Ten things you didn’t know about Avalanches / Big, bigger, biggest

Here’s a cull of what British telly has to offer now.

We’ll start with the BBC. Because it’s the bestest.

Presenter Iain Stewart takes you through ten things you didn’t know about …. Last night it was Avalanches.

Now, these are the kind of programmes that I watch because I see them as a personal challenge. A kind of dare, if you will. Surely they can’t come up with ten new facts that I didn’t know!

But this was a brilliant programme. Did you know, for example, that in WWI Austro-Hungarian and Italian troops deliberately set off avalanches to kill each other? Around 60,000 deaths are attributed to such Weapons of Mass Destruction. And did you know that rock can behave like water in an avalanche and flow at speeds of upto 100 mph?

Another one to watch is Channel Five’s Big, Bigger, Biggest (8pm, Tuesday). Very solid content woven in a tale of technological progress. The recent (and first) episode was on airports and how Heathrow’s Terminal 5 was great with technological marvels such as a unique underground baggage carousel system with high-speed conveyer belts, automated transit baggage storage system and a whole second backup beltway just in case.

I looked at that and thought “Overkill, surely?”

Which is why it is oh-so-sweetly ironic that Heathrow’s Terminal 5 is having troubles on its opening due to baggage handling.

The next one is on skyscrapers with the beautiful Burj Dubai featuring prominently. Do not miss this one!

Getting away with it (All messed up)

This song by James seems to sum up life at the moment. James was formed in Whalley Range, Manchester, and have been supported by acts like Nirvana, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and Radiohead.

Are you aching for the blade?
That’s OK, we’re insured
Are you aching for the grave?
That’s OK, we’re insured

We’re getting away with it all messed up
Getting away with it all messed up
That’s the living

Daniel’s saving Grace
She’s out in deep water
Hope he’s a good swimmer
Daniel plays his ace
Deep inside his temple
He knows how to serve her

We’re getting away with it all messed up
Getting away with it all messed up
That’s the living
We’re getting away with it all messed up
Getting away with it all messed up
That’s the living

Daniel drinks his weight
Drinks like Richard Burton
Dance like John Travolta
Daniel’s saving Grace
He was all but drowning
Now they live like dolphins

We’re getting away with it all messed up
Getting away with it all messed up
That’s the living
We’re getting away with it all messed up
Getting away with it all messed up
That’s the living

We’re getting away with it all messed up
Getting away with it all messed up
That’s the living
Oh, getting away with it all messed up
Getting away with it all messed up
That’s the living

Getting away with it
We’re getting away with it
That’s the living
That’s the living

Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra

I spent my Saturday evening watching a woman strum her pipa.

Yes I did, and no, it wasn’t that kind of a weekend. The pipa is a traditional Chinese stringed instrument similar to the Arabic ‘oud’. I was in fact at the Bridgewater Hall for a performance by the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, an 85-piece ensemble playing both traditional and modern music.

Quite enjoyable.

Meanwhile the Russian Symphony Orchestra was holding a superb piece of ballet, “Sleeping Beauty” in Buxton. I must admit here that I don’t really know if it is superb. I was just yomping around the Peak District on Sunday with Ioannis and Jessy where I saw the performance being advertised. I just thought I could use it as a nice segue to join my Saturday with my Sunday.


The best part of the walk was actually the walk guide Ioannis had downloaded from the WorldWideWonderWeb. Some nerd had written vivid instructions, complete with colourful histories of elves living in caves and including the time it would take to accomplish the walk.

And how did he measure the time, I hear you ask? Let him tell you in his own words:

“The time estimates used above are based on a walking speed of 2 miles per hour (3.2 km/h) plus 1 minute for each 30ft (10m) of either climbing or descent. This gives a reasonable estimate for a normal walking speed, with time included for the inevitable sit down, and looking around. This time should only be taken as a guide, as you will have a better knowledge of your own walking speed.”

Jokes apart, do go and check out Peakwalk.org for info on walks in the Peak District.

God Bless The Internet and Her Populace!

p.s. the irony of me posting a note on the internet about a nerd posting notes on the internet is not lost on me.

Footballing gorilla

“Football is like fighting a gorilla – you don’t stop when you’re tired, you can only stop when the gorilla is tired.”

Coventry boss Chris Coleman after QPR’s defence makes a monkey of his strikers in their 0-0 draw.

I love reading the Quotes of the Week on BBC’s website. There are some real crackers there.

Here’s a gaffe by a commentator:

“The official has got his hand on Joe Jordan’s backside, but that seems to just be for familiarity.”

Alan Green on 5 Live commentary of the Manchester United v Portsmouth game.

The Exit Strategy question.

My question about exit strategy to The Undercover Economist has been answered. You can read it here.

I have spoken about The Undercover Economist (Tim Harford) earlier, he’s runs a kind of Dear Auntie Jane Q and A session in the Financial Times for people with questions about economics or related human choices and behaviour. He has a very engaging way of talking about economic theories. Check out Tim Harford’s website.


The city of superlatives.

Dune-bashing with Ramadan in the lead Land-Cruiser.
Views of the marina from the 46th floor.

The sail of the Burj al Arab.
The dominance of the Burj Dubai.

Shawarma in the Emirates mall.
Coriander chicken in Indego.

Mint shisha in the Royal Mirage.
Long Islands on the Rooftop Terrace.

Belly dancing in the desert night.
Football in the Barista.

Ras Al Khaimah.
Camel humps.

And Amaretto. Lots of Amaretto.

Sauze d’Oulx II

Okay, I’ve been back a while now, still can’t get the powder out of my heed.

I spent a day on the beginner’s slopes with my board, learning to balance on my heels first and do a floating leaf down the slopes. No doubt I fell a lot, but I was encouraged by the fact that there were other beginners alongside and I didn’t do all that bad. Plus I had decided to approach it with an almost fatalistic resignedness; if I were to fall, so be it. Once again? Never mind. And the more I got used to falling, the less I did.

On the second day I started practising going downhill backwards, balancing on my toes. This was harder than it seems, and I took out an old lady in the process of learning. Then an experienced friend came along and dragged us beginners to the top of the slopes. Jumped on and then off this never ending ski lift to the top with board attached. At the top of the mountain there was nothing left to stand on except a small patch of snow with slopes on all sides. So we took off.


I managed three runs to the top and down in the end, despite having two major wipeouts, but the gluhwein finally got the better of me, and over-confidence crept in, accompanied by tiredness. Caught the last ski lift back to town.

Thanks to all involved.