Thursday, 19 April 2007

More than a list of fish

I am a big fan of Derren Brown. I think his mind-reading and other psychological effects he and his team create are astonishing and his website is way cool. (Did I just use the phrase "way cool"?) His colour-changing hair trick is especially good... have you noticed how he has slowly become more ginger? No? I didn't really notice either until I happened to recently watch one of his Mind Control TV shows. It was the one where he predicts the idea the two ad agency creatives come up with for his chain of taxidermy shops and then 'reveals' that he influenced their thoughts through carefully placed cues on their cab journey to the office. Excellent stuff. Anyway, in that episode his hair was black. It's funny how you don't notice changes like this when they happen gradually over a long period of time, isn't it?

Anyway, I mention Mr Brown here because in the preface to his book Tricks of the Mind he relates a story from when he visited the London Aquarium. He makes no mention of the robot fish (he probably doesn't want to admit to the possibility of being duped himself). Instead, he quite rightly questions the utility of signs next to each tank that are in braille, observing that even if a blind visitor were able to locate these signs then all that they would be left with at the end of their visit would a list of fish. Hardly worth the £13.25 entrance fee!

Blind fish-lovers should instead make their way to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. For one, it's in California. And if that isn't reason enough to visit, blind visitors are provided with hands on bronze sculptures to give them an idea of what the sea creatures may be feel like. Sure, it's what they would feel like if they were made of bronze, but still.

Now all Derren needs to worry about is how do a version of his colour-changing hair trick that his blind fans can also enjoy!

Mystery Spot


Zimbardo prison experiment
Clint Eastwood

Las Vegas

Friday 13th
blue man group

grand canyon

david copperfield
hole in the ground

They came from outer space


Back and to the left

6th floor museum
don miller on the grassy knoll
Bill Hicks

Tuesday, 10 April 2007



Joe Nickell
world's only full-time salaried paranormal investigator.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

What do you mean "used"?

This isn't going to come as a big surprise to you all, I know, but much of your time on a road trip is spent on the road (go figure...). As a consequence, you find yourself paying an unhealthy attention to the things that catch your eye by the side of the road. For example, what's the deal with water towers? What are they for? And why so many in the US and so few in the UK? Answers on a postcard please...

I am also intrigued by how many different kinds of churches there seem to be in the US. Whether it's at a First Baptist Church, a Methodist Church, a Lutheran Church, or a First Church of Christ the King, Americans seem to be spoilt for choice in how they worship the Almighty.

Perhaps most unsettling are the road-side signs. The Kentucky to Tennessee leg of the trip seemed to provide the best of these, such as the confrontational "If you died today, where would you spend eternity?" (personally, I'm not so sure but I'm hoping it's not in Kentucky) or the straight-to-the-point "We Grow Hair". But the winner has to be "Used Cows For Sale". Yes, you read that right. And no, I don't know what it means either. A quick search on Google reveals that it's a known "wacky" sign, but doesn't reveal whether it's a serious sign or an indication of the zany sense of humour of Kentucky farmers. Who cares. Just sit back and enjoy:

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

This is Niagara Falls?

If you ever visit Niagara Falls, and you get the chance to visit the "Journey Behind the Falls" exhibit, don't bother. It's rubbish. The same goes for Stapeley Water Gardens in Cheshire. Don't let the title fool you... it's just a garden centre.

Monday, 2 April 2007

Ass (not arse)

It was one of those times when you start a sentence, not quite knowing how you’re going to end it. We had picked up our car from Boston (a blue Toyota 4x4), and we’d driven up to New Hampshire to visit Paul and Sally (friends of Rachel’s mum) in New London, New Hampshire. By the time we got there, the weather had got colder and there was now snow on the ground. The next day Paul drove us all in Sally’s car to visit Hanover (the home of Dartmouth College) and Eastman, a planned community covering 100’s if not 1000’s of acres of woods a few miles from New London. Paul and Sally had just bought a house there and so they showed us round. Needless to say, we were envious of how much more you could get for your housing dollar in the US (or at least in New Hampshire) compared to what you get for your housing pound in the UK.

In the car, with me in the front passenger seat and Rachel and Sally in the back, Sally explained that there were buttons you could press to heat either or both of the front seats. She leaned forward and pushed the button that heated my seat. Within seconds I could feel the seat becoming warm. If the truth be told, it was a pleasant sensation all round.

Now this is the bit about starting a sentence not knowing how you’re going to finish it. As my backside began to glow with warmth, I thought I would ask Paul if he'd like to share in the experience. So I asked him if he would like his seat warmer switched on. Only that's not what I said. Instead, I started to say something like “Paul, would you like a warm…”, and as I said the word “warm” I decided I would attempt to sound just a little American and end the sentence with the word “ass”. Only I didn’t say that. My Englishness got the better of me and so it came out as “arse”. Only I didn’t stop there. Something, I don’t know what, made me want to end the sentence with one more syllable. So instead of me asking Paul if he would like a warm ass, I asked him if he would like a warm arse hole.

I couldn’t believe it either! Within a matter of hours of meeting Paul I was enquiring if he’d like a warm arse hole! (I know, it doesn't get any better the more you say it...) Fortunately, I think he had anticipated the question and so was answering "yes" just as I uttered the word "hole", so I think I got away with it.

Still, the lesson here is to have an idea how you’re going to end a sentence when you start it. Similarly, I guess you should start a blog knowing how you’re going to end it. Otherwise, you might find you have to simply end it in the middle of a…