Monday, July 24, 2006

Holmes Jnr

My bro-in-law and best friend Marty and his wife Paula had a son last night.

Jordan Alexander Ritchie

Nice shot there Holmes and Holmes Jnr,

- from Holmes in Taiwan.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Best Guitarist You've Never Heard Of

There's talent in them there hills. I'm not talking about Slash or Brian May, Clapton, SRV, Angus Young or The Chief. They are all show ponies, I am talking about these seemingly Joe Bloggs people that are better than them all.

Meet Rafael Moreira, he's the best guitarist you've never heard of.

Last year I watched every episode of Rockstar: INXS, which is a reality show of sorts created by Mark Burnett, the "Survivor" creator. I think I have cracked his secret formula: Elimination, I mean no one else has noticed that is the secret before have they?

Anyway, Rockstar: INXS was a show where they started with 15 Rocker wannabes who got to perform rock classics and INXS standards, and got eliminated one by one each week until INXS had a new lead singer. (For the record, I guessed JD from the outset, but that's another story)
After watching a few painful seasons of American Idol, I was beginning to think that I was the best undiscovered singer in the world.
I was expecting more of the same for Rockstar, but I was wrong - these contestants were really good.
Rockstar: Supernova is season two of the original, and is a new band formed by Tommy Lee (Most famously known as the self-camera-porn-dood of himself and Pamela Anderson, less famously as the drummer of Motley Crue), Gilby Clarke (GnR guitarist) and Jason Newsted (Bass, Metallica).
I've liked INXS since back in the days when "I send a message" was the first time I heard Michael Hutchence' voice. That was the 80's, and everyone was into 12" EP remixes. One of the most memorable EPs I heard was "Burn for you" which has a heap of distinctive but simple offbeat drumming by Farris.
I was pretty gutted when Michael went. Very talented guy who was always destined to die young I guess (that sounds really morbid, but can you imagine an 'Old' Michael Hutchence?)

So back to Rockstar. There is no doubt about it INXS is, or were, very good at their own genre and in hindsight were pretty innovative at the time. A lot of their songs only sound so normal because we have heard them so much, but in the 80s there was only one INXS sound.
I was a little disappointed when the format of the show relied heavily on the use of a House Band and INXS themselves just played a couple of times, but, I was quietly impressed more by the house band than anything else on that show. They are all really really good, and play all sorts of stuff seemingly with just a few rehearsals. Perfect covers or total rearrangements seem to be a cinch.

If you get the chance, watch this guy Raf on gat. Its been while since I've seen someone so relaxed play so brilliantly.

He's from Brazil of all places too.

Official Rockstar website (Lots of flash design)
Raf's Bio
Raf's own website
Wiki about Michael Hutchence
Official Gibson Les Paul site
...and as a very special treat to my loyal fans:
Google Earth placemarks for the Rockstar Mansion, and something else.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The All Blacks Haka

On Saturday, the mighty All Blacks crushed Australia. But what everyone was talking about was the 'new' haka, Kapa O Pango. For the benefit of those who didn't make it to the game, or those that missed the first half, here are a couple of Haka videos.
First the original, which Adidas did a nice job of overlaying Maori warriors...and second, the new haka. There is something really special about this unique part of NZ culture, which is taken to the world just a few times a year. (It'd be a shame to miss it eh?)
I've gotta tell ya, seeing Tana Umaga screaming like that at the opposition made me proud to be a New Zealander - and an All Blacks supporter....well I mean, who'd want to be the standing there on the field facing that?

Original Haka

Kapa O Pango

Monday, July 10, 2006

The myth of 20/20

I always thought 20/20 vision meant 'perfect vision', until I started this LASIK gig.

I got my eyes zapped just over a week ago and the doc said at my 1 week checkup that my vision is now 20/12. So what does that mean, am I now half blind or what?

I would appear not. According to this site the use of the term "20/20" refers to this complex calculation created by some Dutch dood called Snellen (1834-1908)
Someone with 20/20 (visual acuity) is just able to decipher a letter that subtends a visual angle of 5 minutes of arc (written 5') at the eye. (5' of arc is 5/60 of a degree, because there are 60' of arc in 1 degree.) What this means is that if you draw a line from the top of a 20/20 letter to the eye and another line from the bottom of the letter to the eye, the size of the angle at the intersection of these two lines at the eye is 5' of arc. (Also, the individual parts of the letter subtend a visual angle of 1' of arc at the eye.) It does not matter how far away something is from the eye; if it subtends an angle of 5' of arc at the eye, then a person with 20/20 visual acuity will just be able to determine what it is.

The bottom line is, 20/20 is considered to be what a person with "Normal" vision can see at 20ft. (I read a couple of sites that talked about being about to read a 20 size letter at 20 feet, but that sounds like bullshit to me). Everyone is probably familiar with Snellen's Artwork, which is known as "The Snellen Chart"

Trivia snippet:"Only the nine letters C, D, E, F, L, O, P, T, Z are used in the traditional Snellen chart"

Apparently 20/10 is extremely rare, it's almost 20/12 is pretty damn good then. What this means is I can see an object that is 50ft away, while someone with 20/20 vision has to be 30ft away.
As you can imagine, 10 days ago I had reasonably thick glasses to correct Myopia (Nearsightedness), so I was expecting (hoping) to get 20/20 out of the LASIK zapping. To get 20/12 is beyond my wildest dreams. I am a lucky bastard, that is what.
Next time you can't quite see something, give me a call.

The most comprehensive thing about Vision Acuity I could find

A "Random Snellon" online eyetest
Buy your own Snellen chart from Amazon(you know you want to)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Traditional Wood Fired Pizza Oven

I think I have mentioned before that not having a garage in Taiwan is driving me crazy....but it's bigger than that. I mean, what do I want a garage for? To build shit, that's what.

Recently my Mum (That's Mom to those from North America) sent me a copy of a fine article out of a NZ magazine called "The Shed". The article is a step-by-step thing on how to build your own Traditional outdoor oven.
I could scan in in for you, but it's just too hard. Instead I found a pretty good site on it.

Here is one that I reckon looks cool:

More pics here

I'd actually forgotten about these things until recently, but when we were travelling around Italy in 2002, these ovens are actually the 'normal' way of cooking pizza, although usually they are built indoors. I found it fascinating to watch the doods making the dough, then turning it into Pizzas for cooking right there in the restaurant.
At the time I was thinking this would be a good addition to Truantville. I like the idea of (wait for it....the Binford idea) making a combo style, that includes a BBQ, or one that is built into a wall of the house and can be used from either inside or outside. I haven't seen that done yet, but I am sure that would be the best way to do it to avoid freezing yer ass off in the winter, or being forced to cook inside while yer mates are outside boozing on the deck in the sun. I reckon it would be great to invite people over and have them cook their own pizza, just the way they like it.

Anyway, I reckon this will be one of the FIRST things to be built on Truantville. Even if it's all there is, it gives food, warmth and a social focus....and let's face it, that's what a good home is all about right?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Make your own battery powered iPod charger

I have seen 1 or 2 'powerbricks' around. They are basically a big battery pack that allow you to charge up or run another device, like an iPod, Pocket PC, digital camera or whatever in situations where you normally don't have easy access to 110/240v - such as a Camel Caravan in the Sahara or on a long-haul aircraft flight. The problem with these commercially available things is they are freakishly expensive.
Here is a nice DIY version to try:

18 Days of Reckless Computing

Here's a short article from a guy that deliberately broke all the rules to see what would happen.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Digital Detectives

Check out this story about Cyber Sleuthing. Bloody interesting.

I believe the internet has become a double edged sword for pedophiles. Initially, it gave them the ability to freely share their information, but we are seeing more and more that the internet is a place that criminals do not want to be and one by one, justice is being served.

These guys are heros...