal. It's almost like it never happened," she said yesterday. "I can't thank the donor's family enough, and the doctors, for giving me this second chance at life."

found at smh

Thursday, January 24, 2008

harumi nemoto

.. perhaps she's lost an earring?

Haruka Sanada

Who's a Naughty nurse then?
(.. you are, oh yes, you are!)

Oakley 'Medusa' hat and goggles

I'm not usually one for Oakleys stuff, but these are just pure awesome.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Heath Ledger (1979-2008)

Australian actor Heath Ledger was found dead today in his apartment in New York.

He had been suffering from pneumonia and, at the moment, it looks like a sleeping pills related accidental overdose.

He was one of my favourite actors, starring in 'Two hands', 'The brothers Grim', 'Ten things I hate about you' and 'Brokeback mountain' for which he was nominated for an academy award.

He was 28 years old.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Classic Farside

So.. how was your day?

.. A couple of funny pics doing the round of the office

Hehe, check out this awesome t-shirt available on Threadless.com.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

What it means to be Australian in 2008

"A landmark in Australian history took us by surprise last year. The population passed 21 million. This time last year the Bureau of Statistics was predicting we'd reach our new millionstone sometime in 2008, based on the theory that we were getting a new baby every two minutes and four seconds and a new immigrant every four minutes.

Then the boffins saw the latest birth and immigration figures and hurriedly revised their calculations, giving us only a few week's notice of the big event on Friday June 29, 2007.

In the mid Noughties, Australian women between 30 and 39 started breeding like bunnies, pushing our birth rate up from 1.79 babies per woman in 2001 to 1.81 in 2006. And the economic boom created huge demand for skilled immigrants, so our net intake rose from 110,000 in 2004-2005 to 147,000 in 2005-2006 -- mostly from Britain, China and India.

If you look at the bureau's population clock today (at www.abs.gov.au), you'll see a figure close to 21,200,000, based on a kid arriving every one minute and 56 seconds and an immigrant joining us every three minutes and five seconds.

This is how the 21 million splits up: 13.3 per cent of us are over 65, 19.8 per cent are under 15, 2.3 per cent are of Aboriginal background, and 22 per cent were born overseas (of whom 1.6 per cent speak Italian at home, 1.3 per cent speak Greek and 1.1 per cent speak Mandarin, like Kevin Rudd.)

Here's what else we can say about ourselves after a year of transformations ...

In 2006 there were 265,900 births - the highest number since 1971. There were 133,700 deaths, which meant the lowest death rate ever. The health system is keeping us alive longer.

But the demographers think the baby shower will be brief -- more of a blip than a boom -- and by the year 2020, Australia's dominant family type will couples without children. At the moment they form 37 per cent of Australia's 5.7 million families (up from 34 per cent in 1996), while 45 per cent are couples with children (down from 50 per cent), and 15.8 per cent of families have only one parent (up from 14.5). In addition, there are 2.2 million households containing only one person.

As our families shrink, our wealth expands. The average household is earning 30 per cent more than ten years ago, and living large - 77 per cent of homes have at least one empty bedroom. The average household has wealth of $563,000 (assets $655,000, debts $92,000).

But we're spending way ahead of what we're making. The Reserve Bank says Australians owe more than $41 billion on our 13.7 million credit and charge cards, almost double the amount of five years ago. Nearly 32,000 people went bankrupt in 2006-07.

Maybe it's laziness, or maybe it's modesty, but an online survey organised by the condom maker Durex found that Australia ranks 12th among 16 western nations in terms of the amount of sex we say we're getting.

On average, Australians said they have sex 106 times a year, and get it over with in 17.3 minutes. That puts us behind Greece (where they claim to have 164 couplings a year), Poland, Switzerland, Italy, France, and Spain, about equal with American and ahead of Japan (with 48 couplings).

Only 40 per cent of Australians described their sex lives as "exciting", compared with a global average of 49 per cent. They blamed stress, fatigue and lack of time in the bedroom for their disappointment.

Despite all this (or as a sympton of it), the marriage rate is rising and the divorce rate is falling. There were 114,222 marriages in 2006 - up from 106,000 in 2001, and 51,375 divorces, down from 55,300. The Bureau of Stats notes that 76.1 per cent of couples "indicated they had cohabited prior to registering their marriage", the naughty things.

Not every couple feels the need to make the relationship official. In the latest census, some 15 per cent of permanent partnerships are de facto (up from 7 per cent in the mid 90s ). Among de facto relationships, four per cent were same sex. About 13,000 male couples and 12,000 female couples were brave enough to specify their relationship on the census form.

Australians have developed a talent for multitasking when they amuse themselves. Instead of replacing one mode of entertainment with another, they keep adding new media.

That's how come, over the past 12 months, more than three million Australians queued at the multiplex to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Pirates of the Caribbean Three, Shrek The Third and The Simpsons Movie; more than two million Australians watched Kath and Kim, The Chaser's War on Everything, Dancing With The Stars and Thank God You're Here on the box; and hundreds of thousands bought the DVDs Happy Feet, Casino Royale, Summer Heights High and Transformers, the games Halo3, SuperMario Galaxy and The Simpsons Game, and the albums I'm Not Dead, by Pink, On A Clear Night by Missy Higgins, Future Sex/ Love Sounds by Justin Timberlake, and Call me Irresponsible by Michael Buble.

We even found time to indulge in the oldest of media, with more than half a million reading the magical Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the mystical The Secret by Rhonda Byrne and the practical Spotless by Shannon Lush and Jennifer Fleming. And we did all that while chatting with each other via mobile phone, email, MSN, MySpace, bebo and Facebook.

As families shrink and working hours expand, you'd think we're at risk of turning into a nation of selfish introverts. But when the Bureau of Statics interviewed people over 18 in 13,000 households about their social networks, 96 per cent of the respondents reported having contact in the previous week with family or friends with whom they did not live, and 93 per cent said they felt able to ask people outside their household for small favours.

Most people were keen on helping others -- 77 per cent said they had donated money to a charitable cause in the past 12 months, while 32 per cent of men and 36 per cent of women said they did volunteer work to help others (both up 2 percentage points on the early Noughties).

Overall, we're cheerful - 84 per cent considered themselves to be in "good, very good or excellent health".

In the 2006 census, 30 per cent of Australians either wrote "no religion" or left the space blank - a rise from 25 per cent in 1996. So a lack of faith seems to be our fastest growing belief system, followed by Buddhism (up from 1.1 per cent to 2.2 per cent in tenyears) and Islam (up from 1.1 to 1.7). Our most popular religions are Catholic (down from 27.0 per cent to 25.8), and Anglican (down from 22.0 per cent to 18.7).

Other Australian attitudes are revealed in a survey of 4,000 people conducted every two years by the Centre for Social Research at the Australian National University. More than three quarters of the adult population say they agree with these statements:

1. To be truly Australian, it is fairly important that you speak English (92 per cent agreement)
2. The father should be as involved in the care of his children as the mother (90)
3. A woman should have the right to choose whether or not she has an abortion (87)
4. The gap between those with high incomes and those with low incomes is too large (84)
5. Generally speaking, Australia is a better country than most other countries (83)
6. When big businesses break the law they often go unpunished (81).

And that's how Australians are in 2008: we want it all and we want it now and we have no trouble coping with it when we get it."

... found on smh

Saturday, January 19, 2008

KL folk to face water shortage

"KUALA LUMPUR: City folk have to brace themselves for a major water disruption in the next few days due to a pipe burst near the Projek Perumahan Rakyat (PPR) Desa Rejang in Setapak Jaya yesterday evening.

The damage to the 1.2m-diameter pipe, supplying raw water from the Klang Gate Dam to the Bukit Nanas water treatment plant, would affect the entire water production for the city centre.

A Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) official said the Bukit Nanas treatment plant would not be able to meet the daily consumption of 136 million litres by 350,000 consumers in the city.

“We can expect some parts of the city centre to be affected until we are able to repair the damage,” the official said.

The areas affected are the Golden Triangle, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, Jalan Raja Chulan, Changkat Raja Chulan, Kampung Baru, Jalan Pudu, Jalan Perak, Jalan P. Ramlee, Jalan Kia Peng, Jalan Conlay, Jalan Ampang (from Lebuh Ampang to Jalan P. Ramlee) and Jalan Tong Shin. "

aaargh wonderful... not only might this affect my apartment, it might also affect my work as well. Hope they fix it soon, or things are going to get realllly smelly reallly quickly.

Week in review
~ The week that was this week.

So here I am, Saturday lunchtime, slightly hungover for the second time this week.

Upon walking into work on Monday I see not only our new business manager, Jeff has been delivered, unwrapped, plugged in & switched on, but also our general manager, Rick has made a surprise visit from Sydney as well. There goes all my plans for the next 5 days.

Monday lunchtime, my girlfriend and I went out to our current favourite workday lunch locale, 'Best Bites' cafe (really good, try it), only stopping on the way to watch a little road rage incident. From a gewi-lo perspective, the behaviour of some people on the road here is bizarre.

This guy stopped for 10 seconds to pick up his girlfriend, and the guy behind him immediately starts blasting him on the air-horn. The guy in the first car (we'll call him bf), immediately goes into a hulk rage and gives the honker a verbal, to which the honker responds with the oh-so-subtle middle finger salute.

The bf has had enough, he's only stopped for ten seconds and hasn't really deserved this, so he's out of his car, trying to get into the honkers car, pounding on his windscreen, to which the idiot honker responds by taking photos of the bf.

Holy crap people. Do I have to draw you a picture?

How can such a mild polite people like the Malaysians turn into such a bunch of inconsiderate raging idiots when they're in their wheels? The honkers could have politely waited for ten whole seconds and been on his way again.

If you're going to loudly honk at someone for making you wait ten seconds, and then follow up the with finger, why be such a wimp and sit in your car taking photos of the person who you have just so deliberately annoyed?

.. I shake my head.

.. and move on.
Anyway, today is Cloverfield day, a couple of days later than I had hoped, but that's ok.

Many meetings have been had, my longest being almost 4 hours, a personal record for me I think. Sounds like just the right time to round things off with a good old monster movie.

.. Have a great weekend everyone.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

This weeks visitor map

..this last week my blog appears to have attracted a few more visitors from South America, Japan & Canada.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Beck - Hell Yes

.. man, I love this song. A few years old now, but Beck is good, always coming up with some unexpected grin-maker. And dancing robots!

.. What's not to like.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

According to GSC, Cloverfield, the new J.J Abrams monster movie, opens here in Malaysia this Thursday, 17 January 2008.

I can't wait to see this. Hopefully I can get some tickets for the first showing.

Here's what smh had to say:

IT WAS the film without a name, and the poster with no words.

For months it had no title and a shroud of secrecy surrounded its cast and plotline, with only a few carefully leaked clues.

Now we know that Cloverfield, a horror film, has been the subject of an unusual internet marketing campaign that experts herald as the way of the future.

The lack of detail on early promos fermented the interest of people in their late teens and early 20s, whom film marketers targeted because they use the internet.

"This is a great example for marketing for the future," said Cate Smith, marketing director for Paramount Pictures in Australia.

"Usually you're given all the information up front about a film, but for the first time it has been very controlled by the producer, J.J. Abrams [the creator of Lost].

"For people who are interested in that type of film, they're obviously incredibly savvy about the worldwide web, all their information comes from online, they know about things before we do. It's been incredible running an unnamed campaign, with this response."

The first posters of the film contained an image of a headless Statue of Liberty and the release date in small print, with no details, not even the names of stars.

Since then, Australian users have logged on to 3000 different website forums about the film.

When the final trailer for Cloverfield was posted onto Australian YouTube late last year, the site was inundated with visitors. It has since been viewed by more than 500,000 people.

The success of Cloverfield's marketing campaign has emulated the phenomenal success of the shaky video images from The Blair Witch Project - an online marketing campaign that changed the nature of film promotions.

But back then everyone knew the name of the movie. This time around, the late naming of Cloverfield has come as a surprise to some fans, who were used to the film having no title.

"I certainly think that it having no name really started the conversations [among people]. It started them realising that this was a film like no other, or indeed a marketing campaign not like any other," said Lesley White, account director for Network Communications, who worked with Paramount Pictures on the web campaign.


Here's the trailer:

100 things we didn't know this time last year, from BBC.co.uk

Some of my favourites:

7. Baboons can tell the difference between English and French. Zoo keepers at Port Lympne wild animal park in Kent are having to learn French to communicate with the baboons which had been transferred from Paris zoo.

More details

19. The = sign was invented by 16th Century Welsh mathematician Robert Recorde, who was fed up with writing "is equal to" in his equations. He chose the two lines because "noe 2 thynges can be moare equalle".

32. "Restaurant" is the most mis-spelled word in search engines.

35. The name Lego came from two Danish words "leg godt", meaning "play well". It also means "I put together" in Latin.

36. The average employee spends 14 working days a year on personal e-mails, phone calls and web browsing, outside official breaks, according to employment analysts Captor.

56. The Pyruvate Scale
measures pungency in onions and garlic. It's named after the acid in onions which makes cooks cry when cutting them.

78. One in 18 people has a third nipple.

More details

88. A single "mother" spud from southern Peru gave rise to all the varieties of potato eaten today, scientists have learned.

More details

99. The Japanese word "chokuegambo" describes the wish that there were more designer-brand shops on a given street.

100. Musical instrument shops must pay an annual royalty to cover shoppers who perform a recognisable riff before they buy, thereby making a "public performance".

my indoor garden experiment

Ok, today I share with you a poorly-kept secret. I am a greenie, a hippy, an environmentally aware citizen.

I do use plastic bags sure, but I also have a growing collection of those recycled (and recyclable!) green supermarket bags that I carry up to Giant at Sungei Wang and back. I'm still trying to impress upon the checkout staff there the point of the things, even though they sell the bags, the higher purpose does seem to be rather lost on them.

Compare that to Sydney where they seem to be the oh-so-cool-look-at-me-I'm-environmental latest fad for all sorts of things, not just grocery shopping. And why not, they're a cheap, tough, useful carry-all.

Anyway, I digress... I have been living in my little one-bedroom apartment for a little over a year now without so much as a balcony to put some pots on, and I've had enough. I've had a few leafy things growing in jars with that hydroponic jelly stuff, but I've decided that it's time to kick it up a notch.

So what I did a couple of weekends ago, is bought some large 'self-watering' garden tubs (see above) and stocked them with a few bits of greenery that I thought might be tough enough to survive with only infrequent waterings and filtered sunlight to brighten up my place, and clean the air, and do all the other little things that indoor plants are reknown for.

So far, so good. Everything seems to be still in the shades of green rather than brown, and I have the added advantage of coming home to the smell of marigolds 14 floors up.

My long term plan is to be able to grow a few simple vegetables or herbs up here. I'd like to try cherry tomatoes as they're hardier than the large variety.

If you haven't smelt a tomato plant, you're missing out.

I'll keep you posted on how things go.


A Silicon Valley start-up called Nanosolar shipped its first solar panels -- priced at $1 a watt. That's the price at which solar energy gets cheaper than coal.

While other companies have been focusing their efforts on increasing the efficiency of solar panels, Nanosolar took the different approach of focusing on manufacturing, developing a proprietary process technology that makes it possible to produce 100x thinner solar cells 100x faster.

I'm a big fan of alternative energy, if these are as durable as ordinary solar panels, I would definitely switch over.

Hopefully products like this and also Google's renewable energy initiative will get this more into the hands of the everyday folk.

It looks like Google's founders, Sergey Brin & Larry Page actually invested in Nanosolar a few years ago.

A big green thumbs-up!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Electric Blue

Hmm... what's wrong with this picture?
Yes, that's right, that's a pair of sandals keeping the electrical adapter afloat.

This pic was doing the rounds of our office today and I thought I'd share it with you.

Stalking Shark

Alone in his tiny plastic sea kayak, marine biologist Trey Snow had hoped to stealthily track a great white shark. But he had the shock of his life when he spotted a giant fin and realised it was he who was being stalked - by surely one of the most feared killers in the world.

The magnificent creature initially dived to the seabed, inspecting the kayak from below, before rising menacingly to the surface. Luckily for Trey, the 13ft-long shark was more inquisitive than hungry.

Trey was just one of a team of scientists hoping to discover why a large group of great whites, which travel off southern Africa's tip during the summer, regularly swim so close to the beaches.

They decided to venture into the deep blue in the quietest and most unobtrusive vessel they could think of - a bright yellow sea kayak. Amazingly the sharks carried on as normal, giving the scientists a unique insight into their lives.

They observed that the intrepid animals come inshore to interact socially with others of their species - possibly using the opportunity to mate and give birth - and can often be spotted following, or swimming circles around, one another, for extended periods of time.

This incredible picture was taken by wildlife photographer Thomas Peschak - who had to tie himself to the high bridge of a nearby vessel and lean precariously over the ocean before he could get his shot.

The holy grail of shark research and marine wildlife photography is to see great whites mating and giving birth. It is a task which is extremely difficult and dangerous, if not impossible, and even Thomas Peschak has not achieved it yet. And Trey Snow might be thinking he has already got as close to a great white as he wants to ...

.. Another rainy day ..

Thursday, January 10, 2008

little girl goes wild on piano

I am a Disco Dancer

Indian Thriller

I think the horrified look on her face is the result of his dancing style, not the assorted ghouls.

.. Just an opinion folks.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

This weeks visitor map shows a bit more of a turn-out from central asia and also the west coast of the United States.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Duck Lamp

Made by artist Sebastian Errazuriz, this creepy, creepy desk lamp is a one off art piece.

I want one.

.. found at ohGizmo!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

How hot is that Chili?

We had a conversation last night at our new years BBQ about how the heat of a chili is measured, so I thought I'd post this here snippet from wikipedia on the topic.

"The Scoville scale is a measure of the "hotness" or, more correctly, piquancy of a chili pepper. These fruits of the Capsicum genus contain capsaicin, a chemical compound which stimulates chemoreceptor nerve endings in the skin..."

Scoville rating Type of pepper
15,000,000–16,000,000 Pure capsaicin
9,100,000 Nordihydrocapsaicin
Standard U.S. Grade pepper spray
855,000–1,041,427 Naga Jolokia
350,000–577,000 Red Savina Habanero
100,000–200,000 Rocoto, Jamaican Hot Pepper, African Birdseye
50,000–100,000 Thai Pepper, Malagueta Pepper, Chiltepin Pepper, Pequin Pepper
30,000–50,000 Cayenne Pepper, Ají pepper, Tabasco pepper
10,000–23,000 Serrano Pepper
7,000–8,000 Tabasco Sauce (Habanero)
5,000–10,000 Wax Pepper
2,500–8,000 Jalapeño Pepper
2,500–5,000 Tabasco Sauce (Tabasco pepper)
1,500–2,500 Rocotillo Pepper, Sriracha
1,000–1,500 Poblano Pepper, Texas Pete sauce
100–500 Pimento, Pepperoncini, Tabasco sauce
0No heat, Bell pepper

Being a weak gwei lo, my tolerance of chili was about as pathetic as it could be until I moved to Malaysia, now I'm happy to say, it's certainly improving, but I'm not sure when (if ever) I will ever be able to eat pretty much anything in the above list. But I am getting better, and that's a good thing, right? :)

read the full wikipedia article here

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Welcome to 2008! ..
A very happy new year everyone.
Here's a few random photos I've taken over the last few days..

Odd Search