Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The kettle is going on - but what is everyone drinking?

We head unstoppably towards the battle royale, tea versus coffee, all lined up for Sunday the 2nd of November.  More broadsides have been issued from both sides as companies across the globe declare their loyalty to one side or another.

DAVIDsTEA of Montreal appears to be undecided, stating that they obviously love tea, but that they are partial to coffee - I must admit that their Jumpy Monkey blend did turn my head for a moment, but I shall be strong.

Kicking Horse Coffee of Invermere, BC unsurprisingly voted for COFFEE! #FueledbytheHorse

Ritual Coffee of San Francisco has risen above the arguments with a quote from Mark Twain - Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference. I say that they have risen above the argument, they may actually just be calling me thick, which is probably quite true.

And Coffee Planet NL of the Netherlands has unfortunately plumped for the dark side.

Today Mr Clark of Life, Explained warns of a tea drinking army preparing to mobilise. Well, let our army rise up - and make a cuppa.  I am typing this blog using my partners laptop as the power supply in my PC has died suspiciously just as we gear up for this epic battle.  I'm not saying that Tim did it, but...

Voting-wise tea has taken a comfortable lead over coffee, with hot chocolate rearing its head too.  Make sure that you vote for your favourite hot drink at http://vote.pollcode.com/16115227 and do promote the contest anyway you can, using the hashtag #HOTDRINKDAY

Monday, 27 October 2014

Tea vs Coffee - tensions are heating up...

By Petr Kratochvil (cup-of-tea-isolated) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

If you're not aware, Sunday 2nd November 2014 is #HOTDRINKDAY with a global showdown between The Blog of Thog and Life, Explained as to which drink is better, tea or coffee.  And I've been getting some contact from a variety of firms willing to weigh in on the debate.

For example, PGTips volunteered the following to my call for help:

And Devonshire Tea, Steepster, Tea Totaller, and The Cup of Life all showing their support too.

I've also had a number of emails about the debate.  Nestle got in touch saying:

As you will appreciate we have to remain impartial and obviously couldn't possibly take sides in your debate due to the fact we don't produce tea. #NESCAFÉ

The Kent & Sussex Tea & Coffee Co said that they'll be promoting the event, but didn't commit as to which side they'll be supporting (cough - tea guys, support tea!)
Also Has Bean Coffee wishes all the best for the debate - but not for me! :)

Seriously though, thanks to all the companies that have got in touch, regardless of what side you support.  I'm keen to hear from other hot drink makers too - are we short sighted in saying that it's tea vs coffee?  Where's the hot chocolate and marmite (think I need a comma in there somewhere) supporters?  Whatever your preference, get voting and make sure to show your support, either on my blog (for the righteous tea lovers of the world) or Tim's blog (for the evil drink also known as coffee), on Sunday for your favourite drink - and tweet the debate up using #HOTDRINKDAY

Before you escape, www.find.com have published my latest of a series of slimming blogs on their website, this time talking about how to get back into slimming when you hit a problem and put weight on one week.  Do go check it out!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Nursing Home

I'll start this post off by saying that I apologise if it is not up to my usual mediocre standards, however British Summer Time ended last night, which meant that a huge amount of people got an extra hour in bed today, whilst another grouping of people (which happens to include me) has a small child that has no concept of British Summer Time and woke up at ten past four expecting CBeebies, jam-covered toast and a glass of smoothie.

Long-term readers may remember these posts about taking my gran shopping and having lunch with her in Waitrose, however things have moved on.  Several months back she had a couple of falls and eventually it was agreed that the best thing for her was to go into a nursing home.

Ever a creature of habit, my gran has wasted no time in settling in a new routine, as follows:

  1. In the morning she wakes up and gets a bowl of sweetened porridge for breakfast.  She doesn't like sweetened porridge but because she doesn't like to complain about it (and I suspect that she's the only person in the home that wants it unsweetened) she has it sweetened.
  2. After that she'll be got out of bed, dressed, and sat in her chair.  Here she stays for the morning, talking to her room mate, until lunchtime.
  3. Lunch typically consists of three courses - soup, of which she has one spoon full and then leaves it on the side, a main course which she devours, and a pudding, which she waits for her roommate to eat hers and then gets the roommate to swap the plates.
  4. After lunch she'll be put into her nightgown and returned to bed, as her back is playing up.
  5. And at teatime, again she will eat the main course and then swap the pudding plates with her roommate to allow her to again get two portions.

That's not to say that there isn't excitement.  There was the time when my gran slipped out of her chair, and ended up sitting on the floor.  When the staff came to see what had happened, and asked her "What are you doing?", she responded, not unreasonably with "Nothing - I'm just sitting on the floor!"

I generally visit her once a week, bringing a number of the following items:

  • Walnut whips - she doesn't actually eat these, but when I visit we share them - that is, I eat the chocolate with the whip inside, and she has the walnut.  I recall the time that she asked me what nut was on top of a walnut whip.  I told her to think about what she'd asked me.
  • Marshmallows - these are for her roommate.  When the coast is clear and no staff are around, my gran wraps up half a dozen marshmallows in a piece of tissue and beckons her roommate over to take them.
  • Toffees and assorted bags of sweets - similarly to the marshmallows, these are actually for the roommate, and will be mixed with wild abandon to give the roommate a selection of treats.
  • Cartons of apple juice - these aren't needed very often, as it's rare that my gran actually drinks one, but she does like to keep a supply of twenty or so handy in her wardrobe.

Today she was telling me that there is no difference between men and women, except that men have a thingy.  And, apparently, it's a good job that they have a thingy, because otherwise they wouldn't be able to wee.

I can't finish the post without reminding all about the run up to #HOTDRINKDAY on Sunday the 2nd of November.  If you're a tea fan, you're in the right place, because The Blog of Thog is the home of all tea drinkers - read my announcement here.  If, on the other hand, you're a coffee aficionado, well Mr Clark at Life, Explained is there for you, and you can read his announcement here.  We need all you social media folk to be prepared next Sunday to put forward your views - what drink do you prefer?

And don't forget to vote!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Tea versus Coffee - get involved!

In just over a week the latest in our series of transatlantic debates will be taking place as The Blog of Thog takes on Life, Explained in the war to end all wars.

Which is better: Tea or Coffee?

By Paul Downey from Berkhamsted, UK (Morning Tea  Uploaded by McGeddon) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Now, obviously the answer is tea, but a certain young whippersnapper from the US of A doesn't seem to agree.  So, we're going to be gearing up for a good old blog debate on Sunday the 2nd of November 2014, and I'm encouraging other Internet folk to get involved.

Do you blog?  Make videos?  Podcasts? Or other internetty content stuff?  Well, upload something on your own blog/YouTube channel/Podcast site/other place defending either tea or coffee (or even go a separate way, state a different preference - hot chocolate perhaps!) and make it live on Sunday 2nd November - make sure to let us know here and at Life, Explained so we can link to it!  If you promote it anywhere use the hashtag #HOTDRINKDAY and I'll be checking the tag during the day to see what's kicking off.  Our posts should be going live about 3pm UK time (10am Ohio time) so don't worry, you don't need to get up early to catch our posts (although obviously you're very welcome to!)

If you're not one of the above, don't worry, you can still get involved in lots of ways, including:

  • Commenting on our blogs to tell us which one you prefer
  • Sharing our posts on Twitter/Facebook/Reddit/Google+ etc to promote the debate!
  • Voting in the poll below!

Yes, right below is a poll for what is the best hot drink!  Take part now!

Thanks for reading and get ready for the 2nd of November - HOT DRINK DAY!!!

What is the best hot drink?
pollcode.com free polls

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Does Gmail secretly like Spam?!? (the junk email, not the meat)

I use Gmail as my main personal email facility - it works fine, I can use it anywhere, all that kind of stuff, but there's one thing that I've noticed.

If you get an email that you want to delete, what you do is you tick the box next to the email to select, and then a "Delete" button pops up.  And you click Delete and boom, the email is gone.

However, sometimes Gmail moves emails into a Spam folder, and occasionally I go in to clear it out.  The Spam folder is always full of spam comments on this blog, offers of Viagra, and coupons for Pizza Express - I'm not sure what Pizza Express has done to deserve the designation "spam", but to be fair I don't go there very often so perhaps Google has picked up on this and decided that I don't want their offers.

To delete the emails in the Spam folder however, you tick them, and then you hit the box marked...


Which just gives it a little bit more emphasis, as though Google is saying "I think that these are spam emails so you probably don't want them, but I could be wrong so do have a good look through first - wait!  Wait!  You've not looked thoroughly at the emails!  There could be something really important that I've marked as spam by mistake!  Dear me, no don't - agh!  You've deleted them FOREVER!!! Don't you realise how much space I have on my servers?  I could have easily looked after half a dozen emails offering you 40% off a main meal at Pizza Express, you didn't need to just go and get rid of them!"

Perhaps I'm reading a little too much into it.

If you got all the way to the end of this post, well done!  If you like stuff about the internet, maybe this vaguely philosophical piece about spending time chilling out on the Internet might be to your liking.  On the other hand if you're looking for something funny, perhaps I HATE NAPPIES is more to your liking.

Or if you've had enough of this blog, go see Tim over at Life, Explained.  His are very good.  Some people said better than mine.  But I found them and they don't say that any more.

This end bit has gone a bit dark now.

Saturday, 18 October 2014


Never let it be said that on the Blog of Thog we don't tackle the hard hitting issues.

We're going to talk politics.

We're going to talk financial news.

Because President Barack Obama, went to dinner the other night... and had his credit card declined.

Debit and credit cards have made buying goods massively simpler.  Rather than carrying around a wodge of cash, or a hefty chequebook and pen, you can now simply wave a piece of plastic at a machine, and type in a few digits (I haven't tried contactless yet), and the purchase is complete.

But I do always have the tiny fear everytime that I use a card that this time will be the time that my card is declined.

It's easy with cash.  It's either in your wallet, or it isn't.  With a card however you have to try to remember not only how much money is in your bank account, but also what bills are likely to come out before pay day.

So the next time that you're trying to buy your shopping, your card is declined, and you're scrabbling in your wallet for the joint account card, feel a little better that it doesn't just happen to you - the leader of the free world has to use his wife's credit card on occasion too.

My latest vlogtober video is up and required me to run - for no other reason than that, please watch.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Blog Action Day 2014 - Inequality

Today I'm taking part in Blog Action Day 2014, a day where bloggers and content creators around the world unite to talk about a common subject - this year we're focusing on inequality.

Inequality is everywhere, and it goes from the most powerful/rich people in the world, down to ordinary people like you and me.  I'll start by sharing a story which doesn't paint me in a good light.

I was on a train recently, and in the next row of seats was two teenage girls, who basically seemed to spend the journey talking about drinking, fit boys, family members of theirs being arrested, getting benefits from the government (one of the girls was on disability living allowance, so I'm led to understand) and various other topics which did include some talk about drugs.  I never saw the girls during the journey as they were in the row in front of me, but everything that they were talking about, and their accents, led me to think "there's a couple of chavs".

I automatically wrote them off as human beings with any possibility of having any kind of potential in life.  Yet, when the guy in the business suit at the other side of the carriage got up to leave the train and left his umbrella behind, immediately one of the girls called over to him and asked him if he'd forgotten it.

In my judging of these two girls I had assumed that they would have stolen it, or certainly let him get off the train without taking it.  And it made me realise that my judgements had been wrong.  Later in the journey they talked about how they wanted to get on and get their driving licenses, and go to college.

I'm not pleased by my thoughts about these two girls but it makes me think just how easy it is to judge people without knowing their situation.  And this is something that I do believe the vast majority of us do.

There is a limit to what that the majority of us can do about the big issues of inequality - for example, the fact that if you combined what the 3.5 billion poorest people in the world owned, it would equate to about the same as the 66 richest people owned.  That doesn't mean that we shouldn't try - you can contact your governmental representative (MPs, senators, whatever they're called in your country) to ask what they are doing about inequality, and to highlight any particular issues close to your heart.

You can join a campaign group - whatever subject it is that is close to your heart, there is probably a campaign group for it, which may well be able to advise on how to take action and make a difference.

We can read about it, and the Blog Action Day website is a great place to start, as it coordinates the hundreds of blogs coming out today about inequality.  If you blog yourself, you can promote the topic yourself.

But what we can also do is fight inequality where we see it, in our lives.  Challenge yourself to be less judgmental.  Remember that whatever decision someone takes, whatever thing it is that they say, whatever they look like, or what job they do, they have had a lifetime of experiences and influences that has led them to make that choice, to say that thing, to do that job.  And recognise that while you may not agree with what they do or say, or sound like, that it may be valid for them to be the way that they are.

With that in mind, I'm going to write briefly about ulcerative colitis.

I have ulcerative colitis.  It's essentially an inflammatory bowel disease (a gut condition) that typically has some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Cramping pain in the abdomen
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss (not in my case, I hasten to add!)
  • Tiredness and fatigue

The cause of it isn't clear.  The theory is that it is caused by a combination of a number of factors - genetics, an abnormal reaction of the body's immune system, and something in the environment as a catalyst - which could be something you eat, viruses, bacteria, smoking, stress... but these aren't clear, and they aren't universal - one person may be able to eat whatever they like, while others (like me) have to avoid certain types of vegetable.

For those that know me personally, don't worry - my condition is currently in remission, it doesn't really have any effect on my day to day life right now.  It may flare up in the future, or it may not - I try to look after myself to ensure that it doesn't.  But conditions like mine can be difficult to talk about, and isn't helped by being misreported in the press as something that happens to people that eat junk food.  If you want to find out more, I recommend the Crohn's and Colitis UK website, and in particular their guide on understanding IBD.

The point of the above is not for me to get sympathy (right now I'm absolutely fine - no sympathy required!) but to raise awareness of the condition.  Many people - indeed, I'd suggest most people - suffer with one or more mild or severe health conditions of some sort, whether it's a severe disability or just a knee that won't bend as well as it used to.  Understanding that may help you to give people a little bit more leeway if they don't move quite as fast as you expect them to, or take a moment longer to react to something.

Thanks for reading.  Head over to http://blogactionday.org/ for more information


Wednesday, 15 October 2014


I'm tired.  I should be making a video for vlogtober, but I'm just too tired.  Fortunately I uploaded a Hearthstone video last night, so here it is!

My Teddy Bear Appeal video has also been getting a lot of views, do check it out if you haven't already.

And find.com have kindly published a blog of mine about foods to avoid to speed up weight loss.

So it's all good, but I feel really tired right now, and I think I need some relaxation right now.

Fingers crossed I'll be back tomorrow!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Getting my eyes tested

Before I get into today's essay, thank you very much to Lauren of Mummy is a Gadget Geek who mentioned this blog in her list of five blogs for your inner geek at www.tots100.co.uk!

Okay, so I wear glasses.

And have been known to sleep under a pink girly duvet.

It's been about two and half years since I had my eyes tested, which is overly long - I know that I should get them done every two years, but for one reason or another (which is another way of saying I'm lazy) I hadn't got round to it.  Anyway, I bit the bullet and booked myself into an opticians last week.

Just one thing that I want to ask: hasn't anyone discovered a better way of testing for glaucoma than the puffy machine yet?

If you've never had your eyes tested, you may not have encountered this, but basically the very first thing that they do when testing your eyes is blast sudden puffs of air into each eye to... well I don't know why they do it, it's something to do with glaucoma (which is a bad thing I think?) but the problem is that the more they do it, the more uncomfortable your eye gets, and the more your body thinks "Hey, if only we had some kind of cover that would protect the eye... oh wait! We've got an eyelid!  Brilliant! Let's close that bad boy!" and before you know it you're having to prise your eye open with your fingers with a faint hope that this time the machine will get whatever information it wants and stop with the puffs of air.

Anyway, I had the tests, I have new glasses (which are extremely light compared to my old ones) and it's all good.

I'll finish off my asking you this question...


If not, watch this video now.  Scary things are happening to our teddy bears.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

More Internet Randomness

Have you found the invisible cow yet?

This looks like a blank web page.  But it has an invisible cow on yet.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go to http://findtheinvisiblecow.com/ - you have to find a cow that is hidden somewhere on your screen, by listening to a guy shouting "COW" at you.  It's good fun, and you can't help but feel a little bit of achievement when you finally see this:

Yippee!! It's an ex-invisible cartoon cow that says "moo"

Play long enough and you can unlock a goat too.

This cartoon goat doesn't say moo.  They stick true to the principles of nature.

If you haven't been over to my YouTube channel recently, I'm doing Vlogtober - a video every day for the month of October - which is going quite well, I'm making some different videos, I actually have a fair few videos ready to make live, and some more that just need editing.  Do drop by and say hi!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Strolling along the shore of the Internet

Tonight (as I type this it's about 3.30am) I've been strolling along the shore of the Internet.  I know the common cliche would be to "surf the net", but I don't think I've been that focussed.

I've been uploading a video onto YouTube, and encoding a second video to be uploaded after the one first is finished.  For some reason these videos are monstrously huge (3Gb for a 15 minute video) so it is taking some time to get them online - hence the reason why I'm up to late (and also that my other half has agreed to get up with the little one so I'm enjoying the opportunity to be a night owl for once!)

In the meantime I've been checking out peoples blogs, and it's been really interesting.  You never know what you're going to come across when you visit a new blog.  Is it going to be about a particular subject?  Or is it going to be a general everyday life blog?  Are you going to find it interesting or not?  Maybe they might hold some views that you don't agree with - not that I'm looking for an opportunity to troll or flame anyone, but I find it interesting to compare views.  If I come across a blog that I really don't agree with, well there is always another one to try instead.

It could be argued, is what I've been doing an efficient use of my time?  In this age where you can type whatever you want into Google and get it in a split-second, should I be spending time looking at blogs that might not interest me, or might even offend me?


It's important to experience other things, other views, to stop and smell the roses.  I've learned and seen things tonight that if I hadn't done this, I might never have experienced.

Moving on, I am continuing to do Vlogtober despite missing out the 7th of October, so go over to my YouTube channel and discover the thoughts I have whilst in bed!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Why are ileostomy bags following me?

At the weekend I had a pleasant evening making videos and discovering new blogs that I haven't read before.  My partner was getting up with our little one in the morning, so I didn't need to get to bed any time soon.

And then I notice something about the adverts dotted around the pages that I'm visiting.

They're all about ileostomy bags.

Let me say right now that I have nothing against ileostomy bags, if you've had that procedure then obviously you need the bags.  But I haven't (and have no immediate plans to).  What does Google know that I don't?

Saturday, 4 October 2014

If symptoms persist...

(I start off this post with a disclaimer - I'm not advocating the use of slimming pills, equally neither am I saying that they are bad, good, indifferent, or anything else. Medical advice should always be obtained before you take any medication.  Which this isn't.)

So, I was looking on the back of a box of slimming pills the other day (note these are "Slimming pills" - not painkillers, not laxatives, slimming pills.)

As you'll see, much of it is the standard sort of wording that you would expect on any kind of medication - keep away from children, do not exceed the stated dose, do not use after the expiry date, if symptoms persist... - hang on!

Let's look at that one.

If symptoms persist of worsen consult your doctor.

This is on a box of slimming pills.

The "symptoms" I presume would be - being well built?

So - if I take them, and I'm still overweight, I should consult my doctor?

"Hello Doctor, I appear to still be well upholstered, despite taking one of these slimming pills right after my usual extra big MeatBurger and fries.  I even washed it down with a fried chicken milkshake.  Do you think that the pills are faulty?"

"My God man! You're supposed to take one of these little chappies three times a day!  You can't expect results from just taking one!  Now get out of my office before I prescribe you some antibiotics!"

Something here is amiss, I fear.

I'm taking part in Vlogtober, releasing a video every day on my YouTube channel.  As I type this, I'm making a video about meat from the delicatessen counter of your local supermarket.  It'll be uploaded soon!  Come stop by :)

(edit: The deli video is now online!)

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Star Traders 2 Kickstarter and Vlogtober!

I've put my planned blog post to one side (yes, this stuff is sometimes planned, it's that good!) because of two reasons.

Firstly, you have 32 hours to go and check out the Kickstarter for Star Traders 2 RPG.  I'm a big fan of the original Star Traders, where you get to fly around a galaxy, shooting bad guys (or good guys, depending on how you want to play), trading supplies, doing quests, listening to rumours, all kinds of randomness.  The developers (the Trese brothers) did a fantastic job bringing a great deal of depth to it, and I'm really looking forward to Star Traders 2.  As I write this they're about $1,800 away from their first stretch goal of adding Orbital Stations to the game, which I do think would be a really interesting addition, so it's not too late to get involved!

Second reason for my usual blog post being postponed is that because I have to say that I am taking part in Vlogtober.  This basically means that I'm committing to releasing a video every day through the month of October.

I generally aim to release a video on my YouTube channel about once a week, and I find that a struggle sometimes, so it is with some trepidation that I'm attempting doing a daily video.  Nevertheless I am attempting the challenge, and I've managed so far to keep to schedule the first two days:

The first day I told some bad jokes.

And the second day you watch me drink beer.  It's that good.

If you're taking part in Vlogtober please do say hi in the comments, I'd love to hear from you and check out how you're getting on!
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