Monday, 30 November 2009

The Mechanics of Star Wars


Overheard in the car:

Chairman: “Do you actually understand how an engine works, or are you too girly?”

Hay: “Of course I do. The engine thingy has cylinders in which the pistons are pushed down by fluffy kittens and bounce off pink cushions under the power of Chanel No 5 fumes that are set alight by a diamond encrusted Dunhill lighter. You plonker - my father was a truck driver and I helped him maintain it at weekends.”

Overheard while watching Star Wars Episode V:

Chairman: “He was type-cast after making this film and never really played other notable roles.”

Hay: “What? Mark Hamill made quite a few films.”

Chairman: “No – not Mark Hamill, Yoda.”

Friday, 27 November 2009

Oh..... I Forget


Why do radio football commentators have to shout?

Got a new laptop at work yesterday. Getting to grips with the new keyboard. Bloody thing lights up like a Christmas tree. Got cyan, neon red and electric blue LED lights for everything. Hideous and most confusing!

Yesterday it was some quaint colonial holiday called Thanksgiving in the USA, which I found out to my annoyance while trying to get a subcontractor in Florida to do some urgent work on a megayacht in Ft Lauderdale. Bloody futile! Strangely enough there was a holiday of the same name in October in Canada. Did the Pilgrim Fathers actually get to Canada first? It seems strange to have what is in effect a harvest festival in November. Must be climate change.

Yesterday I collected a prescription from the chemist. On the way back to the car I unwrapped it and threw the rubbish in a litter bin I was passing. On reaching the car I suddenly realised I didn’t have the medication in my hand. I carefully retraced the 25 yards back to the litter bin, but nothing. I finally reached the conclusion that I’d absentmindedly thrown the meds away with the carton and paper bag. Unfortunately the bin was one of those with a cover that you can’t remove and so I had to stretch my arm to its limit while rummaging around the bottom. Several people passed me by during the 3 minutes or so it took me to empty the bin contents onto the street and recover the meds. They looked at me as if I were a dosser. Most embarrassing – not only for rummaging through a bin in the middle of a street, but having been so engrossed in my own thoughts as to not realise I’d thrown the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Hay is considering having me sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

I was trying to find the Alzheimer’s Channel on TV last night but couldn’t remember where it was.

Talking of disabilities, in my opinion the best possible invention would be a device that taps directly into the thoughts of disabled people who have difficulty communicating and allowing them to communicate normally, thus stopping people from looking at them as if they were idiots or mentally retarded. It must be intensely frustrating for them.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Have You Got A Dave?


Hay’s sister has a theory that everyone has a Dave in their mobile phone address book, but they can’t for the life of them remember which Dave it is as there’s no surname. I certainly have one. Do you have an unknown Dave, or someone else, in your mobile’s address book?

We’re having a spate of insurance TV adverts here in the UK trying to persuade older people to put some money into an account that will pay for their funeral expenses. To be honest, once I’ve gone I couldn’t give a damn about my funeral expenses. For all I care they can put me in the council dustcart and take me to a landfill site. However, as I’ve wiped their arses more times than I care to remember and given them the benefit of my wisdom for many more, it’ll be a sad day when my kids can't be bothered to club together to give me a burning Viking long ship funeral off the Severn Estuary.

Another development I’m not that comfortable with is no-win-no-fee adverts for injury liars – sorry, lawyers. It’s turning people into litigious, money-grabbing bastards. There’s an all-pervading nastiness that’s creeping into our society which maintains that nothing is your own fault and someone else must be to blame. Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

On the money-grabbing issue, it won’t be long before we in the UK have to vote for a new government. It’s a fact of life that the major parties will bribe us with our own money to vote for them; however, a large proportion of voters are too stupid to realise that the benefits we are offered are pulled from our own pockets in the form of tax.

There was an item on the BBC news last night about the forthcoming world land speed record attempt by Bloodhound SSC and what a challenge it will be. I don’t wish to pour cold water over the attempt, but I fail to see the challenge in strapping a set of wheels to what is in effect a missile capable of much higher speeds than the land speed record. Making an engine that’s capable of powering a car to over 1,000 MPH without rattling itself to pieces in the process is certainly a challenge of phenomenal proportions, but attaching yourself to a jet is not.

It was also mentioned on the news that YouTube will be headlining the Glastonbury Festival. How low can contemporary music get when a popular multi-media video-sharing website becomes a headline act at one of the best known music festivals on the planet.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Gifts of Gold


I see that Rowan Atkinson, the Archbishop of Cadbury, met with Pope Ratzo recently to discuss carving up the world into spheres of influence and the trade in souls. I think the whole spectacle was summed up by His Eminence’s gift to our Rowan of a gold cross. I am reminded of the parable of the camel of easy virtue passing a needle for a Samaritan pauper prospering in the vineyard of the prodigal son who was stoning an adulteress. I wonder how many poor people in the slums of Rio that cross would have fed.

You know it’s always struck me as somewhat incongruous that Ray Mears, the world renowned survivalist (well, at least in the UK), is a bit of a chunky chap. Perhaps he’s simply a very good survivalist and can find a surfeit of food.

Friday, 20 November 2009

What Does It Mean To Be European?


As I write we’re about to get a European President (I’m off up north to Slackistan at sparrow’s fart, so this is a time-release post). This caused me to contemplate on what gives us a European identity.

  • We have a work ethic – and yet some nations don’t.
  • Some are deeply religious – a growing number are atheist.
  • Some have stable democracies – others change their governments more often than their underwear.
  • A few have similar sounding languages – and yet many others don’t.
  • Some drink lots of wine – and many drink lots of beer.

I can’t really think of anything that binds us together, resulting in the inescapable conclusion that it’s a social construct based on nothing more concrete than geography. Not really a sound basis for a union, if you ask me.

One thing we do all seem to like – with the notable exception of the Swiss – is to beat seven shades of shite out of each other every 60 years or so.

What do you think binds us together as Europeans?

Happy birthday to my big brother - 64 today and he retired 2 days ago.

Children in Need - Dizzee Rascal & Shirley Bassey - doesn't quite work. In fact doesn't work at all. Actually - hideous!


Thursday, 19 November 2009

Drink More and Glow Longer


I was watching the BBC news yesterday morning while in my hotel room waiting for breakfast. The subject under scrutiny was a political issue – can’t remember exactly what – and the BBC was broadcasting from outside the Houses of Parliament at 6:30 am! Why on earth would they need to go to the expense of using an outside broadcast team at 6:30 in the morning when there’s not a soul around to interview? No wonder the BBC is under fire for wasting public money.

A study in Spain has shown that drinking alcohol every day cuts the risk of heart disease in men by a third, but not in women. So if you go out on the lash with your mem-sahib you should encourage her to remain abstinent for the sake of her health. Her health is obviously of prime importance to you; it's only coincidental that this will allow her to drive you home.

We bought some of those low energy light bulbs at the weekend and I have to say I’m impressed with how the technology has progressed since I last had a look at them. They still take a few minutes to reach full luminosity, but they do have the same warm glow of an incandescent bulb. An 11 watt low energy bulb provides the same luminosity as a 60 watt incandescent – in fact I’d say it provided slightly more. We’re going to do a complete swap-out.

I think I’ll spend today practicing being dead. I want to ensure that when I do die I do so with dignity and √©lan, which of course takes practice.

Is a village police station a one-cop-shop?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Specism


Tuned into an interesting conversation on Radio 4 on the way home last night. It was about the elimination of non-indigenous species or sub-species from habitats – such as mink, grey squirrels and Indian ring-necked parakeets from the UK, rabbits from Australia, etc. The argument is based on the fact that introduced species, or sub-species, push native species out and have unforeseen and disastrous consequences on the habitat.

I think most of us would unthinkingly agree that it’s a good thing to protect native species. However, ask yourself why we balk when we come across those who want to apply this perfectly sane logic to humans. To all intents and purposes invasive species eradication is the same agenda as that espoused by the BNP, with those supporting species elimination being ‘specist’. Makes you think, don’t it?

Noticed a mistake on Friday’s post about people’s irrational fear of Friday the 13th. I actually said Friday the 15th. I’m not superstitious in the least and I think you’ll find that most of us Aries people are of a similar vein – fingers crossed and touch wood.

Had a sales call from one of those Land Bank Registry (or some such name) scam artists yesterday – the ones who want to sell you prime plots of green-belt land with planning permission, which turns out to have no such thing (the clue being in the term green-belt). Hideous cockney chaps with an attitude who won’t take no for an answer, insist on calling you by your first name and asking if you still live at the address you lived at 3 house moves ago. No matter how rude I am to them they refuse to take me off their database.


Monday, 16 November 2009

Customer Service


Hay made me shave off my Battle Fuzz again over the weekend – the bits of beard on my cheekbones that I tend to grow longer when I’m getting into a somewhat combative mood.

Is it me, or do all people detest these automated customer service lines where you’re led several times through the entire numeric sequence from 1-10 before you actually get to speak to a human being?

I was trying to activate a pay-as-you-go Vodafone SIM over the weekend and had reached the point of acute frustration at not being able to find the bit on their website that facilitates it on-line. Even Hay couldn’t find it. I finally gave up in disgust and phoned them.

I no longer follow the instruction sequence for these phone lines and press the first number that’s spoken, trusting that it will get me a human much faster – as it did. OK, it was the wrong human, but the wrong human at least puts you straight through to the correct one without all the kerfuffle.

I seem to be losing interest in Blogging of late. Perhaps I need a rest.



Friday, 13 November 2009

A Mixed Bag


Friday the 15th – a great day for those with paraskevidekatriaphobia. It’s interesting to note that there’s no record of paraskevidekatriaphobia before the 19th century.

It would appear that the Cornwall council are to put the Cornish language on road signs in Cornwall. An excellent use of public money to pander to the 300 or so speakers of Cornish in the population of 500,000 – that’s 0.06%. The Council reckons it will cost nothing, as the sign makers will not charge extra. What about the cost of all the accidents that happen as people slow down at road signs to try to find the English among the Cornish? We probably have a higher percentage of Urdu speakers in England than there are Cornish speakers in Cornwall, so let’s all persuade the government to mandate Urdu on all English road signs.

I hear that Italian churches are starting to install holy water dispensers due to people’s fear of contracting swine flu from traditional fonts. I’d have thought that the Catholics believed in the miraculous properties of holy water and that it was a natural antiseptic capable of curing everything from warts to the clap.

While on the subject of matters superstitious, the Greek Orthodox church is coming out in support of the Catholics in their battle with the Italian government’s decision to ban superstitious symbols in state schools. One cleric, Bishop Nicholas from central Greece, lamented that: “At this rate youngsters will not have any worthy symbols at all to inspire and protect them. Football and pop idols are very poor substitutes,” he said. Football at least provides exercise which wards off obesity; God alone knows what protection a marketing logo can provide. I’d hazard a guess that it would be no more efficacious than the Conservative Party logo.

Here in the UK the government is to insist that from 2015 all nurses have a degree. While I can see some benefits, I can’t help but feel that this desire for every Tom Dick or Harriet to have a degree is closing off many avenues of employment to the non-academic and restricting job mobility. This headlong dash for academic qualifications in occupations that used to be based primarily on work experience is making us all specialise at an early age and ensuring we are qualified only for that one job from then on, putting massive power in the hands of the employers – which in this case is the government.

Heard some crass misinformation coming from the British Wind Energy Association on Farming Today this morning. A scientist was interviewed who stated that wind turbines on average were 30% efficient – the calculation being easy to perform by simply inspecting the records of Ofgem for the electricity being produced from all British wind farms and the maximum possible annual output and dividing the former by the latter. A chap from the British Wind Energy Association then came on to state that this was nonsense, as wind turbines generate electricity 85% of the time. Generating electricity 85% of the time does not mean they are 85% efficient when you consider that for the vast majority of that 85% they are turning very slowly and producing hardly anything. I’ll stick with science rather than spin - if you'll forgive the pun.



Thursday, 12 November 2009

Ageism


New research suggests that people who are ageist are generally those who are irrationally preoccupied with the fear of contracting a disease and it probably has an evolutionary cause. The suggestion that there is an evolutionary root to the prejudice is not an excuse to condone it however, or that the evolutionary pressure is still extant. I prefer to think these people are congenitally stupid.

Hay reckons that in my case the fear of catching something from my laundry is not irrational.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Strike the Tubular Bells With a Felt-Tipped Pen - But Don't Eat It


The forces of angry self-righteousness are at work in my company following the announcement of the zero annual pay rise. Some are talking of union action; I will not be joining them. If prices are coming down due to he economic crisis then everyone is better off anyway. Interest rates are lower that they’ve ever been and the bargains available in shops are legion – what’s their problem?

I should have reported on this yesterday, but I felt it was a storm in a teacup. For some inexplicable reason the British PM, Darth Brown, is being castigated by all and sundry for writing with a felt-tipped pen. That arbiter of taste and decency, The Sun newspaper is leading the charge. I’d be surprised if most Sun readers could write their own names, let alone harness the artistic and calligraphic resources afforded by a felt-tipped pen. I sometimes wonder why The Sun bothers with a crossword puzzle – it must the most under-utilised few square inches of paper in the known universe. The average human uses 15,000 different words in his or her daily vocabulary; I doubt that the average Sun reader uses more than 200, and 50 of those will be ‘tits’.

I must admit though that from the picture of his letter in the news that Brown does seem to have the limited handwriting skills of a doctor or someone with Tourette’s, but he does try. The man is half blind and only uses a felt-tipped pen because he can see what he’s writing. I wonder if the dark forces of Parker, Waterman or Sheaffer put The Sun up to this smear campaign against his writing skills.

In a surprise move, initiated by stupid American parents who allow their kids to stick their fingers into the hinges of Maclaren folding prams when they are being folded or unfolded, all motor manufacturers are to recall all cars sold in North America to have the doors welded up in case their kids accidentally trap their hands in car doors when slammed shut. Motor cycle manufacturers are also going to get in on the act by issuing notices with their North American products saying ‘Do Not Eat’.

The winners of the Euromillions lottery were announced yesterday. Hay and I were talking about what we’d do with £43m if we won that amount. Hay said she’d do some serious bio-chemical research while I said I’d go to all the exotic places I’ve never been – Machu Picchu, Blackburn, Leeds, Barrow in Furness, Hull and Scunthorpe. I might even go so far as to splurge out on a cruise to the isle of Man.

Here’s something I put on my Xmas Amazon wish list last night. Brings back so many good memories.



Tubular Bells, anchovies and gorgonzola – heaven!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Nuclear Pay Rises


Well I’ve had my letter telling me that there’s no pay rise this year. Strike? You must be joking! If I’m upset by it I’ll simply look elsewhere for a better job paying more. Striking certainly isn’t going to produce a result and will be counter-productive. I’m bloody lucky to have a job! If I were unlucky enough to be stuck in a job where I didn’t have the skills to move elsewhere, then there would be only one person to blame.

I’m glad to hear that the UK government has decided to go nuclear. That means less reliance on oil and therefore less need to interfere in the internal politics of the Middle East in order to safeguard oil supplies, with a concomitant reduction in Islamic militants wanting to take a pop at us. The sooner we’re self-sufficient in power generation, the better.

Still no adverse reaction to my H1N1 swine flu jab – I’m still alive. Hay disputes that, but she’s biased.


Monday, 9 November 2009

Curried Wildlife


Hay was wondering whether ‘ladies things’ manufacturer Tena had a product for men specifically to cater for those occasions when they laugh too much following a particularly virulent curry the night before. She thought it might be a solution to my laundry problem. As it happens there is, but it faces the wrong way round as it's made for another related problem.

I’ve noticed that the 40 odd tonnes of house footings spoil sitting in the field has caused an explosion in the bird population around here. We have hundreds of the buggers flitting down to it from the bushes surrounding the field to snaffle insects. Seems we've inadvertently created a wildlife haven.


Sunday, 8 November 2009

Mobile Charity Chic


Yay! Managed to unlock by mobile phones yesterday. Many people are under the impression that unlocking mobiles from their service provider is illegal. It ain’t. In the case of Vodafone it’s free and you don’t need to be any distance at all into your contract.

Overheard in the caravan:

Chairman: “Have you noticed how buying clothes from charity shops is becoming the new chic?”

Hay: “Yes, I’m considering buying only designer clothes in future. In fact I’m going to get a personal dress designer.”

I hear Lily Allen is considering leaving the music business. Never realised she was in it in the first place. I thought she was in the celebrity business.


Saturday, 7 November 2009

Lost in Translation


Renewed my phone contract yesterday and got the promise of a new phone – decided to go for a simple slimline jobbie, the Nokia 6303. A grown-up’s phone.

Had a look on YouTube for a review and found this:



Can anyone tell me what language this chap is using, as I can’t understand a bloody word he says. I think it’s Serbo-Croat, but I can’t be 100% certain.

I’m going to take some of you back in time now and conjure up an image from the past that came to me yesterday while I was cutting a slice of bread on the breadboard. Who remembers their grandmother, or in the case of my younger readers perhaps their great grandmother, taking an uncut loaf (only the posh people bought sliced bread in those days), holding it close to her ample bosom as if putting it in a headlock and sawing a slice off with a bread knife as if she was sawing off someone’s head? Breadboards seem to be a phemomenon of the late 20th century.


Friday, 6 November 2009

West African Swine Flu Vaccine Consipracy


In a shock revelation, voters in the UK are thought to be set to sack their political advisors next year.

Chairman of the Political Advisory Committee, ‘Professor’ Gordon Brown, said: “How can they sack us? Our role is to provide political analysis and to present the public with scientific – well, sort of – truth, no matter how unpalatable that advice may be. For voters to sack us because they don’t agree with the advice we give is illogical and a travesty.”

A news headline this morning about the killing of 13 soldiers at a US army base by a gunman.

“It is not clear what motivated the attacker, named as 39 year-old military psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan.”

I think I may have an idea as to a motivation.

I’m not sure what set off the train of thought, but the other day I was reminded of some culinary delights from my early days at sea when travelling to West Africa on Elder Dempster vessels (known by we experts as Elder Dumpster). Two dishes sprang immediately to mind; palm oil chop and groundnut stew, both were special Sunday treats and simply delicious. I recommend them to you.

Anyone ever had pan-fried squirrels?

Remember my rant back in August about the Swine Flu vaccine conspiracy? I’m scheduled to have both my seasonal and H1N1 flu jabs on Saturday. I’ll let you know if I get killed in the attempt at genocide on the part of dark forces. As we all know, Michael Jackson was killed because he had inside information on the H1N1 vaccine conspiracy (how long will it take for that to become orthodoxy?).

Oh dear - I had a little look and I spoke too soon.

A few final words; corfam shoes. Can't be 100% certain, but I'm almost sure I was the first boy in my school to wear them. Anyone remember them? A boon to all who wore uniforms.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Creation of Art?


If art is anything involving a ceative act (regardless of whether you subjectively like it or not), can blogging be called art?

If you're having a firework party tonight (for my UK readers) take care with your fireworks tonight and be safe! For those from afar, November the 5th is Bonfire Night, when we celebrate the Gunpowder Plot being foiled.


Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The Rapping Philosopher


Overheard in the caravan:

Hay and I are both ill with colds or flu. Caravan was having lunch at The Dog pub yesterday and phoned Hay to ask if we’d like him to bring us some soup from The Dog.

Hay: “Caravan just phoned to say he’s bringing us some soup from The Dog.”
Chairman: “Soup Doggy Dogg?”

Here’s a word from beyond the grave by Bertrand Russell about the British Home Secretary’s sacking of his chief scientific drug advisor, Professor David Nutt.


Monday, 2 November 2009

Hunting For Squashed Animals


Overheard in the caravan:

Hay: “I’m fed up washing your clothes. They’re always covered in food, stains or squashed animals.”

I’m struggling with my massive security complex as well as my feelings of inherent superiority.

I hardly posted last week, but perversely I had more hits. Perhaps I should refrain from posting to boost my readership?

I heard on TV last night that if the Conservatives get into power in the UK they will repeal the Hunting Act, which forbids the hunting of foxes for sport. The argument used by the hunting lobby is that it’s a traditional country sport. I wonder if the Conservatives are amenable to bringing back those favourite old traditions of slavery and stuffing kids up chimneys to sweep them.

I used to be ambivalent toward fox hunting until I saw a documentary showing a farmer leaving carcases out over winter to encourage foxes so he could charge toffs to hunt on his land in the hunting season. Now if you're using the argument that fox hunting should be allowed as foxes are vermin, then you don't bloody well encourage the damned things to inhabit your land.



Sunday, 1 November 2009

I'm Not Alone, Am I?


I trust I'm not alone in thinking Pink Floyd bassist Richard Gere and actor Roger Waters were separated at birth, am I?

Roger Waters (left) and Richard Gere (right)