No Webkinz

Passing a shop this evening, there was a big sign outside proudly announcing "No webkinz". So when I got home, I looked this up, and discovered this.
"This has exploded, everyone wants one now. It's insane, we can't keep up with the orders," said Linda Wisotsky, the co-owner of Bedazzling, a gift boutique in Basking Ridge that sells Webkinz.

Hmm, doesn't this seem just like the start of a science fiction story? But, more like one by Ray Bradbury than Philip K. Dick, in case that is any comfort. Probably a retro-futuristic retelling of the Pied Piper myth.

In other news, if you ask the Sirius Cybernetics Search Engine for directions from America to Europe, it will tell you to go jump in a lake! Or stick your head in a pig, something like that. Isn't that just incredibly hilarious, so hilarious that it needs repeating on every single blog and news website as if it is of some genuine consequence?


Convenience store

I've had this lying around my disk for a while, and just stumbled upon it again.


Stupid Bankers (part 199)

From the Halifax phishing FAQ:
beware of links in emails. Web addresses in phishing emails can be masked (disguised) so that they appear to be taking you to a trusted address, but in fact they point to somewhere different,

From a Halifax email to me:
To find out what you'll see, select the link below
and choose the screen that you currently see when you sign into
online banking. <a href="http://customer.halifax.co.uk/re?l=bkrhgtI37z1bexI5" target="_blank">www.halifax.co.uk/youronlinechanges</a>



Pine cheats

On the offchance that anyone still uses Pine as their email client (maybe it's just me), try this cool cheat which gives you infinite lives.

* In your inbox, type ;snadxy

Or rather, don't.


Er, right

Just recovering from a burst of activity. Here is an email I just received:

From: Jeannette Joiner <talc'srareness@saveotters.com>
Subject: anti-spammers are lamers
1 Shown 3 lines Text (charset: windows-1250)
2 OK ~14 lines Text (charset: windows-1250)

regards, spammer.

Um, yeah, fine.


Travel Log

Ugh. I just won the seating chart bingo on my flight home, as the guy with the screaming child was in the seat next to mine. Earplugs notwithstanding, I got to enjoy the brat shrieking and grabbing at me for eight hours while the sprog's mother sat a dozen rows back and slept. I probably should have suggested a swap, but my innate politeness overcame me. We landed an hour late, and sat around for a plane to vacate our bay; then some more waiting to be pulled those last few feet to the terminal. An unusually long queue for a taxi, and to cap it all the driver finishes the journey by arguing with my choice of highway exits for the fastest arrival (does he not want a tip?). But I'm home now, albeit later than planned, and with more of a hideous headache than I would like. And the one thing I was anticpating causing the most hassle -- the immigration counter -- was, for once, running with almost no delay.

Anyway, amongst the mail is some unsolicited crap suggesting that I change my car insurance. It tells me that "81.7% of all New Jersey drivers who called and switched realized savings. 17% who switched from Allstate saved, 22% who switched from Geico saved, 20% who switched from State Farm saved." Which suggests that the person writing the bumpf doesn't understand percentages and conditional probabilities, or else they really don't want my business after all.


See Naples and Die

I seem to be having a reasonable time in Italy, although I have a nasty suspicion that I have a mild allergy to pasta, which is inconvenient at best. In the meantime, entertain yourself with the last entry in the ever more complex sequence of New Jersey based bank-robberies (I guess I have an alibi for this one).


Homeless for a day

I deeply believe in the concept of home as a base. Somewhere safe to belong and return to. I've opined before about the foolishness of constant travel when we put so much effort into creating a home. It occurs to me that when we travel over long distances, we make ourselves temporarily homeless. We tend to be somewhat pitying of the genuine homeless, who huddle and sleep on public transport, but then we place ourselves in the same situation as we en masse sleep fitfully on giant jumbo jet planes criscrossing the oceans and continents.

I write from the somewhat fractured observation point of Gatwick departures lounge, having staggered dazed into the dull british morning en route to some other place. I was prepared to play the part of the executive traveler, and give myself the excess luxury of a hotel room as I wait out the next leg of my journey, but the available options exceeded my budget for luxury and veered into pure decadence. So instead I sit unshaven and unshowered, tethered to the wall by an electrical cord and to the internet by a rented wireless connection. And somehow the familiarity of a warm laptop and eager browser means that I can shut out the dull numbness of a head pounded by jet engines for seven hours, and feel coseted for a short time. I'm in no position to do any serious work although I have several hours at my disposal but I can at least respond to emails, look over power points, and feel up to date with the daily onslaught of demands for my attention.

Tongiht I should reach my destination, and make my substitute home in a Jolly hotel (their name, not mine). And so I will relinquish my temporary status as itinerant until the end of week, when my return journey will make me a chair sleeper once more.


The Italian Job

This time next week, I have the unmitigated joy of a brief trip to Italy to present a brief tutorial on water management, or some such similar. I forget the details exactly. Normally, this would be a good excuse to esacpe from the snow of New Jersey to the more tolerable climes of Europea. But, as seems to be the case a lot at the moment, I have a deadline hanging over my head for when I get back. And for some reason, I can't relax fully when there is a deadline in the offing. So instead of lying back to enjoy the wine and pasta, I'll be... well, enjoying the wine and pasta, obviously, but also furtively trying to check my email even though there's not really anything useful I could be doing until I get back to the land of precipitation, subzero temperatures and warm printers with letter paper.

But anyway, yes, if anyone who happens to know me is in the immediate vicinity of Caserta next week, do let me know. I'll also be taking a couple of extended stopovers in Gatwick, but I wouldn't wish those on anyone.


More answerphone weirdness

A while ago I mentioned some weird messages left on my answerphone. This one is slightly different: a message from someone I know, but it goes all strange after about three seconds: suddenly there is all manner of screeching and wailing and perhaps even a baby crying in the background. Any idea what on earth is going on here? Content is hosted on youtube, and this time you have actual genuine pictures of the $20 piece of rubbish that I've had for the last four years serving as my main point of contact with outside world, thanks to new digital camera, which turns out to be a video/audio recorder as well -- who would have expected that?


As the petunias said to the sperm whale...

..."oh no, not again".

Not my house on fire this time, but now the entire road is blocked off.