I used to believe…

I used to believe… [rivets] – “a collection of ideas that adults thought were true when they were children”.

Big kudos to Mat for fixing the navigation frame within an hour of me emailing him to say it didn’t work in Opera under Linux. :-)

The Princetown Fabio Project

The Princetown Fabio Project [rivets]. Superb.

My first girlfriend’s Dad lived (in fact, as far as I know, still lives) with a very nice German lady who worked as a translator of books, from English into German. She had two kinds of work: highbrow stuff that she loved doing and that paid really poorly, and trashy stuff that of course paid really well. At the time I met her (ooh, about 1992 I guess) she was busily translating Fabio’s latest magnus opus, which was probably called something like “Viking” or “Pirate” or some such. The poor dear.

Skirrid Inn for sale

The Skirrid’s for sale! (thanks, Malc).

Dang. The Skirrid Inn is a really great pub that does fantastic food, just the thing for a Sunday afternoon at the end of a funk-filled weekend camping in the nearby Happy Valley (not its real name) with my buds. I do hope the place doesn’t change too much…

I don’t know if it’s a joke or not…

I met a Dutch girl with inflatable shoes last week.

I phoned her up yesterday to ask her for a date, but she’s popped her clogs.

The Lord of the Doctorates

The Lord of the Rings as an allegory of doing a PhD – something for me to look forward to, then.

Also, some really bad site design but some really nice Tolkien maps – I found this one particularly interesting.

Good T-shirts

Stuck for an idea of what to buy me for Christmas? How about this t-shirt (++ungood) and/or this one if it appears on this page in time for Christmas, which it may or may not do.

Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!

I’ve just read John Betjeman’s poem “Slough” for the first time. Is it just me, or do the fifth and sixth verses refer to Chris Finch and the seventh verse refer to Tim, from The Office?

(Yes, I know Tim isn’t balding – it’s poetic licence, innit?).

TV radar

TV radar [ntk].


The Gimboland front page is valid HTML 4.0 Transitional (and so are all the archives) – woo hoo!

Thanks, ntk, for the pointer to the recently revamped checker. I had 155 errors but it didn’t take long to get that figure down to zero. Some of the errors were stupid (eg missing quotes, missing end tags), and some were new and interesting to me (eg ampersands in URLs should, apparently, be escaped to &, to be decoded by the user agent, which I hadn’t realised).

Now to check – nay, fix – the CSS… OK, that’s done.

Valid HTML 4.0! Valid CSS!

Oxy morons

Jesus fuck. The DVD/VHS set of Band Of Brothers includes a documentary called (get this), “We Stand Alone Together”. I’m sorry, but that just fails to make sense on so many levels…

Barton Gimbo

Spot the difference

Ed, upon seeing my passport picture (taken in 1994), tells me that I am the doppelganger of John Turturro. Thanks, Ed. I guess that’s another good reason for seeing Barton Fink.

Toady of Blog Hall

Might have to pop up to Aberystwyth Arts Centre in December to see Jim Finnis playing Toad in The Wind In The Willows…

Dreaming of better things

Last night I dreamt I’d won the lottery, although I’d only got five numbers right, not six. On the sixth number, I was one digit out. My disappointment at having missed out on The Big One by such a small margin was approximately equal to my disappointment at subsequently waking up and realising I hadn’t won the lottery after all. Still, I think I’d better a ticket for tonight’s draw. If only I could remember the numbers from the dream…

Magnetic paint

Yes! I’ve bought a house just in time for Magnetic Paint, “an acrylic latex water-based primer that turns any wall into a magnetic receptive surface”!!! [wotever]

Blast from the past

Helen Carruthers, who used to work here at Frontier.

Funk Logic

Funk Logic – “Rack filler panels with a bunch of stuff all over ‘em”. Cool.

Text to speech

Text-to-Speech Synthesis at Bell labs.

Gimbo goes choral

I’ve been listening to nothing other than Allegri‘s haunting Miserere for the past couple of days. Not my usual ear fodder by any means, but it’s so damn beautiful. I’d originally only encountered it as part of The Orb’s piece, “Into The Fourth Dimension”, but having heard snatches lately on adverts and the like I decided to hunt it down.

(Yikes – looks like The Orb haven’t been paying their domain registration bills – bummer.)

Iiiiiiit’s Syd!

Pictures of Syd Barrett through the ages.

Scotland needs babies

The population of Scotland is set to fall under 5 million by 2010, which is great news for fans of open spaces and solitude, I guess. [rotten]

Mike attains the ultimate answer

Almost forgot… Happy birthday Mike!

Have they got news for us?

Very poor design but some good content at this Have I Got News For You? fan site. The Trivia section is particularly obsessive, enumerating as it does the camera angles used in the show. Also, don’t miss the Captions section. I haven’t linked to either section directly because – duh – the site uses frames.

Later that evening: Cor – Angus has been sacked.

Nietzsche and Goofy

From this small but quirky Nietzsche FAQ, we have: What was Goofy?

Witness, for example, the little-seen but avant-garde 1930s cartoon “Goofy the Aryan,” in which Goofy seizes power, destroys traditional religion, and institutes a new “master” morality based on his cult of personality. Goofy, in a very real sense, is the Philosopher of the Future.

A man and his tool

Ah yes, the Performance Power CLM200 Combination Sander. I know it well…

(Living room ceiling is one third done.)

Python/Zope job market

Python & Zope Job Market.

Human cockfighting

Human cockfights [rotten].

Tetris is NP-hard

Tetris is NP-hard [null].

Le retour du gimbo

Where to begin?

Of course. First and foremost, happy birthday Mum. I’ll phone later, honest.

Illness has abated – I’m still not 100% but mucus levels have returned to some semblance of normality. Being off work ill is so annoying – if I’m going to have time on my hands I want to do something enjoyable, not sit around feeling crap. OTOH I guess I made a good start on The Lord of the Rings, which is not to be sneezed at.

The big news is, we’ve got the house. Yes indeed, Julie and I now own our little cottage in Carmarthenshire. It is, as required, up a lane, with three bedrooms, two fireplaces, a big kitchen, an ickle garden and room for some cats. Unfortunately, that also means we owe a ridiculous sum of money and all hopes of disappearing around the world with backpacks have disappeared.

Walnut Cottage

Saturday, when we took possession, was weird. We’re not moving in immediately (instead we’ll be doing so in dribs and drabs over the next month, and working on various rooms as we go), so there wasn’t a mad rush of activity, and when we got there we weren’t quite sure what to do. We just sat around in each room, found little things to do everywhere, and soaked up the vibe. Pleasant. Tip had a right old time going around and sniffing everything, his claws tippity-tappeting on the wooden floors. Next door’s cat was utterly scandalised by his presence, and watched him intently through the kitchen window. He, of course, was oblivious to this.

The place doesn’t need much work to make it liveable – in fact, it doesn’t need any but we’re doing some anyway. The living room ceiling is varnished pine and it’s a bit dark for our taste, so that’s got to be stripped and painted. Guess who had a fun afternoon with a sander yesterday? Well, it wasn’t me. I had a gruelling afternoon with a sander. Apart ca, there’s a little rearrangement to be done in the kitchen, most of the doors need some attention (vendor or vendor’s handyman knew nothing about how to hang a door or fit a handle), the chimneys need sweeping and after the storm at the weekend, the roof needs works – but that’s it. Instead we can spend all our money on furniture. Oh, the joy.

We met the neighbours, who were welcoming and friendly – they’ve invited us for drinks and fireworks next weekend. They have an eleven year old girl who was hoping that whoever moved in would have a baby so she could baby sit. We expressed our regret at being unable to fulfill this wish, but held out the hope that perhaps in a few years time, the situation might change. That was the most solid declaration we have given so far of any desire to produce sprogs together, and it came at the prompting of an eleven year old girl we’d never met before. How strange is that?

The final thing to mention is Saturday night’s Regenesis gig in Swansea, which was superb. I know Genesis are exceedingly uncool, but I like to think that back in the early days, before Peter Gabriel left and before Phil Collins stepped out from behind the drum kit, whilst still being decidedly uncool, at least were uncool in a respectable way. And of course, I love the music whether it’s cool or not, so this gig was a real pleasure. The setup was quite strange: everyone was seated around tables scattered over the hall, except for those of us who arrived too late for that, who took our places around the edges.

Right at the front-left, next to the stage and next to a speaker stack, were two guys who (their friend informed me when they saw me smiling at their antics) were on acid. They were clearly enjoying themselves – shaking their heads around, waving their arms, and clapping in time with the music. Unfortunately, most of the audience seemed content to thoughtfully watch with their arms folded, and some actually objected to this pair. Presumably it’s hard to smugly pick out the mistakes in an intricate keyboard solo if you’re distracted by someone actually enjoying themself. So they got told to calm down, which they naturally objected to, and fingers got pointed, bouncers intervened, and they were chucked out. It hardly seemed fair, and to be honest it put a slight shadow on the evening: the overcerebral wankers had won the day, and the people who were actually connecting with the music were out in the rain.

Tracklist: Watcher of the Skies, Selling England by the Pound (entire album): [Dancing with the Moonlit Knight, I Know What I Like, Firth of Fifth, More Fool Me, The Battle of Epping Forest, After The Ordeal, The Cinema Show, Aisle of Plenty], Eleventh Earl of Mar, The Musical Box, Supper’s Ready. Encore: Drum Duet and Los Endos. Some of the Selling England stuff I could have lived without (particularly The Battle of Epping Forest, although it was fun to watch the trippers getting down to it), and I was disappointed they didn’t encore with The Knife, but it was utterly fantastic to hear The Cinema Show and Supper’s Ready live after all these years. There was no unaccompanied bass pedal solo.

Supporting was Melbourne – an ambientish rockish outfit fronted by Carrie Melbourne, a session bassist and Chapman Stickist (with husband and founder Regenesis member – very cosy – Dave Melbourne on keyboards). The vocal parts I could take or leave, but when the pieces got moving they were very good. I’d like to hear some more before I buy any, I think. She was pregnant, and I wondered what effect all that resonant bass would have on the unborn child’s musical sensibilities – or indeed its hearing. :-)

Mucus membranes

Mucus membranes…


I’m ill, and off work.

I’ve had a nasty coldy/flu type thing for the past few days, kindly donated by my girlfriend who was suffering at the weekend. Last night it developed into an exquisitely painful sore throat – my throat is my weak spot, and if I get ill, it’s usually there. Ow.

Quotes from “Coupling”.

coupling.ft – a fortune cookie database of quotes (only 34 of them, alas) from the BBC‘s excellent Coupling series.

In case anyone’s interested, here’s the python script I wrote to build the quotes list, which does so by repeatedly querying this page.

More quotes here, in various formats including fortune. The Tom Baker ones are quite good and make me want to read his autobiography.

Finally, here’s a nice picture of Jeff.

“One world at a time.”

“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you” and other astronomical quotes [robot].

Synesthesia: taste what I say

Synesthesia article (via rotten). Nothing really new in the article, but if you’ve never heard of synesthesia, check it out. :-)

Skyscrapers, bridges and rides, oh my.

I just discovered www.skyscraperpage.com and I’m loving it: Thousands of the world’s tallest buildings searchable and sortable by many parameters – groovy.

Check it out: Minas Tirith. :-)

Britney, Baby, One More Time

Britney, Baby, One More Time

Dejected, Schmitz discovers Robert Stephens, a young, gay Britney impersonator. Schmitz takes off for New Orleans with Stephens, promising him a chance to meet his teen idol, all the while taking film of Stephens’ cross-country exploits and pawning them off as footage of the real deal.

Best of all, it’s based on a true story [popbitch].

Woody Harrelson gets serious

Woody Harrelson in the Guardian: I’m an American tired of American lies (thanks, Simon).

Party like it’s 2001

Julie and I have a fancy dress party to go to some time in November. The theme is “Spacemen and Aliens”. I’m seriously considering going as the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. I think the tricky part to work out will be how to keep enough freedom of movement so I can sit down/eat/drink/dance/etc. whilst remaining suitably monolithic.

GPS for dogs

One for Malc and the Mountain Rescue boys: Dog GPS [gamma].

You can view your own as well as your dog’s position with up to 5 meters precision – whatever the physical distance is.

Speedy slithering with Pysco

Make Python run as fast as C with Psyco – another installment of the excellent “Charming Python” series.

Fly to the hills

Bruce Dickinson, front-man of Iron Maiden, has become an airline pilot [rotten].

Today in history

Today in history: Oct 15 1981 — Mork has Mindy’s baby (according to rotten, anyway). :-)

Lego harpsichord

Lego harpsicord (with mp3s) [sharpeworld].

Hot or nyet?

Am I hot or nyet? This is what happens when someone running a company offering mail order Russian brides stumbles upon Am I Hot Or Not?.

A few clicks later, and I’m wondering if they’re genuine. They’re singularly good looking, but most seem to have scores in the 5 to 7 range. I’d think if you were considering getting a bride by mail order, your standards wouldn’t be so strangely high. But maybe I’m not a rich American.

Medical student joke

I received this joke by email today, and thought it was good enough to share…

First-year students at Medical School were receiving their first anatomy class with a real dead human body. They all gathered around the surgery table with the body covered with a white sheet. The professor started the class by telling them, “In medicine, it is necessary to have two important qualities as a doctor: the first is that you can not be disgusted by anything involving the human body”. For an example, the professor pulled back the sheet, stuck his finger in the butt of the corpse, withdrew it and stuck it in his mouth. “Go ahead and do the same thing,” he told his students. The students freaked out, hesitated for several minutes, but eventually took turns sticking a finger in the butt of the dead body and sucking on it. When everyone finished, the professor looked at them and told them, “The second most important quality is observation. I stuck in my middle finger and sucked on my index finger. Now learn to pay attention.”

Toasty Japanese coffee tables of joy

Kotatsu – toasty Japanese coffee tables of joy [consumptive].

Burning Skulls

Some super-doovy welding masks via the wotever boys.

Le weekend

I am returned from a most pleasant weekend.

We took Friday off in order to meet our solicitor face to face and sign important pieces of paper – pieces of paper which need to be signed if we are ever going to buy our new house. Our dealings with our solicitor thus far have been less than satisfactory – I’d say laughable but the frustration isn’t funny. Gladly, the chap we were dealing with has gone on holiday for a fortnight, and someone else has taken over our case in the meantime. We arrived at the meeting, deposit cheque in hand, only to find that this person didn’t know about all the little interesting things that have delayed us so far (eg, the land being split over two titles, rather than just one, which is apparently such an incredibly unusual situation that our solicitor had to take a holiday to recover from the stress of dealing with it). Fortunately, the newbie was actually competent, professional, and communicative, and by the end of the meeting we felt confident that yes, on Friday October 25th, we should have the keys to our new house in our grubby little mitts.

Important tasks being done, we went to Cornwall to spend the weekend with my family, which was a generally lazy and inactive time. Our main sport was smiling at, singing at, and generally loving my new nephew Adam, who seems to be shaping up to be a very happy and smiley baby – super. We also popped in on Dave, Jay, Alice, and even newer baby Timothy, all of whom are very cute.

In a bookshop in Bovey Tracey, I wanted to buy Astanga Yoga, and Julie wanted to buy a back care book which I can’t currently find on Amazon, so we compromised and bought The Yoga Back Book.

Cinematically, we took Mum and Dad to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which was very enjoyable a second time – lighthearted feelgood fun. We also saw Vertical Limit. Now, I’m only a beginner at this climbing/mountaineering lark, but even I could spot how much of this movie was preposterous. Never mind though, ‘cos it’s a right ripping yarn, and thoroughly enjoyable on its own terms.

I learnt that Gimboland’s greatest fans are Roger, Paula, and Jess. Hi guys, and thanks for your support! :-)

We returned to Cardiff yesterday via Ikea, a company which I’m sure will be receiving much of our money once we’re in the house. :-)

So yeah, that was nice. Today it’s raining hard and all I really want to do is sit in bed and read. Harumph.

Sweet, dude!

If I ever move out of Britain, Bracken Bank Stores will be sweet, dude.

Stoner cats and other oddities

OK, Dr Fun officially rocks. Stoner cats, Donald Knuth, gerbil accelerator, cat-herding, oreo-gami, death star, rhymes with buckwheat, anger management, Greenspan, early bird, natural born krillers.

Wales: it’s great!

Gratuitous Welsh links via Malcolm: Solva, Pembrokeshire – lovely spot, unimpressive site (and why’s it a .net?), and www.data-wales.co.uk – all sorts of miscellaneous Welsh info.

Why don’t they learn? Why don’t they listen?

A couple of tasty Microsoft-bashing snippets from the latest RISKS.

What did you expect if you used Microsoft software?

Also: well, durrrrr. “Let’s acknowledge a sad truth about software: any code of significant scope and power will have bugs in it,” Ballmer told customers. Quite apart from the fact that this “truth” is a lie (you can, in fact, create provably correct software, but few people bother because it costs more), we have the issue of how you deal with such bugs, and whether your software design is, in fact, deliberately overcomplex to prevent people reverse-engineering it.

People, the only way you’re ever going to have reliable software is if it’s open. I really don’t see why this is so hard to grasp.

Conservatives with an attitude

This Modern World: Conservatives with an attitude [rivets].

Escher lego

Escher’s “Balcony”, “Belvedere”, and “Ascending and Descending” in LEGO [null].

Number puzzle in python

Here’s a Mensa number puzzle being attacked by python [python-url] – some very neat solutions.

Also, the python quotes database, no doubt brimming with sagacity, and a brief investigation of how to get rid of HTML tags.

Requiem For A Dream

Well, we saw Requiem For A Dream last night.


Incredible. Utterly incredible. The last third of the film was the most harrowing, harshest, and bleakest piece of cinema I’ve ever seen. Its impact on us was physical. We came out of the theatre feeling sick and shaken. I’ve never experienced anything like it – I’ve had hints of that kind of reaction before but this was a whole other level. The content, the filming, the editing, the music, all came together to form this thing that reached into my head and pulled my brain out through my mouth. Very impressive indeed.

The playground dictionary

The law of the playground – brutal (“binning”), nostalgic (“sing hosana…”), and occasionally very funny (“experiment”) [rivets].

A sweet dream

Sweet [null].

Calendars FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Calendars.

Buffallo Redmond

Milling around like…

It is… your destiny!

I was just catching up with Sluggy Freelance, and laughed my head off at this little gem – superb.

I find Sluggy interesting, but a bit hit-and-miss. The long-running plotlines don’t really do it for me, and tend to hang together very poorly imho. But every now and then it throws up a joke that makes it all worthwhile – like this one. :-)

Ah, nuts… I was hoping it was just going to be a one-off, but alas it’s the start of a whole Harry Potter rip-off storyline. Shame.

Requiem for a dream

Requiem For A Dream (alas, the site is heavy on Flash, so here’s the IMDB entry) is being shown at Chapter next Tuesday. It comes highly recommended from a reliable source so I might just have to check it out.

Also of note, being shown later in the month: Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India, My Little Eye, Moulin Rouge and Amadeus. If I can make it to just two of those that’d be groovy.

Unicycle jousting

Unicycle jousting! Thanks, Pete. :-)

I don’t believe it – whatever it is!

The Skeptic’s Dictionary [null].

I particularly enjoyed the sections on speed reading, osteopathy, chiropractice, reiki, homeopathy and reflexology, all of which have been experienced or discussed by Julie and me lately. It’s very interesting to see an opposing viewpoint on these subjects, and the varying degrees to which they may or may not have any basis in reality. Alas, no mention of yoga or Alexander technique.

It’s a man’s life as a pilot

What happens when dry ice is mixed with blue toilet acid at 33,000 feet [chicken].

Jens stares. Then he turns to his young second officer and puts a hand on his shoulder, a gesture of both fatherly comfort and surrendering camaraderie, as if to say, “Don’t worry son, I’ll clean all this up,” or maybe, “Down with the ship we go, my friend.” He sighs, gestures toward the fizzing, angrily disgorging bowl and says, with a tone of surprisingly unironic pride: “She’s got quite a head on her, doesn’t she?”

Up front, the first officer has no idea what’s going on. Looking behind him, his view mostly blocked by the circuit-breaker panels and cockpit door, this is what he sees: a haze of white odorless smoke, and his captain yelping with laughter and thrusting at something with a long metal pole.

A blast from the past!

Iiiiiiiiiiiiit’s Vicky! :-)

Queen and huntress, chaste and fair

More Mike Oldfield stuff, since that’s mainly what I’m listening to at the moment: notes on Hymn To Diana, the (imho beautiful) poem by Ben Jonson at the end of Incantations Part 4.

(Ooh – so the beach on the cover is in Menorca, is it? Well well, and there was me thinking it looked Cornish.)

Singin’ in the rain

Note to self: visit India just before, and while, the monsoon breaks. :-)

Knitting with dog hair

Knitting with dog hair – fantastic! [rivets]

Now all we need is a Henry Raddick review…

The perfect zen garden

The perfect zen garden [rivets].

The truth about curry

The truth about curry [thanks, JOn].

Dirtbike daddy-o

You’d be surprised…

Adios, Mr Liddle

Here’s the mildly amusing Guardian column by Ron Liddle, which has led to his stepping down as editor of the Today programme.

The Ol’ Baloney Factory

The Turkey City Lexicon – A Primer for Science-Fiction Workshops. [null]