tealin: (Default)
Last night my roommate and I went for groceries and ended up with something completely different. We got to the intersection before our destination and in a gap between the building and a tree, saw this:

At least, that's what it would have looked like without any of the foreground elements, if I had been standing on the roof of the grocery store, and had a telephoto lens. The mountain visible is, I believe, one side of the Newhall Pass, so whatever-it-was should have been visible to anyone going north on the 5. At first glance it looked like one row of lights on an array at the high school football field; it was only after realising the high school was much further to our left, and noticing that the parallax relative to known objects, as we moved down the street, implied it was much further away than field lights of that size would be, that the oddness of what I was seeing became clear.

Unfortunately, when we crossed the intersection, a tree got in our way, so we aborted groceries for the time being and tried to get on a road with a clearer view. This took about five minutes, and by the time we saw that part of the horizon again the lights had gone. We retraced our route, to see if it had been something more fixed that would still be visible from that angle, but it wasn't.

There are any number of perfectly reasonable things it could have been. The most likely explanation I can think of is that the Burbank Airport is directly in line between the grocery store and Newhall Pass, so if a large plane with four very bright headlights along the wingspan had been landing from the north, it would have looked exactly like that ... but planes don't usually land from the north at Burbank, and I've never seen any with a light configuration like that. I did a little research this morning and found that the C-130 Hercules sometimes has a light on each of its four engines, in the arrangement we saw, but I have never seen airplane lights this bright. Perhaps it was equipped specifically for illumination?

Has anyone seen anything similar? Any ideas?
tealin: (actually)
I've been working so much I've run out of interesting things on the iPlayer, so I went to YouTube in search of shows I liked as a kid. One of the reasons I gave up on television was the degradation of the Discovery and Learning Channels, which (with PBS) were pretty much all I watched, but which have since abandoned the sort of shows that drew me to them. Luckily, in our dazzling modern age, they've surfaced again on YouTube!

First up, prompted by a conversation about childhood nightmares, was Arthur C Clarke's Mysterious Universe. I remember it giving me the willies when I was young, and the crystal skull in the intro was the scariest thing ever. more... )

The next show I looked up was one of my favourites from later in my youth, which I remember TLC running on their Friday night marathons. I was curious to see whether I thought it was so good because it was good, or if it was just because I had a very limited frame of reference ... but no, with all adult objectivity, I can say I was incredibly spoiled by awesome television when I was young.
James Burke's Connections
Either TLC would run them out of order, or I was just bad at putting the pieces together, but I was surprised that the episodes hooked up with each other, as well as being a chain of connections within themselves.
I think this is where I got introduced to most of what I knew about world history before high school, as well as gin and tonics, exploding billiard balls, the Little Ice Age, the maximum height to which water can be sucked ... but more importantly, and surprisingly, I found in it a lot of the ideas and modes of thought that I believed I'd picked up from other things much later, but which were apparently planted by Connections and just re-activated. more )

This week's fascinating synthesis of art and science:

1. Cut down tree (or limb thereof)
2. Slice cross-wise into thin disks
3. 'Play' on modified turntable with a camera for a needle

... and you get this.

And finally, did anyone hear the Scott segment on Weekend Edition Saturday today? Wow, NPR, way to completely fail at research. Listening to them stumble through error after error put me in mind of Rocky trying to escape the pie machine. Is this what 'experts' feel like all the time?
tealin: (stress)
I think this clip sums up pretty much everything about our character as a species ...

Man Auctions 'Hand of God' on eBay

Vocabulary word of the day: pareidolia.
tealin: (Default)

ACTUAL CAPTION: Overnight workers cleared the snow outside the prime minister's home in Downing Street, London. (It's image #2 here until they fix it they've fixed it now. Sigh.)

I love you, BBC, you are awesome even when you are stupid.

Addendum: Am I mad,* or would this not be ten times better with 'Walking in the Air' playing under the commentators?

*always a possibility
tealin: (nerd)
Went out on the town with Randeep and Lissa tonight ... the primary objective of our mission was the Echo Park Time Travel Mart, which is just as awesome as it sounds, if not more so on account of amazing and admirable attention to detail.

BUT ...

We got a little bit lost on the way there and discovered something else!

tealin: (catharsis)
Even when I was a child, I gravitated strongly towards minor key music and tragic stories. I suspect my darkness worried a number of people. Little did they know I was improving my attention to detail and analysis skills!

Study Proves Sad Children Out-Perform Happy Children

I am now abuzz with theories for possible ramifications ... does the much larger proportion of minor (or modal) French children's songs have anything to do with how they seem to be intrinsically better at drawing? Do you stunt your child's intellectual development by feeding them only jaunty, happy media, as most children's media is? Does this effect continue into adulthood? Was listening to Thomas Newman soundtracks responsible for the overly technical animation I did on that seagull? Is this why Christian Pop and its devotees annoy me so much? Oh, the possibilities!

EDIT: The transcript of the segment of As It Happens where I heard about this study is behind the cut. They have more/different information than the story linked to above.
According to Barbara Bud and the CBC... )


Sep. 5th, 2008 10:18 am
tealin: (Default)
It's time once again for one of my most annoying habits: Taking sober situations and making light of them for comic effect!

Jack Abramoff Jailed for Corruption
One of two things happened here: either the jury had no choice but to convict because anyone looking at him could tell he was guilty, or since his conviction he's thrown off all pretense and dressed up in character. I mean, look at that outfit! That is not the black fedora and trenchcoat of an innocent man.

Reunited in Meteorology
I don't suppose anyone else has noticed that there is both an Ike and a Josephine in the Atlantic this year. Just me, then? Thought so. I do hope you are all enjoying your mental stability.

The Great Race
Democrat and Republican would have you believe that what really matters are the policies and/or personalities of the candidates for president. I say, don't listen to what those squares tell you; what will decide this race is the quality of the delegates' hats! Visual Aides )
tealin: (Default)
Now this is my kind of ad campaign:

The New Trousers

A shame Aardman wasn't in charge of the London handover at the Closing Ceremonies...
tealin: (Default)
I finally saw The Dark Knight. I'd waited because I wasn't excited enough about it to brave the hordes, and had plenty of Dr Horrible to tide me over. It was good; it wasn't the life-changing experience some people make it out to be but it was worth my $9.50 and didn't feel like the three hours it ended up being. I don't know whether it was the filmmaking or if I was in a particularly odd state of mind but I kept being distracted by little things: They made Gotham license plates! Batman has black makeup around his eyes under his mask, I wonder how long that's supposed to take him? Did they custom-print the fabric for the Joker's shirt or did they happen to find it somewhere? Harvey Dent was the guy in Thank You For Smoking, and we're supposed to believe he's a good, honest guy? (Or did they cast him with that irony in mind? In that case, thanks for taking me out of the movie, buster!) But #1 on the list of distractions is this:

An Illustration )
tealin: (cheese)
I am a yellow fly,
I fly high up the sky –
You cannot see me when the sun shines,
Cos I am the colour of the sunshine ...
I am the colour of the sunshine.

If you have a hankering for something mindblowingly surreal, delivered by a dry little old man with occasional musical interludes, there is nothing better in the world. You'll either hate it or wet your pants laughing. It's one of my favourite pieces of radio ever, which might make me eligible for any number of psychiatric drugs. Give it a try! It's only 15 minutes!

Ivor Cutler's A Wet Handle
tealin: (Default)
Queen Visits Whitehaven, Witnesses Gurning Champion

It must be indicative of something in the British character that they have one designated word for 'making faces' (with or without a horse collar) ... but what?

'Hockey Night in Canada' Theme to Retire?

I'm not even a hockey fan and I'm affronted. It's the second national anthem, you can't just drop it!
tealin: (Default)
Our neighbourhood has many interesting residents, but one of the most notable (or perhaps noticeable) is a certain mockingbird. I can only describe him as ... talented. I hear him practising his repertoire daily: not only does he do the local mockingbird standards but he can imitate the calls of other birds, several different remote-activated car lock signals, and a sampling of other sounds. But, as with humans, genius is often accompanied by madness, and he does this at one in the morning.

A couple weeks ago I lost track of time. My turtle watch died, the clock in our living room ran out of batteries, the new pendant watch I got in the mail arrived similarly without charge, and I'd left my cell phone charger at work so when it inevitably died the only way I had of telling the time was by computer. Eventually this coincidence of timelessness was resolved, though the wall clock doesn't seem to like rechargeable batteries much. Today I moved desks at work and the little alarm clock I have above my workspace lost its battery. I found it and put it back in but it doesn't work now. Is this a test, or a sign? Or just random fluctuations in the space-time continuum? Anyone know where I can find an honest to goodness wind-up clock?
(Not the one Ikea had; it's sealed like a tin and doesn't last long)
tealin: (cheese)
I am so addicted to this, it is not even funny.

Warning: it has some bad language (in text)
tealin: (Default)
Funny things about the USA from within the last two hours:

In line for the security checkpoint, I was treated to a video telling me 'You know you're not a threat, so pack your luggage in a way that the TSA can know it too!' I wonder what the TSA will think of the animation disk, percolator, and two pounds of chocolate in my suitcase...

I come to the boarding gate and on the screen that pipes CNN to waiting passengers is a six-way split-screen of drive-by footage of houses, as if they were involved in some sort of one-sided low-speed chase. At the bottom, on a bright red bar above some urgently scrolling text, was 'NEW DEVELOPMENTS.' I thought there had been some sort of terrorist attack or random shooting in a posh neighbourhood back East somewhere, but no – it was just the mortgage crisis. OMG AMERICA, HOUSES. DON'T PANIC BUT THEY ACTUALLY COST MONEY. MORE AFTER THE BREAK.

Then, later, there was a commercial ... I don't know what it looked like because I was sitting behind a pillar at the time. It started out with a fairly serious voiceover by a guy reading off something like 'imagine an all-American energy source' bla bla bla jobs and families and apple pie, then – cue 'Celebration' – COAL! It heats our homes and powers our cities and isn't bought from shifty-eyed swarthy foreign types, bless its little cotton socks! I am not making this up though I am paraphrasing.* This commercial would not be out of place on The Now Show, and here it was on serious national television. I don't know whether to be endeared or appalled, but it did make me laugh out loud.

And there's someone talking in a very penetrating voice on his cell phone about high-def ESPN.

This will be an interesting six weeks...

*I'm not making up the part about 'Celebration' though.
tealin: (Default)
Doggy Heiress Goes Into Hiding

Small dog, fortunes, eccentric rich lady, death threats, mysteriously glossed-over dog keeper ...
tealin: (Default)
I was recently sent a link to this website, and foresee hours of fruitful procrastination in my future:


I haven't explored it much yet, but I strongly advise that you swallow any liquid you may be consuming before you read Episode Eleven.

10:40 pm
The hard part, I've discovered, is finding a way to pull oneself away.
Episode Eleven is still the funniest.
tealin: (nerd)
Scene: Late on a Thursday night, three people lounge on sofas. Upon the screen is the rather bizarre movie Mirrormask.

The movie churns on.

The loungers are drawn deeper and deeper into the progressively weirder story and visuals.

It's been over an hour now, and the strangeness has clobbered the audience into a sort of numb bemusement.

One begins to nod off.

And then a shout! "THAT'S ANDY HAMILTON!"

On a tangent, have you ever noticed that it is very hard to explain who Stephen Fry is to someone who doesn't know already? I imagine this is a predominantly North American phenomenon. It might be helped if they would just put his name under 'mellifluous' in the dictionary.


Nov. 14th, 2007 02:09 pm
tealin: (Default)
Gmail is one of those things that's supported by 'targeted advertising,' in which it picks up on key words in the body of an email and provides links to sponsors that might have something to do with that, nice and unobtrusively, off to the side. Generally I don't mind – or even notice – but I ran across an odd one today. I was replying to a letter about using a pic on a forum somewhere (yes, I'm hacking away at the backlogged email again), and got three targeted ads. One was something about cute children, another a romance test, but the third was Find Pictures of Worms!

It led to this site, which is possibly even more bizarre.

Oh internet, you and your funny ways...
tealin: (Default)
Okay, a few of the things here are kind of weird or interesting but generally this site is a powerful testament to the imagination of human beings when it comes to looking at rocks.


I see a large collection of badly-compressed images ... of ... rocks. Perhaps my mind is just hopelessly mundane.* There's also some imaginative grammar happening there, which I am evidently incapable of fully appreciating ... I wonder if the creator of this site is responsible for the UFO flyers pasted around town a couple months ago.

*It also happens that I like rocks.
tealin: (Default)
Upon learning today that the newest incarnation of Dreamworks' cash cow is to be called Shrek Goes Fourth, I realized they were following the Blackadder naming convention, and the inevitable crossover followed:

DONKEY: Hey Shrek! I got a cunning plan!
SHREK: Tell me, Donkey ... Is it more cunning than a weasel with a doctorate in cunning from Cunning University that has just broken into the cunning reserves and eaten so much cunning that it is literally oozing out his ears?

The more I think about this, the more I believe it would be bad enough to be actually entertaining.

This crossover reminded me of a thing I heard on Radio 4 ... I think it was on Recorded for Training Purposes. In which she attempts to retell a comedy sketch in more words than the original probably contained )


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