A Day in the Life: NYC Taxis

This visualization displays the data for one random NYC yellow taxi on a single day in 2013. See where it operated, how much money it made, and how busy it was over 24 hours.

View the data for one ran­dom New York City yel­low taxi on a single day in 2013. See where it oper­ated, how much money it made, and how busy it was over 24 hours.

…and for those of you who would like some back­ground on the pro­ject, click here.


The Rise of the Silver Surfer

ShockDear Read­ers,

I greet you today, in shock and with great awe, as a cer­ti­fi­able ‘Sil­ver Surfer’.

A formerly-unionised follicle, occupy­ing a prom­in­ent pos­i­tion just fore of my left ear, no longer hews its given hue. As you might ima­gine, I am devastated.

I’ve been hear­ing rumours for some time now, from those around me, that I har­boured pec­cant follicles, but until this morn­ing, in stark view, stood their leader…an inch-long thug, gleam­ing in sil­ver rebellion.

The pre­co­cious bas­tard lies atop his brethren, taunt­ing me in the face of out­ro­spec­tion, coax­ing me to a plucky fight. His fol­low­ing is no doubt close at hand though, wait­ing, build­ing in strength. Does one dare invoke the wrath of the hued many by elim­in­at­ing the ashen few?

Hav­ing dwelled on this quandary for some time now, I have decided that grey hair is bet­ter than no hair.

Des­pite our dif­fer­ences, a memorial ser­vice shall be held in hon­our of our fallen pig­mental com­rade. There are none so brave as those who dyed before us.

Nothing broke, blew up or died.

I’ve just cooked some Bolognaisey-pastarish-spiceyeo-type thing. I’ll say that again…I cooked; a meal.

Dandy, eh?

Cooking DisasterI shit you not; there were FIVE lines of instruc­tions, on the spice & pasta box alone!

Noth­ing broke, blew up or died. Gran­ted, it’s only been about twenty minutes since I ate, but I’m con­fid­ent that I’ll see the night through. That’s pro­gress, in anyone’s book.

Thank­fully, as always, Mrs. Balls came to the rescue.

Grate­fully, dessert just requires a tin opener and a spoon.

To Pee Or Not To Pee

Mannekin PisBasic Geo­graphy teaches us, amongst other things, about the water that sur­rounds, fills and shapes our environment.

Once pre­cip­it­ated, it is divided by water­sheds, col­lec­ted in catch­ment areas and chan­nelled into streams, from which develop rivers. Ulti­mately, these rivers flow into the oceans and the cycle is repeated.

Streams flow strong, fol­low­ing wild, unchartered courses. Young rivers flow true, along an estab­lished path. Mature rivers meander, entrenched in their beds.

Along the jour­ney, many obstacles may be encountered, such as water­falls, which are sud­den and dra­matic in stature; rap­ids, which often res­ult from the nar­row­ing of a par­tic­u­larly stoney chan­nel; or per­haps floral sed­i­ment in the water, which may act as a pol­lut­ant, foul­ing life sup­por­ted by the river.

At times, flood­ing may occur, which can res­ult in a river expand­ing its flood­plain. Nat­ural dis­asters like that are dire affairs, often requir­ing extens­ive and under­ap­pre­ci­ated labour.

In densely-populated areas, flood­ing is eas­ily reduce, due to a glut of mod­ern tech­no­logy, designed for max­imum effi­ciency & safety and installed & main­tained through­out, at reg­u­lar inter­vals, by appropriately-trained flood-control technicians.

How­ever, in sparsely-populated areas, or in areas left to decay to slum-like con­di­tions, some rivers can wreak severe dam­age to their flood­plains, often leav­ing a last­ing impres­sion that can render tour­ists and res­id­ents alike to the area sub­ject to over­whelm­ing sens­ory and emo­tional overload.

Men-folk, please, if you make use of a pub­lic toi­let, for the love of your fel­low civilian, aim straight!

Give me strength…

You know, I thought I had it bad when I worked for someone else and had to deal with dis­con­nec­ted man­age­ment & cer­tain people who were, to put it bluntly, plank-dik, but I have undoubtedly dis­covered that with self-employ comes a need for greater tol­er­ance. On any given day I deal with Dis­count Dannys, Bull­shit­ting Bren­das, Rude Ron­nies, Prom­ising Patricks and Way­ward Wallys.

All of this takes time, effort and money, which I may recover every dozen sales, or so.

Take this even­ing for example, when I received a reply to an ad’ for South African flags that I have on offer…

realli now!! people fucken hate this coun­try and u wanna sell them shit”

Now, how do you sup­pose I best respond to this delight­ful query?

Remem­ber, I’m serving my own repu­ta­tion and must there­fore prac­tice cour­tesy, prompt­ness and com­pet­it­ive behaviour.

Dear four-sided-vessel-of-vacuous-matter,

 

Thank you for your inquiry. Unfor­tu­nately I am cur­rently out of “shit”.

 

Your man­ner and tone are not in accord­ance with our terms and con­di­tions, stated clearly in every decent upbring­ing. Please be so kind as to ride thine self in a for­nic­at­ory way.

 

Warmest regards,

 

Ewe P. Rick”

Keep Calm, 'cause I am a Pro'.

TransPlaneLeviThermoBerthInsertionation

TransPlaneLeviThermoBerthInsertionationTrans­PlaneLe­viTher­moBerthIn­ser­tion­a­tion

verb

verb:

1. The act of trans­form­ing one’s per­son from a clothed, cold and ver­tical plane to that of a hori­zontal plane, for the pur­poses of ingress into an electrically-heated bed with the aim of pre­serving any and all built-up heat con­tained within.


I per­formed rapid Trans­PlaneLe­viTher­moBerthIn­ser­tion­a­tion this night, as the tem­per­at­ure was of anatomically-unfriendly coldness.”

syn­onyms:

Ageholes

Volkswagen Fleetline KombiI was accos­ted by a most for­ward yob today, whilst out in my bus. An odi­ous pos­tu­lant; this fel­low pur­loined me of my time, my pol­ished facade and the sanc­tity of my styl­ish trans­port­at­ive domain.

Yes, that is newly coined and surely a neo­lo­gism in the making.

Why do so many fools find it strange that one can have sourced, obtained, pre­served and deserved such won­drous con­vey­ances prior to the emer­gence of ciner­eal follicles?

Cat­ech­ized most assuredly unwar­ran­ted, I even­tu­ally escaped his annoy­ing clutches, a wan­ton vis­ion of suf­fixed envy in my mirrors.

This post has been authored by an unem­ployed word­smith, writer & copy editor. Sur­prised? Hav­ing read the wares of throngs of oth­ers who are employed to pro­duce prose, so is he. Please be so kind as to notify suit­able cheeses of the cor­pu­lent type of his availability.

Of Days Remembered

An older friend of mine recently regaled me with his enthused tales of youth­ful yore. With all credit to “Coop”, here is a grand trip down a slightly more senior South African memory lane…

I con­sider myself for­tu­nate to have grown up in a dif­fer­ent world to the one that we cur­rently endure. Although the entire 70’s passed in a neon daze of disco, huge medal­lions and belt buckles, excess­ive makeup and big, big hair. And pro­duced little in the way of great fash­ion, great music or great achieve­ments by man­kind in gen­eral. I think that the 60’s were so rad­ic­ally dif­fer­ent from any pre­vi­ous dec­ade that people were per­haps try­ing a bit too hard. Glam rock, plat­form shoes, bell­bot­tom trousers and disco music — yuck. We see few reviv­als of any­thing from the sev­en­ties unless it’s for a joke.

Per­son­ally I didn’t enjoy the sev­en­ties too much and spent most of it get­ting into trouble in vari­ous ways. I was board­ing in an all-boys gram­mar school for much of it so while I was taught excel­lent table man­ners and enun­ci­ation, I man­aged to col­lect few social skills. Back then I danced like a drunk who has acci­dent­ally blundered into an elec­tri­fied fence* so the local dis­cos became a source of tre­mend­ous amuse­ment for my peers only. I had no trans­port, no money, no dress sense, bad skin and no clue how to approach girls. We had no cell phones or email and could only use the house phone with spe­cial per­mis­sion. We used to go for a week at a time without com­mu­nic­at­ing with our friends. I used to send gifts and let­ters through the POST to people, often.

* I still do, and only work up the cour­age when either extremely hammered or coaxed by a nearly naked woman of dubi­ous character.

The eighties and nineties were a lot bet­ter for me, I worked up some con­fid­ence with the girlies. I got a pay­ing job. I fell in love with Amer­ican V8s. (I dreamed for the past 30 years of own­ing a 1967 Shelby 500 Mus­tang. I even have pho­to­cop­ies of many of the ori­ginal magazine road tests, and the full Haynes work­shop manual. They were always JUST out of my price range. Even­tu­ally that stu­pid Nich­olas Cage film star­ring Eleanor made them really desir­able and priced them per­man­ently out of my reach). My mates, of course, all wanted an Escort 1600 Sport, Dat­sun SSS, Toyota Sprinter or another silly little car. But it was usu­ally my car, one of two Fair­lanes, that ended up tak­ing every­one to drive-in, the car show, the faraway pub on Brak­pan, even Durban quite reg­u­larly. We’d all pile in after work and vote on where to go by shout­ing and whin­ing the loudest. We’d some­times end up crash­ing (meta­phor­ic­ally) on Durban beach­front on Fri­day night after belt­ing down there from Jhb after work, singing along to the cas­sette player at the tops of our voices. No toll gates back then either and fuel was cheap if five or six of us were shar­ing. We’d all sleep in the car, or next to it, the seats were like sofas and the boot was enormous.

And of course, I was the one they called when they needed a tow. And the only one that could tow a proper cara­van, and/or a boat trailer, or on one mem­or­able occa­sion — two cara­vans. V8 power, I couldn’t get enough of it! Until I dis­covered super­bikes and real, mind­blow­ing power.

We still had the big hair and the ques­tion­able fash­ion but things were improv­ing and people were becom­ing a little more soph­ist­ic­ated. At least I like to think so. Drive-in movies were cool because you could cuddle up with your date and get more cosy than at the cinema. And smoke and drink and take your own food and even your dog. And we used to sit next to the car on deck chairs and enjoy the even­ing, chat to the other movie­go­ers and wander about check­ing out the cars/babes/drunks/buses etc. Kombis had to park at the back so when I was much younger I couldn’t ever see a damned thing from the back seat. And of course it was half the cinema price for two movies. And you could cram all of your mates in with their dates too. I some­times even squeezed a few into the boot. There was a choice of around ten drive-ins within a 30 minute radius and another ten within an hour or so. They were all over the place. And if you trav­elled the coun­try then you’d find one on the out­skirts of almost every town no mat­ter how small, demarc­ated by very dis­tinct­ive signs that were instantly recognisable. …

Until Fontana and Bimbo’s in Hill­brow even­tu­ally intro­duced 24-hour busi­ness to SA then almost everything simply closed at night (and Sat­urday after­noons and all day Sundays) and, if we wanted to stay up late then we’d usu­ally arrange a get-together at someone’s house. A few pubs and clubs stayed open late too but were usu­ally expens­ive and out­side my work­ing class budget. The road­houses often stayed up serving food until an hour or so after the last movies ended. They, like the drive-in movies, were almost every­where. You could just drive down most main streets in most towns and there’d be one. Pull in for bur­gers, chips, milk­shakes etc. No booze served, but we used to get tanked up before then and usu­ally stopped at the road­house to wind it down again. The bet­ter ones would play music over the Tan­noy sys­tem and some of the guys and girls would dance around the cars. It was pretty cool, most of the time any­way. Occa­sion­ally there would be a dis­agree­ment and some­times a bit of a punch-up. But reg­u­lar trouble-makers would be evicted by the staff and the reg­u­lar cus­tom­ers would always back the staff up and assist them.

The road­houses were a great meet­ing place for the cus­tom car scene too, usu­ally Sunday even­ings were a guar­an­tee to find a meet­ing of one or many clubs. They’d park in a row on one side of the car park and open up their bon­nets to show off. The cops used to be lazy on Sunday nights after a busy week­end and make them­selves scarce so the car drivers used to peel away one by one and meet up else­where for street drag racing on a quiet back-road some­where. Great fun once they got to know you and let you tag along. Fur­ther down Ont­dek­kers Road it was the Amer­icano, this end was The Spring­bok, in Alber­ton it was The Cas­bah and the far end of Jules Street down Mal­vern way was the Pure & Cool. A ter­rific num­ber of second hand car show­rooms used to pro­lif­er­ate down Jules Street, attract­ing lots of brows­ing car lov­ers and lots of “dicing” between the lights. Great fun, cheap and mostly harm­less late at night. At the entrance to Melville was Pan Bur­gers, where all of the items on the menu had a Peter Pan con­nec­tion, if only by name. They made the best french fries in the whole uni­verse. I was arres­ted there by the secur­ity com­pany while try­ing to get to third base in the back seat of my mum’s bor­rowed Audi in a dark corner of the car park. Bastards.

There are still a few of them around, one is not far from my cur­rent home. But being served by an over­weight, middle aged […] woman named Mavis shuff­ling over to the car, swollen ankles forced into tired slip­pers is some­how not the same as the memory of those mini-skirted, roller skat­ing, honey-tanned teen wait­resses of my youth.

We had to plan everything well ahead of time in those days. It was impossible to buy pet­rol after hours, cigar­ettes, bread, etc. For some bizarre reason you could only buy bat­ter­ies at a phar­macy. And not after 6pm, they were locked away, even at the late-night chem­ist. Heaven only knows what the gov­ern­ment of the time thought that we would do with after-hours bat­ter­ies that we couldn’t do dur­ing office hours! And only phar­ma­cies sold meths too, you had to show ID and sign a ledger when buy­ing it, in Cape Town where I grew up, any­way. I only real­ised this when I wanted to buy some for my little Mamod steam engine. I know that hoboes drink it but I never saw how that would stop them, or even con­trol them. These days, of course, buy­ing meths is almost as easy as buy­ing cocaine or LSD ;p

There were no ATMs either so if you ran out of cash you were in big trouble. One even­ing the staff at Mike’s Kit­chen in the centre of Jhb city made me leave my date there as surety while I went home to get my wal­let. Really.

FYI: The Author did return for his Date and they went on to enjoy a long and mem­or­able rela­tion­ship. Now that’s Love for you.

Of course if you were in a new town then you could find out where the local “spots” were by mak­ing a quick cal­lout on chan­nel one nine :) That’s when CB radio was really in demand, we had no inter­net, no cell phones, pretty poor com­mu­nic­a­tions all round really. CB was brill and filled a gap per­fectly. And it was soooo cool, lol. And of course it was per­fect for the bacon report. We used to refer to the old Gat­so­meter speed traps with the pneu­matic lines across the road as “spa­ghetti”. So we would call in for reg­u­lar spa­ghetti reports when in a hurry but want­ing to avoid the plod. The post ofice used to con­trol the licen­cing and oper­a­tion in those days. They would have mon­it­or­ing vans cruis­ing around all over the place listen­ing for illegal, high-powered and unli­cenced radios. If they caught you with a radio exceed­ing 4 watts (IIRC) or an unli­cenced radio or using the CB to help com­mit some kind of crime then they would track you down and lit­er­ally jam a spike through it and turn it into a colan­der. And yes, giv­ing a spa­ghetti report was con­sidered to be a crime, I believe. Although I never knew any­one that was pro­sec­uted for it, or even arrested.

I some­times used to make up a tem­por­ary fake “handle” if I was speed­ing or up to any mis­chief, oth­er­wise I was “Grabbit” or just Coop. And often, as a cour­tesy, you would arrange to meet up with someone who had been help­ful with dir­ec­tions and offer them a drink or a Coke or a plate of chips. And often they (and some­times other listen­ers) would meet up at the place where you were dir­ec­ted to and have a chat or speak face to face. Some­times to be social and oth­ers to get the real dir­ec­tions of a secret or clandes­tine loc­a­tion that they didn’t want to broad­cast on air. I fear that these days some people may use CB to loc­ate and mug the strangers in town, but maybe I’m just being too cyn­ical. Gen­er­ally speak­ing CB users were always very help­ful and will­ing to go out of their way to help.

NostalgiaI’m a product of a later gen­er­a­tion, but I thor­oughly enjoy indul­ging in the ways of the past, as presen­ted to me by those who lived it.

After all these years, and with all that we have at our beck & call today, I still can’t help feel­ing that some­where, some­how, soci­ety has gone hor­ribly wrong. No mat­ter how many older than I tell it, it seems to me that, when viewed in com­par­ison, per­haps the best has been; and gone?

 

What say you?

Crazy Cubing: Fun with Rubik

It’s the world’s best-selling toy. It’s edu­ca­tional, fas­cin­at­ing, fun, frus­trat­ing and more, and it con­tin­ues to inspire new chal­lenges, as we shall now discover…

If you have the time, and are more adept at did­dling than fid­dling, per­haps you’d like to try insert­ing, and then solv­ing, a Rubik’s cube inside of a jar?

Per­haps you’re for­tu­nate enough to have car­ried over your eidetic memory from child­hood and can recall exact­ing pat­terns long enough to solve them, blindly?

If you found those chal­lenges a little lack­ing, per­haps you’d like to show off your prowess with three cubes, all the while jug­gling, solv­ing and occa­sion­ally chat­ting to your pals?

Above the oth­ers, the really sad part is that our jug­gling friend, above, stands little chance of get­ting laid as a res­ult of his extraordin­ary abil­it­ies. Poor bastard.