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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Adventure is Out There!!!!!

Thursday morning, 5.30 a.m. and on the road to Scotland. Ahhh!!! Made you look! Of course, Mrs G and I are not on the road to Scotland yet and it's not 5.30 on Thursday yet either. But it will be and that will mean that I won't be writing my usual 750 words at an ungodly hour of the morning. This isn't good for my writing muscle, so instead, here's one to fill the gap. Not gonna make the 750 mark though. Too much to do. Enjoy:

Adventure is out there, but I do have two niggling concerns. 1) This weather forecast up in Scotland is a bit disturbing, especially as Mrs G and I are about to set off into it. The police have described the conditions as "Horrendous", so perhaps we'll have a change of plan yet.

The spot we're heading to is about 30 miles west of Aberdeen and the home of Mrs G's Sister and Brother-in-law (L&D) and their wonderful little cherubs (A,W & F) and sits snuggly near Bennachie which is a beautiful part of the Cairngorms. I love a bit of an adventure like this. Mrs G is always a little more reserved about such shenanigans, but I'm sure she'll be fine once we get there. TomTom on the iPhone will be guiding us and we'll have the traffic updates in there too (first time I've tried that, so I'll let you know if it's worth shelling out for)

Then there's the packing. Now this really will be a challenge (although not concern number 2). Our vehicle (for the time being) is a MK 3 Toyota MR2. Yes, that's the really tiny car with no luggage space in it. Clearly Mrs G his having palpitations at the thought of not being able to fit several dozen pairs of shoes in it, and to be honest, it isn't a practical vehicle for this type of trip - but, it's what we have. My packing skills are world renowned though, and I have no doubt that I'll be able to get the best part of 6 days worth of gear into the space of carry-on luggage without too much of a problem (but there does have to be a limit on the shoes) ;-)

Concern number 2 is Daughter. I always worry about leaving her on her own, not because she can't be trusted (she's proven many times that she can) but of course I worry about the ifs and buts and maybes. However, as my Nan would say "If ifs and buts were pots and pans, there'd be no need for tinkers" - which is her way of saying don't worry - so I'll do my best not to. She (daughter, not my Nan) is planning a party though - eek!!! - and today she was texting me asking if we can have another cat!! I think not!! The two we've got are barking mad and another one would just be the death of us all. And besides, she'll get a reputation as one of those cat-lady's (which as we know is one step to the left of being a bag-lady) and no-one in their right mind wants that now, do they ?

Got my last bits and pieces of work done for Starfleet, although they do seem to have made a bit of a clerical error with time booking - but what I can do about that ? and I'm going to cook that groovy little peas & pasta dish for dinner this evening.

I will try and blog while Adventuring, but it's going to depend upon connectivity, electricity and actually being arsed to write when I'm on holiday and not venting for the sake of my Brain and those pesky 750 Words. TTFN

PS: Me again. Just two final notes, which incendently might mean I actually do make my 750 words after all. Firstly, what an excellent series "Married, Single, Other" was. (we just caught up with the last episode thanks to sky plus). The story revolves around three couples (Eddie, Lillie, Babs, Dickie, Clint and Abbey) and is one of the more beautifully written pieces of comedy drama that ITV have ever put out. In particular the roles of Eddie and Lillie are stand-out performances and if you missed it, well shame on you. You missed a cracker.

Secondly, we are most definetly, positivly, absolutely and without a shadow of a doubt, not, I repeat, not having another cat. Daughter will beg, nag and plead (and I know what I said about fathers not saying no to daughters) but on this occasion, I have to make the exception that proves the rule. Just to be clear. NO MORE CATS! OK? Glad we got that sorted.

And with that, I'm of adventuring with Mrs G. Night All.

i 3.0... Do you?

Next steps in the technological evolution of the Interweb are going to be interesting one's I believe. You hear a lot of talk about Web 2.0, this 2.0 and that 2.0, but we're actually coming up to i3.0 in my opinion. To explain, a little history:

i 0.5
Back in the late 50's and early 60's the US government had some serious concerns that should "the Bomb" get dropped, all of their computer systems would fail - mostly due to connectivity between locations being disrupted. So the clever chaps at the Advanced Research Projects Agency, got together with the Department of Defence and came up with Packet switching networks. Packet switching is a way of breaking data into chunks and adding source and destination address details to each of these chunks before sending them off to their destination across what ever network is available. The genius being that if part of the network doesn't exist, the address information allows the data to be routed around a different part of the network until it reaches it's destination. Once it get's there it can reliably inform the source location that it arrived - again because it has those details with it. That's a pretty simple, low tech description of how the data on the Internet works today. And Remember - this was invented in the late 50's.

By the end of the 60's start of the 70's ARPA became DARPA (the D is for Defence) and the DARPANET was born. Then throughout the 70's, Vinton Cerf of Standford University and Bob Kahn from DARPA worked on the network method described earlier - better described as a Protocol - and came up with what we now understand to be TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) and by the end of the 70's there were about 100 machines connected to the ARPANET but now things started to move quickly. And right there is the first use of the word Internet, but it's still in the lab, hence i0.5.

i 1.0
Between '81 and '83 the National Science foundation developed a network called CSNET and the DARPANET people wanted to share info with them. The two were connected. TCP/IP became the protocol to run these two networks and the University of Wisconsin developed DNS (Domain Name Service) to help users find servers without having to know the IP Address. Suddenly the Network had about 500 machines on it. And it's at this point that I believe we had Internet v1.0, later to be renamed Web.

Of course it still wasn't available to the general public (the Department of Defence still ran most of it), web pages hadn't even been dreamed of and whole thing zipped along at a meagre 56kilobytes per second. IBM got on board with BITNET (Because It's Time) who eventually merged with CSNET to become part of the National Science Foundation and by 1987 there were 28,000 machines (or hosts). The network was straining under the load.

During 1988 more bandwidth was added (up to T1 speeds and in some places T3) and the number hosts doubled with it. Then, at last in 1990, the Web was born. Tim Berners-Lee was working at CERN and he had the bright idea of "hyperlinking" documents together which gave birth to HTML (HyperText Markup Language) and the now globally recognised "http://" or HyperText Transport Protocol as used in URL's (Universal Resource Locators) and instantly - Whallop!!! 313,000 hosts!!! Everyone wanted to be on that bandwagon.

At that very moment I was just getting started on my IT career. The company I worked for had an Amstrad 1512 (oh the power!!) and a Triumph Adler. Windows just about existed, though not in any form that most people would recognised today, and a new version was on it's way called "Windows for Workgroups". This was Microsoft's first foray into the networking world.

i 2.0
CERN released the WWW into the wild in 92 and in 93 the world's first web browser appeared. Mosaic. I can still remember uucp'ing it (because you didn't download back then) onto a SCO Unix machine and firing it up and seeing at least three links to places I didn't really want to go to. But there was Gopher and Usenet, of which the kids of today have long forgotten or didn't know existed in the first place. Such was the promise of the World Wide Web in those heady days. But the hosts didn't stop joining and in no time the first million were connected.

This is the point that I believe we had Internet 2.0, I guess renamed Web 1.0 and we lost a version number in the process. Which is why to my mind it's Internet 2.0

This was the same time that I got my first email address - not that anyone I know had one, so email was one or two a week - what bliss. I still have it today, and still use it - long before this little upstart, Google came along. Cliff Stanford of Demon used to send emails to customers personally back then - can't imagine Sir Richard Branson doing the same for Virgin Media subscribers today.

12 Months later and there were 2 million hosts and the end of 94, 4 million. 1995, saw 6.6million. and then in '96 - Supernova!!! 16million hosts!! One of which was mine. Well I say mine - As IT Manager, I'd developed a site for the company I worked for and in 1996 it went live online with the other 16Million. It might still be around - along with the rest of the Internet in the WayBack Machine. Take a look for, and then later for Of course in the UK at that time there were very very few, so I really was, just for a short time, being smart and prospecting the Internet goldrush that defined the decade. And they just kept on coming and it kept on groaning and thus growing.

How many are there today ?? Well, that's a very good question and I'm pretty sure it isn't one that many people can answer. There are about 1.8bn users worldwide, The CIA factbook has it at 676,315,916 hosts or roughly 0.6bn

i 3.0 / Web 2.0
Mobile Internet usage is highly pervasive now - thanks to a plethora of devices and many of these devices have GPS receivers in them. This is the space that Internet 3.0 (or Web 2.0) will exist in. Geo-located internet services are few today, but likely to become many. Most things you want to know or deal with have a geographic context, so it seems like a very obvious extension. Exactly what these services will be no-one can say for certain. The more obvious one's already exist, but as developers and users work out what they need to get things done, then more will come along. Couple this with faster connectivity globally available and before you know it you'll be stood under the eiffel tower watching a 3D documentary on how it was built, with the builders stood in front of you showing you round and talking in whichever language you happen to speak as if you were right there with them. And all of this from you geo-locating jacket which has the hardware built into the collar and has been going through the washing machine since 2012..... probably. Sit back and enjoy the ride. I think it will be quite pleasant. Good luck and Good day to you kind people of the Interweb (whatever version you may be).

Years ago, my Mother used to say to me, she'd say "In this world Elwood, you must be..", she always called me Elwood. "In this world Elwood you must be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant." Well for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.
-- Elwood P. Dowd (1950)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Digital Economy Bill

I just got this in my inbox and I want to share it with you.  I'm not suggesting you should or shouldn't act upon it, that is entirely up to you, but I do think that it's right to be aware of it....  It reads:

Next Tuesday the Digital Economy Bill could be rushed through Parliament unless we take action now. Party leaders are planning to give in to the music industry and force the bill into law without allowing a proper debate, without allowing opposition to be heard.

We need to turn the pressure up on MPs to rebel by placing adverts in key newspapers and on key websites so everywhere MPs go they'll see how many people oppose the bill. On the day of the vote they'll see our opposition over their cornflakes, on their way in to work and over tea in Parliament.

Because of printing deadlines we've only got 4 days to raise the £10,000 we need to pay for these adverts. Will you chip in now?

Click here to donate now:

We have one last chance to stop the bill. Party leaders can't rubber stamp it into law without the support of their MPs. Thanks to over 18,000 emails we've sent over the last week MPs support for the bill is starting to crumble as they realise how many people oppose fast-tracking the bill through parliament

With the election just weeks away, politicians want our votes and may think twice about ignoring us. There's still time to stop this bill being forced through - but we have to act quickly. Let's show Parliament how many people are against the bill.

There's plenty to oppose in the Digital Economy Bill. It gives the government the ability to disconnect millions. Schools, libraries and businesses could see their connection cut if their pupils, readers or customers infringe any copyright. But the biggest problem is that party leaders plan to rush it into law without allowing a proper democratic debate.

Please donate now to show Parliament how many of us oppose the bill. Just click here to get started:

Thanks for getting involved,

Johnny, David, Hannah, Nina and the 38 Degrees team

PS: Here's what one MP said in response to the campaign so far:

The subject is complex and the bill is proving to be hugely contentious; because of this it is crucial, more than ever, that Parliament fulfils its democratic duty and gives the bill proper debate and scrutiny. Although it is imperative that jobs in the creative industries are protected, and it is right that artists be paid fairly for work they produce, the bill, as it stands, seems to be heavily weighted in favour of rich and powerful copyright holding companies. Despite the front bench consensus there is significant back bench concern on all sides, and I and my colleagues will do all we can to ensure the bill is not rushed through the House without proper debate and scrutiny.

iPad, You Pad, We all Pad together...

Right then – let's try and get this subject out of the way now before we all get bored of it. Honestly, in the tech world, you're probably not going to here about anything else besides this for a week. Once they get that big ball rolling, there is simply no stopping the world and his wife commenting on a new piece of hardware that they have in their grubby little mitts. You guessed it, I'm talking about the iPad. I've hinted at it a few times, and pondered it a while, and have come to the conclusion that the only way I'm going to deal with it is by spewing forth a blog entry based on a stream of consciousness on the subject – so forgive me if we end up talking about something completely different, but I will try and stay on topic as best I can.

Those of you that know me, will know that in recent years I have joined the cult of the Malus Domestica (or tree potato as I like to call it) and for my 40th self-birthday present (what an utterly brilliant idea self-birthday presents are by the way) I took the leap into the virtual unknown (for me) and went out an bought an iMac thus turning my back on Bill's bloatware money machine for ever. I removed the windows and started eating fresh apples as it were. Well, perhaps not forever, Starfleet will insist. They have so much to learn still, but you really should get your fiva-a-day. My reason for pointing this out, is that in theory I am not totally unbiased, but you should be aware that I'm not looking to buy one and I'm not trying to sell you one either, I'm just trying to follow the facts without falling off the precariously balanced log.  OK – Enough of the similes, lets get to the facts.

As you're probably aware the iPad has been available for pre-order on the US Apple store for some time. They range in price from $499 (£333) up to $829 (£553), so slightly above the price of the bottom end of the laptop market.

The image on the right shows the full breakdown of memory vs price, with $629 being the starting price for those that want to make use of 3G connectivity as well as WiFi.  Personally I have no need for a 3G version that I'm aware of, as I already have my iPhone, so what would I need it for ??  I'm sure there is an app somewhere out there that's waiting to tell me the answer to that, but I'm not feeling it so far.

Official release date is April the 3rd, so between now and then we can expect to hear an awful lot about the impact this machine is going to have, the number of units they've sold in the first nano-second, what's awesome about it and what sucks about it and anything else the tech-heads can think up to keep you interested.  You've got to remember that even now, it's only a very few critics/writers that have actually got their hands on one and most of what you read is based on speculation and press releases.  The developer community are not allowed to even hint that they may (or may not) have been in the vicinity of one during the development of any of the products for it.  Apple have been uber-paranoid about the entire thing, and that has just helped build it's reputation in the minds of those that are half interested.  It's a very clever marketing trick, which of course they've played before - iPhone, iPod etc etc.  In fact this fluffy-wordy-maybe-stuff has already started appearing, and here's a few of the more salacious snippets I've heard.

"The iPad is reshaping the Internet iPad doesn't run Flash. If your website uses Flash, it won't play well on the iPad. Turns out, a lot of people want their sites to look pretty on the iPad. So the internet's already starting to look different."

"The mystical, magical iPad experience starts this Saturday, April 3, and if you haven't already pre-ordered your only way to get one for the weekend is going to be to fight the rush at retail. Apple has confirmed that all 221 of its Apple Stores will have the wunder-tablets on sale, and has also confirmed the Best Buy rumors, indicating that "most" of the big-box retailer's locations will have them. Stores are set to open at 9:00am, so we figure you can probably roll on over there at 8:45 or so and get a good spot in line."

"We're getting a huge influx of reader emails reporting Apple's emailed that their pre-ordered iPads are being shipped. They won't receive 'em until Saturday, but if anyone does get one early they know how to get in touch"

"We already knew that the iPad would be getting a few pieces of software that haven't shown up on its tinier, phone counterpart -- but now that a few screenshots of forthcoming apps for the device have reared their head, we're getting a clearer picture of just what this thing will feel like. If these shots of the new Yahoo! Entertainment, Bento, OmniGraffle, and Brushes are any indication, the iPad will be doing a lot more than just zooming up your Facebook profile. There's definitely an emphasis on content creation, file exporting (if not saving), and syncing with desktop versions of some of these apps, and Yahoo!'s work (alongside Brushes') shows that we've only begun to scratch the surface of what interfaces will be like on this device. We're sure the next week will be filled with all sorts of these kinds of leaks, but for now you can cherish the moment when you first laid eyes on your new way to check a TV schedule."

Are iBooks already getting pricier? So this is curious: Just a few days after screens showing iBooks Store ebook prices leaked, revealing a ton of $9.99 bestsellers, a fresh leak shows a bunch are back up to $12.99. Say what?"

"Random House (world's largest book publisher) will not be publishing books on the iPad"

My favourite has to be this one though:

"The iPad and Airport security Questions. The iPad raises a lot of them. Like, "What's gonna happen when I carry it through airport security? Will I get fingerbanged by the TSA?" So, we asked the TSA: What's the official "iPad airport security policy?"

Really?? Oh for the love of... My conclusion therefore is thus:  It is impossible (and would be stupid) to try and decide on an opinion of the iPad until it's available in the wild so to speak.  It's a bit like going to the Zoo and seeing a caged Lion.  To the untrained eye, this would be conclusive proof that lions are lovely big fluffy cats that roll around and layze in the Sun all day. Awww bless. Wouldn't hurt a fly.

I'm still not buying one until I know whether it's likely to rip the heads of my next door neighbours or not, and the same goes for the iPad.  Clearly I've failed to put the subject to bed, but at least I've put it off for a while....

In other news.... Daughter's Birthday Bash went very well.  Most enjoyable evening was had by all. Mrs G and I even managed to sleep throughout the 1AM singing. Bless her...

Oh and as we're very nearly at the end of March, you might like to know has me recorded at 15,310 words so far this month. Not bad considering I missed the start of it completely.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Seeing the light...

It's great to have more daylight. Really makes you feel like summer is finally on it's way and there will be fewer burglaries. How does the song go?:

I'm as honest,
as the day is long,
The longer the daylight,
the less I do wrong.

Always makes me smile, although waking up in the dark has thrown me off a little bit today having got used to the light.

Sunday's news is thin on the ground, which is how it should be on the day of rest.

S came round for a cuppa and was on fine form. She also brought L with her who its always a pleasure to see and have a chat with. L is S's eldest daughter (mid 20's) and is the life and soul of whichever room she happens to be in. In the last 12 months she also became a mum and now has a son, H, who is as bright as his mother. One of those kids that is just naturally adorable. Clearly having him around has helped all of their family in coping with the events of the last few weeks. I'd only met him two or three times before, but the first thing he did when plonked on the sofa next to a big geeky stranger, was scramble over the cushions and throw his arms around me with a huge smile. Needless to say, every heart in the room melted - a real ahhh moment. I could sense the broodyness in the air. :-) Time for a sharp exit.

A quick bit of shopping for food supplies followed by present wrapping and card writing in preparation for Daughter's big day which is officially today. Of course, with the adults of the house (namely Mrs G and I) having to get up and go to work for a living, daughter insisted on bringing the present opening forward a few hours to Sunday evening. Any excuse! Bless her.

Needless to say, she got her way, as daughters do when they plead with their fathers. Saying "no" in such cases just isn't an option as any father with a daughter will tell you. So cards were opened carefully in that way they are when kids are expecting large wads of paper to fall out of them in the form of cash, cheque (or credit card if it were possible) and she was respectably pleased with the way grand-parents, aunts and uncles had spoiled her.

Then there was the singing birthday card, which is brash and noisey and entertaing for the first two times you open it, forever to remain closed beyond those occasions for fear that you may have to listen to it again. What an excellent use of technology that isn't.

Tonight will see a bit of a birthday dinner at a location of her choice which I'm told will be a local hostelry and we are to expect up to 20 guests! So the quiet intimate family dinner has become a birthday party for the youths. We don't mind because most of her friends are almost as good company as she is (I know they wouldn't be her friends if that were not the case - not one to suffer fools) and it's a nice location with plenty of space and good food. In fact we feel quite priveledged that at the ripe old age of 20 she actually likes to have us hanging around with her and her friends. I can assure you, it always provides for hilarious conversations and there will certainly be much laughter and frivolity. No doubt all will go swimmingly.

The other interesting highlight of the evening was "Come Dine with Me" on Channel 4 (8pm). This week was Cheltenham so we took great delight in peering and pointing and saying things like "ooo, that was Filmed in so-and-so" or "that's outside of such-and-such". Then there were the actual contestants. It turns out that the winner is a good friend of Auntie S' and Mrs G has met her a couple of times. I've not had the pleasure, but compared to the other three, she was by far the most level headed of the bunch and struck me as a deserved winner. Looking forward to meeting her at one of Auntie S' conservatory soirees. The only man of the bunch was a complete buffoon (I think that's probably the kindest way I can put it).

So, to the order of the day, namely work. Only three days of it this week though and then, as I have eluded elsewhere, Mrs G and I will be off adventuring. I belive it's time for a little explanation. A long weekend with Sister and Brother-in-law and niece and nephews in the upper reaches of Scotland. About an hour from Aberdeen, just round the corner from Balmoral. It's beautiful countryside, breathtaking views and excerting walks (they are proper mountains up there you know). It's also a very long drive, especially in a very small car, but we haven't driven it for a few years now and frankly we're both looking forward to the adventurness (almost certainly not a real word but I can't think of the word I'm looking for in the dark) of it. The best bit being that if you see something interesting you can just stop, which of course you can't when you fly. So that's the outline, any suggestions for interesting spots to stop for a cuppa on the way, warmly recieved.

Must crack on. Enjoy your Monday and I hope you get to see the light now the days are longer.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saturday Night, Sunday Morning

With the clocks moving I have no idea what time it is now? Is it still Saturday Night or is it Sunday Morning ? Best way to tell is to stay in bed until someone else finds out, but that can't happen in house with youths unless they're asleep (in which case it's probably early afternoon)

Got the little jobs done yesterday and managed a spanking good lunch in The Brown Jug. Bacon, Brie and Cranberry ciabatta for a fiver. Now that is a result.

Comes with a cracking salad and half decent portion of chips. I'd thoroughly recommend it, even if it is slightly out of town. Only thing that bothers me is that I may be looking a bit like a Japanese tourist by taking pictures of my lunch, but it was just too good not to share.

The morning post delivered the final part of my Christmas present from L&D in Scotland. They very generously gave me an voucher, and I spent it on pre-ordering DVD's of movies that would be available later in the year. Last month was The Time-Traveller's Wife, which had been dubbed impossible to film (If you've read the book - and you should - you'd understand why) although I should add that the film does a pretty good rendition of a very convoluted plot and still manages to make it understandable.

Anyway, yesterdays delivery was 2012. A load of disaster movie nonsense in the best traditions of The Posideon Adventure, Towering Inferno, Earthquake and Armageddon. Thoroughly enjoyable as long as you can suspend any reality for a massive 2 and half hours. John Cusack does a sterling job and I continue to enjoy his works (see "Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil" and more recently "The Jury"). Bonus points if you know the connection between "Midnight-ITGOGAE" and "Cape Fear" (The original 1962 version) and "Forrest Gump".

Just staying on the Movie theme for a second, I also managed to pick up a copy of "Harvey" in WHSmiths for 3 quid on the recommendation of Scobi in a recent conversation. Looking forward to fitting that in soon.

S is coming to visit this afternoon. Will be lovely to see her and it seems she's coping well past the funeral from last week too.

After that we have SpagBol for dinner and Come Dine with Me to look forward to, followed by 3 days back at work and 6 days off adventuring.

Right then - Bacon butties and coffee (tea for Mrs G) then off to get the Sunday Papers - assuming they're open yet - What time is it ?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A well earned Beer & Pizza

Last night saw beer and pizza's round at E&R's house. First time we've been to their house, and very nice it was too. Also in attendance was Auntie S & M. She seemed to be in much better condition than the last time we saw her, which had on that occasion involved several very large glasses of wine and a fair amount of stumbling. Or at least she was to start with. Perhaps the same cant be said for the end of the evening, but E&R had the vino flowing for the girls. We've all done it.

Interested to hear that R had bought E a new bag and a belt for valentines day and is now happy to report that the vacuum cleaner is running like a dream as a result! Im sure you can tell from that, that there was much frivolity, food, great company and wine. All were very tired by the time we got home.

Also found out that this Sunday's "Come Dine With Me" is in Cheltenham and features someone we sort of know by acquaintance. Watch out for Cathy (who you might have seen in Ab Fab darling) I know who wins, but I'm sworn to secrecy. Channel four 8pm.

M & I had some discussion over the iPad, and to be honest neither of us can get a straight opinion on it. Is it useful, or is it just tech for tech's sake ? I did read something recently where and Apple fanboy had said he was actively trying to talk himself out of wanting one, but each time he reads a review, he's back to square one and tempted to empty his bank account. Having reflected on it this morning, it's obviously going to go one of two ways - through the roof, or through the floor, and Apple being the canny salesmen they are, I suspect it may be the former. There is an awful lot of content ready for it, and once the developers have had a play with the new SDK I have no doubt the App Store will be packed to the rafters with interesting odds and sods. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating, and I think I shouldn't make any further predictions on the subject until I've actually had some hands on experience with one.

E&R have recently had a new lawn laid which looks fantastic. We all pointed out that as soon as it stops raining it will shrivel and die. Lawn envy is a terrible thing.

Today being a beautiful bright Saturday, damp and warm and as such it is a blank canvas, which can only mean the Mrs G has a whole host of "little jobs" that will need doing. First of which is for Mrs G to go to the hairdressers. I think her hair looks great already, but women have to have it just right and she'll just look all the more beautiful having it how she prefers I have no doubt.

Then there's a trip to Cheltenham scheduled to have the final adjustments made to daughter's birthday present and bits and bobs that will be required for next weeks adventure. More on that nearer the time. Daughter's off to special school for the day today. She says it's very interesting but an awful lot of classroom based learning to start with and that can be very boring in itself. She's just done Criminal Damage and Burglary - I suggested she could get up to 3 years for that. "Ha Ha - You funny - I kill you last" came the reply.

On Thursday a couple of the lads swore blind that Chelsea are going to beat Aston Villa 2-1 today, so I had a little flutter with some of my Cheltenham winnings - we'll see what happens, but that would be a nice little treat for a Saturday afternoon, and I think we might pay a visit to The Brown Jug for lunch.

Mustn't forget that tonight we have an hour less of sleep, so a lie in on Sunday will be the correct way to deal with that. Of course, the annual debate about "should we/shouldn't we change the clocks" has started. Interestingly (for me) I was born during the the two year GMT+1 experiment where we were effectively an hour ahead from 1968 to 1971. The argument goes that there are far fewer accidents as a result of the lighter evenings, but now we're living in a 24x7 society I'd be surprised if it really makes a great deal of difference. The library of the house of commons has a paper on it, which you may or may not find interesting. Here it is.

Enjoy your final hour of darkness ;-)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Micro Post: Movie News...

I've been waiting for this since I saw the trailer in January.... Hot Tub Time Machine

Organising the mess

So first of all I want to talk about public transport. I'm trying not to get political, but of course when you talk about anything that's publicly controlled it's very difficult. Specifically on the public transport subject, the issue last night was this: A good friend of mine joined us on the public transport (namely the number 10 bus to Cheltenham from Gloucester) and asked for a return ticket. Like any normal person he didn't check the ticket in great detail, assuming that he would be given what he asked for. We (meaning his fellow passengers) all heard him ask for his return ticket, so it was in no doubt.

However, upon is return journey, it transpires that he wasn't actually issued with a return ticket, but actually just a one-way ticket. At the time, he didn't think anything of the £2.50 charge because that is what you pay for a night rider ticket which allows you to travel backwards and forwards between Cheltenham and Gloucester. So after a little argy-bargy with the bus driver my friend agreed to pay for the return ticket (as a one-way) to his stop (the Cross Hands in Brockworth).

When he joined his fellow travellers (namely me and another bloke) upstairs it became apparent that he'd now been sold a ticket to Elmbridge Road (my stop) which is about 2 miles further on than his destination. Naturally he took umbrage with this, and discussed it at length with the bus driver on his departure from the bus at the Cross Hands. The driver was having none of it, and would gladly have argued black was white all night long. In fact the only reason I'm home now and able to write this entry is down to the fact that my friend conceded and merely asked for an apology instead of a refund. The entire episode is of course on the bus CCTV and could be admissible as evidence in a court of law if it wasn't for the fact that we're only talking about 75p!!!

And there is the problem with public transport. The public (and others) are more than happy to make use of it, as long as they're treated like paying customers. It seems obvious that a bus driver running the post 11pm shift treats all his customers as drunken buffoons (an aspiration that I and my esteemed friend would not be comfortable with) and feels free to charge whatever he sees fit without paying attention to his customers request. This on top of the failure to have issued a return ticket in the first place only leads to a massive level of customer dissatisfaction.

Fix the customer satisfaction issues and you'll go at least half way to fixing the public transport issues. (We can talk about the smell, and cleanliness of said transport on another occasion)

On to other subjects... There really is a massive amount of pointless, useless and arcane information in the world. What's worse is it leaks into the really useful information and mudify's our understanding. That was a bit just there... mudify ?? Clearly not a word and yet we all know what it meant. Useless, but creeping in on the real action.

So the question is, what do we do with all this "information" ?? Easy.

Stick it on Wikipedia. This has become the de facto storage system for all things useless. Admittedly there are loads of useful articles, some of which even have accurate information in them but every now and again a newspaper article turns up full of facts lifted directly from this hallowed resource and it's utter tosh.

For many this is a worry, but not for me. Think about it. How many times have you heard the phrase "Don't believe everything you read in the papers" ?? Plenty I'm sure.

Nothing has changed. Some information is easier to get hold of, but reporters still have to do their job properly and research their story, regardless of the source of the data. My favourite illustration of this in practice occurs in the film "All the President's Men". In particular the amount of effort that both Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford (as Woodward and Bernstein) put in to getting the elements of their story confirmed before they go to press.

They are consistently shown (and in fact this is a key dramatic premise of the movie) attempting to get both the story and confirmation of the story from multiple sources before being allowed anywhere near a printing press. As anyone with any knowledge of the historical facts is aware, this story led to the down fall of President Nixon (and just putting my movie critic head on for a moment - is one of the best political thrillers of all time).

But the point remains. Here-say is not enough (see wikipedia for lots of that). Confirmation of heresy on the other hand, is a different matter and of course is considered fact. As long as wikipedia (and you) remember that, then feel free to trawl it for "facts" all you like.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What's a WTC ?

In this case it's not the World Trade Center in New York, which was a seven-building complex in Lower Manhattan that was destroyed in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Neither is it the Well-Tempered Clavier, which is a set of keyboard works by Johann Sebastian Bach (German title Das wohltemperierte Clavier, retaining the "C" rather than the "K" per 18th-century spelling) and William Coles' book.

It's not WebLogic Tuxedo Connector, a software component to provide interoperability between WebLogic Server and Tuxedo.

If you thought is was Western Technical College you'd be wrong again just like the West Toronto Collegiate which is also wrong. Perhaps you're thinking of the Japanese Anime Murder Mystery Novel When They Cry (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni), but to no avail. Wilderness Travel Course = Wrong! and as for the Windmill Theatre Company, in Victoria, Australia - Not a chance

Working tax credit, Nice idea but still not there and the World Taiwanese Congress is a bazillion miles away.

Now, the World Triathlon Corporation is an endurance shaped thing, which is close, but no cigar and the Wu-Tang Clan are an American hip-hop group, so that can't be it.

An internet slang acronym for What the crap?????.... could be......

Ah, but of course, those in the know will be eminently aware that WTC actually refers to the Wednesday or Thursday Club. Duhhh!

Going over old ground... (Part 2)

Shock! Horror! Terrible, tragic, depresing and disasterous news. The sandwich shop in Worcester has closed!! So I was sat in the office briefly day dreaming about my forth-coming luncheon delight when my work colleague (and also a fan of the incredible egg mayo and salad sandwich) tells me that the little shop that makes them has closed down. Clearly an effect of the recession and more importantly a bloody travesty! Goodness only knows how I can break the news to the GF (a faithful reader and all round good egg) - no pun intended, or in fact made.

On top of this gastronomic catastrophe, yesterday was budget day. So what did the jumped up little badger have up his sleeve this close to an election ? All the talk had been of a careful and non-vote winning budget, but some how I've struggling to swallow that load of guff. I suspected more likely is a hardly-tweaked-at-all budget, and possibly crow-barring in something that they've been promising for ages, but haven't delivered on. The old smoke and mirrors trick to leave us all believing that they've actually been working very hard on something which really they've just been delaying all along. And I wasn't too far off the mark with the brief abolishon of stamp duty for first time buyers. Guff. Could I be more cynical ?

A couple of budgetary items that are annoying me of late are Road Tax and the TV Licence (Make no mistake, TV Licences are a Tax).

Now, Road Tax (Vehicle Excise Duty) is commonly misunderstood to fund road projects, such as fixing pot holes! Originally the proceeds were correctly used for the Road Fund, which started in 1910. In 1936, Winston Churchill moved the proceeds into central funds, and the Road Fund should receive grants from there. So clearly this means the amount of revenue raised from the Tax is far more than is required to maintain the roads. To my mind this is not conducive to a clear and open government and could be construed as creative accounting at best, and highway robbery at worst (not pun intended or indeed made, yet again)

The TV Licence is controlled by the BBC and it provides about 75% of the BBC's income with the rest coming from sales of thier products elsewhere on the planet. This in itself doesn't strike me as too much of a problem, but I do insist that it's spent wisely. The fact that a large portion of it's output is "art" in the form of drama, comedy etc. means that defining "spent wisely" becomes a very subjective process. But that is not the case for all of it's output, some of which is clearly a waste of money and could never of been considered art in the first place.

Take for instance Chris Moyles - Please! Take him. Anywhere. Just off the radio. Nothing is worse than awakening to the sound of a man who loves his own voice and has nothing of interest to add to the day. Worse still, Radio 1 seems unable to play any music before 7am - or at best very little and they let Moyles spill his drivel all over the place instead. In 2007 the Independent claimed he was earning £630k p.a. for getting up early and annoying everyone - bearing in mind that was over 3 years ago, and his profile is considerably higher since he's now considered "The saviour of Radio 1", I suspect it's closer to the £1m mark by now and I had heard a recent rumour it was £6m. But let's be generous and call it a mere £1m.

By my rough reckoning, Moyles is on the air for 3 and half hours a day, 5 days a week. Let's assume he has 20 days holiday a year then he's on air for 840 hours a year (or 35 days straight). If the £1m figure is right (and I freely admit it may be less - or even more) then he's earning about £1,200 per hour he's on air. After tax then it's £715/hr roughly - only roughly - not being exact, just throwing numbers around here.

Last week was Sport Aid. So far they've raised about 31.5 Chris Moyle's, but £50 could pay for a bicycle ambulance to transport pregnant women to hospital in Tanzania or put another way, 1 Chris Moyles = 20,000 bicycle ambulances, or 14 bicycle ambulances per hour after tax!!!

You do the math. Chris Moyles in my ear in the morning or enough Bicycle Ambulances to fill Beijing?? I think my choice is clear, but of course this is only my choice and plenty of people will dislike me in his defence.

Just one other point on numbers - there's approx' 61m people in the UK and it's almost impossible to live here without a TV licence, but lets assume that only 40m of them have to buy one, then TVL revenues are currently running at £5.68bn p.a. Just out of interest ;-)

This of course opens up a raft of questions about the state of our nation. Historically, I'm not one to get political but that all seems to be changing of late, and quite right too. We should all be more politically involved, because after all that's what effects our day-to-day lifestyles. The problem with this is that you can't seem to get a cigarette paper between the two main parties involved, and the majority of the public seem to think that "they're both as bad as each other". It seems natural that this is the market that the Conservatives should be going after if they want to snatch the power back, but the more likely outcome could well be a hung parliament.

Obviously this will need much further thought - but I'm quite liking the idea of a hung, drawn and quartered parliament (no pun intended, although possibly one made at last!) - who's with me ??? - Vive La Angleterre!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Going over old ground in a quest for eggs! (Part 1)

Today sees a trip up the M5 to sunny Worcester. Of course I jest, Worcester isn't sunny. It's not a really terrible town and in fact parts of it are quite nice, but it's no Cheltenham. Then again, on the plus side, it's no Gloucester either. Odd sort of place in the middle of nowhere and on the way to everywhere else it seems. Of course, Worcester-ites would have me hung, drawn and quartered for even remotely having a pop at it, but all I've said is fact and facts are undeniable.

Anyway my work will take me to some single storey nondescript ex army hospital buildings, which in the dreary rain that we have today will be truly beautiful and a pleasure to reside in. If you didn't detect the irony, I can assure you that it is there in spades. The work itself will involve spreadsheets and numbers, head-scratching, ear pulling, probably a meeting or two and probably some verbal abuse which may or may not be deserved. But within this deep dark horrible day, there are at least a couple of bright spots.

Firstly, lunch, which I can guarantee will consist of one of the most exhilarating egg mayonnaise and salad rolls to have been made since chickens invented eggs (yes, I know which one came first. Chicken! Fact! End of!). There is an amazing little sandwich bar not far from the office that purveys these foot long beauties, and my stomach is already grumbling at the thought of it. I can almost taste the combination of gooey egg on soft bread as I type. If I try to compare it to yesterday's lunch (a cheese and jam sandwich, which while an acquired taste, is a stunning piece of flavour mashing) regrettably I am at a loss for words. The C&J being a weak and worthless shadow of the feast that awaits the diner within it's paper wrapping. With a bottle of chilled Orange Juice to wash it down and possibly a slice of millionaire's shortbread on the side, in the world of working lunches it is the president, nay king of take-away experiences.

The other bright spot, is I'll get to spend some time with a couple of workmates who make the working day bearable. No doubt there will be a certain amount of buffoonery, comradery and general banter in the form of jocular abuse. Now that is something worth getting up for. Did I mention the lunch?

There's also an unfounded rumour that there may be a beer in the evening, of which I may partake one before I travel back home for the night. But these things are never particularly well communicated unless you're in the office 5 days a week.

In other news: Daughter's birthday is just around the corner and her birthday present arrived yesterday. It's a shame that she knows what it is, but she's of an age where it's just easier to get her what she wants rather than surprise her completely. Having said that, there'll be a surprise for her as well, but nothing on too grand a scale. Next year is a landmark for her, so that will something a bit more special.

Last nights dinner consisted of a spectacular pasta based dish as cooked by my own fair hand. Conchiglie (those little shell shaped ones) to be more precise. The sauce consisted of pan fried smoked bacon, peas, fresh mint, crem fresh, and lemon juice. The resulting dish is light yet hearty. I suspect the finely chopped bacon creates the hearty while the lemon the lightness but regardless, it's blinkin' gorgeous with a glass of white.

Quick bit of movie talk: These are worth a look, and I may have already mentioned them, but they're on general release DVD now. In no particular order, 9, An Education and Law Abiding Citizen.

9 is Tim Burton's latest offering (he of Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow and Beetlejuice to name but three) and while predictable in plot in places, looks very burton-esque and is an enjoyable romp. Law Abiding Citizen is an action/adventure/crime/thriller/horror type thing, with an outrageously stupid plot but great action fare if you don't take it too seriously.
The standout of the three is An Education (and I say that in a purely snobbish way). It's a great piece of Drama and has some beautiful set pieces. A great 60's look (although I can only guess at it's accuracy being one of such few years - I wish) but it feels right and richly deserves it's oscar nominations.

That's it for now. Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Advertising your life

Today's subject (and I think there'll be more of this) is the shocking level of technobabble and appalling low quality of television adverts and how rediculous they really are.

Here's a few examples that I've observed recently on my tellybox:

Vileda mops. It's a ruddy mop for heavens sake! Why does it need to appear as if each one is maticulously developed in a lab by people in White coats? It is a mop!

Any hair product (the fact that they're referred to as products is the first warning) it's shampoo and/or conditioner. But of course they are all laced with bouncellum or biodeglorium or vitalium 6 or some other made up toss. Multivitamins, RE-Nutrition, Colour Protect, Multi-Gloss, Intense Light, Nourish and Shimmer. All this stuff guaranteed to help your hair as advertised by the Weak, Limp, Lifeless, Dull and Straw-Like Cheryl-I'm-in-it-for-the-money-Cole... and most terrifying of all, there is actually an app for that! Oh dear god, nooooo! New science balony, because you're worth it.

I've also noticed recently there's a number of women suffering from digestive problems. Thank god for Actimel with added biffidus-digestivum! I'm sure we'd have exploding women all over the place if it wasn't for that. One word - fart! ;-)

The list goes on and on.... Aerial in liquitabs <- Made up word. Injury lawyers for you are real lawyers who work for you! - really ?? real lawyers ? Are you sure ?? I'm not convinced. I mean if I was looking to claim for tripping over my own stupidity I'd want a fake lawyer wouldn't I? Not a real one.... come on. Banking: The staff at the Halifax all sing and dance apparently and just recently they've become radio presenters or disc jockeys as they used to be known before that became abreviated and stolen by the blokes that become famous for playing two songs over the top of eachother - dang those superstar dj's :-) Insurance: All of them. Awful. I suppose to be fair to them selling insurance (which as we know is a form of robbery) is a very tedious and boring thing to have to do for a living. But does that really excuse the use of Stephen Fry as a talking telephone with wheels, nutty Australian women singing in a car, a nodding dog, a flying opera singer and a millionaire meerkat??? Last time I looked you have to be 17 to drive a car. These people are selling insureance to adults you know ?? You'd never guess. Ok, Ok, I'm being a killjoy and it's quite possible that I've got my grumpy old man head on yet again! Of course some TV advertising is amazingly creative and beautifully executed. Five girls doing aerobics while eating Alpen - well, I don't have a problem with that of course ;-) Regrettably that's not the majority.

Allegedly TV advertising is a dying trade, and Internet advertising is taking over. Frankly I don't believe that. 9 times out of 10 I don't even notice online advertising - it's become an un-distracting blob on a web page that my brain has learned to ignore so that I can get on and read the bit I was actually looking for. I'm happy that websites are be funded by advertisers and not by me (although of course I'm funding them indirectly through the costs of the products that they're advertising that I'm not buying as a result of the advert but for some other reason). Of course financially that may be true, and marketing bods might think that people reading web pages means people reading adverts on webpages - how little they know ;-)

TV Advertisers, please come back and make the adverts we used to love. Hamlet - The Mild Cigar. Watch out, there's a humphrey about. Cinzano Bianco being thrown about on a plane - or was that Martini ? Anytime, anyplace, anywhere....

Ahh yes, but of course I keep forgetting that the world has changed and none of us are bright enough to make our minds up about what we may or may not be allowed to do. Can you imagine seeing an advert for Cigar's ?? or cigarettes? or Milk? or booze ? Well, there still are a few booze adverts about (although you'd be forgiven for thinking they're something to do with gardening, or riding horses in the sea) but not for much longer I'm sure. Thanks Nanny-State. Please make sure I don't breath inappropriately and become a burden to you and your supermassive Tax bill. I mean MY Supermassive Tax Bill of course... duh!

May isn't far away. Advertising rules won't make me decide who I vote for - I don't really care enough about the subject, interesting though it may be. I do care about being allowed to do things or not. This is a free world isn't it ?? Oh, my mistake. It's a greatly reduced world, no longer full fat, and available at a 50% discount and interest free over 4 years at the DFS/Furniture Village/Benson Beds sale this weekend only! Everything must go...crazy!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Digital Economy Bill & iPads

Super Sunday came and went and was a most enjoyable affair. The sun was out for us all, which kept us warm through our misery at loosing to Nottingham, but then it's only a game so who cares?. 30-24 and we nearly had them. There was a good show of support in the form of the hairdresser, the chef, the railway engineer and the property developer with their respective other halves and two kids. Mrs G and I enjoyed the two mile walk and the chef and his better gave us a lift back and popped in for coffee and cheesecake, having not had a dessert in the hostelry. No doubt now that the weather is turning for the better, the super sunday will become more commonplace, just as long as it's not every sunday.

I'm worried about the digital economy bill. Does feel rather rushed and I do get the impression it's not been fully thought through. If you're remotely interested on the impact this bill will have and the powers that it will give the government, please take a look at this link I've used this site to generate a letter to my MP and surprisingly I've had a reply, from his secretary, asking me for my address so that he can send a reply. Clearly email is too complicated for him, or perhaps now he'll start tapping my phone line/broadband to see if I'm some sort of subversive. For heavens sake government. Wake up!! I'm no more subversive than you are..... oh... wow.... that's quite subversive then ... um... shhhh. ;-)

iPads... Do I want one or not ? Discussion please :-)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Roast Beef, Wallander & a Super Sunday

Mrs G went to see S yesterday morning. I feel very sad for her (S), evidently the loss of her mum has hit her very hard as I'm sure it would for most people. I had met her mum a few times and she was a very gracious and bright woman with a smile and a kind word for everyone. A sad loss.

A loss always makes you more aware of you and your loved ones own mortality and my heart goes out to her though I can't begin to imagine her pain. Monday's funeral will be a particularly uncomfortable affair.

I also realise what a wonderful person Mrs G is. Clearly I wouldn't have married her otherwise, but she does have the knack of empathy and more often than not puts others feelings before her own. I am a lucky man and no mistake. She's a lucky woman - but you didn't hear that from me ;-)

Daughter declared she wanted a roast for dinner and so I was told to accompany her to a local supermarket to assist in the aquisition of said food items. 40 quid later and a joint of beef with assorted vegetables are piled up in the fridge. Roast beef is most definetly one of the top ten meals in our household. We all love it.

Son had played football in the afternoon and lost, so a bit of beef would certainly cheer him up (not that he seemed particularly down hearted by the result) and Daughter invited her friend (the dancing hannis) to join us aswell. I carved, we all ate and very good it was too.

A little rugby which I did my best to avoid and a quiet evening allowed for a dash of come dine with me and a dollop of Wallander.

My father in law has been Reading the Wallander books as has my fellow blogger Scobi, and having recently caught an episode of the TV program I figured I should give them a go. What a delight. While they feel ploddy and bolted together, this style suits the subject perfectly. In fact I think half the reason they read the way they do is down to the translation from Swiss to English. But regardless the effect is most enjoyable. I've just finished reading the Pyramid and I'm about to start The Dogs of Riga. I'll let you know what I think dear reader. As for last nights TV episode, Kenneth B. Does an excellent job of replicating the slow and ploddy nature of the books that makes them almost as good as Morse (although I very much doubt anything will ever top John Thaw in that Role)

Now, what will today bring? So far, sunshine (all the while bring me laughter with your smile). I also heard word from the Dozster that a Super Sunday maybe part of the days plan. A Super Sunday involves a reasonably sized group of us going to the pub for lunch and a sporting event on a Sunday - which as we all know is a school night, so it's dangerous stuff. :-). Apparently it's the LV= final today (What can that be about? Some insurance match?? - I Jest) and it's Gloucester vs Northampton. It says here: Gloucester retain 11 of the team that beat Cardiff Blues in the semi-final with Rory Lawson's release by Scotland meaning he starts at scrum-half. I'm sure it will be an entertaining afternoon especially if the sunshine holds out.

This is my 2nd piece that I've posted using BlogPress from my iPhone. Typing on an iPhone gets easy enough with a bit of practice but for shear speed I prefer a full size keyboard. How about dictation? This is my only criticism of this otherwise faultless little app.

Blogging everywhere

Blogpress is this handy little application that I've downloaded for the iPhone/iPod touch and no doubt iPad too. Enables you to write your piece and then post it to multiple blogs simultaneously.

This is my first test post with it. More to follow.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Kids! Who'd have em?!.... We would!

Oh how heavenly it is to have a houseful of teenagers / young adults / youths / hoodies, whatever you want to call them. Daughter's teenage years are numbered on the fingers of one hand and son passed that milestone a year and half ago, but there are occasions when you would truly believe that the pair of them are still only 5 years old. Of course, they are far more communicative now that their teenage-ness has mostly passed and that makes for some very entertaining conversations.

Then there are those evenings where Me and Mrs G are worn out from a long week and all you want to do is have an early night. Now daughter was working and son was firmly planted on the sofa wishing to watch sport relief. (When I was his age screaming horses wouldn't have kept me in with my parents on a Friday night, but it's nice to have his company.) Daughter got home about 9 and happily announced that she was going out to a local hostelry with her friends.

And there is the double-edged sword of youth into adulthood.

As a youth, you have no concept over your parents concerns for your safety on a night out. As a parent, you spend your life worrying about the little cherubs. So with one hand you worry that they may be too introverted and un-sociable (sitting on the sofa with the telly on a Friday night) and on the other hand you worry that they're out to all hours with god-knows-who up to god-knows-what!

There is one and only one approach to this problem. Relax! You'd send yourself insane if you spent every waking hour chewing fingernails and jiggling toes. By this age, you should have equipped them with the basics to get by in most situations and if a new situation presents itself, well that's a learning excercise for them - and often for you too. The world is not the same place as when we were their age, even if we wish it was. And it'll never be the same for them when they reach our age either.

So in our example - the correct approach was for Me and Mrs G to go to bed and have a relatively early night. Son knows how to switch off and lock up and daughter has a key. She's with friends and only round the corner and how long can a pub sensibly stay open for in the burb's anyway?? The answer is 1AM!!! 1AM!!!! For crying out loud!!
But worse to come - instead of coming in quietly and going to bed without disturbing anyone - the whole household has to know she's back and has brought a troop of followers with her. Finally we can get back to sleep and the house settles back down for the night all is. However, the kitchen this morning looks like a small thermonuclear device has been detonated in a McDonald's. Wrappers and empty drinks everywhere. A half eaten McChikenThing, half a bag of fries, etc etc....

Why is McDonalds open 24hours and the pub open til 1am? These simple things made for a good night's sleep for my parents, because by 11.30 there was nothing else to do but go home to bed

Of course - It sounds like I'm moaning only because "It wasn't like that in my day", but as I've already pointed out - it wasn't like it is now and thank god for that on many counts. They have mobile phones (they can stay in touch), CCTV (they're being watched - even if they don't want to be), their own cars (we don't have to drive them around), much stricter drink-driving laws (they'd never drink and drive - but in days gone by it was commonplace), more money in their pockets (so if they need a taxi they'll get one). But then they have lax licencing laws (so the pub's open til 1am), 24x7 food (so they eat and stay awake all night), no concept of sleep and.... don't own their own homes yet.

We are very very lucky. They're two very well rounded and entertaining young adults with plenty of friends and their whole lives ahead of them. So, in future just turn over and go back to sleep - if there's something serious going on - you'll hear about it soon enough. Sleep soundly, safe in the knowledge that even though your fridge maybe empty in the morning, all your bedrooms will be full.

Hmmm - must consider putting up the rent - perhaps then they'll consider buying their own houses. ;-) And there's the subject of a whole other story. Transition from dependencies to non-dependencies... let's save that for another time.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bye Bye Gold Cup, Hello 2009 Happy Meal

It's Friday!! again!! already!! What happened ?? I blinked and the week was gone!

The Gold cup is upon us and by 3.40 this afternoon it will all be over. In the meantime we have this puzzling question to answer. Kauto Star or Denman ? In fact if you've spent any time in Cheltenham over the last couple of days that is the only question that anyone's been asking. It's right up with with Ali vs Frazier, Prost vs Senna or Ferguson vs Wenger.

The facts are these: Kauto is a 10 year old French gelding while Denman is a 10 year old Irish gelding. Kauto has the experience having won the Gold Cup previously, while Denman has come a strong second in this very race last year. However Denman also won a Class one race at last years Festival, so the score is really one all..... For me, what swings it is yesterdays racing. A.P.McCoy was dismounted during two different races and the second time, he was in pain. His ride is Denman today, and purely for that reason, I think Kauto Star will win it. Jokeys might only be 2 foot tall, but they are tough little mother's in that yappy-dog yorkshire terrier sort of way, so perhaps he'll bounce back and take the bookies for the value of a small south african country. Regardless, huge sums of money are and will change hands on the subject today and it all adds up to a thrilling 10 minutes in the Horse Racing world. So I'm told.

While my tips haven't been the strongest this week, there have been a few winners of note, not least the last race yesterday where Ballabriggs gave us a lovely 8-1. Anyway, please do your best to ignore them, but these are todays and are the last tips you'll see from me until next year, because I only take any interest in horse racing during the week of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

1.30. 7. Carlito Brigante or 2. Alaivan (I can't decide)
2.05. 26. Oldrik
2.40. 14. Tell Massini
3.20. 7. Kauto Star - but if you don't believe it's either of them, then 6. Imperial Commander
4.00. 2. Baby Run
4.40. 2. Peveril
5.15. 13. You're The Top or 23. Fighting Chance

On a related note, it was WTC last night and with it being raceweek, that made for a busy night out. More on that elsewhere.

Further Starfleet education today leading up to what appears at the moment to be a quiet weekend. Mrs G's friend, S, lost her mum last week and the funeral is on Monday, so I've no doubt that we'll. drop in and see her with some moral support at some point. And we'll have the pleasure of Son's company for a couple of days as well. The big question there is whether we can prise his arse off of the sofa for any period of time - but that's boys for you.

And finally.... the tech stuff. Here's some items you might want to search for. Apple have a new patent for a thing called iGroups. Basically a method for building social groups based on location and with the ability for users without GPS-enabled devices to triangulate their position from other members of the group that do have a GPS-enabled device.

Smart phones are to become more like cashpoint machines with the advent of apps that allow you to take a photo of a cheque and use that to make a deposit. One wonders how many times you can deposit the same photo, but it's a nice idea. I'm using the PayPal app on iPhone to pay for stuff and give money to people and very nice it is too.

The NY Times reports that American companies are moving their research facilities and engineers to China as the country develops a high-tech economy that increasingly competes directly with the United States. All together now.... Buffoons!

The Playstation Move (that's a Wii-like controller for the playstation 3 to you and I) is apparently not as fast as Sony have been making out. They claimed it would have a response time of a bout 1 frame of 60Hz gameplay, but under tests by those that have got their hands on the odd looking lollypop of a gizmo, it's more like 133 milliseconds. I wonder if anyone actually cares ?

And I read this very disturbing article about McDonald's Happy Meals which says they don't decay!! ever!!, well maybe not ever, but they're pretty robust. Yet another reason never to go near them.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

To Infinity.... and beyond!!

Uhuru: Incoming message from Starfleet captain. If you fly a starship this is for you. Commanders, do w, Lieutenants do x, Chiefs do y and Crewmen do z. Get all that done in the next 8 days! Good luck. Message Ends.

Well - I fly a starship and I'm the captain. It appears there's nothing for me to do. Clearly Starfleet don't understand the process. In fact captains don't get a single mention in the message, so anything we captains have outstanding is irrelevant ?? Buffoonery of the highest order.

Been trawling through my 50-odd emails (not bad for two days out, I'm obviously becoming far less important, or communicating my absence better) and actually there are 6 that need attention, 15 plus are notifications of other crew members holidays, another 10 or so are general newsletter type messages, 6 regarding a training course, another 3 or so regarding closure of the academy and the rest just copied on for my information. Is this a productive use of my time ?? Don't worry, it's an open ended question, don't expect an answer.

I was also fully expecting to visit one of the outposts today - but my Commander hasn't confirmed he'll be there, and there's nothing in my diary for it. It's reasonably local, so if it transpires, I can shoot up there later in the day, but it's looking like another day tied to my desk at home. This is not a whinge, moan, gripe or complaint, I know I am very lucky to be able to work from home, but I predict that more and more and more of the the remnants of the working population of the UK will be doing this very soon. Perhaps I should write a book on the subject. I've been doing it for so long now (over 10 years with a short office based break of 3 years in the middle) that I must actually know how to do it.

So with no hangover yesterday, it was really nice to just potter about the house with Mrs G and do almost nothing. We had walk into town and I bought some new glasses - "they'll be ready next tuesday because we're really busy" - said the sales assistant in the empty shop. I might come in and pick them up then - although I'm really busy too.

Weather forecast has improved for those attending Ladies day today. I had a little flutter yesterday as well - all off-course but on-line and that boosted Tuesdays winning pot just a little. My tips were pretty off target though. On that subject, and if your fed up of having money in your pocket these are the tips I've got today:

1.30. 13. Dave's Dream
2.05. 5. Alfie Sherrin
2.40. 8. Poquelin
3.20. 1. Big Buck's
4.00. 19. I'm So Lucky
4.40. 1. Ballabriggs

But the big news is all tomorrow, it being Gold Cup day and the 3.20 which will all be about Kauto Star and Denman. But we'll look at that tomorrow.

I should also draw your attention to my favourite subject, which has been a bit dry on the ground of late - that being technology and what's going on in and around it. Most definitely the "next big thing" is mobile applications. This has been a strong market for some time due to apple and the iPhone, but it's just getting bigger and better all the time. Another boost in the shape of the Google Apps Store and I see Mickeysoft are doing the same thing for the Windows 7 Phones. OK, so having a load of apps in a store that are easy to download and install is one thing - making them any use is far more important IMHO. It's easy to write an app that goes ping or ding. charge 60p for it and sit back and rake it in while the kids download it. But then what ? Make an app that goes bing and bang ?? Come on! You can do better than that.

The augmented reality apps seem like a useful idea, but I'm still not wholly convinced by their promise. For those that don't know, this basically makes use of a mobile phone's built in camera and satellite receiver and compass. It displays an image straight throughout the camera (as if you were taking a photo) and then overlays data about objects that are in the picture. Well actually, it uses it's location data to approximate things that are in the picture. Interesting and almost useful.

The iPhone has clearly captured the hearts (and minds) of a lot of people and is considered by many to be the "jesus phone" of smart phones. Previously it was probably the blackberry's and interestingly blackberry's still have the largest number of subscriber's. Mikeysoft's attempts are interesting but just not cutting the mustard. The Android software (The Google Phone) though seems to be a different kettle of worms all together. This really could be a contender to knock the J-Phone off the top spot.

But did you notice, I referred to it as the Android software ?? and there I think is the key. It's going to become less and less about the hardware and all about the software. Expect to see Android in a living room near you soon. The hardware is just a means to an end and if it looks good then that's a bonus. Of course with the Apple products this will always be the case because they pride themselves on their simple, sleek designs. But they need to keep on top of the software if they want to hold onto the mantel.

Recently, rumours of v.40 of the iPhone software are suggesting multithreading enabling the use of multiple apps at the same time - something which in the PC world is taken for granted but in the phone world Apple have missed. Android/Google haven't.

Let the war begin.

PS: Today's gem of knowledge: Never trust a tipster!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day One of The Cheltenham Festival

WoW! So that was a long hard and enjoyable day.

First off, today's chances:

1.30. 17. Syncronised
2.05. 12. Rite of Passage
2.40. 8. Punchestown
3.20. 6. Master Minded
4.00. 17. Deutschland
4.40. 22. Stormy Weather
5.15. 19. Shot from the hip

Me and Mrs G had the foresight to have today off following a grand day out at the races, on the basis that we'd have hangovers to deal with which would be very irresponsible when there is work to be done. However, joy of joys, not a hangover in sight. I put this down to light eating and not mixing the drinks. Of course lots of fresh air and bracing breeze help too I'm sure.

10.30 saw us getting off the bus in Montpellier to meet up with a few friends in O'Neill's of all places. The pub was running a bus an hour before the races and an hour after with a pint of guiness for a fiver. But on such a beautiful sunny day, why would we want to do that ?. So Mrs G and I elected to wander the streets of Cheltenham soaking up the raceday atmosphere, and lots of it there was too.

Everything from bagpipes to harmonica's had found their way to the shopping area's with their owners ever hopeful that the passing public woould be impressed enough with the noise they were making to offer a donation (even if was just to shut them up). Many an Irishman with a copy of the racing post and a felt "pint of guineas" hat on, could also been seen staggering into/out of the many betting shops and pubs. As you get nearer the course through pittville park, more and more individuals of dubious ascent could be heard calling out "Tickets! Buying and selling! Anybody got tickets!" and then on the last stretch come the commercial giveaways. A betfair scarf here, a free 5 pound bet there, and so on ad infinitum.

Finally the gates await us. Quick barscan of the tickets and we're in the Centaur building. 3 years ago this new conference center facility appeared behind the grandstand and on racedays it now houses the Coral betting desks, 3 or 4 bars and what feels like 5,000 punters.

Of course the grand stand is really the place to watch the races from and from here you can see the whole course. A stunning view across the fields to the edge of the Cotswolds and Cleeve Hill. This year 'Paddy Power' (a well known Irish bookmaker) had decided to pay a farmer on the hill to host a giant Hollywood style sign. Very funny and suitable for the week, but ONLY the week. This is Cheltenham after all.

At the far of end of the grand stand sits the Guinness Village. This area is heavily sponsored by... you guessed it, Guinness.. Naturally, the main product on sale is the black stuff, and very enjoyable it is to. Behind the Village are the shops, a huge tented area that have all the racing paraphanelia you could ever want. Tweeds made to measure, paintings of famous horses, hunter wellies, jhodpurs, whips, saddles and bridles.

Also worth noting that the parade ring is another great vantage point to see what's going on. The horses and jockeys can all be seen here up close and personal as it were. The theory is this gives you the oppotunity to pick the winner after seeing them in the flesh. However, it seems to me to be more about the markets than the physicality of those involved. The bookies aren't in it to loose money, and invariably they don't. So a horse with short odds is most likely going to win meaning that the safe money would be an eachway bet on the second or third favourite. But what do I know??


I didn't win anything in 2 out of 6 races, so you can draw your own conclusions but the betting paid for our day out, so all very worthwhile in the end. Beautiful weather, excellent atmosphere, and most certainly the sport of kings provided a grand day out for all concerned.

Post racing a long walk back to town, which by 6pm is completely heaving. Full of winners looking to spend and loosers crying into thier beer. Many entertaining sights to be seen, the shoeless and brainless in the cheap end of town with the suited and booted around Montpellier and the Queens hotel. Taxis and buses ferry the war wounded to and from the station and the crowds keep on coming. It's no wonder that the Cheltenham festival is considered the premier national hunt event.

Who could ask for anything more??

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Racing from Cheltenham

Only going to write a very short entry today. I have to keep flexing my writing muscle now that I've started just to get it back into some sort of half decent shape, but I also have to save plenty of energy today. I'm going to need it for calculating,form,odds, runners, riders, queue management and guiness consumption. Not to mention bus timetables.

Meeting D and E in a pub in town at 10.30. The pub are doing a magic bus ticket for a fiver that takes you to the course and back and gets you a pint of guiness - can't be bad!

I'll likely write up the events tomorrow so you can find out what happens. In the meantime, if you fancy little flutter, these are my eachway picks:

1.30. 12. Menorah
2.05. 9. Somersby
2.40. 18. The Package
3.20. 2. Celestial Halo
4.00. 1. Garde Champetre
4.40. 1. Quevega

Good luck!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sonny Munday

I had a great weekend thankyou for asking. This is the standard response to the Monday morning question of how was your weekend? And I'm pleased to report that on this occasion (as on most if I'm honest) this response is correct. I really am a very lucky lad.

All went pretty much too plan - a couple of minor changes, but only for the better. Lovely piece of steak for dinner last night as cooked by daughter. She then promptly decided she couldn't eat it and had to go to sleep. Bless her, and to be fair, she'd had a very busy couple of days. The training for the specials is pretty much full on and she claims to know PACE (The Police And Criminal Evidence act) inside and out already.

Another beautiful day is dawning in the South West of the UK and a quick check of the forecast shows sunny intervals tomorrow, and the racecourse is always windy so can expect it to be generally cold and bright. Big coats will be the order of the day. There's been racing at cheltenham for almost 200 years (1815) with the early years taking place on top of the hill (Cleeve Hill) that the racecourse now nestles at the foot of. The first festival was in 1902 and is now considered a premier sporting event in the UK. It currently generates £50m + during the four days it runs, for the local economy, although whether it will this year remains to be seen. On one occasion (1978) it was actually abandoned because of the snow!! yes, snow!! It was rescheduled and ran in April instead. One other interesting set of numbers: 20,000 bottles of champagne, 30,000 bottles of wine, 240,000 bottles of beer and 220,000 pints of Guiness are consumed by festival goers at the course. This year I expect that to be 220,004 (at least) because Mrs G and I will partake in a couple I'm sure.

A final word on the Lovely Bones... I went back and sped-read it (is that right? sped-read? - whatever) and the result is that my memory had failed me. The Maguffin exists in both, but seems to have slightly differing significance is all. The tension built in one particular scene in the film, is far stronger than the same scene in the book (or at least that's how I see it). Regardless the prop appears in both and is treating the same in both, I can only put this down to my memory not being what it was. Come on, cut me some slack! It was 6 years ago that I read it!...

New phone cases for Daughter and I yesterday. Mine was starting to become very tatty and daughter didn't have one at all. Carphone warehouse were selling them, buy one, get one half price, so too good to miss. This plastic that they use to cover helicopter blades really does look good once it's on and experience has shown me how well it protects the phone. A pleasing product.

On a slightly more technical note - I hear a rumour (as is always the way with Mac products) that the v.4.0 iPhone software will allow multiple apps to run simultaneously. While this doesn't seem like a huge stride in terms of tech, it does mean that the iPhone is still likely to be the killer phone. Firmware upgrades have made it so.

this years Council Tax bill arrived this morning and I'm obviously ecstatic to not that it's gone up yet another four quid a month, which while it's their "lowest rise ever" (a fact that they're very proud of) it's still a rise. When will their "largest cut ever" come about. And of course they attribute their ability it providing such a low rise to them wishing to "help lessen the financial burden on local people while recovering from recession". I reality we only have our bins collected every other week now, which wasn't the case before the recession. You do the math, as our American cousins say. I suspect that most of their "saving" has come from the fact the we don't have a flood levy this year, which we had previously to pay for the floods. Looking through the booklet, there's no sign of ny cuts in budgets at all, in fact they all go up - so one could draw the conclusion that they were over charging us last year, and now their eating into their profits by giving us the "lowest rise ever". Thank god for local government. Where would we be without them ?? Oh yes, of course... better off!!!

Now to work, and according to my email, Starfleet's pricing team have percentage issues this morning, so that'll keep me busy for an hour or so I suspect. Why they just can't have a common understanding across the business I will never know. Best go and figure it out. Have fun!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Mother-Fudders

Happy mother's day all you... Erm... Mother's. ;-) awake at the crack of dawn thanks to daughter's alarm. Today is day two of her intensive specials training although 20 minutes later and she's not arisen as yet. Mrs G did play at Winnie the pooh and the hornets nest with her - ie poke her with a long pointy stick from as far away as possible. She's not very good with waking up :-). Gets that from her mother, so you can imagine mornings aren't a lot of fun for half an hour in our house. However 25 minutes in and there's movement so all is well in the world of daughterly concerns.

Son will be visiting today -or so he announced by Jungle telephone yesterday. He's coming for tea. I pointed out how generous it is of him to come round and cook his mother a full roast for her special day. Naturally, him being a youth, and a boy, and not yet a man, this fell on deaf ears. However I'm sure he'll gladly come round and eat whatever is cooked for him.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. So yesterdays lunch at the pub. Overall, very good, but not without a couple of issues. Parents arrived almost on time for a change, they're usually rediculously early which winds up Mrs G and they had my sister with them having collected her from the station on the way. Mrs G's mum and boyf' arrived and off we went. It's a lovely country pub in a nice setting very close to the River Severn. Sat on the plush leather sofas with guiness for the men and White wine for the ladies we did the present giving which all went well. Tennis balls and a scarf if you were wondering.

Who should walk into the pub but LJ and his ex with their two kids. Now his relationship status is complicated what with having five kids from 3 mums, and this was clearly mothers day for mum number two. However I couldn't help wondering if he'd chosen this reasonably remote location just so that mum number three didn't find out?? Interesting stuff. after some brief hellos and see you next weeks He sloped off to the east wing of the pub in a hurry.

The single page menu is deceptive especially if you don't catch the specials board but everyone found something they fancied and the glass table was soon brimming with food. Mrs G's wedgy chips were tepid and Buffett of vegetables were over cooked. Apart from that all good with desserts that even the most greedy could never finish completely. Knowing what I know about the place based on experience and being mares with the chef i'd give it a healthy 7.5 out of 10 all in.

Back to ours for coffee and nattering and by 6.30 they were all back on the road. Turns out sister was able to fet an earlier train so we could have gone bowling with Auntie S afterall, but I'd already let her know we wouldn't so the cinema was still a goer. Daughter arrived home full of her traing with a head fit to burst, but she'd also dropped in on her other dad so was a bit grumpy as is usual after those odd little visits. There's a whole book in that story but I'm not interested enough to write it. I do have a life and he's not in it which I'm happy about.

From here to The Brewery (which is actually a Load of shops, restaurants and cinema built on the site of the old brewery). For race week they've turned it into an Irish village with the tricolor strewn everywhere and guiness on offer. A quick snack in the trendy bar next door and then ripped off for a bag of sweets in the multiplex.

Now, the lovely bones.... I had high hopes for this. Not least because Peter Jackson (he of Lord of the Rings and King Kong) has been very honest to the source material in his previous works. LOTR was practically word for word from Mr Tolkiens books and rumour has it the forthcomming Hobbit follows suit. However, TLB seemed different to my memory of the book. In particular one key McGuffin (to borrow from Alfred Hitchcock) while appearing in the film did not have the same significance as the original work. At least this what my memory was telling me and we all know how reliable that can be. ;-). So I'm going to speed read it again today just to check. Something to fill the 10 mins while Mrs G gets her passport photo done. The attention to detail of the 70's sets is wonderful - I had a kodak instamatic just like that - and the depiction of heaven is beautifully put together with some very clever transitions from location to location in a particularly memorable section at the start of act 3. Other than that I found it overall a great piece but anyone taking their 12 year old to see it should mist definetly think twice.

Today has brought georgeous sunshine, so good that I might be confused into thinking summer has finally arrived and do something rash like mow the lawn!! Need to see the Sunday papers first though and study the form for Tuesday. Have a great SUN/SON/DAUGHTER/MOTHER'S-Day ;-).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Mother's Day hair cut

So today is mothers day in our house. This will enable our mothers (mine and Mrs G's) the abilty to visit our fathers mothers tomorrow. That's complicated isn't it ? It's also daughters first day of training in the specials which she's been very excited about if a little tired (having only got in from work at 11.30 last night). Incidently last night went to plan. Quiet night in with a curry from the Balti Hut (local Unlicesed Indian restaurant) delivered a mere hour after it was ordered (not bad for a Friday night. Couple of glasses of vino, the rest of come dine with me, a couple of coronation streets and the endof casualty. Slthouh at this point I went up to bed and watch part two of the Eddie Izzard Marathon Man documentary which I'm finding quite fascinating.

So here we are on Saturday morning and there's many things to do. I really need to get a hair cut, have to pay a cheque into the bank and parents arrived for mothers day lunch at about 11.30 (although probably earlier because parent do that sort of thing).

We've then got to try and figure out how we are going to deal with the Aunty S situation this evening. She's taking her kids bowling with her new fella (who's very nice) but she hates bowling and wants us to come along aswell. On the surface this is fine, but. As you may have read, I've pursuaded Mrs G to go to the Cinema (a rareity in itself) and I don't want to let her down because I love her (obv). Of course we also like to be supportive of Auntie who's had a tough year - so what do we do? Well it seems my sister has decided she's taking the train down from Manc' to join us for lunch, so I'll have to take her to the station to get home at around 8ish - which is just too late for the bowling - but just early enough for the cinema. Hey Presto - Sister's are useful after all ;-)

.....and now for something completely different.....

Baked beans on toast. That was the last breakfast I had. Well that was the last meal I had actually. The last normal meal at any rate. Must be almost a month ago now. It seems so strange that the world we used to know lives on in our memories but in physicallity it's gone and will probably never return to what we knew just 4 short weeks ago.

.....that's got you interested hasn't it ?? :-)

more about that later. So here I sit in the barbers in a queue that's actually pretty short for a change. Often on a Saturday they're lined up outside the front door. And it really is a front door. It's a converted terraced house, pre war I shouldn't wonder. You enter through the front door and wait in the front room. The hair cutting takes place in the back room, what would have been the kitchen in days gone by. It's got the feeling that it's been here forever although in reality I would think early/mid sixties. There's seating for 9 in the lounge, but I've often been here when there's 15 blokes waiting to get a trim. This is down to two reasons. Firstly the price. £6.40 for a haircut really is a bargain especially when you consider most women think nothing of paying 70 quid. It always seems a terrible shame to take a perfectly good blonde head of hair and spoil it by dying the roots black - never understood that ;-). Secondly, the banter. Paul how owns the place and took over from his dad Gus is a friendly churpie chappie who's very knowledgeable on the subject of football and turns out to be a Queen fan (the group not the woman - although he's probably a royalist too). He has an eastern European sidekick who mans chair 2 and also carries the banter just as well as Paul although you have to listen carefully to understand his accent sometimes. From here it will be the bank, the post office (mrs G needs a new passport) and then back in time for the inlaws and outlaws.

So the cheques paid in, picked up a copy of my eyesight prescription (figured I should get some new glasses, 2 pints of semi-skimmed and 2 passport application forms (because one will have mistakes made on it)

The post office has been refurbished since I last visited and very smart it looks too. This happened in July last year according to the nice lady that got the forms for me and quite frankly I don't believe her. I'm certain I've been in there more recently than that, but she was adamant. Turns out they are not allowed to have passport application forms on display and you have to ask fir them. Something to do with identity theft paranoia probably.

Standing in the queue at Sainsburys with the milk, the gent in front of me who had 3 bunches of flowers, turned round and offered for me to go infront of him. We then got into a lengthy conversation (which I showed interest in to be polite) about the fact that he was buying mothers day flowers on behalf of his daughter who is travelling around the south island of new Zealand in a camper van. Her return flight from LA is on April the 4th with British Airways who 's strike will have finished 5 days previuosly. He's separated from his wife, his daughters learnt to scuba dive off the great barrier reef, been bungy jumping and hammering his emergency credit card which he'll worry about when she gets home. He's clearly very proud of her (she'll be a changed woman when she gets back even at 23) and he's clearly not told enough people about it. Full of regret for not doing it himself when he was her age, but in my view if he had, he wouldn't be stood here telling me all about how wonderful his daughter is.
I do love the diversity of the human condition.

Right then. Time to go. 3 S's and the lunch with the mob.

Where is Golfyball?


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