weird and wonderful tales from the hinterlands

weird and wonderful tales from the hinterlands.

let us tell you about a great little brewery we discovered.
august 21, 2013

While on our journey back home, traveling north through Minnesota early one Friday evening, we pulled off Interstate 35W in the Minneapolis suburb of Lino Lakes to get gas. After filling our tank, we drove a little way up the 2-lane highway in search of a bite to eat, only to spot a little cabin, with a Norwegian flag flying out front. We were intrigued. It was Hammerheart Brewing, a tiny microbrewery that, according to its owners, just opened a week before. While Hammerheart doesn't serve food (in fact, there are only a handful of seats at the bar, and a few wooden barrels to set your beers on if you're not at the bar), we nonetheless stuck around this rustic, Scandinavian-flavoured taproom. The decor was hunting-lodge-meets-Viking-lair, with oak beams, deer antlers and dark woodwork. Industrial metal emanated from the speakers. It was grand. So of course we ordered a pint. In fact, we had several, since on the next leg of our trip it was Tippy's turn to drive, and she doesn't imbibe. Her loss.

The beer we drank was like nothing any of us had ever tasted, and we have tasted many. Lots of oaky, smoky flavours and bold hoppiness. Oak-smoke IPA and a peat-smoked Irish Red were the two we concentrated on. These beers mean business. The staff were very friendly and talkative, and even the head brewer took his turns pouring pints for the lively crowd.

Next time we come down to the States, via the Twin Cities, we will definitely stop back in. We wish Hammerheart Brewing the best in their endeavours, and look forward to what they will have on tap next time.

---marc elliott

great moments in engineering stupidity: a collection of infamous design blunders through history.
february 27, 2010

There are countless sites on the Internet that celebrate mankind's technological successes. The Golden Gate Bridge, Hoover Dam, Apollo astronauts walking on the moon, the mapping of the human genome. Each event given volumes of praise, as well it should. Distinguished events in engineering, this is applied science in its finest hour.

But no one seems to keep track when the glass is half-empty and things go wrong...really wrong. Let's face it, there are plenty of bone-headed ideas that, unfortunately, are allowed to become reality. Engineers and architects arrogantly ignore simple laws of physics to create faulty and dangerous designs. Lazy and uninspired workers perform sloppy work, while waiting for "Miller time." Incompetent administrators and managers take shortcuts to pad the bottom line or meet unrealistic deadlines. Bumbling bureaucrats and government drones look the other way, or are simply unqualified to execute their necessary oversight duties. Put those ingredients together and the end results are often spectacular, sometimes tragic. Oops. Perhaps we can learn from these goofs. If there's any silver lining, it's that some of these idiots have helped thousands of personal injury attorneys buy vacation homes.

Everybody makes mistakes. But only an elite few can screw up quite like this...

1628. The Regalskeppet Vasa, a Swedish 64-gun warship. The good ship sunk, taking 30 crew members with her, less than one mile into her maiden voyage. (In calm seas, no less!) All because someone had the bright idea to build in two sets of gundecks - one of them below the waterline - allowing the ship to become swamped. The fact that the King of Sweden was the one with that bright idea in the first place didn't stop the furious monarch from trying to find someone else to blame for the gaffe.

1879. Tay Rail Bridge, Scotland. Shortly after its completion, the bridge's designer, one Thomas Bouch, received a knighthood for his contribution to British transportation. I'm guessing that Queen Victoria later regretted that decision. The bridge gave many clues to its impending doom, including reports by a bridge inspector that the structure made unusual chattering sounds. Naturally, these clues were ignored. Then, during a storm, several cast iron bridge supports failed, causing the bridge to collapse under the weight of a train that was in the process of crossing it. More than 75 perished. The conclusion of the post-disaster inquiry found that the the bridge was "badly designed, badly built and badly maintained, and that its downfall was due to inherent defects in the structure." Uhhh...ya' think?

1912. The RMS Titanic, North Atlantic Ocean. The stuff of legends (and a few melodramatic motion pictures), this disaster served as the epitome of engineering arrogance and denial. The "unsinkable" went down like a safe full of nickles, leaving 1500 to drown like rats. Why? Because nobody who designed, built, owned, promoted, or otherwise had anything to do with the ship wanted to consider the possibility that it just might end up in Davey Jones' Locker. That the ship had a grossly insufficient number of lifeboats was in itself ample evidence that nobody connected with the ship had the foresight to anticipate a disaster at sea.

1928. St. Francis Dam, near Los Angeles, CA. A vivid example what can happen when when untrained people are allowed to make crucial, technical decisions, this doomed dam was designed by former ditch-digger-turned-self-taught engineer William Mulholland. The construction of the dam underwent numerous in-process modifications, each time calling for a bigger structure capable of increasing the capacity of reservoir water. Upon its completion in 1926, the supersized dam (built on a foundation of unstable rock) soon started showing numerous cracks and fissures, all dismissed by Mulholland as "normal." On the night of March 12, 1928, just hours after its latest thumbs-up inspection by the grade-school-educated Mulholland, the dam collapsed, sending a torrent of water and debris that wiped out more than 600 people. After a Coroner's Inquest that rightfully layed blame on Mulholland and a lack of governmental oversight, Mulholland slinked away to his little dark hole, living out his remaining years in seclusion.

1937. Explosion of the LZ 129 Hindenberg, Manchester, New Jersey. Thirty-six people on board died in the blimp inferno. Was it the explosive hydrogen gas used in the dirigible's envelope, or perhaps the incendiary cellulose-and-metal-oxide paint used on the hull? Was it sparked by a electrostatic discharge between the fuselage and the mooring tower, or was it struck by lightning? Take your pick of theories. "Oh, the humanity!" Oh, what a spectacular screw-up.

1940. Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Puget Sound, Washington. Apparently, the designers of this bridge had never picked up a guitar or violin. Ignoring the phenomena of standing wave harmonics (a subject well-known to any freshman physics or music student), the engineers chose instead to build this one on the cheap, creating an unwieldy structure cursed with a constant oscillation that pitched the roadway right and left. Think 2800 feet of concrete roadway doing "The Wave," and you'll get the picture. On the day of its demise, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge twisted back and forth 45 degrees from horizontal, then snapping, taking with it one car and a dog when it finally collapsed. The car's driver was fortunate to escape the bridge moments before it went into the drink; indeed, no human lives were lost, though the dog didn't fare so well. Even better was the fact that this failure was caught on film, providing amusing entertainment and education for generations of engineering and science students.

1947. Texas City, Texas ship explosion. A ship holding 17 million pounds of ammonium nitrate detonated after a fire had broken out onboard. But wait...that's not all. The ship's cargo hold also included a large shipment of ammunition, which also cooked off in the conflagration. During loading of the nitrate, longshoremen commented that the paper sacks of chemical felt warm to the touch. Yikes. The blast, which was detected by seismologists as far away as Denver (leading them to believe it was a nuclear blast), killed 581 people and injured over 5,000. To fully appreciate the magnitude of this explosion, note that it involved an amount of ammonium nitrate 3,400 times greater than that employed by Timothy McVey to destroy the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Investigators believe that the fire that sparked the explosion was caused either by spontaneous combustion, or a careless smoker.

1947. Howard Hughes' H-4 Hercules, the Spruce Goose, Long Beach, California. Eight turboprop engines, a wingspan of 319 feet, a maximum altitude of 70 feet and cruising range of 5000 feet...and built almost entirely from wood. What the hell was he thinking?!!

1958-1960. Ford Edsel. More of a marketing failure than an engineering one, though the car was widely criticized as being poorly designed and unreliable in an era of rock-solid automobiles. Moreover, this model became the first of many instances where Ford Motor Company (and U.S. automakers in general) turned out design, safety, and marketing failures. Nearly a half-century later, Detroit's Big Three haven't advanced much in any of those areas. They still don't get it.

1960s. Lawn Darts. Imagine a toy with 12-inch plastic fins and a quarter-pound hardened steel point that can be used as a fun backyard projectile by people with the intellect of Beavis & Butthead. Now imagine one of these whacking you point-first in the noggin. Behold the game of Lawn Darts, AKA "Jarts." Banned in the U.S. in the 1980s (yes, it took two decades and a few deaths for this to happen).

1973. Firestone 500 radial tires. Not to be outdone by rivals Michelin and Goodrich, Firestone rushed to get its own steel-belted radial tires to market. The ill-fated "Firestone 500" had a penchant for belt separation, due to water seepage that caused the steel belts to rust and ultimately fail at high speeds. After 30-plus fatalities, Firestone reluctantly recalled hundreds of thousands of the defective tires, proceeded to stonewall the NTHSA, and then blamed consumers for the problems. After getting severly kicked to the curb by Congress in 1978 (not to mention being the brunt of years of bad press, and forced to recall another 14.5 million defective tires), the limping Firestone Tire and Rubber Company was eventually bought by Bridgestone at a fire-sale price. (But just you wait, kids -- Bridgestone/Firestone would put their heads together to bring us even more EPIC FAIL a couple decades later.) This whole disastrous story is still used to this day as a learning tool at many major business schools to teach aspiring managers how not to deal with major product safety issues.

1976. Teton Dam, Teton River, Idaho. Here's another amazing engineering folly involving a dam. As was the case with the 1928 St. Francis Dam collapse, the breach of the Teton Dam arose from, among other things, an ignorance of basic geology. Built less than a year earlier upon very permeable sedimentary rock, the ill-fated dam started leaking at a time that unfortunately coincided with high water levels from spring runoff. The gigantic structure was no match for the immense hydraulic forces behind it, and it completely washed out in a matter of hours, killing 11 people, and wiping out several communities downstream. The dam was never rebuilt, and the U.S. government payed out over $300 million in damage claims.

1979. Three Mile Island, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. A partial meltdown in the core reactor of a nuclear power plant creates the worst nuke-plant disaster in the United States. Fortunately, no lives were lost, and the specter of widespread contamination was averted due to a massive (and expensive!) cleanup effort. However, some studies have shown a subsequent increase in cancer rates in the area. It is believed by some experts that the presence of a few water level gauges on the reactor vessel could possibly have prevented the accident. But just wait until Chernobyl...

1979. Kemper Arena roof collapse, Kansas City, Missouri. A major rainstorm literally swamped the roof of the stadium, resulting in a 1-acre chunk of the roof collapsing. As the roof plunged, the rapidly increasing air pressure inside burst out several walls. No one was inside at the time, and therefore, no one was hurt. But it sure would've been fun to watch from a safe distance! Three years prior to its collapse, the stadium was given the Honor Award by the American Institute of Architects, reinforcing my belief that architects don't have a clue about engineering principles. In fact, a lot of engineers don't have a clue about engineering principles.

1970s. Ford Pinto. An infamous little turd of a car, equipped with a four-cylinder engine and a gas tank with the propensity to explode on impact. Ford's brass, knowing full well the dangers at hand, decided in a smoke-filled room that it would be less costly in the long run to endure a few wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits than to spend the eleven dollars a pop to retrofit a safety device into their little McCars. Were they ever wrong.

1981. Hyatt Regency Crown Center. Kansas City is the site of another structural collapse, this one with far more tragic consequences. Three aerial walkways packed with partygoers collapsed, sending 114 people to their deaths, and injuring over 200. A last-minute design change in the steel tie rods that were to bear the load of the walkway (a change made by a non-technically-trained manufacturing contractor!), compounded by the fact that said tie rods were anchored to welded seams in the walkway, proved fatal. Several of the project engineers involved were later convicted of criminal negligence and lost their professional engineering licenses. They might be serving fries now at a fast-food joint near you.

1984. Union Carbide methyl isocyanate disaster, Bhopal, India. Considered the most tragic and devastating industrial screwup. Cost-cutting measures implemented by Union Carbide created a lax safety regimen and poor equipment. This in turn resulted in the accidental release of 40 tons of methyl isocyanate gas, which, being heavier than air, spread along near the ground and into the nearby city. Depending on whom you ask, anywhere from 3,000 to 20,000 people were killed outright, with tens of thousands more subsequent deaths. The disaster also caused hundreds of thousands of serious injuries.

1986. Space shuttle Challenger. A faulty o-ring on one of the shuttle's solid rocket boosters caused a flareup that ignited the external fuel tank. This resulted in a rapid breakup of the craft, killing all on board, just 73 seconds after launch. Engineers had issued warnings prior to the launch that the parts could fail at low temperatures, but officials at NASA and manufacturer Morton Thiokol would hear nothing of that. Damn the torpedoes, it's full speed ahead!

1986. Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, Chernobyl, Ukraine. Another reactor meltdown, except the genie really gets out of the bottle on this one. Unlike Three Mile Island, the reactor here exploded, killing three workers and releasing radioactive contamination that swept across eastern and central Europe. Thousands of square miles of land remains contaminated, and over 300,000 people were forced to move from some of those areas.

1994-1995. Denver International Airport. With its 16-month completion delay (at $2 billion over budget), the designation "DIA" could have more easily meant "Done In April," "Done In August," "Delayed Indefinitely Airport," or "Denver's Imaginary Airport." Take your pick. Most annoying (or amusing, depending on your point of view) was the airport's bug-riddled automated baggage-handling system. Indeed, at the system's big public showing (complete with reporters and area dignitaries), cameras rolling, the baggage system went completely on the fritz, hurling luggage everywhere but where it was supposed to go. I would've paid good money to have been a fly-on-the-wall at that one. Just to see the looks on their faces...

1996-2000. Ford Explorer/Firestone rollover problems. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that there was an unusually high number of rollover incidents involving Ford Explorer SUVs equipped with certain Firestone tires. Ford investigated and concluded that the tires were the culprit. Firestone pointed fingers at Ford's low recommended tire pressure and Explorer design flaws. The NHTSA testified before a Senate subcommittee that a documented coverup had been conducted by both Ford and Firestone. Product liability lawsuits have been aimed at both companies, with the Ford - Firestone blamefest continuing.

1999. Aggie bonfire, Texas A&M University. A huge pyramidal stack of logs is assembled by a bunch of dumbass engineering students, doused with jet fuel, and lit on fire, just for some nighttime pyro fun. The monster stack collapses, killing 12 students and injuring 27.

1999. NASA rocket scientists lose the $125 million Mars orbiter. This in itself would not be news, as this sort of thing can and does happen. What makes this tragic loss so spectacular is the fact that the orbiter was lost due to math errors for a critical operation: one engineering team did its calculations in English units, while another team used metric units.

2003. Space shuttle Columbia. Another shuttle flight ends very, very badly, this time during reentry. A chunk of foam insulation glanced off the wing during launch, know the rest of the story.

2005. BP Amoco refinery explosion, Texas City, Texas. Texas City does it again. This time an explosion in a BP Amoco refinery, killing 15 and injuring more than 100. It is believed that a vehicle engine was the ignition source near an overflowing blowdown stack. It didn't help that they also had a personnel trailer located 100 yards from the stack.

2005. New Orleans, Louisiana. Here's a great idea for a city: build it on a swampy river delta several feet below sea level, situated along one of the largest and most powerful rivers in the world, and near a seacoast that is frequently the target of massive hurricanes. Then just to add a false sense of security, surround the city with levees to make the 1.3 million residents believe that the water will stay out. Well, guess what happened? And to make this story more ridiculous, they're going to build it back in the same place, with the same levees, managed by the same inept government agencies. Like Sisyphus rolling that stone up the mountain over and over again...

2006. Big Dig, Boston, Massachusetts. Tallying all the engineering, construction, logistical and fiscal problems surrounding the 14.6 billion dollar Central Artery/Tunnel Project would fill volumes. Substandard concrete batches, escalating costs, leaks, cracks, fraud, criminal misconduct by contractors, and a freak roof collapse that killed a motorist, are all there in the never-ending saga of this world-class boondoggle. Contrast this with the British and French, who seemed to have had far less trouble building their 31 mile-long Channel Tunnel, or the Germans with their skillfully executed canal bridge. One has to wonder if we Americans can really pull off a major civil engineering feat anymore. Maybe we could learn a thing or two from our European techie friends. But then, that would be far too optimistic.

2007. Interstate 35W bridge collapse, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Both bridge decks of a single-span interstate highway bridge across the Mississippi River suddenly collapse, killing 13. Numerous wild-ass guesses flew from all directions, while a political blamefest ensued. The culprit? The under-designed steel gusset plates used to join structural members to one another. Apparently, the designers used 1/2" thick plates instead of using 1" thick plates.

---marc elliott

we're in demand...kind of.
february 26, 2010

It's been a while since we have added a story to emotifont - 4 months, actually. In that time we have pursued our careers, celebrated the holidays and done other things that kept us away from our duties here. Our apologies. We'll try to freshen up the place from time to time.

During this hiatus, we have received a couple of inquiries regarding emotifont. Not the content, mind you, but the domain itself. Those individuals wanted to jump on the emotifont bandwagon (and who wouldn't?), expressing interest in purchasing our domain. One friendly chap from Switzerland was interested in acquiring the domain for his graphic design business. Apparently, he stumbled upon our little site and liked the name. We gracefully declined his kind offer and we do wish him well in his endeavours. Another fellow, this one from Utah, wanted to purchase the emotifont domain for, in his words, "a bit more than you bought it for." Again, we declined.

While emotifont has yet to develop into what we would like it to be, we are quite adamant about staying put.

---marc elliott

a fascinating travel blog we discovered.
october 16, 2009

Due to the paucity of interesting, first-hand stories to share on emotifont lately (sorry), I'd like to turn your attention to an amazing travel blog I discovered. Crazy Guy On A Bike, the 150 page travelogue of a few friends who biked from Beijing to Paris two years ago. With lots (and I mean LOTS) of photos.

If you have ever wanted an incredibly interesting time-waster, this has to be it.

---marc elliott

the phone's ringing off the hook. it must be a recession.
october 7, 2009

Depending on whom you ask, we have been embroiled in this downward economy for well over a year now - maybe two. Look around in your day to day world and you can see the indicators. Car dealers having seemingly endless sales promotions, five-dollar pizzas (with many other restaurants scrambling to compete - or close up), foreclosed and soon-to-be foreclosed houses offered for a fraction of their previous values, signs nailed to utility poles touting get-rich-quick schemes. It seems everyone is responding in their own ways, trying to claw a few more dollars out of the consumers' pockets.

One sign I have noticed is that my home phone rings a lot more. Interestingly, the incoming calls are not coming from telemarketers hawking their wares. The national Do Not Call Registry has brought those nuisance calls to a minimum, thank you very much. Rather, the increase in calls has come primarily from the non-profit sector: charities, civic groups, arts, fund-raisers, and the like. The recession has forced consumers to be more judicious with their spending, in turn hitting the pocketbooks of charitable organizations quite hard. The non-profits respond by pushing harder for a slice of a shrinking pie.

Though I generally detest phone solicitations of any kind (and I detest the automated robocalls even more), I can't blame these people for trying. Donations are plummeting, and many groups are becoming more aggressive in their rain-making efforts. Yet at the same time, with all of these voices getting louder and becoming more numerous, each one finds itself buried in the noise. People become desensitized to all the hype around them and learn to tune it out. Adding to that, people have also become conditioned to simply reject direct marketing efforts. The proverbial double-whammy.

What to do in this dilemma? I'm afraid I have more questions than answers. Answers that might be better sought from those whose craft is marketing. But one thing is obvious: if your organization's livelihood is pegged to direct marketing fund-raising, it might be time to rethink those strategies.

Meanwhile, as a consumer, I will try to support those causes that are important to me, even if it means picking just a few and turning many other worthy groups away. There are a handful of key organizations I will stick with. I would rather help out a few than give scant assistance to many.

---marc elliott

what's xool?
september 27, 2009.

A while back, I was chatting online with a friend, and in the course of the discussion, she had misspelled "cool" as "xool." Ever since that time, her typo "xool" has become our adjective of choice to describe things that are….well….exceptionally cool.

Something I've found xool lately is a tasty beverage called absinthe. Banned in many countries for nearly a century, this green distilled spirit is once again available in the U.S., Canada and much of Europe. I was fascinated with the story of absinthe's rise and fall, and its subsequent revival. I also wanted to try it.

The drink still has a rather bohemian image associated with it, as it was historically the drink of choice amongst artists, writers and other free-thinkers in 19th and early 20th century Europe. Threatened by the burgeoning popularity of distilled spirits in general, and absinthe in particular, the wine industry pushed an agenda, fabricating elaborate stories about the so-called ill effects of absinthe, including wild (and patently false) claims of hallucinations and even violent behaviour of users intoxicated from the green fairy. Absinthe was immensely popular with certain liberal-thinking bohemian cultures at the time, which certainly didn't help the drink's image in the eyes of the socially-conservative political leaders of the era. This prompted the governments of France and Switzerland to ban the spirits altogether. The legal status of absinthe fell like dominoes thereafter as numerous other countries followed suit with similar bans. It was banned in the United States in 1915, amid the hysteria.

In 2007, the U.S. ban was lifted, allowing the importation of certain absinthes into the country. A few American microdistilleries have also sprung up in the last year or two, with excellent offerings. Today, one can order absinthe in finer bars and clubs, and purchase bottles at better liquor stores. One brand in particular, Lucid, is becoming widely available. While absinthe may never attain mass-appeal, it has certainly carved out a strong niche.

I had never tried absinthe before. I had only a basic idea in my mind of what it might taste like, thanks to informative resources devoted to the drink and the word of a few friends. I do like the flavour of anise, so it seemed likely I would be taken in by the drink. Therefore, I definitely wanted to try it. I did some research on the various offerings, noting a rather broad disparity in the quality of the various brands available. I wanted to get a really good bottle for my initiation.

Then without further ado, and not having tasted a solitary drop, I took the plunge and ordered a bottle of the superb and highly-coveted Walton Waters, produced in small batches at the Delaware Phoenix distilleries in New York. At 68 percent alcohol by volume, it's mighty powerful hooch. It also carries a mighty powerful price tag, costing about 75 dollars for 750ml.

When my shipment arrived, I immediately had to try it. Actually, I waited until that evening, of course, an extreme exercise in self-control, mind you. I uncorked the bottle, and the aroma immediately filled the room. Honestly, the smell is not terribly impressive, being somewhat akin to that of Vicks Nyquil. Anyone who knows anything about absinthe will also tell you that it is not intended to be drunk neat, as it needs dilution with water to bring the essential oils out of solution and reveal the true flavour. Undiluted, absinthe tastes absolutely wretched, the anise untamed. I have heard of some bars serving it chilled in shots. Uncultured boors, the lot.

The only way to serve absinthe, in my not-so-humble opinion, is the traditional way in which it has been served in Europe for over 200 years. The process is referred to as the louche - a slow titration of ice-cold water dripped into the absinthe. Aficionados of Greek ouzo are familiar with this, as the effect is similar with that liquor.

I poured a shot of the emerald green goodness into a stem glass and proceeded to drip ice water using a decanter. The water dilutes the alcohol, precipitating the herbal oils. Done correctly, this takes a few minutes. Patience, Grasshopper. This dilution makes the drink appear cloudy, hence the louche. Mine devolved into a light, sea-foam green colour. Some people like to drip the water over a sugar cube during the louching to add a hint of sweetness. With about a 3 to 1 ratio of water to absinthe, I had within my glass the most unusual, yet flavourful drink. It's more than a mere anise beverage; a good palate should be able to parse out the different herbs used in the distillation: grand wormwood, green anise, fennel. It is meant to be savoured. And so it was.

Very, very xool, indeed.

---marc elliott

please welcome our new writer.
september 21, 2009

I'd like to give a hearty emotifont welcome to our new writer and field correspondent, Tippy Lancaster. Tippy comes to us with a very diverse and rich background, a fresh point of view and of course, many unique stories to tell. She will be sharing some of those stories with emotifont readers.

---marc elliott

september 20, 2009

I have a friend I've known for years. I'll call him "Tony." Tony is an amateur photographer and an avid travel buff. He takes some pretty neat photos of the places he's been and shares a few of them on his personal website.

One day, Tony noticed a lot of incoming web traffic to one particular image, a photo he took while on holiday in Europe a few years back. It appears that a travel agency, one that specialises in European trips, had used one of Tony's photos without Tony's permission. The travel site had embedded Tony's image onto their website to promote a tour it was offering of this particular region.

That act in itself didn't bother Tony much. He is not a copyright enforcement bully, and realises that photos on the web are, from time to time, re-appropriated by others. Such is the nature of the Internets. Right or wrong, it's not a serious issue to people like Tony.

What did get Tony's dander up were the two other things this travel site had done in the process. First, the site had displayed Tony's snapshot with accompanying text claiming it as their own - even going so far as to state that one of their agents had taken that photo while leading a recent tour. Second, the travel site committed an unthinkable offence with Tony's jpeg: it (gasp!)hotlinked to it. They could have simply done a right-click and save to their own web host like everybody else does. But no, they had to nick his bandwidth as well. Not good form at all. So every time a web surfer accesses the travel site's page, that person's browser loads the image from Tony's web host. That particular page on the travel site gets about 100 page loads per day, thereby sucking tens of MB of Tony's bandwidth.

Tony realises that sending a nastygram to a website in another country would get him nowhere. Tony also has a most devilish streak. He decided it would be much more sporting to punk this site.

Tony re-named the photo that was being hotlinked, effectively disconnecting it from the travel site. Then he downloaded an image of what is known as "goatse" and uploaded it onto his website's host directory. (For those of you not familiar with goatse, do a Google Image Search with the filtering turned off and make sure you're not at work or have any children around.) Tony renamed the goatse image with the former filename of his stolen picture and made sure the path was the same.

Voila! The travel site now had a rather disgusting photo as the centrepiece for its advertisement. According to Tony, it took several days before the site's webmaster noticed the alteration and removed the offending image. What I would have paid to have been a fly on the wall at that moment….

It should be noted that they did not come back to grab any more of Tony's photos.

---marc elliott

emotifont is on.
september 20th, 2009

Welcome to emotifont. While it doesn't look like much right now, and probably won't look much better for a while, we do have some cool stuff in store. We will be making emotifont a repository of strange and fascinating short stories contributed by a collective of authors with diverse experiences and points of view. It will be fresh and interesting.

Stay tuned for good things to come at emotifont.

---marc elliott


emotifont, n. ee-moh'-tih-fahnt' A portmanteau which means an expression of personal affect in written text.

A collection of weird and wonderful stories from the hinterlands. Real-life experiences from a diverse range of viewpoints, our mission is to entertain with funny, quirky, and uniquely oddball narratives. If we can give you a chuckle during your coffee break, we have done our job.

© 2009-2013 emotifont. all rights reserved.