Sunday, 21 October 2018

Weather Prediction

I was looking at my electricity generation chart just now - the one that averages the amount of generation over the last 5 years and highlights the chances of sunshine on a particular day - and noticed something strange; while there are almost no incidences of any particular day having a higher than average chance of sunshine, there are multiple days when the chances are that there will be below average sunshine.

Click on the image to enlarge it and you'll see that the peaks in the blue line, which are high levels of confidence, coincide with below average electricity generation (i.e. cloudy days). So, rather than being able to predict, on average, days of fine weather, the chart is more suited to predicting days of poor weather.

There's a huge anomaly on the right - I think it's a high confidence prediction of a General Election or a 2nd referendum...

Saturday, 20 October 2018

What's in a Name

Strange how everyone used to pronounce Adnan Khashoggi's name with a G, but this Saudi journalist who was killed in the Saudi consulate in Turkey has his name pronounced with a G and then a J.

Even stranger when one considers Jamal was Adnan's nephew.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Cheeky gains

Hay scored a palpable hit yesterday by being cheeky. She was at a meeting in the Hotel du Vin in Bristol (a high-end boutique hotel) and admired some beautiful, bespoke leather chairs. So impressed was she that she cheekily asked the manager if she could buy one. To her utter surprise he said they had 3 spare and one could be available. She bought it for £100 - a bargain.

The chair looks Edwardian, but was made by a company that specialises in supplying high-end establishments. I suspect it's an original carcass that's been reupholstered to a very high standard. A bargain!

That's 3 chairs in as many weeks - we have more chairs than a person with a lot of chairs. As suspected, one of the cats has commandeered it.

Thursday, 18 October 2018


Had another session of the plumbing course last night an learned that my friend Dave, who runs  the course from his home, designed the plumbing for the CCTV building in Beijing.

I guess he knows what he's talking about. Dave is the bloke on the left.

Best £60 I've spent in a long time. Last night I took apart and reassembled a Grohe mixer tap - a marvel of German engineering. The only problem was that when reassembled it didn't have the full rotation it had before I disassembled it - a bit like my thumb.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018


Saw an item in TV last night about the latest technology being trialled in supermarkets to expedite the checkout process and, naturally, it eliminates the human element - except for the shopper, of course; however, you'll be next.

If faced with one of those self-service checkouts in a supermarket, I always choose the manned checkout for the simple fact that it's employing a person. It's usually a toss-up anyway as to whether the self-service jobbie is quicker - the manned checkout is manned by an expert in the process and, if there's a problem, it gets sorted quicker. 

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

That Bloody TV

Bloody new TV!

Received the Digital Audio to AUX converter box yesterday and installed it between the TV and by Bose speaker. It works, but I can no longer control the volume via the TV remote's volume control. I can using a Bluetooth link, but not when it's a physical connection. How stupidly ridiculous is that? Seems I'm stuck with having to use a Blutooth connection and faffing about going through the rigmarole of reconnecting it every time I switch the TV on.

I have managed to switch off the UHD function, returning the look of an older telly, rather than it seeming as if I'm watching a garish TV advert or Eastenders all the time. Both Hay and I prefer the slightly fuzzy aspect of non-HD/UHD.

Pressing the Guide function on Freesat provides little or no information on the programmes on the channels, added to which I've lost half the satellite channels I had on my old Sky box. 

Might send the new TV back and buy an old 43 inch TV from someone who is converting to HD/UHD, which will cost me a fraction of the new TV's cost and return the functionality I've lost. Technological improvement is not always synonymous with progress.

Anyone got an old non-HD, 43 inch telly they're getting rid of?

Monday, 15 October 2018

Ruskin College

Just to get out for a few hours yesterday we went to Nailsworth, intending to have a mooch around a shop called Domestic Science, which happens to have a rather nice cafe attached to it called The Canteen. 

We found the place transformed - Domestic Science, as the name would imply, used to be filled with really useful stuff that was kitchen oriented, with a smattering of crappy gifts; The Canteen was a hippyish cafe serving good food at reasonable prices. Domestic Science now specialises is the most useless stuff you could imagine and seems to have hired the Village Idiot for its buyer; The Canteen has priced itself into a rigid middle class market - £8.50 for an egg on toast!

Instead we went to the Ruskin Mill Cafe, which is more what The Canteen used to be before it decided its market was more upscale. £7 for a huge plate of chorizo, potato and pasta cheese salad, which was more than enough for both of us, made by the students themselves.

Ruskin Mill College, for which the cafe doubles as a refectory during the working week, specialises in helping students learn to care for their own well-being and development and overcome their barriers to learning, using arts, crafts, commerce, agriculture, nutrition, living skills and the environment. A brilliant concept for those having, for one reason or another, problems with mainstream education.

These are some of the water features the students produce in the craft centre, and I think they're fantastic.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Sell-By Benefits of the Stereo Retirement Home of Easy Rider

I had a surprise benefit from the stupid system of sell-by dates in Tesco yesterday. I spotted three chunks of Old Amsterdam cheese (aged Gouda, for the uninitiated) that had reached this mysterious date known as the sell-by date. It's aged cheese, for God's sake. The best stuff is aged for at least 12 months and the stuff I bought couldn't have been more than 6 months old, judging by the consistency.

Tesco were selling the stuff at half price, so I bought the lot. Result!

I'm seeing a lot of hoardings on building sites advertising what are called retirement homes. Thinking about it, that means a cheap home, probably with a single bedroom and not enough room in which to swing a cat. That sounds suspiciously like the first-time-buyer home too.

Why are modern TV speakers so crap? Even these sound bars that people buy for them have execrable reviews and aren't much better. Our new UHD TV doesn't have an AUX output, so I've got to invest in a digital optical to AUX  converter. I can connect to my Bose speaker with Bluetooth, but I have to reconnect every time I switch the TV on, which is a pain in the arse. I have a magic box on order from Amazon and will probably get a decent pair of stereo speakers, it's a poor show, however, when you have to go to so much trouble with a brand new TV.

Why is it that  no-one has ever remade the iconic film, Easy Rider? Perhaps it was too much of its time and has no resonance today. There was a 2012 prequel, but it bombed horribly.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Norse Allergies

Lots of stuff in the news recently about people being killed by anaphylactic shock caused by allergens in shop or restaurant bought food. If I had such an allergy, the last thing I'd do is to risk death by relying on shops alerting me, or not, to the presence of allergens - I'd make bloody sure I wasn't about to kick the bucket by preparing my own food from known ingredients. It just seems the sensible thing to do when suppliers of suppliers can't be relied on. Conversely, if I were a restaurateur I'd say that all my food definitely contained allergens and be done with it, rather than take the risk on myself.

Last weekend we discovered a Netflix series called Norsemen. It's a Norwegian comedy production and it's hilarious. Essentially, it's Vikings overlaid with 21st century social values. Well worth watching - we watched all of season 1 back-to-back and are well into season 2.

In the opening scene a captured slave in a Viking longship is complaining. The Viking chieftain walks along the boat and thumps him in the face. The chieftain then returns to the boat's prow and whispers to his 2nd in command; "You know, I'm not that comfortable with this confrontational leadership style."

Friday, 12 October 2018

Astronaut Cosmonaut

I was somewhat confused yesterday in a BBC News report where it was said that an American astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut had escaped from a malfunctioning Soyuz rocket. I thought an astronaut and a cosmonaut were basically the same thing and the announcer could have equally said that and two astronauts, one American and one Russian, had escaped.

It turns out that while they are similar, they're not the same. The astronauts have to be young and not older than 40 years of age. They should also have a height less than 5’11.” A cosmonaut should be younger than 30 years of age and should have a height less than 5’7. Also their training is different, as are their functions, hence they are job titles.

An interesting fact is that a Payload Commander is not considered to be an astronaut, as a PLC has not been through the same training.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Body Art

Went to the hospital again yesterday to have the stitches removed from my thumb and the cast changed on the hand and spotted these quirky artworks of body parts on the walls of the physio unit.

I decided to create my own artwork - it's called 'Hand' in mixed media...

The new cast is red, but it transpires I've lost all sensation on the inner edge of my thumb, so some nerves have been severed. They will grow back over time, but not be as effective as the originals.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

The Boxer Rebellion

After some 40 years I have finally ditched boxer shorts underwear and embraced 21st century undergrments. I'm fed up of constantly having to tuck voluminous amounts of material into my trousers, having parts of my anatomy constantly trying to escape though a lack of confinement and my boxers transforming into a thong as they ride up.

As a gentleman ages and things hang further south than they did in one's youth, the risks associated with wearing boxers and shorts together increases the chances of inadvertently committing a crime when standing with one foot on a raised object or climbing stairs, and hence some form of containment is recommended, if not essential.

Yes - I am now converted to the aptly named 'sports trunk' style of men's foundation garment, having purchased 10 pairs from Lidl for under £12, as compared to a single pair of boxers for, invariably, the same price.

In our household it's called the Boxer Rebellion...

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Climate Change Coffee

There was a survey on climate change by YouGov yesterday. 

My Nespresso coffee deal on the machine finished this month, so I'm free to buy my coffee pods where I want. Found an eBay supplier in Liverpool whose prices are half that of Nespresso for vanilla, caramel and chocolate flavoured coffee.

Received my first shipment yesterday and noted, to my consternation, that all the flavours are in pods of the same colour, so it's impossible to differentiate them out of the packet. I left the packets on the kitchen worktop and went out - but Hay came home shortly afterwards, earlier than expected. She'd been home for about an hour when I decided to message her with a warning not to tip them all in the coffee pod tin. Her response was that for the next week, at least, it would be coffee lucky dip.

In light of the YouGov survey above, I'll have to use fewer coffee pods, even though we recycle them. 

Potato - potatoes. Tomato - tomatoes. Torpedo - torpedoes. Hero - heroes.
Avocado - avocados. Pimiento - pimientos. Piano - pianos.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Restoration Man

Got the restoration bug again  after a couple of small Facebook Market purchases over the weekend.

Edwardian armchair in need of some reupholstering (£29) and a late Victorian chest of drawers (£95) requiring the sympathetic healing of a split down one side and a touch of TLC.

I'd make a terrible antiques dealer - I'd find it impossible to part with any of my purchases.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

BMW Remote Control

Last night we went out for a meal with a friend, meeting at her hotel a few miles from us on the A46, which is notorious for cars speeding and the site of numerous accidents. We were being approached by a line of three cars when the last car of the line, a BMW SUV, pulled out on our side of the road and started to accelerate toward us in an attempt to overtake the other two cars. We were in plain sight - it was daylight - and the manoeuvre was suicidal. Hay realised this and decelerated, but the BMW driver just kept accelerating thinking he (or she) could make it. Hay finally swerved left into the verge and the BMW narrowly missed us. BMWs are such nice cars, but why are so many idiots attracted to them?

Have you noticed that some drivers don't dip their headlights until after they've actually blinded you? It's as if they want you to know they've dipped their lights as a courtesy, and as a consequence they ensure you know by blinding you first.

Getting somewhere with the voice-activated remote TV control. I can now switch to a channel by saying the name of the channel, rather than having to remember which channel corresponds with one of a couple of hundred numbers. I can even say the name of a programme and it will return the channel with that programme currently on. Using the App I can even change channels and watch what's on the TV while away from home - Hay thought the TV was playing up when I did this from town yesterday. The only thing I can't do when away from home is to switch the TV on if it's already off, which is a bit of a bummer.

I wish I had voice-activated control of that BMW last night - it would have been in a ditch.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Telly Tribulations

Bought a new telly this week as I'm having increasing difficulty reading any text on our old 32 inch model. Went for a 43 inch, and there is an improvement.

The new one comes with something called HD, which neither Hay nor myself are convinced is an improvement. The images have an ultra-real look about them - a bit like all the programmes were made in the Crossroads studio.

You can download an App to control the TV, which I decided not to use, but it keeps switching my Bluetooth on automatically, despite not using it. That will have to go.

It also has a separate voice-activated remote control, which I haven't a clue how to use, as there are no instructions - at least none I can find. Had a look on YouTube, but the Samsung videos gave only the most rudimentary information. No matter what I say, all the instructions have the same effect. Seems more like a solution looking for a problem to solve.

When it arrived, it came with 2 sets of instructions - Quick Installation and the Instruction Manual. From past experience, I've never had much truck with Quick Installation Guides, as you don't learn much about the products. It took about an hour and a YouTube video for No.2 Son and I to fix the bloody stand on to the TV, as there were no instructions on how to do it and there being no obvious indications that part of the stand slid off to reveal fixing holes. Reams of instructions for fixing it to a wall, but absolutely nothing about fixing the stand to it, other than a before and after image. An hour later I was firkling through all the accompanying bumf and had a butcher's at the Quick Installation Guide, and there was the instruction for attaching the stand....

Friday, 5 October 2018

Post-Operation Check

Had my post-op check on the thumb yesterday.

Stitches holding firm, skin healing well and no infection.

A nice, polymer cast that's a bit more manageable than the lump of plaster of Paris I've been sporting for the last week.

The X-ray shows what they term a 'bullet', which is essentially a staple that holds the ligament in place and will be in position for the rest of my life. Back to the hospital next Wednesday to have the stitches removed and then some physiotherapy to regain the mobility.

Certainly a huge difference from the post-injury X-ray.

Thursday, 4 October 2018


So Theresa May maintains Britain's post-Brexit future is full of promise. Somehow the words empty, hollow and broken come to mind where Brexit is concerned, especially if track record is anything to put store in, and certainly if logic and economic forecasts are used.

No-one has yet presented a coherent strategy that averts severe damage to the economy - indeed we're on target for the hardest of ideological Brexits and Japanese companies are preparing to decamp from Brexit Britain en masse to be nearer their customers.

The lunatics are running the asylum and promising Elysium. Is ignorance truly happiness?

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Healthy Trousers

Interesting juxtaposition of news stories on the BBC News website this morning.

  1. Bacon and sausages linked to breast cancer, and
  2. Costa advert banned for urging customers to buy a bacon roll rather than an avocado.
No idea who or what Tinchy Stryder is. Sounds like a brand of children's trousers.

By the way, in answer to Boris Johnson's assertion that when 95% of world growth is forecast to be generated outside of the EU, we shouldn't shackle ourselves to the EU. Well, why start from a position of weakness as an isolated country, rather than as a member of the world's largest trading block? The man is a dangerous demagogue and those who fawn on him are fools.

By the way, an increase from 1 to 2 is 100% growth. More pertinent is the volume and value of trade. Boris' use of growth is a deliberate deceit.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Tesco Clubcard

Here we go again, yet another Brexit fantasist, Jeremy Hunt, likens the EU to the USSR, where countries could not leave.

Countries could not leave the USSR without the threat of invasion; the UK is at liberty to leave the EU at any time, but must accept the financial consequences.

It's like having a Tesco Club Card that gives you discounts on products in return for shopping there, but then deciding to return the card, demanding those same discounts and asking to be taken seriously.

Are these people sane? Brexiteers' sense of victimhood over a self-inflicted injury is simply mind boggling and how they think no-one can see through this is astounding. You can almost hear them shouting; "Don't you know who I am?" at the checkout. When you're the epicentre of an Empire of some 458 million people and a manufacturing powerhouse, that may carry some weight; when you are a country of 65 million with little remaining in the way of manufacturing, it doesn't.

A cynic might think they're doing this on purpose prior to another referendum and hoping the more intelligent voter responds accordingly. Never, however, underestimate the stupidity of the electorate...

Monday, 1 October 2018

Contrail Con

Obviously, we're on some major, international flight path.

Also, those contrails are really chemicals being rained down on us to keep us docile...