Saturday, 29 December 2012

Scary Santa pic

We got a load of things from my son's nursery and his childrens centre the other day, of various things he's made recently.  They're all very lovely, but...

Santa - I think
If you aren't a good little boy we'll send scary Santa round.

Doesn't this Santa look kinda scary?

The little one has been really developing lately, he's had trouble with his speech but the number of words he can now say seems to be accelerating from day to day.  Currently he can:

  • Do the alphabet, in order
  • Count up to 30, and is tackling the numbers beyond that
  • Say "Oops" whenever something is dropped, someone falls over, or he is pushed over (onto a soft surface!).  This can be particularly useful when he trips over or walks into something, a well timed "Oops!" can distract him from crying!
  • Saying "wow" at anything that interests him.  Christmas trees are very worthy of comment at the moment, as is my USB-powered Plasma Ball (thanks Dan!).
  • Wave goodbye when prompted
  • Say "Ta" as thanks for receiving food or drink when he feels like it.
  • Mama, Dada, and even "Grandma!" (when not receiving sufficient attention!)
  • Name various colours and animals (he's particularly good at "Purple")
  • Name body parts
  • Tell his nana's dog to "Get down" off the sofa!

And many other cute things that are of no interest to people without children!

I've just finished reading David Mitchell's autobiography, Back Story (the comedian, not the author) and I strongly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in his work.  Very funny and interesting, he takes us through his life using a walk around London as a back drop.  David comes across very well and I would say that I very much enjoyed the read.  Warning - the front cover is essentially a closeup of David's somewhat hairy face and this can be slightly disconcerting when catching it in the corner of your eye.  The back cover is much less stressful to notice :)

Thursday, 27 December 2012


Celebrate all, for below is the latest (festive no less) guest post from my dad. Enjoy!


Steel yourselves readers for a fearsome tale of dire trepidation, foreboding and unease.
Be afraid, be very afraid, for this could be YOU!


Key: O. – ‘Oh’ an expression of surprise!
         M. – me, this is a personal statement or expression which I am making.
         G. – either ‘God’ or ‘goodness’ as you choose.
         In this case it was “GOOD GOD - HOW MUCH?”

Tis the season to eat Holly apparently.. or some such thing. Halls are gaily decked, the milk of human kindness flows unceasingly and all work with frantic diligence to make the ‘winter Solstice celebration’ a success. (or whatever you wish to call it)

One small part of this fabulous time of year is the relatively unglamorous yet essential food shopping so necessary for family, fiends and other associated consumers. After all, the shops may be closed for two whole days! And what if a long lost family member just happens to drop in on you whilst passing and expect to be fed and watered?

A safe guide is approx 18kg of turkey per person, a dozen mince pies, a gallon of exotic beer, whiskey, rum, brandy, vodka and a case of white wine or fruit based drinks for ladies. (you have of course sent cards to everyone on the planet? .. of course you have)

So it was that we set out to ride the storm tossed seas of the supermarket for our yuletide fare. 16 litres of milk was deemed adequate – I will have beer to drink so that will help to save on tea drinking (I like to do my bit to ease the stress of the Yuletide holidays).

Six loaves of bread, fish, cooked meat, uncooked meat, potted meat, meaty meat, vegetables, cuddly toy etc ..  dog biscuits, mummies biscuits, daddies biscuits, chocolates, three bags of flour just in case we have to make our own bread, two kg of mixed exotic ‘seed’ to mix with bread dough to make it erm exotic and healthy, washing powder, pork pies, a small roast, a big roast, a roast roast, a roast which was chicken, a roast which was pork, a roast that was turkey …. a roast which wasn’t any of the previous … erm did I mention sweets?

Of course, that wasn’t all by a long way. Gradually the shopping trolley filled and filled to over flowing .. my mind drifted to an imaginary checkout where the bill grew and grew and grew. Electronic numbers clicked and flashed and with dream-like ease, effortlessly multiplying … £5. ..£20 ….£ 157.34 … £1976.51 …… £1,000,000 … number too big .. possibly infinity!

A whole imaginary nation was slowly tipping sideways and sliding into a violent storming sea …. The long drowned dead cried out “The bill is IMPOSSIBLE!”

I shook myself. Shivers of icy fear ran down my back as we waded our weary way through crowds of shoppers, some frantic to buy everything that could be bought, some dazed and incapable of choosing which brand of tea to buy. The checkouts were full. Queues of people stretched down the aisles awaiting service and supermarket assistants wandered back and forth checking to see if anyone needed water or a toffee to keep them going.

Eventually … it seemed without ever moving really …. We found ourselves at the checkout. A humanoid ‘smiled’ at us without looking – she was smiling, possibly grimacing, and clearly as stressed as we were. Items were hurled through the scanner and prices danced before my eyes .. £5 … £20 ….. I daren’t look!

The trolley was refilled and a simple, small piece of plastic flashed briefly, electronic numbers vanished and we were dismissed with thankyouhaveanicedaymerrychristashellohowareyoutoday?
The next customer was being instantly processed. I staggered out of the shop weighed down with purchases.

Thank goodness we decided not to splash out this year and to budget our food buying J

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Pancake with face

And a belated Merry Christmas to you all!  Hope you had a good Christmas Day, myself and my other half came down with something on Christmas Eve (not sure if food poisoning or a bug, myself I suspect the former) so we were pretty much out of that all that day and although we had a good time on the big day itself we did both go for a nap mid-afternoon!

Spoiler alert - after the picture below I'm going to talk about the Downton Abbey Christmas Special.

It's a pancake! And the raisins make a face!!! O. M. G.

My other half likes these pancakes you can get with raisins in that can be eaten cold or toasted.  Anyway this one the raisins made a face.

Yay :)

Anyhow, Downton Abbey.  I saw the Christmas special last night, very much enjoyed it as always.

But the end - and I'm delaying saying about it in case someone who hasn't seen the episode but is planning to is reading this - was a shock.

Almost as an afterthought, Matthew gets killed (presumably) in a car crash. Certainly the blood gliding down his blank face can't be beneficial for his health.

Downton Abbey is no stranger to death - the show kicked off with the sinking of the Titanic taking out the obvious male heirs, and over the years we've seen regular crew Lady Sybil and William die, along with the attache to the Ottoman Empire.

My first reaction was to criticise the show for killing Matthew so randomly and swiftly and as one of the nicest characters in the show he'll be sadly missed.

However, thinking about it does this only go to show how good the series is, to make me care about the characters in this way?  And I can't argue that Matthew's death isn't historically likely - although national road accident statistics weren't collected in 1921 (when the episode was set), in 1926 they did begin to, and in that year 4,886 deaths were recorded.  To give this figure some detail, in 2011 the number of deaths was 1,901, despite the fact that the daily flow of motor vehicles has increased by some 150% over the forty years from 1965 to 2008 (can't find statistics going back beyond that but I can't imagine traffic has lessened pre-1965).  Of course 1,901 is still far too many deaths - 1 is too many - but it does show that we are more careful on the roads today (as well as roads being better controlled, better emergency response systems etc).

I suppose my only concern is that the show has so many ups and downs and surprises and twists that it almost feels more like an episode of Eastenders (which I was a fan of for many years until the Sunday omnibus vanished from afternoons) than a period drama. But does that matter?

At any rate I will be watching the fourth season when it arrives to give me more to blog about!

Saturday, 22 December 2012


So, I was stood around in the kitchen.  Nothing particularly exciting, my other half was working on making tea and I was chatting to avoid doing chores.

Anyhow, it turns out that I have slidey socks.

And when I kind of leaned on a counter, my socks decided to slidey slide on the laminate flooring, and sit me down on the floor at the speed of gravity (32 feet per second?  So for me that's something like 0.125 seconds to sit me down from standing?)

But of course to do this, physics had to push my legs forward, so that I ended up karate kicking the kickboard under the oven, leaving it with a huge crack.

I'm actually quite pleased with this in a way, because I've had a hate-hate relationship with the kickboard, it's not fixed, just balanced upright so whenever you stand near it it takes the opportunity to topple forward onto your toes.

Plus, my son thought it was a great opportunity to climb into my lap, which was very cute, but made standing up even more difficult when my socks were still attempting to replicate ice.

Anyway, a video I wanted to flag up to everyone is Nyan Cat.  This is a geek cult video, referred to in The Guild's music video "I'm the one that's cool" (another great video to watch).  If you haven't seen it before go watch it.

Basically either you'll turn it off after ten seconds or your brain will melt.

I probably ought to be reported to someone, because I let my son watch it on my tablet.

Eden watching Nyan Cat

We'll see what condition he's in tomorrow.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Big Bang Theory is good

I'm really getting into The Big Bang Theory in a really rubbish way.  The Big Bang Theory, for those that don't know, is basically a sitcom about a bunch of geeks.  Made by the same guy behind Two And A Half Men (and Bill Prady, whose involvements include Star Trek Voyager and the Muppets), it's a very funny series.

I got into it because Wil Wheaton is in various episodes, and as a huge fan of Wil I really wanted to get in The Big Bang Theory.

Hence I promptly recorded 85 episodes, then deleted 81 because the Sky+ box was full and Christmas is coming up!

And now I've watched all the episodes I left (yes, the Wil ones) and I need more!

If you have a minute why not watch the below music video. Very funny and nice.

J Rabbit - Happy Things

Finally, I need your help.  I've been pet battling in World of Warcraft, and I need names for my favourite pets!

Don't mess with Little XT
 This adorable little guy is my robot, Lil' XT. He does a nasty electric shock attack, can repair himself, set a explosive bomb up, and when he dies can resurrect himself.  Very nice!

I've got a crab.
 This chap is my crab.  To be quite honest he's a little dull, but hard as nails to kill.

Panther cub! Everyone coo and aww before he kills you.
But by far my favourite pet is my panther cub. He does a stupidly large amount of damage, generally attacks before anything else can attack him, and if you play him right he heals himself by killing other animals. Fun!

But these pets need names.  Any suggestions, drop me an email or reply to this post with a comment.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Gamification and the use of "Achievements" in work plus the need for BIM

Anyone who has played computer games in the last two years will have become aware of "Achievements".  Basically, you receive Achievements for doing certain things in games.  Completing a level might give an achievement. Completing it on a harder difficulty setting might give another.  Completing it quickly might be another one.  Or finding a hidden item within the level.  Falling from a height that almost (but not quite) kills you.

Anything pretty much can be an Achievement.

And they're addictive.  I'm currently playing World of Warcraft and getting really in pet battles - for those not aware of what I'm talking about, basically you can train pets to fight other pets, to make them stronger.  And you can capture other pets (generally after your pet has kicked the stuffing out of them) to give you more choice.

And there's achievements for defeating certain people with your pets.  It's driving me on to get an Achievement, and basically makes me stay online playing the games for many hours more than I would do otherwise, playing what is basically a simple turn based fight sim.

There has been some thought into how this Achievement system could be brought into the world of work.  Certainly targets are nothing new (the acronym SMART is synonymous with target setting) but whether it can be reconfigured into an Achievements system is an intriguing one.

Would you stay longer at your desk working if it meant you getting more "points" than your colleagues?  It's certainly a way of differentiating between workers.  I think there's a danger that potentially people come to rely on it as a method of assessing quality of work, which in my view it is too much of a blunt implement to do successfully.  However, it could indeed form part of performance management, apart from its main role as a motivational tool.

Construction, my particular work sector, has long been viewed as in need of a revolution to produce efficiency.  In other sectors it would be unthinkable for managers based on site to be without email or internet facilities, in far too many situations it is still the case in construction that site managers are working without basic IT facilities to support them.

BIM, or Building Information Management, is not a solution by itself, but is still a potentially fantastic tool.  being able to identify clashes on designs prior to construction starting will reduce problems on site - simply equate the cost of changing a design against the cost of changing a design while a construction site is delayed waiting for the change to be made.  The use of web conferencing facilities to allow design meetings to take place virtually, with the design team sat in their offices watching as the building design is walked through virtually rather than everyone sat around poring over drawings, trying to imagine the finished facility.  And the benefits for users, who aren't necessarily skilled at deciphering drawings, now able to look at a virtual 3D model of their completed building.

The elimination of change post-tender is an important goal to aim for.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

The magic internet connectivity of Microsoft Error Reporting

Has anyone noticed that whatever network problems you may be having, Microsoft Error Reporting always gets through?

It always works.  I swear Microsoft has a hidden API in its software somewhere that converts your mouse into a wireless network dongle, so that even if your ethernet cable is broken, it'll somehow connect to whatever network is floating around in the air around us and send off its message to Microsoft.

I must admit I haven't ever seen it come back with an answer to any of the errors it's reported, but I live in hope.

What else happened today?  My gran asked me what the nut is that they put on top of walnut whips.

Answers on a postcard.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Tis the season to eat holly etc

Hello all and see below one of the very popular guest posts from the one and only Mr Graham Raven aka dad!

‘Tis the season to eat holly etc and we all look forward to some time with our families and loved ones, and hopefully some quality time together.

However, I am reminded by a fiend of the family, that the world is due to end, once again, in late December. (sigh!)

Despite my having been on the planet a very short time indeed, by geological standards, I have experienced quite a number of ‘end of the world’ events – none of which have come to anything of significance.

However, on hearing of the current ‘end of the world’ scenario my furtive imagination burst forth with an imagined conversation between the gods …

Set amongst clouds of heavenly erm, Godliness, sounds of thunder and stuff like that …

Head God - "Well, have you released the Kraken, risen a vast tidal wave and wiped humanity from the face of the Earth?"

Lesser god with overall responsibility for Doom, mass extinction and general nastiness – "More or less oh Omnipotent one."

Head God – "Good that will show the buggers – eh, what do you mean ‘more or less’?"

Lesser etc – "most of mankind have been utterly decimated and wiped from …"

Head God – "most? MOST?!"

Lesser etc – "well, erm, it seems that there were prophets of doom predicting the end of the world, and er, well, Mr A. K. Atkinson and his wife Edna were somewhat troubled by the thought of annihilation, they have just redecorated the kitchen and, and well they sort of, tried to avoid it."

Head God – "Am I not omnipotent? Creator, and as I see fit, Destroyer of all? How did these miserable beings possibly thwart my Will?"

Lesser etc – "um, it seems they kept their fingers crossed oh great one …."

Head God then throws an absolute wobbler, I mean, he is seriously peed off. Humans will not respect him if all you have to do is cross your fingers…

Head God looking very angry. Well - Head God after standing in a pile of dog poo.

And a very merry Christmas to one and all!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Yahoo Answers - Beware of reporters!

First things first - I don't check my Yahoo account nearly as often as I ought to do.  Fully admit that.

My Yahoo email ( was the first email address I got, back at college in 1999 (hence the address!) and if I remember right it was coming up to the end of my first year, when I was completing NVQs Level 2 in IT and Business Admin.  Good times.

Over time it got filled with spam and I migrated to other email providers, but I kept the Yahoo account alive.

More recently I've been going on Yahoo Answers using my Yahoo account to answer questions.  I don't know why but I quite enjoy a session answering questions on there.  Basically you get so many points for answering questions (and more points if your answer is "the best" answer)

However, I've just been on my Yahoo account and it looks as though in late November someone's gone through my questions and reported them all to Yahoo.  This automatically gets me flagged up as a bad person basically, and unless I challenge the reports in 7 days (which I didn't because I don't check my Yahoo email that often) I lose lots of points.

All I can think is someone who I've reported for putting up a non-constructive answer has decided to get their own back.  Well, meh!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Happy Boxing Day!

I've just come back from my friends place in Norfolk where we've been celebrating Christmas - yes, I am aware it's slightly early, but I was there, he was there, so we decided to have an early Christmas Day on Saturday.

We had a gift limit of five pounds, so we had to make the most of our money to get the best present we could.

Or, if it's me, go on as many websites as possible to order free samples.

Some of the 'gifts' I wrapped up included:

  • A piece of tile
  • Some damp proofing gel
  • Some block paving crack sealant
  • A nappy
  • A Knorr Gravy pot (not ordered from the internet but from Leeds Railway Station, where people were handing them out on Thursday)
  • Carpet, curtain and fabric samples
  • Aftershave
  • Various customised bits from Vistaprint (okay I had to pay for post & packing, but £3 for a mouse mat, pen, mug and bag wasn't too bad!)

I did buy a few bits, prime one being a USB Air Freshener.  I nearly came a cropper when I realised that the air freshener needed essential oil to work, fortunately those good folk at Raven (who I may be slightly related to) sorted me out with some free Nag Champa oil, which does smell lovely.  If you are interested in any kind of weird and wonderful stuff, from josssticks to tarot cards, books to oils, get in touch with Raven at:

17 Melton Fields
Brickyard Lane
North Ferriby
East Riding of Yorkshire
HU14 3HE

Send them your address and a couple of first class stamps for a mail order catalogue.  I know, in this time of the internet we all automatically search the websites for stuff, but their catalogue is excellent (yes I am biased but even so).

All in all we had an excellent time, played some Cards Against Humanity (first time I've actually played it, I can recommend it as long as you are of a mature age and have an immature sense of humour!)

I can't blog today without a word about Sir Patrick Moore, who died this afternoon.  Sir Patrick was for anyone remotely interested in astronomy and the night sky, a legend which brought the science of the final frontier to life.  Despite only describing himself as an "amateur astronomer", he presented the Sky at Night television show for over fifty years, wrote tens of books on the topic of astronomy, and carried out functions such as working on the mapping of the Moons surface in the 1950s.  There are many tens of fascinating and fantastic facts about this amazing man, which I am not worthy of reproducing.  Being an 80s child I recall him as the GamesMaster on the Channel 4 TV show of the same name!  I would recommend to anyone interested in knowing more about him to get a copy of his autobiography, Eighty Not Out.  Indeed, any of the many books Sir Patrick was involved in writing would be a worthy read.

A memorial website has been set up for people to offer their tribunes, which is located at

Monday, 3 December 2012

Aaron Dembski-Bowden is funny and Cards Against Humanity is as well

We've had a busy weekend, taking the little one to Sundown adventure play park on Saturday - that went really well, I was dreading the two hour coach journey but amazingly he loved the coach trip, that was possibly the best part of the day for him!  And then on Sunday people came round for a belated third birthday celebration for him which went very well and involved lots of cake.

Two particular things for me to talk about today!

Firstly, Aaron Dembski-Bowden (hope I've spelt his name right) - Aaron is a seriously good Warhammer 40K writer (amongst other things) who is responsible for certain publications such as the Night Lords books Soul Hunter, Blood Reaver and Void Stalker, as well as The First Heretic of the Horus Heresy series.

He also has a fantastic blog at and his latest post, set in the style of an old text adventure, is brilliant and made me laugh out loud.  Strongly recommended if only for the TINY GUARDIAN.

Secondly, Cards Against Humanity - this is a cool card game where essentially you get given a question and a set of answer cards, and you have to choose the answer card with the funniest answer.  Simple to play and very fun (probably best for older players though - no kiddies), you can buy it online or download a free set to print and cut out.  Find it at and if you want to see how the game operates (and help test the game to make it even better go to to see how it works.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Why I don't repost messages on Facebook


Really hoping I don't annoy anyone with this post (anyone that I'm friends with anyway).

From time to time I'll see on my Facebook timeline messages by one or more of my friends.  The message will be something along the lines of..

"If you see this, you're a real friend of mine. If you think of me as a real friend, reply to this post and repost this message on your wall so that I know that I'm a real friend of yours too.  Don't just reply to this post because I need to see the message on your wall to prove that you're a real friend."

I just made that one up, I haven't copied anyone elses, I promise.  These messages come in all shapes and sizes, from friend ones like the example above, to ones against illnesses or outrages in the world.

I never repost these, but it does worry me slightly that some of my friends might take offence at the fact that I don't.  It's probably not the case, but for the sake of clarity I wanted to explain myself.

I personally view these messages in the same light as chain letters.  That's the short answer to it.  I never forward on chain letters, because I consider it a waste of money (mine) and time (mine and other people) for no benefit.  Chain letters which promise well being if you send this letter on to five people - what if you send it but one gets lost in the post?  Do I not get my well being because of the vagarity of the postal service (I should say at this point the postal service is generally excellent however).

I certainly believe that there are things in this universe that we don't understand yet.  And taking that belief forward, that the power of the mind may well go further than we understand as well.  But I don't believe that a chain letter has any such power.

And because I think of these particular Facebook messages in the same light as chain letters, I don't repost them.

Let me stress that I have no issue whatsoever with people putting these messages up in the first place, or with reposting them if they wish to.  People are free to do as they wish and I do not think any less of them for doing it.  But, if they are disappointed that I haven't reposted it then I hope this blog post explains why I haven't done it - it's not out of apathy (for once), it is actually a conscious decision not to.

If, by chance, one of my friends actually wrote the post on their wall rather than reposting it themselves, then I do acknowledge that is different, but please do accept again that I won't be reposting it on my wall for the reasons above.

And for the fact that my wall is full of junk anyway.

Like blog posts!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Don't dare me!

I can't even remember how it came up.

My partner was asking me to do something, and threatened to drop her pot of brown sauce in my beer if I didn't agree.

So, I agreed to do as she said.

Theakstons XB with brown sauce
Theakstons XB - with extra brown sauce

And then dropped it in my beer anyway.

It was my son's third birthday today, and I think he's had a good day.  He absolutely loved various presents, in particular his nightlight, his Gruffalo book, and his Leapfrog Lettersaurus.  He also had great fun pulling all his balloons down from where I'd taped them onto walls etc.  We took him to Kinderland in Hessle this morning and after lunch he went to nursery this afternoon and they had a party there.  All in all a good day!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Not LANning, and Not a Real Race!

Just popped on the PC for a few minutes - it's my son's birthday tomorrow and I've spent the evening blowing up balloons, wrapping presents and the like ready for the morning.

My partner and I also went to a training course run by the Speech & Language Therapy Service within Humber NHS this evening to help us in developing the little ones speech, it was really good and I'm looking forward to the next session.

Well, Dreamhack, basically the worlds biggest LAN party, in Sweden, has just ended.

And in a handful of days, the latest i-series, i47, the biggest LAN party in the UK, will be beginning.

I am not going to either.

I'm not bitter.


Anyway, the ace thing I wanted to point out today is this website -

They do ridiculous things (surprise surprise) and currently what they're doing is faking a marathon.

Basically the way it works is this:

You donate some money to them via their Kickstarter page (Kickstarter is another fantastic thing by the way for people to raise money for their project, whatever it is), you get a pack of stuff like a sticker to put on your t-shirt with a number on it, you then post on your Facebook all about the race - that you're gearing up for the race, etc - get a photo of yourself running by a road somewhere, and get that on Facebook - and when the race ends, you'll also go up on their website with a finishing time and everything.

It's just like taking part in a marathon. Except for the getting tired bit.


Sunday, 25 November 2012

Mike and Joel - Chocolate vs Chores

My new video is live!!

I've been doing chores all day - what's Joel been doing? Not doing chores, I'll tell you that for free.

Watch below!

And while you're at it, if you have a YouTube or Google account, why not check out my channel - perhaps even subscribe to it!  That'd be great, wouldn't it? :)

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Best butcher in Lincolnshire - and the two of us eating chocolate

In my view the best butcher in Lincolnshire is Jacksons Butchers in Louth.  For as long as I can remember my parents have taken me there to get a load of meat in (especially the lincolnshire sausages, and stuffed chine for my dad) for Christmas and special occasions, and when they've been to Louth I've asked them to bring me some too.

Sorry - just had to say that, it's been on my mind.

Just rendered my latest video, this one's of me and Joel eating chocolate.  It's taken me a few days because every time I rendered it, any vertical motion blurred.  Turned out I had a problem with interleaving (basically when you've got two layers, like I have, you need to decide which one shows first - and I didn't) so now it's all hunky dory and I'll post it to my channel later tonight or in the morning.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Dancing scientifically

I discovered this article about what, scientifically, is the most attractive dance a man can make.  Watch the video below to learn the secret...

Fascinating eh?

At least the video is better than this
At least the video is better than this

If you like cool science stories, do check out the Vsauce channels on YouTube.  If you want to know why we have two nostrils, or want to find more out about the shirt with the same technology used by NASA in space, or even just understand how Sonic runs so fast, go check out the Vsauce channels.  I have to say that the original channel, with the master that is Michael is my favourite, but all three have some pretty cool stuff.

The Vsauce channels are:

Me and my best mate are having an early Christmas Day in a few weeks, and we've agreed to spend no more than £5 on each other.  Not to give away any clues but I'm been going all out to try to make the most of my five hundred pence.  That said, if anyone has any ideas, do get in touch!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Prince and the Crisps

Now then!

Apologies for the break in blogging, it's been a busy week this last week.  I was a Presiding Officer at one of the polling stations for the elections on Thursday and that always means about three days disrupted - an early night on the Wednesday, long day Thursday, and then recovering on the Friday.  Nevertheless it's a really nice opportunity to meet some different people and I always enjoy doing it.

Anyway, I've uploaded a new video to my YouTube channel.  It's a bedtime story I often tell my son called The Prince and the Crisps, which I made all by myself.

It's not the most intellectually challenging of stories but to be fair it is for a two-year old and I thought I'd record it as it's all too easy to forget stuff like this.  Only the other day I was thinking about how hard it is to imagine our son not being able to walk or do all the stuff he does now, yet it was only Christmas Day 2010 when he first walked.  All too soon he'll be grown up and without any kind of record this kind of stuff will be forgotten (by me anyway, I have the memory capacity of a dead goldfish)

Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Anyone got ideas for my evil twin...

I'm gearing up to do some (hopefully) regular videos of me and my evil twin Joel (if you don't know what I'm talking about, check the test video out here), I've now received a free tripod thanks to my best mates father (bizarrely I was sat in the passenger seat of my fiancees car, thinking "I could really do with a tripod for my videos", and then my mate rings me and goes "I've got you a tripod!") and I've been and purchased a newer, bigger and faster SD Card for use.  I never knew before having a video camera that SD Cards came in different speeds, but apparently so.  I now have a 8Gb SD Card which is surplus to requirements so if anyone wants to buy it for a few quid let me know - it did work fine recording videos to be fair, and it'd be fine for photos of course.

Of course now I'm suffering with writers block and can't come up with anyone funny to record - well perhaps one thing, but I need a pie for that (you'll see)

Apart from that it's been a nice and quiet weekend, broken up by visiting St Stephens shopping centre in Hull on Saturday afternoon, which is not for the faint of heart!  I usually try to avoid shopping when it's busy but I needed to get started on the Christmas shopping - less than seven weeks to go - so I braved the crowds. There's a new shop called Menkind in St Stephens which is full of fun gadgetry and the like, one of the shop staff was chasing passersby with a remote controlled inflatable R2D2 which was very funny.

No Downton Abbey tonight!  I've got used to staying up slightly later than normal on a Sunday evening to see the latest goings on.  It's probably fair to say that the third season wasn't quite a good as the first two, but still well worth watching.  Roll on Christmas special!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Joel is here!!

Finally, my new video is up!

Here's the video of me introducing my evil twin, Joel.  The quality admittedly isn't as good as I'd like, but I'm sure as my camera and editing skills improve future vids will be better.  I do have some excellent ideas (thanks to a few folk) for future videos, stay tuned!

Birth of the Federation update - My mighty Ferengi Alliance has defeated the Klingon Empire, technically there are two systems full of angry Klingons that I haven't actually conquered, but as they rebelled and left the Klingon Empire, they can't actually do anything except stay there.  The Federation has taken a heavy hammering, and I've finally started to get to grips with the Cardassians.  Only slight problem is that they do appear to have somewhere in the region of a 150 ships ready for a fight, fortunately the computer AI is not playing them very well and instead of laying waste to my own colonies their fleet seems to be busy guarding the far north of their space (while I busy myself conquering the south)

Ultimate Ferengi victory is expected soon.

Don't forget if you really want to you can subscribe to this blog (and for that matter to my YouTube channel too), I haven't got a blog subscriber yet, perhaps if you do you may get your own video (and yes Kirsty, I know you're still waiting for yours - sorry!)

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Cloned - coming soon!

Tomorrow I should have a new video up on YouTube, introducing my evil twin Joel.  I've been playing around with my new camcorder, and after a lot of mucking around, firstly with various freeware video editors (none of which I found were up to the task - sorry!) and then with a trial version of Adobe After Effects CS4 I've succeeded in cloning myself.  It's a bit of a new departure for me, I do have a tendency to go for the quick solution but I've had to learn some new stuff and be patient to get this done, and I think it's good overall.

A taster of what is to come!

The actual quality of the video isn't fantastic, do be aware, but the cloning effect itself is pretty good and it isn't too obvious where the join is.  I hope to improve with my future ones as I learn how to work the camcorder and the software.

Anyway it's going to take about 3 hours to upload to YouTube so I'm going to do it when I go to bed, I'll post the link tomorrow.  Or if you can't wait, check out my YouTube channel in the morning.

Birth of the Federation update - the Federation and the Cardassians were a bit silly and declared war on me.  Since then I've crushed both the Klingon and Federation fleets (admittedly losing almost all of one of my fleets in the process, but the ships that did survive are now very experienced in combat and therefore even deadlier and tougher to kill) and given the Cardassians a bloody nose.  The Klingon homeworld is under my control and I'm finishing them off before I turn my full attention to the Feds and Cardies.  Long live the Ferengi Alliance!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Stairs and toddlers

My son is just getting to the stage that he's regularly using the stairs (supervised that is) and to be fair, he's pretty good at it.

The only problem we have is that sometimes... he's a bit lazy.

Especially when he's just got up in a morning, and the procedure is that we go downstairs, we pop some cartoons on, change his nappy, give him a drink, and let him wake up a little with a cartoon or two.  The when he's up to speed we can play a bit and then start thinking about breakfast.

Now the standard way to go down the stairs is that I go in front, holding his right hand while he holds the bannister with his left hand.  Sometimes to make things a bit livelier we'll count the stairs as we go down them. (we have 13 stairs from the ground floor to the first floor landing by the way, if you don't count the fact that the landing is actually on two levels)

But, if he's feeling lazy, he wants to be carried.

Now I've often only just woken up at this point and not necessarily fully up to speed with his needs and desires.  So I may try to encourage him to descend the stairs in the normal manner.

In which case he jumps at me.

He hurls his fragile toddler body at my side, requiring me to grab him before he falls past and tumbles down the stairs.

To be fair it's fairly unlikely that he would tumble past me, but even so it's a way to get your heart pumping in a morning!

What have I been up to?  Well I've been continuing to play Birth of the Federation - for those wanting an update since my last post, my Ferengi Alliance is now one of the largest empires in the galaxy and we're busy pounding the Klingons into dust.  The Cardassians have conquered the Romulans, and are busy fighting the Federation.  We're nominally friends with both the Cardassians and the Federation, making us a huge amount of cash, despite the fact that both parties pretty much hate me.  I don't really care as long as they leave me alone while I finish off the Klingons, then I'll turn my attention to them.  I really want to test my fleets against the Cardassians as they are the biggest threat to me, even so I can't really think that they could win.  But it's huge fun to play anyway.

I'm mucking about with videos as well, I really need a half decent video editor, once I've got what will hopefully be the first of a series of videos I'll get it out there for people to look at.  I've had what are (I hope) ideas for vaguely funny videos - you'll be the first to know, I promise.

I'll finish this post by saying that if you haven't experienced Adam Hills, check him out.  He's an Australian comedian who is hilarious.  His website is at and there's tons of videos of him performing on YouTube as well.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Peace and Harmony and video editing

I was watching Peppa Pig with my son the other day, and it was a brilliant episode called International Day.  Basically all the kids at Peppa's playgroup dress up as different countries and start fighting.  Madame Gazelle breaks up the quarrel, saying "Stop quarrelling! Do you think this is how the countries of the world behave?"

I can't help but feel there was a hidden message in that one somewhere :)

It's Halloween (or Samhain indeed)!  And I have a bowl of chocolate in my hallway.  It's been really hard these last few days to let those packets of funsize chocolate treats go uneaten, but we've largely managed.

And now we've only had four kids!  Shocking.  I guess I know what I'm having for breakfast.

(Actually I'll be having marmite on toast I expect - I got a squeezy jar of Marmite at the weekend, it is wonderful!)

After watching What's Up Elle's YouTube channel, I've been really keen to try some of her trademark cloning for myself.  Being a cheapskate - sorry, being someone wanting to achieve value for money - I'm trying to work out how to do it with free software!  I've got half an idea so far with an old version of Windows Movie Maker (Microsoft basically took out a load of features from Windows Movie Maker when it was updated to Windows Live Movie Maker, so the old version is actually more powerful) but I've been messing about with it for quite a while now and I want to get an hour of Birth of the Federation (with the All The Ages mod) in before bedtime.

Currently I'm playing the Ferengi and I've got a nice little corner of the galaxy in my command with a load of minor races under my belt, I've only encountered the Federation so far who are behaving themselves, probably because if push came to shove I think I could take them.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Cake and head flicking

Firstly, I made a new video!

Recently I've been around my other half's mums house for a few evenings, washing clothes as our tumble dryer is temporarily out of action (belt snapped).

Anyway, I saw some cake and had to make a video about it.  You can see it here.

Or just watch it below.

Apart from that, I have this habit when I'm excited of kind of flicking the hair towards the back of my head with my fingers.  I haven't done it for ages but while I've been watching some TV at my other half's mums (Hornblower is surprisingly good) I've caught myself doing it at the end of a couple of TV shows.

Anyone know why I do it?  Very odd.

Temporarily not thinking about myself for a minute, it's seriously scary what's happened in the US with Hurricane Sandy.  I know that I'm not prepared sufficiently if there's an emergency around here, despite this part of Hull being hit with flooding only 5 years ago - and North Hull being hit with a flash flood only about 2 months ago.  Must do better.

Let's finish the post with a picture of my son standing on his head.

For the observant folk, that's a book by Marcus Brigstocke in the bottom left corner of the picture - or M-A-C-U-S B-I-G-S-T-O-C-K-E if my son's reading it.

The guy will just have to leave the R's out of his name until the little one can say them.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

My son, Marmite, and YouTube - I'm tired and not up to creative titles...

The little one hasn't been too well today, not sure 100% what's up, I suspect a bad cold or possibly an upset tummy because he's eaten little and drunk virtually nothing all day, until just before bed he starting having a bit to drink at last.  Bizarrely he wouldn't touch rice pudding (one of his favourites) but couldn't get enough crackerbread's to eat, go figure.  On the plus side I got some squeezy Marmite today so I'm back on Marmite on toast.  It's really weird, I don't like it but then I miss it when I run out?!?

I have a YouTube channel to recommend, What's Up ELLE - I came across Elle's channel because she made the Baby Gangnam video, and she's actually done a load of cool stuff, her and her two clones.  Elle's not afraid of looking silly and has made some cool videos.  Plus her smartphone goes "Bing" every time someone subscribes, so go subscribe to her channel.

I wonder if I repeatedly subscribe and unsubscribe and subscribe again if her phone keeps binging.  It might get really annoying.

But fun to do :)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Farewell Ceefax!

Tonight a mark of culture ends.

The Ceefax signal is finally being switched off, after being launched some 38 years ago.  I remember as a teenager surfing Ceefax and Teletext on the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 channels.  I remember before that, a little kid watching Channel 4 early in a morning where bizarre artwork made out of blocks was shown (apparently it was called 4-Tel on View)

The 4-Tel man with the logo all crumpled up into a floating ball. Yeah.

Back as a teenager, I remember playing Bamboozle on Channel 4.

The Bamboozle guy was kinda freaky.

And getting the latest gaming news on Digitiser.

It's probably hard to explain to younger folk who probably didn't really ever use Teletext or Ceefax, but it was kind of the Internet of its day.  You went to certain pages by typing in a three digit number, and I remember typing in random numbers to see what came up. The 700s were usually pretty interesting simply because they were pages that didn't have the normal stuff on eg news, weather, sport.

The text services was great for broadcasters who, at that time, hadn't gone into 24 hour television shows, and filled the night hours with news, weather and the like (not to mention the infamous Teletext adverts!)

For more teletext remembering go check out as well as the websites listed at the end of this post.

I have to mention that the latest episode of the Guild is out - go see it at

(Thanks for the above pics to:

Sunday, 21 October 2012


I've just popped into the oven a Birds Eye cod fillet - very tasty by the way.

And to keep me safe, Captain Birds Eye decided to pop a little warning on the back of the packet.

It read, "Contains fish."

I don't have a problem with Birds Eye for putting such a ridiculous warning on their packet, I blame the culture that makes them feel that they have to.

But I can quite see why they did. Obviously there's a need to tell people what ingredients have been used, so that they can avoid allergens.  And therefore stop them from suing the Captain and having him thrown in the brig.

But we already have something that does this - it's called a list of ingredients.

They've tried to make it easier for people by highlighting common allergens, but the trouble is in the world, there will be someone allergic to the thing that you make.

Off the top of my head, I can think of people allergic or intolerant to milk, wheat, nuts, garlic, and water. Yes, water.

So, as much as I understand the intent behind warning me that my fish fillet contains fish, it is a little bit overkill.

It would be much more helpful if I had something that warned me of the contents of my son's nappy.

Hang on, I do - a nose.

It's this culture that makes signs like the below exist:

Grapes on the floor can cause accidents?  I don't blame them - they've been ripped off a vine in some lovely warm country, lobbed in a ship and brought to Hull.  If I was a grape and was free to roam I'd cause some chaos too.
I currently have a 150g bag of sweets in my hands.  The dietary advice tells me how much fat, carbohydrates, sugar, salt and saturates are in a "portion", which is 37g.  Does anyone divide their bag of sweets into portions consisting of 24.7% of the full bag?

Before I go, for anyone interested in writing I strongly recommend a blog I came across by a chap called XJ Selman.  His blog posts are very insightful and well worth a read.  His blog can be found at

Friday, 19 October 2012

Good evening folks

I've not blogged for a few days, not entirely sure why - thinking about it I guess I've been somewhat tired on an evening.  I remember reading somewhere that your creative juices flow best in a morning - and I tend to blog on an evening - so perhaps that's why I've not been that creative.

Anyway, I've been playing a lot of Call of Duty Modern Warfare lately, numbers 2 and 3.  I particularly like the Survival mode in MW3 - for the uninitiated, you face progressively harder waves of enemies, but you also gain money for the kills you make, allowing you to buy aids such as a Delta team task force or an air strike to back you up (or more mundane items like ammunition).  I feel vaguely guilty that I've not been playing Pandaria, but for whatever reason some mindless violence appears to be satiating my gaming needs at the minute.

I finally saw the first episode of Red Dwarf X last night, and it's a return for form for the Red Dwarf crew.  Personally after season 6 I went off Red Dwarf - the episodes seemed to be more about the crew doing missions and actually being quite heroic, when really they're a bunch of misfits that somehow have survived through the extinction of the human race and should really be spending their time mucking about and generally being a bit silly.  I actually laughed out loud at one point so I'm looking forward to getting half an hour to watch the next episode.

The only thing that does distract me from the show is the fact that the guys (with the exception of Kryten obviously) have got wrinkles!  Don't get me wrong, I love the Red Dwarf crew, they are seriously ace, but the actors are now around the age of 50.  The series started 24 years ago!  This sort of thing makes me feel old (and I know I will now receive many comments from people older than me).  I don't know what it is, but I seem to have trouble spotting the passage of time.  Perhaps it's not just me.  I heard today that Girls Aloud are getting back together and releasing a greatest hits album of the last ten years.  Again, I had no idea that it had been ten years since they got together.

I suppose I should take from this that time passes too quickly and we need to make the most of it.

Right - I'm off to bed, I have a day's gardening ahead of me tomorrow!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

What constitutes vegetable?

I'm making tea at the minute, and this is to be cottage pie (warmed up) with vegetables.

Do you think a bag of chips will cut it?

By the way, hello to any Raven customers that visit my blog - the address was mentioned in the latest newsletter. Remember Raven for all your Halloween goodies!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

G4C Yorkshire & Humber Committee Meeting No. 1!

We had our first G4C Yorkshire & Humber Committee meeting this evening!

Located at Goole Leisure Centre, a pack of us got together to plan the big launch event for G4C in the region, aiming at early next year.  We had some really good suggestions and offers of help, I'm beginning to think that we might pull this off!

G4C (Generation For Change) is about gearing up the new entrants to the construction industry with the skills that they will need, giving them wider experience of the industry, understanding of the issues facing the industry and knowledge of usable best practice.  It's an excellent initiative, industry-wide and really deserving of support.

If you want to get involved, there's still plenty of time - email me at to learn more, whether you just want to find out about events, or find out more.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Time to go into hibernation

I am writing this on a damp yet reasonably warm Saturday afternoon in Northern England. At this time every year something wheedles its way into our life, and remains there until the new year.

I've noted that huge areas of shops have been emptied, and filled again, with a mass of red-coloured packaging holding any number of delicious snacky things, gifts, cards, and wrapping paper.

Christmas is upon us. This is Stage One – the population of the stores with Christmas-related merchandise. This hearkens back to my childhood, where I would go shopping with my parents, and see toys that I would desperately want (as any child does). My calls for toys and presents would be replied with a phrase I learnt to dread.

“Yes, we can get you that and save it for Christmas”

I don’t want to save it for Christmas, I want it now!

The worst thing about having a birthday in July is that for about six months of the year there is either my birthday or Christmas to save presents for.  I've never been particularly good at waiting.

Soon, the Stage Two will come into force. This is the music. Christmas Number Ones from the past fifty years will be played. And played again. And played again. And you will hear them again and again and again, until you beg storekeepers to put something more entertaining on, like the noise of someone tripping and falling into a field of cabbage.

Stage Three follows, coupled with Stage Two. People start buying EVERYTHING in the shops – not just presents, everything. They realise that Sainsburys and the like are going to be closed for a whole day (some might even dare to close for two!) and people who usually shop perhaps once a week suddenly feel the need to stock up every two hours.

Then the day comes, a great time is had by all (hopefully), and Stage Four follows. Post-Christmas.

I don’t know what the shops do on Christmas Day, but it’s obvious that they are beavering away while the rest of us eat turkey, open presents and fall asleep with a can of Stella Artois. Because as soon as Boxing Day arrives, not only are the sales started, but all those shelves in the supermarkets are emptied of Christmas merchandise so that the Easter Eggs can be brought out.

Why do we need to celebrate Christmas so early on? Why can’t we celebrate it in December, and maybe even wait until March before we start going onto Easter? But we live in a culture that has extra-early summer sales in February, and cards for every occasion from your football team losing to your goldfish exploding.

It is obvious I cannot change this. And I don't have enough annual leave to take the next ten weeks off. So I will, as every year, face the music (literally), wish people a merry Christmas, buy absurd presents that no one will want, and go slowly mad at the two dithering shoppers stood blocking the aisle I wish to go down.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Social Media in Construction - the revolution begins...

I attended the first meeting of the new Constructing Excellence Social Media Task Group today in London, at CE's offices on Buckingham Palace Road.  The group was co-ordinated by Paul Wilkinson, a veritable guru on all things social media, and had a good representation from construction professionals at different levels in all types of different organisations.

Paul ran through a presentation of his (I think I've found the right one on the net - you can view it here) giving us all a good session on social media, running through examples of good usage of the new technology, and new ideas.

What if instead of using email we used Twitter or instant messaging to get information out?  I use Twitter, but I never considered it as a replacement for email, merely as an alternate communication channel.  What if instead of having meetings we had video conferences, which can be set up easily and for free with software such as Google Hangout, and we could even record the conference for future reference.  No more problems six months after a meeting trying to work out if a certain point was mentioned from the minutes taken, simply play back the recorded conference.

For G4C in the Yorkshire & Humber region I'm very interested in social media because of the distributed nature of the population.  I'm well aware that I need to run events in Leeds to attract the majority of the Yorkshire population.  I'm also aware that this automatically reduces the chance of people attending from Sheffield, York and Hull (not to mention the many other towns and settlements in the county).

Paul also recommended that organisations set up Google Alerts so that they can be informed of when new content about their organisation is put up on the Internet.  This can be done here.  And again, it's free to do.

There was a lot of concern in the room about control of social media, which is a fair point.  Social media for work has to be focussed, and some control available.  It's all too easy for social media use to become people going on Facebook and playing games all morning.  But provided that it is controlled, there are some huge benefits.  And people should be able to take responsibility for what they post with social media - if people are trusted to send letters, telephone clients, and email out information, is social media that much different?

One point that was made was about how social media can allow a persons personality to come through, helping relationships to be built.  If every tweet from a person is purely another sales pitch or press release, I tend to switch off.  But if I see something of that person, what they are like, it allows them to become a real person in my view.  And then I'm more likely to read their press release when they do send it.

New technology has massive benefits that over the next few years people will think of ways to use.  We're currently able to use GPS to position people and items on the world.  What if some kind of positioning system was made so that it could be installed on utilities pipes and cables?  Rather than relying on statutory undertakers drawings, we could have some kind of RFID tag that when you dig close to it the tag is activated, and the excavator can tell that there is a pipe there and that they have to swap to hand digging.  Rather than using GPR kit and cable detectors, we could do it by walking over the site with a mobile phone or tablet.

Another example of the use of technology was one organisation who was able to take a BIM model of a building out on site on their mobile phone, hold the phone up to where the building was due to be built, and the software showed the built structure on the screen, allowing the viewer to see how it would interact with the adjacent buildings, how sunlight would shine once the building was constructed.  An excellent way to show clients a representation of the completed building prior to construction.

I'm very much looking forward to the next social media task group (despite it being in London!).  If anyone else is interested in getting involved, let me know and I can pass your details on.

Paul's site, including his blog, is at and he also has a huge amount of presentations viewable at

Monday, 8 October 2012


My son took my tablet off me.

He wrote:

et ut

More from the little one next week.  He is extremely strong and able to wrench my tablet out of my hands long enough for it to become an ideal object to stand on.

My son. Sat on a sofa. With a kitchen chair. That he lifted up and placed on top of himself.

I assume that he gets his strength from his mother.  Or the milkman.

In other news, I have been instructed by my friend Kirsty to state that she and her husband Matt are against the reordering of the queue following the opening of a new till as discussed in my last blog.  She also wants a new video making to celebrate her being my second subscriber to my YouTube (the video celebrating my first subscriber, the one and only Abyss, can be found here)

The video is apparently to include Kirsty, her husband, her dogs, a party, my son and my partner.  I fear the amount of Data Protection Act / privacy breaches such a video will take.  But I shall consider the request.

Whilst I'm talking about making videos, you are invited to join the Supernote contest on the side of Team Geek & Sundry!  Basically you have to make a video of you singing a note for as long as you can, and submit it here - there's all the instructions you need on the site.  Geek & Sundry needs help as it's currently in tenth place and 37,652 seconds behind the leader (about ten and a half hours) so get submitting your singing videos!  You've got until the end of October to get them up there, I've got to do mine but my current best is 18 seconds, the average for Team Geek & Sundry is 26 seconds so I need some practice!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Queueing - yes or no?

Queueing - yes or no?

Obviously, as an Englishman, queueing is a great hobby of mine.

But, I have a couple of situations that I'd like you to consider.  And feel free to respond in the comments, as when I raised this in the past I had about a fifty / fifty split for and against and I'd be interested in your feedback.

Is it okay to jump queues?

Now when I say that, of course it isn't okay to see a queue, and then barge into the front of it.  That's clearly wrong.

But say that you're in a supermarket.

There's one till (checkout if you're american) open.

There's a queue of say, five people, at the till.  You happily join the queue, becoming number six.

Then a second till opens.

You react faster than the others, and become number one at the new opened till.

Is that okay?

I'm of the opinion that it is.  No one is worse off because of the new till opening (unless you do something silly like go from number two at the old till to number four at the new till) and everything's good.

But I know some of you don't agree.

What about if at the time of the new till opening, all that you're buying is three packs of nappies, which you're holding in one hand, whilst carrying a struggling, wailing toddler with your left arm?

My son has this particular procedure - you walk with him into the supermarket, he wants to go look at something but he's holding your hand, when he can't let go he flops to the floor.  You pick him up, so he then flops over in your arm to make it harder to carry him.

And the one thing I do take issue with is certain supermarkets where they have staff signpost the best queues!  When there's a space they openly point people towards it!  One of the great skills of the English is to skim across a number of tills, identifying the best one to select.  It's like Deal or No Deal, do you go for till 4 with one person in front of you with a full till, or do you risk going to look at till 9, which looks as though the belt is half empty, but what if they're going to close?  Or what if there's something really slow packing at till 9 so you'll be left stood waiting, frustrated, while someone takes the place that rightfully should be yours at till 4?

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.  It's the way of the tills.

But some supermarkets try to fix this!

Not right.

Friday, 5 October 2012


The latest from my dad - today he discusses fridges.



I am somewhat aggrieved! We were driving away from the park last weekend having found nothing amiss all morning, only to espy two enemy miscreants bearing immense quantities of bird seed and hell bent on mischief entering said council controlled natural area of erm, nature.
Alas, it was too late to further our worthy cause that day and I fumed strongly and was fired up and impatient for our next patrol. Were such outrageous fortune not sufficient I am yet further distressed by receipt of an idiotic letter which demands I feel, a forthright reply.


Dear Sirs,


MY **** SIRS!

My refrigeration unit gentlemen, is five weeks old!

You didn’t honestly think that a modern fridge would last five years did you? (my left leg has bells on it as well!)

And am I aware of the benefits of having a Repair Protection Plan you wonder?

Indeed, I most certainly am aware, which is precisely why my new refrigeration unit already has a five year Repair Protection Plan! (it’s just not your five year Repair Protection Plan!)

So why all the nonsense that you sent me through the post, hmm?

Allegedly you were ‘worried’ that I might not have cover against breakdown?

And how upset I might be if I suffered a breakdown?

Talk about wild horses gone a.w.o.l. and bolting stable doors as an after thought!

For your information (ie the vast data files you keep on countless millions of people, most of which is doubtless incorrect), the {brand} machine of yours that we did once own, gave up the ghost this last winter whilst we were away on holiday, and is now so much scrap metal. We had to wait over six weeks to get our preferred replacement, but who knows, maybe the wait will be worth it?

It is not{brand}!

By the by, here’s how the real world works.

1) You buy a fridge/freezer.

2) It runs for a few years if you’re lucky.

3) It then breaks down and you think “Boy, that was one **** refrigeration unit!” (but aren’t they all these days!)

4) You intend never to buy that particular make of fridge/freezer again.

5) You buy a new one (a different brand, obviously!)

How you manage to make an item with almost no working parts and yet which is designed to break down after a couple of years use is beyond me. The refrigeration pump runs continually in an oil bath, and invariably still works even after the unit has been scrapped! So which bit of the unit is so skilfully designed to break down?

Excellent business strategy I admit!!

I did actually once have an ancient fridge which was made way back in the sixties or seventies and it worked reliably for fifteen years – and that’s after I had bought it second hand!

Ah (sigh!), those were the days when goods had some kind of merchantable value.

Yours faithfully etc

Legal note.

Please do not feel offended or take it that I consider {brand} machines to be anything less than wonderful – perish the thought! My wife has pointed out to me that you will doubtless sue me for £18,000,000,000 minimum should I express a personal opinion, preference, or indeed be anything less than utterly delighted with all {brand} products, past, present or future.

I retract it all, ‘twas nothing but a tissue of lies I say! Your refrigeration unit didn’t break down at all. No Sir, it was in perfect working order – it just didn’t seem to keep food cold anymore, but what with global warming, what is one to expect? Indeed now I think back a little I’m quite certain that I was most delighted when we got back home from our holidays to find that your machine wasn’t working! was working perfectly and all of our food inedible!

(I blame international terrorists – it couldn’t possibly be your fault!)

I’m quite certain that where it comes to making refrigeration units – ALL manufacturers of refrigeration units are equally um, Brilliant! (only yours are better, of course!)

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

A cloud of dead foot...

I went to the chiropodists yesterday!

I tend to have a problem in the cold weather with my skin becoming dry and cracking.  My hands aren't too bad because I'll keep hand cream on my desk and I can keep applying it, but it can be considered odd to remove your shoes and socks and do the same to your feet.

And what tend to happen as that I get bits of sock stuck in the cracks in my feet, which is extremely painful.

So, I went in to a chiropodists (The Chiropody Shop on Chanterlands Avenue in Hull should anyone be interested) for a treatment.

It's really weird.

First, you get to soak your feet, to soften up the dead skin. Which is fine.

Then, feet knives (they probably have a proper clinical name but I don't know what that is) are taken and bits of foot skin chopped off.

After that, a miniature electric sander is applied to your feet, sanding away more dead skin.

Your nails get cut and sanded, and then cream is applied to your feet.

It's really cool and nice (quite ticklish) but the scary thing if you haven't been before is the amount of dead skin that is taken off your feet.  The poor person who did my feet was having to brush off dead skin dust off themselves at the end. (Gross I know!)

So, after all that I have to do better at remembering to use heel balm on my feet regularly, and try to find my foot cheese grater thing to keep on top of the dead skin.

Good fun though!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Yahoo Answers!

I don't know if you're aware of this, but something that Yahoo runs is a site called Yahoo Answers.  Basically you can ask any question you want, and the community can answer the question.  I quite enjoy going on and spending an hour or two answering questions on the site.

Now what you can do, when you answer a question, is flag up the sources that you used for your answer.  I've started putting my blog site ( in as standard for every answer I make, in an attempt to drive traffic to my site, which works slightly.

But, there isn't any source information on here.

So to resolve this, I decided to summarise here my advice that was selected in the past as being "Best Answers" - this doesn't mean that I'm right, but that in their opinion my advice was better than the other advice offered.

I find it surprising how often I get "Best Answer" for my responses to relationship questions.  As a geeky guy who has many weaknesses I don't think I'm that good at these, but I do still get a fair few Best Answers for my relationship advice.

So here we go!

If your partner is complaining about you being overly clingy (texting/phoning too much) then don't text or phone, leave it for them to contact you.  That will give you a guide as to how often they think you should contact them.  But unless you really are contacting them way too often (and I would say every day isn't too often) then you may want to reconsider your relationship.

There isn't a 100% guaranteed way to find all email addresses used by someone.  Don't bother paying for a service which claims that they can do this.

If you can't connect by ethernet to a router, but another computer is using it fine, check the router settings, security is probably an issue.

If someone at work totally overreacted at a mild joke, and you've apologised but they are continuing to ignore you, just be civil and professional to them.  Let them get over the joke in their own time.

To promote your blog, use everything you can. Facebook, Twitter, comment on other blogs, guest blog, have guest bloggers on your blog, make sure it's submitted to Yahoo, Google, Bing, Technorati, and anywhere else you can find.  Make your descriptions interesting and use tags and locations in your posts.

When responding to rudeness, try to ask yourself "will anything positive come out of my response?" before you respond.  This is generally useful when making any sort of communication.

If you want to ask somebody out, do it.  Life's too short.

Keep your head up and keep going whatever it is you're doing.  If you think you need to go to therapy then go.

Live your life the way you want.  Don't feel that you're "behind" other people if you haven't got the same qualifications or job or lifestyle.

If your kid is ill get medical advice and follow it.

Don't stay with someone if you don't love them.

Aviva do free car insurance for a few days for car dealerships. (At

Wifi on a mobile phone should be free to use.

If you want to start exercising regularly, then build up your exercises bit-by-bit.

It is okay to exercise in an evening.

A Vauxhall Corsa is probably a good choice for a first car.

If you can't get work and need experience, consider volunteering.

Don't be afraid of being you.

It's the journey, not the destination.

If you want a place with lots to do both during the day and on an evening in Majorca, consider Magaluf or Palma Nova.

If you're going home during a night out make sure you tell your friends so that they aren't worried about you.

If you need to design a data collection sheet to gather the number of men, women, boys and girls using a sports hall I suggest making a table with a header of "Sports Hall Usage", and columns for "Men", "Women", "Boys", and "Girls", possibly with a totals box at the bottom of each column.

That's it - that's the result of about a year, on and off, answering questions on Yahoo Answers!  Hope you enjoyed and now when I link my blog as a source of guidance I won't be lying anymore!
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