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Friday, April 29, 2011

Will the sun shine & what will that dress be like?

Apparently these are the two most pressing questions in the world this morning. It's got to be a good day when questions like that are the things we're most concerned about as a nation.

For my part I am a very British royalist. That is to say I'm supportive when they're good and derisive when they're bad but like all Brits I believe that the continuity of our historical traditions is the one thing that sets us apart from the rest of the world. We may not be the oldest country in the world but for such a small island there isn't anywhere that we haven't had an impact (good and bad).

Ultimately this continuity is maintained by having a monarchy that flexes and changes to fit it's role into whatever the world may be expecting of it. 30 years ago, could you imagine the Royal family allowing trees in the church for Charles and Diana's wedding? It seems our Monarchary learned some big lessons from that era and while the change may not be something that they've found particularly easy, it is something they've suceeded in doing.

The eyes of the world are upon us - 180 countries have taken the live feed of the events and there are over 6000 journalists in the capital. There's a whisper that Her Maj may bestow a new title on the current Miss Middleton, and if I was a gambling man, I think a flutter on the queens hat being blue, and Prince Charles not becoming King would both be worth a flutter. But I digress into rumour and conjecture.

We're having a street party, but unlike these buffoons, ours won't be until about 1pm after the wedding itself and is likely to involve beer and bar-b-q's.

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I mean it's 7.30 in the morning for heavens sake!!!!

All that remains is to thank the lovely bridesmaids for being, so, Ermmm, lovely? And to wish the happy couple all the very best of British luck for their future together. So ladies and gentlemen, charge your glasses and please be upstanding for their royal highnesses, William and Kate. Here's to a great time for one and all.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Extraction and Reaction

My deep seated fear of dentists comes from an event in my formative years that has left me deeply scared and general afraid of having my teeth prodded or poked in any way. While I was in hospital having my wisdom teeth extracted at the age of 17, I woke up on the operating table. I still have a vivid recollection of blood, my blood, and lots of it, and a general commotion amongst the staff involved. It wasn't for long, seconds rather than minutes, and when I awoke in my hospital bed it seemed rather like a bad dream. My recovery was long and slow, and I've never felt less inspired by professionals since that moment.

I've had the odd brush (no pun intended) with dentistry in the intervening years. Some how I managed to maintain two of my milk teeth and about 10 years ago had to finally loose one of them (I still have the other and he's doing just fine). That called for a visit to a dental chair, and not one that I enjoyed. The pain was long lasting and only served to reinforce my feelings on the subject.

Alongside the physical pain of dental work, there's the financial pain as well. This is something that really grates on me. Don't get me wrong, I fully understand that a trained professional deserves to be remunerated appropriately for their skill and execution of what is really minor surgery. What I don't understand is why we bother getting the NHS involved ? It seems to me that NHS dentistry is a lost cause.

If you can find one (and it's a big if), your friendly NHS dentist will be possibly the most overworked man on the planet. Because the cost of the service is subsidised by the taxpayer (via the government) it's very reasonably priced, and as such in great demand. In fact, in some areas, mine included, demand is so high that the first available appointment may not be for a month. Of course, if it's an emergency, there is a system in place for this too. A special number you call where miraculously they'll find you a dentist. Of course, a pre-requisite for this is that they answer the phone. I'm sure you're starting to understand the frustration. In the end, I've sadly thrown in the towel on the NHS dental system and shelled out the big bucks. There's only so much pain one can take. I did some background research for good local dentists and paid 35 quid to talk to a receptionist. That said, a hour later I was sat in the chair and an hour after that I was back home with a wad of cotton wool in my gums, half a numb face and £100 quid and two teeth lighter.

They were a pleasure to deal with and I think this tiny dentists surgery tucked away a few hundred yards from home might just be the people to restore my faith in the dental profession. I'm sure the fact that they've alleviated my pain is clouding my judgement somewhat, but for now that was the best money I've spent this year.

I've kept the monster tooth, just to scare the kiddies with a Christmas and birthday parties. I might have it mounted.

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Take care, and brush your teeth.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

When sorrows come....

...they come not single spies, But in battalions.

Stand well back...  

<Grumpy Old Man Mode: ON>

Which is Shakespeare's (Hamlet) way of saying - it never rains, but it pours. As years go, 2011 would so far, easily be, as the queen once so famously put it, our Annus Horribilis ("horrible year").  We've had the daughter broken arm/lost job debacle and we've had the Starfleet bufoonery, and we've had the loss of my cousins wife to the Big C.

We now have Great step-garandmother-in-law (Its complicated - don't ask) moving out of her flat and into a home which has begun a spate of cardigan theft. The imminent loss of our very close friend L's father - also to the big C. Mrs G's friend, S's discovery of a "lump" and finally my near death experience with tooth-ache that is prooving a right royal bar steward to get sorted out.  Don't get me started about NHS dentists and how much of a rip off in general the denitstry system is. I you're wondering - I'm still in significant pain without any sign of a thieving dentist.  Never looking a gift horse in the mouth isn't something that phases these findividuals (and yes, that F is intentional)

On top of this we have a mix of government that are cutting everything while charging more via the back door and on the surface don't actually appear to be fixing anything. The cost of everything is going through the roof. I packed up smoking last year - and thank god for small mercies, having recently seen a packet of 16 (yes only 16) cigarettes in a vending machine priced at 8 quid!!!  8 QUID???!!  What the be-jesus is that all about?  That means, one cigarette would cost you 50p!  For a 19 year old apprentice, that means almost 4 hours work without putting a roof over their head or eating anything!?  What happened to the simple pleasures - even if they were bad for you?

On a global scale, Japan, Libya, & Syria... in fact, the whole of the middle east!  I'm not one to swear in my blog often, but fecking hell... this is getting stupid now.

In short I am not a happy bunny!

<Grumpy Old Man Mode: OFF>

.. and so, instead of being a GOM (sorry, but I had to vent a little), let's try and focus on the good stuff.  What's positive that's been happening or is on the cards ?

I'm on holiday (even if I am spending it with my hand clamped roughly to my jaw) as we're now almost precisly in the gap between bank holidays. There's the fothcoming flag waving of the royal wedding to look forward to - that should help shouldn't it?? No? .. well, OK, but I am on holiday still.  Sort of.  

"The Pooh" and I are still awaiting news from the front, but it's a bit slow in coming. I keep checking, but it's like the proverbial "watched pot", and is never boiling. At some point, it will boil over and then it'll be all hands to the pumps and manning the gas tap as it's bound to wash the burning ring out.

The previous weekend has been a cracker though - and no mistake.  Mrs G and I took a trip to North Nibley.  "Where?", I hear you ask.  

Here:


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It's a beautiful little village near Dursley in Gloucestershire. What drew us here was a recent news story regarding the people of Nibley and their monument.   It starts with an uphill struggle through the woods and eventually to a gate that opens out onto a field atop the hill.  And there before you sits the 111-foot-tall monument.

It says here:

William Tyndale was born in Gloucestershire around 1490. He spent much of his early life in Nibley, Stinchcombe and Slimbridge before going on to Magdalen Hall, Oxford, from which he graduated with a BA in 1512. After this he spent some time in Cambridge before employment as tutor to the children of Master Walsh, a Knight of Sodbury Manor, Gloucestershire.

It was while as Sodbury, William Tyndale seriously began to consider translating the New Testament into English. At this time, the doctrines preached by Martin Luther on the continent were being discussed in England and Tyndale accepted them and preached them in Sodbury and villages around.

After some time he went to London and there, continued studying and preaching. But persecution was too strong and he made his way to Wittenburg, the home of Luther and joined an enthusiastic band of students who had gathered there. Here he prepared his translation of the New Testament which he had printed in Antwerp and then had copied smuggled into this country.

Shortly after this William Tyndale was put into prison by the Emperor of Germany on a charge of heresy. At his trial he pleaded that the doctrines he taught were contained in the Bible and that the Bible ought to be in a language which everyone could read. His defence was of no avail and subsequently in the courtyard of Vilvorde Castle near Brussels he was chained to a stake and burnt.

The date was October 6th, 1536.

A facsimile of the Tyndale New Testament can be seen in the lobby of North Nibley Tabernacle.

The monument was built between 1863 and 1866 to commemorate the work of William. The land around the monument as always been freely accessible to the public, but now the landowner wants to sell up.  The villagers have an apeal going to raise the £46,000 needed to keep it as it is today.  It's a beautiful area with a cracking pub - something we don't have enough of anymore. I'd highly recommend a couple of hours here to anyone should you be passing. Proper smashing.

Right then - it's time to find a dentist that won't mug me....   That will be a struggle.

 



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Eggs-ellent pottering and BBQing weather

This sunshine seems to just keep on giving which is very disturbing when you're British and it's still April. However, not wishing to complain we can do naught but make the very best of it. Make hay, as the saying goes.

With that in mind, Saturday saw Mrs G and I taking to our two wheeled friends for a six miler out and about the city. Gloucester has more than it's fair share of roughneck areas, but it also has one or two gems. The docks and the cathedral are the two most obvious ones.

Even though I've lived around here for nigh on 10 years I have yet to step foot in the cathedral proper. Given that I've got the week free, and as it's a religious time of year (although I should point out that I am not the most religious person on the planet by any stretch of the imagination) I might well try and pay the place a visit in the coming days. Expect photos should that come to fruition. Of course those of you that are familiar with "The boy who lived" will already have espied the cloisters of the cathedral as it's been the location for many Hogwarts scenes for Harry Potter 1 through to 6.

On a related note I've been catching up with Mr Potter's goings on by having a Potter fest of movies and am now ready to take on part 7a, although I suspect I may wait until 7b is available too. Just want to add though, that the franchise has got better and better as it's gone on. 5 and 6 are my favourites having finally got sone proper meat on the bones of the story. If you haven't seen the full set, it's recommended viewing for anyone who likes a bit of fantasy/adventure/type stuff.

To get back to my point... Mrs G and I's hunt for Easter eggs. That's what we were doing out on the bikes in the first place. We trundled into town and after searching high and low failed miserably to find exactly what we were looking for in any of the big-name retail outlets. A lickle corner shop came to our rescue though and all was right with the world.

The return trip was via the docks and it was particularly beautiful on such a sun-shiny day. Even the dry dock was filled up and ready to re-launch it's most recent guest.

Once we'd arrived back at the ranch plans were laid for today's BBQ spectacular at BBB's house. All very confusing, but then it is Monday. Or is it Wednesday? Could be Sunday. Frankly I have no idea.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Friday, April 22, 2011

Lazy days and networks

To quote Lebowski:

The Big Lebowski: Are you employed sir?
The Dude: Employed?
The Big Lebowski: You don't go out looking for a job dressed like that? On a weekday?
The Dude: Is this a...  what day is this?

It's a good point, and to be honest over the next week or two is going to become a well asked question. With no less than 4 bank holidays either side of the next two weekends we really don't have a cat in hells chance of knowing what day it is from one sunrise to the next. Right now, it could be a Friday, or a Saturday, or at a stretch it might be Sunday. Hmmm it's all very confusing.

Anyway, whatever day it is, it seems I can treat it as if it were a Saturday, so I've started it off with a mowing of the lawn. Bit of a walk to the local shop (for local people) with Mrs G and drive to "Countrywide" to pick up some growbags with daughter. Back at the ranch and positioning and planting of said bags brings us nicely round to mid afternoon. Strawberries and tomatoes if you were wondering.
Got a sausage casserole on the go in the slow cooker for this evenings dinner, other than that, it's all about the sunshine. What a gorgeous day.

Finally, just a little geek news.... Seems that the behemoth that is the Playstation Network (Sony's equivalent of X-Box Live) is off line and has been for about 24 hours with no articulated reason.  Some people pay for the premium level service on this network. I imagine they're extremely upset and the result could well cause long term damage to sony's mostly unblemished record to date.
And secondly, just how green is the iPhone (you know, the one that tracks your movements)

How-green-is-iphone-for-web
Geekaphone's How Green is the iPhone Infographic


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Happy Easter

While this may not be the Easter bunny, it's definitely Simon's Cat. Enjoy



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

.. nor poles .. Harsh!


Taken at Hing Tai

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

What a lot of Malarkey

Me and the Pooh have been strolling round the edge of the 100-acre wood with plenty of malarkey again today.  We're both sure there's a style around here somewhere that will enable us to get in there and round up a few pheasants. Sadly, even if we found it, Christopher Robin won't let us climb up and over it and venture into the forest.... at least not yet...  but that time is fast approaching and no doubt.

Looking down the hill from our vantage point towards the old village, we can see a couple of other woodland folk chasing rabbits along the hedgerow. But that's rabbits for you, even if you catch them, they've mostly got mixi.

For those of you that don't know about such country ways let me explain by way of a short tale regarding a rabbit that I once knew.  This particular rabbit was fond of the good old croque monseuir (brevelle / toasted sandwhiches to you and I).  He'd often be seen hanging around the tea rooms in the village and sneaking in for a swift snack.  He'd often have a cheese one around 11am, and then a ham one around midday, only to be back in again at 1pm for a tuna one (should Mrs Miggins have her larder up to stock). This way of things was fine for a little while and our friend (let's call him Ron) was happy with his lot - as was Mrs Miggins with the carrots that she was recieving in payment. I digress.... 

After a couple of weeks, Ron fell ill and completely lost his appetitie.  Off he went to see his local quack (a duck obviously) who listened carefully and then presented him with the diagnosis.  Feeling blue and miserable he moched off home to the warren and shared his woes with Mrs Ron.  "So what's up ?" said she.  "Ahh, I'm not well" he replied. "And what does the quack have to say?" she enquired...  "Well, I've had it" said our Ron. "I'm doomed and life will be short for I have....." wait for it......    MixingMeToasties!!

Anyway...   Sorry about that.

Back to the Malarkey.....

 

malarkey - noun

Definition
silly behaviour or nonsense<

I like the socializing but I can't be bothered with the dressing up and all that malarkey.

 


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PS: Sorry about the comedy Tag - First rule of comedy???..... Be Funny.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I heard that "P-diddy made a Viddy of a biddy". Did he?

Viddy is Instagram for Video. And now has 15,000 new users a day, without advertising or press. Why not check out this application on the App Store? Early days for good ratings and possibly too much take up too soon?
Cover Art

Viddy


Viddy, Inc.
Category: Social Networking
Updated: 02 Apr 2011
    21 Ratings

    A bit more on the subject here: http://j.mp/e6cY37


    This post originally appeared here: Posterous

    Where once Frank Whittle....


    ....created the 1st Jet Engine, now stands a brand new row of shops with modern apartments above. Nice job Claude. :-)



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    This post originally appeared here: Posterous

    Jazz 2011

    Thank god there's no Rhythm or Blues Festival because I would surely go insane. For those of you believing I have some sort of hatred of Blues music or the art of Rhythm, rest assured I do not. It's just an in-joke.

    I'm not actually a huge Jazz fan either. I enjoyed the music in "The Talented Mr.Ripley" greatly, but that's about the extent of it for me.  Still, if Jazz is your thing...

    Cheltenham Festivals

    One week to go….

    With just a week to go until the start of the 2011 Jazz Festival, we’re busy with all the final preparations – banners have appeared around Cheltenham and tents are starting to go up in Imperial Gardens ready for the opening of Jazz on the Square on 28th April and our special Royal Celebration day on Bank Holiday Friday 29th. It’s all very exciting.

    Find out more about Jazz on the Square and the Royal Celebration

    Jazz Fringe 2011

    This year’s Jazz on The Town kicks off this Thursday 21st April with a great selection of free gigs happening in local pubs, cafes and shops. Then next Thursday (28th April), the Imperial Gardens play host to Fringe on the Square, which will continue throughout the Bank Holiday with free jazz on the Budvar Stage.

    Read the full Jazz Fringe programme


    Programme updates

    Some changes have been made to a small number of Jazz Festival events:

    Spin Marvel, Jazz Arena, Saturday 30 April, 5.15pm

    We’re thrilled to be able to confirm that for this performance 

    Spin Marvel are being joined by special guest John Paul Jones, of Led Zeppelin and Them Crooked Vultures, on bass guitar. He joins an already all-star line-up of Martin France, Nils Petter Molvaer and Terje Evensen. More information

    Overtone Quartet, Cheltenham Town Hall, Sunday 1 May, 7pm

    Due to the serious illness of a close family member Dave Holland is unfortunately unable to perform. His place will be taken by another legendary bassist Larry Grenadier, whose distinguished career includes long-established associations with Brad Mehldau, Pat Metheny and the trio Fly (whose performance was a highlight of the 2010 Festival), amongst many others.

    Grenadier will join this all-star quartet which also features Jason Moran on piano and fender rhodes, Chris Potter on tenor sax and Eric Harland on drums. More information

    In conversation with Jamie Cullum, Jazz Arena, Monday 2 May, 11am - on public sale

    Previously only available to Members, tickets for this exclusive event are now available to the general public.Jamie is talking to Russell Davies, fellow jazz musician, writer and presenter, about his musical influences and the highlights of his career so far. Book tickets online.

    Family Breakfast Show – Brass Jaw, Cheltenham Town Hall, Monday 2 May, 10.30am

    The doors to the Town Hall will now open at 9.30am to allow people plenty of time to purchase their breakfast and find a seat before the event begins. More information

    Following the show the four members of Brass Jaw have also agreed to answer any questions from budding young musicians in a short informal question and answer session between 11.40am and 12noon. This will take place in the Town Hall drawing room, next to the main hall, and will have limited capacity. Anyone wishing to attend should come to the drawing room immediately after the breakfast show has finished with their ticket from this event. If you have any queries about this event, please emailjazzfestival@cheltenhamfestivals.com

    If you have any questions about any of these changes, please contact the Box Office on 01242 505444.


    Festival dates...

    Cheltenham Jazz Festival 27 April - 2 May 2011
    The Times Cheltenham Science Festival 7 - 12 June 2011
    HSBC Cheltenham Music Festival 29 June - 10 July 2011
    The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 7 October - 16 October 2011

    Copyright © 2011 Cheltenham Festivals, All rights reserved. 
    You are receiving this email because you opted in to Cheltenham Festivals eNews via our website, through Festival print or at the box office, or if you know us, were signed up by one of the Festival team. If you want to unsubscribe at any time just follow the link below. 
    Our mailing address is: 
    Cheltenham Festivals
    109-111 Bath Road
    Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL53 7LS





    This post originally appeared here: Posterous

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    Superhero's in Politics

    I saw this somewhere and just had to share...

    Tumblr_ljtfjlzjvr1qdj68ao1_500



    This post originally appeared here: Posterous

    To 'av and to Hold, 'til election do us part.

    It had to happen. At some point there was going to be a lapse in my concentration and determination, and my head would be turned, and my blood pressure would rise, and of course then I'd have to say something. I'm sure you'd rather I didn't, and so do I really, but then again, this is kind of important stuff so here it is....  May the 5th will be the UK's referendum on AV and while (as I've said before) I'm not a particularly political animal, something like this deserves some attention.

    Img_0173
    Part of the reason for my lack of engagement in the political process isn't down to apathy, but the difficulties that are put in our pathway towards getting involved. There was a TED talk last year that, while its US based, goes some way to explain some of that issue. Dave Meslin puts it very well in "The antidote to apathy". Well worth a watch..

    http://www.ted.com/talks/dave_meslin_the_antidote_to_apathy.html

    It's a hefty few weeks coming up. This week we have a four dayer, with good Friday stopping us being productive at the end of the week. Next week it gets better still with a three day week. Monday being Easter Monday and Friday being the Royal Wedding for which we've all been given a day off. And yet more bank holidays with the following Monday being May Day and so another 4 day week. And after all that lazing around doing nothing we have to decide as a country what to do about the way we vote.

    I may be at risk of explaining to my father's mother the correct method for reverse blowing an egg, but for the benefit of the uneducated, I need to cover off the problem in simplistic terms first. Bear with.

    Currently we have the "first past the post" system. This consists of a ballot paper with a candidate for each party on it and as a voter you have a single vote for your local candidate. Local candidates are competing for a seat. Government is decided on the number of seats each party acquires.  The most seats determine the governing party. Note how this is not the most votes, but the most seats. What becomes absolutely crucial in this system is where the constituency borders are drawn because that effects the numbers of voters, and available number of seats. This system means it's entirely possible, and actually a regular occurrence, for 51% (or more) of the population to vote for a party that doesn't run the country.

    In an effort to make the voting system fairer, we're now being offered "AV" - The Alternative Vote. But is it fairer? How does it work?

    "AV" consists of a ballot paper with a candidate for each party on it and as a voter you get to rank the in order of preference. If none of the candidates earn more than 50% of the vote, then the ranking can be used to allocate. Put simply, if a candidate earns 51% of the first choice votes they are elected. If not then the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is eliminated and their voters second choice is then counted instead. This is repeated until a candidate has over 50% of the vote. If the second choice has already been eliminated, then the vote passes to choice 3.

    OK, so it's complex, but probably more representative of the will of the people. But... That doesn't mean it's right.

    What do our current leaders say about it?  Well the current PM (Diddy Dave C - Conservative) is all for keeping it as it is. I suppose, after all, it got him to where he is today. However, his bezzie mate (Nick middle of the road Clegg) who got Dave the job of PM, is all for changing it in the name of fairness. I'm not 100% clear on either of their reasons. According to some research from the BBC, the overall outcome of the contests in recent years would not have changed, but the Liberal Democrats would have gained the most seats and the scale of the Conservative defeat in 1997 would have been much greater. Perhaps it's this that explains their leanings.

    I have a basic problem with the local candidate / seat system in the first place. Surely to be truly representative, we should have one vote for a governing party? Let's face it, the candidates are usually crooks, so who has any faith in them?  Moreover I'm not convinced that the borders and community sizes for each constituency are the fairest or the most balanced numbers either.

    I think when we talk about electoral reform, we need to consider more far reaching and radical reform. If we're going to bugger about with it, lets do it properly. I think the system needs simplifying to get maximum engagement from the voting population and we need to be voting for a government rather than a local representative who typically doesn't represent. Even after last years shenanigans with expenses, and for example, my own (now ex) MP watching "the match" instead of showing his face in the house to vote on the digital economy bill, there still isn't much evidence of "them" working for "us". In fact I see them taking slopey shouldered options to palm off the rough jobs to local councils (closing libraries, reducing spending on policing etc) while trying to take credit for anything that might be construed as positive.

    I'm happy to have a locally elected council still (although I'm sure there is plenty of reform needed here to - the ability to vote on all your local councils major decisions for a start) and I think we need departmental ministers, but do I want my representative to be responsible for a department as well? Simply, no. One job only. And as they've been so poor at representation, let it not be that. In fact remove local MPs altogether. They are the equivalent of a layer of middle management, happy to spend our taxes, and no real measurement of delivery.

    OK, so now you're thinking where do we get these departmental heads from if we're to have no local MPs?  It's a job, like any other, that you or anyone else can apply for, but essentially it's a civil service post. There would be departmental posts for all three major parties, with two in opposition to the elected party. While this seems like an increase in costs, it's actually a reduction because we loose all the constituency MPs in favour of departmental MPs.

    I'm aware that these suggestions are pretty radical, and of course I haven't fully explored them, crossed any the T's or dotted associated I's, but I do think this is the level of reform that we actually need. A damn good shake up to get rid of the cash black holes and give the electoral power back to the people. However, these suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg.

    As for how I'll be voting in May. I'm still reading, but maybe a change regardless will put the "thought of change" back on the agenda and perhaps people will see an opportunity to claim their power back....  Of course, being Brits, were just as likely not to bother getting involved with the process anyway and turnout at the poles, given the recent number of bank holidays, could actually be infinitesimally small.

    Interesting, if not power changing times.

    If you're looking for some more far more biased info from both sides of the argument, take a look at these:

     or 
    Yes



    This post originally appeared here: Posterous

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    I may be a racist...

    Dilbert.com

    This post originally appeared here: Posterous

    Once you put this on...

    When I was a kid there was an advert on TV for Dulux weather shield paint. You might remember it. It featured an old fella in a flat cap struggling up a hillside with a tin of paint, a ladder and a spade. We saw him digging some turf and trowling some concrete or plaster. Then we saw him painting something on the ground. Eventually, the camera pulled back to reveal a freshly painted Dulux Dog (actually an old english sheep dog) on the hillside.

    Part of the VoiceOver to this ad, which was in a sort of Yorkshire accent, went along the lines of "Goes on smooth, seems to shrug off weather, and if a jobs worth doing....". Now don't ask me why, for I know not the answer, but for some reason that snippet of audio from nineteen-eighty-something-or-other has stuck with me for my entire life.

    Strange how odd moments do that, and I'm sure you have some of your own, but I digress (Just for a change -Ed)

    My point is, that whenever I find myself three quarters of the way through a job that has become.... shall we say, boring... then I find myself thinking of that line. Yesterday was a good example of this with my garage clearance and tidying excercise in full swing. Hot and thirsty work, and so enevitably, boring....

    Image 0image
    I thought of the fella in the flat cap, and said "Goes on smooth, seems to shrug off weather". To the casual observer, naturally I would have appeared to be an imbecile talking to himself. The problem with this, is that they weren't there, so they don't get it. Perhaps if I said the "if a jobs worth doing" bit instead, they might not look at me as if I was talking Chinese, but where's the fun in that? One day I'll say it in the company of someone who saw the ad and gets it. At that moment the ad will find it's rightful place in history as a "cult TV ad"

    This bizarre train of thought I was riding, led me to hunt high and low across the interweb with our friend the Google. The result is a revelation. The Dulux ad lives....

    Now pay attention, there are lots of interesting historical facts about this clip, although I want you to see the Ad first.

    Skip to 2 minutes 15 seconds and enjoy....



    By now, you'll almost certainly have watched the whole thing rather than just the ad in question, which means that at 3 minutes and 48 seconds you will also have seen one of the most iconic chocolate ads ever made. I say iconic, because dad's up and down the country would just love watching them.... Can't think why.

    Of course kids loved watching them too (they have chocolate in them) but in my world of shrugging off weather, I managed to enjoy morphing the lyrics a little. Flakes in our our house consisted of "only the crumbliest, flakiest chocolate (which), tastes like chocolate that's been tasted before"... Really not nice.

    Also of note in this clip are the following facts. It's from the 10th of June, 1984 just after the England v Brazil match, which England won 2-0. It also refers to Channel 4 showing the original logo for that then new station. It has an ad with the now super famous Hugh Laurie. It refers to the European elections of June the 14th and it has the "Central" TV network logo. Finally, and most importantly, its the ad break just before "Spitting Image"

    As we've brought back everything else from the 80's (Royal weddings, Conservative governments, Protests, Strikes and recessions) can we please, please, please bring back spitting image. It was the best use of rubber puppets to have a pop at he government that was ever made. But then, that'll be the ICI Acrylic in it.

    This post originally appeared here: Posterous

    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    Welcome To Blogsy

    Saturday has arrived and a beautiful day it's going to be aswell. This last week seems to have disappeared in the blink of an eye. It's fair to say, the older you get the less time there is. It was never like this in the old days when summer seemed to just roll on and on and days felt like weeks. Now, days feel like moments, and summer's gone before it gets going - well, a bit.

    After Tuesday in a Starfleet outpost, which was made particularly entertaining by the addition of the Boer and Grandpa Jack (blatant plagiarism for which I must thank the Badman), the rest of the week has been very quiet. A few calls, some updates, and two solid days worth of appalling training to get through. Generally though, not much going on.

    The training was of the online type that doesn't do any subject any justice. It was poorly thought out and voiced by people that probably shouldn't voice such things. I have a CD around here somewhere of Paul McKenna, the famous Radio DJ that went into hypnosis, presumably after discovering he had a knack of sending his listeners to sleep. You get the picture. A similar outcome.

    Thursday's WTC involved a midnight curry. Tiring but enjoyable and as always, the banter was top notch.

    Friday turned into a bit of a geek fest for me in the end. I mentioned earlier in the week how I've been trying to switch mobile phone handset within Starfleet, and it finally came to fruition. It's actually awesome to have corporate email, contacts and calendar in the palm of my hand on an iPhone. it's nothing new of course. I used to have this 10 years ago on the first blackberry devices, but of course an iPhone is that much more of everything. The best feature here for my money is sitting down to my laptop and having no new email because I've already seen it. That's a great feeling that I never tire of. It's a route I'd recommend to everyone if they get he opportunity.

    The geeky piece of techno-notice is Blogsy. Those of you that have been hanging around here will be aware that I write this stuff on Posterous. Sometimes I use my mail client for this, sometimes directly on the site, sometimes a notepad/word processor type application combined with copy and paste. In the old days I used to just write to "Blogger" and then I moved to an iOS app called "BlogPress" which is a great way of doing things. Sadly it doesn't support Posterous (which auto posts everywhere) so my use of it lately as become minimal. I do however lament it's loss. It's formatting features are very helpful and it gives a polished, managed feel to your blogging experience.

    Which brings me to Blogsy.. This is a new app for iOS (iPad only at the moment) that does the same thing for Blogger and Wordpress that BlogPress does. It too does not support Posterous, so out of the gate it won't be getting a huge amount of use from me, but there is the possibility of adding support at a later date, and so I'm taking I for a run to see what happens. This entry is entirely written in Blogsy.

    So far so good. It's all a bit drag and drop for adding in media. Makes life very simple. The logo above was just dragged from a google search sighing the app. Same thing with this video of it in action:

    Simple, elegant and worth a couple of quid of anyone's money. Just hope they find a nice way of adding in posterous support.

    One other mistake that I made yesterday was to take the cardboard recycling out of the garage. Now that was stupid of me. I've gone and made a clean spot. The implications of which are that now I have to do the whole thing. I've been threatening to for a while, and besides that, the roof has to come off the roller skate and go into storage for the summer, so space must be made in the winter dumping ground. It's a tough job but I'm up to it. and besides daughter said she'd help.

    But where to start? That old chest of drawers? The corner of cobwebs? Hanging the bikes from the roof or the walls?..... Wish me luck.

    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    A Disturbance in the Force There Is

    The words "Canon" and "Loose" are springing to mind this morning.  Feel free to re-arrange them from Yoda speak into english. and then to ascertain a meaning from them should you so wish to do so.  Basically, if you don't know what you're on about - shut up.

    Meaning
    An unpredictable person or thing, liable to cause damage if not kept in check by others. Origin The allusion in the phrase is to improperly secured cannons on ships which were likely to roll about on deck and damage the ship. No evidence has come to light to indicate that the phrase was used by sailors in the days that ships carried cannons. The term is alluded to in Victor Hugo’s novel Ninety Three, 1874. A translation of the French original describes cannons being tossed about onboard following a violent incident onboard ship:

    "The carronade, hurled forward by the pitching, dashed into this knot of men, and crushed four at the first blow; then, flung back and shot out anew by the rolling, it cut in two a fifth poor fellow" ... " The enormous cannon was left alone. She was given up to herself. She was her own mistress, and mistress of the vessel. She could do what she willed with both."

    Henry Kingsley picked up this reference in his novel Number Seventeen, 1875 :

    "At once, of course, the ship was in the trough of the sea, a more fearfully dangerous engine of destruction than Mr. Victor Hugo’s celebrated loose cannon."

    The earliest figurative use of 'loose cannon', i.e. a usage not relating to actual cannons, in print that I can find is from The Galveston Daily News, December 1889:

    The negro vote in the south is a unit now mainly because it is opposed by the combined white vote. It would in no event become, as Mr. Grady once said, "a loose cannon in a storm-tossed ship."



    This post originally appeared here: Posterous

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Where's little Nellie when you need her?

    With the crankshaft bearings being a priority outside of the work stuff, I took a lunchtime ride out on the push bike to a place to get them sorted. I probably should have explained that while it might seem like a travesty that a bike less than 12 months old should be in need of repair already, you gets what you pays for. What I mean is, this is a tesco value bike all the way from sunny china. It's solid enough, but the complicated bits (bearings and gears) seem to be not quite 100%. I'm told this is because Chinese metal is made from an ore called bambooicite which of course makes perfect sense and now I understand why I keep being chased by Panda's whenever I'm out on it.
    Now I'd planned to go to a little shop off in the city that takes care of such things, but this is where the out-of-town labels for once got the upper hand. With it being so hard to pedal the damn thing and having to pass halfords on the way into the city, the inevitable happened and I gave up the slog in favour of the corporate convenience.

    Crank_1

    It seems like a reasonable enough price - £25 for a full service, brakes, gears, tyres wheels etc and that includes the cost of the new bearings and the time to fit them, but they're booked up pretty solidly until a week on Wednesday. Mrs G is bound to be displeased. It means she'll have to continue on the old clunker for at least a week. Daughter and I will have to persuade her that's it's good for her (which of course it is) but sometimes, you can't see it for yourself. No doubt when the cheap and cheerful chinese chopper has had it's service, it'll be a slick machine and faster than a speeding bullet.

    I'm not cycling anywhere today however. I'm in the Japanese roller skate off to a Starfleet base for a meeting with the Badman on our secret mission. Can't say anymore than that on the subject for obvious reasons, other than to say that spectre have taken a shufty through the files they have on us and are considering changes to the organisation. Felix Leiter has his work cut out and of course Q-division have a couple of tricks up their sleeve yet, including Little Nellie:

    http://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=kbKPsPit0pI

    Fun times. I'm also in the process of switching phone handsets within Starfleet. This seems to be an extremely overcomplicated process that shouldn't be, but time will tell.
    And with that, it's time I hit the road.Good Luck.



    This post originally appeared here: Posterous

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Dear Diary and other stories...

    So now it feels like it's properly April although after such stunning weather over the weekend you might well have thought it was summer already.

    This one's just a quick diary catchup, just so I'm keeping track of the comings and goings, the why's and wherefores, the strikes and the gutters. In this case, that means what the hell have I been up to in the last week? I mean I've mentioned a few things, and there's been a couple of photo's, but I do appear to have somewhat slipped from the habit of writing an entry everyday.

    In part this is because of the distractions that the new year has brought. Work has changed dramatically and so I've been re-aligning myself to it. Bizarrely, I'm starting to get a bit of a kick out of it again. Something that hasn't been the case for more than a couple of years. However, I'm all too aware of the fragility of the place. Things can disappear as quickly as they arrive, and vicky verky (which roughly translated means vice-versa)

    Perhaps I should resolve to return to 750words.com, which is after all, what got me into this mess in the first place. I might take a poke around at it if schedules permit, but let's not count any chickens.

    The other thing that's diverted me is the use of instagr-am. Without doubt the coolest photography app on the iPhone, I find myself using it to document goings on without writing anything. I know they say a picture is worth a thousand words, but then they say all sorts of things don't they. Many of which are just old wives and grandmothers tales. The immediacy of posting a photo to the blog is a big draw and apparently so much so that it is becoming my shorthand for writing an entry of any substance. It's not a situation I'm particularly over-the-moon about.

    I like words. No, that's not right. I love words. They are solid concrete things that explain how the world around me looks, and feels and works and yet at the same time, they are malleable and as such I can bend them to my very will. I can use them to create beautiful structures, bold sentences and bull sh1t, as well as alliteration. (I see what you did there -Ed) They are immensely powerful and instantly disposable. Just like the old newspaper saying: "Today's headline is just tomorrow's chip wrapper" *. From Shakespeare to swearing and back again, words are a heavenly device, hence my feeling I should write more and photograph less.

    For the geeks who were wondering how that hangs together.... A photo in my library or taken from within instagr-am itself is posted to the instagr-am site, Twitter, Posterous, Facebook and if it has location info attached to it, checks me in on Foursquare all simultaneously. The Posterous entry can then also create entries for Blogger, Tumblr and Wordpress. You can see the appeal. Click-post-disseminate. Simples.

    None of this is telling you about my week though is it. It is just procrastination which avoids the subject and diverts us away from the stated aims. So let's get to it....

    Monday - work, Tuesday - work, Wednesday - work, Thursday - work (and WTC very poorly administered by Jugs), Friday - work. I would like to expand on the work details, but I've signed an NDA, so I could tell you, but the I'd have to have you "taken care of" to put it as politely as possible. Besides that, the Badman puts it so much better than I. You really should take a look at http://badmansjournal.blogspot.com/.

    Friday night was a short bike ride (4 miles) with daughter on which I nearly died. I kid you not. At the time I was very concerned about my health and felt I might actually have been near some sort of heart malfunction. After some recuperation however, I've drawn the conclusion that there were actually four factors that contributed to my in-the-region-of-death experience (it wasn't that near).

    1: Illness. I've had a cold/flu thing over the last couple of weeks which I haven't fully shaken off. It's definitely on the wane now though. I suspect that my oxygen flow was far from at it's peak with much coughing and spluttering.

    2: Daughters Pace. She is after all, only 21 and as fit as a preverbal butchers dog. I probably shouldn't try to out run her.

    3: Weather. It was damn hot on Friday and I was no doubt a little de-hydrated, compounded by the fact that Fridays inconveniently fall after Thursdays (WTC). And finally...

    4: Bike. Turns out the crank shaft bearings have gone, and so to keep pace with any normal bike, you end up pedalling almost double time, and there's little or no free wheeling. It's a (potential) killer.

    Saturday started with some lawn mowing, and general garden tidying while daughter and Mrs G ran some town based errands. It then completely skipped over the Grand National which I had on my initial list as something to have a look at and then morphed into a spontaneous Bar-B-Q. Who knew?!! Mrs G, Daughter and I just thought as it was such a nice day we'd have a few friends round, open up the hot tub, fire up the bar-bee and crack a few tinnies, along with some carefully selected wines.

    It's on days like that that the hot tub shows itself as the sound investment it was. In fact, more of a cool tub on such a day. Having turned it down to a mere 30 degrees, it made for a most refreshing dip from the heat and was especially fun for the kids. The adults enjoyed the weather and frivolity. The bar-bee passed it's first run of the year, and the iTunes DJ feature got a good testing. No party should be without it in this day and age. Most entertaining.

    Sunday had the same weather again. We'd unfortunately had a rather sleepless night caused by some engineering works on the nearby railway. I understand that night time works are the least disruptive to the network, but they are still the most disruptive to our sleep patterns. On the plus side, Sunday meant we allowed ourselves a lie-in and I actually felt my cold/flu/thing lift a little.

    So much so in fact, that Mrs G and resolved to cycle into the city and back out and over to her offices. The logic with a ride to her offices is in preparation for her daily commute. She's intending to cycle with daughter and wanted to gauge the timing. Naturally after Friday's events I wasn't overly keen, but in point of fact, I had nothing to be concerned about. 2 out of 4 of my previous issues were dealt with (it was still hot and I have yet to have the crankshaft bearing replaced) and as a result, it was a most enjoyable outing. About 8 miles round trip - felt like 200 yards - a doddle.

    For the final leg, Mrs G and I swapped bikes. What a dream it is to ride on a decent set of crankshaft bearings (said the actress to the bishop). The repair is imminent I feel.

    And here we are, back at Monday. What does this week hold? Well at least one day will spent with the Badman in another Starfleet office. My diary has a few conference calls and meetings throughout but beyond that... I have no idea.

    I'm hoping for a week as smooth as my new bearings will be. Have fun.


    * For the American audience, I feel this one really needs a proper bit of explanation. Back in the day, the Brits used to buy "deep fried fish with french fries" on a Friday night as "take out". The french fries would be wrapped up in yesterday's newspaper. Waste not, want not. Today, Mr Health & Nanny State Safety, wouldn't dream of allowing such a thing to take place, not least because newspaper ink is probably more toxic now than it was 30 years ago. Instead we have plain boring chip paper. Where's the fun in that?



    This post originally appeared here: Posterous

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    The Things We Should Not Mention

    Unlike sex, politics or religion, folklore is a perfectly suitable subject of conversation for the dinner table. I do love a bit of folklore which, if you're wondering comes from the words folk (meaning: People) and lore (meaning: Learning) so people-learning then. There are hundreds of myths and legends that fit into the folklore category, but there are a few, and only a few, that must never be spoken of.

    It's a bit like that scene in an American werewolf in London where the two American hitchhikers enter the local pub (for local people) on the edge of the moors. The silence that hits "The Slaughtered Lamb" is almost audible. "Strangers? Round here?" and the local darts player misses the board just to emphasise the things that will not be mentioned.

    Now, I know I shouldn't be mentioning these things, but, what the hey. It's 2011 for heaven's sake. We're all grown ups and really, what's the worse that can happen? For those of you of a nervous disposition, or a weak stomach, or more importantly, that are likely to believe some of this drivel.... Look away now. For the rest of you, good luck, and stick to the road. Keep off of the moors.

    First up is the story that's local to Gloucester and that prompted me to write this entry in the first place. The Bear. Anyone from the Gloucester area that's ever visited The Forest of Dean (or to give it it's more colloquial name, simply 'the forest') will know that under any circumstances you must never, ever mention the Bear. Even today people still say it with an air of mystery when someone says they're "Going down the Forest" ... "Really?.. Don't mention the Bear!" and the conversation halts.

    It turns out that this is all about two Russian bears who came to the Forest in 1889 with four Frenchmen. The story goes that the bears had been on display in Cinderford, and that whilst en route to nearby Ruardean, they were chased by an angry mob. There were rumours circulating that the "foreign" (and therefore dangerous) bear-keepers fed the animals on the flesh of children and that the animals had killed a child and mauled a woman in the nearby village.

    As a result, some of the residents attacked the troop, slaughtering the innocent animals and belting the living daylights out of two of the Frenchmen. Witnesses from Ruardean came to the rescue, took in the injured Frenchmen and nursed them back to health. Those that carried out the attack, were heavily fined, but during the case, they were only ever referred to as "residents of Ruardean".

    To this day, if you're down that way, it really is best not to mention the subject at all.

    Next up... And I have to tip my hat to the Badman for pointing this one out to me.. "The Monkey of Hartlepool". I know you think I'm making this stuff up, "but it's all true I tell thee, and I'm not looking forward to the journey home neither"

    Around the turn of the 18th century while the Napoleonic Wars were in full flight, a French ship was wrecked off the coast of Hartlepool. Naturally the British were ever fearful of a possible French invasion at the time, and so also, ever vigilant. The local fishermen of Hartlepool observed the shipwreck and kept a close eye on it while it was dashed and battered and eventually sunk by the sea. As the wreckage was washed ashore one of the fisherman spotted a survivor, that of the ships pet monkey who was dressed in a naval uniform and had presumably clung for dear life to the wreckage.
    Being "brave and upstanding countrymen" the fishermen took it upon themselves to question the monkey and held a "kangaroo court" (although that should probably be monkey court) on the beach. Naturally, they'd never seen a frenchman, let alone spoken to one, so the opinion they derived was that this was clearly a French spy and as such must be sentenced to death. And so it was that the monkey was hung from the mast of a fishing boat in the bay of Hartlepool.

    Just like the bear, it's suggested that you probably shouldn't ask who it was that hung the monkey. But it's up to you...


    And finally the Tregaron Elephant. Now you've probably heard about this one on the news this week. This time, it doesn't involve any Frenchman (which makes for a nice change) and is actually not quite as dark and desperate as our two earlier tales. Here's the breakdown straight from good old Aunty....

    Archaeologists having started digging up a pub beer garden in search of a legendary Victorian circus elephant.

    The Tregaron Elephant has long had its place in local folklore, and is thought to have been buried behind the town's Talbot Hotel after dying on tour. The elephant was said to have fallen ill after drinking contaminated water in the Ceredigion town in 1848. It is believed to have been part of Batty's Travelling Menageries, a circus troupe which entertained widely in the area that year.

    The small-scale excavation started on Saturday morning and the hunt for clues about the animal's final resting place will continue until next Thursday. About 10 people from the University of Wales Trinity St David are taking part. The dig has started in the beer garden at The Talbot in Tregaron.

    Dafydd Watkin and his partner Tracy Batt are licensees of the Talbot Hotel, and they said about 30 people had watched the start of the dig. Mr Watkin said the archaeologists were working in the hotel's beer garden, but had found nothing so far.

    "They started digging this morning and they'll be here until next Thursday," said Mr Watkin.

    "There's been quite a crowd here. About 30 people have been in and out watching the dig in the beer garden, and we're expecting more people over the weekend.

    "Before the dig started the local councillor Catherine Hughes said a few words."

    Mr Watkin said he was not worried about losing trade because of the dig, and added that it would probably draw in more customers.

    The dig is part of a wider project by the University of Wales Trinity St David's archaeology department. Dr Jemma Bezant of the School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology is heading it up. She said last month that the project was about celebrating the story of the Tregaron Elephant and less about "finding out the truth".

    She added that it was likely the effort would generate more questions than answers. 

     

    Now if that doesn't sound like a jolly good wheeze to enable the Archaeology department to get few sherberts down their necks while sitting out in the sun, I don't know what does. I'm sure they'll be fine as long as they steer clear of the water.

    I could go on at length about the Beast of Basingstoke, The Panda of Penge, the Unicorn of Barry Island or the Lions of Longleat, but then you'd know I was just making it up.

    Until next time. Don't mention the (insert animal not from round these parts, here).



    This post originally appeared here: Posterous

    Summer in the city... Well, late spring

    Media_httpimagesinsta_uiywb

    Taken at Gloucester

    This post originally appeared here: Posterous

    Saturday, April 09, 2011

    Wednesday, April 06, 2011

    How to deal with problems that are the size of a planet....

    Sometimes something can be in your path that appears to be unsurmountable. An issue of such large proportions that you can't seem to see around it, over it, under it or through it. A beast of a monster of a mountain of a problem that's more complex than a riddle wrapped up in an enigma inside a puzzle with no clues as to how to solve it, let alone understand the scale of it. Imagine standing in the foothills of Mount Everest, the largest mountain on the planet, and looking up and seeing way way off in the distance the peak. Now imagine doubling the size of the mountain and the peak almost disappears completely. Then double it again, and again and again. Lets say you double it until it's blotted out the sun. Now let's rename it Problem A. What we have here is an insanely large problem which at first, second, third and fourth glance is impossible to deal with. Any idea? .... Well, there is a way.

    Chunk it up and keep going. That's it. Chop it into smaller chunks until they are of manageable size and start managing them. Don't put it off. Just get on with it. And keep going. Finishing one chunk is not finishing the problem. But then you knew that already.



    This post originally appeared here: Posterous

    Tellybox Tantrums

    No news this morning. Literally nothing. Switch on the TV and it just says "No or Bad Signal" emblazoned across the middle of it. How very tedious. It seems the BBC have packed up and gone home in our Freeview neck of the woods...

    Ah! and then the little grey cells kick in and I can recall what has happened. It's digital switchover day for the Ridge Hill transmitter (I am available for after dinner speaking should you find my topics of conversation as riveting as I can see they are!). All that's needed is a quick retune and all should be well again. Not a bit of it!. What the ruddy-heck is occurring here? We have a couple of tellyboxes, so I go and have a fiddle with the other one to see if it's unique to the first. Sure enough it shows the same initial problem - the disappearance of the BBC, but a retune of that one and everything is well. It's starting to look like the problem could be with my 2005 model Humax.

    Image

    Instead of giving up all hope though, let's just give it the old "Full Factory Reset" on the off chance.. Press relevant menu option.... Hold Breath... Et Voila!!! Fixed. Sometimes technology is just too complicated even for itself.



    This post originally appeared here: Posterous

    Guarding the Garden

    Media_httpimagesinsta_pofmi


    This post originally appeared here: Posterous

    Tuesday, April 05, 2011

    Who is that?

    Media_httpimagesinsta_hdktg

    Taken at Golfy's Office

    This post originally appeared here: Posterous

    This time, its important information from M&S

    Your M&S
    We have been informed by Epsilon, a company we use to send emails to our customers, that some M&S customer email addresses have been accessed without authorisation.
    We would like to reassure you that the only information that may have been accessed is your name and email address. No other personal information, such as your account details, has been accessed or is at risk.
    We wanted to bring this to your attention as it is possible that you may receive spam email messages as a result. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you. We take your privacy very seriously, and we will continue to work diligently to protect your personal information.
    Marks and Spencer plc. Registered office: Waterside House, 35 North Wharf Road, London W2 1NW.
    Registered number: 214436 (England and Wales)



    This post originally appeared here: Posterous
     

    Where is Golfyball?

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