What goes around…

29 04 2015

Recycling starts and ends with you.

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Spare Ribs and Fish Guts

29 04 2015

I’m reading a book at the moment that I bought in last year’s local Rotary Club book fair. It’s an anthology of some of Philip K Dick’s short stories. No less than 10 films have been spun from his stories, including Minority Report, Blade Runner, Total Recall, Adjustment Bureau and others. These stories obviously had merit enough to be spun up into full length films even though the original story might have only been a few pages long. Most of the stories in the anthology are a lot less spectacular. In fairness, most were written in the 50s and 60s and though tame (or lame) by modern standards, would still have been inspired and original back then.

One story is built around the concept that we all have our own world/reality. In it, everything goes just as it needs to, for our own benefit. Everything that happens – even the bad things – are ultimately for our benefit. Everyone else we encounter is basically there just for our amusement and aren’t really fully realised. They each have their own world where they are the focus and we are the bit players.

So I read this story today, and it got me thinking – as any worthy read should. I realised that the only reason I hadn’t written a more substantial “linking a few disparate ideas together” blog posting of late was basically because I hadn’t tried! I hadn’t looked for the links that are there for we pattern-seekers to find in any day we consciously experience. As humans we actually have to be careful to not find patterns and links where none actually exist. There’s a well documented phenomenon called pareidolia – one aspect of which is seeing human faces in inanimate objects or clouds, shadows, etc. I guess we’re so good at suppressing it that we forget to allow it to happen when we’re wanting a bit of creativity.

So today, we’re going to discuss spare ribs and fish guts. Hey – I never said the link couldn’t be tenuous!

I share an office and my colleague and I have known each other for many years. Since before I moved to Canada in fact. We know each other’s families well and rarely feel the need to be particularly discreet or guarded when speaking on the phone with our kith or kin. So today my colleague was speaking with his father about a recurring issue he has with a dislocated rib. Sounds painful, but apparently a bit of prodding and poking from a chiropractor (which I discovered is a North American witch doctor, but quite legal and covered by insurance despite being previously unknown to me in the Old Country) can rectify things. After the call, I was updated with the details and I jokingly suggested his father might have the troublesome rib removed. Indeed he could perhaps have it fashioned into a second wife. I think this quip surprised my devout friend because I am not known as being even slightly religious. This superficially seemed to confirm how deeply ingrained the judeo-christian traditions were within European society and how well known the biblical story of Adam’s rib was.

I then had to confess that the entire story was unknown to me until I was in college. I went to what then was an all-male college in Durham University – Grey College. It’s named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey of “The Duchess” fame. Tea too. Yes, that Earl Grey. Anyway, some time before I attended, there had been a motion passed that in addition to the usual dailies and several stoic publications like The Economist, the Junior Common Room would also subscribe to a publication called Spare Rib. If you’re not aware, this is a now-defunct UK feminist magazine. Pretty forward thinking for an all-male college really. Anyway, not being afraid to learn (I was after all purportedly at university for just that reason!) I had to ask what the name was all about, and someone or other set me straight about the biblical story regarding a rib, clay and whatnot.

Of course, I had to explain all this to my colleague and we quickly came across an early cover from 1972.

Wikipedia: Spare Rib 1972

Yes, that is John Cleese on the cover as “sleazy boss”. The headline reads “On the boss’s lap for Christmas – back under his thumb next year”. If you’d like to read the article on page 13 of this, the sixth edition, you can buy your very own copy for a mere £60 from Amazon.co.uk. Somewhat dearer than the original 17½p… even with inflation! I feel I must apologise that I could not ascertain the name of the young lady posed on Mr Cleese’s undeserving knee. If anyone can tell me, I’ll gladly add it to this piece. When I was a kid we actually had a mustard yellow rotary phone just like that on the table.

Today my day was pretty busy, trying to organise travel to Chicago, Connecticut and various European destinations. Also the UK, which is even now reluctant to admit it’s part of Europe. That 22 mile stretch of water has served the islands well over the millennia! Anyway, I found myself on LinkedIn trying to locate contact details of one of the clients I was to meet. Whilst trolling around various possible formats of his name and that of his company in vain, I noticed that I had received an invitation to link with someone and curiosity dragged me onwards.

The person desirous of my connection was a very northern European looking lady , but with a very Japanese name. Oh come on… you’d be curious too! I read on…

She was genuine as far as I could tell, and did indeed claim to speak Japanese, despite being a professor in a northern Icelandic university. The best bit though was her area of study. It was to do with the unexploited resources that are the byproducts of food processing. As well as vegetable trimmings (which just sounded a bit rude), my favourite was fish guts. It seems that there are useful antioxidants (and presumably other things) being discarded as part of our industrialised food creation.

Which brought me back to my lunchtime reading of “vintage” science fiction. My colleague had noticed the book and mentioned he had enjoyed reading the similarly vintage “Stainless Steel Rat” series when he was younger. I’ve not read them myself, but was aware of them, and surprised him that I knew they were penned by Harry Harrison. I knew this because Harrison also wrote a book called Make Room! Make Room! I haven’t read this either, but would very much like to. It is the novel from which the 1973 classic Soylent Green was derived. And there we have it. Spare rib, fish guts and a side of Soylent Green.

Now if I could only parley that into a trip to Iceland, we’d be golden…





Fairy Tale Foodstuffs

28 04 2015

What do you get if you cross Vancouver’s creativity with the need to help the less fortunate with the daily basics of a good meal?

Canstruction! An annual competition to build art pieces out of (mainly) canned food around a theme. There’s a few venues around town each year. One is in the Four Seasons hotel, and I happened to see a couple of this year’s entries there last night.

Kudos Vancouver. An imaginative way to bring focus onto a real issue. Despite the wealth of our city, there are still people who struggle to put nourishing food on the table and this is a creative way to bring attention (and money) to it.

Canstruction 2015





Another Sun Run behind me

19 04 2015

Well, I’ll not bore you with the details, but today I got a personal best (though not exactly record-breaking) in Vancouver’s 31st annual Sun Run – a 10km event. My group set off around 9:55, and though the staging area was in cool shade, it didn’t take long to get out into the sunny weather.

Vancouver

Vancouver Sun Run 2015 route

I’m not a big race fan, but I do like the Vancouver Sun Run. The atmosphere is always so generous and friendly. People line the route playing encouraging music (Elvis Costello’s “Pump it up” being an example today) and hold out witty signs to encourage the participants. Here’s a couple I passed on the home stretch, about 3km out, though I personally failed to get the power-up.

Source VS: Signs of encouragement on the home stretch

As I said though, the biggest thing for me (despite a bit of pushing and shoving – it is after all playoff season – and being tripped from behind by some knob with his kid in a pushchair who didn’t see any reason to apologise), is the generous nature of Vancouverites. I thought this photo from the Vancouver Sun of spectators offering encouraging high fives summed it up nicely. Well done Vancouver!

Source – VS: Vancouver Sun Run 2015

 





String? Washing powder? What’s the difference?

15 04 2015

I’m a Product Manager. I Like To Capitalise Words for no good reason whatsoever, though I think that partly comes from learning German (which capitalises all nouns, not just proper ones) as a kid and then becoming a software engineer where camelCaseNaming recently became popular for long variable names. I say recently, because when I first started, X1 was considered long and it was a struggle to get people to understand that “index” or “count” was easier to understand and the computer didn’t really mind after all.

I’ve long had a love of word play, puzzles, hidden meanings etc., and this has sometimes helped in my current role. Of late I’ve been contemplating names for a software consultancy, and was reminded of the mad extremes that marketing can get to when sight is lost of the goal. If it becomes an end in itself, you can end up with Simpson’s Individual Emperor Stringettes in the blink of an eye… as only Monty Python can truly illustrate.





Bart’s Blackboard

14 04 2015

Ever wondered if someone collected all those different things Bart was forced to write on the blackboard?

Well they did…

Bart’s Blackboard.

Bart's Blackboard





<100

14 04 2015

What an interesting concept. A great conversation starter too!

In Pittsburgh, women are paid 76c on average to a man’s $1. To raise awareness of this built in discrimination, this little arts and crafts shop discounts its prices for women by the same amount.  Called Less Than 100, it sells gifts like ceramics, paper crafts and art by independent makers.

Read more at Mashable: Women pay 76 cents to men’s $1 at shop promoting wage equality.