Barbarous Dentistry

Getting your hair cut is normally dead time, unless you find the conversation particularly stimulating. So as I was having mine trimmed this morning, I got to wondering:

Why going to the barber’s is like going to the dentist

Why going to the barber’s isn’t like going to the dentist

  • They are much cheaper.

  • It isn’t as painful - normally.

The similarities may not be entirely coincidental. Barbers used to perform surgery - and this is the origin of the red (and sometimes blue) colour of the traditional barber’s pole. Fortunately, we have now specialised into many more disciplines. Adam Smith would be proud.

Conclusion: I still don’t like going to either.

How to Have a Disappointing Late-Night Journey Home, Part 5

Get on a train at Waterloo bound for Winchester. Discover that there is a bus ‘service’ from Basingstoke to Winchester, due to mid-week engineering work, despite having checked online and the timetable asserting no such thing. After a brief chat with them, discover that the three pretty ladies sitting opposite you are actually travelling to somewhere this train doesn’t go, them having been misinformed by someone from SWT - they will leave the train in short order. Realise that all the podcasts you have on your phone are dry and boring, and the Pomegranate juice you’ve bought from M&S; tastes weird. When you get off the bus in Winchester, walk home through the pouring rain in a nice suit, with no umbrella. Curse a deep and hidden puddle that creeps up on your shiny shoes.

Grave of the Fireflies

Folks, this is the power of well-constructed fiction. Grave of the Fireflies is an astonishingly powerful animated film about a Japanese brother and sister orphaned during a firebombing in WWII. It’s a film to move you to tears, and feel that frustratingly ironic anger at evil folks who drop bombs on innocents. The characters are so well focused they just draw you into the story, and I found it easy to ride the emotional rollercoaster the entire way. The younger sister (Setsuko) is perfectly honed to behave the way a young child might in such upsetting circumstances, and the older brother (Seita) makes promises he cannot keep, and suffers accordingly.

The film is well-executed, particularly in the scenes where it really matters. Using animation for such a serious subject isn’t common, but it doesn’t detract at all from the themes: the suspension-of-disbelief in this film is just magnetic. The anime is above average, and particularly well-lit in the firefly scenes of the title, although it isn’t to the standard of some of the Hayao Miyazaki films I have mentioned before. This is probably almost fortunate, because (at least at first) it helps insulate one from the horrors of what’s depicted. I turned the English dubbing off, because it seemed that having American voices playing Japanese people in such a film was wholly inappropriate. (Incidentally, for a historical perspective from the other side, see the excellent documentary Fog of War).

I agree wholeheartedly with Roger Ebert’s sentiment that Grave of the Fireflies is probably one of the most powerful anti-war films of all time (my other favourite is Dr. Strangelove, which is easier to watch). It’s not something to see when you want cheering up or a light-hearted evening, but if you are looking for a well-crafted film that portrays a loving relationship in a time of strife, this is it.

Welcome

I didn’t realise this was going to happen, but after my recent posting about the virtues of corporate blogging, ibm.com has gone all-out and has posted a directory of IBMers who are blogging externally on the front page, so it’s entirely possible you’ve arrived from there - in which case, welcome!

I work on one of the test teams for WebSphere ESB, and we’re currently working hard on the recently announced 6.0.2 version, so I haven’t been posting quite as much on work topics recently as I normally aim to do. But if you’d like to take a look at my past postings on SOA and ESB or WebSphere, or indeed anything else on my blog, please do, and please feel to leave a comment, ask a question, or get in touch.

Thanks.

Caffeine Free at Work

As Adrian did recently, I’ve gone completely caffeine free at work, and have been so for about a month (except on the odd occasion that I’ve forgotten and lapsed). The only things I’ll allow myself are herbal tea, normally camomile, or from time-to-time a green one. I did this primarily for health reasons - I am finding that my ability to concentrate is much better now, as well as suffering from fewer headaches and other unpleasant side-effects. However, I was spurred on by the poor quality of tea and coffee provided by Ritazza here at work - this is something I’ve realised ever since I’ve began to make tea and coffee properly at home. I’ve also found that I’ve been drinking less tea and coffee at home since cutting off caffeine at work - I seem to find it less appealing. The whole exercise also saves me a penny or two as well.

I can recommend it.

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