The Universe and Me

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Afi stundum segir mér

Some Icelandic singer or band named Ísafold has recorded a cover version of Björk's song "Afi." She originally recorded this back in 1983 when she was a teenager. It appears on acclaimed Ice guitarist Björgvin Gíslason's album Örugglega. You can listen to a sample of it here (and if that link doesn't work, go to this page and do a right click & save. You'll find the song towards the bottom of the page.) With its heavy drums and bass guitar combined with simplistic, melodic keyboards, it has an edgy choppiness to it that brings to mind a pack of new wave kids doing the pogo on the dance floor. Whoever this Ísafold is, she has or they have turned the poor song into a Brittany (or Birgitta, if you're from Iceland) pop tune. Oh my ears!

Erin's House Visited

I hope it's not premature to call it Erin and Matt's house. It has to go through all the legal hoopla still. Since I had last Friday off work, I had the chance to go see it. The doors were locked, so I couldn't go inside but I did walk all around it and peek in the windows. It's small and needs a little work but it should turn out to be a nice place. There's a fenced-in back yard with a cute wooden doghouse (Erin wants to get a pug dog) and a round swimming pool way back at the edge of the property. The downstairs has the living room, dining room (with built-in hutch) and kitchen. The upstairs has two bedrooms and a bathroom. Erin says she thinks they'll keep the ferrets in the second bedroom. She also said you can see the lake from the house. I forgot to look.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

This is Erin's house! Posted by Hello

24: 9 pm - 10 pm

Previously on 24: Chloe gets snarky and Terror Boy wishes he'd hung onto that shovel. We learn that Terror Mama is truly dead and Marwan (probably no relation to Obi-wan) only wants the Terror Boy/Jack switch to distract CTU from his nefarious plans. And the Air Force is flying around with defective strut pins. Ouch. These terrorists are never going to prevail if they think handcuffing Jack to a water heater will render him harmless. His legs are lethal! Who else but Jack would have the foresight to short circuit the phone lines so his location could be traced? Now if only CTU had realised that on the way to the swap, Terror Dudes would stop by Radio Shack and pick up iPod's new Tracking Device Detector. On sale for just $299.99. Now available in five sporty colours. CTU employees are too busy making faces at each other on their spiffy video phones to check out the latest flyer ads or hourlies. Mr Bean remains in surgery. Chloe broke the hushed intensity with a string of Chloe-isms, mostly aimed at Audrey, starting with "There's no bad news about Jack yet" followed by "You've fallen in love with Jack, I guess" and completed with "I was inappropriately blunt, wasn't I?" She does that sometimes. Edgar got in her interface and received a "Quit being territorial and gimme the password!" for his efforts. From my calculations, no one's had dinner, everyone's a little testy, and Audrey's starting to look suspicious. That anguished wrinkle across her forehead isn't fooling me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Who's your PAL?

At a boot sale in England, Bo happened upon a bunch of Britcom dvd's selling for a pound a piece, and was dismayed that she couldn't buy them because they're incompatible with US systems. We got to wondering why there are different systems to begin with. In searching around, the answer seems to be: to make Hollywood richer and us poorer. Apparently the movie studios didn't like non-US markets importing dvd's from Amazon before their release date. Instead of choosing to release movies simultaneously across the world, they decided to make Regional Codes. The US and Canada are in Region 1. If you look at the back of any dvd box, you'll see an icon resembling a globe set in a squarish shape with a 1 in it. Sometimes there's just a squarish shape around a 1. The UK are in Region 2. And presumably have a 2 in their squarish shape. The good news is that with a bit of free software, computers here will play Region 2 discs. The other good news is that more multi-regional dvd players are being made. Time to send Bo back to that boot sale.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Science and Nature Writing

Book: Best American Science and Nature Writing 2004. Always on the lookout to increase knowledge, I thought I would learn something by reading these articles. Here's what I learned:
  • Before insulin (pre-1922), the only treatment for diabetes was a starvation diet. Obviously it didn't work.
  • The average height of the US Civil War soldier was 5'4".
  • Organ transplant experiments didn't begin in earnestness until the 1950's. And were not successful until the late 60's. I actually remember the hype around the first successful heart transplant in 1968.
  • Doctors no longer justify any means to save a dying patient. Siding with caution also means they no longer discover something new that might help or cure.
  • The Social Security website has a list of the most popular names by year. As of 2003, my name is ranked at number 288, and falling. Check your name.
  • It is very difficult for an extrovert to understand introverts whereas an introvert has no problem understanding extroverts.
  • Introverts tend to think before talking. Extroverts tend to think by talking.
  • Nearly half of all married couples in the Middle East are first or second cousins. Less than half a percentage of all US marriages are cousins. It's about 1% in Europe.

Facing Windows

Movie: Facing Windows. The title makes it sound like a creepy stalker film but it isn't. It's an Italian drama from 2004 about a couple who happen upon an elderly amnesiac. The kind-hearted husband thinks they should take the man in and help him. The wife is against it. Irony kicks in and it's her life that is changed and given direction by the amnesiac's advice. There's another bit of irony in that if you had only one thing you could remember, you wouldn't chose to have it be the night during World War 2 when you were taken away to a concentration camp.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Seagull's Laughter

Movie: Seagull's Laughter, a dark comedy from Iceland. Yes, that's My Thing. Set in the early 50's. Freya returns from America slimmer, recently widowed with 7 trunks of spiffy clothes, make up and a sassy attitude, all of which and more makes her 11 year old cousin Wednesday Addams or Agga (seemingly pronounced closer to Acka?) suspicious. I was amazed to learn in the far too short making of featurette that Wednesday had never acted before. One scene with her and friend (Thursday?) made me lol. Also got a kick out of Freya and date taking a walk through the fish drying racks. What could be more romantic? And the grandmother trying to console one of the gals with boyfriend troubles with "some flatcakes and dried fish." Best line: probably the over-awed spoken "You had a fridge?!!" Reviews calling this movie "delightful" are right. Find it if you can.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Long live the Queen, please

Last week Bo called me to talk about her most recent trip to England. When they were in London, they happened to see a bunch of cameras and official looking people milling about Buckingham Palace. She asked someone what was happening and was told the Queen was about to make an appearance. The Commonwealth Games will start in Australia soon so the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were there to pass the Commonwealth Baton (looking more like a high tech machete) to Elle McPherson who apparently has become the official Aussie spokesperson. Other than the Queen's hat, which Bo said matched the coat (although it doesn't in the picture), what impressed Bo most was how tall Elle is. She towers over Prince Philip. I wondered if the Queen was so diminutive, that perhaps Philip only appears tall in comparison, but unless she has shrunk in recent years, she's reported to be 5'4"... Here's hoping the Sutton's unnerving ability to kill off royals they've met will have no effect on Elizabeth. Bo believes she was far enough away at 30 feet not to cause harm.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Hmm Good Friday

Martin mentioned yesterday he once heard there is a day in March which Easter has fallen on only once. He wasn't sure which day or if it's still true. In looking up Easter date calculations, I didn't find anything about that. Just that Easter is the first Sunday after the fourteenth day of the new moon after the spring equinox - or thereabouts. More importantly, Pheebes gave me a box of marshmallow peeps to celebrate the holiday. Finding facts on these little critters was much easier:
  • Up to 4.2 million peeps are produced every day of the year in preparation for Easter.
  • About a billion peeps are made annually.
  • Just Born peep factory in Bethlehem, PA makes 3,800 peeps per minute.
  • The official peep site doesn't mention ingredient information. (Most likely sugar, corn syrup and gelatin with oodles of unpronounceable preservatives.) You can send e-cards from there, though.
  • There are five colours for Easter peeps: yellow, pink, lavender, blue, and white. Yellow is the most popular.
  • Each peep has 32 calories.
  • Different colours do not have different flavours.
  • Peeps officially turned 50 years old in 2003, but they've been around since the 1920's.
  • You can buy your own at home peep maker, if you must.
The Internet has many peep parodies including Lord of the Peeps and The Passion of the Peeps, Peep Trek, the Peep Dance (no hamsters allowed), peep songs, peep haiku, peep art, peeps performing Shakespeare, Peephenge, peep fan clubs, and a variety of peep shockwave games. I didn't see any, but I hope there are some peep support groups too.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Floating fast like a Hummingbird

My favourite current song (excluding anything off the "Í takt við tímann" soundtrack) is Wilco's "Hummingbird." Go figure. They started playing it a couple months ago on Radio 2 and everytime it came on, I'd think who's that? What's that song? I finally googled some lyrics and was shocked to discover the artist. Wilco? They're not anything, are they? Eventually I decided I better find out and listened to some Amazon samples of other songs of theirs. The samples were not impressive. I listened to Morning Becomes Eclectic's set of them ( but only the "Hummingbird" song stood out. If they'd like to write some more like that one, I'd like to listen.

Love's Abiding Promise

Movie: "Love's Abiding Promise." This falls into the category of Not My Thing but I decided to watch it anyway. Surprisingly it was more watchable than it could have been. Which is another way for saying it could have been so much worse, I guess. Based on the book of the same name by Janette Oke and directed by Michael Landon Jr so there was more than a slight feeling of being transported back to "Little House." Oh, the bonnets! Oh, the humanity! Was that Charlize Theron's older sister as the (not at all evil) step-mother? The message was okay, nothing hit-me-over-the-head. But Suitor #1, I believe his name might have been Grant, enunciated far too much to be taken seriously. Did he take elocution lessons from Angelique of "Dark Shadows?" I will loan this video to my sister Lori and my Mom, as it's more their Thing. Here's hoping Mom can overcome her fear of the dvd player.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Kaiser Chiefs

Music recommendation: the Leeds band The Kaiser Chiefs new cd titled "Employment." Rolling Stone magazine thinks they're channeling The Clash. Amazon calls them "five Britpop obsessed oddballs." That's all I'm asking for. They are due to appear on Letterman March 30. You can see the video for "I Predict a Riot" at:

24: 8 pm - 9 pm

Previously on 24: Chloe kicks off her bunny slippers and races via the Tan-o-rama back to work and Terror Mama returns to pick up her Emmy. Oh Dina, clearly you did not watch Season 3 because you would have known the gun wasn't loaded. For your ignorance of the Execution Loyalty Test, you are offed in a weird tribute to "Life is Beautiful." Although, since it happened off camera, I doubt she's really and sincerely dead. I can't see any other reason for next week's Jack & Terror Boy switch. Surely Terror Boy has no value for well, anyone really... Somewhere Chase was laughing his head off at Jack. Pretty sure I heard Jean and Kara squealing all the way from the Big O when Jack stabbed himself. Edgar is fading fast but managed the best line of the show when he told Tony he was sick of being put down "especially by people who don't really work here." I could practically see Chloe's mental leaps for joy upon hearing Driscoll was fired. Has the phrase "satellite parabolics" ever been uttered on television before? Here's my other theory: Heller is behind this. He would know enough about the businesses of Mr Bean (still being operated on, still among the living) to use him. I don't trust the little pit bull, never have. He's been too obsessed with the president's whereabouts. And what was Chloe working on at home? Her computer had Heller's kidnapping picture up. On this show, everyone is suspect.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Yesterday I heard a new Leaves song, possibly called "The Spell" or just "Spell." I was surfing around with Radio 2 playing in the background, as usual, and I wasn't paying attention to it until Hrafnhildur came on and announced Leaves in her wonderful Icelandic accent (sounding more like Leafs.) The new cd, named "Angela Test" (the name of their studio in Iceland? so Airwaves says) will be released 30 May in Europe. No word on US release date. It appears the band has posted the song "Shakma" at their website
According to Dave Barry, when in Rochester one does as Cher does and shops at Wegman's. Difficult to imagine such a mega superstar/actress/singer/national treasure pushing a little trolley around the supermarket. And weird to think one might bump into her reaching for the last unexpired milk carton. And suddenly I have this vision of Patsy Stone swigging a bottle of Stoli at Tesco...
Yesterday Kay said to me how much she misses Jon being around. Did I ever agree. Just so he knows, if he drops by here...
I'm off to watch last night's 24 and find out if Mr Bean bit the dust. You hang with Jack and you can bet the bullets are going to start singing for you.