Pressing matters

Some of you will recall that a few weeks ago, I realised that with a wedding anniversary coming up, I needed a suitable gift for the lovely Mrs 6000. Having done some rudimentary calculations, I was able to deduce that we have been married 6 years and a small amount of research informed me that this is therefore our “iron” anniversary.

Iron is nowhere near as easy as (last year’s) wood to find something appropriate as a gift. Wood is used virtually everywhere: jewellery, ornaments, spoons, trees – most things around us have some wood in them somewhere and finding a beautiful gift was not difficult.
Interestingly, iron is also found everywhere, but not often in appropriate gift form: heavy machinery, shipping chains, big nails. It’s not what she would want as a present from her loving husband.

Then I realised that I was thinking laterally and not literally:  don’t get something made of iron, per se, but why not get her an actual iron! Practical, modern and very obviously iron-related! Brilliant!

Step forward this funky little number from Russell Hobbs (the Easy Fill 17877), featuring:

  • 2400W element
  • Unique water filling funnel
  • Anti calcium and drip functions
  • Ceramic soleplate – smoooooth, baby!
  • Purple easigrip™ handle – feels so good!
  • 6 steam settings
  • 12 month guarantee

I think that even the most inventive amongst you would be hard pushed to find a better present. I can like to think out of the box! Talking of which: I can’t wait to see her face when she gets this out of its box over dinner. Boom!

Looking ahead:

For the seventh anniversary, traditional materials are copper and wool and the modern materials are brass and desk sets.

Copper, hey? Maybe we can get that rewiring in the garage done…

How to block calls and SMSs on Android

I have had a few issues recently with persistent wrong numbers. Or at least I did, until I found a good way of blocking them.
You can send calls from selected numbers directly to voicemail using just the Android interface and if you want to do that, it’s as simple as adding the offending number to your contacts, then using EDIT CONTACT and checking… er… “Send calls directly to voicemail”.

However, that still leaves you with two problems: you will end with several (probably blank) voicemails and/or your annoying stalker may also decide to send you an SMS.

Don’t panic.

Step forward Easy Filter Call & SMS Blocker from Moonbeam Development. This freebie app, available from the Android Market does exactly what it says on the tin. Simply add any number from your contact list or call log (or at random if you feel the need) and it will block calls and/or SMSs from that person. It even works on Please Call Me SMSs, the bane of South African cellphone users lives.
You can choose to be informed (or not) that a call or SMS has been blocked and you can also choose to send a message to the blocked caller, telling them to “bugger off ” (this can be edited as you wish).

But wait! There’s more!

Don’t you just hate those private numbers that keep calling you? Is it a payphone, is it an irritating switchboard, or is it YOUR STALKER?!?!? (sorry).

Well, Easy Filter Call & SMS Blocker has an option to block those as well. Which is nice.

If you choose to install this app, please leave a comment and tell me what you think of it.

The alternative to all this, is presented by brilliant UK comedian Sean Lock.

Why not try this and have some fun before you block the number?

“A good throw back in” is not the answer

Read and learn from the latest Two Oceans Aquarium blog post, people:

It’s that time of year again, when the Two Oceans Aquarium starts to receive calls from concerned members of the public who come across stranded juvenile (and occasionally sub-adult) turtles on the beaches of the Western Cape. The tiny turtles you may come across are most likely hatchlings and the size of your hand. They wash up on our beaches, suffering from hypothermia.

Unsurprisingly, in Yzerfontein, these tiny turtles come ready frozen.

Now, turtles being sea-dwelling creatures, you might expect reasonably that getting them back into the sea would be the most obvious and helpful thing to do. Add to this the fact that these little turtles appear to be stranded on the beach, and it would also seem sensible to assist them to get as far from land as possible. DO NOT THROW THE TINY TURTLE BACK INTO THE SEA.
In fact, don’t put them near any water at all –  even if you have a turtle stretcher.

Yes – I’m serious:

These turtles are most likely suffering from hypothermia, which makes them weak; in most instances they are so weak that they cannot lift their heads.

Turtles breathe air, just like us, and if a turtle cannot lift its head out of the water, it cannot breathe and will drown.
Once you have found a tiny turtle on the beach around the Cape Town coast, it needs rehabilitation. The first thing to do is to remove the turtle from the beach and place it in a dry container where it cannot drown. Keep it at room temperature to warm up slowly.

Dry containers: keeping tiny turtles from drowning since 1992. Actually, it’s a little known fact that it’s incredibly difficult for any creature to drown in a dry container.
And see how they state to “keep it at room temperature”?
There’s no place in this world for the pastime of microwaving small animals unless you plan to eat them immediately afterwards. And there’s virtually no meat on a tiny turtle anyway, so go grab a sandwich instead.

Contact us immediately (+27 (0)21 418 3823) and get the turtle to us as quickly as possible.

Very important: At no stage should the turtle be placed in water as it could drown.

The Aquarium has a team of trained aquarists who have lots of experience in caring for stranded turtles.

Depending on where you are, due to the recent fuel price increases, this could be quite expensive, but you’ve come this far – no throwing, no microwaving, supply of a suitably dry container – so you might as well follow this through. However, at this point:
While a padded envelope may seem to be an adequately “dry container”, the vagaries of the South African postal system will almost certainly result in the tiny turtle being lost in transit. Tiny turtles require food as well as not water and they probably won’t find much nutrition in the bubble wrap, although they may have a lot of fun popping it before they pop their clogs.
However, opting to post the tiny turtle defeats the aim of attempting to save the tiny turtle in the first place.
Rather head to the Aquarium.

Once you have passed responsibility of the tiny turtle onto the team of trained aquarists, it is quite literally out of your hands. But you can go on your way safe in the knowledge that your lack of throwing, use of kitchen appliances and the local postal system, together with the provision of a commodious receptacle probably saved the life of that tiny turtle.
Don’t expect him to thank you though, because tiny turtles do not possess the complex vocal cords required for human speech. And even if they did, they are renowned for their absolutely appalling manners and lack of gratitude.

Kicking myself and the limitations of technology

Two parts to this one, but they are annoying intertwined in a doubly annoying double helix of annoyance.

The preamble to this post is that when I was looking for a new alarm clock tone for my phone, I took popular opinion on board and installed Zedge and had a fun time going through some of their expansive sound file database. Previously, my alarm clock tone was Radiohead’s No Surprises, but I found that put me in an even more depressed mood than I would usually be in at 6 o’clock.
To cut a long story short, I settled on a file called “MGC tone 1”, which was a cover of some throwaway dance track from the 90’s. I couldn’t quite remember who it was by at the time I downloaded it – I should really have known it, as the 90’s is my era in pub quiz music rounds – but that wasn’t really important: I had my new alarm clock tone.

Fast forward to a few weeks later and I am permanently grumpy every morning because I wake up to a song that I don’t know the artist or title of. I don’t like not knowing things I should know. It’s becoming a bit of  an issue. If I had a cat, it would be forcefully booted down the stairs each morning. But I don’t have a cat, which might explain why my daughter looks increasingly worried when she sees me heading down to make breakfast.

So – that’s half my problem. Now, for the limits of technology bit.

I love technology and I remain in awe of what it can do. But it can’t do everything. And while software like Sony Ericsson’s Track ID (and everybody else’s Shazam) are unbelievably brilliant, they can’t ID what some bloke did on a synth in his Ohio bedroom. Nor can they ID me singing what some bloke did on a synth in his Ohio bedroom. To be fair, this may not be solely down to the technology bit.

Half my problem with searching for things on the internet is knowing what to search for. Some things just don’t work in Google. Like, for example “Beepy electronic dance tune from the 90’s“, which plainly doesn’t tell me what my beepy electronic dance tune from the 90’s is.

That’s where you come in. Because at least one (or more) of you will know what this song is and who it’s by. Like I should.

No prizes here, save for my eternal gratitude and the satisfaction of having made my family’s lives a bit easier each morning.

Who’s going to be there with the first comment?

UPDATE: Winner is Kevin; song is PPK’s Resurrection.

Ivo backs me, rubbishes Christine’s Brilliant Idea

The eagerly-awaited “fracking the Karoo” column from Daily Maverick “Opinionista” Ivo Vegter has finally arrived, bringing with it further discussion of the dubious brainwashing tactics used by the anti-frackers (Lewis Pugh, TKAG et al). It’s nice to see that Ivo has finally jumped on-board with 6000 miles… after our previous differerences over… well… everything, really. And although he doesn’t actually mention this site in his column, you can tell he’s read it and then put it in much more technical (read: better) English.

Lewis Pugh was rousing. He invoked Mandela and Gandhi and the brave people who fought and died for freedom. The propaganda was spectacular and alarming. There would be war over water, he warned, if we permit Shell to prospect for shale gas in the Karoo.

This is about our children’s future, and that of our children’s children, he preached. Shell is proposing to destroy our environment, he said, launching into stirring rhetoric about the ravages of global warming. Then he invoked the political tyrants being toppled in north Africa, and deftly juxtaposed “corporate tyranny” as if it’s the same thing.

It was grand oratory, concluding in Churchillian fashion with a call to arms and a vow to fight on, so “good will triumph over evil”. Yes, he actually used those words.

It was a slick performance, full of emotive appeal and rhetorical hyperbole. Dutifully, the mainstream media – whose sympathies I may have mentioned before –cheered this green David, standing up against the corporate Goliath.

But just because a little guy is facing up to a big guy doesn’t make the little guy right.

Ivo quotes from several apparently pro-fracking papers, reports and article, which I have not had time to read (remember kids, this is his job, it’s merely my pastime). But the gist is that the main opposition to fracking in the Karoo is flawed by being based on incorrect information, poor data and/or downright untruths. Still, this opposition is cleverly presented as fact with a huge helping of emotion on a sideplate, and is then dutifully lapped up and regurgitated by their supporters.

But while Ivo might agree with me:

One keeps hearing how Big Oil lobbyists are evil spinmeisters and insidious manipulators of public opinion. Don’t forget that Big Green lobbyists can deceive the public with the best of them.

he pours scorn upon Christine’s Brilliant Idea™ – as documented yesterday on this blog.

Oh, and one other thing. Ditch the word “fracking”. It is a barbarous bastardisation of a perfectly good English term. Using it has only one purpose: spin.

It is designed to make people who don’t know better fear a perfectly ordinary industrial technique that has been in used safely and successfully around the world for many decades. It permits cute, but crude, phrases like “Fracking up the Karoo”. It should be beneath any self-respecting journalist.

Christine will surely be heartbroken.

Me? I’m off to try and find a “self-respecting journalist”. hahahaha!