Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Looking for Ms Rosemary...

So, I was walking to work the other morning, and noticed this bin on the pavement outside someones house.

If it's not clear, it says "Rosemary Trimmings - Please Help Yourself".

This puzzled me.  Who is this Rosemary person?  It's a very specific offer - if you are Rosemary Trimmings, help yourself to whatever is in this bin.  And obviously they had done, because the bin was empty.

Maybe Rosemary is some kind of kleptomaniac, and keeps stealing things, and to satiate her desire to obtain goods illegally someone had resorted to placing sacrificial items in an easily accessible container so that Rosemary would take them rather than trying to break in?

Perhaps it was a passive-aggressive note to Rosemary who always nicked the neighbours newspaper, and they've gone to the trouble of buying two newspapers and then placing one in the bin so she can take that one.

After about three or four minutes considering this, I hit upon another possibility.

Maybe they had a rosemary shrub.  And they had trimmed it.

Hence - rosemary... trimmings.

Coffee in a morning is obviously not optional.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Travelling Book Project update - book sighted in Ohio!

Today I'm doing a bit of an update to the Travelling Book project, following the exciting news that one has been spotted in Ohio!  I've been sent a number of snaps of the book, being held by a number of people (some of them looking suspiciously inanimate).

I'm relatively confident that this is a real person, however.

I've been trying to decide if "Liquor Control" is a genuine division of the local government in Ohio, or if it's actually in a bar.

Joe Haden holding a book.  Disclaimer: Possibly actually a poster of Joe Haden with a book held in front.

Andy Dalton holding a book.  Disclaimer: See previous disclaimer.

 Thanks to Tim for sending these through, I should say that it is quiet on the travelling book front (although another book has just made it to Las Vegas via Australia!), so if you have received a book, please do let me know where in the world the book is, and photos like this are much appreciated, we'll definitely feature whatever we get here and on the Travelling Book Project website!  Remember that at the start of each book is a hashtag, so if you tweet anything with the hashtag I will pick it up.

If you would like to get involved in the project you can reserve your own book by sending a PayPal donation on the Travelling Book Project website for £12, or if you're a student, up till the end of October 2014 just £5 will reserve you a book - this entails me making a book and sending it out to you, and doing my best to keep track of the book when its in the wild, then scanning the book when its finished and making it available on the internet for all to see.  Any funds received go towards the running of the website so they are very much welcomed.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Google turns 16!

Happy birthday Google, who today turns 16.  I've discovered this as a result of a long period of research, and certainly not by noticing Google's doodle of the day on www.google.co.uk

It is interesting to think about and see how the Internet has developed and moved on over time.  I started using the internet in 1999 when the PCs at college were enabled, and at the time there was a whole host of search engines fighting it out for supremacy - Yahoo, Ask Jeeves, Altavista, Lycos, and Excite spring to mind, I remember my favourite being Altavista for quite a while, and also having a website on Lycos's free webspace service, Tripod.  Nevertheless, apparently like 88% of internet users worldwide, I now use Google.  I love the clean design of the website, how it works out what I want (back when I first started using the internet half the struggle was wording your query correctly so that the right websites would come up - now all I have to do is type "Guardians of the Galaxy Hull" and Google fetches the cinema show times for me)

So, if Google was an actual person that had turned 16, what could it now do?

  • In the UK, they can join the army.
  • In Canada they can get a driving license (and join the army)
  • In Germany and Mexico they can legally drink alcohol
  • In Tacoma Park, Maryland in the US, they can vote (as they also could in the recent Scottish referendum)

(Actually I found it really hard to use Google to do the research for this - it seems to be stuck thinking that I want UK websites!)

What else is new?  I've got a new video on my YouTube channel up, it's a bit different to most of my videos as it's a gaming video, but if you'd like to watch a rogue ragequit in Hearthstone then do check it out!  I expect to be doing more of these videos as they're really easy to do - provided I record anything worth watching!  I'm also planning a series about the classic ZX Spectrum game, Journey's End, so stay tuned for that too!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


It has been a busy day - well, it's been a busy week, to be honest.  This week I'm doing a training course which I am enjoying, but it does come with two exams and a fair chunk of revision each night, so I am a bit tired.  That said, I did enjoy seeing this page in the revision material:

If it isn't clear, it says "This is a blank page", hence making the page not... blank.

Another picture I thought that I'd share with you was from a train station the other day.  At the train station there is a stall selling cards and flowers.  Nothing wrong with that, I can quite imagine going to jump on a train to see someone, and needing to grab a card and/or fauna en route.

All that stood out to me was the blue sign visible above the stall that advertised their wares.  It starts off with "Flowers for any occasion", which is fair enough - they sell flowers, and I'm sure that many occasions indeed would be positively impacted by the inclusion of flowers.  No argument there.

They then decided to list some of the events that flowers could be suitable for - again, perfectly sensible.

Now, how did they start off this list of events?  Well, let's think, they're in a rail station so you're likely to be buying them either to take on a train, or, and probably more likely (because I wouldn't want to carry fragile flowers on a train) they are for giving to people that get off trains - your loving partner who has been away on business, your aunt who has travelled from somewhere to visit - so, bearing this in mind, the very first event listed on the sign is:


The sign in the picture again is a little small, but "FUNERALS" absolutely stands out.

It just seemed a little pessimistic somehow.

If you haven't already taken part in Wiki Loves Monuments, this is the time!  If you're in the US go to http://www.wikilovesmonuments.org/ (or if not search on Google for your countries relevant website - for example the UK one is http://www.wikilovesmonuments.org.uk/) and upload some photos of a local monument or listed building, especially those that Wikimedia don't have yet.  I've been down to a Whiting Mill on the bank of the river Humber for photos - I should say that I walked around and around the mill for about ten minutes because it wasn't where I thought it ought to be, according to the description, but I got there in the end!

Finally, the good people at find.com have let me loose on their website, if you would like some tips on losing weight then check my blog out - I might even follow them myself one day!

Now, I'm off to sleep - night!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Football versus American Football - which is better?

For today's post I've linked up with Tim Clark over at Life, Explained, to compare the two sports, with each of us defending our chosen sport.  As a born and bred Englishman I am naturally defending football (aka soccer) whilst Tim champions the American spin-off of Rugby, American Football.

To my mind, it's pretty easy to defend.  Football is so much simpler to play, you don't need multiple layers of armour, or a "gridiron" (which I understand is actually two words, but for some reason the Americans have missed the space in the middle), and you don't even need an egg-shaped ball, the typical round sort (or a soda can at a pinch) will do fine.

And football can be tough, too.  This photo was taken after I took a knee to the face after one enthusiastic game.

Although I tell people that actually I got it by stopping a bus from rolling over a cliff by interjecting my face in the way.

And I think to be honest even the Americans secretly agree, if they don't then why did they manage to do better in World Cup 2014 than England?  Obviously it's because they have significantly increased the level of resources invested in the game, there can't be any other possible reason.


I'd like to also signpost you towards my new video supporting football, which includes a number of example football plays, and I think clearly shows why football is the greatest game in the world.  It also involved me getting punched in the face which is well worth a look.

Do leave a comment to say if you agree or not (and why), and do check out Tim's blog on the subject to see which of us makes the better argument.

On me 'ed, son!

Friday, 19 September 2014

A post where I talk like a pirate that finds London really expensive


Well, ayeterday I went t' London for work. This isn't a regular occurrence (I don't normally live or work in London, and it's about 4 hours away on t' train) so it made a nice change, albeit bein' a long day. I was thar for a couple o' meetin's/events, which included an evenin' seminar which was held in a room o' a bar (this sounds like "I went drinkin'" which isn't t' case, thar was some really good presentations, but it was in a bar, hence t' rest o' t' story)

So, I got thar a little early. I be always paranoid about bein' late anywhere, and it be not unusual for me t' be anythin' up t' 30 minutes early, just in case I get delayed, for example by traffic, or simply by gettin' lost - which happens far too often t' be believable.

I got t' t' place about twenty minutes before t' seminar was due t' start, and didn't immediately see anyone that I knew. Decidin' that I had obviously arrived before t' organisers, I decided t' order a pint t' occupy me until they showed up.

"A pint o' Peroni, please" I told t' chap behind t' bar, who went t' t' far end o' t' bar t' use t' pump thar. Now Peroni glasses be relatively thin and long compared t' a traditional pint glass, and when he started fillin' two glasses I couldn't quite tell whether he was pourin' two pints, or two half-pints - maybe he was out o' pint glasses, I mused.

It turned out that he had misheard me and poured me two full pints, I'm not entirely aye how t' word "A" could be understood as "Two" but then again I do have a Yorkshire accent which could have made me hard t' understand. I decided that I would probably get through two pints in t' course o' t' evenin', and rather than cause a fuss I would just pay for t' two, which came t' a total o' £7 (about $11).

I gave t' barman a £20 note (for US readers that's around $32), and bein' an upmarket type o' place he put me change on a little dish, and sat it down in fore o' me. "Thanks" I said, pickin' t' change up. T' barman looked surprised. "Oh," he said, "Did you want your change?" A small part o' me wishes that I had released t' rant swellin' within me, which went somethin' like this:

Aye, thank you, I would like me change, I don't expect t' spend £20 on two pints o' grog, and I particularly don't expect t' give someone who was slow t' serve me (when I was t' only person at t' bar) and got me order wrong a 285% tip!!

In justification o' t' barman t' bar was starboard in t' middle o' London's financial sector and I could quite imagine that they will have people go in thar with oodles o' doubloons who wouldn't blink an eyelid at spendin' several thousand pounds in a night.

That, however, be not me.

You may be wonderin' why this blog post be in Pirate-speak. Well, today be International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Do head over t' t' website at http://www.talklikeapirate.com/ t' see what's goin' on, and make aye t' take part too! I must admit that I have been lazy and not written all o' this text meself in Pirate-language, I have used a handy translator courtesy o' Trevor Sehrer, which can be found at http://www.talklikeapirate.com/translator.html

Shiver me timbers!

If you want to hear about other times I was in London and paid over the odds for beer (plus was told that my name is Brian) check out my Adventures in London post!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Are you ready for Apple Dumpling Day?

September 17th is national Apple Dumpling Day!

To be brutally honest, I'm not entirely sure what an apple dumpling is, I understand that it's an American delicacy.  I believe that it is a peeled and cored apple, coated in cinnamon and sugar, cooked within some pastry.  Don't get me wrong - I'm very very keen indeed to sample one, I just don't think that I've ever had one.  By all means if anyone I know is baking some tomorrow, let me know and I'll happily take one off your hands!

Meanwhile for UK readers, (I may not be able to say that for much longer bearing in mind the Scottish referendum coming up!) I am very excited because on Sunday, Downton Abbey returns, and with it so does my Sunday evenings with a bit of supper, maybe a hot chocolate (depending on the syns - I have just started Slimming World after all!).  I've been deliberately avoiding any spoilers about the series on the internet as I want it all to be a great surprise.

Before that though, in twelve hours however I shall be at Hull College for the Higher Education Freshers Fair, getting ready to promote the Travelling Book project, I was there last week which went very well and I'm hoping for a good response from the HE students!  If you're in the area do stop by the college, I have a free competition going on, free sunglasses and sweets (although not a huge amount of either), plus students are able to support the Travelling Book project at a cut-down price for a short time!  We'll be open from 10am onwards.

Now I'm off for a quick half hour on Hearthstone before bed, apparently it's up to 20 million players and they're planning to release it on Android tablets and suchlike which is excellent news for a Android fan like me - Hearthstone does work on my laptop (just) but generally to play I have to be on my desktop at home, while a quick game when out and about would be grand!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

The six questing mugs of Cupland

 All was quiet in Cupland.  It was the night, when the cups were safely cuddled up together with the Great Glass Barrier in place, protecting them from all kinds of nasty creatures.
  Most of the cups were asleep, but one cup, Mr 30, was awake.  He nudged his neighbour, Mr Blue.
 "Blue!" 30 whispered. "Are you awake?"
 Blue yawned.  "I am now."
 "I can't sleep, Blue! I'm too excited!"
 "Why's that?"
 "Because I love mornings!  And I'm right up against the Great Glass Barrier!  I might get out tomorrow!" 30 cried.  The grey insulated mug behind them shook a little, then fell back to sleep.
 "I know, 30."
 "Isn't it great?!?" 30 asked, but Mr Blue had fallen asleep again.

 Mr 30 did indeed get to go out in the morning, and was filled with lovely boiling water, with a bit of milk, coffee, and sugar stirred in.  This was how all the cups lived - they lived in the cupboard, hoping to get out, be taken around the house - perhaps even into the garden, weather willing - get a good scrub in the sink and a dry before going back in the cupboard with their friends.
 It was a good life, if sometimes a slightly boring one.  Mr 30 thought about Foamy the cup, who was right at the back of the cupboard.  Foamy had a big crack in him, which generally meant that a cup would mysteriously vanish and never be seen again, but instead Foamy stayed at the back of the cupboard, never to be used.

 "We have a serious problem," Mr Purple announced one evening, when the lights were out and the various strange pink walking things had left the kitchen.
 "There are less of us than usual.  I don't know where our friends have gone, but Spotty Cyan hasn't been seen for days.  Not to mention Yellowing and Big Flask."
 The other cups shuffled amongst themselves, clinking slightly.
 "We must investigate."

And so the quest was ordered.  An expeditionary force of six mugs was decided upon, to venture beyond the Great Glass Barrier to find their lost colleagues.
 Of course, the first obstacle was the barrier itself.
 "How do we get past it?" asked Blue.
 "Maybe some tea?" suggested 30.  But none of the cups had any tea.
 As the six cups discussed what to do, they were interrupted by some bickering.  They turned to see two mugs, one placed on top of the other, arguing.
 "Oh no," said Swearword, "Who put Black on top of Green? They never agree on anything."
 "I'VE HAD ENOUGH! I'M OUT OF HERE!" shouted Black, leaping up off Green and slamming straight into the shelf above.  The cupboard shook, but instead of the brief shake subsiding, it continued, and then an almighty shudder wrenched the cups around.
 The Great Glass Barrier flew open as a glass from the shelf around tumbled out, crying "You bast-" before smashing on the floor.
 "This is it!  This is our chance!" declared Mr Purple.
 The cups rolled carefully on their sides out of the cupboard and off the kitchen counter onto the floor, where fortunately the smashed remains of a glass made the landing slightly softer.
 "Where do we go now?" asked Swearword.
 "Up.  That is where the answer is.  We go up." decided Purple.

 And so the cups made their way upstairs.  It took them many hours, with each stair being a veritable mountain for the cups to climb, but eventually they made their way right to the top of the house.
 "What now?" 30 whispered.
 "We must visit our god." Purple declared.
 "You don't mean..." Blue said.
 "I do."

 The cups shuffled across the attic floor, moving as quietly as they could, until they were finally face to face with their god.  The one that they dreamed of.  The one that occasionally they got to visit, the one that sometimes hummed and sometimes beeped.
 They reached The Black Tower.

 Mike picked up the mugs, put them on a tray, and took them downstairs to be washed.

The end!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

My pyjamas

As I type this, I'm wearing pyjamas.

This isn't particularly unusual - it's 8pm, my son is in bed, the chores have been done, and I've had a long and busy day at Hull College's Freshers Fair promoting the Travelling Book Project - don't misunderstand me though, it was ace, and I think my stall was somewhat unique thanks to its ingenious "clothes horse" design:

Complete with trendy "peg" fixings

But right now I'm tired and aching a bit, and I welcome the opportunity to wear pyjamas.

Now, the set that I'm wearing is a sort of green and white, with a dash of red, tartan stripey pattern, and they are quite warm and comfortable.  But they do have one unusual feature.

Attached to the left leg of the pyjama bottoms is the security tag.

I have no idea how my partner got these to me without having the tag removed, all I can assume is that she bought the clothes, they forgot to remove the tag at the till, and then the security alarm didn't go off (or it went off and no one paid any attention).

I've worn these pyjamas for quite a while now, I don't know if I got them last Christmas or if it was before that, but I've certainly had them a fair few months.  The only issue the tag causes really is that I can't sleep on my left side, which isn't a problem as I always sleep on my right, but I do have the slight worry that one day the tag might trigger and spew out blue dye over anything nearby.

I feel a little bit like a kids game, like "Buckaroo" or something of the sort.

I'm imagining something like this photo, except instead of white shaving foam think of blue dye.  And less smiling.

But I'm at a loss as to what to do.  The pyjamas are otherwise fine, so I don't feel comfortable disposing of them, but I don't see that going into a shop and saying "Hello, here's some of your pyjamas, no I don't have a receipt but if you could remove the security tag it'd be much appreciated" would go very well either.

Suggestions welcomed.

Last thing - if you're not already aware, I am going to be defending football on my blog in the near future, against Tim Clark at Life, Explained, who will be championing the case for american football, so we can decide one and for all which is the better game.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Coming up...

Enjoying the Blog of Thog?

Wondering what's coming up in future posts?

Well, we're planning a rather exciting transatlantic debate between myself and my arch-rival and nemesis Tim Clark at Life, Explained (actually he's very pleasant and an excellent blogger but telling you that isn't going to raise the tension) about football, and comparing american "football" to the real football, the beautiful game.  Jumpers for goalposts, afternoons in the park on a Sunday... all that sort of thing.  If you haven't already done so check out Tim's post about our plans.

But am I qualified to talk about football on behalf of the rest of the world?  Well, I strongly believe so, because:

a) I've played it
b) It was possibly invented in England (and I live in England)
c) It'll hopefully make for a half decent blog post

Stay tuned!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

How to make a living by being a geek - honest!

It's been just over two years since I started this blog up and I was very pleased today when I logged into Blogger and apparently I've hit 200,000 views, which is pretty awesome - whether it's accurate or not I'm not entirely sure, as Google Analytics tells me that the figure is actually just under 11,000, but at any rate it's all good.  Thanks for reading!

I decided to draw myself a mind map on how to make a living by being a geek.  I know that there is almost certainly no way that I'll achieve this, but having a plan isn't going to hurt, and it was fun to do.

Hang on - I need to move into "internet marketer speak" to do this blog post properly...

The Fortune Making Mind Map that THEY don't want you to know about!

Hi, I'm Mike Raven, and I used to be just like you.

Then I ate a lot of food, and now I'm twice the person you are.

But you can become like me too!

They don't want you to know about this secret.  Tired of the 9-to-5?  Bored of being a rat in the the rat race?

Want to be happy by earning $000s while sitting at home?

Follow these five steps for eternal bliss...

5 - Make the commitment.

Quit your job.  Are you having fun?  Stop that.  Sit at home and sweat, baby.  Put the time in and the rewards will come.  Learn SEO.  And memes.

4 - Get out there.

Network, it's not who you know, it's who the people you know know.  And who they know too.


Read the mind map below.

But not yet - keep reading the five steps first.


Do what the mind map says.

Do that now.


Go to Eternal Bliss now!

(Disclaimer: All the above is bad advice, or at best variable advice.  Putting the time in to something that you care about is probably a good thing.  The rest is pretty poor)

Okay, now that's over, here's the mind map.  Enjoy!

If you want to be a writer can I recommend this article by James Altucher that I read on Lifehacker this morning - well worth a read.

Otherwise, if you enjoyed this parody of internet marketing, check out my SEO blog post from a while back, Or even a slightly more serious one about gamification.

On the other hand, my most popular blog post is about being unable to locate nappies (aka diapers).  So try that instead.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Cooking tip

If you're cooking on a hob, be sure that you ignite the right hob (particularly a problem with electric hobs) - turn on the hob with a pan sat on it, not the adjacent one with a cooking board.

Catch the video here!

Monday, 1 September 2014

ice bucket and card games

Well, it's been a fun weekend here as my partner has filled the house with a bunch of her friends from across the country (and beyond) to hang out.  We've been to laserquest, we've played crazy golf, and we've got through a significant amount of alcohol - well done to all!

Several of us also took part in the ice bucket challenge, including myself:

Whilst I thought that the hat and leather trenchcoat would protect me from the worst of the water... it didn't, really.

Pro tip: After you get drenched, change your clothes.  I thought that I would "dry out" over time.

I didn't.

The other thing we've been doing is playing a load of card games, particularly the classic Cards Against Humanity and Munchkin.  Cards Against Humanity I've mentioned in various previous blog posts, but briefly you have a selection of answer cards, which you use to answer questions, with the aim of putting forward the funniest answer.  As the website states "Cards Against Humanity is a party game for horrible people", it's extremely simple to play and very very funny indeed as long your mind can live in the gutter - definitely adults only.

The other game, Munchkin, is a sort of parody of role playing games, and again is great fun - a little bit more complicated than Cards Against Humanity, and it's a very different game, but is brilliant fun.  Basically you have to get your character to level 10, by a variety of means (typically by defeating monsters or selling loot), but you can help or hinder your opponents.  If they're facing a monster that is going to kill them, you could offer to help (in return for some of the loot that the monster drops.  On the other hand, if they are going to easily defeat a monster, you could make that monster a little tougher to kill.  Inevitably it ends up with people at level 9 trying desperately to get that last level, while everyone else starts playing their most evil cards to stop them.

The Travelling Book Project is quiet at the moment, with all of the books now dispatched, but I am at Hull College's Fresher Fair on the 11th and 17th of September, so if you're in the area on those dates do stop by!

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