Tuesday 1 March 2005
World Jump Day
World Jump Day – July 20th 2006. Apparently, World Jump Day will "stop global warming, extend daytime hours and create a more homogenous climate". Alternatively, the Earth will be flung out of orbit and disappear into the far reaches of the galaxy in a Space 1999-stylee.
Plumbing the depths
I’ve just had a spam email advertising fixmyproperty.com. The email contains this image:
Now, I’m a very happily married man, so I have to be careful with what I say here. However, it is my reckoning that there are a lot of single blokes who wouldn’t mind if an engineer like the one illustrated was to visit their home and, um, sort out their plumbing, as it were. The question is, are you more likely to click on an image like the one shown in the email in order to get to their site, or on an image like the ones used once you reach that site (example below)?
Neighbourhood watch. And clogs.
Update on the neighbour situation from the other day. It seems that everyone is now in agreement on the way forward, so we hope that a quick trip to the pub for beer and curry tonight will patch up any slightly damaged bridges. Which is a good thing.
As for the Dutch guy problem (or Dutch problem guy), he seems to have gone very quiet indeed. And I’m not too worried by that. I think that problem will go away. In fact, in many ways, his ejection of playthings from his perambulator has left me free to make vastly superior new arrangements concerning a couple of products, much to my satisfaction.
This news article has left me craving a pie.
Complete history of Garfield strips. I think the older ones were better than the more recent ones.
Wednesday 2 March 2005
Thursday 3 March 2005
I now have a Gravatar and I’ve implemented gravatars in the comments. I was slightly concerned that Gordon’s didn’t show up, but that is because he adds anti-spam text to his email address when he comments. Any comments or suggestions on the formatting of gravatars in the comments will be welcome, although as I have struggled with this for the past half hour, you may get short shrift.
Meaningless Statistic of the Day
From Which? via the BBC comes this gem of a meaningless statistic – "one in four touched by identity fraud". Apparently, one in four Britons (based on a survey of just 975 people out of a population in excess of 55 million – not a statistically significant sample, I’d suggest) has either suffered identity fraud or "knows someone who has". This is fear-mongering at its worst. You could say just about anything about any subject if you include people who know someone who has…
Much happiness at Graybo Towers this morning as a parcel arrived containing a consignment of snowdrops (Galanthus for those that like botanical names) and winter aconites (Eranthis). As is typical with these things, I had The Man From The Ministry here at the time who, it turns out, is a Galanthophile and has offered to give me some of his fancy named varieties of snowdrops. For free. Bah.
Anyhow, I ducked out earlier to plant the new arrivals before the cats shredded them in their packaging. Now the snow is falling, so here is a picture of snowdrops in the snow.
Baby name wizard
Friday 4 March 2005
LMG is 5 years old.
Bloody cold. And dark.
A power cut hit Ruralville in the small hours and power has yet to be restored. Our heating, though gas, requires an electricity supply to function. Thankfully, our log burning stove doesn’t require electricity, so there is a little heat in the house as snow falls steadily outside. Thank goodness for laptop batteries (mmmm, warm knees) and redundant dialup accounts.
Saturday 5 March 2005
Anyone for tennis?
Remember that godawful film, Wimbledon? There’s a pretty good Flash tennis game on the film’s website. Once you crack the serve, winning becomes much easier.
So, Jordan didn’t win the Eurovision vote. I wonder if that had anything to do with the fact that, in this BBC photo, she has three arms and really unnaturally wide hips?
Sunday 6 March 2005
The cricketing bishop, RIP
David Sheppard, Sussex cricketer and Bishop of Liverpool, has died.
More cartoon strips
Following on from the recent Garfield archive, here’s a complete archive of Calvin and Hobbes strips.
Monday 7 March 2005
Soccer corrupts, absolute soccer corrupts absolutely
Apparently, football shown on TV corrupts the behaviour of children that view it. I don’t find this at all implausible, given the way that young kids love to copy their heroes, and having watched my nephew idolise Wayne Rooney, a figure who must be one of the least suitable role models for any eight year old.
What did astonish me, however, was hearing a representative of the Professional Footballers’ Association, speaking on Radio 4′s PM programme this evening, having the temerity to suggest that the problem was not the foul language and poor behaviour of the footballers, but the fact that the TV cameras get them on close-up. What?? Surely, if players moderated their language and behaviour, there would be nothing to be captured by the cameras and this whole thing would not be an issue.
It is time that the football authorities took a tougher line on this. Rugby and cricket woke up to this a while ago, with suitable punsihments now imposed upon players that bring the game into disrepute through their behaviour. Football has already been working to eliminate racism – it is time it dealt with some of its other failings too.
You know, I’m always completely ditracted by things like this.
Tuesday 8 March 2005
Rewarding bad behaviour
Pah! A further example of the wrong message sent out by football! Online football top trumps where a player with a higher number of yellow cards beats a player that has received fewer yellow cards. Shocking!
BT have sent a letter to my business. It was sent to the old address and relates to the old telephone number, telling me that I am to get an upgrade to my broadband service there from 512kbps to 2Mbps.
So, I call them to see if the database needs to be updated and if I can get the same upgrade at my new premises. And all I got, after ten minutes in a queue, was the telephonic equivalent of a shrug and "I dunno". Not terribly helpful.
Essentially, I’ve been advised that I should get a letter at my new premises in the next week or so. The database, apparently, is up to date, in spite of the letter clearly showing that it isn’t. And I’ll only get to hear about the upgrade once they get to my exchange, as they are doing each in turn.
Wednesday 9 March 2005
Lay down a groove…
…and play that funky music til you die.
There’s a Bloggers’ Disco going on, and whilst I could have nominated any one of a thousand tracks for the playlist that none of you would have heard of, I decided to go for Play That Funky Music by Wild Cherry.
It’s for charity, you know. And Mike is paying, which is nice.
To the bright spark that drove into Hels’s car in one of the lanes in Ruralville, smashing off the wing mirror, and didn’t stop – thanks. That’ll cost us quite a bit to have fixed.
To whichever of our cats it was that knocked over the full vase on the dining table overnight, spilling water all over my brand new Wallpaper* magazine and leaving a huge water stain in the table and an even bigger puddle on the floor – thanks. Next time, I’ll use the pair of you to mop it up.
It’s a Goal
It’s A Goal 2 ready by the end of March. Productivity? What productivity?
Thursday 10 March 2005
It’s a long time since I last linked to it, but if you are interested in music you should absolutely bookmark DJ Martian’s Page, which has more music links than you could shake a very large musical stick at, and will be celebrating its fifth birthday just a couple of weeks before this site.
Zone of Possible Agreement
Zopa, the eBay of money lending, gets a nice bit of free publicity from the BBC today. The question is, will it take off? Given the general mistrust amongst the general populace of online financial transactions with questions still hanging around regarding security, I think that Zopa has some preconceptions to overcome before people will use it on a significant scale.
Has any grayblog reader used it?
The CCL Game
The CCL Game – slightly addictive box-moving silliness.
Friday 11 March 2005
Boris Johnson on becoming Tory leader
As quoted on BorisWatch, from an interview with Kirsty Wark:
Just a quick reminder – if you live in England, Scotland or Wales, you have a little over two and three-quarter hours to register to vote, should the election be called for May 5 as everyone expects. Contact your local district council for details – I was able to download the form from my local council’s website and then hotfooted it in to their offices this lunch time.
I expect that any of you with an interest in current affairs and politics have, like me, been watching the goings-on at Westminster with regard to the new terrorism laws. Those who are not familiar with the arcane workings of the Mother of Parliaments may be puzzled to learn that our "constitution" (largely unwritten, of course) provides no mechanism for resolving intractable disputes between the lower, elected, Commons and the upper, appointed and hereditary, Lords. There is no scope to use the Parliament Act here (which relies on the same bill being submitted in two separate sessions before the Commons can force its will on the Lords) – and rightly so, in my view, as there is little point in having a reforming chamber if it can not make any reforms. As a consequence, when neither side will give way (and, to be fair, both sides have made some concessions, albeit not to the satisfaction of the other side) the toing and froing will essentially continue until one or other side runs out of oomph. In that respect the Lords is at a disadvantage, its members being largely of greater age than those in the Commons and with the misfortune of having to sit through the small hours in response to the Commons votes. The majorities opposing the bill in the Lords were diminishing as the night wore on, partly because of the concessions won, but also, I suspect, because some of their older Lordships couldn’t keep up the pace and had retired to their beds.
What might seem more puzzling, particularly to those overseas, is the way in which time stops still in the Palace of Westminster on these occasions. As the sitting has not yet finished, even though it is the afternoon of Friday 11th March outside of the palace, it is still Thursday 10th March within. In fact, it could possibly continue to be Thursday there until Sunday evening, if that makes any sense. On occasions, I could do with days that lasted that long.
Oh, and if you were looking for an opinion, here it is – I think the bill as it stands is flawed, and agree with the LibDem proposals to increase the burden of proof required. I also agree with the Tories when they state that an electronic tag won’t be much of a deterrent to an Al-Qaeda operative if your average petty criminal already has ways of getting out of them. I didn’t find Charles Clarke’s attempt to guilt people into supporting him particularly helpful on The World At One today, when he said that we should approve the bill because today is the first anniversary of the Madrid train bombings – I don’t think that really helped the discussion at all.
Which is one of the reasons why I ran around this morning to make sure that I have a vote to use on May 5th.
Sunday 13 March 2005
Condoleezza Rice denies presidential aspirations, but doesn’t quite say "no" categorically. Condi vs. Hillary could be interesting in 2008.
Monday 14 March 2005
There will be posts…
…but I’ve been busy. Possible subjects include:
- why I’ve been disappointed by the Supervolcano thing on the Beeb
- the return of the miscreant Dutchman
- BT’s crap billing strikes again
- garden update
- log, log, it’s big, it’s heavy, it’s wood
Watch this space.
Tuesday 15 March 2005
Watch out, there’s a Humphrey about
Nothing to do with red and white striped drinking straws, but more to do with the revelation that the Daily Telegraph has used the Freedom of Information Act to gain access to government files on Humphrey the Number 10 cat. The dossier, apparently an inch and a half thick, reveals that, whilst on the Whitehall payroll, he cost the British taxpayer around £100 per year and was
BT – crap. Why have I had an invoice sent to my old business address (oh dear, looks like their databse really is as up to date as it is, and no more)? Why have I received a credit for £2.11? What is the Exchange Line Credit Scheme? Why is the invoice marked "copy" when I’ve never seen an original?
Dutchman – idiot. Honestly, expecting me not to act in my principal clients’ best interests? Fool. And he’ll soon learn never to rile a graybo. Mwah ha ha!
Toyota critical of Honda
Read this – don’t you think it smacks of "wish we’d thought of that"?
Wednesday 16 March 2005
Rainy day schedule
Making Fiends, episode 16. Featuring a dictionary. Of words.
The ghost of Tommy Cooper
Budget day today. The BBC has used this picture of Gordon Brown on their front page:
I felt that he needed a fez:
Just like that!
Thursday 17 March 2005
Been out all day visiting clients in Norfolk. Driven lots. Tired. But a successful day, nonetheless. More exciting content tomorrow.
Friday 18 March 2005
Today’s theme seems to be to toughen me up. I’ve just been moaned at telephonically by my wife for not leaving enough petrol in the car (I know that there was slightly less than a quarter tank when I drove down the lane towards home last night – I checked!). Before she left she gave me a list of household chores to do (harrumph!). I’m now sitting in the conservatory with the door wide open in an attempt to brave out the chill breeze and pretend that it is really spring (it’ll be better once the sun moves round – or, rather, the earth rotates – sufficiently that the sun reaches my seat). And I am having to deal with two manic cats who seem determined to make up for my absence yesterday by shedding as much fur as possible over my keyboard and clothing. All this and I haven’t had a coffee yet.
Monty has been bringing magpie feathers to me all morning. So far, he’s amassed a nice little pile.
I’ve just seen Treacle running through the garden with what looked like the rest of the magpie carcass in her mouth. Clearly she’s the pro here.
Saturday 19 March 2005
Hard at work
A day of much gardening activity, punctuated by washing of the cars – that’ll make it snow, or worse.
Anyway, a summary of the day’s activities in the garden:
- lawns mown
- border in rear garden forked over, two sacks of organic matter incorporated
- horrible weedy border in front of car parking area in the front garden dug, with manure and ash incorporated
- one of the three troughs alongside the house rejuvenated with spent potting compost
- plants planted in the rear garden: Ajuga, Cytisus, Dianthus, Iris and Phygelius
- plants planted in the trough: rosemary and parsley
- sweet peas planted front and rear
- seeds sown in all three locations: parsley, Eschscholzia, Shirley poppy, Aquilegia McKana hybrids, nasturtium, Virginia stocks, Nicotiana sylvestris (yes, that is tobacco), cornflower and a pack of mixed hardy annuals.
Not sure how successful the seeds will be – a spot of rain would certainly enhance their chances, but other than that we’ll just have to wait and see. As for the plants, they should all do reasonably well. The overall effect is far from stunning so far (hence no photographs for now), but these things take time (in spite of what the garden makeover TV shows would have you believe). A lot will depend on how well the seeds do, as they make up 99% of the new front border planting – designed deliberately to be cheap and expendable in case I get round to tackling the new parking area this year. As for the rear and the troughs, I need to get quite a lot more plants to furnish them properly. I think some visits to a few nurseries for some scrounging might be called for.
Sunday 20 March 2005
A step in spring
Finally managed to find time on our own today to take some exercise – a 8.5km circular walk from Ruralville passing through two nearby hamlets and, needless to say, a pub. The cloud and haze rather spoilt the views, but it was excellent nonetheless, particularly to see the spring flowers starting to bloom. We passed through open fields, narrow lanes, coppice, woodland, heath and golf course – certainly varied. We also discovered an absolutely fantastic spot in the woods, with moss-carpeted floors, towering beech trees and the babbling of the confluence of two small streams – definitely a future picnicking spot, we reckon.
New Weebl and Bob. And Monkey.
Tuesday 22 March 2005
Yesterday, I had to go over to my parents’ nursery to do some odds and ends and, whilst there, I picked up some things for the garden. In particular, I got some Iris plants as well as some fertilizer for the lawn and borders. In addition, on the way home, I picked up a packet of grass seed to patch up our threadbare lawn.
Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to get straight outside and plant the Irises, spread the fertilizer and sow the grass seed before it got dark. Overnight and this morning we have had steady rain, so the fertilizer and seeds will have got a good soaking in – it will have helped the seeds sown at the weekend too.
Rain and water is certainly something I’m conscious of when it comes to the garden – it has even made the news. I’m going to invest in some hose and a drip irrigation system for the tubs and troughs, but I’m also thinking that it might be worth getting a water butt.
On the subject of water, today is World Water Day.
Food for thought
A note to Americans that voted for Mr Bush in the last election. Your president seems happy to run around and fly halfway across the country in the small hours to sign a bill to prevent one woman from dying a death that would have occured naturally fifteen years ago, instead keeping her alive with no quality of life at all. Meanwhile, he seems determined to continue to permit widespread ownership of firearms, firearms which lead to widespread crime including the loss of ten lives yesterday afternoon in a school in Minnesota.
To me, the priorities don’t seem to be quite right.
And the dirt is goooone!
If you haven’t seen the Cillit Bang! Remix, it’s worth a look.
Has your pet recently popped its clogs? Before you dig a hole at the bottom of the garden and leave it for the worms, why not consider having it made into a Pet Pillow? For just US$65, you can have your favourite moggy, erm, stuffed and throw him/her onto the sofa.
I mean, would you sit on a dead cat?
And who would want a "domestic cow pillow"?
(link via the LNR Cat Blog).
Text message from my brother:
Nope, nor me. Dad has a habit of recounting tales from his youth, including such gems as
- "When Tiddler Tom and I tried to blow up the pipe mines under the road at Spark’s Corner by throwing matches down them"
- "The slit trench I dug in the parents’ garden with only a teaspoon" (or was it a toothpick?)
- "The day they tied the apprentices’ bikes to the gas holder at Argyle Road" (my personal favourite)
- "The day that I was chased by the police through Felpham" (absolute classic – Dad was on his bike and the policeman commandeered a car in order to give chase – bear in mind that this was the 1940s, so picture something from the Keystone Cops)
It looks like we have another one for the list – I hope Tim was taking notes.
I really ought to write these tales down, perhaps publish them here, although it has to be said that half the fun of Dad’s storytelling is the sight and sound of him laughing so hard that he can barely speak, turning beetroot red, with tears running down his face. That and the fact that a two sentence story gets extended (embellished and exaggerated) so that it takes upwards of thirty minutes to relate.
If I’d been advising the breeder of this new plant, I would probably have advised against selling the rights for £150,000, even though that is a good price. Sales of 30,000 in the UK alone in year one would return royalties in the order of £15,000. Add sales of probably five to ten times that volume in the United States, and the same again in the rest of the world, then, even after paying an agent’s commission, you should reach that asking price in a year or two. And then, after that, you’ll be getting similar royalties continuing for the next twenty years or so. Not bad if you can get it.
The shame, of course, is that I’m not representing this plant. I’ll not be earning that commission. Plants with that sort of market power are very few and far between, coming along perhaps once in ten or twenty years.
Wednesday 23 March 2005
This article is interesting, not least because several people have commented that there is more than a passing resemblance between myself and Hels’s brother.
Will this make me buy a Dyson cleaner? Nope.
Note to self: research further proposed liberalisation of EU services market and possible implications for PFE. Also, look up Polish PM’s comments on joining euro – looks like he’s holding off for a while to carry out further economic reform, even though half his country’s economy uses the euro already.
Thursday 24 March 2005
…all day. More tomorrow, gardening and DIY permitting.
Tuesday 29 March 2005
…due to being away from the laptop, either due to work and non-work committments or due to DIY and gardening tasks, some of which resulted in downtime on my internet connection whilst cables were taken out of the way to facilitate painting. Anyway, since we last spoke, H and I have:
- demolished the wood store in the garden
- extended the outside dining area around the barbeque
- created a new small flower bed by the outside dining area
- planted various plants including Brachyglottis, Cytisus, arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica Crowborough), Oenothera, Osteospermum, a cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), burnt-sugar bush (Cercidophyllum japonicum), magnolia (Magnolia stellata), two clematis (the varieties Henryi and Piilu) and assorted herbs
- sown seeds of coneflower (Rudbeckia) and sunflower
- painted the woodwork on the stairs, in the porch and in the master bedroom
- painted one interior wall of the conservatory – aqua, for turquoise fans
- painted the troughs along the side of the house and part of the summerhouse
- visited Borough Market and the Saatchi Gallery
- spent a day with the in-laws/family.
The garden is certainly beginning to take shape now, particularly as the seeds that were sown last week are beginning to sprout. I’m fairly sure that there are going to be too many of some plants if all the seeds germinate – our small garden is unlikely to be able to accommodate 70 sunflowers – so some judicious thinning-out might be called for in a few weeks time (I expect I might be able to donate some seedlings, if they come out of the ground in good shape, to Sil – depends how they all grow). We also feel like we have made some progress on the house, although we have at least two more full days of painting in the conservatory and porch, just to complete what we have started. The bathroom and kitchen have both been put on the back burner for the time being – maybe we will tackle them as autumn projects before the dark nights set in.
There will be photos, certainly of our trip to the South Bank, and possibly, if I get round to taking some, of the garden.
Also, since we last spoke, my parents’ MP has caused a furore in the Tory party by speaking his mind and then standing his ground – more on this when I have a moment.
Wednesday 30 March 2005
Just like old times
Beer with Lord Percy, Lady Bren, Aris, Julie, Paul F and Mrs Graybo. Shame they didn’t bother to use dust sheets when they painted W2.
Chichester looks much like it was when I left – the new owner of my old flat hasn’t done anything to the exterior (like changing the windows) and doesn’t seem to have changed the curtains either. It was good to go back, though if time and finances permitted, it wouldn’t be quite so infrequent.
Newly restored. And rather lovely.
St Paul’s Cathedral, with a heavy dark shower cloud looming behind.
I took this picture, then we quickly dashed for cover before the heavens opened.
Two new header graphics – hit refresh endlessly until you see Hels’s shades close-up and "…grayblog…" daubed on the roof of St Paul’s, Fathers4Justice-stylee.
Thief makes magician’s rabbit vanish. Genius.
Thursday 31 March 2005
Live long and prosper?
Pill could extend life by thirty years. If this did come to pass, it would obviously only be affordable by the wealthy, so would increase social division. Not only that, but it would only work if people were in gainful employment for those extra years – no use expecting your pension fund to keep you going for all that extra time.
Ages ago (I mean, like, years dude), I linked to this NSFW music video and thought it was really, um, kicking. It still is, but hasn’t it dated badly? I mean, who moves files around on 3.5in disks any more?
(Incidentally, in case you were wondering why I was thinking about this today, it’s because H and I had a conversation about the word "copacetic" the other day, and this choon features that word).