Monday 1 August 2005
Funky Truck 4WD
Funky Truck 4WD – I think I might prefer the original.
Beeb picture editor obsessed with breasts?
We all remember that the BBC News picture editor used to have a good line in comedy picture captions. Well, it can now be revealed that the same picture editor is clearly obsessed with breasts. Take a look at these example pictures:
New Big Brother contestant has large breasts as helpfully pointed out by the hand on the right hand side of the image.
Visitors to Viennese gallery have large breasts, although somehow I feel that the two people pictured are probably not representative of visitors to the Leopold.
Tuesday 2 August 2005
There is a new blog created every second according to Technorati, which now tracks 14.2 million blogs. Do we really need that many?
(cue: comments about how the world might be better without one particular blog).
(cue: comments about how it all used to be fields around here).
If there are 14.2 million blogs, I wonder how many spam comments there are?
September 16th will be this site’s fifth birthday, making it one of the longest-running British blogs.
Unfortunately, I shall be away from the laptop that day, so will not be able to post amazing, witty and entertaining blog-birthday anecdotes. So I’m going to open the floor to regular readers to write something on that day. I’m also hoping that, in addition to writing amazingly amusing stuff for this site on that day, they might also look under the bonnet and figure out why the archives *still* don’t work.
If you want to be in on the act, let me know by the usual means.
Wednesday 3 August 2005
Today’s episode of All In The Mind on Radio 4 with the ubiquitous Prof. Raj Persaud became intensely amusing to me as a I channel-surfed the car radio, mainly because there was an intensely earnest discussion about gifted children taking place in which one of the contributors was a Professor John Geake (or Geek, if you will). I don’t know about gifted child, but I’m pretty sure that he had seventeen varieties of poo beaten out of him when he was at school with a name like that.
Monday 8 August 2005
Star Fly 3
Star Fly 3 – another Asteroids-with-bells-on game.
Slow worm, fast cat
Treacle is turning into quite a good hunter, although her diet is not limited to the typical fare of small birds and rodents. She frequently catches butterflies and other insects (we don’t have any problems with flies in the house – once she sees them, she catches them, sometimes knocking over something in the process). Our repeated disposal of all her prizes has had a benefit too – in general, she now leaves them in the garden instead of bringing them into the conservatory.
Yesterday, however, she caught something that was completely new to her – a slow worm. The poor thing was most definitely dead by the time I spotted her with it, but that didn’t stop her from playing with it for some time – in fact, she is in the garden again this morning and has been prodding its lifeless corpse to see if any more fun can be had with it.
What next? A fox? The neighbour’s dog? A small child?
For those that have not discovered it already, Google now offer a facility to personalize their homepage. I now have mine set up so that it not only has the familiar Google search box, but also news headlines from three sources, the weather forecast, the comments RSS feed from this site, the latest news on Sussex cricket and Brighton football as well as the word of the day and quote of the day. I’m sure that, given time, I could make even more useful.
From the Not-as-good-as-it-could-be department: Google Maps satellite images of Chichester, which consist largely of cloud cover.
Tuesday 9 August 2005
Work in Progress
From Peter Day’s excellent Work In Progress articles for BBC News online, a comparison of Tesco home-delivery services and Waitrose/Ocado.
Mannequin limbs spotted in a boutique in Maastricht, NL.
When we were in the Netherands and Belgium in June, we stopped at a motorway services near Brussels. There we found that the closest parking to the entrance was not reserved for disabled or even for mother-and-baby parking. Instead, it was marked with this sign:
Naturally, we used the space.
…drip drip drip…
Uh-oh. Looks like we need a heating engineer. Our boiler is leaking steam and dripping water on to the floor. I’ve just positioned a bucket to catch the drips and switched it off to prevent it shorting itself (the water is dripping onto some of the cables at the bottom of the boiler).
UPDATE: the engineer should be here in not more than 90 minutes at the rate of £60 per hour plus parts and VAT (but no call-out charge). Yikes. I think we may have to look seriously at the cost of a contract to cover this sort of thing.
UPDATE: two-and-a-half hours later, the engineer has still not arrived. He has been "delayed" apparently, although I had to phone them to find that out. I can tell by the shocked expressions on your faces that you are amazed that a service supplier could give such poor delivery – me too!
FURTHER UPDATE: five-and-a-half hours after my original call, I’ve just had a call from the plumbers to say that the engineer won’t be here until tomorrow morning, some time between 9.30 and 10am. I’ve had to shut off the water at the mains as there is no way to isolate the boiler, so we now have no water for anything. Great. And I was going to go out for a curry tonight and have had to call it off so that I can clean up.
At least there is beer in the fridge, so I’m not without something to drink.
YOU GUESSED IT: now expected sometime "early this afternoon".
26 HOURS AFTER THE ORIGINAL CALL: I’ve just told them where to go, in no uncertain terms. If you ever have the opportunity to deal with a company going by the name of ReactFast Plumbing and Heating Engineers, avoid them at all costs. I don’t think it is reasonable to keep telling a client that you will be there in 60-90 minutes when clearly that is not the case.
I’ve just called a local CORGI-registered self-employed chap. Much better. He talked through the problem with me and immediately arranged to be here first thing tomorrow morning, between 8 and 8.30am. We shall have to prove the pudding by eating, but I’m much more optimistic. In the meantime, I haven’t had a shower (H has been to her gym), so I’d steer well clear if I were you.
Wednesday 10 August 2005
Blue flowers against a blue trellis. Either the best planting idea that I ever had, or the worst – depending on whether you like colours to blend or contrast.
Thursday 11 August 2005
BBC picture editor and breasts – again
The engineer arrived on time this morning. Amazing. And he was a really nice chap too.
The problem is a split in the heat exchanger. He’s isolated the boiler so that we can use the cold water system and he is going to give us a price to supply and install a replacement exchanger. Cost so far: £80. Urk.
I want hot water and I want it now!
Friday 12 August 2005
Games for your Friday coffee break
MuscoMorpha – absolutely vile game (but strangely compelling).
Worm 3D – not strictly 3D in that the worm only moves in two, but it is presented in an isometric view, so a good variation on the theme.
More on plumbing
Well, we now know that the replacement heat exchanger, replacement seals and fitting for the boiler will cost us an additional £270, bringing the total bill for this problem to £350. Hmm. And the earliest it will get done is Monday morning, possibly Tuesday if the part does not arrive in time.
So I’m going to focus on the cricket (Sussex are doing well against Gloucestershire) and try not to think about it too much.
In other news, I’m organising one of my plant fairs at Pashley Manor Gardens on Sunday. Please come along – I need to earn some cash to pay the plumber!
Monday 15 August 2005
It’s fixed. Our man collected the part we needed this morning by arranging to intercept the courier at a motorway services at 7.30am. So top marks to him. It was all fixed by 10.30, although I had to drive to Crawley to fetch a key needed to refill the thing before I could switch it on.
But hurrah! Hot water! Baths! Showers! No more bad smells!
(No money either – very skint now).
Tuesday 16 August 2005
During the rather pleasant warm and sunny weather that we are experiencing at the moment, my company moves to its summer office – the table in the garden.
I have to shuffle around as the sun (apparently – pedants!) moves across the sky in order to keep the laptop screen in the shade of the canopy so that I can see what I’ve typed, and every now and then I get a cat wandering across my workspace. But these are small prices to pay.
We’re all at a bit of a low ebb around here. Both H and I are pretty exhausted by work lately. Add to that the stress of the whole Boiler Incident and the parlous state of our finances and the result is that spirits are pretty low. And don’t forget the painfully slow progress on the sale of Hels’s flat, which is still dragging through interminable legal hoops.
Even the cats are brassed off as they are currently having to share the house with an intruder as we cat-sit for the in-laws – something that I always felt was a bad idea and has proven to be difficult as their cat is a foul-tempered sourpuss who will take any opportunity to threaten or clobber our two (who would quite happily ignore her if only she kept to herself).
So, any suggestions for how to lift spirits? A seriously large cash injection would definitely help right now.
Victor Meldrew Michael Buerk says that women have too much power in society, citing the increasing influence of women at the BBC.
Hmm. Let’s just do a quick headcount of all the female presidents and prime ministers around the world. And also the female company directors (increasing, but still a minority). Yes, more products, policies and thinking are geared towards the needs and wants of women, but I don’t feel like an "unemployable sperm-donor making the house look untidy" yet (although Hels might think otherwise).
EDIT: Buerk "bonkers" according to Anna Ford.
Wednesday 17 August 2005
Scotland have a pace bowler in their team named Yasir Arafat. I now have a mental picture of chap running in to bowl with a black and white dishdash fluttering behind him.
In other cricket news, I’m enjoying the current match between Middlesex and Sussex. I would imagine that Middlesex supporters are enjoying it rather less.
Cheese, but with leather elbow patches on a tweed blazer
Have you noticed that the Open University is becoming more trendy these days? The OU is responsible for the Coast series on BBC2 which has been quite interesting. But I think they have trumped that with their Ever Wondered About Food? series that started last night on BBC2. It is lively, visually attractive, full of interesting facts, gorgeous food, a little bit of science and, best of all, good recipes. We’re going to have a go at their variation on macaroni cheese.
Friday 19 August 2005
Mo Mowlam, RIP. I can’t see the PM not turning up for this funeral. But he never fails to amaze me, so anything is possible.
Madeleine Peyroux "disappears" – probably to go and hide for a few months after the quite dire performance she gave for Top of the Pops the other day. She’s got a voice, for sure, but she doesn’t seem to have stage confidence judging by that showing.
Sunday 21 August 2005
Never iron your cat when wet
Bob’s Guide To Cat Owning. (Possibly LSFW).
Tuesday 23 August 2005
Harold Evans on the US government’s attitude to science. Worth reading.
Wednesday 24 August 2005
Hello Amsterdam, my name is Fernando
I’m off to the Netherlands this afternoon to visit a trade show in Boskoop tomorrow. I’ve got a few meetings lined up with the great and good of European and American horticulture – a real encouragement to find that, after two and a half years of doing this, the biggest companies now make a point of talking to me at these events to see what I have to offer them. When I started out it was more a case of me banging on their doors and saying "hey! talk to me!"
My mum is coming over to keep H company. H is worried about being on her own whilst 18 weeks pregnant. I’m not sure that there is really anything to worry about, as the pregnancy has been running smoothly of late (just the usual tiredness to contend with and the fact that none of Hels’s clothes fit anymore), but if it reassures H then it’s fine by me.
Maybe H needs practical help looking after the cats. We’re cat-sitting for the in-laws at the moment, and it isn’t something that I plan to repeat as she (Kitty, the in-laws’ cat) persistently picks fights with Monty and Treacle who are so soft and mild-mannered that they don’t know what to do (other than be frightened).
I really should mow the lawn before I head to the airport. Nah, it can wait.
More exciting blog entries soon, kids! Blimey, this is getting boring, isn’t it? perhaps it’s time for another one of those long airport rambles?
When we visited Amsterdam in April, we passed the front door of this organisation:
Any idea what they do? It has to be a made-up name.
Taking a Leek
I guess if your name is W.C. Leek, then the toilet hire business is for you. (Spotted in Amsterdam, April 2005).
I’m currently using the trial version of MultiTranse, which looks to be extremely useful, and good value at only $20. The problem is that I don’t speak any of the languages concerned, so have no means of judging the quality of the translations. I don’t expect them to be wonderful, but they might be useful in order to get by. Has anyone else used this program?
Friday 26 August 2005
To make up for the lack of airport blogging (due mainly to my tardiness in getting to the airport on both the outward and return legs of the journey, thereby depriving you of an interesting commentary on the new Pier 6 of Gatwick’s North Terminal – which is gorgeous, by the way – or a long ramble about the flight out which was one of the most turbulent I’ve ever experienced and has left me with a rather stiff neck), I’ve culled a few interesting snippets from the news:
- Doctors should be bold and honest with patients and tell them about the "lack of benefit" from homeopathy, says an article in The Lancet. Astonishly, the best response the homeopaths can come up with is
It has been established beyond doubt and accepted by many researchers, that the placebo-controlled randomised controlled trial is not a fitting research tool with which to test homeopathy.
Say again? What they mean to say is "we refuse to accept scientific means of testing the efficacy of the treatments we promote as being valid". If their methods do not stand up to rigorous testing, then they have no validity or purpose. Period.
- Meanwhile, the latest installment of this website’s occasional Mad Despot Watch reveals that our old friend President Niyazov of Turkmenistan has banned lip-synching in his country. Dear old Turkmenbashi wants to protect Turkmen culture from "negative influences". Personally, I think we’ve just found the best person for the job of producer for Top Of The Pops.
Monday 29 August 2005
Wednesday 31 August 2005
Apparently, Ken Clarke is unspinnable, according to his aides. I reckon that is because of too little exercise, too many cigars and too much whisky.
He certainly can put the fear into New Labour. But he is also likely to be a competent and safe leader for the Tories and that counts for a lot in politics (even if it is something that wouldn’t have been thought of ten years ago). A strong and competent leader is what the Tories need, because opposition parties don’t win elections – incumbents lose them.
Bad statistics and binge drinking – as much a commentary on sloppy journalism as anything.
Follows on nicely from a discussion we had at the weekend over dinner when a friend revealed that his doctor now considers him a problem drinker just because he said that he’d had quite a bit to drink at a dinner party recently. We concluded that, as with estimates on spending by one’s spouse, doctors take your admitted level of alcohol consumption, add five and double it.
Example: a wife comes home with a new handbag and says "it only cost £20" – the true cost was £50 (20+5=25; 25×2=50)
Example: you tell the nurse that you usually drink 10 units per week. They write down "drinks 30 units per week" in your notes, thereby making you a problem drinker. (10+5=15; 15×2=30)