28.1.09

LEGOHAULIC

Movie mad film student Tyler Clites
aka Legohaulic creates Hollywood
heroes in Lego form.

The 21-year old sci-fi fan from Florida
says they take between 10 and 30 hours
to build, with him frequently adapting
the pieces painting them by hand.

Tyler says: "When I build, I usually have
an idea or vision in mind and allow
the creation to take shape from there.
Occasionally though I will sit down and
sketch out my ideas to get a clearer
vision of what I want to build."


See the rest of them in here.
My personal favourite?
The
Matrix one.


TOP DOG

Labradors have remained top dog in
the popularity stakes in the UK for
the 20th year in a row, figures show.

The Kennel Club said it registered a
total of 45,233 Labrador puppies in
2008, more than double
their nearest rival.

The breed overtook the German shepherd
as the UK's most popular breed in 1989.


Further down the list, the biggest increases
in individual breed numbers came in
French Bulldogs and Smooth-Coated
Chihuahuas, both of which saw 49 per
cent rises in their registration
numbers last year.


Despite the financial uncertainty across
the UK, enthusiasm for pedigree dogs
has shown no sign of diminishing.

Registrations of pedigree dogs rose by
0.4 per cent over the year, with the
Kennel Club registering 271,719 dogs
in 2008, an increase of more than
1,000 dogs from the previous year.


The figures come a few weeks after the Kennel
Club announced it would be making changes
to the rules for breeding pedigree dogs for
competition after a BBC documentary
sparked controversy about
the animals' welfare.


Claims that the some owners were
encouraging unhealthy breeding
techniques to make their animals more
competitive led to the corporation
pulling out of screening Crufts for
the first time in 40 years.


LONDON
AT NIGHT

I never get fed up at looking at aerial
photos of our capital, especially
the ones taken at night.

The BBC website has some of the
latest ones by
Jason Hawkes-
see the rest of them
in here.


ORLA THE
OTTER

Aah! Cute alert!

A postman who rescued a baby otter
on a Scottish roadside took her on a
220-mile (354 km) tour in his mailbag.

Kenny Wilson, 50, of Tweedbank, in the
Borders, spotted the cub - named Orla -
on the A7 lying at the side of the
road near Stow on Sunday.

He explained: "She was frozen and I did not
give her much of a chance to be honest.
It
looked as if she had either been abandoned
or her mother had been hit by a car."

He popped her in his mailbag to keep her
warm and fed her through the tube of
a ballpoint pen. "I stopped at Tesco
at Dalkeith and bought
some kitten milk."


He took the otter with him on a Mini
car enthusiasts' rally before taking it to
an
Arthurshiel animal rescue centre
near St Boswells in Roxburghshire.

"She seemed happy enough and during
our journey she kept crawling up my
neck looking for more warmth."

Mr Wilson said everyone at the
car rally was amazed when
they saw the animal.


The pup was initially named Ozzie but
when it was discovered it was female
Mr Wilson's wife, Jayne,
came up with Orla.

"Orla seemed to enjoy her round trip round the
Trossachs and when we got home we fed
her some crushed chicken and put her
in our cat Ebony's basket as she
decided to go out for the night."

"The next day we contacted Arthurshiel
and took her over there. She seems
to be doing well - apparently she is
going through about £15 worth of
salmon each day", he added.


27.1.09

"OH WHAT FRESH
HELL IS THIS?"

The Big Bang Theory is back on our
screens and season two is even
funnir than the first.

I missed some of the episodes when
it premiered on E4 but luckily
Channel 4 is showing it now.

Sheldon (above on the left) is still my
favourite character with his inflated
ego, social ineptitude, total lack of
empathy and his purely logical state,
all signs of being a prodigy.

His nitpicking and lack of sense
of humour is hilarious although I'm
sure living with him, if he was real,
would be a nightmare!

He might be fictional but he has
developed a cult following-
there is even a web page dedicated
to his t-shirts and where
to buy them!


STRANGE PIC
OF THE DAY

SMOKE ME A KIPPER-
I'll BE BACK FOR
BREAKFAST!

Cult comedy Red Dwarf is returning
to TV, 21 years after its initial launch.

The show has been resurrected by digital
channel Dave for a two-part Easter
weekend special, which sees the cast
finally return to Earth.

Set three million years into the future,
the show followed the exploits of Dave
Lister, slovenly crew member of the
mining ship Red Dwarf - and the
last man in the universe.


He was joined in his weekly attempts to
make it back to Earth by a cast of
oddballs including human hologram
Arnold Rimmer, mechanoid servant
Kryten and Cat - a preening half-man,
half-animal who evolved
from the ship's cat.


The new two-part series "Red Dwarf:
Back to Earth" will be followed by a
"no holds barred" episode without
sets, special effects or autocue.

The weekend will climax with "Red Dwarf:
the Making of Back to Earth", a
behind-the-scenes special
from the new episodes.


WILL NOT BE
SWITCHING

Sorry to tell you this, guys at Microsoft,
but I for one will not be switching back to IE.

The US software giant says the new IE 8 is
faster, easier to use and more secure
than its competitors.

Well, it might be all of that but
I'll stick with
Firefox for the simple
reason that it's miles better!

I'll give you an example: I posted a
few
embedded YouTube video links
onto my
Toyah page and in IE all
of the sidebar info got pushed to
the bottom of the page as per
usual when there's something a bit
"wider" in the main bit of the page.

In Firefox no problems.

But of course I had to get rid of the embedded
links and use a still picture and "normal"
links so I could get the page to work
so that IE users wouldn't think
"where's all the rest of it?"

So until you fix simple problems
like that I'm afraid you're
going to loose users daily.


POLAR BEARS ON
THE THE THAMES

Now there's a sight you don't see every day:
polar bears floating down the Thames.

A real one did live in The Tower Of London
in the 13th century and took regular dips
in the river. He was gift to King
Henry III from the King Håkon
IV Håkonsson of Norway.

However these one are plastic, a part
of a promotion for a new natural history
TV channel
Eden and to remind
MPs of global warming.


NO SPLASH FOR
KENTUCKY

Most penguins like nothing better than
to get their feathers wet with a quick
swim, but this elderly bird refuses to
move from his rock – because he
is afraid of cold water.

Kentucky the penguin, described as a 'runt'
by his keepers, refuses to take the plunge
with his 23 pals at Blackbrook Zoological
Park in Leek, Staffordshire.

Staff at the zoo have seen the 11-year-old
become a surprise hit with visitors
at the park due to his unusual phobia.

The Humboldt penguin was born smaller
than his arctic brothers and sisters and
has had moulting problems since
birth which make the water
'a bit too cold for him', staff say.


Adam Stevenson, assistant bird keeper
at the park, said: "He came from Chester
Zoo in the spring time and there's 24 of
them there all together. He's malted quite
badly and lost a lot more feathers
than some of his friends."

"It's a bit too cold for him in the water, so he
spends all his time on the rocks just walking
around. It's a bit of a pain having to go
over especially to him to feed him because
he won't go in the water, but he's a
real character and everyone
at the zoo loves him."

Keepers at the park have to force Kentucky
to dip into the water a couple of times a
day to keep his feathers clean - and
have even been reduced to
pouring water on him.


Park trustee, Tina Mycock, said: "People
have come to the park to see him and
have been saying they think he's allergic
to water, which he isn't – he just prefers
to sit on his rock whereas the others will
just jump in. He has become very very
popular and has caused quite
a stir with the visitors."


BORIS THE GUEST
OF HONOUR

A dog which saved a woman's life when
it found her dying of hypothermia
has been invited as guest
of honour at her wedding.

Zoe Christie, 21, (below with Boris and
his owner John)was found with severe
hypothermia in a field near Ottery St
Mary, Devon, by John Richards
and his boxer dog Boris.

Miss Christie, 21, who lives in nearby
Newton Poppleford, was so severely ill
doctors told her father he may
have to formally identify
her body.


Medics battled to revive her and she spent
two weeks in intensive care. Now a care
assistant, Miss Christie is marrying
her fiance Chris, 25, in October.


She said: "John and his wife Sheila are first
on the reception list when wecome back to
England from our wedding in Turkey.

They will be our guests of honour -
and I would love Boris to be there too."


Mr Richards said: "I had walked past
Zoe but Boris found her and wouldn't
come so I turned round and went back."

Believing he had found a dead body, he
called the emergency services, only
for a Devon and Cornwall police
officer to find a slight pulse.


Her heart stopped as the helicopter flew
to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital
where she had to have her
blood re-circulated.

Miss Christie's father Trevor, 40, of
Yonder Street, Ottery St Mary, said:
"We never thought we would see the
day. She owes her life to that
dog and his persistence."


21.1.09

DOUBLE TAKE

Ilham Anas from Jakarta is in great
demand because of his resemblance
to the new US President.

The 34 year old "shy" photographer is
already a celebrity in in his home town,
where Mr Obama once lived,
but his fame is spreading.

He has appeared on Indonesia's premier
TV talk show, done an advertisement as
Mr Obama, and received other marketing
offers from companies in the region.

The real Barack Obama went to school
in Jakarta in the late 1960s, when
his classmates knew him as Barry.


Mr Anas said: "I was in the airport in
Malaysia in transit and a man approached
me and asked: 'Are you Obama?'. I will
take all the opportunities that come
my way, as long as they don't
violate ethical codes and my
personal values."


And he admits that all the attention
has given him something of a boost.
"I'm actually a shy person. I don't
like being put in the spotlight.


Let's just hope the White House doesn't
ever have to ask Ilham to be the
"president" ala Kevin
Kline in
"Dave"!


NICE FROST PIC
OF THE DAY

SCIURUS NIGER

Researchers from Cambridge have at
last
solved one of the mysteries
of the animal world.


Black squirrel numbers are rapidly
increasing and until now the UK origins
of the creatures have been unknown.

The black squirrel was first spotted
in the UK 90 years ago in
Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

Now accounts for almost half of all
squirrels in some areas around
Cambridgeshire and there are
an estimated 25,000 in
eastern England.


While the black squirrels have been
around for a number of years
nobody has been able to explain
where they came from.


Some 10,000 years ago, the red squirrel
had Britain to itself but in 1892 a
pair of American grey squirrels
were released into the wild.


The result is that today there are more
than two million grey squirrels and just
a few hundred reds living in
a handful of places.

The black squirrel represents the
same kind of threat to the grey
as the impact of the
grey on the red.


Helen McRobie and Alison Thomas,
from
Anglia Ruskin University in
Cambridge, are
spearheading the
black squirrel research.


They finally came up with a solution by
importing a black squirrel from the USA.

Genetic markers were taken and compared
with a British black and the result was
proof that the squirrels are descendents
of American blacks which
have escaped from zoos.


It seems possible now that the grey
squirrel has had its day and that black
squirrels could become the dominant
species across the UK.


NICE COLOURS
OF THE DAY

LEGO
INAUGURATION


While the real thing was going on, the
plastic version of the Inauguration
of Barack Obama was amusing
crowds in Legoland, California.

Over a thousand figures and hundreds
of thousands of bricks have been
used to create the scene as Lego
designers have imagined it.

Obama's wife, Michelle, and his daughters,
Sasha and Malia, with onlookers including
outgoing George W Bush, Hillary and
Bill Clinton plus Oprah Winfrey amonst
dozens of other famous faces are
depicted as he takes the presidential
oath on the steps of the Capitol.


See all of the photos in here.

Here's an amazing photo of
the actual thing from the air.


An estimated 2 million people gathered
at the National Mall to witness this
historic occasion beating the previous
attendance records:
George W. Bush
drew 400,000 in 2005 and Bill Clinton
800,000 in 1993. The record crowd
before Obama was 1.2 million in
1965 for Lyndon Johnson's big day.


TAHINA

Cute alert!

Meet Tahina, a newly born Madagascar
lemur (Propithecus coronatus )
at Besancon
Zoo, eastern France.

Tahina is one of only 17
Madagascar lemurs living in
captivity worldwide.

Her name means “blessed” or “to be
protected” in Malagasy and is
also the name of a palm tree
found on the island.


13.1.09

SILENT
RUNNING

I've been a huge fan of an Irish band
called Silent Running since 1984 and
had three of their albums on vinyl.

Over the years they've vanished somewhere
during my travels but then I discovered
I've got the first two on home-made tapes
which I've now managed to convert
into mp3 files whith my favourite
cadget bought last summer.

The album I was missing was the third
outing from 1989 called "Deep" which
I managed to buy from ebay couple of
days ago in a cassette form for a
few quid and have just converted.

They do have a fourth album
"No Way To Get Out" (1996) which
I've never even seen let alone heard
so if
someone out there has it, even
a tape, give me a shout! I'd love
to a have a copy of it!

My favourite is the second album
"Walk On Fire", which doesn't have a
poor
track on it. I love the "big" sound
ala
Simple Minds. I think Silent Running
never managed to get the attention
they truly deserved. Superb!

Here's a few audio clips
from YouTube




NICE FROST PIC
OF THE DAY

FLAKES

Check out these amazing photos by Kenneth
Libbrecht, a Professor of Physics at the
California Institute of Technology.

He's spent the last 11 years catching
and photographing these one-off
works of nature's art.

Building the specially designed SnowMaster
9000, a microscope and Nikon D1X digital
camera contained in a heated enclosure
(below), he has been able to
get the close-up images.

Showcased in his latest book, Snowflakes,
these amazingly detailed images show the
unique crystal formation of snowflakes.
To highlight the dimensions and qualities,
Kenneth uses illumination techniques,
from a variety of colour filters
for different effects.

"Snow crystals are made of ice, which is
clear and colourless," he says, "I like
to illuminate the crystals with
coloured lights from behind."


Please click on the image
to view a larger version.


Snowflakes form when a cloud droplet
first freezes into a tiny particle of ice.
As water vapour starts condensing on its
surface, the ice particle quickly develops
facets, which form into different shaped
snowflakes depending on temperature.


While scientists' opinions differ on the
classifications of snowflakes, Kenneth
has identified 35 different
types of formations.


RENT-A-FURRY
FRIEND

In Japan the economic situation has
taken a sharp turn for the worse
in recent months but they
like to use their money
still to have fun.

Lola - or Rora - to give her a slightly
more Japanese pronunciation -
is a beauty and she knows it.


Customers pay by the hour for her company.
Usually they just want to stroke her, but
as a special treat for favoured clients,
she will lie back in a chair, close her
eyes and pose for photographs.


Lola is a Persian cat who works at the Ja
La La Cafe in Tokyo's bustling Akihabara
district. It is one of a growing number of
Cat Cafes in the city which provide visitors
with short but intimate encounters
with professional pets.


There are 12 furry friends to choose from.
It costs about £8 ($10) an hour to spend
time in a Cat Cafe.
If felines do not
appeal, other establishments will
rent you a rabbit, a ferret
or even a beetle.


There are more than 150 companies
in Tokyo which are licensed to hire out
animals of various kinds and although
beetles may be cheap, dogs
are much more popular.


BEST JOB IN
THE WORLD?

Fed up with the grey skies and
Monday morning blues?
How about this?

Tourism officials in Australia
are describing it as "the
best job in the world".

They want someone to work on a tropical
island off the Queensland coast.
No
formal qualifications are needed
but candidates must be willing
to swim, snorkel, dive and sail.


In return, the successful applicant will
receive a salary of A$150,000
($103,000, £70,000) for six months
and get to live rent-free in a
three-bedroom villa,
complete with pool.


The new recruit will work for just 12 hours
a month. Duties include feeding some
of the hundreds of species of fish
and collecting the island's mail.


He/She will also need to prepare a blog,
a photo diary and video updates
to attract tourists to the area.

Check out the Top Ten tips
how to land this dream job.

EDIT 6.5.2009: Ben Southall, 34,
from Petersfield got the job.


9.1.09

FUNNY CAT PIC
OF THE DAY

SQUIRREL
CRISPS

Crisps that taste of chilli and chocolate,
onion bhaji and even Cajun squirrel will
be unleashed on the public today as part
of a competition to find a new flavour.

Walkers launched its Do Us A Flavour
campaign last July, challenging
members of the public to think
up a unique flavour of crisp.

Fish and chips, crispy duck and hoi sin,
and builder's breakfast have also made
the finals of the public search.

Chef Heston Blumenthal and a judging
panel picked the top six entries from
more than one million, and Walkers
turned the ideas into reality.


The crisps can be bought from all supermarkets
from today until May.
Blumenthal said: "The
complexities of flavour fascinate me and
to watch the British public get so
excited about taste has been
absolutely inspiring."

"We've had an incredible response and
sifting through the entries has been
quite incredible. I can't wait to
see which on the public
choose as their winner!"


VICTORIAN

I thoroughly enjoyed the documentary
series about 17th century farming called
Tales from the Green Valley in 2005.

Now the same team are back but
this time they've gone Victorian.

I watched the first episode last night
and the new 6 part series promises
to be very interesting.

The series follows the team, historian
Ruth Goodman and archaeologists
Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn (above),
as they live the life of Victorian
farmers for a year.

Wearing period clothes and using only the
materials that would have been available
in 1885, they are going back in time
to relive the day-to-day
life of a working farm.


The project is based on the Acton Scott
estate in Shropshire - world frozen in
time, lost in Victorian rural England. Its
buildings and grounds are cluttered with
antique tools and machinery collected by
the Acton family who have lived on
the estate since the 12th century.


Working for a full calendar year, Ruth,
Alex and Peter are rediscovering a lost
world of skills, crafts and knowledge
assisted by an ever-dwindling band of
experts who keep Victorian
rural practices alive.


In the first episode the team move into
a Victorian smallholding that has not
been used in nearly half a century.

Their first task is the restoration of the
cottage. As incoming tenants, they also
help thresh the previous summer's
wheat crop, their first experience
of steam-powered machinery.

Alex attempts to sow a wheat crop using
horse-power. Ruth and Peter install a
new range in the cottage and take
a trip to the canal to get coal.


Alex and Peter turn their hand to making
apple cider. Ruth explores the challenges
of Victorian cooking by making preserves
ready for winter and cooks her first
meal, a leg of mutton, on the range.

And the team must learn shepherding
skills the hard way as the first livestock
arrive on the farm -10 Shropshire ewes,
one of which quickly disappears
into a nearby field to
join another flock.


The official book to accompany
the series is also

out now.


RAINING CATS

But no dogs.

This cracked me up
this morning!

A "studio katze" wandered onto the
set of a live weather forecast by
Germany's leading meteorologist
Joerg Kachelmann.

Kachelmann had just started his two-
minute slot when the cat appeared -
but he just scooped it up and
finished his forecast.


SUNSET OF
THE WEEK

8.1.09

A NEW FAVOURITE

KB has been a fan of Gilmore Girls for
years and now that E4 started the
series from the very beginnig I
decided to give it ago.

Two episodes in...I'm hooked!

It's well written, witty, fast-paced and
competently acted. It's full of laugh-out-one
liners like "Gnome kicking says a lot about
a man's character" by the girls neighbour
Babette in the second episode.

One of favourite characters so far is

Michel played by Yanic Truesdale.
Almost every line he utters
has me in stitches!


MURPHY'S LAW

This year is the 60th anniversary
of the birth of Murphy's Law

"If anything
can go wrong, it will".

It was named after Capt. Edward A. Murphy,
an engineer working on Air Force Project
MX981 at Edwards Air Force Base,
California, in 1949.

The test was designed to see how
much sudden deceleration a
person can stand in a crash.

One day, after finding that a transducer
was wired wrong, he cursed the technician
responsible and said, "If there is any
way to do it wrong, he'll find it."

The contractor's project manager kept
a list of "laws" and added this one,
which he called Murphy's Law.


Actually, what he did was take an old law
that had been around for years in a
more basic form and give it a name.


Shortly afterwards, the Air Force doctor
Dr. John Paul Stapp, who rode a sled on the
deceleration track to a stop, pulling 40 Gs,
gave a press conference. He said that their
good safety record on the project was due
to a firm belief in Murphy's Law and in
the necessity to try and circumvent it.


Aerospace manufacturers picked it up
and used it widely in their ads during the
next few months, and soon it was being
quoted in many news and magazine
articles. Murphy's Law was born.


Check out the list which
covers pretty much

everything in life!


NICE COLOURS
OF THE DAY

A La Clique circus performer
at the 2009 Sydney Festival.

6.1.09

AMAZING COLOURS
OF THE DAY

These beautiful blues can be found at the
Reed Flute Cave five kilometers northwest
of the town of Guilin in China.

More photos
in here


A HUI HOU

You've probably never heard of
designer called Alfred Shaheen.

Yet he inspired one of the most colourful,
amusing and unforgettable styles
of fashion ever known -
the Hawaiian shirt.

Sadly the pioneering textile
manufacturer has died at age 86,
his family have confirmed.

After World War II, many
tourists from
the US to Hawaii
began to bring home
colorful but cheesy looking shirts and
sundresses that would be cause for
much amusement among friends.

Shaheen began to change that in 1948
when he opened Shaheen's of Honolulu
and began designing, printing and
producing "aloha" shirts, dresses and
other ready-to-wear clothing
of better quality.

Among those seen in Shaheen-designed
shirts of that era was Elvis Presley,
who wore one for the cover of his 1961
soundtrack album "Blue Hawaii."

Such Shaheen originals now
sell for more than £500.

"Before Shaheen came along, there was
no Hawaii garment industry. There were
mom and pop stores but no real modern
industry," Linda Arthur, a professor of
textiles and clothing at Washington
State University said.


By 1959, the year Hawaii became a state,
he had more than 400 employees working
for him and was grossing more than
$4 million a year as the major player
in the islands' garment industry.


BRRRR!!!

This has been the coldest start to a winter
in the UK for 30 years and the current
arctic snap is showing no signs of
letting up until later in the week.

With lows of -8C (17.6F) in store for much
of southern England and Wales tonight
forecasters say temperatures could drop
to -10C in rural Hampshire and Surrey
and Bristol could dip to -6C.

Even the fountains are frozen
at London's Trafalgar Square


The mercury dropped to -11C in
Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, and in Shap,
Cumbria, on Monday night.

BBC weather forecaster John Hammond
explained that the current freezing
conditions had been caused by Arctic
air sweeping across Scandinavia
and over the North Sea.

It might feel a bit nippy this week but
temperatures are still a long way off
the record low of -27C (-16.6F) in
northern Scotland 14 years ago.

EDIT 7.1.09: Temperatures plunged
to -12C (10.4F) in Benson, Oxfordshire,
making last night the coldest
so far of the 2008/2009 winter.


POLYGLOT

Leaning a new language is probably one
the most popular New Years resultions.

If you're thinking of taking up such a
challenge, why not get your inspiration
from Ziad Fazah, the world's greatest
polyglot (living linguist).

The 55 year old Lebanese has at least
some notions of almost 60 languages.
He does not use all of his languages
on a regular basis.

As can be expected, his fluency is higher
in certain languages that he has more
contact with (Portuguese, Arabic, German,
French, English, Spanish, etc.) and limited
in languages that he has hardly spoken
in years (Cambodian, Dzongkha,
Finnish, etc).

Before being submitted to a televised
language test he asks to be told which
languages he will be required to speak
and the general topics to be discussed.

After about a week of preparation
Fazah feels confident speaking
in any of his languages.


IDDY NEWS

The little puss we've been looking after
since last week was suppose to go to
her new temporary home yesterday
but since we're going to the vet
with one of our own cats Millie on
Wednesday anyway we thought
we'll take her then.

She's going to a foster home in Mitcham
via the vet and from there to a
permanent home once a suitable
new owner has been found.

She's been the perfect house guest,
no fuss, no trouble.

She loves to play with toys and loves ham!
She likes cuddles and being brushed too.
I'd still like to keep her myself but
best let to her go now before
I get too attached!

EDIT 11.3.09: We found out today that Iddy is
now called "Chocolate" and she went to a family
with two kids. I'm so pleased! That was the
main thing - to find her a good home.