Monthly Archives: September 2010

More Binder Clip Hints And Tips?

Use a binder clip to keep beer stacked

Binder clips can also be used for:

  • Holding wounds closed until the airlift arrives
  • Holding eyes closed during scary movie scenes
  • Holding eyes open during the Ludovico Technique
  • Fun ear fashion
  • Temporary rock-climbing carabiners seriously go on try it
  • Holding sheets of paper together
  • Male contraception “in a pinch”
  • Add duct tape for a DIY eyelash curler!

You get the idea. Two years ago, I was faffing around in my San Diego condo. I was alone, because Cassie and I had not yet moved in together, so my evenings were spent in solitary domesticity. A “lovingly” detailed description of one of these evenings is here.

I had some beer in the fridge. I’m not a big solo drinker, so they’d been there for a while. It was the remains of my CostCo Mexican Beers variety pack, with Corona, Sol, Tecate and Dos Equis (they also do Dos Equus, but that has been known to cause nudity and horse mutilation). There were also a couple of bottles of Karl Strauss Woodie Gold (lovely stuff). They wouldn’t stand up because of the non-variability of the shelves, and the gaps between the wires, so I lay them down. When I stacked them they rolled apart, so I just grabbed a binder clip and attached it to the wire shelf – it fit nicely, and stopped the bottles rolling.

I snapped a pic with my then-new-but-now-retired Palm Centro, uploaded it to Flickr, and pretty much forgot about it.

… time passes …

One day, I got an email from Shaun Usher, the editor of the fascinating and highly recommended scanned vintage correspondence blog Letters of Note, asking if he could use my letter from Douglas Adams on the site. I wrote back and agreed readily, although it’s not really a letter of note – no revelations are made, no advice is given, and I didn’t go on to become an author myself. Adams’ love of the Biggles books is a matter of record elsewhere, I think. Nice to be thought of though.

I don’t think the letter was ever used in the end, but Shaun must have been browsing around, because on August 16th he tweeted a link to the binder clip photo. There was a flurry of re-tweeting, the photo got a bit of interest, and several people made the photo a favorite.

In late September, Adam Pash from the tips and tricks blog Lifehacker ran a post with a list of uses for binder clips. Having been reminded of my own use, I posted the photo as a comment. A couple of days later, Adam ran another post highlighting the comment, and the Flickr views took off like a rocket.

Binder Clip Beer Stacking Stats

Take a look at the stats – 157,000+ views!

The day after Lifehacker featured it, someone posted it on Reddit. That gave another big boost to the ratings, and ever since there’s been a trickle of interest, from Argentina, Japan and all over. It is the most popular photo I’ve ever taken, and the most “interesting” in the Flickr sense (views, favorites, comments etc). Just for a sense of scale, my next most interesting photo is some people in costume at Comic Con which got 3000 views, followed by an old scanned photo of my Star Wars toys (sensing a theme?) with 426 views, my ex-dog when he was a puppy, the Adams letter, and some cool British vintage cars.

The comments on the photo, and on the various posts which link to it, fall into a few main categories:

  • “Genius!”
  • “Why not stand them up?”
  • “Glad to see someone drinking good beer.”
  • “Why are you drinking pissy Mexican beer?”
  • “Beer doesn’t last that long in my fridge!”
  • “You shouldn’t lay beer down its bad theres plastic and bacteria in the cap and the air spoils it and its not wine and you shouldn’t do it.”
  • “Whatever, attention-grabbing smartass.”

It’s funny to see so much debate about beer, how to store it, assumptions about my reasons for taking the photo, and remarks about the whole binder-clips-are-the-new-duct-tape-is-the-new-AOL-disk thing. It was a cameraphone snap of a quick solution, and I have to tell you…

it doesn’t actually work that well. I had to add another clip to make it more stable, but it’s not very scalable, and the clips rust, and the bottles have to be the same size. But I don’t mean to be a snark. It’s nice and novel to be “famous” on the internet for 1.5 minutes. It makes me wonder how people who get more attention more regularly (ie pretty much everyone else) cope with it all.


My mind drifted to how Roast Beef in Achewood, my favorite webcomic, reacted to the whole marriage thing. Here are some classic moments in the Getting Married story arc, and how I’m applying their “wisdom” to my own situation.

He tried to save money on invitations while trying to register for antidepressants Have you seen the price of this stuff? I hate that the first entry is complaining about money, but damn. I mean, I love letterpress stuff, and designy typography stuff, but wowzer.
His friends arranged an ugly stripper, so that he wouldn’t miss his freedom Well, we can skip this one. I would like to think my friends are aware of my thoughts about strippers and men’s clubs and the like.
He started his own wedding magazine as a reaction to the Capitalist Nightmare that is the wedding industry The glossy magazines are certainly full of questionable taste, but I don’t know how long a wedding fanzine would last. There are “alternative wedding” blogs, which have some pretty cool ideas, but I like simple and classic as well. Flowers on every surface, and on the bows on the chair covers, are in the “Not In Any Way Necessary Or Desirable” column in the file. 

Oh yes, we have a file.

featuring some etiquette tips, including how to react to people who ignore your registry Important stuff, especially when the couple getting married have been setting up home together for quite a while. This ain’t no bottom drawer/hope chest situation.
He had his friends give him some excellent advice about vows and growing old together I wish I had a local with a barman like that.
Another “friend” advised him to get a pre-nup agreement Seeing as I’m an alien in California, I’m basically screwed anyway, so a pre-nup is just viciously expensive parrot-cage lining – and we don’t have a parrot.
His friends and family got concerned about the low expectations displayed by the gifts on the registry We shall have to make sure that does not happen. Registry info will be distributed soon, and we sure as hell won’t be under-asking.
He had terrible dreams about not being worthy Who hasn’t dreamed that he was part of a sick experiment to create the most powerful failing machine ever imagined? I’m not at this stage yet, but I remember when I first got together with Cassie, and sometimes had these doubts about whether she was serious. As in, “You want to be with me? Are you serious?”
His brother was a terrible person… My brother is not quite as bad as this…
…and had to be dealt with …but we’ll see. Bringing him over to the big city and the bright lights may be a little too much. Action may have to be taken.

That’s where we are for now. As the preparations continue and the big day approaches, some more droll comparisons may be drawn. I know, I just know, you can’t wait.

Getting All Up In The Wedding Preparations

OK so now Cassie and I are engaged, and we went to Las Vegas at the weekend to hunt down a nice venue and fix the date. We did find a place, and fix the date, and all that stuff will be revealed on our official wedding website, which we will properly link to when we’ve updated it.

So now the attention gets itself turned to serious preparations. I am taking a scientific view of this, by basing what we should do on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

Maslows Hierarchy of Needs

What should the ceremony have? Let’s break it down, starting from the bottom. So more like break it up.


There will be air at the wedding (I checked). There will be a choice of foods. There will be water and other beverages. Cassie and I will have a suite booked. (Googles) Springtime in Vegas is nice – not too hot and not too cold. The golf club has restrooms.


Only invited people will be allowed in, so we should be pretty safe. I can’t guarantee the safety of your morals. The job security of quite a few people is safe.


The whole point of the ceremony and reception is friends and family witnessing our marriage.

Again, Cassie and I will have a suite booked.


We’re going to do our best to look good, feel good, put on a good party, and make this event (and the years ahead) something to remember for the rest of our lives. We hope others will remember it too.


There’s a lot of creativity required in getting all this stuff sorted. We’re learning to solve problems together, without prejudice. There’s quite a bit of acceptance of facts going on too.

We’re getting married because we love each other, because it will strengthen my bonds to this country, and because it will mean our relationship is stronger for starting a family – I guess that’s one of the most powerful forms of self-actualization.

A Day In The Life Of The MC

From the archives, here is a short piece I wrote to be my biography in the program for an old improvisation show that I compere’d in Wimbledon a few years ago. See if you can spot the subtle references.


I live in Tooting, on Renmuir Street, on the 1st floor.
My name is Matthew Petty.
I’m 30ahem years old.

Despite appearances, I believe in taking care of myself, in a balanced diet, in a rigorous exercise routine. In the morning, if my face is a little puffy, I’ll put on an icepack while doing my stomach crunches. I can do a thousand now. After I remove the icepack, I use a deep pore cleanser lotion. In the shower, I use a water-activated gel cleanser. Then a honey-almond body scrub. And on the face, an exfoliating gel scrub. Then I apply a herb mint facial masque, which I leave on for ten minutes while I prepare the rest of my routine. While the kettle boils for my Co-op Red Label Tea, I feed my West Highland Terrier and talk to him. His name is Shuggie and I love him, although his opinions on Intelligent Design are a little worrying.

I always use an aftershave lotion with little or no alcohol, because alcohol dries your face out and makes you look older. Then moisturizer, then an anti-aging eye balm, followed by a final moisturizing protective lotion.

I enjoy the music of The Human League. Interestingly, I enjoy their early avant-garde work as an electronic 3-piece (The Black Hit Of Space, Dreams Of Leaving) just as much as the later, more chic, cinematic cocktail disco of Don’t You Want Me and Open Your Heart. I also like The Who, Talking Heads and Dollar, and there is no shame in that.

There is an idea of a Matthew Petty – some kind of abstraction, but there is no real me. Only an entity, something illusory. And though I can hide my cold gaze, and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours, and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable –

I simply am not there.


Horse Project

I’ve been working on some pages describing the handmade wooden rocking horse my Grandad Harold Lloyd used to make from 1975 to 1986. There are photos, descriptions of each horse, and some other bits and pieces.

The plan is to try and contact people who may know the folks who bought the horses. I’ve got some good leads, so we’ll see how that goes.

The main project page is here, and I will add any additional information as I find it:

Lloyd's Handmade Rocking Horses logo