April 27, 2004

Results are in

The 'Jam sandwich pitcher plant of doom' experiment has been an overwhelming success. In the sink this afternoon are

- somewhere between 30 and 40 ants (some of them could be poppy seeds-I bought a seeded bloomer from the bakery yesterday)
- a wasp
- three teaspoons and, of course
- my supper

I'm considering leaving some walnuts to lure a squirrel tomorrow lunch time.

April 26, 2004

Invasion of the...(insert vermin here)

It's been made abundantly clear over the last few years living here that this house is a staging area of all kinds of small and allegedly 'lesser' creatures to mount some kind of offensive against the rest of the world. Fortunately for you people, I've managed to keep most of them under control.

First came the Spiders, who were wiped out largely because they got a little bit too cocky and started trying to come down to watch telly with me in the evening.

Next were the squirrels. They too were cocky. And stupid. So cocky and stupid were they that they thought they could take on moving traffic. They were wrong.

But this latest threat is the worst so far. This year is the year of...the ANT.

Ants aren't stupid, nor are they cocky. They don't go in for the whole 'hunter gatherer' thing in the traditional sense because they know that when it comes down to it, they're tiny. They can't chase things, and they're not big enough to take down a wildebeast. Or a cat. Or a gerbil for that matter. But they realise this, and have a better idea: they hunt stationary objects.

That might not seem like the most intelligent thing to do. Dogs bark at and try to chase parked cars all the time, and when was the last time you saw a dog with an IQ score? But then, dogs don't do it with the same skill that ants do. They're like a pack of lions to an apple.

I put one down on a clear work surface yesterday, turned my back to attend to some other domestic activity, and returned to find it and the surrounding area covered in ants. Where did they come from? What makes them think this apple will fit wherever that is? Do they care? No. Ants can lift about 15 times their own body weight, and they have hundreds of mates. This means that when it comes to dead-lifting size is no object. A small convoy of them had a go at pinching my garden shears earlier. This has to stop.

Fortunately, I have devised a cunning trap: I call it the 'Jam sandwich pitcher plant of doom'. It works like this:

A jam sandwich is placed on a plate that floats in the kitchen sink. The ants see the jam sandwich and are drawn to its stationary sticky sweet goodness. They must try to steal it. So they try to swim to reach it, and FAIL! The ant behind him also tries, and FAILS! Before long you have a pileup of ants behind him, all trying to get to the tasty sandwich, but before each one realises what has happened, the next ant slams into him and they both plunge into teaspoon infested water.

I'm going out now, but before I go I'll set my bait. Lets see what happens...

April 23, 2004

Saints and friends

St George's day. Not one of the more obvious (and by that I mean commercialised) saints days, but still one thats always fun for me because we share a name, even if it isn't a first name. Hey, it's an excuse to go to the pub.

Not that I need one tonight. No, tonight is a stag do for a friend of mine, so I'm off to help paint the town. Shouldn't be too hard: I have a feeling that someone may have gotten in an early start.

Stag nights are a strange animal, with many different species. There's your wild stag night, domesticated stag night, long haired stag night, lesser civilised stag night...

It remains to be seen what manner of beast this will turn out to be.
The conditions are good: Summer sunshine, cool breeze, cold beer and friday night. Should be a goodun.

April 20, 2004

Coming Back

I'm back. The Irish countryside is beautiful. Go there. Unless you live there already. In which case you're very lucky and I hate you.

Got over the rather nasty sore throat, helped not a little by the recent controversial smoking ban, which is looking more and more like it's heading our way. I don't know if it's keeping people away from the pubs over there, but I don't think it's affected the atmosphere, and it certainly sped up my recovery.

This will seem stupid to some, but one of the great things was that in all the time I was in the pub(s) over there, I never had a pint served to me out of character. No matter what I ordered, Guinness, bitter, lager or whatever, it always came in a branded glass. On Saturday I did considering pushing my luck and ordering something obscure, just to see what it arrived in, but the bar was very busy, and I wanted to take away memories, not bruises.

April 14, 2004

Going away

When going on holiday, we often find that some of our favorite things don't fit like they used to. Right now I'm the same: I'm going to Ireland in about half an hour, and my tonsils don't appear to fit anymore. I've only just woken up, I've not packed, I can't speak and I've run out of paracetamol (but that doesn't make a lot of difference as I can hardly swallow).

But I'm going. Oh, by God I'm going. And I'm going to have fun. This will be the last time I *cough* complain about my throat today. Seriously *cough* I'm on holiday. I must *cough, splutter, wince* deal with it.

So why am I typing this instead of running around like a proverbial blue-arsed chicken? I don't know. This will likely be the last you hear from me this week, so behave yourselves. Now if you'll exuse me, I have a small panic to attend to.

April 10, 2004

Stories from the city

'The other conversation happens...later tonight. I think I know the script for that one too...'

Unfortunately, no-one sent me a copy. I was forced to ad-lib the whole thing. On the whole I think it went rather well. The critics were divided over my performance. Being disarmed of my usual semi-automatic cynicism had me caught completely out of type, but it did give me the opportunity to test-drive a big old Cheshire Cat grin I've been wanting to try out for a while.

Entire rave reviews however were devoted to the leading man, Stu. Though his lines were beautifully delivered, like a man who was born with them just waiting for the right time to come out, the most impressive part of his performance was his use of the environment. When the props department failed to provide an available table, he employed a mime table to great effect. That did throw the extras at the bar a little, especially when he threatened to put his (very real) pint down on it.

The dialogue did go a little off the rails toward the middle, I think just after the line '...but a pitcher of Stella is only eight pounds...'. Still, things picked up after the arrival of some other friends and the evening ended in true Stu and Dave fashion with the long bus ride home.

(Certificate 15 - Contains mild language and one reference to adult behaviour)

April 08, 2004

The curiosity vortex

Or, 'the cat that wants it both ways...'

'I don't want to know'
You do. I know you.


I think you need to know everything I know.
You know you're desperate to find out.
I don't want to hide it anymore...
You just don't know you're going to like what you hear.
I think you're scared of it. Of me.
You shift in your seat.

'I don't know what you're talking about...'


You know who you are.

April 05, 2004

Apache ate my weekend

It's out of respect for those who come here that I try not to post about truly, deeply nerdy computer stuff, but as I'm returning from a day crawling on my hands and knees through support sites and newsgroups looking for help installing Apache server on my box at home, I felt like sharing this little piece of advice. If it helps even one person trundling merrily down the same dark cul-de-sac of doom that I did, it's time and web space well spent.

Here goes.

You cannot run Apache 2 on the same machine as Mcafee Antivirus 7. No REALLY, you just can't. They don't play well together: Mcafee does not like to share it's toys, so Apache runs into a corner and cries. Changing port numbers will not help you, Mcafee wants them all. It comes down to but two options:

1. Uninstall your Firewall and Anti-Virus Software (not a good idea...).
2. Use Apache 1.3.29, which is nice and stable and works with Mcafee products.

There, that wasn't so bad, was it? For my next trick I shall go to work and attempt to teach IIS to beg for biscuits and play dead.

April 01, 2004

Sunny says

The sun is staring at me through the window. I know the look. It's one of Mum's favourites. It's the 'you haven't called your grandmother for months...' look. Or the 'you haven't done your homework yet...' look. A raised eyebrow or a hand on the hip would serve to modify the remark with an accusing '...have you?'.

But the sun has no eyebrows. Nor hands. Nor a voice for that matter, which makes understanding it's disapproval difficult to say the least.

I wonder what the problem is. My eyes follow the slightly subdued spring rays trailing across the bedroom floor to my running shoes. They're sitting neglected at the bottom of the far bookshelf, the one with discs, mascots, speakers - anything but books on it. I glance back out the window as a removal van drives past and the sun throws me an affirmative wink back at me.

'Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm going...'

There's a breeze outside waiting to hold the door open for me.

Time for some pain in the park. Be back in a stitch.