rashbre central: December 2022

Sunday 25 December 2022

Seasonal Analogue Games . A slight return.

Survivors of rashbre central's previous seasonal festivities will know that there's a certain point when the silly hats and party games make an appearance.

Not the tv-gaming variety, but analogue games involving old wrapping paper, sticky tape, fruit and the like. For the convenience of others, here's a few sure fire winners, which can be played at everything from amateur through to full Pro standard.

Required items: Wrapping paper, sticky tape, magazines, newspapers, highlighter pen, pins

1) Guess the name : Yes - simply providing the guests with paper hats or pin on labels which they can't see with the name of a sleb (celebrity) on it. They have to guess with the Yes/No answers. Classed as an icebreaker. Marilyn Monroe, Ed Sheeran, Frankenstein, Albert Einstein, Jason Bourne, A.Royal, 007, Mickey Mouse, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Billie Eilish, Ronaldo. You get the idea.
2) Dress the person : Kinetic Game, two teams: 2-5 minutes. Select someone to be dressed using either old wrapping paper or a couple of recent magazines or newspapers.
3) Kipper racing : multiple teams. needs a long clear indoor space. cut or tear a largish fish shape from a sheet of wrapping paper or anything similar to hand. Add detail such as a hole for the eye, maybe a dorsal fin. Lie them flat on the floor and give other team members further sheets of paper/magazines to use to create air currents to propel the fish from a start line to a distant improvised finishing line.
4) Tell a tale : Pre select some groups of 7 unusual words from a magazine or newspaper article. Hand them to each team and and ask each team member in turn to tell a story using the seven words. Other teams have to try to guess the words.
(Example words from random article : luckier; heterosexual; chevrolet; banana; promoted; quitter; eggs. and from another page: emissions; cruise; leisurely; overcome; scoop; howling; endurance...you get the idea.)
5) Pass the orange : Why wait until after the dinner has finished to play this game? goes great with coffee.
6) Pictionary: drawing fast pictures based upon words. The boxed set is best for this one.
7) GrEEn GlaSS dOOr : The person in charge suggests playing this and that everyone else can try to be selected to go through the green glass door by suggesting appropriate pairs of things. Things that get in are a pOOl but no water; glaSS but no picture; MiRRor but no reflection (ie the first thing needs a double letter in it.. Play till last person gets it)
8) GGD variants : Play GGD (7) where instead of double letters, each sentence said by the next person has to start with a vowel "...and blah blah bla; ...or blah blah blah ...obviously" and another variant vowel/then consonant and another variant is start with next letter of alphabet.
9) Alphabet Game : Choose topic (Animals, Cars, Candy Bars, Popstars, Drinks). Start at A and round robin through to Z.
10) Stirring the Mush : Announce you are stirring the mush and (eg stand up, sit down, scratch your ear etc). Then start stirring the mush by any hand/body gesture you like. The invite someone to copy. the trick is thay have to do what you did BEFORE you started stirring the mush (eg scratch ear etc). Tell them whether they have passed or not then select next 'victim'. Repeat until all have worked it out.
11) Erect-a-pup : More newspaper for this two in -oner. Part one. Teams. who can make the longest tube in 2 minutes from rolled up paper? Sounds easy. Just watch what happens. Part Two. Now, in another three minutes make a model life sized puppy out of tubes of newspaper. Warning that some puppies will have 3, 5 legs at the end of this.

I think that's enough to get started. No animals harmed in the testing of these entertainments. You'll have to email me for the (ahem) rules of the frying pan and wooden spoon game...and don't forget charades!

*this post first appeared in 2008 and although it has had minor changes, I have left in the technorati tags.

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Saturday 24 December 2022

Santa Calculations 2022

santa claus

Time to republish the Santa Calculations, which I first published back in 2006 and then updated in 2010. Then I was using 7 billion as the world population. Now its 8 billion.

Firstly, here's the link to the Santa tracking system created by NORAD.

For those of you who are more interested in the technology of Santa, NORAD's FAQs provide the following:
NORAD Sleigh technical data
I've again used the Joel Potischman and Bruce Handy calculations as the basis for the speed calculations, with my own adaptations:

The most notable corrections to be applied are:

- Santa delivers no gifts to naughty children (not even coal)
- Naughty to nice ratio is 1:9
- As confirmed by NORAD, one Santa distributes all of the gifts.
- There is only one family per household.
- Santa bypasses non Santa belief system houses.
- Reindeer have recently eaten fresh magic acorns.

Santa passes Big Ben
Calculation Assumptions (2022):

- World population = 8.06 billion
- Children under 18 = 2.689 billion (Hmm may be higher)
- Global Santa based belief systems: 33%
- Max children requiring delivery therefore 887 million
- Children per household: 3.5 (may seem high?)
- Number of households requiring distribution 253 million
- Naughty to nice factor applied but not many all naughty households
- Remove all naughty households (25% 0f 10%) = 6.3 million
- Eastern orthodox using Jan 5 instead of Dec 25 = 18.2 Million
- Target Households = 234.8 million on Dec 25
- Estimated child bed time 21:00 (9pm) with 7 hours sleep.

(child sleep duration on Dec 24 may also require revision)

Gives circa 31 hours (24+7) for all deliveries
Time is 1860 mins or 111,600 seconds

The average number of homes to visit per second = circa 2096.
So average delivery per household is circa 500 milliseconds, which is why Santa normally appears a bit blurry (I previously thought it was the sherry)

Land surface minus Antarctica is around 79 million square miles. Distribute destinations evenly = 0.7 miles between households creating a total distance of circa 110 million miles.

So 110 million miles in 31 hours = 3.6 million miles an hour or circa 1000 miles per second or Mach 4770 at a linear speed.

This explains Rudolph's red nose because of air resistance creating around 20 quintillion Joules of energy per second, which would convert a non-reindeer nose to charcoal at such energy levels. I think the acceleration and deceleration per household may also need some examination.

Luckily Santa has lots of special powers so these mere physics facts are no problem to such a superhero.

Wednesday 21 December 2022

It's almost Christmas. Time for a Central Heating failure F1.

Almost Christmas. The ideal time for the central heating to go wrong. we were getting an F1 error on the boiler. It means insufficient pressure. 

I did the usual things with a radiator key and that 'U' connector to refill the pipes and it worked again for a bit, but then failed again with the same error.

 I worked out it must be more than a simple DIY problem. Except when I contacted various plumbers no one was available. 

 I had to turn to physics.
The inside of our boiler is like something from NASA. But I realised that there must be an expansion tank inside for the radiator water. Check out the right hand side tank. It can't be simply a reserve tank, because it needs to maintain a certain pressure. 

 That's how I worked out that the expansion tank inside the boiler is cleverer than it looks. And why it has a bicycle tyre valve on it. Check out the middle of the steel tank.  

The water must go into a bladder where it can expand but gets pressurised from surrounding air in the tank. Compress air not water etc. (real physics)  

The expansion tank air, if insufficiently pressurised, won't create the starting pressure for the boiler. 

 So what to do? Don't try this at home etc. I thought it was a case for Joe Blow. I found my bike tyre pump, conneted it to the pressure vessel valve and pumped it to just under 1 bar. It only took about three pump fulls to do this. The boiler pressure was restored and hasn't given any more F1s since. 

An odd repair, strangely satisfying.

Tuesday 20 December 2022

christmas cars

I've been doing some of that pre-Christmas driving recently. Many miles, Congestion Charge zones, ULEZ etc, yet - now - because I've gone electric, I don't have to pay. Well, okay £5 for 300 miles worth of fu-u-el.

I'd semi forgotten about London Traffic though. I was on the road by 06:00 but already stuck in a huge tail back on the M25. Meh. I remembered my old commute by car would mean leaving home by 06:20 to get on the M3 before half past and that way I'd miss the rush.

And coming home in the evening, I could land at Heathrow, be out of the airport by 20:00 and then drive along the M25 and onto the M3 in - yep - a traffic jam. Maybe I didn't get back to LHR until 9pm. Traffic jam. From Norway, I'd be one of the last out of T4. M3. Tailbacks. Pah.

Now I've moved to the Wild West, we have a traffic jam in the morning from about 8:45 until maybe 09:00. I try to avoid it, but don't get me started on tractors. Of course I understand that CLAAS 660 drivers are up before dawn and want to be putting their lovelies away by daybreak. And they do beat any SUV for the school run.

Monday 19 December 2022

also fun going backwards

The thing about a blog is it goes backwards as well as forward 2022
2019 2018 2015 2014 2013 2011 2009 2008 2007 2006 1999

Wednesday 14 December 2022

Tesla: worth a punt?

I'm wondering about EV car stocks and shares. Some will say it is a fool's mission to play the stock market [INSERT SCARY WARNING HERE], but I can't help wonder whether here's a unique situation at the moment because of the state that Tesla's shares are in. 

They have dropped to about half of their start the year position and therefore could be seen as a bit of a bargain. The drop is consequential on the twitter shenanigans and various short-sellers throwing out rumours about the share price. 

But consider: the company has a gross margin of around 25%, which is ridiculously high for the automotive sector. VW is 6.2% and BMW and Ford are about 15%-16%. Additionally, it had a suite of Gigafactories just to produce EVs. A couple of these (Berlin and Austin) are only ramping up production at present, from around 60k/Qtr compared with the Shanghai Giga factory at 250k/Qtr. 

Other manufacturers are repurposing their gasoline vehicles to electric, leaving the transmission tunnel in place and making a few cosmetic changes to the exterior. They say it is so they won't scare the client base.  A client base buying a legacy adaptation. I followed an electric beemer along the road the other day and it even had the two cutouts for the dual twin tailpipes.  They surely miss the point about a paradigm shift (I know, extra consultant bingo points for that mention).

The predictions are for Tesla to ship around 500,000 cars in 4Q22, which makes a total of around 1.4 million vehicles. Consider that BMW produces 2.2 million or 2.5 if we include the Rollers and Minis. Conceivably Tesla could be bigger than BMW in another year. 

Assuming that there will also be a Tesla share buyback during 2023, the share price could rise, in line with both the results and the effect of the buyback.

But I also look for ideas and the rumoured Tesla Model 2, or whatever, is of immense interest. It reminds me of our Alfa Guilietta. If a denuded Model 2 comes in close to $25,000 then it could be a real challenge to the lower end, knowing it will come with the same chipset and operating system as the high end vehicles. 

Now factor in the truck and the improved so called self driving, and we have a string of interesting enhancements. 

But let us not forget Tesla is down 51% year to date. Rivian is on life support at down 74%, Nio has dropped 61%, and even Ford is down 36% over the same period. 

The difference is that Tesla is kitted out with Gigafactories ready for pure EV production.

No recommendation here, just an observation.

Friday 9 December 2022

Thursday 8 December 2022

Strange Games : Slow Horses S1 and start of S2

I should have posted about Slow Horses sooner, but the second series (aka Dead Lions) has just popped up on Apple TV. 

It's been sympahetically redrafted for television and has some cracking actors including a shapeshifting Gary Oldman and ice-cold calculating Kirsten Scott Thomas. There's a London atmosphere often in close so the exact setting isn't immediately obvious unless you've been there. 

Plenty of the action takes place at night or in dimly-lit bars or cellars, yet the filming of the series is like the olden days of film noir when they knew how to put haloes around people and brighten up the pieces where there was action. Even an out of focus baby alarm is dramatically filmed. I really appreciate that they've taken some care over making the dark parts watchable. It is the same with the narrative jump edits. Something as simple as going up some stairs will have two 'up closes' and a flicker of a long view between them. Nice and almost non-linear - they didn't have to, but they did anyway and all the better for it. 

 Then there's the blend of dialogue between serious spy talk and bits of ribbing banter and occasionally daft scenes that just get sprung - like the jammed car CD playing Coldplay.

I can see the setup of the Slough House department with its manilla civil service folders is similar to the way the off-the-books setup is played in Killing Eve, and I wonder whether there were any inspirational points borrowed between them? 

 Gary Oldman, who has also played Le Carre's George Smiley, seems to take a delight in this world turned upside down view of espionage. Put all the slow horses (presumed failures) together and rain down often un-PC abuse upon them. A sure fire formula, but I'm not sure for what, exactly. 
I'm enjoying this series: 
  1. Because it forced me to go back to the first series and watch it all over again. 
  2. Because we are now only on book 2, and I'm eagerly waiting for episode 3 to drop. 
  3. Because I know there are at least five more books in the Mick Herron series. Oh yes, and Mick Jagger wrote and performs the theme. 

Wednesday 7 December 2022


 I'll be off to my Stammtisch later for Weihnachtsfeier und Geschw√§tz. Sad to see that actions of rogue right populism have now leached into the German system, creating an attempt to storm the German goverment buildings. 

 These far right protestors are using the ant-vax capaign to drive support for their wider goals. They previously used Merkel's acceptance of migration and fears of islamisation. 

The AfD (Alternative for Germany) uses its legitmised position to cultivate dissent and even includes 83 members in the German Parliament. Infiltration is part of their modus operandi. 

A German military KSK (Kommando Spezialkr√§fte) special forces unit was disbanded recently because it contained many extremists. Discovered buried in the garden by police, a Sergeant-Major's house had two kilograms of plastic explosives, a detonator, a fuse, an AK-47, a silencer, two knives, a crossbow and thousands of rounds of ammunition, much of it believed to have been stolen from the German military. 

Some 48,000 rounds of ammunition and 62 kilograms of explosives have also 'disappeared'.

Tuesday 6 December 2022

art of the dodge

Remarkable that the dodgy ex-president has now been found guilty on 17 counts of financial crime including tax fraud. How remarkable that he can bounce free from this with a mere $1.62 million fine, which I expect he will contest. 

Plenty rests on a Mr. Weisselberg, who struck a plea deal with prosecutors. Weisselberg admitted that he had reaped about $1.8 million (ie more than Trumps fine) in indirect and hidden compensation, allowing him to evade hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes. The benefits included a rent-free apartment in a Trump building overlooking the Hudson River; leased cars for him and his wife; and Trump-paid private school tuition for their grandchildren.

The above 2018 art installation inside a Trump hotel hinted at what was to come. I wonder how many others are hoping to avoid the searchlight?

Trump is naturally calling it all a witch hunt.

Friday 2 December 2022

enemy of the state? A supermarket hack, man

It has become slightly annoying visiting a wall-known supermarket and innocently setting off the theft alarms when I leave. I decided to ask the security guard what was happening and we experimented with my jacket, then phone and then wallet.

I was convinced it was the phone and had even seen other people complaining about similar effects, but in the end it turned out to be my wallet.

Apparently a single RFID card won't cause it, but put several together and their combined signal is enough to trigger 'modernised' supermarket systems. 

The security guard was quite helpful and suggested I needed an RFID-proof wallet. A truly first world problem?  I could remember enough schoolboy physics such that I could line my wallet with aluminium foil and it should block the signals like a Faraday cage.

It would work like the one that Gene Hackman used in The Conversation and then reprised in Enemy of the State, only much smaller. They are like those mesh bags they give out at some concerts to put one's phone in. 

I also discovered that there are credit card sized anti-RFID cards which can be placed dierctly in the wallet. They are also triggered by the same scanner frequencies but then send out jammer signals. Now that is worth trying, although I expect I'll be tapped on the shoulder again.