Sheffield boy

This worked well.

Yep. That’s me.

This was an interactive quiz on the New York Times website, of all places. It asked me a few questions about what words I used for various things when I was a kid: infants, bread rolls, being grumpy and certain items of furniture, and then worked out where I was most likely to have grown up, given the dialect that I used.

Apart from being extremely accurate, it brought back some great memories. Playing Tiggy-Off-Ground in the school playground (that’s On-On to my kids now), for example. It was our standard go-to game before school started in the mornings (but only because you weren’t allowed in the back playground before school and you weren’t allowed to play football in the front playground, obviously).

And then there was that “being grumpy” question. To be fair, they could have pinpointed me with just that one answer. I really don’t think there’s anywhere outside Sheffield where “mardy” is a thing.

Made internationally famous by these guys, of course:

As the test was unfolding, I was wondering if I could fool it into thinking I was from Newcastle, and yes I surely could have done, but that was hardly the point.

If you’re reading this in the UK (and you’re from the UK), give it a go and let me know how you get on.

Slackbladder’s best lines

Incoming via email this weekend, this 2013 Daily Telegraph article claims to have assembled (although we’ve fallen foul of these list things before) the Top 30 lines ever uttered by any of the Blackadder clan.

Some appropriate for January:

I’m as poor as a church mouse, that’s just had an enormous tax bill on the very day his wife ran off with another mouse, taking all the cheese.

Some useful for insulting people of social media:

You ride a horse rather less well than another horse would. Your brain would make a grain of sand look large and ungainly and the part of you that can’t be mentioned, I am reliably informed by women around the Court, wouldn’t be worth mentioning even if it could be.

And plenty – plenty – about his sidekick’s infamous best ideas:

Baldrick, you wouldn’t recognise a subtle plan if it painted itself purple and danced naked on a harpsichord singing ‘subtle plans are here again’.

Lots more to see here.

More drone photo disappointment

We’ve been here before (harvesting water lilies again, nogal), but…

Spoiler: they’re really not.

Now, I’m not saying that I could have necessarily produced anything better (although my waves breaking on rocks beats their waves breaking on rocks IMHO, so actually maybe I am).

but honestly, if these are the “50 best drone pictures of last year”, then… ugh.

The quality is disappointing, the variation in subject matter is really poor (any chance of another boat harvesting some plants or doing some fishing, please?) and the winner (reproduced here only so you don’t have to click through and be continually disappointed):

clearly breaks one of the many unwritten rules of flying a drone: don’t harass wildlife. Add to that several over roads and a few above crowds: it’s not exactly showcasing the best of drone etiquette.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some lovely photos in there, and I still firmly believe that taking photos from a drone opens up a whole new world of perception of common or everyday objects or scenes.

But “best 50 drone pictures of last year”? Sorry. No.
At least half of these are really rather ordinary.

Asteroid death “not certain”

Great news! This learned writer (no: this one, not me) seems to suggest that humankind might actually have the technology and ability to prevent an asteroid strike which would likely end all life on earth.

As long as we have a few decades of warning time.

But: Great news! NASA is tracking loads of these potential planet-devastating lumps of rock (when they’re at work, at least), and so we’re likely to get quite a bit of lead time before all life on earth is wiped out.

The bad news is that because we’re probably going to have a few decades of advance warning, there will almost certainly be no need for desperate measures like the inevitable big nuclear bomb. Thus any thoughts of a photo op of a massive extra-atmospheric firework display are, in all probability, wholly over optimistic.

Which is sad.

Do click through for some technologically amazing – but actually rather dull – ideas on how the-powers-that-be might protect us from certain death.

Sentences like:

We could blast it with a laser, for example.

do get the hopes up, only for them to be dashed with the follow up:

But since we don’t currently have a giant space laser, this method requires a bit more planning.

Leaving us with this riveting alternative:

In space, friction ceases to exist. Bodies move about as dictated by gravity. So, if you put something heavy near an asteroid, you can pull it off track.

This method happens slowly. It would only change the asteroid’s course at a rate of millimeters or centimeters per second per year.

BOOORRING!

It is, of course, recognised by all parties involved that any attempt to divert or blow up an incoming asteroid must be accompanied by an Aerosmith soundtrack. Understandably.

Beach Buddies

Whenever we’re walking along the beach in Cape Agulhas admiring the otter, we take a bag along with us to collect any plastic waste we find on the shoreline. Suiderstrand lies behind something of an offshore reef, so it doesn’t get as much flotsam and jetsam as some of the beaches in the area, but it does have a great number of fishermen (did I just assume their gender?) who leave behind miles (or more) of fishing line.

We never come back empty handed.

Further north, the problem with plastic is equally bad. And people are also doing something about it.

Yes, this preamble was merely opening for a link to a Grauniad article about Bill Dale’s Beach Buddies on the Isle of Man, with whom I have parental involvement.

Here is that link to that article.

Bit of hyperbole in the title; otherwise, it’s a nice positive piece about an important and praiseworthy volunteer organisation. And there’s a picture of Port Erin at the top.

Lovely.

As one of 52 Unesco island and coastal biosphere areas, the Isle of Man is focusing now with partners in Menorca, the Maldives, the Philippines and other islands on eliminating single-use plastic from their shores.

If that eventually puts Bill Dale out of a job, he could not be happier.

Indeed. I’d much rather have my hands free for… well… most anything else than picking up rubbish really, as I walk the beagle along our favourite bit of local coastline.