Saturday, 21 January 2017

Coronation St Chic

Went out for dinner with our good friends Jo and Pete last night. Given yesterday's post on spectacles, I was paying keen attention to Pete's. I never knew that the Jack Duckworth Sellotape-mended look had gone mainstream - Pete assured me they were actually designed and made like that..

It would appear Pete is a trend-setting fashionista.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Should Have Gone to ....

I think I'll boycott Trump's inauguration.

I must spend at least a month every couple of years having problems reading small print and wondering whether I need new spectacles, before deciding I really do and then spending another couple of months organising an eye test.

I sometimes wonder whether anyone will ever manufacture a pair of spectacles you can adjust yourself using some smart-materials technology to alter the lens shape. The only time you'd ever need to change them would be if you got fed up with the style. Not much in it for the likes of SpecSavers as they would almost be a one-time purchase; however, anyone developing them would corner the spectacles market within 2 years, albeit a much reduced market size.

There are specs on the market you can adjust, but they have very poor reviews and work on adjusting two lenses that slide over each other, rather than the lens actually changing shape. They're only for reading too and don't correct distance vision. A pair of self-adjusting varifocals is just what I need. Apparently a US company called PixelOptics did develop something along these lines, but went bust in 2013.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

2nd Hand Cars

You know I cannot, for the life of me, understand what persuades people to buy new cars. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they do, as it means more second-hand cars for me to choose from.

The benefits of a second-hand car include:
  1. It's much cheaper and you don't lose up to a third of the value the minute you drive out of the showroom,
  2. You don't need a loan to buy it, and a loan on a depreciating asset is the worst kind of loan,
  3. It's less likely to be subject to  a recall for some dangerous malfunction that only comes to light during the first year,
  4. It's invariably cheaper to repair, as you don't necessarily need to go to a main dealer,
  5. If you do total it, it's not expensive to replace,
  6. You're not so precious about getting a dent,
  7. Probably cheaper to insure,
  8. If old enough, you can do most of the servicing yourself, 
  9. If classic it's probably a lot more individualistic,
  10. The resale value will be much closer to the purchase price, and
  11. It may even increase in price if it's a classic.
I've never bought a new car, in fact the newest car I ever bought was a 5 year old Volvo estate which lasted me for 15 years. Most have been in the 10 to 20 year age range at purchase and I've never paid more than £7k (that was the Volvo). Most of my cars have been in the £2~3k range. 

Here's the Chairman's 2nd hand car tip. If you want a diesel powered, hatchback workhorse capable of towing a caravan, but couldn't care less whether it looks good or not, I'd go for a 2ltr, 2000 to 2004 registered Mazda Premacy. You've probably even never heard of it - that's because it's plug ugly, but because it's ugly you can pick one up with well under 150k on the clock (good for another 150k because it's diesel) for under £500. Bargain!

 Another in a similar vein is the Chevrolet Tacuma. Again, ugly as sin and little known, but you can pick up a 15 year old model with under 60k on the clock for less than £700. A 10 year old one will only set you back another £500 - max.

My next car is going to be one of the above, as the Hyundai Getz isn't powerful enough for a caravan and is at the end of its life anyway as it will probably not pass another MoT without a shed load of expense. Residual scrap value is £200 (if I'm lucky), but it only cost me £800 four years ago. That's what I call value.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Valentine for Putin

If your wife has a birthday in mid January (like today) and Valentine's Day is within a month of that birthday, you can forget about Valentine's Day - right?

All this kerfuffle over Trump and the salacious allegations; I guess the point is not whether Trump actually did any of those things, but whether anyone believes he's capable of doing them, which is a whole different ball-game. One also has to bear in mind that Putin is a master of disinformation and it wouldn't be inconceivable that he planted this story and ensured it was leaked. Far from Trump being about to become the most powerful man in the world, that title firmly belongs to Putin.

Still practicing occasionally with the Insular uncial script, but I think I need to develop my own style.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Man Looking

Yesterday a friend made a Facebook post regarding having to remonstrate with her husband about his inability to find things that are right in front of his face.

This masculine act of searching is termed 'Man Looking' by Hay and is a form of divination somewhat akin to dowsing, which only those carrying a Y chromosome are capable of performing. It comprises a mystical waving of the right hand in the general direction of where the missing object was last seen, waiting a few seconds to tune into the universe and uttering the incantation; "I'm sure I put it here." If there's no vibration or 'resonance' (as we men call it) felt in said hand then the diagnosis of 'missing object' is immediately confirmed. During this mystical rite, the womenfolk murmur encouraging phrases such as; "I can see it from here," or "it's staring you in the face."

Further investigation is deemed totally unnecessary, as actually looking or moving objects to uncover the missing item is forbidden by ancient tradition. Added to that, we just know it's not there. Confirmation of something missing is usually followed by the male laying an accusation before the feet of their spouse that whatever it is that's missing has undeniably been moved by the spouse.

Placed in this invidious position of imminent exposure, women then resort to trickery and sleight of hand, seemingly rematerialising  the missing object in a miraculous manner such that it's in plain view, subsequently drawing their husband's attention to it with a smirk of sarcastic triumph on their lips. We men never fall for this trick.

Objects that tend to disappear into the interstices of spacetime are keys, wallets, spectacles, letters and screwdrivers. The frequency of these items disappearing seems to increase with one's age. It can be possible for a man in his 80s to be totally unable to find anything whatsoever in his own house due to his mem-sahib succumbing to the female compunction to simply move things all the time.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Big - Small - Big

It's strange how technology starts of big, becomes much smaller and then gets bigger again. A prime example is the mobile phone. However, consider the humble pram too. They started off as massive carriages, minus the horses - aka the Silver Cross prams that mothers and Norland nannies all over the world used to perambulate their charges. The Silver Cross basically required its own garage. Mothers and nannies had to leave the kids outside any shop they had occasion to visit and I'm certain a lot of babies were nicked while their mother popped into a shop of some bacon.

Then came the Maclaren buggy. Small, efficient and convenient for packing away in a car boot. If ever you see anyone in their late 50s or early 60s with a missing fingertip, you can almost guarantee they lost it while folding a Maclaren in the 70s. No problem at all going through a shop with one of these, as they were only as wide as a child.

Then some bright spark decided to combine the function of a baby car seat with a pram, and now we once more have humungous Swiss Army prams that mothers insist on bringing into crowded coffee shops. They're designed so as to accommodate the entire kitchen and a massive Kath Kidston baby bag containing everything required for a week's stay in the Cotswolds.

One day someone is going to cross a pram with a 4x4...

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Phone (or Write) Home

Another day of volunteer phone box scraping and grinding yesterday.

No.2 Son and I took the 10 to 12 watch. 

Tried an insular uncial script with the calligraphy pens yesterday. Not too bad, but again, practice is required. It's not a script I've ever tried before. I'm really getting back into this.

I'll probably get into trouble for that. Who are the Romanes?

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Animatronic Egg Discs

Overheard while watching a local news item about the BBC Natural History Unit's use of animatronic spy creatures:

Hay: "Would you notice if an animatronic Hayley suddenly replaced me?"

Chairman: "I thought you were animatronic."

Hay: "Well, I'm not."

Chairman: "Just what I'd expect you to say if you were animatronic..."

Overheard listening to Desert Island Discs and demonstrating the change in language.

Chairman: "Hideous choices - these tunes were probably popular when she came out."

Hay: "Was she a bloke then?"

Chairman: "I  mean in the sense of being a debutante...."

Trump says he'll work with Russia. I  bet he will, given the recent events.

This week's egg delivery showed up what must have been a painful lay for one of the chickens.

One of our neigbours also had a similar delivery with just one humungous egg out of 6.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Bill's Epistle to the Blogosphere

The Sheaffer calligraphy pens arrived yesterday. Much broader nib than I'm used to and, not having done this for well over a couple of decades I'm rather rusty. Must see if I can obtain finer nibs, else I'll be constrained to jumbo-writing.

I had my own way of doing letters and I seem to have forgotten how I did the letter g. A bit of practice when I have more time and I'm sure it will all come back. Given there were three pens and a whole range of colours I tried a bit of decoration, albeit somewhat cack-handedly.

I'll probably bore everyone rigid now with hand-written blog posts.

Stop press: Just looked more closely at the nibs on the 3 pens and they are indeed of varying sizes, but I was so keen on having each pen for a different colour that I didn't realise it.

My Book of Kells book with the colour plates also arrived a few days ago. I'll never be able to replicate these capitals if I live to be 100.

Click on them to enlarge and appreciate their exquisite beauty.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Crowd Coach

Heard that Jose Mourinho has said that supporters need to up their game. Given that the level of crowd support can have an important psychological effect on players, this is an interesting concept. Support for teams in the USA is almost a professional job, what with cheerleaders, etc. Perhaps football companies need to invest in employing crowd coaches...