web analytics

I almost get it

I’m seriously innumerate. I’m sure I’ve mentioned that. It’s not something I’m proud of (I hate it when people are proud of being bad at stuff). I have a feeling mathematics encompasses some of the most interesting shit ever, and I’m totally locked out of the party.

But every once in a while — especially when math is expressed in something visual — I allllmost get it.

Take fifteen simple, independent pendulums of graduating lengths. The longest swings back and forth 51 times in 60 seconds. Each successive, shorter pendulum completes one extra back and forth in that same period. Start them all swinging at once with a board thingie, and this is exactly how I imagine it would look. Except that period in the middle when they all go kind of wild-ass and un-wavy.

This has been around the web for a while; I just found it kind of hypnotic to watch.

February 15, 2012 — 10:59 pm
Comments: 20

Seven naughty nurses and a waitress

Abe Books sent ’round a cute bit about romance book covers (and the sheer weight of nurses involved), in honor of Valentine’s Day.

Long-time readers may recall this is our anniversary.

The third for Uncle B and moi. Our favorite nice restaurant went out of business, so we’re going to get Chinese takeout and watch something on the box. We did chill down a nice bottle of Mumm we’ve been saving, though, so that’s okay.

But it’s also our anniversary — five years to the day since sweasel.com went live.

Happy anniversary! Smoochies! (But no champagne for you; my upload speeds aren’t up to it).

February 14, 2012 — 5:06 pm
Comments: 36

Don’t try this in California

Ninja rocks. They are neither ninjas nor rocks.

They’re little bits of aluminum oxide ceramic, like the insulator on a sparkplug. Even a small piece flung at tempered glass will make it shatter thoroughly and relatively quietly (that’s the ninja part). Ideal for smash and grabs.

So much so that California has declared them de facto burglary tools. A court in Washington state accepted posession as proof of intent to burgle.

It works because aluminum oxide is very hard and the surface tension of tempered glass is very high. On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness (which measures the ability of one mineral to scratch another), diamonds are 10, aluminum oxide ceramic is 9, tempered glass is 6.5. So a light blow with a very hard object breaks the surface tension of tempered glass and makes it do what it’s supposed to do: shatter into a kzillion tiny relatively harmless pieces.

I suppose it would work even better if you threw diamonds, but that would probably miss the point of a smash and grab.

Plenty of video on YouTube. Like here (warning – extreame).

February 13, 2012 — 9:36 pm
Comments: 25

This’ll keep you busy for a couple of days

So this Dutch dude wrote a poem called The Chaos, about what an utter pain in the ass English is for the non-native speaker. It’s 270-something lines documenting 800 or so spelling/pronunciation anomalies. (You can learn more about the history of it here).

Aw, c’mon…it’s kind of fun. Dip in anywhere and sample a couple of verses. Works best read aloud. Remember — English spellings and pronunciations.

Great weekend and thanks for all the ghoti!

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse

Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;

Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, hear and heard,

Dies and diet, lord and word.

Sword and sward, retain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it’s written).
Made has not the sound of bade,

Say – said, pay – paid, laid but plaid.

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
But be careful how you speak,

Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak,

Previous, precious, fuchsia, via
Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir;
Woven, oven, how and low,

Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.

Say, expecting fraud and trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,
Branch, ranch, measles, topsails, aisles,

Missiles, similes, reviles.

Wholly, holly, signal, signing,
Same, examining, but mining,
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,

Solar, mica, war and far.

From “desire”: desirable – admirable from “admire”,
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier,
Topsham, brougham, renown, but known,

Knowledge, done, lone, gone, none, tone,

One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel.
Gertrude, German, wind and wind,

Beau, kind, kindred, queue, mankind,

Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, Reading, heathen, heather.
This phonetic labyrinth

Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.

Have you ever yet endeavoured
To pronounce revered and severed,
Demon, lemon, ghoul, foul, soul,

Peter, petrol and patrol?

Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,

Nor is mould like should and would.

Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which exactly rhymes with khaki.
Discount, viscount, load and broad,

Toward, to forward, to reward,

Ricocheted and crocheting, croquet?
Right! Your pronunciation’s OK.
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,

Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Is your R correct in higher?
Keats asserts it rhymes with Thalia.
Hugh, but hug, and hood, but hoot,

Buoyant, minute, but minute.

Say abscission with precision,
Now: position and transition;
Would it tally with my rhyme

If I mentioned paradigm?

Twopence, threepence, tease are easy,
But cease, crease, grease and greasy?
Cornice, nice, valise, revise,

Rabies, but lullabies.

Of such puzzling words as nauseous,
Rhyming well with cautious, tortious,
You’ll envelop lists, I hope,

In a linen envelope.

Would you like some more? You’ll have it!
Affidavit, David, davit.
To abjure, to perjure. Sheik

Does not sound like Czech but ache.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, loch, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,

People, leopard, towed but vowed.

Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover.
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,

Chalice, but police and lice,

Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, penal, and canal,

Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal,

Suit, suite, ruin. Circuit, conduit
Rhyme with “shirk it” and “beyond it”,
But it is not hard to tell

Why it’s pall, mall, but Pall Mall.

Muscle, muscular, gaol, iron,
Timber, climber, bullion, lion,
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,

Senator, spectator, mayor,

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
Has the A of drachm and hammer.
Pussy, hussy and possess,

Desert, but desert, address.

Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenants
Hoist in lieu of flags left pennants.
Courier, courtier, tomb, bomb, comb,

Cow, but Cowper, some and home.

Solder, soldier! Blood is thicker“,
Quoth he, “than liqueur or liquor“,
Making, it is sad but true,

In bravado, much ado.

Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Pilot, pivot, gaunt, but aunt,

Font, front, wont, want, grand and grant.

Arsenic, specific, scenic,
Relic, rhetoric, hygienic.
Gooseberry, goose, and close, but close,

Paradise, rise, rose, and dose.
Say inveigh, neigh, but inveigle,
Make the latter rhyme with eagle.

Mind! Meandering but mean,

Valentine and magazine.
And I bet you, dear, a penny,
You say mani-(fold) like many,

Which is wrong. Say rapier, pier,

Tier (one who ties), but tier.
Arch, archangel; pray, does erring
Rhyme with herring or with stirring?

Prison, bison, treasure trove,

Treason, hover, cover, cove,
Perseverance, severance. Ribald
Rhymes (but piebald doesn’t) with nibbled.

Phaeton, paean, gnat, ghat, gnaw,

Lien, psychic, shone, bone, pshaw.
Don’t be down, my own, but rough it,
And distinguish buffet, buffet;

Brood, stood, roof, rook, school, wool, boon,

Worcester, Boleyn, to impugn.
Say in sounds correct and sterling
Hearse, hear, hearken, year and yearling.

Evil, devil, mezzotint,

Mind the z! (A gentle hint.)

Now you need not pay attention
To such sounds as I don’t mention,
Sounds like pores, pause, pours and paws,

Rhyming with the pronoun yours;

Nor are proper names included,
Though I often heard, as you did,
Funny rhymes to unicorn,

Yes, you know them, Vaughan and Strachan.

No, my maiden, coy and comely,
I don’t want to speak of Cholmondeley.
No. Yet Froude compared with proud

Is no better than McLeod.

But mind trivial and vial,
Tripod, menial, denial,
Troll and trolley, realm and ream,

Schedule, mischief, schism, and scheme.

Argil, gill, Argyll, gill. Surely
May be made to rhyme with Raleigh,
But you’re not supposed to say

Piquet rhymes with sobriquet.

Had this invalid invalid
Worthless documents? How pallid,
How uncouth he, couchant, looked,

When for Portsmouth I had booked!

Zeus, Thebes, Thales, Aphrodite,
Paramour, enamoured, flighty,
Episodes, antipodes,

Acquiesce, and obsequies.

Please don’t monkey with the geyser,

Don’t peel ‘taters with my razor,
Rather say in accents pure:
Nature, stature and mature.

Pious, impious, limb, climb, glumly,

Worsted, worsted, crumbly, dumbly,
Conquer, conquest, vase, phase, fan,
Wan, sedan and artisan.

The TH will surely trouble you

More than R, CH or W.
Say then these phonetic gems:
Thomas, thyme, Theresa, Thames.

Thompson, Chatham, Waltham, Streatham,
There are more but I forget ’em
Wait! I’ve got it: Anthony,

Lighten your anxiety.

The archaic word albeit
Does not rhyme with eight – you see it;
With and forthwith, one has voice,

One has not, you make your choice.

Shoes, goes, does. Now first say: finger;
Then say: singer, ginger, linger.
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze and gauge,

Marriage, foliage, mirage, age,

Hero, heron, query, very,
Parry, tarry, fury, bury,
Dost, lost, post, and doth, cloth, loth,

Job, Job, blossom, bosom, oath.

Faugh, oppugnant, keen oppugners,
Bowing, bowing, banjo-tuners
Holm you know, but noes, canoes,

Puisne, truism, use, to use?

Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual,
Seat, sweat, chaste, caste, Leigh, eight, height,

Put, nut, granite, and unite

Reefer does not rhyme with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,

Hint, pint, senate, but sedate.

Gaelic, Arabic, pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific;
Tour, but our, dour, succour, four,

Gas, alas, and Arkansas.

Say manoeuvre, yacht and vomit,
Next omit, which differs from it
Bona fide, alibi

Gyrate, dowry and awry.

Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,

Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion,
Rally with ally; yea, ye,

Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay!

Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.
Never guess – it is not safe,

We say calves, valves, half, but Ralf.

Starry, granary, canary,
Crevice, but device, and eyrie,
Face, but preface, then grimace,

Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.

Bass, large, target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, oust, joust, and scour, but scourging;
Ear, but earn; and ere and tear

Do not rhyme with here but heir.

Mind the O of off and often
Which may be pronounced as orphan,
With the sound of saw and sauce;

Also soft, lost, cloth and cross.

Pudding, puddle, putting. Putting?
Yes: at golf it rhymes with shutting.
Respite, spite, consent, resent.

Liable, but Parliament.

Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, clerk and jerk,

Asp, grasp, wasp, demesne, cork, work.

A of valour, vapid, vapour,
S of news (compare newspaper),
G of gibbet, gibbon, gist,

I of antichrist and grist,

Differ like diverse and divers,
Rivers, strivers, shivers, fivers.
Once, but nonce, toll, doll, but roll,

Polish, Polish, poll and poll.

Pronunciation – think of Psyche! –
Is a paling, stout and spiky.
Won’t it make you lose your wits

Writing groats and saying ‘grits’?

It’s a dark abyss or tunnel
Strewn with stones like rowlock, gunwale,
Islington, and Isle of Wight,

Housewife, verdict and indict.

Don’t you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?
Finally, which rhymes with enough,

Though, through, bough, cough, hough, sough, tough??

Hiccough has the sound of sup
My advice is: GIVE IT UP!

February 10, 2012 — 9:55 pm
Comments: 32

Look! This bear has a very long tongue!

Oh, god — this is what I’m reduced to. I am so unplugged, disengaged and utterly bored with everything, this stupid bear is the best I could do today.


Oh, I started to P’shop Obama sticking his hand in a hornet’s nest (forcing Catholics to pay for birth control is one of the most hilariously stupid political gaffes ever, innit?), but I got as far as Googling “hornet’s nest” and promptly lost the will to ‘shop.

I think I have a nasty case of The Februarys.

February 9, 2012 — 11:28 pm
Comments: 40

Balls, cried the queen!

Bull testicle pie. For Valentine’s. Not kidding. Would I kid? I would not.

Because nothing says romance like cow balls in pastry.

It’s a bit of a send-up, this. Oh, it’s from Charlie Bigham‘s, which is a mainstream food supplier. Offered exclusively through Ocado, which is our best grocery home delivery service. But they’re warning of “very limited availability.”

Read: cheap publicity before Valentine’s.

No, I’m sorry. You’re just going to have to make the Aunty’s Spotted Dick jokes for yourself.

February 8, 2012 — 11:19 pm
Comments: 25

Near miss…

We lost power in the night. We’ve had some weather (did I mention we got four inches of snow? That’s something for us) and there’s utility work going on in the neighborhood, we didn’t think much of it.

Eventually, Uncle B traced it to, um, this. That’s a normal British power socket on the left, and a melted smoking nightmare-fodder near-death experience on the right. Ke-rist, that was close.

It’s the greenhouse socket. A heater runs on a thermostat and keeps everything from dipping below freezing in the night, so it wasn’t in the house. But the whole thing is lined with bubble-wrap in Winter for insulation, so that could soooo easily have gone horribly wrong.

You’ll remember the Brits run this macho electrical system where every little lamp plug is the size of a dryer plug. Nearly all plugs have fuses built in, but somehow the fuse didn’t blow. The electrician (we have a tame electrician, thank god) said moisture got into the plug and started it all.

It’s a greenhouse. Duh.

Lucky for us, we have an RCD in the house. It’s an ultra-sensitive safety switch that knocks out power to the whole house if it senses a dip. Ours is ultra sensitive, anyhow — we lose power if a light bulb blows. Seriously.

Oh, the evenings we’ve found ourselves in a pitch-black house hissing, “sweetheart, do you have a fucking flashlight?”

Still, I suppose it saved our lives last night. Good thing I remembered to slather the lamb’s blood on the lintel.

February 7, 2012 — 9:51 pm
Comments: 45

Well, that worked. Pretty much.

This was a Christmas leftover, and Christmas is a time for buying stupid expensive stuff. How stupid expensive? Visit the website of this organic popcorn company and multiply the prices by 1.58.


I love this stuff, though. Despite the price and all the bullshit about Incan goddesses, this is one of my favoriter self-indulgences. Their popcorn pops almost completely — big, fat and tender. And it comes in awesome colors (not that it really shows in the final product).

This is the first time I’ve tried the Pop-A-Cob, though — a whole ear of popcorn with the kernels on. Throw it in the microwave in a bag, and thar she blows.

Well, mostly. They specify an 800 watt microwave and ours is just 600, so I think this is a pretty good result. It made two good-sized bowls of the stuff out of one little tiny cob and just a bit unpopped on the ends.

Of course, it’s nothing to proper old-fashioned movie popcorn, popped in coconut oil. Don’t get me started.

You ever want to spend a delightful afternoon strolling one of the hotter fever swamps on the Internet, chase down some of the pro- and anti- coconut oil pages out there. Good stuff.

I’m very much in the pro coconut oil camp. Though I’m sure fans grossly over-promise the benefits, I’m equally sure all those three-letter agencies haven’t the faintest freaking idea what they’re talking about. Especially regarding oils and fats.

Honestly, there’s more bullshit talked about nutrition than orgone, UFOs and the Blessed Virgin Mary put together.

February 6, 2012 — 11:31 pm
Comments: 28

Dutch lady shoots herself annually

This Dutch lady is Ria van Dijk. When she was 16, she went to the shooting gallery at an amusement park in Tilburg, Holland. When she hit the target, the booth automagically took a picture. That was her prize.

So — what the hey — she went back every year. Well, excepting 1939 to 1945.

She’s still doing it. She’s 88. And she’s put them all together in a book.

That sort of thing totally warms my cockles.

Good weekend, everyone!

February 3, 2012 — 10:07 pm
Comments: 23

Okay, but this time, I’m driving

Arrrr…I’ve just spent an hour on the phone to my elderly father trying to talk him through a YouTube search. It’s such a shame…dude was a huge gadget and technology guy back in the day. If the internet had hit him a little earlier in life, he’d have been all over it.

Oh, he’s not senile. He’s doped up and crabby and hears that clock ticking all the time. As in, “consarnit, how many dubyas I got to poke before I git pitchers?”

Between you and me, I bet anything he worked out how to get porn years ago.

Anyhow…this happen to you? Leave the door open, and the next thing you know, the car is full of stray cats.

February 2, 2012 — 11:02 pm
Comments: 27