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Friday, December 31, 2010

I'd rather be skiing...

...and to be honest, once you've watched this, and if you've ever skied, so will you...

Chimæra from Sherpas Cinema on Vimeo.

It's been very quiet round here, but that's just because I've been busy doing stuff. When I say "Stuff" I mean that in the loosest possible way. I haven't really being doing anything, other than enjoying the Christmas break. A LOT of socialising, eating and drinking and generally making merry. But I would still rather be skiing.

Let's have a quick summary of what's happened (if anything) since he last time we were both here. Boxing day proper was of course on the 27th. Really was a lot of fun watching the realisation dawn on so many people's faces that it really is on a week day and not a Sunday. Equally, this lack of understanding caused no-end of propblems for people. Not least the hunt, which while the actual chasing of foxes is banned still have a romp around the fields chasing nothing (at least as far as you can see). They had low turn outs due to the fact that no-one understood what day it was on. Even the Radio Times "Feel the heft of Christmas Televisual entertainment" managed to get it wrong. Classic.

On Tuesday we decided we'd have a rtip to town (not the city) and spend some of the Christmas vouchers.  As it turns out, I didn't spend any of them. Had a mooch about in Waterstones, and didn't see anything I wanted. the main problem for me with shopping in this period of time is my Birthday. It's just around the corner in January, and there's every chance I'll get yet more vouchers/cash for that (at least if I'm very very very lucky), so it makes me not want to buy anything right now, and instead "wait and see" (which incidentally is something that we used to have for dinner on many occasions when I was a youth - as in Me: "Mum, Whats for tea?" Mum: "Wait and See")

We met up with Auntie S and M. I'm not particularly adverse to wandering round the shops with Mrs G & Daughter, but M doesn't enjoy it and would far prefer to be tucked up in a corner of a pub supping ale and slowly slipping into a stupor. Not wanting to see a man drinking on his own, I had to do the decent thing and support him on his mission. As you can imagine, it was a tremendous hardship and there were moments where I would have gladly given it all up. I mean, having to wait almost 10 minutes to be served!!?? It's practically unacceptable. Still we marched onwards at it, heads held high, until the march became a stagger, and the heads started lolling.

Before you get too judgemental about drinking during daylight hours in the middle of the week, M's radiotherapy starts next week, so as far as I'm concerned I think he's completely entitle to enjoy one too many in the short term. I was only to happy to support him in his quest. Genuinely.  Not sure that either of us felt the same on Wednesday morning though. :-)

Worse still was Wednesday was the big planned party of the week.  I with help of Johnnie had organised a bit of a get together for the Wiltshire lads. This a group of friends who go way back. In our teens we hung out with each other every day, in our 20's probably once a week, in our 30's once a month, and now we're just edging into our 40's and it's seems like it's becoming once a year. If we're not careful it'll be once a decade and then we'll be gone!!. So it's an important pleasure to get us all together and something that we all enjoy once we can finally manage it.  This year we did a decent job of it, and we're going to try and do it more often in the coming 12 months - but we'll see how that works out.  

The evening consisted of an entertaining bus ride on the Number 10, some excellent food in the Brown Jug in Cheltenham, some excellent drinks in various establishments including The Cross Keys, The Suffolk Arms, The Beehive, The Montpellier Wine Bar & Subtone, A marvellous round of spoof which I was very pleased not to have won, A stodgy pizza and an eventful taxi ride home, which saw me make my first ever 999 call. Told you it was eventful - can't say anymore, other than no-one was injured and that youths shouldn't be allowed alcohol until they've been on a course in "How not to abuse their elders" (none of us I might add - we were just innocent passers-by)

Thursday morning meant a bit of a fry up, and reminiscing and then eventually putting the house back together. Not that it was particularly bad, but you understand. Six blokes kipped down pretty much where the fell...  nuff said. 

In amongst all this boozing and gorging, there's been the iTunes 12 Days of Christmas presents - lots of fun stuff in there, a purchase of "The Prodigy - Invaders Must Die" (excellent stuff) and several movie watchings which I eluded to in the last post. In no particular order: 3 out of the 4 Home Alone movies (I really couldn't stomach anymore than that), Elf (fantastically stupidly funny for Christmas), Inception (again), Iron Man 2 (again), How The Grinch Stole Christmas (which was alright, but I've seen it now, and don't need to go back), Toy Story 3, and Shrek Forever After (both awesome in their own ways).  I've been a very good consumer.

Back at work today, but its quiet (too quiet). To be honest, there's not a huge amount for me to do (possibly less than that) but it does give me an opportunity to tidy up ready for the "all new" role next week. Of course it's New Years Eve!!  and we all know what that means don't we?  Yep, yet more drinking and eating and general celebrating. Well, maybe. But not for me.  Mrs G and I are staying in and enjoying each others company. A quiet night rather than trying to fight to a bar to be charged three times the normal price for a soft drink and four times the normal price for a hard one. Equally we're not visiting with friends or going to a party, we're just chilling.  The last chance rest before the New Year proper.

I have had a wonderful few days off, but it would be really great to be up a mountain in France wouldn't it?  Perhaps we'll have a glass of Gluwein to see in 2011.

Hmmm, but then again, we wouldn't have had the fun we've had...  

Happy New Year, and have a safe one.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Non Boxing Day

One of those slightly odd situations this year in the way that dates have fallen. Specifically, Boxing Day is not the day after Christmas Day, but the day after the day after Christmas Day. This makes today "Christmas Sunday" (at a guess) or "St. Stephens Day" if you happen to live in Ireland.
Boxing day can only ever be on a weekday.
Wikipedia has this to say on the subject:
In the United Kingdom, it is a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary entry for 19th December 1663 and widely in Victorian literature. Another possibility is that the name derives from an old English tradition: in exchange for ensuring that wealthy landowners' Christmases ran smoothly, servants were allowed to take the 26th off to visit their families. The employers gave each servant a box containing gifts and bonuses (and sometimes leftover food). In addition, around the 1800s, churches opened their alms boxes (boxes where people place monetary donations) and distributed the contents to the poor.

Regardless, I've spent the day recovering from Christmas Day. A spectacular event and no mistake. Starting off with a rare lie in. Daughter was away so Mrs G and I were under no pressure to get up and opening presents. In fact, the complete opposite. We were under strict instructions not to open any presents until daughter arrived home (scheduled for 2pm). So instead I tackled the long promised "Eggs Benedict" with eggselent results. (Guffaww -Ed)

In the event daughter ended up arriving about 12, which worked out really well. It meant she was able to chuck her two-penneth in on the cooking front (as is her want) and open up our presents before things got too carried away.  J&W arrived around 1.30 and the meat all cooked to plan.

This year was a Turkey and Beef extravaganza with extra 'pigs in blankets' and a sprout leaf and bacon fry up on the side. For the Americans among you, pigs in blankets are small sausages wrapped in strips of bacon. Lush.

Much eating and drinking was done. There was cracker pulling, hat wearing, dad-joke telling (A Dad Joke is a paricularly poor joke on any level) followed by a little bit of sleeping.

Concluded with yet more drinking, and home pub quizzing as a final burst of energy before complete and utter collapse in front of "Come Fly With Me" on BBC1 which sadly turned out not to be very funny after all.

A proper Christmas Day. Superb..

Today was all about walking and movies, but let's talk about that tomorrow. There's still plenty of Christmas telly to catch up on. Merry St Stephens Day.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Friday, December 24, 2010


What else is left to do then?  

  • Presents bought? Check
  • Wrapped? Check
  • Sent off to Santa? Check
  • Turkey bought? Check
  • Sprouts? Check
  • Crackers? Check
  • Figgy Pudding? Ummm... Sort of...  Looks a bit stodgy if you ask me.  Check.
  • Copy of the Radio Times? Check
  • Sofa cushions plumped in preparation for 3pm snooze with accompaniment from HRH QEII (or ER as she's known round here) Check


Well I think that's everything.  I just feel like I'm forgetting something...  What can it be??


I remember.  I haven't wished you lot a Merry Christmas yet have I?   So here's to hoping you have a great time and don't fall out with whoever you're spending Christmas with. Make the most of just being nice to eachother.

"Feliz Navidad" as they say in Mexico

Those of you having an online Christmas through the wonders of Social Networking should hop on Twitter and follow @StarofBethlehem64 If only it was that easy eh?

I can hear the tinkle of sleigh bells in the distance, so I'd best get off and pour a glass of Sherry for Santa.

Take Care


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Is one less than 3 and one more than 1...

Can't say too much else for now - as I'm up to my nostrils in pixie dust making the magic happen.

Fun Times...  No really... for once, this really is "Fun Times"!!

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Snow stopped... Looks beautiful, if cold.

Tried to get a hair cut yesterday, and after a bit of ringing round, discovered that all the barbers within walking distance of home were closed. However, I do have it on good authority that "Foxes" is going to be open until at least lunchtime today, so with any luck I can get a trim in there.

Just going back to my Eggs Benedict notes from earlier in the week....  Daughter has found a fantastic cheat that's going to make the whole process sooo much simpler...

Strictly speaking it's cheating, but she's a star.

Interesting bit of Vince Cable bashing going on.  Mr Cable is one of the few politicians I have any respect for and I'd hate to see him loose that especially as a result of trying to save the british people from Rupert-bloody-Murdoch of all people. The fact that Vince was honest with a member of the press just goes on to prove why I hold him in such high regard.

"Following comments made by Vince Cable to the Daily Telegraph, the Prime Minister has decided that he will play no further part in the decision over News Corporation's proposed takeover of BSkyB."

"In addition, all responsibility for competition and policy issues relating to media, broadcasting, digital and telecoms sectors will be transferred immediately to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport."

"This includes full responsibility for OFCOM's activities in these areas."

"The Prime Minister is clear that Mr Cable's comments were totally unacceptable and inappropriate."

But just how did this story come to light?? Radio 4's news last night said that it was release to the BBC's Robert Peston by a "Whistleblower" who was concerned that the Telegraph hadn't publish the full transcript of Mr Cable's "private" conversation.  Who is this Whistleblower? Surely the public should be told!!  Where's "Wikileaks" when you need them ??  Julian Asange must be smashing Peston's door in!

Who benefits from the news that Vince Cable doesn't want Rupert Murdoch to have a majority control over BSkyB ?? Not really anybody to be honest. I don't want him to either!!  and it's quite likely that neither do you, although you may not know it... or even care.   More likely that the Murdoch team feel their position infront of OFCOM has been strengthened and that OFCOM are more likely to find in their favour. For the British public, this can only be a bad thing.  How so??  Have you ever watched "Fox News" ? as owned by News Corporation as owned by Rupert Murdoch... (Not that Sky News is a whole lot better)

What got me scared about the Fox News situation is the John Ellis story from the US Election in 2000.

It's said that "Having control of the media, is having control of the people".  But we do have our own brain cells.  Just remember to use them for yourself, although let's not get all David Icke :-)  Conspiracy is everywhere they say... but they say all sorts of things.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


One of my colleagues and erstwhile blogger "Scobi" recently referred to the good old TLA in his musings.  For those of you unfamiliar with this acronym, it is of course borne out of the same family as the FLA.  Still none the wiser??  Well, it's a Three-Letter-Acronym, or a Four-Letter-Acronym.  Things start to go a bit wierd when you get up to 5, so lets just leave it there shall we.
Regardless. To my point.  I've recently discovered a new TLA which is fascinating. It's a hobby but as yet, not one of mine. FPV.
It's a subject full of all sorts of interesting geekery that while I could have imagined was possible, didn't actually know that anyone had brought it into existence. It utilises such tech as "On Screen Displays" and "Antenna Tracking" as well as "Head Tracking" and 2.4Ghz Video Goggles with a 46 degree diagonal FOV.
That's the noise my brain made when I first heard about it...  O, M and dare I say it, G!!...  What on earth can all this be about??
OK, enough flannel. Let me get to the detail.  FPV stands for "First Person View". It's also referred to as VP or "Video Pilotage". It enables you to capture footage like this.... (BTW, I'd recommend full screen and HD if you can handle it)

Winterwonderland from RiSCyD : TeamBlackSheep on Vimeo.
Wonderous looking stuff. To see a pilot's eye view of a flying wing, cruising through the beautiful snow-covered back country. Visiting sheep, scaring dogs and blasting through trees, construction sites and power lines. Incredible, I'm sure you'd agree.  There's more of similar stuff to be seen here should you so wish.
What's happening here is mid-air-to-ground telemetry and you guessed it, there's even an app for that. "iTelemetry".  It's relatively (in the sense that all things are relative) inexpensive to get set up when you consider the cost of telemetry systems such as this in the past.
Clearly next years Christmas list should be coming for places like this: this: and this: For all your FPV needs.
Still snowing. Ear still plugged. Parcels arrived (Did I say that already?)

Starfleet-wise, things are moving on apace. The decks are pretty much cleared (only one serious item remaining) and during the one day I have to show my face over the Christmas break, I shall be clearing out and poloshing my inbox in preparation for the new dawn in the new year.
Excellent Christmas drinkies with the neighbours last night. Something we don't do nearly often enough, and preparations are well and truly underway for the WTC Christmas Party later in the week. Proper Fun Times are almost upon us.
Merry Wassname.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Monday, December 20, 2010


Finally we're on the last week of slogging at it before we can all collapse around the Christmas Tree. It's not actually a case of being able to collapse the second we finish work though is it?  What will actually be happening is last minute rushing around buying bits of food and drink, wrapping that last little trinket and writing that final Christmas card. Swiftly followed by a glass or two of something interesting, laying out of a mince pie and a snifter of sherry for the big fella and then... and only then... collapsing in front of the Christmas Tree.
But it doesn't end there either does it?. The big day is all about the kids unwrapping presents and cooking a big bird. This year there will be breakfast in bed too!   You see, we're very lucky that the kids are now of an age where while Christmas is still exciting, it doesn't require getting up at 5am to throw wrapping paper everywhere and play with the empty cardboard boxes. So instead we'll be having a reasonably leisurely start to the day and I might even have a go at rustling up some eggs benedict - which is my all time favourite breakfast.... Puts me in mind of a wonderful New York breakfast that Mrs G and I had last time we were there.

In fact, just the thought of it has inspired me to have a dry run.  To that end, a trip to the supermarket this evening will mean I'll be picking up at least....
  • 3 table spoons of white wine vinegar
  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 2 toasting muffins
  • 1 batch of hot hollandaise sauce
  • 4 slices Parma ham (or Serrano or Bayonne)
Now the tricky bit is the Hollandaise Sauce, and it's this that requires the practice. So to make the sauce I'm going to need this little list of stuff:
  • 500ml of white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of peppercorns
  • a bunch of tarragon
  • 3 large free-range egg yolks
  • 200ml of melted and skimmed unsalted butter
  • a good squeeze of lemon juice
And this is what I'll need to do...
  1. Boil the vinegar together with peppercorns and tarragon, reduce by half. Strain.
  2. Boil a large pan of water, then reduce to a simmer. Using a large balloon whisk, beat together the yolks and 2 tsp of the reduced wine vinegar in a heatproof bowl that fits snugly over the pan.
  3. Beat vigorously until the mixture forms a foam, but make sure that it doesn't get too hot. To prevent the sauce from overheating, take it on and off the heat while you whisk, scraping around the sides with a plastic spatula. The aim is to achieve a golden, airy foam (called a sabayon), which forms ribbons when the whisk is lifted.
  4. Whisk in a small ladle of the warmed butter, a little at a time, then return the bowl over a gentle heat to cook a little more. Remove from the heat again and whisk in another ladle of butter. Repeat until all the butter is incorporated and you have a texture as thick as mayonnaise. Finally, whisk in lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste plus a little warm water from the pan if the mixture is too thick.
For me, all that talk of "Golden Airy Foam" and "Ribbons" means that's going to be tricky to say the least. But I'll have a crack at it this week and if all goes well, perhaps I'll surprise Mrs G with it on Saturday morning. As for the eggs and the muffins and putting it all together. Well that's a lot easier....
  1. Bring a deep saucepan of water to the boil (at least 2 litres) and add the vinegar. Break the eggs into 4 separate coffee cups or ramekins. Split the muffins, toast them and warm some plates.
  2. Swirl the vinegared water briskly to form a vortex and slide in an egg. It will curl round and set to a neat round shape. Cook for 2-3 mins, then remove with a slotted spoon.
  3. Repeat with the other eggs, one at a time, re-swirling the water as you slide in the eggs. Spread some sauce on each muffin, scrunch a slice of ham on top, then top with an egg. Spoon over the remaining hollandaise and serve at once.
In theory, the result of all this cookery should look something like this....

I'll post some photo's of my effort when I get to it.
On the subject of our American cousins and by way of a little geekery, I saw this recently and found it to be a compelling 30 minute interview with a comedian who seems to have no end of strings to his bow. Something for your coffee break...

Get on with it!.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

The process is in active existence

Or to put it another way... The game is a-foot. Well, more of a-head this morning to be fair. A sore head. But that's Christmas parties for you. Don't expect anything too inspiring in todays post.

It wasn't a particularly long, drawn out or loud affair, and even if it had been loud I wouldn't have noticed what with me being temporarily deaf and all. But it did involve a good walk around the city center on a cold and damp evening with some good friends and much giggling.  This is what Christmas parties are supposed to be about after all. Frivolity with a capital Friv.

We had a proper downpour of snow yesterday afternoon for about and hour and then just as quickly as it started, it stopped again. By the time I ventured out in the evening it was almost as if it had never happened. There were still small blown up drifts of the stuff in corners and gutters, but nothing covering the roads or footpaths. I have it on good authority that there's more coming on Saturday though, so that will be most welcome - AFTER the Christmas shopping is finished and I don't have to travel anywhere else.

The big plus is, it's FRIDAY!! and thank heavens for that. So without further ado here's some Christmas related friday funnies for you. 

Santa's Surprise Entrance

Santa Claws

Holy Santa Claus

The parcel's still haven't arrived and the ear ache is getting worse....  Not Fun.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Santa Squad!

Thank the valleys for Hugh Pugh bringing this story to our attention. We might never have known.

Get used to the Porridge Boys...

P.S. Why, in all of Fishguard did we not get this across the River ??

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Don't Panic!!

So there's 8 days left. That's ages yet.  Hell, I've known years when I've been out shopping for presents still at 6pm on Christmas Eve.  In fact there's something to be said for that being the best time to do it. It's proper festive for a few hours. It's also proper manic mind you.  It's worth pointing out that the phrase "there's something to be said for" and the phrase "I would recommend shopping at this time" are in no way related, and neither should they be. You've been warned.

On the subject of days....  

1) Happy Birthday Jane Austin.  

2) There is one day in particular that will become of intense interest to a large number of people in the near future. I'm not talking about Christmas day, although of course that day is a good candidate for "Most interesting day of 2010". No, the day in question has already passed and is in fact July the 24th 2010.

It says here:

"Life In A Day is a historic global experiment to create a user-generated feature film, shot on a single day, by you. On July 24, you have 24 hours to capture a glimpse of your life on camera. The most compelling and distinctive footage will be edited into an experimental documentary film, produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Kevin Macdonald. The film will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2011 and will be available right here on YouTube. If your footage makes it into the finished film, you'll be credited as a co-director and you could be one of 20 contributors brought to Sundance to celebrate with Kevin Macdonald."

A fascinating idea, and I for one am really looking forward to the results.  

Sadly, it doesn't help me with my Christmas present aquisition problem.  To be more specific, the problem I have is that I'm waiting for arrivals for Mrs G, and the weather forecast isn't looking too promising for road based deliveries. With any luck they'll show up this morning and all will be well, but then one of them was supposed to arrive two days ago according to the online tracking system.

Online tracking is a double edged sword though. It lulls you into a false sense of security because you think you're being well informed and you know where your package is. This isn't the case because it relies on people updating the status of your package and this may not (and often does not) happen.

I recently had a package delivered from Germany. The tracking status showed it arriving in the UK at an airport near to London, 20 minutes before it was delivered to my front door. If only I could ship my luggage through customs that quickly I'd be a very happy air traveller. 

One of the other gifts is sitting in a shop in Bristol. I know it's there, I've seen it. But it does require me travelling to Bristol to collect it and that's a problem until Saturday, unless of course there's a serious amount of snow/ice in which case it will continue to be a problem until the weather breaks. I may be worrying unnecessarily as this particular gift could possibly be available in Cheltenham, but I haven't had the opportunity to wander round the shops there yet. If we do get the promised snow & ice, perhaps I'll be doing that on Saturday instead of driving to Bristol.

Re: the ear-ache. I suspect I'll be getting a second opinion at some point. Very painful this morning and I suspect an infection in my middle ear. You can't beat a bit of paranoid self diagnosis to wind yourself up with, but I'm not panicking just yet...


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Shhh. You're giving me ear ache.

Luckily for me, it's not very often that I have to go to the doctors. Now I've said that I'm certain to have to spend all of Christmas and New Year laid up in a hospital bed for some (as yet) unknown reason, but for the most part, visits to my GP are few and far between.

For the youthful and spritely among you, here's a warning. You get to a certain age. You live to a point in time...  It's an indescrimate point, but you may well be lucky enough to reach it. You'll know when it is because suddenly you feel like you've started to fall apart.  Things start to get a bit harder to do. Recovery starts to take a bit longer.  It's not much fun.

I'm glad to say, I'm not there yet, but I know I'm not far off it. And so it is, that you have to start taking proper care of yourself.  Gone are the days of dancing all night, sleeping for an hour, working all day and dancing all night again. You just can't do it.  Some of us couldn't dance in the first place, but that's another story.

My most recent adventure that has led to me visiting my local doctor was our holiday abroad. I've been lucky enough to spend countless hours on aeroplanes in the past without so much as a sniffle, but this time on our return flight and as we descended into the frozen wastelands of Manchester, some invisible demon decided to stab me in the ear.  I've had the old "suck a boiled sweet to help your ears pop" treatment on plenty of occasions, so I put it down to just a particularly harsh equalising of pressure and tried to think no more of it.

I stayed slightly "deaf" in my right ear for a couple of days, and then it eased and disappeared.  Only to reappear two days later and now to be a near constant source of irritation. So this morning I traipsed off to see my local GP and wonder at the buffoonery of modern doctors practices.

It's always bothered me that they are "paractices" after all, you think they'd know enough to be able to do it for real before becoming a doctor, but that's the english language for you. As I'm sat waiting for my scheduled appointment (which by the way can never be on the day you ring up for an appointment, it always has to be a minimum of 24 hours later - why is that!?). Anyway, as I'm sat waiting, it becomes aparent that one of the doctors hasn't arrived for work today, and in fact has called in sick (I wonder who carried out the diagnosis?) and so the receptionist is busily trying to send people home and making quite a loud noise about it in the process.

Another thing about GP's surgery's is why do the receptionist's employed always have to be "busybodies"? or at least that's how it seems.  They need to know everyone's most personal business (which I always understood was a private matter between the patient and doctor) and they seem to be in a permanent state of agression.  Perhaps that's just my perception or possibly just my local surgery...  who knows.

Where was I?... Oh yes, so plenty of noise going on in the waiting room.  It transpires that the system for calling the next patient is a small tinny sounding speaker in the corner of the room.  This is fine if your hearing is perfect working order. Not so useful if you're being a "bit deaf".  Needless to say, I waited and I waited and I waited.

In the end, a doctor actually walked into the room and asked for me by name in a loud voice.

Ever so slightly embarrassing.

Upshot of the visit?  It'll get better in a day or two. The pressure will re-equalise eventually.

On a related note, I've decided that when I reach my Nan's age (she's 90+) I'll follow in her footsteps and join the "None so deaf as them that don't want to hear" gang. Fun times for the OAP's.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Base Jumping from Ulvetanna


PS... Normal service will be resumed shortly.... and stop calling me shortly... ;-)

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Sunday, December 12, 2010

And the winner is....

This evening sees the end, at least for another 9 months, of the terror that is the X-Factor. And thank heaven for that. So it's not my honour, but perhaps my relief to announce the winner here and now, live on my blog so you can all get out and put a bet on to help top up your Christmas fund and not have to waste another two hours of your life sat in front of the telly. You won't get that time back you know. Having said that the odds will be awful, so save your cash. Without further ado...

IT'S TIME.....

TO FACE.....


Really? Must we?... It's like a sticking plaster on a hairy leg. Rip it off quick and the pain is harsh, but at least it's short. In first place.... Simon "flat top blockhead high trousered v-neck t-shirted" Cowell.
You've got to hand it to him. This bloke is supposed to find new musical talent and get them noticed. That's his job. What he's done is turn his job into a TV show that makes millions.

Instead of him shuffling around the pubs and clubs of britain listening to acts in the hope of finding the next 'big thing' he's convinced the acts to come to him. He's let ITV film the entire process and persuaded the public that it's not him deciding who is best, but them. Of course, if the public decide whose a good act, he has an instant popular artist before they've recorded a single track, or even signed a deal. The public are even paying to make the decision. Not only that but all the advertising for his new musical talent has been taken care of during the 3 month selection process. He's now getting paid twice (at least) for just doing his job. Why don't we all do this?

Well, the short answer is because it wouldn't make very good television. But the long answer is, most of it's already been done.

Take the two estate agents (Kirsty Conservative & Phil Tallchap) from 'Location, location, location' This is only 'good' (to use the term loosely) television because as a nation of nosey sods we get to look around other peoples houses, but again they are only doing their job of buying and selling houses.

There are countless (because I really can't be arsed to count them all) TV chefs who instead of cooking food in restaurants, cook food on TV because the cameras are in their restaurants who are also busy getting paid twice. And with every TV series a chef does, a cookbook is sure to follow.

The book of the film of the t-shirt of the ashtray, of idea someone scratched on the back of an envelope while doing their day job and not actually working. In fact daytime TV seems to exist for these people along with Quincy (M.E.) and yet more Midsummer Murders. I know this because I looked at the schedules earlier in the week when writing about the revolting students... Sorry, I mean that the students that were revolting... Erm... Oh you know what I mean.

David Orange Dickinson the antiques dealer, more estate agents in 'Homes under the hammer' and a professional bear baiter - oops, I mean social worker, known as Jeremy Kyle. Its never ending, but the evil that is Cowell is most certainly thier king.

How do we get rid of him? We can't vote him off. Or can we? There's an Internet campaign to get "The Bird" (Have you heard the word about the bird?) to number one in the charts for Christmas so that Simon's choice doesn't. Well that must say something to the TV companies about how we feel about him?

The other things you should do... Dont vote on the show, never buy any music by any artist appearing on the show, or better yet, just stop watching. I know it's difficult because we're all so damn nosey, but you won't die and you might actually learn something about real music. The next big problem is America. I'm sure I got this from wikileaks...

Just thank god we don't live in the USA where the poor population are going to have the same... (I wanted to say television, but that would be unfair to John Logi Baird) machine foisted upon them. I'm off for Christmas lunch with me gran and the rest of the Wiltshire clan.

Enjoy your foggy Sunday and don't watch the XFactor. Switch over and watch.... Oh god.... Really??? Strictly ???

Switch off the TV and go to the pub to drown your sorrows.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Merry Saturday

Once again the weekend is upon us and as per for this time of year it's stacked full of jobs to do in preparation for the 24 hours that are Christmas day. As I've said before, I don't really mind, it's still a lot of fun, but it is a lot of fuss just for one day.

Although, for the second time in as many years, it's two days for us this year. The first of which is taking place in the west country tomorrow at some point. Presents have been ordered, purchased, delivered, collected, wrapped and labelled and are shortly to be boxed up in preparation for dishing out at Nan's place.

Nan is 90 years old, and doesn't miss a trick but that's a whole other blog post on it's own. I will add that she does have particularly fine taste in slippers though, as you can see from this picture...
Either that or she's in desperate need of a chiropodist.

But what of the stack of jobs? As we've finally got some ice free roads, I'll be out on my bike for the first time since Mrs G and I returned from the Canaries. I'm looking forward to it for the fun, and dreading it for the fitness, but Que Sera Sera.

I have to take a box full of presents to the post office, along with a further bunch of Christmas cards that will magically work their way across the Post Office network. The box is destined for Scotland and Nephews & Niece, while the cards are destined to all sorts of places far and wide.

I've tried to persuade Mrs G to join me on her bike, but she's having none of it, claiming it's both too cold and that she has too much to do in the field of domesticity to be out excercising. Secretly, this is a result because it affords me the opportunity to have a sniff around the shops in search of her Christmas present without her breathing down my neck and spoiling the surprise. Don't tell her I said that though.

There's also a host of Christmas cards that will be delivered by hand, so there's every chance I might incorporate some of that into my journey. However, as I haven't been cycling for almost 3 weeks, I'll be playing it by ear. The old legs might still look good, but not sure if they're up to the job today.

Right then. Up and at 'em for it's Christmas Eve Mk I of 2010 and I need to get things done before the three ghosts show up to wake me in the middle of the night.

Merry Saturday, and a happy new week.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thursday afternoon for the top 80% and the coalition

OK, So politics have got my attention again. Here is how I see it and feel free to shoot me down in flames if you think I'm missing something key but as the dude says: "That's..just like...your opinion man."

During the run up to the General Election earlier this year, there is absolutely no denying that the Liberal Democrats, as led by Nick Clegg said that they would NOT make cuts in Education and would not put up tuition fees.  Party Policy was signed up to by members of the party and scrapping tuition fees would be a goal. 

The election happened and the result was a "Coalition" government. Now it seems that this is a fact that is conveniently forgotten by the media in an attempt to drum up some sort of drama. Vince Cable is the Secretary of State and as such, delivery of the policy is his responsibility. His words on newsnight last night as usual made very interesting hearing and an awful lot of common sense.

"We had a coalition agreement, we're implementing that coalition agreement. We knew that it wasn't going to be possible to deliver the pre-election commitment on tuition fees. We had a challenge that we responded to, which was to enact policies which contribute to reducing this massive government deficit while finding other ways of providing funding for universities to keep up world class standards and to change the system we inherited from Labour of graduate contributions to make it more progressive and more related to peoples ability to pay. We've done those things and in very difficult circumstances I think I've delivered a better policy"

"In an ideal world we'd be spending lots of money and I'd be father Christmas and everything would be free. We're not in an ideal world, we're in a very very tough financial environment in which in universities as in other bits of the economy, very difficult painful cuts are having to be made."

"I supported my parties policies, but when we entered the coalition we had to make compromises and we did make compromises. The Tories had to drop some of their favourite policies, we had to compromise on others. We knew that the tuition fee issue was going to be a very difficult one but we agreed that we would try to make the system better and fairer, which is what we've done."

"We're in government. We're having to make tough choices."

"We didn't carry all of the party with us, we did have a substantial number of my colleagues voted against it. We knew when we went into government that this was probably going to be one of the most difficult challenges we'd have to face. My job, as the Secretary odd State, I inherited a system based on tuition fees that were almost certainly going to rise substantially....The last labour government was fully committed to making very deep cuts in my department concerned with universities. Tuition fees were going to rise under the Brown report. My job was to try to make the system fairer, better and that's what I've been working on with my colleagues for the last six months."

"We haven't failed at all. The first test we had was joining the coalition and it was a difficult test because we entered into government, if you may remember the context. The country needed stable government, there was a financial emergency, the country wanted parties to work together in the national interest and the first big test we made was entering into that coalition, accepting compromises on things that we believed in and were very committed to, and the tuition fee policy is one of those."

"I think actually well be significantly stronger having been through this very difficult process. We've met together several times in the last few days to debate with eachother how we should deal with this. People have strong views but we are still colleagues, we're going to work together sa a team. There is no permanent division. We're going to put this behind us. All of my colleagues are now fully committed to the coalition government including those who voted against it."

Kirsty Young interjected with this: "What about the assertion that this will actually be good for poor students because poor students in poor families are debt averse and what you are essentially doing is condemning them to decades of debt and that will put a lot of them off going to university"

And Vince continued....

"I think that is absolutely wrong and i think it will be proved to be wrong. We built into this policy a whole series of commitments which mean that that will not happen. First of all, Low income graduates will not pay any contributions. We've lifted the threshold to 21,000. If people graduate, they're in a low income, they take time off to have a family, they're unemployed, they don't pay. it is a more progressive system. large numbers of people will not have to pay the full contribution. Roughly half will not have to pay because it's linked to peoples ability to pay. This is not debt in a commercial sense. The student loan scheme is not a commercial scheme. People who want to borrow mortgages for example are not effected by it in anyway. And we're also helping people from Low income families in other ways. The scholarship scheme will help with that. We've increased the availability of grants for people when they study at university. The system is made considerably more progressive than it was and that was acknowledged by the institute of fiscal studies this morning."

Just out of interest, how many countries in the world provide higher education for free?? If we had a single party government, say a lib dem government that had promised not to alter education fees, then I'd be rioting to, but the power is not sat with those who made the promises. It is instead shared across an unholy alliance.....

co·a·li·tion  [koh-uh-lish-uh n]
1. a combination or alliance, especially a temporary one between persons, factions, states, etc.
2. a union into one body or mass; fusion.

When I see kids saying they are from the 'Slums of London' and suggesting if they don't get EMA they'll have to do drugs deals, my heart sinks.

Have you ever tried shouting at a horse? I have. It's a pointless exercise, they don't listen.

Other fun and games that the students thought would help their cause included:

  • Setting fire to the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square
  • Smashing shop windows on Oxford Street
  • Vandalising statues, include Winston Churchill's in Parliament Square
  • A sit-in at the National Gallery (I've sat in the National Gallery. It's very nice)

What a bunch of idiots.  In the LSE the students are sitting in, and are going nowhere.  Sorry????  Have these kids not been paying attention?.

Students believe seminars are overcrowded and they're not getting the quality of education that they're expecting. Could that be because the universities themselves are overcrowded? Is a university education now considered to be a right? Surely it's something that should be earned.

There's been much noise over the last ten or fifteen years that GCSE's are easier than O-Levels. So kids are no coming out of school with straight A's and expecting to go to higher education. Kids aren't allowed to fail anymore. They just move the goalposts, not least because the schools get better government funding based on their high levels of good quality results.  Somethings not right here.

20 years ago, I would guesstimate that only the top 10% went on to higher education. Now it seems it's only the bottom 20% that don't. Please note, these aren't actual figures, they're just how it feels from my point of view.

As for rioting students attacking the heir to the throne and complaining that the police have horses!? Well that just beggars belief. What are they complaining about? They have daytime television... Dickinson's Real Deal, Jeremy Kyle, Midsummer Murders, Quincy & Countdown to name but five.  Yes, I had to look them up, because I, like the rest of us, live in the real world and have to work for a living instead of drinking my student loan and laying in bed. Any sense of sympathy with individuals being violent towards the police force, is instantly defenistrated. Totally unacceptable and looses what little support I have for them.

OK, OK, I know I'm generalising, and that some students actually are trying to learn something and to better themselves and the country as a whole. It is very unfair to lump them all together, and that is not my intention and in fact I apologise unreservedly to those students that are taking their education seriously. But just how many really are serious about it?

The top 10% maybe?  Sounds about right doesn't it?....


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Historic Pubs

108 years ago on the 16th of August 1902, a brand new pub opened up in Manchester. It was situated opposite Hardcastle's Mill and named in honour of a well know local Lieutenant (Philip Ridley) after he came home safely from the second Boer War in South Africa. The Second Boer War erupted when diamonds and gold were discovered in Boer-controlled regions of the Transvaal.

Two of the more well known aspects of this war, were Robert Baden-Powell, (famous for starting up the scout movement - "Rover Scouting is a preparation for life, and also a pursuit for life." - Baden-Powell, 1928.) who spent 217 days commanding the defence of the town of Mafeking.

Then there is The battle of Spion Kop in 1900. A Kop is the Dutch word for Hill, and most memorably used at "The Kop" at Liverpool Football Club's Anfield ground, but it's also been used at Blackpool's Bloomfield Road, Sheffield United's Bramall Lane, Northampton Town's County Ground Preston North End's Deepdale, Leicester City's Filbert St and later Walker's Stadium, Coventry City's Highfield Road, Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough Stadium, Woolwich Arsenal's Manor Ground, Notts County's Meadow Lane and Tranmere Rovers' Prenton Park. After All, football is a kind of battle isn't it.

Yet more connections to this area of Manchester exist. There's another pub, "The Laughing Donkey" which can be found just around the corner from this one on "Omdurman Street" and Omdurman is a city in the east of Africa. In the "Battle of Omdurman" in 1898 (which actually took place in the nearby village of Kerreri), Lord Kitchener decisively defeated the Mahdist forces.  And there's Inkerman Street named after the Battle of Inkerman in the Crimean war on the 5th of November 1854.

But back to the pub...   When it opened, the inaugural pints were pulled by the owner of the mill, Mr Charles Hardcastle ably assisted by Mabel Grimshaw. Mabel had inherited the entire street after Sir Humphrey Swinton passed away. Rumor has it that she was his mistress, hence her surprise acquisition upon the death of the local landowner. The Licensee was Jim Corbishley who previously ran a grocery shop. Jim and his wife Nellie ran the pub for 16 years until 1918 when it was taken on by George and Mary Diggins.

"Where is this going??" I hear you ask. "It's not like Golfy to witter on aimlessly about such twaddle.  Oh, well, actually it, is... but that's not the point"....  All I can say is "Bear with..."


George Diggins was a retired police sergeant and he and Mary ran the pub through the depression and right up until 1937 when they finally retired and moved off to Southport. It was at this point, that the most well known Landlady of all (at least in this establishment) moved in.

In 1937, the recently married Jack and Annie Walker took over. They were very happy here (for the most part) and when Jack sadly passed away in 1970, Annie was still to be found running the old place right up until 1983. Since then there's been a whole host of Landlords and Land ladies... in the following order...

1983 - Fred Gee (Temporary Manager)
1984 - Billy Walker
1985 - Bet & Alec Gilroy
1995 - Jack and Vera Duckworth (with Alec Gilroy)
1998 - Natalie Barnes
2000 - Fred Elliott, Duggie Ferguson and Mike Baldwin

In 2006 the then Barmaid, Liz MacDonald took over with her son, Steve who ran the local Taxi firm and that is how things sit today.

So I'm sure by now, you know I'm blathering on about a fictional pub, The Rovers Return. It features in the long running british soap opera "Coronation Street" so named because the street was built in the year of the coronation of King Edward the VII (1902).  The pub was named after a real pub that existed in Shudehill, Withy Grove, Manchester and was named for the soldiers returning from the Boer War. It was knocked down in 1958.

This week, it's on our TV screens every night in the form of the 50th Birthday celebrations for Coronation Street and what a storyline they've got!

I'm not one for soap operas in general, in fact I'd say they are an interesting form of escapism at best, and a total waste of time at worst. However, "Corrie" is the exception that proves the rule.

Eastenders is just arguing and misery, Brookside is who's in bed with who and the odd murder, Emmerdale is...  well actually I have no idea, but it's a poor cousin...  Corrie, is consistently funny, and that's what keeps me coming back for a bit of a cheer up on a Monday, Wednesday & Friday unless there's football on... or something else... It's worked well for 50 years, so raise a glass of Newton and Ridley's (long gone now that the pub is a Free House) and wish them all the best for another 50 years.

If you missed Monday's all action drama (hardly any comedy for a change), I'd recommend a catch up here:


Finally for those of you looking for Corrie resources online:

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Save Undershaw

Undershaw in Hindhead, Surrey, United Kingdom, is the former residence of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his family. A fine example of Edwardian architecture, it was built in 1897 in an era when few houses were actually designed by the occupier.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Ho Ho Ho

Snow!!!  Finally we have some snow.  It may not be as deep as some of the rest of the country have been experiencing, but I have no doubt that it is as beautiful.

Christmas preparations are in full swing in the ball residence. Last night saw the monumental 'sticking up the tree' task completed. It's a task of six parts that work like this...
  1. Extract the ladder from storage and hoist it to the top of the house to enable access into the loft space.
  2. Find all the boxes marked Xmas ( if your lucky) and struggle to extract them from said loft.
  3. Find tree and extract from loft. Return ladder to storage.
  4. Unbox decorations to see what's available that fits with the colour scheme as designated by Daughter/Mrs G this year.
  5. On discovering nothing suits - go shopping for more bleeding decorations.
  6. Erect Tree and decorate.

Still. "Tiz the season to be jolly" as the song goes, so now I'm required to add a couple of extra tasks...
  1. Contact local builder to arrange survey and quotation.
  2. Outline weight requirements for loft strengthening to enable storage of a load of tinsely shiny tat that we move about for 12 days out of every 365 (3% of the time)
  3. Pay builder extortionate sum of money to sit around drinking my tea and coffee and read the Sun for 2 weeks while his mate bangs a hammer on a piece of wood in the loft.
  4. Explain to bank manager reason for using significant amount of overdraft is to complete residential expansion and strengthening needed to accommodate increased seasonal decorative capabilities which are mandatory as part of historical tradition brought about by the alleged birth of a carpenter in a barn some 2000 years previously.
  5. Realise that ALL Bank managers are atheists and so use further amounts of overdraft to aquire hard liquor to assist in drowning sorrows.
  6. Wake up with very bad headache just in time for December 31st.
  7. Make new years resolution not to get involved with Christmas next year.
In the mean time - I'm STILL trying to get rid of these rubbishy jobs so that I can start focusing on the new stuff post Christmas.  that's proving to be harder than expected.  Fun Times...

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Writing and wrapping

One thing that's really done my nut in today is Christmas Card envelope labels. Seriously baked my noodle.

Two years ago I built a nice little word document with all the appropriate addresses in it, and all properly spaced for the avery labels that we had for the printer. All was well. It took a bit of setting up, but I wouldn't have to do anything clever next year, (other than e odd update for movers or additions) just reprint the list.

However, some bright spark had used up the labels and not bought the same ones, so I had to reformat the whole list which I recall took bleeding ages. Still, I wasn't likely to have the same problem this year... Was I?

Well apparently I was. Marvellous. Not happy. Spent another two hours fixing it, and now I need a way to ensure that the same thing doesn't happen next year. Having said that, I've now got the list in three different formats and I'm keeping a tight reign on anyone buying address labels. Fingers crossed that'll do it. At least the Christmas Card writing is now done and all that remains is to buy a stack of stamps and get them posted.

The other big job today is wrapping. As I've said elsewhere we're having Christmas for the Wiltshire half of the family next weekend, so all those presents need to be in place and wrapped and labelled and ready to go. Yesterdays shopping was actually very successful, so much so that we're very nearly finished and as long as the items that are stuck in the post somewhere, arrive on time, we're pretty much good to go. Always a relief to have that job sorted. It means you can sit back and enjoy Christmas. So after sitting cross legged on the lounge floor all afternoon with scissors, sticky tape, ribbons, paper and tags, I'm suitably pleased with the short term results, but there's still more to do yet.

I still haven't got anything for Mrs G, and that will be a constant source of concern until I find the perfect ... Thingamebob ... I have a couple of ideas, but I'm not 100% happy with them just yet. There's also the need for a couple more little bits and pieces for the kids.. Nothing too major, just a couple of good comedy presents.

I'm pretty sure no one knows what I want for Christmas, but then it's about the giving not the receiving. Anyone who might want some ideas could do a lot worse than looking at my amazon wish list because there's always something interesting on there: In fact, I've just refreshed it so I know it's good for this year.

The next thing I'll be yacking on about next week is Coronation Street. 50 years is a good innings and they're pulling out all the stops. But enough for now. I'm off to fit a lock on the cupboard I keep the label paper in. It's the only way to be certain.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Saturday, December 04, 2010

To Humbug or not to Humbug.

Once more into the breach dear friends, once more. Thankyou Mr Shakespeare for coming up with the perfect phrase to describe how I feel about my imminent bout of Christmas shopping.

It's that time of year and I suppose this weekend more than most is likely to be THE weekend of madness in shopping centres up and down the land. We've selected Cabot Circus in Bristol, as our retail outlet of choice this year, generally because it provides such an enjoyable experience. It's easy to get to, usually with plentiful parking and is mostly undercover from the elements while leaving you with the feeling of being outside thanks to hit huge open spaces and interesting glass roof structures. There's also two stores in particular that make it a worthwhile trip.

The downside however, will no doubt be the fact that the world and his wife will be out doing the same thing. Not only that, but they'll have brought the kids, grandparents and family pets along with them too. I can't wait... to get back home, and we haven't even left yet.

Last night was a far more enjoyable experience. Mrs G had her Christmas dinner with work to attend. It was held in a quite posh hotel 'up the hill' in one of the villages. A pleasant spot. Son has his 'Xmas Works Outing' coming soon and of course Daughter hosts hundreds of them at the pub she works in when she's not specialing.

My Xmas Works Outing is a much wilder affair. I work from home and while to many this may seem a sad and lonely existence, I've enjoyed it very much for the past 15 years or so (on and off). I had a bout of living in London and the US for a few years, but I recovered eventually. What this all means though, is that I don't really get a 'Christmas do'. It would be nice to catch up with colleagues both old and new and quaff a few pints to wash down a turkey dinner with all the trimmings and in days gone by that would most definitely have been the case, but the past 5 years have seen a change in attitudes towards such goings on.

In fact all forms of frivolity in the work place seem to be frowned upon. You can't enjoy work anymore. The Health & Safety brigade along with the Political Correctors seem to have sucked all the fun out of working life and the bean counters have topped it off by going all 'Scrooge' on the employee entertainment and morale front. If your lucky, you might get a cold turkey sandwich in the canteen during December and they'll probably still be hanging around in January too.

I'm not suggesting we should go back to the 70's, 80s & 90s when it was quite normal for colleagues to be sleeping the effects of the office party off, at the office or to caught up to no good in the stationary cupboard. But at least people had fun. Now everyones too scared to appear to let their guard down in front of their boss for fear of future repercussions. It's very very sad.

Being on my own in the office means I don't have any of those trappings to hinder me. I also can't get caught up to no good in the stationary cupboard, which I suppose is just as well. I can get completely slozzled without fear of looking stupid in front of the boss and I can sleep it off at my desk should I so choose (it's in what would have been bedroom number 4 if I hadn't used it as an office anyway). To this end, last night was my Christmas do although the company neglected to pay for it which is a great shame.

The only other human that's around when I'm in the office is daughter so she and I went to a pleasant little pub up the road for a slap up nosh fest. The place was packed with people having their Christmas do's all doing their best not to look like idiots in front of their bosses and all eating the same unappetising Christmas dinner. Each had a paper hat and bad cracker jokes.

I on the other hand, had a reasonable steak and ale pie (daughter had a reasonable steak) and the pleasure of her company. Far more enjoyable than any of the uncomfortable looking herberts pretending to be having fun. If only Starfleet had been footing the bill, it would have been a Christmas do to remember. Instead it was an enjoyable evening with Daughter.

I haven't lost all hope. I actually love Christmas. Not so much the shopping and presents for presents sake side of it. Not the over commercialisation of it. But next year with a new role it's entirely possible there could be a sociable set of people who aren't over the top with the PC crowd, but I wont count my chickens just yet....

And now I must imitate the action of the Tiger, stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide, Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit to his full height. On, on, you noblest English.

Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint Nicholas' - Merry bleeding Christmas.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Friday, December 03, 2010

To Russia with Love

We didn't win the World Cup..  again...  but then we never win the World Cup so you shouldn't be too surprised.  On the plus side it will save us a small fortune given the amount of money we already have to spend on the Olympics.  I know we'd make a load of money and lift our profile and blah blah blah blah....   It's a game of two halves and we're very good at loosing in the second half.

At the end of the day, it's obvious to anyone who ever pays a modicum of attention to the situation. FIFA is corrupt. Now I know it would be easy for you to say that I'm thinking that way purely because England didn't get awarded the honours, but that's honestly not the case. You only have to think about it for a minute or two and it becomes very obvious

Let's just compare Russia vs England as an example. Russia doesn't have the facilities in place, at least that's the case today. They plan to build a whole host of stadiums between now an 2018. Personally, I'm not convinced, but time will tell the true story. In England there are more stadiums than you can shake a stick at. This has something to do with football being the national game. If anyone knows how to play football, the English do.

I think what irks most of all is the fact that logically our bid was unbeatable, so why would Russia win it? Well, it doesn't take a genius to realise the most corrupt organisation in sport, is happy to get into bed with the most corrupt country in the world. Sadly, FIFA run their own game and answer to no-one. The system is a joke.

At least we can match them with the weather, with today being widely reported as the coldest day in the UK of all time.  Note to self: Must put my thermals on.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Thursday, December 02, 2010

There's something in the Air...

It's trying to snow...  I do find it quite amazing that the entire country seems to be grinding to halt and yet I look out the window at a grey and green back garden with only the remnants of snow from the weekend. And that's only there because it's been so darn cold. Starting to feel a little left out.

That said, it really is trying to snow now.  There are a few "flakes", whisps, fluff, feathers... of snow whatever you wish to call them, but they're barely enough to mention. I imagine we're being lulled into a false sense of security and any minute now the snow gods will unceremoniously dump a blanket of the stuff upon us like a duvet on a sofa - briefly welcome but ultimately out of place.

More of a concern is the impact it's having on our Christmas shopping.  I've got a couple of items "in the post" but who knows when they might arrive? Not the post office that's for sure. Ho Hum. For those of us from the 80's it's great to see some of the more rediculaous 80's toys back again.  I never had one of these the first time round, but I'm quite tempted to put it on my list for Santa now that's it's back.

You can get the re-released version at and there's even a smaller version which you can send to the moon.. or at least simulate it:

What the snow won't stop, is any chance of a bit of socialising. Today being Thursday, means I'm due a trip to the WTC and a long overdue catchup with some of the lads. I'm quite sure that even if their houses were literally buried in the white stuff, they'd still find a route to the pub - which is after all is said and done - the correct place to put the world to rights.

Talking of righting things... (and writing things) a bit of an update on the AirPrint situation.  I mentioned yesterday how it was great to see the iOS 4.2 update, but only AirPrint support for a handful of HP printers was disappointing to say the least. I also mentioned that there are some rumoured workarounds.  

This is the 21st century and there are people out there that want us to have all the toys we're promised (even jetpacks I bet) and so it's great to find these minor hacks, get all printers up and running for your iPhone, iPod or iPad.

They are as follows:

Mac OSX 10.6.5: AirPrint Hactivator can be found here:

Windows 32 & 64bit: AirPrint Activator for Windows can be found here (english half way down the page):

I can confirm that the OSX version seems to run just fine and will suit me until Apple releases the additional functionality officialy. Until then, if you don't want to go the hacking route I have it on good authority that these are the only truly supported printers for the time being:

Envy e-All-in-One series (D410a)
LaserJet Pro CM1415fn Color Multifunction Printer
LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw Color Multifunction Printer
LaserJet Pro CP1525n Color Printer
LaserJet Pro CP1525nw Color Printer
LaserJet Pro M1536dnf Multifunction Printer
Photosmart e-AiO (D110)
Photosmart eStation (C510)
Photosmart Plus e-AiO (B210a)
Photosmart Premium e-AiO (C310a)
Photosmart Premium Fax e-AiO (C410a)

Sad but true....

Today i have much reading to do and as hard as I've tried to avoid picking up new stuff, because I mentioned it, I seem to have two new "5-minute little" jobs. No doubt they're more likely to be "3-week monsters" and I've been blagged yet again.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Where is Golfyball?


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