Monday, 31 May 2010

Made in China, sold by Tesco

Yesterday I was informed that I had to check the tyre pressures on 30%'s car and rectify any deflation issues.

Now I don't really have any problems with this but this tends to be one of "MY" jobs as opposed to one of 30%'s domestic duties. Anything car related seems to fall in to my arena of responsibility. I'm not sure why as I have never professed to have any mechanical bent.

Anyway, as I wandered off to the garage I started thinking about the task in hand and wondering what it was that made it my job, After all, fetching the foot pump from the garage can't be any different to getting a hair dryer from the wardrobe and removing a dust cap from a wheel is very similar to taking the cap off the toothpaste. In fact, having seen the state of the toothpaste tube this morning the dust caps on the car are much less gungy! Attaching the pump to the wheel is just like plugging something in and operating the pump is like going up stairs if you only had one leg.

I probably need to point out that 30% has two legs just to keep the record straight here

Now I know that 30% can do all of these things so why does it fall to me?
Right, where was I? Yes, the foot pump. Being in a rush I grabbed the electric pump and attached it to the tyre. Air immediately rushed from the tyre via a disconnected pipe in the pump's internal workings. I now had a tyre with less air in it than when I started. Back to the garage, slinging the pump in to the wheelie bin on the way. It made a satisfactory thump at it hit the bottom of the bin. I then grabbed the foot pump and returned to the car.
The foot pump was bought within the past couple of months as I needed to extricate the Vespa from her lair and I had no chance of getting the electric pump connected to a 12 volt cigarette lighter socket and the Vespa's deflated tyres at the same time so a foot pump was bought to do the job.

Since then it has seen very limited use; a few psi in the trailer tyres and that's about it. So why, when I connect it up to 30%'s car does it look like a Dunkirk veteran? I'm not kidding. This thing has not been abused and has done hardly any work but in the space of two months has gone from being on a supermarket shelf to being fit for the bin.

The whole point about design and fabrication is that you work out what the demands will be on the object and then design it to meet those demands and construct it from suitable materials......

... or you can take the Chinese approach; take crappy raw materials such as steel that is more like pastry and throw an object together using labour that is so cheap it is virtually free. Then sell the unit at an unbelievable price at a UK supermarket.

End Result - you have paid a fiver for a "single use" item. It will just about work the first couple of times but then fail within an incredibly short time frame and will leave you wishing you had spent an extra tenner and actually bought something that will do the job it is supposed to do and might actually still be working the next time you want to use it!

Remember British Standards, the Kitemark and the CE stamps. All of those standards are meant to ensure that a device is fit for purpose and would perform as expected. I don't think that China has cottoned on to these or simply doesn't care. As long as we buy crap they will produce it. Look at the British Car Industry it took us until 1970 to realise that a car could be built that worked and didn't leak - Thank You Japan, Germany etc.

I keep getting mugged by a bargain at Tesco and I have to stop. Basically that store has some cracking deals but beware of something that is so cheap it is too good to be true. It probably is. We don't live in a world where you get what you pay for. We live in world where everyone wants your disposable income and it they have to take it a fiver at a time they will.

If something is cheap a corner will have been cut somewhere, a standard will have been ignored or a worker will have been abused.

At the other end of the same spectrum there are products that are clearly over priced simply because they are desirable but there is still no guarantee that the finest cotton has been used or that the workers get a proper wage.

What I am trying to say is be a savvy shopper. Do your research and make sure you get something that meets your expectations. After all, tyre pressures need to be right. If you tyre pressures are wrong at best they can screw up your fuel economy at worst your car with you and your nearest and dearest can end up in a hedge.

Do you want to trust that to a £5 unit that falls apart after 2 or 3 uses wherever it was made in the world?

Saturday, 29 May 2010


That pretty much summed up the feeling this morning.

We look forward to a week off having both survived a cull and will enjoy the time before we go back in to the fray that is delivery of IT and Network Services to Ingrates.

I woke around 8 and released 20 frustrated chickens who should know by now that I like a bit if a lie in at the weekend. Tyson & Marauder charged around the garden and eventually decided that they would follow the example of the chickens and lay a couple of eggs of their own!

I then retired for a leisurely coffee (Monsoon Malabar) before clambering in the Prius for a run over to my Dad's house. I stopped off for diesel at the nearest petrol station and felt mugged when I had to hand over in excess of £60 for a tank of gas. At 28 - 30 mpg I tend to drive her with a light right foot and with that level of fuel economy diesel need to be bloody cheap for me to consider driving "off route" because it is cheaper elsewhere. Tesco frequently do a 5p off per litre offer when you spend over £50 on groceries. With a 50 litre tank this means that my maximum saving is £2.50. The Prius does about 6 miles to the litre so at 1.25 per litre £2.50 works out at 12 miles of driving. In other words Tesco needs to be on my doorstep to make it worth driving the Prius there to take advantage of the offer.

Now I know that I should drive something more economical but I love her and her ability to consume vast quantities of kids, dogs, animal feed and crap that needs to be taken to the tip. She is also very easy to find in a car park which means that I never have to think about where I've parked her at the zone b, space 23 level - just in the car park near the station.

Right, where was I? Yep - My Dads. He and Step-Mum are off for a week away and I have been trusted to water plants; specifically pots and tomatoes. It was nice to potter round the garden with Dad and pull his leg whilst he was allegedly taking me through my duties. We get on well together and have both reached the stage where we are friends as well as father and son.

With Father away I have a plan. I'm seriously considering nipping out to Halfords for a couple of cans of yellow paint and some body filler. I reckon that with a couple of hours work I can get my lawn mower shiny and yellow. then all I have to do is chuck it in the trailer and take it over to Dads. Swap it out with his new Husquevarna. Job done. He's never going to put me in the frame for it especially with all his tomatoes pert and upright having received more that adequate watering during his week at the sea side. If I'm lucky he might not notice for weeks.

Cue Vincent Price again.

On the subject of Lawn Mowers, 30% is not happy about the terms of my e-Will. I may have to change it with more funds heading in her direction. I have also had to have a word with Potato. You may recall that under my current e-Will Potato and Eddy are trustees of my estate until TP reaches maturity. Potato had plans to invest the funds in the dairy industry specifically in cheese production.

He looked quite upset when I explained that being a Cheese Magnate did not mean that he just lay in the sun and chunks of Cheddar and Edam would be drawn magically towards him. Poor fellow, spelling is not his strong point.

I pointed out that with his feline skills he might be better playing the stock market since shares seem to be a bit like mice. You seem to have to just hang around watching them and only pounce at the right time. On other occasions you seem to have to play with them. Potato lifted his head from licking his bum hole to give this a moments consideration before returning to his ablutions... and people say cats are sophisticated!

Eddy is also not happy about the Trustee arrangement as his shortcomings in the leg department means that the traditional hand in the air voting arrangement will not work in his favour.

As I said I may have to update the e-Will.

Friday, 28 May 2010

It can only get worse, then hopefully better

Today started well when I woke to find that I had not grown overnight as 30% has previously idly wished.

Therefore my clothes still fit and there is still sufficient room at the foot of the bed for Tyson to curl up on.

Chickens were fed and let out, TP's lunch was assembled, a Double Espresso was made and at 7.30 I sat down to develop a "fag packet" price for a customer meeting at 10 o'clock. Yet another day of Sales People, Suppliers and demands for information that will take weeks to determine accurately but is needed this afternoon so the Customer can make a decision.

So, why am I not climbing the walls?

I was supposed to be in London to attend these meetings in person which is 6 hours of commuting. Instead I have been dialled in on conference calls. It is a crappy day but my glass is half full because I haven't had to buy it from a Buffet Car and loose the top half as I wobble down a carriage packed with sweaty commuters with a laptop slung over one shoulder.

I have next week booked off and am going out tonight to see Stewart Francis at a local venue. So its a rough week followed by a good week.

I must have a word with 30% as she may have cocked up the Probability Pants sequence in my underwear drawer. If you think about it you are likely to have an equal number of lucky and unlucky pants so you need to get them labelled with an indelible laundry marker pen so that you always have lucky weekend leaving you 3.5 pairs of unlucky pants and 1.5 pairs of lucky pants to distribute as you think fit thought the working week.

Pedants amongst you may start wittering on about "how do you wear half a pair of pants?". Obviously you have to work your system over a 14 day period to ensure you always have a full pair of pants on. For God's Sake - Do I have to do all the thinking round here!

I know there are going to be people who have an unequal distribution of probability underwear. This explains those Jammy Bastards and also those odd people that you meet on railway station platforms and staring at the ground in city centres. I suppose they are just at the opposite ends of the Bell Shaped Curve of perhaps "Bell Enders" ? :-)

See You!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

He was a tall chap.

For most of today I have had a telephone handset glued to my ear.

As a result by 5.30 I wanted either to scream down the damn thing or just throw it out of the nearest window. I am a typical bloke when it comes to the phone, I keep chats with friends and family to the bare minimum so you can imagine how I felt about spending a total of 5 hours on calls with "colleagues" today!

The working day eventually ended and this evening has a strange atmosphere as 30% has been advised that she is not at risk of redundancy but her best friend; Jules who she has known for over 20 years will be moving on. Earlier this week I also found out that my job is safe but there is a guilt that comes with surviving the cull and this is magnified when close friends loose their jobs. It is all quite bleak at the moment as colleagues go but the workload remains the same and their is no apparent strategy for implementing the changes that will be necessary to deliver a service with a significant reduction in personnel.

On a brighter note TP had Food Tech today at school so we dined on his Kofta mix with rice and salad and very good it was too. A glass of Riocha suited it to a tee.

I also made contact with the Vespa's Senior Consultant who advised that their preliminary tests results had all come back and so far there was nothing to worry about. He hoped to have a final diagnosis within a couple of days.

Now to the tall guy...

... anyone who knows me is aware that if Peter Jackson was casting for his film of the Hobbit I am more likely to be "Hobbit in background" than an Ent. The picture in my profile isn't a humorous caricature it was taken last year after I had a makeover/photo session that I won in a phone-in competition on The Jeremy Kyle Show.

Basically if you ask me to describe someone I will probably say they were tall unless I am talking about Ronnie Corbett or Danny Devito. Yes, in my world every one is tall.

A couple of days ago 30% and I were stood in the garden taking in the evening sun and I was stood on the step at the edge of the Terrace so 30% could tuck under my shoulder. YES - she is tall too! "This is nice" she said " I wish you were really this tall".

That got me thinking. I am quite happy being the height I am so what would happen if I was 9 inches taller. I'm not going to convert this in to centimetres. If you can't work it out you probably ought to be downloading MP3s, doing your home work or messaging people you think are friends on Facebook.

So, what would happen if I was suddenly 9" taller? Would I wake in the morning and go to pull on my magic pants only to find that I was trying to shove them on to my shins because my feet were much further away from me than when I went to bed? What would happen if I wasn't working at home that day and had to go in for a customer meeting? All of my trousers would terminate mid shin which isn't a good look when you are trying to convince a client that you understand their requirements and will produce a product that meets their needs at a price they can afford. I suppose once I was sat down I'd be OK but I'd need a cunning plan to disguise naked calves for the period between walking in to the room and getting sat down at the desk.

You would really need some style and panache to carry that look off. I would probably need to review my presentation and strike out the bit where I got up and drew a stick man on the flip chart.

It might be that my whole body grew in proportion but that would be no good either as nothing would fit so I end up going to work in shorts and a tee shirt that now looks like a bloody crop top. With my physique that is never going to be a good look.

Maybe I would shoot up during the day and suddenly start banging my head on low beams or door lintels.

No, the more thought I give to it, the happier I am being a short arse.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

We may have Borrowers!

.... or, as will become more apparent a Borrower; singular!

Over the weekend 30% lost her mobile phone. Now I'm not one to jump to conclusions but I'm bloody sure that we have Borrowers. All the signs are there, small items missing that can be reworked by clever nimble fingers and devious little minds backed up by a Borrower culture going back to the dawn of time and I have the ultimate proof but I will get to that later.

If you think about it from a Borrower perspective a Motorola Razr is going to make one hell of a flat screen LCD TV once they have got it set up and running in their wall cavity lair. With a few adaptations it will make the perfect Home Media Centre with telecomms, TV and Internet Access all in one unit and, of course, 30% had a load of credit on it.

I'm guessing that they, or should I say "HE" has pretty modern decor in his lair in view of the fact that he has a shocking pink flat screen TV installed. I'm guessing that the missing fridge magnets may have been utilised as retro stools for his guests.

Now to why I think it is a Borrower singular rather than a family of the thieving vermin scum. The little sod has spliced the Motorola in to our Satellite TV System..... and how do I know this? Each morning when I settle down to catch the morning headlines with a cup of coffee I find that the TV is stuck on an Adult Channel that shows a 10 minute free view - CASE PROVEN!

I'm afraid the reality is far less interesting. She dropped it walking the dogs and we had to retrace her steps to the stile where it fell out of her pocket. Tyson showed potential as a sniffer dog by locating the phone in the undergrowth.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Crisis !

Today is Tuesday. The last Journal entry I made was last Thursday.

For the past five days "The Pile" has been without Broadband connectivity due to a British Telecom failure at the Exchange and a "coincidental" issue with the ISP's modem. Fortunately 30% and I both have reasonable deductive skills and also mates who know how to configure modems so we have managed to avoid having two service providers attempting to blame the other and have managed to scavenge the right kit to resolve the problem ourselves.

30% has excelled herself with her self restraint with Help desk personnel who don't understand the problem and have repeatedly tried to get her to follow a non-relevant Help desk fault script that has nothing to do with the real problem. I also feel that I deserve a momentary acknowledgement for only giving the BT Engineer a withering look when he tried to blame the issue on our wireless router. I simply demonstrated that every machine in the house could connect to the wireless router and that when I connected a machine directly to the Broadband modem there was no Internet connection pointing to a modem config issue. This guy had turned up and was allegedly qualified. I'm an amateur and I had managed to suss out where the issue was.

Anyway, that wasn't the crisis, last Saturday we were going to take Tyson and Marauder to a dog show arranged by the Puppy Training Group that we attend.

I therefore planned to wear my magic pants to ensure good fortune and a plentiful supply of rosettes for T&M. Imagine my absolute horror when I ransacked the pants drawer to no avail.

Now before we go any further I need to point out that these are magic pants. Not "pulling pants" or "lucky pants" but bona fide, breathed on by fairies, chanted over by wizards magic pants. Let me explain....

... Lucky pants are pants that someone feels grant them good fortune when they are worn. I don't have a problem with the concept but if you think about it they are actually better described as probability pants. In other words an individual has a pair of pants that, due to probability, whenever worn the wearer has good fortune. If the wearer actually carried out a thorough analysis they probably have a corresponding pair of unlucky pants in the same drawer that result in a shitty day whenever worn. In other words, lucky pants may be lucky but there is an equal and opposite number of pairs of unlucky pants hence the correct terminology; Probability Pants.

Now on to Pulling Pants. These are a subset of Probability Pants in that they are lucky so that, when worn, the wearer manages to "pull" a sexual partner. The wearer obviously has pants that aren't pulling pants and so are obviously unlucky.

Now I will make an observation about pulling pants, they may well prove the existence of a Cosmic Joker since observation tends to suggest that the best pulling pants are the scabbiest items in the undies drawer. Consequently the wearer manages to pull but is too embarrassed to remove their outer garments for fear of ridicule or putting off their potential partner for the evening due to the rank but lucky undergarments being worn. This tends to suggest that the Cosmic Joker has had a hand in the creation of this particular sub-set of probability underwear.

Right, now we have that clear, I need to point out that my pants are not Probability Pants. They are genuine magic pants. If you look at the care label all the usual logos are there for do not bleach (triangle with a cross though it) and warm iron (stylised iron with two dots) but they also have the symbols for only wash in dew collected at midsummer dawn by a maiden, pure of heart and do not use Dwarf Dry Cleaners. These are real magic pants. When worn they don't just give good luck, they go way beyond that.

As a result of their power they don't get many outings and only for worthwhile causes. Obviously with that sort of power available in my laundry drawer I could be corrupted absolutely so I thought long and hard before deciding that the dog show was a just and noble use of their energy.

So you could imagine my horror to find or rather NOT find them. The end result was a rather paltry third for Tyson in the Puppy Class and Marauder had two sixths in the Puppy class and prettiest bitch.

30% has already had an official warning for not taking full note of the care instructions on these pants as the last thing you want is the magic being washed out and ending up in the Septic Tank - I mean - what use is a magical tank full of effluent?

I therefore had my suspicions that 30% may have lost these charmed garments in the laundry. She does, after all, seem to do the same with socks.

Imagine my joy a couple of days later when I was looking for my favourite socks and found the little devils hiding at the back of the sock drawer. If they weren't magic how did they teleport to there?

Normal Service has been resumed.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

The Power of "No".

30% and TP are catching up on Eastenders and I would rather have open heart surgery while fully conscious than watch it. To be fair it isn't that bad but it is a load of predictable nonsense and its not really my cup of tea.

So here I am jotting down today's musings. Obviously today's BIG THING was the delivery of the Vespa to the Hospital for necessary surgery. Contrary to yesterdays concerns the ambulance journey went without a hitch and we arrived in Cheltenham where the patient was received by one of the Junior Doctors rather than the Consultant.

A gangling youth with a stutter and a pierced lip did not initially give me major feelings of security and confidence but I should not have prejudged. He was right on the ball, had been informed that she was coming in for attention and gave me some of the most natural, good customer service that I have encountered for a long time.

I now await the Consultants opinion, the likely date for discharge from the ward and the bill. I am now in to the realms of serious private medicine!

Work is really ramping up at the moment which is a good thing as I don't like to be kicking my heels but at the same time I am strongly in favour of a work / life balance and I am concerned that if I am not careful the allocation of tasks is going to lead me to tell someone to get stuffed at some point in the near future.

I quite enjoy the power of "No". It amazes me how many people are out there who will, quite literally, sink under a mountain of crap that some git has dumped on them or has ridiculous deadlines set that simply were never feasible because they failed to say "No".

Try it one day, you might like the effect. "Tell me bad man can you do this by Friday?" "No" I answer. "OK" comes the response "I'll see if there is someone else or whether we can defer".

Generally the world doesn't end and you still remain in employment if you say "No". You just have to have a reasonable amount of creative bull shit to back up why you are saying it. I'm sure you are surrounded by lazy sods who seem to do very little other than surf the net and take long lunches.

These guys are zen masters in the art of "No". They are so good that a single look, a raised eye brow or a slight sigh will indicate that they are absolutely "maxxed out" on something so important and complex that the requester doesn't have the mental capacity to even start to understand it.

Learn from them and escape the shaken can of coke feeling that you have at the start of every weekend :-)

Where was I? Hmm Not Sure.

The lawn has been mowed and the mower has again taunted me by starting first time and performing as required. It did, of course, periodically spew clods of macerated grass out on the lawn so that I had to go back and collect them. We are now into that stage of the relationship where nothing is right but nothing is wrong. It just about meets the bare minimum criteria required of a lawn mower in that it cuts grass but it is a noisy beast with dull blades and a bad habit of not collecting all that it cuts. My Dad should never have come round with his Husquvarna porn mag or "brochure" as the retailer euphemistically puts it!

Right - I must go and be a parent and partner so Good Evening.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Tension Mounts.

A brief entry this evening.

If you say this in your finest Kenneth Williams voice and add "Matron" at the end it might raise a smile or we could always go with the traditional "as the Actress said to the Bishop".

Mate with Van arrived this evening and the Vespa was strapped in. Talk about mixed feelings, I want her to go so that she can be put back where she belongs; on the road. On the other hand seeing her tied down in the back of a Van I watch her go filled with trepidation concerned that she will end up on her side; stricken, fluids leaking out during her Journey to the Workshop.

I would say that it is like seeing your child ride off on their "two wheeler" for the first time but it it isn't. If they fall off the services at A&E are free and how much damage can a 5 year old do to itself falling 12 inches on to grass! The Vespa falling over in the back of transit is far more serious and worrying.

My family calls as yesterday evening was marked by a visit by the local village idiot!. You may recall from yesterday's entry that I had been in a client workshop and wanted to come home and relax. Instead I listened to the chaotic ramblings of a local nutter for two and a half hours. I will fill in the details when I can find the energy and my sense of humour has been restored.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Someone else's pants

This evening sees me making this entry on 30%'s Laptop and it is an arduous experience.

Now I know that I have grumbled previously about my new machine and how it has a crappy image but I am getting used to it and, bit by bit, - no pun intended- am setting it up so that it suits me.

30% has obviously done the same with hers and we have quite different preferences. I, for example, prefer to use an external mouse and keyboard and although right handed use a mouse with my left hand. I am therefore repeatedly bringing up menus instead of repositioning the cursor and am getting slightly frustrated with the whole thing.

I have to say that I imagine that it is like wearing somone else's pants and I dont mean fresh from the laundry. I dont know why but there is something slightly "icky" about using another persons machine.

Whether it be the toast crumbs that jam some of the keys or the slightly oily slick that covers the screen and keyboard or the drift of dust - I hope its dust - that covers every surface.

Now I need to stress that 30%'s Laptop is not icky and has no crud, oil slick or layer of dandruff. It is just set up differently and is all a bit alien. For some reason when I access the Journal from her PC it takes me to it via a German Blogspot server so I have had to work out where to click to sign on from memory.

I have just found out that it also uses a German spell checker so virtually all of this is apparently misspelt according to that.

Anyway I shall persevere and advise that the "mate with the van" has rung and the Vespa is to be collected tomorrow, so that is good news. Hopefully it will be up and running again in a week or so.

On the work front I spent all day in a torture session with a customer, a third party, project managers and a sales person. Can life get any better?

By way of observation I thought, up until this day, that it was only possibble to have one Nemesis. Now I know that there must be a plural - perhaps Nemeses?

Anyway, I did manage to wreak revenge for this torture when one of my Nemeses advised that she was having to take some time off to have her gall bladder removed. You don't know how much perosonal restraint was applied when I avoided mentioning the "4 Fs" associated with Gall Bladder disease; Forty, Fat, Femail and Fair and this Nemesis ticks all of those.

Instead I sympatheticallly told her about when I had mine removed last year and came to on the Operating Table mid way through the procedure. Do you know, I nearly had to shout because she covered her ears and went La, La, La when I described being concious, paralysed and feeling the tools going in through the keyholes and touching my Liver. For some reason she didn't want to know.

Some people - I was only trying to make sure she was fully informed. Is that Vincent Price I hear?

Monday, 17 May 2010

I'm all behind.

I seem to be a day behind in my posting at the moment.

Mind you if your Monday had been anything like mine you would be wishing you were 24 hours behind too.

Now I need to state that I am not fighting crime, cleaning lavatories, serving in the armed forces or tending to the sick or aged and consequently I should just stop my moaning and get a sense of proportion. Fair enough, but if you had to deal with the half wits I come across on a regular basis you would be wondering if a career change to Toilet sanitation at was half as bad as the current one where the crap is virtual, as is the wall I seem to keep banging my head against.

Right, musings on work are done. I don't want to bore you with the minutiae of it because it's not going to make for a interesting read and you're either here for a) pleasure or b) you are carrying out a research project on the decline in value of material on the Internet and the increase in "care in the community" cases that have made it on-line.

I'm pretty sure that it is not c) because you are interested in a bad man's half witted colleagues who seem unable to string a coherent set of simple sentences together explaining what they want!

Right - Sunday - I spent a good chunk of yesterday morning shouting at TP as he had lost his mobile phone.

I know that all teenagers loose their mobile phones. It is a rite of passage thing that, from their perspective, is mega serious but, by some miracle will resolve itself with minimal effort.

Pretty much like Moses coming down from the Mount saying " I had it all engraved on stones but I tripped and I thought they were in my pocket and then I was talking to Saul and the donkey nearly bit me and now they're gone but I think I can remember a couple of them. There was something about thou shalt not covet thy neighbours something or other and another about thou shalt not clean. Yes, I have checked the Arc of the Covenant properly and they are definitely not in there. I'm sure that if I go in to Synagogue next week one of my mates will have it written down."

From my perspective he needs the damn thing so that I can track him down and get him to haul himself home before I starve to death or dinner is "lovely darling but could have been a bit warmer".

I know a SIM card is 99 pence at Tescos and there are a multitude of handsets lying around the house. The reason for the rant was that TP didn't seem overly bothered about looking for the phone relying on the elves to locate it and present it to him on a cushion fabricated from bloody gossamer and flower petals.

My how we laughed when it turned up in the glove compartment of 30%'s car later on the afternoon. Now she has found it I have a vague recollection of telling TP to put it in there out of sight while we went somewhere - probably best if I keep that to myself.

I also spent a good portion of Sunday referring to Eddy as Soup. I explained to 30% that I had found Eddy asleep in the laundry basket and therefore was calling him Soup as a homage to 1970s pub catering. "That's chicken in a basket you idiot" she replied. No wonder I was always hungry and needed clean trousers afterwards was my reposte.

TP and I made up and spent the afternoon patching the lawn as Tyson and Marauder have a more literal scorched earth policy than the cats.

An evening walk and a roast dinner marked the transition to evening then, as is the law, we all collapsed in front of the TV to watch Dr Who - I didn't like the last one and I'm certainly not sure about this one!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Its all in the name.

The weekend started with a lie in and 30% volunteered for Guard Duty. Ably assisted by Tyson and Marauder she let the chickens out in to the exercise yard while I threw on some clothes and made coffee.

We then spent a leisurely hour drinking several cups whilst taking in the Breakfast News. Bagels were toasted during the Sports reports. The main subject of our early morning chat, like many households in the UK, was what we would do with the £84 million Euro Millions prize. There is a 60 acre estate for sale just up the road and we decided that it would do nicely but we would knock down the 1960s house and build something much nicer. My preference was for something with a tower that had panoramic windows and a rotating lavatory. Incidentally we did win the Euro Millions or rather £6.84 of it.

We eventually girded our loins and took T&M out for an early walk. We had a lunch date arranged with friends and walking T&M early meant that they would have burnt off a bit off energy and therefore hopefully be more likely to sleep and less likely to create havoc while we were out.

Lunch was with Mr & Mrs/Doctor "Oranges & Lemons" and in true spirit of friendship we took a gift....

..... 6 bags of chicken manure and a dozen eggs. Don't let it be said that I'm not the thoughtful type. Always willing to tun up with a few bags of shit.

This may seem really really peculiar if you are not in to veg gardening but the contents of the coops make a great "brown" compost additive and mixed with grass clipping make a mean compost in about 12 months. Incidentally, talking of coops - a few miles down the road is a Plant Nursery where they advertise Chicken Coups. This conjures up the image of a Rhode Island Red in a Che Guevara pose with a bandolier slung across its breast. It also make me wonder what the chances are of having an illiterate Nurseryman and an illiterate sign writer that meet and do business together.

I probably need to state that the Oranges and Lemons have a huge garden and a poly tunnel and the shit was requested rather than me just thinking that they might like it.

I probably also need to explain why I refer to the Oranges and Lemons in that way too. 30% seems to have lots of friends but they seem to have very few names. If you do the maths this means that several friends have the same name and you can guess how bloody frustrating it is when 30% says "Sue" called and you have to go through about four of them before you hit the right one.

I am not joking, the Sues are as follows:-

  • Service Manager Sue (a folleague of 30%)
  • Pinky (an old School friend of 30%)
  • Mad Bat (a friend in the village)
  • Your Step Mother (self explanatory, wife of a bad man's Dad)
Generally, by the time I have worked out which Sue it is I cant summon any enthusiasm for what they actually wanted.

Doctor/Mrs Oranges and Lemons is also a duplicated name in the crammed address book of 30% - it will probably come as no surprise to learn that my address book is a slim folio and was last updated at about the same time as the Dead Sea Scrolls. I am not, by nature gregarious. Neither am I a hermit but I have a very few very good friends rather than many acquaintances.

Yep - sorry back to Doctor Lemons. She is a "Rachel" and Oranges and Lemons rhymes with her surname and is used to separate her from Psychotic Rachel who we fortunately haven't seen for a good couple of years. Long may that last!

We had a lovely time just chatting, munching and generally chilling.

The evening was spent watching Avatar and I have to say that we all thoroughly enjoyed it. It was visually spectacular and very creative. The plot wasn't particularly original - something along the lines of Dances with Wolves with bits of Braveheart and A Man called Horse pretty much ties it up. But I don't think James Cameron intended it to be High Art so there is no need to tear it apart on the basis that it isn't.

One thought I did keep having while I watched it was did the Na'vi spray like earth cats?

Friday, 14 May 2010

Auto generating material

You may hove noticed a little counter at the top of this page - yes, that's it, over there on the right - it tells me how many times I have visited this journal in the vain hope that somebody else has found it.

Anyway, if you know my ID and password you can get to a site which tells you all sorts of interesting facts about visitors to this site - well not really interesting unless you are a seriously sad sort of geek - but it tells me where they have logged on in the world, how long they loitered around the journal and what pages they looked at etc.

From this I have learnt the following...

1) Every one in America can speed read (I'll get to this in a minute)

2) Australia and New Zealand are very hard to break in to (perhaps this is why we sent criminals first time around?)

The reason I say that Americans can speed read is because the stat counter thingy tells me how long they have loitered and zero seconds seems to be the average visit for USA readers. I am being generous in assuming that they just get through this stuff very quickly.

I will however take the time to pass on my apologies to the poor individual in Denver, Colorado who accessed this blog via a website related to broken humerus bones. Once can only wonder what he was looking for but you can guess that my theory that IT IS possible to put your elbow in your ear was not it.

You can image some suntanned, stetson wearing guy with the perma-squint as a result of gazing across wide western vistas popping in to an Internet saloon for a quick surf having got his arm in a cast as a result of getting in to a bit of a scrap with a cow or a raccoon or something. He was probably looking for a bit of advice on one armed lassoing or what sort of wildlife can be rendered down to form some form of organic healing salve. What did he get - the ramblings of some sort of nutcase about the roobarb and custard challenge...

and it gets better..... I also found out that an individual in Germany located the "Journal" after a late evening search on Catsuits using Google's Blog Search facility. Heaven only knows what he was looking for or, for that matter, what he was wearing when he opened up the page that chuntered on about Potato and Eddy's scorched earth policy and their habit of sitting on the sofa in their pants. But I'm guessing, based on his quick exit, that this wasn't EXACTLY what he was looking for.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

They're not happy!

I have just had a memo from the Guys in the Lab.

Apparently the quantum monkey is/isn't in its cage and it is/isn't widdling in the giraffe DNA sequencer. They are starting to get on their high horses about this and it has gone well beyond mutterings along the lines of "how are we supposed to work under these conditions".

One of the more politically adept of the team is claiming that this is a new branch of science that proves that Monkeys may not be fundamentally funny and wants to make a grant submission and start developing an outline for a paper.


Talking of Wills, I also have to submit a codicil to yesterday's "e-Will"...

.... If none of my surviving descendants want it it the lawn mower should be passed to Golfy provided that he cares for it according to the guidelines that have recently been set out by Amnesty International.

There may be more later.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

I leave everything to the cat.

Yesterday evening the phone rang.

It is not the most original opening line or, for that matter a particularly exciting event, but I don't get that many phone calls. I'm not a big fan of the electric telephone device and do not derive a huge amount of pleasure from either the fixed line or mobile devices. I guess I'm a bit old fashioned but I don't see the need to take my mobile when I go for a walk or nip out to town.

"But what would you do if something happens" is the question I get when I finally return home from a known location within acceptable duration parameters.

What has happened here in case I'm not making myself clear is that I have gone out without a phone but and this is a big BUT I have told everyone where I am going, probably why I'm going - thats if I haven't been told by someone else why I have to go - and also roughly when I will be back.

So "if something happens" I'll pretty much deal with it using natural cunning and the monkey brain that has let me get through a serious number of scrapes over the last 40+ years. Basically if you think about it how much use is a mobile phone anyway? Lets take the scenario that I am walking Tyson and Marauder and a genetically recreated Allosaurus comes from out of one of the side lanes, possibly near the free range chicken farm, and starts chasing me down the road. What bloody use is a Blackberry going to be there? It isn't "Who Wants to be a Millionaire". "Phoning a friend" is not going to stop me from being eaten alive. I appreciate that, if the SIM is still active, you may be able to track down my remains but that is of value to my nearest and dearest rather than me. What I needed in that situation was a medium sized grenade launcher but as yet Dante's have not seen fit to issue me with one of those.

I appreciate that this is a bit of an extreme example but I am using exaggeration for effect. If I am in a bit of a predicament and use my phone what are the likely responses? Option a) its your own fault or option b) what do you expect me to do about it?

What I would really like is option c) 30% removes the safety cover and presses a red button. The Leylandii swing away and the Koi pool flips over. Thunderbird 3 rumbles out on the the strip and my salvation is only minutes away.

I appreciate that I may have mixed up Thunderbirds and Wallace & Grommit's "A Grand Day Out" but you get my point. A mobile phone is not going to save my life. This is why my default setting is option d) opposable digits and a monkey brain.

So death by dinosaur lead me neatly on to the subject of the phone call. Friend with van is sorted and the Vespa will be dispatched for surgery at a convenient point next week.

It has been a long while since I rode her due to a number of changes in domestic circumstances and a serious illness a while back. I am really looking forward to it and have those teenage pre-Christmas apprehensions. You know, where you knew you were going to get the present you really wanted but still had to wait.

30% is understandably concerned as she is not a Biker Chick and has consequently uttered those
word filled with disquiet ....

.... "You're not riding that bloody thing until you've written a will"

This journal entry is therefore my e-will and I am hoping that someone reads this entry as your IP address will be taken as a witness signature. I'm pretty sure that this is now legitimate under the Digital Economy Bill.

Basically I leave everything to TP with Potato and Eddy as joint Executors. I am hoping that Potato's planned investments in cheese futures pay off.

Right - the family calls.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Don't try this at home.

People ask me, they say "tell me bad man, where you do get your ideas for your journal?"

In my bloody dreams.

I don't get a huge amount of feed back*. I get the occasional comment and readers who really know me will ping me on Dante's Instant Messaging System to ask if the chemicals are prescription or non-prescription in origin. They may also ask if 30% is a qualified psychiatric nurse.

But I'm starting to wander already, If you had to listen to the non-copyright, assumed to be inspirational, repeating loop of muzak that precedes all of the conference calls I have to attend you would do anything to try and drown it out. So Journal material jottings fill this time.

You must know what I mean. It is all pan-pipes, and rhythmic slightly ethnic drums and undecipherable vocals that only a teenager can actually hear. It may have been quite nice the first time I heard it but it has long since lost its novelty value and they may as well play Greensleeves on a stylophone.

So, that is one of the "down times" when my mind starts to wander and, as you may well have guessed, a stroll with Tyson and Marauder can also nurture the seeds of ideas.

I need to take a moment to offer a piece of advice to the Bear Man who kindly left a comment saying that he found the piece I scrawled on Spiders slightly amusing and that it resulted in him spraying coffee on his iPhone. Bear Man you need one of these. Note the logo on the back. They are "ruggedized" and there is no need to buy a skin or iPhone DRESS as I prefer to call. them.

Now where was I? Yes, It may surprise you to know that I do like the occasional wind up and poor TP does occasionally get his leg pulled. He is 13 and his sense of humour is developing nicely. He has a strong sense of the absurd combined with a cynical, sarcastic streak - that latter element must come from his Mother.

He also knows that all Monkeys are funny.

This is a fundamental law that is built in to the fabric of the universe. This is probably more in the quantum arena than the more quantifiable e=mc2 stuff . More "is the cat in the box dead or not dead - well its both". Think along the lines of - is the quantum monkey funny or not funny - The answer is "Yes". Mind you if a monkey weighs 10 Lbs how big a thermonuclear explosion could it make?

Anyway wind ups. Here are a couple of my favourites preserved for posterity here in the Journal.

A while back just before Marauder arrived on the scene I told TP and 30% that about 50 years ago there were only 5 names that you could legally give to dogs in the UK; Shep, Towser, Rex, Lassie and one that I couldn't remember. I had them both going for a moment or two until I said that the missing name was Whiffler. That was the point at which they groaned and said there was no way Marauder was going to be called Whiffler. Curse Them!

I know it sounds bloody ludicrous but apparently it was not until 1993 that French parents had the freedom to give any name they liked to their progeny. Prior to that there was a prescribed list. Mind you - with all the Chelseas and Chardonnays around in the UK you might wonder why they repealed it. Remember, base your cobblers on fact and it can become plausible.

The other night I managed to get 30% going for a moment when she advised that her favourite ice cream was Raspberry Ripple. I advised that in this era of Political Correctness it was no longer acceptable to call it Raspberry Ripple and was now know as differently able ice cream.

Finally and this is one that the Legal Guys have asked me to advise should not be imitated - when driving with an impressionable person in the passenger seat - shut your left eye (in the UK, right in most other parts of the world) and exclaim excitedly that you can drive with both of your eyes closed. See whether your passenger a) goes in to extreme panic mode or b) realises after the 3rd set of lights and second roundabout that you do not in fact have supernatural powers.

If they go for c) call you a stupid pillock drop them off a couple of miles from home in the rain - serves them right for not appreciating the joke.

* comments are always welcome. If they are non-complimentary I will just delete them. If they are nice I may even reply.

Monday, 10 May 2010

I didn't know that.

A busy weekend had me collapsing, brain dead on the sofa at the end of the day rather than busily pecking away at the keyboard.

Actually that isn't entirely true. This weekend has seen me explore the world of wireless network encryption and after sorting that out the last thing I wanted to do was sit at a keyboard ...

... perhaps burn one on an Altar constructed from the long bones of Mr Gates whilst wearing a ceremonial cape made from his flayed skin with the obligatory teeth necklace, but sit at one for pleasure - I think not.

I have an analogy that I use when people say "Oh you work at Dante's Nine Circles of Hell, you must know loads about PCs". My witty response is "Yes, and you drive a BMW. Can you change the cam belt and re-map the ignition".

In other words I can drive a computer but I'm not one to fix them so encryption of the wireless LAN was fun and games.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have the patience of a Saint and that I am sweetness and light to share a home with - I have bound and Gaffa taped TP and 30% in the cellar so they can't come in here and disagree with me.

It wasn't so much the encryption that was the problem it was the connection of my Laptop to the newly encrypted Router that was problematic.

TP has an IPod Touch - He turned it on and pressed the Safari button and it said enter the encryption key. Genius. 20 seconds later he is browsing for whatever it is that 13 year old boys browse for on the Internet.

If it is that simple how come my Laptop required me to search through obviously unnecessary layers of applications to find the fields where I have to enter the key TWICE. It then allowed me to browse the web for important stuff like eBay and Amazon but decided that it should corrupt the software I need to run to allow me to "tunnel" secretly in to Dante's information vaults thereby preventing me from doing the stuff I get paid for.

I now understand why Mac Users are so bloody SMUG.

Anyway - today was a better day - I only had to make one call to the Helpdesk Guys and pay one visit to the Deskside Support team and my laptop has run for 6 hours without screwing up.

Anyway - what was I going to talk about today?

Have you ever had one of those viral mails with "amusing" lists in them - I love getting those - I sit down and think "Hasn't this Git got anything better to do, and for that matter anything original to say". I have constructed a list of people who have sent me unfunny emails, all of which have been prefaced with "You have got to read this" or "You are gonna love this". Come the glorious revolution I am going make them wear long clown shoes for the rest of their lives or cut off their fingers.

I haven't quite decided which yet.

Look don't rush me. One of those lists is Things that your body can't do. You know like sneeze with your eyes open or put your elbow in your ear.

Now first things first the guys who said you cant put your elbow in your ear may only be half right. I reckon that with a dislocated shoulder, a broken humerus and the assistance of a friend there is a good chance that you can put your elbow in your ear. Admittedly the pain might distract from being the first person to do it and I understand that Guinness Book of Records don't cover that type of stuff any more but I think with a bit of application I may have debunked that myth.

So where am I going with this? Well I've got one that I think is a physical impossibility but you are welcome to try and disprove this one too.

See if you can make love to the theme tune of cult cartoon classic Roobard and Custard

Must Dash.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Intelligent Design

In terms of education I suppose I'm best described as a scientist rather than an "Arty" type. Having said that I do like to daub a little now and again and would like to think that I have an aesthetic sense.

But I also love science and discovery. Knowing why a star twinkles and why the sunset is an emotionally moving blaze of oranges and reds moving to mauves and purples as the night draws in doesn't diminish the beauty in any way. Surely it just gives a greater sense of wonder and appreciation for that aspect of the universe. So, to discover more is a fine ideal.

So the Creationists premise of Intelligent Design is never going to get my vote. This is the argument that everything is so complicated and well designed that it could never have evolved by chance. There are many examples where observed fact contradicts the arguments of Intelligent Design and one of my favourites is a nerve that runs from the brain to the larynx taking a route that loops round the aorta. Fair enough, you might say, but in the giraffe this results in an extra 20 feet of pointless nerve. Surely intelligent design would just have taken it from brain to larynx without the tour of the chest cavity unless the Intelligent Designer was also a taxi driver in a previous life.

Either that or the Creator did mammals late on a Friday and needed to get back for a shower and change because the Creator's partner wanted to go and have a look what the neighbouring Creators had done with their Universe...

"ooh - that's really and nice and I love how you've got that. We really need to sort out the state of some of those Spiral Galaxies and have you seen the interstellar dust over there"

At his point I need to take a moment to remind myself to send the Guys in the Lab a note about the Shetland Giraffe project.

Right, back now - Intelligent Design - I have come across a further example that disproves Intelligent Design. Stick with me here cos this may get a bit rocky. My perfect example is based on cats and Shiatsu Massage.

Anyone who waits on a cat "hand, foot and finger" will know that cats are absolute geniuses at Shiatsu Massage. They are born with this skill to perform perfect kneading of the flesh that would make most Japanese Practitioners weep with frustration at their lame efforts..... BUT .... and this is the point, if you have ever had your cat give you a loving therapy session, you will know that having 5 retractable claws on each paw really does spoil the effect.

Case closed - if there was an Intelligent Designer cats either wouldn't have claws or would be able to tuck them away in little pouches while they were busy massaging.

A few days ago I mentioned that The Demons down at Dante's had found some other Souls to torture and consequently I was taking a break from pushing the rock up the slope and was getting irritable because I wasn't fully occupied. Well don't worry - the Demons at Dante's all have performance objectives too and they are very, very keen to make sure that their appraisals all go smoothly - after all, If you were in their position you wouldn't want Satan telling you your performance wasn't up to scratch.

Well the Imp that came up with this weeks torture is well on for a high score and a nice year end bonus.

This week my aged Laptop was retired and replaced by a new one. I am hoping that it will now be flapping its way towards the horizon to settle and roost in a sunny spot where it can live out its days. Probably more likely that it has been shot and crushed and they are, as we speak, melting its guts down for the scraps of gold on its PCBs.

Well the new one is also an example of Intelligent Design. Five separate calls to the Helpdesk today and now on first names terms with they ladies and gents in India. It's not their fault. They are just the poor individuals that have to try to resolve problems with a Laptop image build that hasn't had its basic functionality tested.

Did I ever say what Dante's business was - Go on, take a wild guess.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Olga, Where are you when we need you?

You may remember that yesterday I suggested a new sport for the 2012 Olympics - on/off road dog boarding. Its got a lot of potential but it got me thinking as I perambulated round the lanes this evening.

How hard can modern rhythmic gymnastics really be?

You've seen them. The girl with the ribbon on the end of the stick, the one with the ball. As Tyson and Marauder charged about on their extending leads dashing from one side to the other enticed by a variety of rural scents and equine presents I was performing a merry dance to make sure that they did not get tangled.

And that's when it hit me. Modern Rhythmic Gymnastics is all about years of dedication, intense training, performance enhancing drugs, synthetic hormones to defer sexual maturity and a lot of shouting from a Communist "Woman" who is harder than your Dad.

There's no reaction or spontaneity and there is only one sticky ribbon thingy - give 'em a couple of Staffies on extending leads with a load of rural odours permeating the mats and lets see how bloody artistic they are then.

Anyway, where was I going to?

Yesterday I wittered on about stuff including the Prius and the Vespa so today I thought I'd continue mining that vein.

Before I do that though I need to mention a (or possibly "the") reader who has contacted me directly about members of the Arachnid Special Forces. Apparently she claims to have given several members of this Secret Service blow jobs. Now before you start conjuring up images of Sean Connery reclining with a foxy vixen who is about to switch political allegiances - THINK AGAIN! This heinous individual uses the hoover to eliminate Agents of ASF. I think my stand point on Spy ders is pretty clear - embrace them, name them, encourage them in to your family for, and I'm guessing here, all they do is study us in the way we tend to study other species on planet Earth. Imagine the Spy der Discovery Channel - you could be the subject of "How Other Species Reproduce"

Right - sorry - back to the Prius......

Many, many years ago I used to work for an enlightened employer. Enlightened in the way that an 18 year old with Daddy's Gold Card is enlightened. So when they decided to give me a company car I looked at my month allowance and said "Your Kidding" and logged straight on to the BMW web site. I now work down at Dante's Nine Circles of Hell and, funnily enough, when I looked at my company car allowance I said exactly the same thing and then Googled the performance stats of a Kia Cee'd.

To cut a long story short I eventually decided to take the cash and invest in the Prius. Now the Prius may not be the most economical vehicle on the planet but I justify it to my Green Ideals by pointing out that a new 3 Series is going to have one hell of a carbon footprint when it rolls off the line plus the fact that I frequently work from home thereby avoiding a 40+ mile round trip. At this rate, if I save any more carbon, we'll be in to another Ice Age.

Also, buying a second hand car is recycling. The more I think about this the more the huge amount of snow in January starts to make sense. I'm starting to think that if my personal impact on reducing global warming increases further I will have to have a chat with the Guys in the Lab about recreating the Mammoth as well as the Shetland Giraffe.

So I went and bought myself a used Prius and I love it. Now I'm guessing that these words have never been assembled in that order in a single sentence before. Yep a first in the bad man's journal.

Remember that I have a penchant for aliases and mild irony. It isn't a Prius. After all who would want to drive a car that may accelerate wildly without warning. That's one hell of a User Notice to have engraved across the steering wheel and makes the "objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear" seem a perfectly understandable piece of advice.

My choice of vehicle - I'll leave you to guess. It is immensely practical, it is not conventionally beautiful but it has a certain presence. It could be described as utilitarian and the kids seem to love it...

..... its a Mr Whippy Ice Cream Van.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

No gain without pain

Today has been somewhat frustrating as the Lesser Demons down at Dante's have found other souls to torture and I have been able to take a break from pushing my rock up the damn hill.

Unfortunately I'm not one to sit idly by. I'm not a great fan of pushing boulders up hills but I like to keep busy. So for the time being, it is the old slope / boulder interface that fills my working day. Consequently I get a bit tetchy when I'm not fully occupied. The mind starts to wander and that can be disastrous.

For instance, this morning the shoulders were a little sore on waking and that was either hefting a piece of furniture in to the Prius or the enthusiastic tugging of Tyson and Marauder as we took our daily constitutional yesterday.

Whilst T&M go by the joint alias of the Straining Staffies in this journal, they are actually pretty good at "walking to heel". This is because TP and I have spent much time and effort in taking them to Puppy Classes. It might be worth mentioning that some of the effort is applied to cleaning up vomit as Marauder is not a good traveller.

But I digress ...

They don't generally pull at the lead but if there is one thing to make them try to wrench my shoulders from their sockets it is horse shit. They absolutely love it. They will guzzle it down like the Health Conscious (or gullible as I like to call them) shovel down Activia Yoghurts and bottled water.

It actually got me thinking, does horse manure contain the canine equivalent of Acidophilus bacteria? Should I be developing up a horse pooh / natural yoghurt mixture and knocking it out via Pets at Home with a considerable profit margin?

So, where is this going .... all I need is an intelligent horse, an off road skateboard, some safety equipment and I have the basis for a new adventure sport / dog exercise experience. It goes like this .... The intelligent horse, let call him Mr Ed, completes a pre-ordained dog walking circuit and carefully deposits a "road apple" every 50 or so yards.

You may have noticed at this point that I type Yoghurt in a strange way and my spelling of metres is completely off the wall. This is because I am very much pre-decimal. My Sat-Nav only shows Roman Roads ..... "Yes Centurion, continue down Via Fossa for another Quattro Mille Passus and you will have arrived at your destination"

I then attire myself with the safety equipment, mount the off-road skateboard and pick up T&Ms leads. You get the picture. How much fun is that going to be as we charge round the route, the dogs encouraged by the regular small equine deposits. This is definitely a winner. If the UK needs a new sport to add to the Schedule for 2012 this could be it. Its got it all - competitiveness, thrills, spills, speed and danger! Sort of Ben Hur meets an Ealing Comedy.

Back to reality.

I've not really mentioned my preferred forms of transport before. There have been a couple of references to the Prius and it might get a minor role in one of the future journal entries but I have had a life long love of motorcycles. For some time the object of my affection, AFTER 30%, TP, T&M, Eddy and Potato has lingered neglected in the garage.

A combination of house moves, building projects, ill health and general stuff meant that she did not get the attention she deserved and she gathered dust for several years. Lets call her the Vespa.

The Vespa is an alias but it serves quite well for she is Italian and designed, when viewed from above to look like the silhouette of a woman's torso - wide at the bust and hips, narrow at the waist. Vespa is also Italian for wasp - do a google image search on "waspie" and you will see why it is a good alias.

Oh I was almost getting poetic there - I forgot to mention that she roars like a lion and has a fuel economy of a BMW 2.2 litre, in-line, 6 cylinder, petrol engine, Yep its amazing what a couple of race cans and a new Ignition chip will do.

So - she needs specialist attention and there's not a lot of it in these parts so when I managed to a) locate a man just 30 miles away combined with b) a friend with a van we get c) servicing bills that will make your eyes water.

So rarity + scarcity of skilled resources + neglect = This Years Bonus.

Ho hum - as I said "no gain without pain".

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The e-mail generation

Today started with a degree of Mnghh!

Its that feeling that is neither apprehension nor dread, Neither reluctance nor disinclination but a feeling of mild aversion combined with a knowledge that there are things that must be done.

Basically there is something that I have been assigned by one of the Lesser Demons down at Dante's. I have done the necessary thinking about it and I've even knocked up a couple of sketches but I now need to document it formally and send out to vaguely disinterested parties.

Hence today started with a degree of Mnghh!

I wish my day started like Marauder's seem to start. Marauder loves her bed and she likes to wake slowly. She will spend several minutes just squirming with the delight of being a dog and knowing that today is going to be pretty much exactly like yesterday. You can see a grin appear on her face and she positively wriggles as she realises that the agenda includes playing with Sell-by-Date and Tyson, threatening behaviour towards the chickens, chasing TP, eating a variety of delicacies including horse shit and possibly chicken feathers, a nice long walk during the bad man's lunch break followed by a number of naps including at least one on the premium spot on her favourite sofa.

Her expression shows that her world really cant get any better. I wish I felt like that when I wake up.

Now don't get me wrong, I tend to wake and feel pretty good about my world. But compared to Marauder I am a rank amateur about feeling good. She makes the happy people that you see in the world of TV advertising - You know the ones - unbelievably smug and happy and cheesy - seem positively suicidal - She really knows how to start the day feeling GOOD.

Before today's activities a quick review of yesterday. It went well. A few pints of homemade Pea and Ham soup are now residing in the freezer and there is enough of the garage floor clear to warrant sweeping it. In fact, there was enough space that TP's bike was upended had it's puncture repaired.

This evening has seen TP and I load up the "eco wagon" or "Prius" as she will be known and take a visit to the local Refuse Site thus opening up a whole new swathe of garage floor.

I am hoping that this improvement in the condition of the lawn mower's quarters will get Amnesty International off my back. I have replied to their letter advising that it is not "incarceration without trial" but "protective custody" as the village newsletter has indicated an upturn in the number of shed thefts. Their initial response is not encouraging !

Right - I'm getting to the e-mail generation but I needed a bit of padding before I started on them. Don't worry - all will become apparent in a minute.

As I said, the day started with a feeling of Mnghh but I knuckled down and turned my sketches in to clear illustrations, embedded them in to an e-mail with concise but informative thoughts and dispatched it to the appropriate recipients / victims.

As is generally the case, it went a whole lot better than expected and I again wondered why it is human nature to procrastinate.

Anyway this leads me to my classification of certain people as "the e-mail generation". They can be defined as individuals who are generally under the age of 35 and consequently have grown up with computers in general and e-mail in particular.

The phrase e-mail generation sums up their capacity to take in information. Basically if it cannot be presented in the preview panel of an e-mail application then don't bother. They don't have the mental capacity to take in anything that cannot be described in a couple of sentences. Forget paragraphs or embedded documents. these references will cause paralysis of the mouse hand and a complete inability to use the scroll bars or the little wheel that they now install on mouses.

The reason I cover the subject referenced in the title of this blog so late in the text is because the e-mail generation will have gone away to gaze at their navels on Facebook or MySpace by now.

My role in Dante's Nine Circles of Hell involves quite complex technical elements and often you need to write several pages with cross references and diagrams to get the full picture across. So you can imagine how bloody frustrated I get when a member of the e-mail generation wants a chat about it but isn't willing to engage any mental gears because their thought capacities are filled with the need to change their relationship status on Facebook and their work related plans for a whole new circle of Hell.

I have had situations where I have had to read documents to people and I'm sure they are not illiterate - bone idle - but not illiterate.

Anyway - my impact analysis was issued and one of the recipients has actually read it and agreed with my logic - a whoohoo moment. Unfortunately the actual "Doers" have not bothered to respond yet and I have a feeling of dread as my ability to look in to the future kicks in and I see several conference calls repeatedly explaining the complex to the e-mail generation.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Bank Holiday Monday

What would your "Top Gun" name be?

Here's another of those irritating "getting to know you questions". First things first - I do recognise Top Gun as a poor piece of 80s cinema which is unbelievably badly written and as camp as a row of tents but it was very popular and I understand that elements of it have become part of popular culture with young single men requiring "a wing man" when they go to local hostelries and dances hoping to meet young ladies.

Why they should need a "wing man" puzzles me. How does this friend feel about the role. They are, after all, saying "You are there to make me look better" or to put it the other way "You are the less attractive one". Bloody Charming!

But I digress, The principal characters in Top Gun all have marvellous aliases as short hand for their characters; Maverick, Goose, Ice Man and Viper. A great plot method of reinforcing two dimensional character stereotypes throughout the film.

So, in your private thoughts, what would your Top Gun Name be?

It has to be short and snappy and obviously easy to spell so that the "Helmet Guys" can get it stencilled across the front of your "lid".

"Romantic Interest" would be quite a good one but it too long and not exactly snappy. I suppose you could paraphrase it into the modern vernacular as "Hottie" but I'm not sure that is the sort of message you want to put across especially in a Movie like Top Gun.

Cannon Fodder and Sacrificial Lamb are also out, certainly too lengthy and probably not how you'd like to see yourself described. Mind you - work tomorrow - how does your Boss see you?

I'll leave you with those thoughts as I outline the plans for today and make excuses to myself for the lack of posting yesterday.

Today sees me scuttling between kitchen and garage with a dose of dog walking somewhere along the way.

Yesterday saw me filling up the garage with all of those items we had been walking round in the house for the past few months.

I find it marvellous and an undocumented natural law that an object can go from being visible and tangible to being totally invisible by use of the ancient spell "I'll just put it there for a moment, while I finish this, and take it out to the garage later". These words allow an object to blend in to it's environment with skills that the MOD camouflage unit would be wise to investigate.

This bloody incantation is amazing! It gets used a lot here as The Pile is a bit of a project and whilst the Builders are long gone it will be many moons until it is finished. That is why, with an extra day available, I'm going to try to introduce some semblance of tidiness to the garage. Not exciting but hopefully satisfying and I have ulterior motives.

Right - I need more coffee - and I also plan to make a large pot of Pea and Ham Soup so I am away.

Oh - I nearly forgot - Knowing my luck I'd probably end up with "Eczema"

Saturday, 1 May 2010

I think the Toner is running out.

Saturday Morning, the start of a long weekend.

Its funny how you feel differently about a day when you get up at a time of your own choice rather than a time dictated by Dante's Nine Circles of Hell or the need to prepare TPs lunchbox before the School Bus leaves. Everything is much more mellow when you are in control of the agenda.

My morning routine is pretty similar whether it is a School Day or a holiday with the exception of making aforementioned packed lunch. I still have to let Tyson and Marauder out, feed and water the chickens and pour a number of double espressos down my neck.

It is odd though that Potato and Eddy also know it is Saturday and are having a lie-in too. Normally Potato is most insistent that I, as Domestic Staff, serve his breakfast before I do anything else in the morning. Today however they are both curled up together and have indicated that I can bring up the papers (ironed of course) and coffee an hour later than usual.

I should point out that Sell-by-date, now in his dotage, is not an early riser and usually waits until around 11 before indicating that he needs to go out and empty his bowels. He is a martyr to his bowels and if you are stupid enough to wade in to a conversation with him about them don't say I didn't warn you. You should know the warning signs by now since you must have as many aged relatives as I do - Ones who have lost all inhibitions and lack anything remotely interesting in their life so will tell you about polyps and unnatural secretions. RUN AWAY!

A true story - A few weeks back I was walking Tyson and Marauder and I bumped in to a fellow dog walker. I know her well enough to chat to and have recently learnt her name having known her dogs' names for much longer. This is the way of dog walking that it is often that you know someone by their dog's name!

Anyway, I asked her how she was as I hadn't seen her for a while and she told me that she hadn't been walking recently as a result of having her haemorrhoids removed - FOR GODS SAKE! I hardly know the woman and she is talking about her Bum Grapes. Puts fingers in ears and sings La, La, La!

Where was I - Saturday Morning - now that I have constructed the Maginot Line T& M can assist when I let the chickens out. They carry out the morning patrol of the coops with great enthusiasm and prowl the runs like Camp Guards looking for the entrances to "Tom, Dick & Harry". I thought I had heard the chink of an enamel mug against a bed frame a couple of times recently but its probably my mind playing tricks.

I collected the eggs and found this .....

...... Looks like one of the hens is running low on ink. I'm sure I reset the egg count when I did the last install but cant remember seeing a "Low Ink alert" recently. Good job we are off in to town this morning as egg receipts are going to be down this week with produce looking like this.

Now what type of toner cartridge does a chicken take and can I persuade 30% to install it?

Postie came - usual stuff - bills, election pamphlets and a letter from Amnesty International. Apparently the readership of this blog is broader than I thought and they are gravely concerned about the plight of the lawn mower. Apparently I am guilty of incarceration without trial, enforced labour and failure to adequately meet it's nutritional and health care needs.

Its a good job they don't know what happened to the Strimmer!