rob's blog

Where do you rank on the dung-heap?

Any time I get feeling down about not being able to help our in-laws in their developing-nation struggle, or afford the new deck on the house, or take Jack on a trip to ride steam trains in South America or drive the new Millau Viaduct in France, I comtemplate where I come on the dung-heap that is the human race.

On the back of an envelope:

The internet is the largest city in the world

The internet is the largest place in the world. It is so densely packed and tightly interconnected that it should be thought of as a city not a country.

Over a billion webpages, billions of web searches performed per day, billions of emails. Staggering size and activity. And yet you can see virtually all of it with a few clicks on Google and go there in a second, and talk to all of it via email. So I don't think it can be thoguht of as a parallel or virtual world: it is a city. And a city like Hong Kong not like Houston. Piled high, packed tight, seething and stinking.

Telephone surveyors - how to get rid of them effectively and quickly

If you are like me and you cannot stand the rudeness of someone attempting to survey you over the phone, read on. I have found a - so far - foolproof way of seeing them off.

We're screwed

I carried four bits of wood and it hurt. They were four long planks and I carried them over a kilometre round the track to our mountain hut. What made this interesting - and not just a whine - is that my Dad and some friends carried the whole damn hut in. Back then they walked five times as far and climbed a thousand feet with it. Sheets of metal, fibreboard, glass, corrugated iron. Rafters, stumps, concrete, a cast iron wood stove, lino, beds, a sink. On their backs, across rock faces, in the wind. For fun.

Quality: the lost concept of the 20th century

Good service providers are hard to find: tradesmen, shop assistants, professionals. You pass them on to friends like some priceless artifact. The good ones stand out not because they are brilliant but just because they do the job right. They don't screw up.

This is rare at the turn of the millenium. Once it was considered the minimum level of service; now it is a marvel to be treasured.

a dog hanging his head out of a car window

Ever watched a dog hanging his head out of a car window? I think he is off his nut. Tripping out on sensory overload.

A dog's nose is approximately a hundred thousand to a million times more sensitive than a human's". The environment is filled with an endlessly changing kaleidoscope of scents that is fascinating to a dog at the best of times. Imagine it being blasted up both nostrils at fifty miles an hour.

The man who cut my wife and the man who poisoned her

My wife had breast cancer. It had got into the lymph nodes and come within three millimetres of the chest wall when Burton took a knife to her and cut her breast off.

100 million garden projects

We drove over a saddle and looked down on the valley. A hundred and twenty years ago it was thick forest and swamps. Now it is rolling farmland, with wind-breaks and fences and drains and irrigation and flood control and roads and towns. Have you ever built a landscape feature in the garden: a wall, a terrace, a path? How much effort did that take? Now look at the place you live in. With your little project as one unit of effort, how many units can you see?

Disorders are adaptive

There has been recent research suggesting that the attributes of good corporate leaders and those of psychopaths are very similar.

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