Monthly Archives: January 2011

31 Jan 2011

Yoga this morning was a run through of tomorrow’s class. It left me feeling good for the day ahead, even though I haven’t quite had enough sleep the last few nights. My new chair arrived at work, a Humanscale Freedom Task. I really like it, even compared to the kneeling Varier (Stokke) I have been using. Got a second-hand bargain on eBay thanks to the recession I guess. The bathroom is coming on. The tiles are all set and the toilet is back in place but we can’t use it yet. The weeing a bottle will end soon. Today is the end of the daily photos project, where I undertook to take and post one photo each day for one year. My favourite of all has to be the Hawkshead view from Black Crag:

I am also fond of the macro nature shots, such as:

I learnt to look around me at the details and the broad sweeps. I haven’t learnt a thing about photography itself – every image is taken in automatic mode – but I suppose I have more of a feel for composition. I understand the importance of good light, and why the expensive camera’s take better photos – faster lenses and bigger sensors allow more light in. Here is a ‘best of’ of the year.

Steps stepped: 6265. Another supermarket trip this evening so that’s a good 1000. We bought paint ready for painting C’s new room on Saturday, when she moves to Alresford.

The Trees of Brockwood – The Grand Oak (365/365)

The last photo of January and the last photo in my photographic year. We are back where we started, in the Brockwood parkland. It’s been an interesting challenge to use my camera every day. It made me look around a lot more, looking at the details as well as the grand sweeps and vistas, as I went about daily life and out on hikes and trips. I hope you’ve enjoyed the views!

30 Jan 2011

More driving practice for C with a run over to Harting Down. How delicious is it up there, especially with the sun out, blue skies, and the crisp morning air. We walked for a couple of hours over to Beacon Hill then down into the valleys to the south.

View of South Harting and beyond:

The climb ahead to Beacon Hill:

Views east along the downs:

Catkins in the sunshine:

If you used to watch LOST and are feeling a little incomplete, all you have to do is answer these questions to tidy it all up:

Polar Bears Status. Sad news of declines:

Don’t think global warming is real? Think the data is wrong? Think it’s a conspiracy to keep us in fear? Think it’s not man-made but a natural cycle? Regardless what you think, here are Met Office Observations Consistent with a Warming World:

And sea temperature anomalies data from eight different sources:

Favourite track at the moment is The Roots Feat. Joanna Newsom – Right On. Great merging of styles, bass line on the chorus and that live drumming ticking along. Newsom’s voice is really growing on me.

“Right On” by The Roots (feat. Joanna Newsom & STS) from Bigger Than Blogging on Vimeo.

Steps stepped: 8877

29 Jan 2011

My head hurts and my body’s tired. I bed most of the day. Watched the first half of Zeitgeist 3, making the argument that behaviour is learnt rather than genetic; need and want; and then going into the mess the financial system is causing. Its in cinemas and you can also see it online:

The richest 1% own 40% of the world’s wealth and it’s increasing by the minute as trading software scoops wealth from the stock market system.

No doubt the second half will go into how we can change this dire situation.

A visualisation of Egypt’s recent internet traffic shows the extent of the blackout:

I really enjoyed this history of hip-hop in beatbox. I recognise most of them. He’s got mad skills!

I’ve seen a few 3D movies now and I am not impressed. I come away with the feeling of an enclosed rather than expansive screen and a tired head, like it was really hard work. Moreover, I just don’t see the point of it – a screen already shows a 3D scenario, with actors moving towards or away from the camera. I don’t need images to seem even closer. The critic Roger Ebert is also not a fan, and he has posted a letter from Walter Murch on his blog, explaining why it doesn’t ‘work’ and never will:

Hello Roger,

I read your review of “Green Hornet” and though I haven’t seen the film, I agree with your comments about 3D.

The 3D image is dark, as you mentioned (about a camera stop darker) and small. Somehow the glasses “gather in” the image — even on a huge Imax screen — and make it seem half the scope of the same image when looked at without the glasses. …

The biggest problem with 3D, though, is the “convergence/focus” issue. A couple of the other issues — darkness and “smallness” — are at least theoretically solvable. But the deeper problem is that the audience must focus their eyes at the plane of the screen — say it is 80 feet away. This is constant no matter what.

But their eyes must converge at perhaps 10 feet away, then 60 feet, then 120 feet, and so on, depending on what the illusion is. So 3D films require us to focus at one distance and converge at another. And 600 million years of evolution has never presented this problem before. All living things with eyes have always focussed and converged at the same point. …

But it is like tapping your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time, difficult. So the “CPU” of our perceptual brain has to work extra hard, which is why after 20 minutes or so many people get headaches. They are doing something that 600 million years of evolution never prepared them for. This is a deep problem, which no amount of technical tweaking can fix. Nothing will fix it short of producing true “holographic” images.

Consequently, the editing of 3D films cannot be as rapid as for 2D films, because of this shifting of convergence: it takes a number of milliseconds for the brain/eye to “get” what the space of each shot is and adjust.

And lastly, the question of immersion. 3D films remind the audience that they are in a certain “perspective” relationship to the image. It is almost a Brechtian trick. Whereas if the film story has really gripped an audience they are “in” the picture in a kind of dreamlike “spaceless” space. So a good story will give you more dimensionality than you can ever cope with.

So: dark, small, stroby, headache inducing, alienating. And expensive. The question is: how long will it take people to realize and get fed up?

All best wishes,

Walter Murch

I always watch the 2D version and can’t see that I’d ever want a 3D TV. Good story > gimmicky presentation please.

Lincoln Hall’s Survival

Lincoln Hall’s story is the most incredible I have come across in all the Everest reading and viewing I’ve been doing. At the end of the climbing season in 2006, this fifty year old Australian had reached the summit via the northern route, with three Sherpas. They had summited early in the day and had plenty of daylight and oxygen to get back to camp. But altitude sickness struck when Hall was still at 8600m. Suffering from the effects of cerebral edema, where the pressure inside the skull means fluid begins to leak into the brain, he began to hallucinate and collapsed several times. Each time he collapsed Hall believed he was taking a short break but they were long periods of unconsciousness. The Sherpas did their best to keep him moving through the day but he’d struggle with them and progress was very slow. Later Hall collapsed again and didn’t move. As the afternoon went on, the Sherpas continually tried to wake him and try to get him down to camp. All had been in the ‘Death Zone’ above 8000m for 19 hours, and supplemental oxygen had run out. They were all dehydrated and exhausted. Hall was declared dead at 5.20pm, and two hours later the Sherpas were ordered down to save themselves.

But Hall was not dead. He survived the night alone without water or shelter, drawing on yoga breathing and Buddhist meditation techniques, his consciousness tripping out in hallucinations. Luckily the temperature didn’t get below minus 25 that night – very cold, but not like it can be. He felt death as a grey cloak he was wearing, welcoming him. And so he determined to remove the cloak and face the cold. With dawn the sun warmed him somewhat and after 30 hours in the Death Zone he was found by another team heading for the summit. “I bet you are surprised to see me here,” were his first words. When they found Hall he was sitting cross legged and had removed his down jacket. He thought he was on a boat and wanted to get off – rather dangerous with a 3,000 meter drop in front!

The climbers abandoned their summit attempt and stayed with Hall until a rescue party could be organised and reached him. Still suffering from hypoxia Hall continued to battle with Sherpas on the way down, but he finally made it under his own power. Later he said Buddhism defines 8 stages of death, and he went through the first two. He doesn’t know what turned it around, nor can medical science explain why he didn’t die alone so high on the mountain. In an interview, Hall said:

The big thing I see is that what I had believed to be the nature of reality—the barrier between life and death, the dichotomy, I suppose—is actually not what I thought. And two things: the impossible can be possible, and death is not the grim reaper. It’s more welcoming. And it’s not like a trap, a welcoming trap. It’s actually just the next phase. I’ve been a card-carrying Buddhist for a dozen years now, and had Buddhist sympathies for a dozen years before that, but what happened this time around, on Everest, was that my appreciation of the Buddhist understanding of reality suddenly became real to me. That death isn’t the end, that it’s a cycle. So that’s the really potent life-changing message, even though I’m much the same person outwardly.

28 Jan 2011

Walked the loop past Black House Farm over towards Hinton, fast moving clouds allowing the morning sun through once or twice. Good to walk locally sometimes, each time getting more and more of a feel for Brockwood’s relationship with the landscape. After six years, the feeling still deepens of just where we live. I am so grateful to be able to live in the countryside, with open parkland, woods, fields and winding lanes. Views to the downs are just a shot walk away.

At midday I was in Alresford for a dental checkup, the first with Alresford Dental Care. What a difference to the St Cross Winchester practice where I was rushed in and out again in a few minutes. The new dentist obviously likes her job and is very professional. She was even enthusiastic in relaying how my teeth meet, what causes the sharpness I feel at the front, the fractures in one tooth that may need attention. Nothing needing doing.

This afternoon, C and I went to Gunwharf for a birthday meal and to see a film. C drove all the way in. Good on her! It went very well, and in the busiest and biggest city she’s ever driven in. We saw Barney’s Version. Hmmm, well, it’s one of those adult films – no, not that kind of adult film, but you know, adult issues, adult neurosis, adult fuck-ups. I suppose I was supposed to like the main character, or at least feel for his plight but I didn’t much. Most of the scenes worked well and the acting was good. It’s just that I didn’t care much. And it starts with a grumpy man and flashes back from there, so you know not much is going to change.

Back home, a present sent from Sweden, a Haglöfs ‘Tight’ medium daypack. It fits snugly to the back and is designed to move with your back. I still have a MacPac I bought over 15 years ago which I am fond of, but I will use the Haglöfs on longer walks.

First day of no yoga or sitting in four weeks. Tomorrow I may try some Dru yoga again.

27 Jan 2011

Today I turned 40. It feels like quite a milestone, and at the same time nothing special at all. I feel pretty much like when I was in my early 20s. My body is stronger and definitely healthier. I would say I am less fearful and more grounded. These are the things that count for me. So now I am middle aged! That’s pretty cool. I can relax a bit, be more eccentric, and more myself. A couple of changes I’d like to make: to walk every day, to relax about ‘how I should be’, to accept things as they are, and some of the struggling of youth can retire gracefully. No wars. I surrender. I reckon I’m a third of the way in – I’m going to be around until 110 or 120 years old. Why not? 40 years… a long time, and yet over in a week or two.

All the birthday wishes and facebook birthday messages is really fun and heart warming – thank you to my diverse and widespread friends.

300 years of fossil fuels in a 300 seconds animation:

Steps stepped 3780

26 Jan 2011

This is the last day of my 30s, or until 1530 tomorrow afternoon so I am not quite middle aged yet. What is middle aged is the amount of steps stepped today: 2961. One of my 40-something resolutions is to take a walk every day.

Yesterday I posted a quick facebook survey about toilet roll direction. The results:

Duncan Toms
Survey: Loo roll dispensing towards wall or away from wall?

Patricia H
away. definitely. I’ll even change it round if necessary. not that I’m OCD or anything…

Celeste C
Clearly explained: http://currentconfig.com/2005/02/22/essential-life-lesson-1-over-is-right-under-is-wrong/

Lucy H
Away, i too have to change it around…even if im in someone elses house!!!

Duncan Toms
I’ve changed two this week to away :) Celeste, I like the poster version:
http://currentconfig.com/images/overisright_hanger.pdf

Martin T
Away. Always.

Duncan Toms
Oops I’ve prejudiced my own survey!

Nicola B
Even your inevitably superior wisdom would not affect my response – AWAY!!

Sam B
towards.

Duncan Toms
Freak!

Sorry, I mean to say thank you for filling out the survey today.

Sam B
I prefer unique, if you don’t mind. And I’ll be the person behind Trish putting it back the other way!

Seppo V
This is clearly one of those things that divides humanity into two distinct schools of thought. Having done filling loo roll dispensers over 9 years as a professional cleaner (next fall I’ll be entitled to a gold watch after 10 years of toilet cleaning service) I’ve always belonged to the “away” school. However, I have once changed the content of a dispenser facing the wall, after customer request. I can see the esthetic sense of it, too, as it minimizes unsightly flapping of the free end of the roll and naturally aligns it with the wall.

My experience is that “away” school predominates. Nevertheless, lets us remember that adherents of “towards” style of thinking, while being in minority, are human beings, too, and don’t deserve discrimination on the basis of their esthetic leaning. “Away” with prejudices! “Towards, or let it flap away, let everyone have their say” could be our motto here.

Duncan Toms
I am humbled

Douglas H
Away if a choice allows, but sometimes you have to put it on coming off towards the wall, because if you put it away from the wall it will trap itself.

An interesting one that for some reason attracted me to speak up. Yeah and there have been occaisions when I see the toilet paper coming off towards the wall and It can obviously roll off coming away from the wall, then I have been known to turn it arround to come off away from the wall. Thanks for this one Dun.

Douglas H
I’ve just noticed all these comments after posting mine, this is supprising. I would have thought it would have been a more balanced out come, because the choices arn’t so diversly different as the results of the survey are.

Coming up to middle aged but for me I am only a third of the way through. Things are pretty sorry for a lot of old folk who need care. In the Indie today are 10 ways we can turn that around:

Act One Support elderly people to stay in their own homes wherever possible

Everyone would rather stay in their own home than be institutionalised. There is a whole range of services that make this possible – from Meals on Wheels to home helps who are there to help an old man to shower in the morning and get into bed at night. We should be stepping them up, to keep anybody who possibly can free and independent. Instead, we are ruthlessly stripping them away. The local councils who provide these services are facing the largest cuts of any part of this cut-hungry government. As a direct result, Which? magazine reports that councils are “tightening their eligibility criteria, cutting services and putting up prices” on help for the elderly. All the charities for the elderly are warning frantically that many won’t be able to cope, and will end up falling over trying to shower themselves, or wasting away because they can’t cook for themselves. The result? Huge numbers of people who could have stayed at home with a little help are about to get knocked into the care system.

An article on Tara Stiles, a yoga teacher in NYC and self-confessed nerd, who doesn’t go the traditional yoga route. I like her, erm, style and damn she’s gorgeous:

“I feel like I’m standing up for yoga,” Ms. Stiles said. “People need yoga, not another religious leader. Quite often in New York, they want to be religious leaders, and it’s not useful.

“Here, people want to sit and talk about yoga; it’s very heady. It’s very stuck, very serious,” she continued. “I was never invited to the party anyway — so I started my own party.”

Besides running the studio — which draws about 150 people to 40 classes a week that are called simply Strong, Relax and Stralax, a combination — Ms. Stiles posts a short video most weeks to YouTube. There, she has a channel with nearly 200 videos that have drawn about four million views. She stars in the yoga DVD that was part of the fitness set that Ms. Fonda issued in December (it sold out in Target, where it was first introduced). And “Slim Calm Sexy,” published last summer, was the No. 1 yoga book on Amazon.com until recently, she said.

None of this has made Ms. Stiles rich, but it has led to a certain celebrity. Last summer, Ms. Stiles released an iPhone app, Authentic Yoga, with Mr. Chopra, and the two recently completed a video in Joshua Tree National Park that will be released this year.

“We are both nonconformists who have incurred the wrath of traditional yogis,” Mr. Chopra said of Ms. Stiles, whom he now considers his personal instructor. “A lot of the criticism is resentment of her rapid success. I have been doing yoga for 30 years. I have had teachers of all kinds. Taking lessons from her has been more useful to me than taking yoga from anyone else.

“She is not a showoff,” he added. “She is ambitious, but there is a lack of ego.”

Bought a cover for my Kindle. Now it feels right. The Kindle itself is very slim and so a little awkward to hold after a while. I bought the aluminium shielded Proporta case:

25 Jan 2011

Steps I stepped: 4864. A walk around the supermarket this evening was 1300 steps. Step step step.

I’m so very tired now. If I write little bits of the blog during the day, that’s going to be easier.

Our new Outwell tent, porch, carpet and footprint arrived today. We haven’t opened up the bags but it’s looking like it’s very good quality. Little Danish flags on each bit of kit. I don’t like flags but on kit they say ‘good quality’, don’t they? Especially Scandinavian ones.

Nearly finished the yoga course. Today you are finally allowed to headstand after three weeks of preparation. Fair enough if you are new to it. The common mistake is headstand before one’s arms are strong enough, so too much weight comes through the head and neck. So this course builds up the muscles needed ahead of the short hold.

The foundations for the Pavilions project are proceeding. It’s really happening after some years of planning and permissions. Today there was a very long drill on site:

Who is the biggest polluter on the planet? The US Military. Not including all the contractors they contract, they are using up nearly a third of a million barrels of oil every single day. That’s preposterous.

Environmental journalist Johanna Peace reports that military activities will continue to be exempt based on an executive order signed by President Barack Obama that calls for other federal agencies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Peace states, “The military accounts for a full 80 percent of the federal government’s energy demand.”

As it stands, the Department of Defense is the largest polluter in the world, producing more hazardous waste than the five largest US chemical companies combined. Depleted uranium, petroleum, oil, pesticides, defoliant agents such as Agent Orange, and lead, along with vast amounts of radiation from weaponry produced, tested, and used, are just some of the pollutants with which the US military is contaminating the environment. Flounders identifies key examples:

- Depleted uranium: Tens of thousands of pounds of microparticles of radioactive and highly toxic waste contaminate the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Balkans.

- US-made land mines and cluster bombs spread over wide areas of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East continue to spread death and destruction even after wars have ceased.

- Thirty-five years after the Vietnam War, dioxin contamination is three hundred to four hundred times higher than “safe” levels, resulting in severe birth defects and cancers into the third generation of those affected.

- US military policies and wars in Iraq have created severe desertification of 90 percent of the land, changing Iraq from a food exporter into a country that imports 80 percent of its food.

- In the US, military bases top the Superfund list of the most polluted places, as perchlorate and trichloroethylene seep into the drinking water, aquifers, and soil.

- Nuclear weapons testing in the American Southwest and the South Pacific Islands has contaminated millions of acres of land and water with radiation, while uranium tailings defile Navajo reservations.

- Rusting barrels of chemicals and solvents and millions of rounds of ammunition are criminally abandoned by the Pentagon in bases around the world.

So Wikileaks are due to release the tax records of 2,000 fat cats, potentially exposing large scale illegal tax evasion and money laundering. The guy who handed Assange the data has been charged with breaking Swiss secrecy laws. No one is safe.

In a carefully choreographed handover in central London, Rudolf Elmer, formerly a senior executive at the Swiss bank Julius Baer, based in the Cayman islands, said he was handing the data to WikiLeaks as part of an attempt “to educate society” about the amount of potential tax revenues lost thanks to offshore schemes and money-laundering.

“As banker, I have the right to stand up if something is wrong,” he said. “I am against the system. I know how the system works and I know the day-to-day business. I want to let society know how this system works because it’s damaging our society,” he said.

Today’s Watsky video. He kind of reminds me of Mike D.

24 Jan 2011

I walked 4063 steps today.

I need to rest.

The two sentences above are not related.

25 Tons of Bombs Wipe Afghan Town Off Map

An American-led military unit pulverized an Afghan village in Kandahar’s Arghandab River Valley in October, after it became overrun with Taliban insurgents. It’s hard to understand how turning an entire village into dust fits into America’s counterinsurgency strategy — which supposedly prizes the local people’s loyalty above all else.

But it’s the latest indication that Gen. David Petraeus, the counterinsurgency icon, is prosecuting a frustrating war with surprising levels of violence. Some observers already fear a backlash brewing in the area.

…because obviously every single person in the town was a baddie.

Night night.

23 Jan 2011

What’s going on? Two days without going out. Well, one trip out to the bathroom, down to Room 7 while the new tiles set in ours. Just four days left of the yoga course, day 23’s practice, focussing on leg poses, on getting up around 10. So quite a bit of reading, watching, listening and browsing today, along with sleeps whenever I’ve needed to.

24 years later, a video continuation of Fight for Your Right to Party starring Frodo and Seth Rogan. For real. Coming soon.

Got a spare hour and twelve minutes? Of course you haven’t. But if you have, this is a good watch, if just for the guided meditation at 20:00. He’s even talking about choiceless awareness at one stage. So many good lines in this speech by Jon Kabat-Zinn, talking at Google HQ no less. I have a lot of respect for the Mindfulness bunch. They always have the assumption of a witness, an entity beyond or above all this ‘small self’ stuff, but as far as it goes, this is excellent.

Came across George Watsky’s work. Rapper, poet, actor as far as I can tell. The rap stuff is kind of Geek Rap but not quite, and it’s very listenable. For sure not your average kind of rapper. “The ghost of Gandhi loves me”

He sure can rap fast (while stroking a cat):

Cities going bust:

$2tn debt crisis threatens to bring down 100 US cities

Overdrawn American cities could face financial collapse in 2011, defaulting on hundreds of billions of dollars of borrowings and derailing the US economic recovery. Nor are European cities safe – Florence, Barcelona, Madrid, Venice: all are in trouble

And a little old Frenchman writing about resisting the system that’s causing this mess, is breaking publishing records with his little red book:

Take a book of just 13 pages, written by a relatively obscure 93-year-old man, which contains no sex, no jokes, no fine writing and no startlingly original message. A publishing disaster? No, a publishing phenomenon.

Indignez vous! (Cry out!), a slim pamphlet by a wartime French resistance hero, Stéphane Hessel, is smashing all publishing records in France. The book urges the French, and everyone else, to recapture the wartime spirit of resistance to the Nazis by rejecting the “insolent, selfish” power of money and markets and by defending the social “values of modern democracy”.

The book, which costs €3, has sold 600,000 copies in three months and another 200,000 have just been printed. Its original print run was 8,000. In the run-up to Christmas, Mr Hessel’s call for a “peaceful insurrection” not only topped the French bestsellers list, it sold eight times more copies than the second most popular book, a Goncourt prize-winning novel by Michel Houellebecq.

If you like presidents and hams, look no further. This is indeed proof that Obama is NOT a muslim.

http://presidentialham.com/

How about this? 33 Classic album covers redesigned by artists:

http://cargocollective.com/thirtythreepointthree

And these are just the credits… imagine what the film is like… Enter the Void (at your own risk)

And finally did you know salads make you happy? They sure do. No joke.

22 Jan 2011

An indoors day. Watching several episodes of Everest: Beyond The Limits. Why is it the only thing climbers think to say is: “There’s no one higher than me in the world!” “Top of the world, baby!” Such long queues going up and down, with gridlock at the Hilary Step, the last technical climb before the summit. People are leaving earlier and earlier to get ahead of the crowds. In Into Thin Air, they were leaving around midnight, and now some climbers leave around 21:00, meaning its still dark when they summit. Ummmm, a bit daft really.

The afternoon, researching tents with Caroline. I have a The North Face tadpole, a little green 1-2 man which isn’t so comfortable for two-man car-camping. On other trips we’ve borrowed one of the school’s, but we wanted one of our own. After looking around, fixing a price and checking reviews, we went for an Outwell Nevada M. This is a family tent, so loads of space. We got a deal that included a footprint groundsheet, floor blanket and front extension. As soon as it gets a bit warmer we’ll try it out, maybe on the Isle of Wight. It’s kind of both our birthday presents.

Otherwise, apart from the daily yoga, some browsing of the horror and the humour…

How not to streak:

The possible use of synthetic biology to clean up the Gulf oil disaster:

SYNTHETIC GENOME BIOREMEDIATION

Toxic crude oil and gas can be changed, altered, or eliminated by microbes. Natural microorganisms in all the oceans, such as bacteria, have been known to do this over time, usually lasting decades and beyond. It’s a slow natural process. Yes, natural biology can do the job, but under continual flow conditions there is no possible way all the hydrocarbon-hungry microbes in the entire world can eliminate that much oil and gas fast enough. Time is the critical factor.

For the past decade, synthetic biology has been the new science realm. We now have engineered genetic biology that synthetically creates RNA and DNA sequences for both viruses and bacteria.

In the 1980’s, the fad was designer jeans. Now, we have designer genes.

Soon after the Deepwater Horizon inferno, U.S. government scientists – with grant funds supplied by British Petroleum – started giving us solid clues as to what they were doing with all that crude oil and gas. In May 2010, National Geographic quoted Dr. Terry Hazen from the U.S. government’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who said,

“…we could introduce a genetic material into indigenous bugs via a bacteriophage – a virus that infects bacteria – to give local microbes DNA that would allow them to break down oil. Either that, he said, or a lab could create a completely new organism that thrives in the ocean, eats oil, and needs a certain stimulant to live…”

The robots to replace you:

Between the global economic downturn and stubborn unemployment, the last few years have not been kind to the workforce. Now a new menace looms. At just five feet tall and 86 pounds, the HRP-4 may be the office grunt of tomorrow. The humanoid robot, developed by Tokyo-based Kawada Industries and Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Sciences and Technology, is programmed to deliver mail, pour coffee, and recognize its co-workers’ faces. On Jan. 28, Kawada will begin selling it to research institutions and universities around the world for about $350,000. While that price may seem steep, consider that the HRP-4 doesn’t goof around on Facebook, spend hours tweaking its fantasy football roster, or require a lunch break. Noriyuki Kanehira, the robotic systems manager at Kawada, believes the HRP-4 could easily take on a “secretarial role…in the near future.” Sooner or later, he says, “humanoid robots can move [into] the office field.”

Incredible night time LED-lit surfing:

Mark Visser Rides JAWS at Night! from Fortrus Sports on Vimeo.

Chase No Face the mutant kitteh.

And, the funniest expression as this Weimaraner sniffs a fart: