Monday, 31 October 2011

Overheard About Stick Insects

The Chairman has been trying (unsuccessfully) to get No.1 son to get rid of his stick insect collection, which has been growing exponentially, as they will not survive a winter in the caravan.

Chairman (to No.1 Son): "Those stick insects have to be gone by the end of today. I have warned you. By hook or by crook, they will go by teatime."

Hay: "You're not going to kill them, are you?"

No.1 Son: "What if they die of old age?"

Hay: "That's a point - how long to stick insects live?"

Chairman: "Till teatime on Sundays!"

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Quaking European War on Wine & Cigars

The European Union was set up to eliminate the possibility of European nations ever going to war again. The way things are going, I wonder whether the inevitable collapse of the Euro will lead to the next European war.

As for that Silvio Berlusconi - useless Prime Minister, but I did like his Spaghetti Westerns, in fact I watched For a Few Dollars More on TV last night.

Jimmy Savile has died yesterday at the age of 84. I knew smoking all those cigars would get him in the end.

At the other end of the scale, children as young as 12 claimed they drank the equivalent of 19 glasses of wine per week when questioned for a UK-wide survey of 83,000 school pupils. Since when did anyone believe anything kids tell them?

Talking of delusions, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad warns of an "earthquake" if the West intervenes in his country. I can't see the relationship between political intervention and seismic activity myself, but there again he is just a teensy bit insecure.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Red Tops

The UK's newspapers really are despicable!

Top Directors' pay - who gives a toss, except the Daily Mail Tendency? If shareholders want to give their money away, that's a matter for them and no-one else.

Vincent Tabak's porn stash - if being interested in porn makes one a murderer, then more than 90% of men and 60% of women are murderers.

Even the BBC is becoming tabloid - Points West have us 30 minutes of Vincent Tabak's life last night, and no news. Most of the reporting was shoddy, to say the least.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

A Glass of Misadventure - Long Life (Unsecured)

Singer Amy Winehouse was found dead in her room with five times the driving limit of alcohol in her blood; an inquest recorded a verdict of death by misadventure. I have a couple of glasses of misadventure every evening with dinner.

I hear Nokia is developing a phone with a battery that lasts longer than half a day. May just go for that the next time my contract is up for renewal!

Listened to an interview with George Soros on Radio 4 yesterday (the programme was called Stephanomics, for anyone who is interested to look it up on Listen Again) talking about the current depression. I feel even more inclined to withdraw my stash from the bank now and keep it under the mattress for the next year or so; it's all going to be spent on the house anyway.

Interestingly, Soros put the blame on credit, not just debt. Credit is usually unsecured, whereas debt is usually secured against something. The problem today (besides no-one saving for a rainy day anymore) is unsecured credit.

Oh, and he also put the blame on economists and world self-delusion that the good times would continue.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Where's The Beef?

A Greek, an Italian and a Portuguese go into a bar and order some drinks. Who pays? The German, of course!

Some bloke in Holland has come up with the brilliant idea of growing meat in a test tube, thereby placating the animal rights activists, releasing millions of acres for vegans to grow vegeburgers (or travellers to put their caravans on) and putting livestock farmers out on the streets.

Was watching an advert for some conservation fund that wants donations to protect an endangered snow leopard, of which there are only 35 left in the world. It struck me that this snow leopard is blissfully unaware that it is endangered and probably doesn't give a toss one way or t'other. The reason we humans want to protect this animal is not for the benefit of the animal itself (as I said, it isn't aware of being endangered and ain't exactly going to say thanks), but for our own enjoyment. There's irony in this.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Euro, Schmuro, Tesco

It has been reported that the only way in which the Euro can be saved and get the Greeks, Italians, Portugese and Spanish baled out is for each and every family within Europe to sell their children into permanent slavery to the global banking system and put £2,000 each into a kitty for the Greeks to spend on shiny things.

Cameron yesterday said: "When your neighbour's house is on fire, you should help him put it out so your house doesn't go up in flames too." That may well be, but all analogies are bad, as pouring more money into Greece is akin to throwing your own house onto the fire and watching it burn - which is also a bad analogy.

Tesco has just opened a new temple to Mamon in Yate - one of the largest in the country at 150,000 square feet, or thereabouts. This will give the local youth the opportunity to shoplift on an industrial scale. It will also attract undesirables from a 15 mile radius. Yes - it may well have created 200 odd new jobs, but I would posit a greater number stand to be lost in the local retail economy as Tesco sucks up and consolidates all local shopping activity into its vast, bloated, gaping maw. Let's face it, supermarkets only exist through generating economies of scale - selling more with fewer people.

Talking of kitties to spend on shiny things; saw an advert on TV for a Christmas club called Park3 - you give them money and they save it for you for Christmas presents. Anyone remember Farepak? People just don't learn.

Human rights activists are calling for Libyan NTC troops in Sirte to be hauled before the courts for human rights violations against Gadaffi loyalists. This was a bloody and total civil war where no quarter was expected from Gadaffi or his henchmen, who had already proven themselves capable of atrocities. To expect NTC combatants, the vast majority of which are amateurs, to adhere to professional and gentlemanly rules of combat in such situations is a bit naiive to say the least - these people were fighting for their lives. The greater good has been served and least said soonest mended. Let the Libyans decide on the ethics of this case, not armchair human rights activists. The Libyans, after all, were at the blunt end of Gadaffi's regime.

Monday, 24 October 2011

A High Wind

It has struck me that one's progression through the ages of man can be measured by one's attitude to bodily noises, such as farts.

  • In one's extreme youth they are novel, and thus performed ritualistically at every available opportunity - almost competitively.
  • In one's early maturity they are an embarrassment, and thus hidden.
  • In one's late maturity they are seen for what they are - a necessity - and thus performed as a matter of course with no hint of embarrassment whatsoever.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Occupy London - For What?

What I don't understand is how a bunch of protesters can occupy London till Christmas. Don't they have jobs to go to?

If not, then shouldn't they be out looking for jobs, rather than sitting around doing nothing and getting Job Seeker's Allowance at our expense? I'd say that is unethical.

I feel a protest coming on.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Overheard in the Office

The Chairman has just taken delivery of a new Vodafone data dongle to use while on the move. On trying to use it, it fails to find a Vodafone data connection, despite the Chairman having a Vodafone mobile next to his computer with full signal strength.

After 18 minutes of sitting in a phone queue, a technician answers and enquires as to the problem.

Chairman: I have just taken delivery of one of your data dongles and it can't find a network.

Vodafone: Is the dongle flashing?

Chairman: Yes - two green flashes every 3 seconds.

Vodafone: Then it's working fine and just can't find a 3G connection.

Chairman: But why am I able to use my mobile and connect to the internet on a data channel?

Vodafone: Because your mobile is picking up a 2G signal.

Chairman: So your dongle is worse than using a mobile?

Vodafone: Yes, I'm afraid so. If you move around the building you may pick up a 3G signal.

Chairman: I've been all over the building and can't get a connection. The device is bloody useless - I may as well set my mobile into Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot mode and use it to connect my laptop to the internet. At least that works all the time.

Got home in the evening and tried it again - nothing! I Googled "Vodafone 3G coverage" and it's pitiful. I'm sending the bloody useless heap of junk back to Vodafone. Don't know how they have the gall to sell it.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Design for Design's Sake

Are you disappointed that you're no longer noticing your fragrance plug-in?

During my trip to see customers in Italy earlier this week I visited a rather swish office in Genoa. The whole place was an homage to designer chic; milky, illuminated glass staircases, wood veneered walls in an oval room, an outdoor meeting room, slate floor tiles, a staff jacuzzi, a staff gym and a staff sauna.

There was only one problem - when I asked to visit the loo I was unable to leave the meeting room; the door handle was totally unfit for purpose. Unless you are a child or a woman with very slender fingers, it is impossible to open the door handle. Sausage fingers just won't do the job. Of the three blokes in the meeting room, none of us could exit and had to phone for help from the other side (of the door, not reality).

The offending door handle

Slate floor tiles and fancy lighting.

Outdoor meeting space with jacuzzi round the corner.

Illuminated glass staircase - gorgeous!

Brushed steel uplighters on wood veneered walls.

Designer lighting.

At one of my meetings the MD did nothing but fiddle with his BlackBerry - which I thought the height of disrespect. I simply stopped talking and he didn't even notice for about 30 seconds before looking up sheepishly.

At Rome airport I was assaulted by the usual range of expensive tat.

Please - what's the difference between D&G and M&S?

....or Moncler and the Army Navy Store?

...or Prada and Primark?

As usual, none of these shops sported a single customer.

One of the shops was an Italian food outlet selling Italian specialities at twice the price I can obtain them in British supermarkets, which I thought a novel sales approach. An example is 500g of bog standard Arborio risotto rice for 15 Euros - which I can get in Tesco for £0.85.

Talking of airport shops; I have always been bemused by a duty-free electrical shop in Tel Aviv airport which sells large items one obviously can't take into an aircraft as hand luggage - such as cookers, vacuum cleaners and the like. On questioning an Israeli colleague about this he told me that it is solely for the benefit of locals who can purchase these large items at a knock-down price before going on a trip and collect them (or have them delivered) on their return to Israel. Smart cookies these Israelis! I'm surprised no-one has thought of this in other countries. Needless to say, the shop is a hive of activity.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Tax Rebates?

About six million people in the UK are set to receive tax rebates; however, to save time, the government is to pass the money directly to power utilities to offset hideously high electricity and gas bills.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Intrinsic Value

Was running on a very tight schedule yesterday with 3 meetings in different parts of Rome. Only just made it to Fucino airport in time to buy a Mont Blanc pen, a pair of Timberlands and a Hermes tie before the flight to Genoa.

At least Rome airport has a higher restaurant to pointless-shopping-outlet r.atio than Heathrow T4 and I managed to get a meal.

Had a look at the Alitalia in-flight shopping magazine. I can't believe that people would pay over £200 for a pen. £200 for a work of art or something with intrinsic value, yes - but a bloody plastic pen for God's sake? It's delusional! The aura of supposed exclusivity is indeed a very powerful motivational force on the human ego. A Mont Blanc pen says a lot about the holder, but not what they think it says.

I note the BBC News website is now carrying adverts. I guess it was bound to happen eventually.

Monday, 17 October 2011

I Hate British Airports

Heathrow Terminal 4 on the way to Italy for a couple of days - 300 shops which are devoid of anyone but window shoppers and only 3 (fully packed) restaurants where, even if you manage to get a seat, you would have to turn up 60 minutes before the statutory 2 hours to stand any chance of getting a meal.

I was forced into taking out a mortgage on a sandwich and drink a cup of lukewarm froth.

Can't help feeling BAA has got it all wrong.

What witless idiot buys any of the exorbitantly priced crap on display in airport shops anyway? I'm certain the Burberry, Mont Blanc and Harrods concessions are solely for marketing purposes and don't actually sell a single overpriced trinket.

We're having second thoughts about the solar PV for the house. It surely can't be long before even the self-deluded brigade at Friends of the Earth realise that the only option for limitless and cheap electricity is nuclear. Added to which I don't trust governments and their promises on feed-in-tariffs 5 years hence, let alone 25 years hence.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Metaphor For an Allegory

Why, in most cases, do metaphors fly under the radar?

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Confused Tax Men

Hay went on yesterday to get some car insurance. She ended up very confused and thus the website does exactly what it says it does. That's real customer service for you.

When giving details of the second driver details (i.e. me), the insurance didn't have drug baron or assassin listed as valid occupations.

The tax man sent me a notice of coding yesterday. It was wrong, so I decided to phone them. I was held in a queue for 17 and a half minutes before finally speaking to a Jock I could hardly understand. God, why on earth don't they use Indians in these call centres? At least I can understand them.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Fat Taxing

The government has abandoned plans for an obesity tax.

People seem to eat garbage because it's convenient and doesn't involve anything more taxing than shoving a tray into the microwave. Money has little to do with it, as processed food and ready made meals are invariably far more expensive than simple ingredients.

The solution therefore is to give women more time for cooking healthy, raw ingredients by banning them from the workplace (or at least disincentivising them through lower salaries), thus simultaneously solving the unemployment crisis, allowing them to look after their rioting kids and giving them more exercise.

Did I say something wrong?

Thursday, 13 October 2011

A Focus on the End Result

Reports that Col Muammar Gaddafi's son, Mutassim, has been posing as a special advisor to Defence Secretary Liam Fox are being treated seriously.

Changes to the rules on succession have moved closer after David Cameron shared his plans to allow Adam Werritty, special advisor to Defence Secretary Liam Fox, to ascend the throne.

Dr Anthony Seldon, Master of Wellington College in Berks has said: "For too long we've had this brutally frank and ineffective way of measuring schools, and measuring teachers, and what it has done is it's rendered schools ultimately into exam factories, a kind of sausage process machine whereby all that seems to matter is this end result." Heaven forbid that, say manufacturing, should focus on the quality of the end result, or indeed any area of human endeavour.

Hay is changing jobs in a couple of weeks, meaning her corporate BT broadband service at home will be terminated. She phoned BT to arrange for the contract to be transferred to a private account in her name and was held in a queue for 30 minutes before being cut off. She then phoned Virgin and the someone answered within 30 seconds - and it was a human. Two minutes later BT had lost a customer and Virgin had gained one. BT had obviously lost its focus on the end result, whereas Virgin had not.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

OK - Here Are All the Photos

Well, the wedding photos have been massaged to within an inch of their life and here are the results.

To explain, Charlie (my elder daughter) has learning difficulties and Graeme had a severe stroke in his early teens, which left him disabled.

They met at Beaumont College, Lancaster, when both attended in their teens. Beaumont College provides courses to learners with learning difficulties and disabilities.

A couple of years ago they ran across each other again after 16 years or so, and love blossomed.

I particularly like the photo of Graeme and his best man coming down the stairs - he looks like a mafia don.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

I Can Get Away With This for Days and Days

With 200 odd photos, I can do this for months.

A proud father and his daughter.

The bride and groom.

The brothers.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Safter Than a Greek Bank

Credit rating agency Moody's has downgraded the credit rating of Lloyds TSB, RBS, Nationwide and Santander UK for being crap at being banks and about as creditworthy as Greece.

Mmmm - perhaps it is indeed time to withdraw the cash-stash and put it under the bed for safe-keeping.

Apparently Adam Werrity, a ministerial aide with a speech impediment, is accused of having been Dr Liam Fox's best man at his wedding. I suppose someone had to do it though.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Catch 22.5 for Apple in Cirencester

Strange, isn't it? The economic crisis was caused by people having too much debt; it's being extended because people are cutting back in order to pay off their debt (or actually because easy credit is no longer available), yet the only solution to the crisis going on forever is people spending more and getting deeper into debt. It would have been better if people had never gotten into debt in the first place.

The ridiculous thing is that people like me, who have no debt (and thus did not contribute to the economic collapse) are being punished through low interest rates on our savings, while those with heavy debt are revelling in record low interest rates. Summat not quite right about that.

It it right to have low interest rates so businesses can borrow to hire more people to produce more stuff for people to buy on more credit?

Ref Steve Jobs' death: it's like Princess Diana all over again. In the 60s and 70s the gurus were Indian mystics; these days they are the technology wizards. I wonder if there will a similar outpouring of emotion when Dyson eventually kicks the bucket?

When I Googled "Dyson turnover" I discovered that Dyson's revenue was £770m in 2010; when I Googled "Apple turnover" I got nothing but confection recipes.

I hear the Conservatives are to give help toward childcare for low income families and thus encourage them into work. Canny buggers, these Conservatives - offering money which they know they won't have to pay out, as there are no jobs for these parents to go into.

Personally, I can't see what's wrong with staying at home to look after your kids. If you can't afford kids without both parents working, then perhaps you shouldn't have kids in the first place.

Going up to Accrington for my daughter's wedding shortly, so posting may be sporadic till Monday. Hope the dentures stay in during my speech - I'm finding it impossible to say; "Cirencester." Hay has threatened to heckle me with comments such as; "Say Cirencester," or "Say Suzie sews socks on the sea shore."

I may get a post or photo logged with my Blogger App.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Armadillo Dentures on TV

Apropos of yesterdays post about the benefits of tactile buttons when emailing or texting; I recently had cause to email one of my work colleagues who rejoices in the forename of Arkadi (he is an Israeli of Russian extraction). I was somewhat rushed and didn't bother to check what my HTC had actually produced. Never having come across the name Arkadi before, the HTC translated it as Armadillo. It caused some hilarity at work,

Talking of extractions, had my new dentures (top and bottom) fitted yesterday; I feel like I have a large piece of masonry inhabiting my mouth and can't speak or eat properly, despite them being only partial.

The whole point of them was to enable me to 1) smile without showing gaps - especially as I'm meant to be giving a speech at my elder daughter's wedding on Saturday - and 2) eat a steak without having to swallow it whole. While 1 has probably been achieved, I fear 2 will be impossible and I'd rather eat without the damned things.

I guess I'm pretty lucky, as at my age neither of my parents had a single tooth of their own in their mouths and wore full dentures. I may be tempted visit Latvia next summer to engage in a spot of dental tourism and get some implants.

Is it me getting old and grumpy, or does making TV entertainment now consist almost entirely of following some poor bugger around with a camera while he or she is engaged in their mind-numbingly boring job or buying a house? Oh, sorry, I forgot about the repeats...

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Tactile Tensions

Apple is about to bring out its latest gew-gaw.

Can't say I'm enamoured of mobile phone touch screens, especially when it comes to texting and emailing. I spend half my time correcting text due to the problem of sausage fingers. At least with a Blackberry you have tactile buttons and can virtually text without looking at the device.

I have ordered a BlackBerry for work and will use the HTC only for phoning people.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Firing the Generals More Easily

I was listening to George Osborne being interviewed on Radio 4 yesterday morning. He was crowing about the business initiatives the Conservatives are implementing and said; "We're helping businesses to fire people more easily." I wonder if he'll later regret that statement?

In another radio programme I learned that the British Army has 256 brigadiers and generals. Apparently the Israeli Army, which is of comparable size, has only 48.

Monday, 3 October 2011

I Simply Can't Believe It

Stop press - plain old water vastly more expensive than water with stuff added to it.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Merry Xmas - Back to Black on the Road

Given the heatwave, we decided yesterday to have a BBQ. I duly went to Lidl for some charcoal. I was horrified to be confronted by Xmas goods.

AC/DC have released four different brands of wine: You Shook Me All Night long Moscato, Hells Bells Sauvignon Blanc, Highway To Hell Cabernet Sauvignon and Back In Black Shiraz.

Not sure about you, but I can't help but get the feeling that the UK is being run by a bunch of boys barely out of nappies. Same goes for the opposition. Time was when it was inconceivable for any party leader to be under 60. I just wish they had a few grey hairs these days and a lower opinion of their powers of deception (they seem to have been exposed to the self-deception virus, which makes them think we can't see through their insincerity).

The government is considering increasing the speed limit to 80mph. Good idea! Personally, I stick to the speed limit when travelling to an appointment in order to save fuel. The only time I exceed 70mph is if I'm running late on the return journey. The greatest danger on motorways - which happen to be the safest roads on our transport network - is drivers (especially lorry drivers) falling asleep.

A decision has to be made as to what is an acceptable level of motorway road deaths and set the limit accordingly. Everything we do carries risk and it's just a case of determining what is a acceptable level. I have no issue with that.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Compulsory Nostalgia

Anyone remember these chaps?

Compulsory retirement at 65 was phased out yesterday, which is a good thing, as I'm probably never going to be able to afford to live on a pension anyway. Many of my generation, and the ones below me, are going to have to work till we drop, not that I have an issue with that - can't see myself being retired anyway.