bookmark_borderWeekend Reading

  • Inside the Lively World of Competitive Stone Skimming
    Fog shrouds Easdale Island, a windswept 62-acre chunk of slate, grass, and shrubs just off Scotland’s west coast, as rain intensifies on the roof of the Puffer Bar and Restaurant.
    I thought I was doing well with 5 or 6 ‘bounces’. Amateur!
  • The origins of the high five, and its inventor – an unsung gay pioneer
    In 1977, Glenn Burke, a rookie outfielder in Major League Baseball (MLB) with the Los Angeles Dodgers, lifted his arm high above his head and slapped palms with his teammate Dusty Baker to celebrate a milestone home run, marking what is widely regarded as the first documented instance of a high five.
    I was gonna write a witty comment but thought I’d just leave you all hanging…
  • Why Gary Lineker, Lily Allen and you shouldn’t comment
    Don’t comment. Don’t comment if you’re poor or disadvantaged, because you’re a scrubber and a scrounger and basically a waste of space.
    Old news already but still worth reading. What the frick is this world we live in these days?
  • Who to Blame for the Attack on the Internet
    Our worst hacking fears came true on Friday as criminals deployed millions of everyday objects—internet-connected cameras, printers, and so on—to launch an attack on a critical part of the Internet.
    It wasn’t me! (except it might have been a little bit me, and you). Count how many devices you have that access the internet, 3? 4? 10?
  • Don’t Dress Your Age
    Ouch. I was 36. And apparently not even a lamb dressed as mutton, but fast approaching mutton dressing as jerky — if we accept that the way women dress can be likened to the life stages of a sheep.
    Ohh I’ve to wait before not dressing my age? Oops.
  • Internet is becoming unreadable because of a trend towards lighter, thinner fonts
    The internet is becoming unreadable because of a trend towards lighter and thinner fonts, making it difficult for the elderly or visually-impaired to see words clearly, a web expert has found.
    Hang on, does this mean NO-ONE is reading this? (it’s ok, I know no-one reads it… and that I’m currently talking to myself…)
  • Quiz: Science finds most men misread whether a woman is sexually interested. Do you?
    Scientists show men misread women’s interest. Do you? Michael Tabb Share this video Is she interested? That’s the question scientists just asked a bunch of men.
    Science? Not just ‘cos men are idiots’ then? This is a troubling thing indeed.
  • Don’t floss, peel veg or wash your jeans: 40 things you can stop doing right now
    A group of senior doctors has released a list of 40 procedures it considers to have little or no benefit. Could we apply similar thinking to everyday life? If you’ve ever washed out a wound with saline instead of tap water or requested an x-ray for lower-back pain, you’re a fool.
    Yay!! (except, obviously, DO floss, no-one needs to see week old Spinach everytime you talk)
  • An epic battle between feminism and deep-seated misogyny is under way in South Korea
    Last September, the Korean edition of Maxim, a men’s magazine, ran a cover showing Kim Byeong-ok, an actor who starred in cult favorite film “Oldboy,” posing with a cigarette in his hand next to a car. A pair of woman’s legs, bound at the ankles, was sticking out of the trunk.
    A different culture but familiar traits. Dear misogyny, your time is up, kindly leave the stage!
  • World’s Most Expensive Potato Chips Cost $11 a Piece, Come in Boxes of Five
    In an attempt to create a special snack to go with their high quality beer, Sweetish brewery St. Erik’s has created the world’s most expensive potato chips.
    Get. In. The. SEA!!!
  • Words and Phrases Coined by Shakespeare
    Exactly what it says on the tin (link, whatever). Didn’t realise some of these were by dear old Will!
  • Watch Uber’s robot truck deliver 45,000 cans of Budweiser
    As part of a small partnership with Anheuser-Busch, Otto, the self-driving trucking startup acquired by Uber, delivered 45,000 beers from a weigh station in Fort Collins, Colo. to Colorado Springs.
    The future is almost here. Once it can deliver beer AND pizza… welcome to the end of civilisation.
  • It’s so dangerous being a bridesmaid in China that some brides are hiring professionals instead
    Concern over traditional wedding practices in China being pushed too far has reached new heights following the death of a bridesmaid in Wenchang, Hainan province in September. It was reported that the 28-year-old was pressured into drinking an excessive amount of alcohol on behalf of the bride.
    A different culture. Alarming traits!
  • An Ivy League professor says there are only three types of friendships we make
    Friendship isn’t always as serendipitous as it might feel; according to new research, there are just three ways people typically structure their social lives.
    I might just buy this. Presuming I can buy some friends to go along with it, like a buy one get one kinda thing?
  • NaNoWriMo Triage Center: Helping You Get To 50K
    There you are, happily pounding out words, the click and rattle of the keyboard creating a musical symphony in your writing space. Maybe you’re humming along, caught up in the frenzy of creation that oozes out every pore.
    Just in case anyone else is mad enough to be doing NaNoWriMo this year (roll on Tuesday!)
  • Iceland’s Pirate Party looks likely to take the country’s election next weekend
    If you’re worn out and depressed with the US election campaign, ponder what’s going on in Iceland for a moment. The country’s Pirate Party, founded less than four years ago by a group of activists, anarchists, and hackers, is poised to upend Icelandic politics with an Oct.
    Not happy about this. Was dead set on moving to Canada but… avast this be interesting developments!
  • An amateur fossil hunter stumbled upon a pickled 133 million year-old dinosaur brain in England
    Jamie Hiscock of East Sussex, England has a knack for spotting incredibly preserved remnants of life. Five years ago, he and his brother, both fossil enthusiasts, were walking along the beach when they noticed a remarkable piece of amber.
    This is from when God was ‘at rest’ or something, yeah?
  • Meet The Smartest Dog In Hollywood
    The most talented movie star in America is two and a half feet tall, 7 years old, and 39 pounds. He has brown eyes, a natural black vest and tail, and his pale chest, arms, and legs are dotted with tan freckles. His name is Jumpy. And he’s a dog.
    Jumpy! I have a new favourite dog name! (I don’t have a dog, but if I did…)
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents Ghost Stories for Kids (1962)
    “Now of course, the best way to listen to ghost stories is with the lights out,” says the inimitable Alfred Hitchcock, as he introduces his 1962 vinyl release Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Ghost Stories for Young People.
    Available on Spotify and Youtube. For the Halloween weir… lovers out there.
  • Alfred Hitchcock’s Rules for Watching Psycho (1960)
    Psycho, one of Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic films, didn’t come together very easily. Hitchcock’s studio, Paramount Pictures, didn’t like anything about the film and denied him a proper budget. So the director went solo and funded the film through his television company Shamley Productions.
    I’m starting a new tradition this Halloween. Psycho and The Shining.

bookmark_borderThe old room

His chair sits to one side of the bay window. The unloved leather is cracked, shiny dark patches worn smooth, seams barely holding on, tired with all the life it’s seen. Cold air creeps through the rotting window frame, tickling the rising pale curls of smoke as they fade into nothing.

Beside the chair a small table, the walnut ringed with decades of cold drinks. On it a small wooden pipe stand, a heavy oversized cut glass ashtray, and a leather pouch spilling pungent dried entrails.

Another puff; a draw and dull pop from his lips as the last embers glow and die. Fragrant fumes drift on the gentle draught as he watches nothing beyond the glass outside.

The mantelpiece on the far wall watches over the room. Standing firm and heavy with memories and dust. Ornate gold frames the mirror above it, reflecting the spirals of smoke as they rise from his pipe. A few memories dot litter the surface, photos of old friends, mementoes of his past.

The charcoal in the grating below is long cold, winter has passed. An ancient iron poker is propped to one side, the diminished stack of wood at the other holds those lucky enough to have avoid sacrifice.

Across the bay window from his chair stands the bookcase, the inherited wood dulled and scarred by the centuries. Books of varying ages, style and condition line the shelves, each space filled, this way and that, wherever it fits, however it fits. One shelf displays a card for a birthday long since passed, the last writings from the dead scribbled inside.

Beneath all this floorboards peek through carpet, curtains hang striped by the sun.

Across from the fireplace stands the sideboard. A behemoth of carved wood and ornate brass handles, it fills the entire wall. The men from the antique store brought it in through the window.

On its there are two carved doors to either side, while the centre is devoted to three large drawers. It stands tall on feet that curve and twist from floor to base. It has been well polished in the past, but now it shows only tarnish and neglect. An unloved and forgotten relic, dust hugs every crevice chiselled by skilled hands.

Atop the sideboard, slap bang in the middle, is a white vase. Simple and modern, clean lines. It holds fresh flowers, shimmering reds, splashes of sunlight, sparkling jewels of colour.

Strange bright lights in this tired old room.

bookmark_borderWeekend Reading

  • Yelling at Amazon’s Alexa
    The first time I met Alexa, the A.I. robot voice inside the wine-bottle-size speaker known as the Amazon Echo, I was at my friends’ house, in rural New England. “Currently, it is seventy-five degrees,” she told us, and assured us that it would not rain.
    The future is coming. I admit I’m tempted even though I know the technology isn’t quite there. yet.
  • Brain Implant Restores Sense Of Touch To Paralyzed Man
    Twelve years ago, a car wreck took away Nathan Copeland’s ability to control his hands or sense what his fingers were touching.
    Science and technology can be marvellous. In every sense of the word.
  • Nations, Fighting Powerful Refrigerant That Warms Planet, Reach Landmark Deal
    KIGALI, Rwanda — Negotiators from more than 170 countries on Saturday reached a legally binding accord to counter climate change by cutting the worldwide use of a powerful planet-warming chemical used in air-conditioners and refrigerators.
    Not headline news, but maybe should be? Here’s to treating our planet better.
  • Letting Go
    At a young age, I put on a mask. A mask to try and hide all my foibles, to hide my anxiety so I could be somebody else and so that nobody would know the real me.  I thought I would never be able to take that mask off, maybe swap it for another but never to remove it completely.
    Worth reading, not easy to read. Such is the things that shape us.
  • Every baby born in Scotland will get a free box of useful things from 2017
    Babies born in Scotland will be gifted “baby boxes” from New Year’s Day 2017, the country’s First Minister has said. Nicola Sturgeon said Nordic-style policy, which was first announced in April, would be a “symbol of a belief in a level playing field” for all children.
    Continually proud of being Scottish. Regardless of the ‘politics’, stuff like this makes a real difference.
  • In Scotland, gusts of wind usher in a quiet energy revolution
    EDINBURGH, Scotland — Even by the blustery standards of this notoriously squall-swept land, Aug. 7 was a particularly gusty day.
    I didn’t see this get much coverage but it’s BIG news for the environment.
  • Do You Really Need to Worry About Your Electrolytes?
    Also: what the hell are electrolytes?
    Finally, some answers!!
  • David Letterman (and His Beard) Shop at Target These Days
    Why does David Letterman have a beard?
    Letterman is an American institution, but over here not so much. Basically. A guy retired and grew a beard… but ohhh then he did so much more.
  • Meet the Perennials
    This content is appropriate for people of all ages. And that’s the point. The days of targeting media and products at people based on their age is over. The Perennials.
    My name is Gordon. I am a Perennial.
  • Dear Men: We Need to Talk About How Y’all Talk About Women
    Yesterday, had a brother come up to me, *furious* that people were saying that Trump was just doing normal guy talk.
    Guilty as charged. Must try harder.
  • Can I Train My Cat to Be Less Annoying?
    Of all the misbehaving house cats in the world, my cat, Zadie, isn’t the worst. She’s sweet when she wants to be, she pees where she’s supposed to, and she only occasionally pounces on my forehead in the middle of the night.
    In short, all cats are dicks, can they be less ‘dick’? (answer, kinda maybe yes, but mostly no, because CATS!)
  • The scientists who make apps addictive
    In 1930, a psychologist at Harvard University called B.F. Skinner made a box and placed a hungry rat inside it. The box had a lever on one side. As the rat moved about it would accidentally knock the lever and, when it did so, a food pellet would drop into the box.
    Disturbing read but weirdly spooky because it’s all so true.
  • World wine output expected to hit four-year low
    World wine output is expected to hit a four-year low in 2016 after bad weather hit production in France and South America, industry forecasts say.
    It’s ok. Don’t panic!

bookmark_borderWeekend Reading

  • A Freudian theory, now backed up by neuroscience, explains why so many fear clowns
    Creepy clown sightings across the United States are no laughing matter. Glimpses of disturbing clowns began in South Carolina in August, but the phenomenon of pranksters in sinister costumes has become so widespread that it was even mentioned at a White House news conference.
    Hey… is it Halloween soon maybe?
  • We’re So Addicted to Our Gadgets That ‘Unplugged’ Tourism Is Booming
    If a tree falls in the Amazon, but you don’t capture it on Snapchat, did it actually fall? I had the thought while hiking through the rainforest, on the third day of a digital detox that was slowly killing me.
    I’m away for a few days myself soon, I will have ‘gadget’ but aiming to be ‘unplugged’ as possible.
  • The App Fueling Twitter’s Most Powerful Political Campaigns
    On September 27, there was a brief moment when 1,685,719 people’s Twitter feeds were flooded with an adorable emoticon rabbit urging them to vote. This was not the first time the charming text art has graced Twitter.
    Always remember to count the gap…
  • Let’s All Obsess Over This Intricate Map of Alt Music History
    It started with The Sex Pistols. Specifically, with The Sex Pistols’ June 4, 1976 show at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester, England. The concert now ranks as one of the most influential performances of all time, up there with Woodstock. But the audience, not the band, made the show famous.
    GEEKGASMTASTIC stuff this!
  • How to Walk Past a Group of Teens Without Attracting Attention
    Do not make eye contact. They don’t need to know about your lifelong string of rejections or your secret need for approval. Just keep looking down at your practical shoes like the shame-filled, frightened adult you are. Don’t assume your personal safety. Most teen-agers are savages.
    This is ALL TRUE! They roam in packs, the buggers.
  • Twitter’s Woes Signal the End of the Social Wars
    Two buzzwords define the past decade of computing: mobile and social. Those days are coming to an end. Although smartphones and social media remain as important as ever, the war to control those platforms are over. Winners are being coronated as the losers are, at last, conceding.
    AKA what is the next big thing? (and how big is a big thing anyway… hmmm that sounds wrong)
  • How Did a Chunk of India and Eurasia Just Disappear?
    Half of the mass of Eurasia and India is missing, new research finds, and may have been swallowed up by the Earth’s mantle.
    Uhhhhh whaaaat?? We still know so little about the planet we occupy it’s scary.
  • Meet America’s Smokejumpers, the Navy SEALs of the Wild West
    It took three days for Vermaas and his crew to get their fire contained. They used chainsaws (to cut down trees that the fire would have otherwise used as fuel) and that Pulaski (to dig into the soil so there would be nothing on the ground for the fire to feed on).
    Nope, nope and nope. But WOW brave/mad/amazing guys.
  • The Japanese practice of ‘forest bathing’ is scientifically proven to improve your health
    The tonic of the wilderness was Henry David Thoreau’s classic prescription for civilization and its discontents, offered in the 1854 essay Walden: Or, Life in the Woods. Now there’s scientific evidence supporting eco-therapy.
    Damn tree huggers.
  • How Would “The West Wing” Handle Donald Trump?
    We had podcasters Joshua Malina and Hrishikesh Hirway weigh in. Before the dark drama of House of Cards and the political satire of Veep, there was The West Wing, the beloved NBC White House drama that aired 154 episodes over seven seasons, beginning in 1999.
    Posting this cos this is my blog and I can, so pfffftttt!
  • This is How Literary Fiction Teaches Us to Be Human
    Think about every bully you can remember, whether from fiction or real life. What do they all have in common? For the most part, they don’t read — and if they do, they probably aren’t ingesting much literary fiction.
    There are many reasons I enjoy reading but I hadn’t actually twigged that this was one of them.
  • But alas! the creature grows degenerate.
    sashayed: I started thinking absently about Steve Rogers’ jogging route during my run today and then i couldn’t STOP thinking about it because there’s literally NO WAY it makes sense unless you accept that he is specifically fucking up his entire morning routine to get another look at the cute guy.
    GEEKGASMTASTIC * 2! (I know, another one, so soon, geek stamina!)

bookmark_borderWeekend Reading

  • Bedlam: The story behind the London mental hospital that came to mean hell on earth
    The word “Bedlam” conjures up scenes of wild chaos and confusion but, in the 13th century, it was linked to one specific place: The Bethlehem Royal Hospital in London. This was the first asylum in England, founded in 1247, and it cared for the mentally ill free of charge.
    I have a bit of a thing for articles like this, taking something every day and exploring it (try The Allusionist podcast if this floats your boat).
  • New York monument honors victims of giant octopus attack that never occurred
    Cast-bronze sculpture by Joseph Reginella, who made up the story of a Staten Island ferry disaster, directs people to a fake museum nearby.
    Wonderful! Given the ‘state of the world’ at the moment we need a WHOLE LOT MORE WHIMSY PLEASE!!
  • This Is Why You Shouldn’t Be Drinking Coffee First Thing in the Morning
    If your job involves you pretending to be a functioning adult five days a week you probably rely on an early morning hit of caffeine to help you feel human. Sadly, it turns out we’ve been doing coffee all wrong.
    I post this only say I can say this in reply… ppffffttttt ANY time is CAFFEINE TIME!
  • How unsanitary is double dipping anyway?
    You’ve been there: a bowl of salsa, guacamole, or some other type of dip sits on a party table right next to crackers and tortilla chips. You want some, but can’t help wondering: have the other people at the party been double dipping?
    Is it just me or does ‘double dipping’ sound rude? Just me? (yeah right).
  • Everything Google announced at its massive hardware event today
    Google on Oct. 4 unveiled a wide range of new devices and services at an event in San Francisco, in what the company is calling the largest hardware announcement in its history. The new devices seemingly put Apple’s iPhones and Amazon’s Echo home hub right in the company’s sights.
    Lots of good looking and smart stuff. Enough to make me switch? No. Not yet at least.
  • Tiny machines win chemistry Nobel prize
    The 2016 Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been awarded for the development of the world’s smallest machines. Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir Fraser Stoddart and Bernard Feringa will share the 8m kronor (£727,000) prize for the design and synthesis of machines on a molecular scale.
  • Clown sightings: the day it all began
    The first person to spot a clown, the patient zero in the current epidemic of threatening clowns sightings spreading across the US, was a little boy at a low-income apartment complex in Greenville, South Carolina.
    Warning: Contains Clowns.
  • The mystery of why left-handers are so much rarer
    From the time we pick up a chunky crayon and start scribbling as children, it begins to become clear whether we’re right- or left-handed. But what makes one hand dominate? And why are left-handers in the minority?
    And why is it always the weirdos that are left-handed?
  • Leonardo DiCaprio: climate change deniers should not hold public office
    The actor Leonardo DiCaprio has said he thinks that those who don’t believe in climate change should not hold public office.
    Sad that it takes a famous person to make this point. Such is the world we live in.
  • Daft Punk tour rumours sparked by new website and hidden countdown
    Daft Punk tour rumours are circulating (again) thanks to a new website and a mysterious hidden countdown. The website is thought by some fans to be connected to the French duo, who have not toured for ten years.
    Like a spoof. But… what if it’s not?
  • Spare us the sight of men discussing abortion – especially politicians
    If you will never be in the position of needing one, we don’t really want to hear your thoughts on the matter. That includes you, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence
    Dear men, shut up already. Our voices have had their time (and look at the mess we are in!)
  • The Bigger Your Brain, the Longer Your Yawn
    While every STAT story aims to stimulate your cortex, if this one falls short and makes you yawn, you can thank us anyway—at least if a study published Tuesday is right. If you have a big brain, you can credit yawning for promoting brain growth and activity, the researchers found.
    I challenge you to read this article without yawning (you’re probably yawning already though, right?)
  • Trying to Solve the L.E.D. Quandary
    Is there a workable business model for products that are built to last, rather than to fall apart? This is an idea that I explored here in July, in a story about the L.E.D. quandary.
    Blocked product syndrome?
  • Speak, Memory
    When the engineers had at last finished their work, Eugenia Kuyda opened a console on her laptop and began to type. It had been three months since Roman Mazurenko, Kuyda’s closest friend, had died.
    Scares me to think what my ‘rebuilt self’ would be like…
  • Do commas still matter?
    My favorite bumper sticker I’ve never seen: Commas matter. So I’ve always thought, and do still believe with the passion of one whose knuckles were rapped for grammatical errors.
    I hope they do, matter I mean, because god knows I love to, you know, abuse them, whenever I can!

bookmark_borderRotterdam or anywhere

I need some time off work. The last week I had off was in June and whilst life as a contractor means no worky = no money, I know I need some downtime.

So I’ve booked the middle week of October off and I’m planning to try and get away somewhere.

Where? Well that’s the thing, I don’t really care where, I only really care about how much it’ll cost me. I’m thinking a 3-4 night city break (mid-week) and so far places like Prague and Budapest are at the top of the list (and, oddly Milan, cheap flights FTW).

However, part of me is tempted to wait until the first weekend (the 15th) and then try and book a last minute deal but where to and, more pertinently, how do I find the best deal?

Here’s the thing with most holiday (flight + accommodation) booking websites, they presume you know where you want to travel from, where you want to travel to, and the days you want to travel.


I don’t mind if I fly from Glasgow International, Glasgow Prestwick (what a misnomer!), or Edinburgh Airport.

I don’t mind where I end up (the main limitation being cost).

I want to spend 3/4 nights but I don’t mind when those nights are as long as they are between the 15th and the 23rd October.

So my criteria is limited to cost, a range of dates, and a range of departure locations.

I generally do not mind where I end up. I will find things to do when I get there (or do nothing but read and lounge around).

And I refuse to believe I am alone in wanting something like this but I’ll be damned if I can find anywhere that offers this option.

Closest option I can find is through Skyscanner which at least lets you look for flights to ‘Anywhere’ and sorts them by price. So I’ll start there and see where I end up I guess (here’s hoping I at least get out of Glasgow!).