Avatar Holiday picture

I am on holiday, but I still need to make one more post this month to earn a bean. The obvious thing to do is to post a massive gallery of holiday photos and be all smug about where I am and what I’m doing.

I respect you both too much to do that. Instead I will post one carefully chosen picture, which is a self-portrait I took using an underwater camera while I was wearing a snorkel mask. The rest of my smugness can be inferred from this if you wish to experience it.

Avatar Shrimp!

We have fish, we’ve had them a while but recently we had to move the tank out of the playroom to make room for Lego to be displayed. We didn’t really have anywhere else for them to go, so they went into the kitchen, and because its a kitchen the only place for them is in the window.

Apparently in a window isn’t the ideal place for a fish tank, as there’s too much light so christ knows how fish cope in nature. After a few weeks, sure enough we’ve started to get some algae growth in the water… whats the best way to deal with algae in a tank? Move it out of the sunlight? Chemicals? Nope, apparently its shrimp.

More impressive when you look up how to buy shrimp, is that you can buy them off eBay… through the post… alive.

I know, its mental. So say hello to “Wiggles” and “Swimmy Shrimpy”, named by the kids naturally…

Avatar Sharkitect

I had a vision last night. It was clear and it was pure.

As I lay in bed staring at the ceiling, I imagined a world where things were made from sharks. Not from shark meat or shark skin or anything weird like that, no no, everything is made from sharks. Buildings built from sharks, stacked metres high, riding up into the sky and beyond. Cars made from sharks where drivers wrap a luxurious shark tongue seatbelt around themselves and pull away in the latest Ford SHARK, a marked improvement from the previous year’s model, the Ford Shark.

Who would build these marvellous machines and inventions? Who would have the skills with which to satisfy the demands of the general public? I would be their saviour. I would be their sharkitect.

How gutted was I then when I looked into the matter and discovered that the majority of sharks are currently endangered? There’s not enough of them to build anything with. If I so much as tried to stack a few to make a shopping trolley the WWF would come down on me harder than an elephant after a long day at the office. My dream was in tatters before it had even got off the ground.

The sharkitect must now only live on as a theoretical job. If someone wants a creche made out of sharks I could design them something funky on a computer, on a piece of paper maybe, and that is all. The chances of finding someone who is willing to pay for this nonsense is unlikely.

I didn’t want to kill sharks. I didn’t want to hurt them. I wanted to turn them from something thrilling and amazing into something beautiful, even more thrilling, even more amazing.

Avatar Water faff

Where is your water meter?

In this post, likely to be the first of many where I talk about things to do with my new house, because that’s what my life is like these days, we’re going on a journey of discovery to find the water meter.

The electricity meter is easy. That has a special meter hutch in the hallway, so you can see it as soon as you walk in the door.

The gas meter is also not too difficult. Look under the stairs, where the boiler lives, and there’s the gas meter, sheltering underneath it. Excellent.

The water meter? Last time I had to find one it lived on the outside of the building, mounted quite low on the wall. Must be around here somewhere. The water company tell me it’s electronic so it can be read by a water meter detecting robot passing within fifty metres or some such futuristic nonsense.

One place it definitely can’t be is underground, because I’ve checked all the manhole covers and other gratings and none of them are either watery or metery. One is a big inspection hatch for the drains. Another is a smaller inspection chamber where a drain turns a corner. Some are gratings into the drains. And the other is labelled SEW, presumably short for SEWER, and I’m damned if I’m going in there. It sounds gross. So that stuff is all drains.

Lucky for me, after making further inquiries it turns out SEW doesn’t stand for sewer, even though that is completely logical. No, SEW stands for South East Water. Underneath the SEW manhole cover is a foam block covered in mud, and under the foam block is four inches of freezing cold stagnant water, and under the four inches of freezing cold stagnant water is my electronic bluetooth enabled water meter.

Let’s hope it’s waterproof.

Avatar Newsboost – Zany Zoo Zig-Zag

Thailand has opened a brand new zoo and it is one that has garnered the attention of the world’s media for offering a different kind of experience.

The ‘Khop Khun Animal Sanctuary’ based outside of the city of Phuket is revolutionary in its approach to animal captivity, if you can even call that. The entire park is open with no walls or barriers keeping the animals in one singular place. Instead, in order to keep visitors safe, every member must wear their very own human cage, placed around their head, body and legs to prevent any unwanted attention from the most rambunctious of residents.

Originally the idea of billionaire John Cho, it was fully realised, albeit with the help of Cho’s money, by Anastasia and Lloyd Botham, a couple originally from Milton Keynes. It was these forward-thinking biologists who designed the layout of the attraction with the animals in mind, more than the people.

“We wanted it to be outside inside, or more appropriately, we didn’t want the animals to know they were being kept inside something,” wittered Lloyd, “Their sense of freedom is much more important than anything else. They need to believe that nothing is stopping them from living their best life and though it may not be the habitat they are normally used to, it is much more humane than tiny cages in dingy corners of draughty warehouses.”

Anastasia was the one who crafted the “human cages” as they have come to be known as. “I was inspired by robots. I love the movement of robots, the style and look of robots. It then occurred to me that when people get close to sharks they lower themselves into the water in a giant cage for protection. Why not do the same thing on land? Not with sharks though because they’d die, unless they were put in a giant tank. I reckon it wouldn’t be the same though.”

After ten minutes of waffling she returned to the point. “We have several cages available for use. The family cage (AKA the “Bernard Manning”) is our most popular, allowing two adults and two children to wander through the park in tandem. The couple cage (AKA the “Howard and Marina”) is another favourite, for those who don’t want to chance it on their own. The solo cages (the “Katie Hopkins”) are also available although you’d be surprised at how often they are not used. People would prefer to travel in groups.

The controversy surrounding the sanctuary was deepened when several of the animals took it upon themselves to try and eat the paying patrons by pushing the cages over and clawing at the people like they were trying to scoop the last of the Pringles from the very bottom of the tube. Mike Sore and his fiancee, Klara Onspott, barely made it out alive.

“It was the most terrifying experience of my life,” rustled Mike, his wife-to-be shaking nervously at his side, “you never expect it to happen to you. There we were, laughing at the marmots when these two gorillas pushed over our cage and viciously swiping at us. Had we not flattened ourselves at the very bottom and called for help we wouldn’t be here today. Thank God gorillas have never had a box of Tic-Tacs.”

It’s fair to say that once the animal kingdom does learn about shaking that last chocolate-covered raisin from the bottom of the packet into the mouth in one seamless movement, the human race is doomed.

Avatar Pirate alert

He’s going to shiver your timbers
He’s likely to buckle your swash
His pieces of eight count big numbers
His galleon’s full of his dosh

A roistering-doistering fighter
His enemies all have been sank
He’ll make your pockets feel lighter
Just before you walk the plank

It’s not like he wants to be Bluebeard
It’s a lifestyle that he just got trapped in
His parrot got fed up, his crew’s weird
He’s Ian the daft Pirate Captain