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Wednesday, December 31, 2003

If anyone deserves a mention for their New Years Honour it only seems right that it is Sir Tim.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

I'm confused.

I saw a bottle of Harry Ramsdens Traditional Vegetable Oil. Now, it has always been my understanding that Fish and chips were cooked in solid fat (e.g. beef dripping) in the North, not vegetable oil. The reason being that you can heat solid fat to a higher temperature thus obtaining the particularly splendid crisp batter of the Yorkshire fish as oppose to the rather limp, soggy, somewhat oily excuse for battered fish that they have down here in the South. Of course, maybe the chips are done in veg oil and the fish is solid fat.

Can anyone shed any light on this and confirm my beliefs. You can otherwise tell me I'm wrong and destroy the very fabric and underlying beliefs of my life.

The choice is yours.

P.S. Harry Ramsdens isn't everything it's made out to be. Much too full of it's own importance.

I've seen my doctor. Various bits and pieces are being tinkered with (but not those bits and pieces), and it will be reviewed again in a month. In the meantime I shall get on with stuff and see what happens. It must be said though that some of the changes will put me into direct conflict with Linda which will hardly reduce the stress level.

Anyway, as Ethel Merman sang, "let's go on with the show", or something similar.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

I knew this Christmas wasn't going to be the most pleasant I'd ever had. I have a number of things coming up in January that I'm not looking forward to all of which you may well hear about as they come up. The last few days to Christmas Day itself were a sort of race against time. I knew I was getting depressed but I couldn't let it come out until I'd finished working. The one thing I knew was that the day itself didn't have us going out this year so I could just be at home and let it wash over me. And it did. I didn't have the worst Christmas of the ones I've read about, I wasn't ill, physically, nor were members of my family, no disasters struck but I went into a major "feeling sorry for myself" mood.

On Boxing Day I was due to see my family, but much as I love them, I couldn't face having to be jolly and bright, so I made up an excuse and went to meet some Mensan friends, one of which is holding a three day board game festival at his house. I use to spend many an hour as a youngster playing board games and I'd half wanted to get to this and I'm glad I did. I turned up about half eleven and stayed until quarter to seven that night, and left others still playing. It was just what I needed and took me out of myself, I met people that didn't have any preconceptions of me so I could just be as I felt.

Games played were;

Xiang Qi - Chinese Chess. Not dissimilar to wetsern chess but faster games, although it would have been faster for me if I could remember what chinese characters meant which piece.

Samarkand - a pretty fast trading game, reasonably easy to pick up for kids as well. Good fun if you have half an hour to fill.

Puerto Rico - This is one of the big board games of the moment I'm led to believe. One of it's plus points is that every player has the opportunity to carry out some action on every players turn, so there is no sitting around for 10 minutes between goes. The game itself will take a good couple of hours, even longer when you first play, but well worth persevering.

We then played a card game called Phluxx. The rules and the goals change continually so just as you think you are about to win everything gets turned on it's head and your back to square 1.

And for those who like board games, need information about one or want to relive the memories of their youth, then Board Game Geek is the site to visit.

I had to work today, but I quite enjoyed it, and there is a chance I'm off to join in day three of the boardgamefest tomorrow. I'm seeing the doctor on Monday morning so I need to think about what I want to achieve during the visit and make sure I get it.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Whether this Christmas Day finds you opening your heart to the story of the Christ child, opening your presents to see what Santa brought you, or both, I hope you have a peaceful, relaxing Christmas that brings you all the things that are most important to you.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

It was the 3verest Christmas Sales function today. I didn't think I would miss going to it, but I did. Admittedly, I used to spend my time making sarcastic comments through the 15 minute video they produce, mutter under my breath throughout the Sales Directors speech and complain about how crap the cabaret was, but I still missed it.

It's a bit like knowing there's a party going on and you haven't been invited.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

It's official! You turn into a southern softie 45 years after leaving the north.

I've now lived in London for 45 years and the cold has got to me. It was freezing in London today, not literally, although it must have been close, and I suffered. My bones ache with it, my teeth ache with it and I even wore a jumper and a jacket!?!?!

Please don't make me hand my Yorkshire birth certificate back.

Went into London on the tube today. Three young lads were talking, about 14 or 15 years old. One was saying "it's a real pain when your mobile rings at 4 in the morning" "Yeah" said another "you go to answer it and then by the time you've reached it there's no-one there."

Erm lads, you could turn them off overnight. That would solve the problem.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Have you noticed whenever the Police sieze illegal goods they always have a street value of a round figure, say £5,000,000.00. Why does everyone say that drug smugglers and video pirates are dim when they manage to keep their stock in such exact figures. It can't be easy.

So we finally have the verdict. I doubt there was anyone who was surprised by it. There are a number of points I wanted to mention though.

Now that we have the legal niceties sorted we have to go through the "who to blame" discussion. Was it Cambridgeshire Police, Humberside Police, Social Services, etc. I was under the impression that the person who was to blame is now serving life. Politicians will discuss how to improve the system so it can't happen again. But it will. You can't obtain perfection. Living with someone with OCD shows you first hand that refining things to ever increasing detail only causes other problems. By all means strive to improve the system but let's not fool ourselves that we will ever reach a nirvana where the actions of an individual can be so well logged and controlled that mistakes can't happen and free will won't reign.

I understand that one of the problems with the Humberside Police information was that there had never actually been a conviction previously. In a number of his brushes with the law the victims or family wouldn't press charges. I understand that it is difficult to put yourself or your family through the trauma and publicity but it's important that everybody does what they can as the criminal always tends to increase the severity of their crimes as time goes on.

Let's hope the media don't spend too much time in the Soham area chasing interviews and then the community can move on with things and particularly for the families who have been incredibly dignified throughout.

Monday, December 15, 2003

So Saddam has proved to be the same as any other bully. It was much easier for him to exhort his people to fight to their last drop of blood as indeed his sons and grandson did, but apparently, when it was his turn, he obviously forgot where the trigger was.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

On checking, I've discovered that 16 Tons was released in the year of my birth, 1956, although so early in the year that it preceded not only my conception but my parents marriage. In deference to my mothers feelings, I should point out that they were married before my making, if only by a few weeks. By the time 16 Tons had left the charts, both events had occurred. My mum would never claim that I was a mistake, but I think she'd agree to me having been a bit of a surprise.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

As the hands of time wend their weary way past the witching hour onto the downhill slopes of the early hours of the morning it's time to celebrate the completion of my 47th year. Well, actually not until 1.47 p.m., but hey ho!

You could strike up a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday" but I've decided this year I'm having an official birthday song. Therefore, please join me in a rendition of the chorus of Tennessee Ernie Fords' 16 Tons, paying particular emphasis to line 2.

You load 16 tons and whaddaya get??
another day older and deeper in debt,
Saint Peter don'tcha call me 'cause I can't go,
I owe my soul to the Company Store

Right, where's my birthday cake?

Thursday, December 11, 2003

I have continued my recent spate of manual labour by helping to fix a garden gate today. Actually I did very little apart from screw 6 screws in, but I'm pretty certain that was the most important bit of the whole job.

This event followed a series of mishaps not unlike the Flanders and Swan song The Gasman Cometh.

A couple of weeks back we fitted a window for someone. Adam had his van on the drive, and as he left to go get some stuff he managed to clip the gate post. Very little happened to it other than it took it slightly out of alignment. It wasn't very noticable except to our customer who spotted it the next day. Adam said he would return and bolt it back to the wall a couple of days later.

He duly turned up and after eventually finding some bolts long enough to refix the post, made sure it was properly fixed to the garden wall as support. The next day or so after, the customer rang to say the post had now fallen over taking part of her wall with it. Kev and I went to look at it. To be fair, her wall was somewhat dodgy and Adam had done the right thing, but the post was so rotten and the wall unstable that the only thing to do was to put a whole new post in and re-hang the gates so they closed, something that hadn't happened for quite a few months before we arrived on the scene.

This morning, Kev and his ex next door neighbour went armed with pneumatic drill, 6" by 6" square post, hardcore, cement, and sand and undertook the replacement. By the time I turned up Kev had just finished digging out where the post was going so I was able to make plenty of sarcastic remarks about his work as one would expect from me. Anyway, all went well until the gate was rehung only to find that it's twin, which should have joined neatly in the middle, had been hung out of alignment years before and now they just weren't closing together.

Off Kev and I go to buy 4 washers with which to help raise our gate which would solve the problem. 15 minutes later we returned with washers in hand to discover they were just too small. Back into the car and we swapped them for a slightly bigger set which did the trick nicely.

Those gates are now as good as they've been since the day they were fitted. All that we are waiting for is a phone call informing us of whatever disaster follows on from this one.

The BBC are running Which Sports Personality are You?

Apparently I'm Steve "Interesting" Davis.

Actually I'm quite pleased. For me he was the best snooker player there has been that I have seen. Sure, there were the exciting potters like Higgins, O'Sullivan and the like, but for me it was the precision play of Davis that made him so great. Maybe it was because I used to play quite a bit that I would marvel at the consistency of his safety play. Time after time he could leave the ball exactly where he wanted it. When he played a shot you knew it was going to finish up exactly where it was meant to, I was usually pleased if I could leave it on the right half of the table. That's what makes it quite painful to watch him play now. I see him miss stuff that was a guaranteed shot 10-15 years ago. If I get frustrated with it I can only imagine how much it must wind him up.

So, the government are planning the overhaul of the armed forces and bring them up to date as a modern fighting machine.

I've heard a couple of news reports on it today and there has been criticism of the equipment the troops had for Iraq. The reports are right. The last couple of days before shipping out to the Middle East my step-brother-in-law was traipsing round army surplus stores with some of his colleagues to find some suitable desert clothing. As for the boots which they couldn't get here, there was a great deal of trsading going on between the UK forces and their US counterparts who had a pretty much unlimited supply of them.

The MoD's fine words that the clothing supplied was perfectly good for what was required of it, butters no parsnips in this house! I'm sure if we sent the England football team out in hob-nail boots such footwear would be perfectly good for kicking footballs, but I hardly think they'd improve anybodys game.

It comes to something when our troops have to spend their own money to buy what are in effect necessities to do a decent job.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Sometimes I want to make posts concerning the depression, stress, financial problems, etc., but don't want to post them here, so I'm thinking of starting up a second site. Well, not so much thinking about it as having at least started to set it up. In the back of my mind there is a niggling thought that perhaps I shouldn't, or at least shouldn't make it a public blog.

Any thoughts?

Monday, December 08, 2003

Break out the blogging bells!

Great news over at Graybos place.

On Thursday I armed myself with a series of screwdrivers and attempted to change 24 window handles for a customer. This should be 2 hours work, maximum. Not for me. It took me about 5 hours, much muttering under the breath and I even had the use of an electric drill to make it easier. Adam, our installer, was fitting some other stuff and left to go on to another job whilst I changed 16 of the handles. He rang later to see how I was getting on and in the time I had changed 12 of them Adam had installed a door and a window, plus travelling time.

I have a friend who wants me to change 37 handles for him. If I go missing for a week you'll know why.

This weeks Unconscious Mutterings.

  1. Blizzard:: Snow
  2. J:: C
  3. Control:: Tower
  4. Blood:: Donor
  5. Mysterious:: The Mysterons
  6. Annoying:: Stress
  7. Throat:: Sore
  8. Condom:: Rubber
  9. Search:: and Rescue
  10. Heartfelt:: Thanks

Obviously I'm very flat and very uninspired this week if the answers are anything to go by. If any passing psychologist wants a crack at analysing me, then please go ahead.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Gert mentioned Sky+in one of her postings earlier. Am I right in thinking it's the same as TiVo, or perhaps a slightly glorified version, or is it in fact something so wonderful and glorious that it knocks everything else in the field of hard disc recorders into a cocked hat?

My mother has gone off on a Turkey and Tinsel, or is it Tinsel and Turkey break this week.

I've seen them advertised but had no real idea what they were about. For those who don't know, the three day break consists of enacting Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. All the right food is served on appropriate days. I'm beginning to think she might have a turkey addiction. She comes back on Friday and then she has a Christmas meal to go to on Monday which will also feature turkey, an invitation to visit somewhere else at the end of the week, and yes, it's turkey again.

Come Christmas Day I wouldn't have thought she'd be able to face another slice. This does however explain my brothers behaviour when young. He spent approximately 6 months where he refused to eat anything but boiled ham sandwiches. Breakfast, lunch or tea, it made no difference. He must have been 12 at the time as it also covered a weeks holiday to Mallorca where he could only be weaned off them by large numbers of Pantera Rosa chocolate bars.

I like finding out where sayings originated and heard a new one today. For those who ever wondered where the term rule of thumb comes from it harks back to the days when a man could legitimately beat his wife. The ruling was you could take a stick to her but it couldn't be wider than your thumb.

I'm saying nothing!

I know stress is a strange old thing, but can that be the reason why I've got an overwhelming desire to go live in France. Oh, and I want to learn to play the Ukelele!

Monday, December 01, 2003

So, today greets the start of the ban on the use of mobile phones in cars unless they are in handsfree cradles. I think it's a bad move. Unfortunately, the people who are driving badly when using mobile phones are the people who drive badly when they do anything that takes concentration away.

It will however still be legal to have your children fighting and screaming in the vehicle, listening to exciting sports events like the Rugby World Cup Final, playing Meatloaf at 100 decibels, talking to your passengers, etc. etc.

I don't like the cradle handsfree system as most of them are pretty poor when it comes to reception and transmission, which rather negates the safety angle when people are getting wound up because they can't quite catch what the other person's saying.

Never one to resist a meme, I've had a go at this weeks unconcious mutterings. I tried to do it properly and not think too much about what was coming out.

  1. Scrooge:: A Christmas Carol.
  2. Ribbon:: Gladys Knight and the Pips.
  3. Physical:: Olivia Newton John.
  4. Income:: Where is it?
  5. Dream:: Some gorgeous looking bird.
  6. Notebook:: computer.
  7. Disney:: Snow White and the 7 Dwarves.
  8. Combo:: Racist Term.
  9. Booty:: Big black booty bird (Eminem).
  10. Skin:: Lead singer with a group I can't remember the name of.

So here's the launch of the Christmas 03 template, with apologies to Lyle whose eyes will probably melt at the thought of seeing something to do with the festering season.

It looks o.k. (subjective comment), in IE6 so anyone using anything else, let me know if it's fine or whether I need to tinker with it. The first person who says it needs to be tinkered with using a sledgehammer gets a hard stare!