Friday, 30 October 2015

Worrying Junk Mail

Tonight I decided to catch up on some paperwork (which means opening envelopes, and making two piles of papers - those that can be thrown away, and those that should be filed.  And then both piles stay exact where they are).  I like junk mail, because I put letters about my blog in the freepost envelopes and send them back (these obviously include a liqueur coffee decision tree, which they can stick to the wall in the office)

But, I've noticed something slightly uncomfortable with the junk mail tonight.

Mixed in with the usual selection of credit cards, mortgage offers, free games at Mecca bingo, and so forth, I've had a catalogue selling vitamins and minerals for those older people, plus an offer for a free will from a funeral planning company.

All I can imagine is that on some database somewhere it's been identified that I'm no longer in my 20s, nowhere near my 20s, even the idea of being asked for ID in a supermarket is now laughable, and my details are well and truly deleted from the "Shots for £1" happy hour list of my local discotheque, and have been added to a list which I presume is titled "Get their money before they die"

I wonder what tomorrows post will bring?  Perhaps one of those plans that give a guaranteed payout on death?  Or one of those catalogues that sell all kind of useful tools and knick-knacks, like things to open jars easily or something to copy old records onto MP3?

What sort of junk mail do you get?  Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Plastic Bag Trees

Original photo by Tim Parkinson, licensed on a CC BY 2.0 license
Original available from

One day, one of us will talk about a "Plastic Bag Tree".  And someone younger than us (but not that young) will ask what we're talking about.

Here in England, we've had a change in the law which means that (except for many tiny loopholes) supermarkets have to charge us 5p (about 8 cents) for a carrier bag (aka plastic bag in other parts of the world).

So they've basically vanished overnight.

Where we once had a cupboard under the sink full of plastic bags, we now have empty space.  Where I used to take a plastic bag to hold a bacon sandwich and a scone from the works canteen, I now use the slightly less modern but still effective tool otherwise known as "a hand".  Indeed, balancing shopping in a tower in one hand is now well on its way to become an Olympic sport.

The plastic bag tax should lead to a huge reduction in the use of bags, which is good for the environment, although hopefully people won't move to stealing supermarket baskets instead (which has happened in the past).

Obviously I can only really talk for myself, but I do find it interesting how people can apparently change their patterns of behaviour so easily, and it's not as though anyone thought all those billions of plastic bags being used once and then being put in the bin were good for the environment, but by and large a great number of people were happy to just get their free plastic bag, yet now they have to pay 5p for them suddenly they discover that they can manage quite readily.  I walked to work this morning with aching hands holding a large box of leftover Chinese food, two safety boots, a hard hat, and a hi-vis waistcoat, whilst also carrying a laptop bag on my shoulder, because I wasn't going to go and use a 5p carrier bag to put everything in.

Anyway, should anyone be in the need for a plastic bag, let me know - I can let you have a pre-loved one for just 4p.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

The Rogue Christmas Jumper

I don't really have much to blog about - my wife is away so I took the opportunity to wear a Christmas jumper.  I'm eating jelly with cake decorations sprinkled on it too.  Crazy times!

One thing though - I have just published a new video... MEAD OFF.  In which I drank mead.


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Guest Post - The Aging Population

Here's a guest post from my extremely young father Graham.



Spot the idiot ... this is worrying.
I freely admit that I have a serious aversion to old age, I hate it passionately and I haven't even got there yet, not quite. Indeed I have been hating old age since I was young; it is not something I look forward to.

In a world where, if you pay any attention to gossip in general there seems to be a world shortage of hysteria, there are any number of people who will seize any excuse to run up and down screaming because someone, somewhere, has grown their first grey hair, developed a dicky knee or most lamentably discover that they can't remember someones name.

The fact that the lost name will come to you sooner or later, given half a chance and seemingly the less you worry about it, the easier it seems that the reluctant memory will return ... is no excuse for not panicking!

Why exactly we get brownie points for hysteria I have never quite managed to work out, but it does seem popular.

"IT MUST BE ALTSHEIMERS!" someone is screaming (possibly just in my own head, but it's sort of deafening all the same). The people who try to fix this malady in the real world and want more government funding have got some kind of excuse I suppose, but anyone else? (oh and the media of course, there would be very little News if it wasn't for Hysteria - ditto, Colouring, Slanting, Twisting and Tarting up mundane events)

Anyway, I had to buy tomatoes, from the farmer's market and buy them I did. Indeed, I chose the tomatoes myself, money changed hands, I put the change in my wife's purse and I strode off manfully leaving the tomatoes on the stall ....... !?

My wife, who is still sharp of mind and in command of her faculties was shopping by remote control in the car - it was raining heavily so being sensible she directed and pointed, and I heroically ventured forth hunting various delightful consumables.

Triumphantly I returned, wet but happy in the (false) knowledge that I had bought all the goodies we wanted. A quick trip home ensued and I unpacked our treasures - cream cake, check! Meat from the butchers, check! Sausage rolls, check! Tomatoes? Where, how? I searched the car, not a sausage and no tomatoes either!

When did I suddenly become so utterly air-headed?

No, better not tell me, I'm quite upset enough as it is. My instinct was to massage my head against the nearest brick wall for being so stupid. Do I need in-depth written instructions perhaps?


1) Find Tomatoes, (well known salad item, they look like 'tomatoes' - if you don't know what tomatoes look like, just die now!)
2) Pay for tomatoes (Tomato vendors like this sort of thing)
3) PUT TOMATOES IN SHOPPING BAG! (you should have a shopping bag with you)

NOTE. Take Special note of instructions 3 and 4 - without these the whole operation will be compromised!

Possibly a hard-hitting poster campaign would help


I can see that shopping lists in future will be mandatory!

Feel free to check out my parents Facebook page for information about their mail order business, Raven, through which they offer all kinds of weird and wonderful magical goodies -

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Being Creative

Today is a good day.

The day started by clearing out a good chunk of our garage, which over the past five years has gathered all kinds of wonderful knick-knacks, which are far too lovely to throw away yet not actually nice enough to keep anywhere better than an unheated concrete floored brick box with a leaky roof.  As a reward we went to Pave for lunch (one of my favourite pubs) which was nice, this afternoon my son blew his homework out of the water spending ages on it (again, good to see), the Tesco delivery arrived with beer in it (yay!), and I've just uploaded two new videos to YouTube.  I've also scheduled a load of tweets on Hootsuite - something which I do far too rarely - and I'm obviously writing this blog too.

Being creative is tricky - it's easy to come up with something like "I don't have the inspiration" or "I can't think of anything to blog about right now" (and sometimes I honestly feel like these are true) but what it really comes down to is "I don't feel like it".

To do it right I think you have to treat it as a job - for me, it's about expecting myself to churn out 3+ blog posts and 1+ video a week, of at least a reasonable quality.  Of course, I often fail to meet this, which is purely because I'm not disciplined enough.  That said, it is a hobby (and unless my advertising revenues increase by a factor of a thousand - or more - that isn't going to change any time soon!) so I'm not going to be too hard on myself.

And I have done a video - it's a quick look at new game Prison Architect, where you manage a prison.  Interesting, fun, dark, and surprisingly emotional.

So, as I say, it's a good day today.  I might even push on and try to write an extra post or two so I've got something ready for next week.

One last thing - Adele Archer kindly put up a guest post of mine today, which has a little test for people to see how well they can infer information about someone.  Have a go and drop a line in the comments.

Must go - it's beer time!

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Windows 10 struggles

I wasn't going to blog about this.  I blogged about Windows 10 and Google Chrome the other day, and today I was going to write about something else entirely.

And then I hit a snag.

You see, today I was going to edit a little video to go on my long-suffering and neglected YouTube channel.  But to do that, I would need to actually play videos on my computer.

And, presumably after installing updates yesterday, Windows 10 now does not play videos, and has also totally lost the ability to play sound.

I expect this to be fixed fairly quickly - I hope that it is, anyway - as there doesn't appear to be any obvious solutions from a search on the net.  I do use a reasonably fancy headset, and there is a possibility that using a different one might work.  Still, it's a bit annoying, and it's rare that I use the latest version of a Windows operating system, but because of Microsoft's free upgrade offer, I decided to take the leap (which I'm now regretting).

Good news is that the latest version of Google Chrome Canary (a "bleeding-edge" version of Google Chrome) is working okay on my computer so at least I'm using a web browser that I'm comfortable with.

Oh - and go watch my new video, DRINKYBANG.  It's not quite MEATYBANG or even VEGGIEBANG, but I do get to pass out with a Russian doll.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Once Upon A Halloween

If you're not aware, The Whacko Blogs is doing their first ever annual Halloween Ball, and are looking for the best in Halloween fiction, plus a Halloween costumes.  So, I decide that it was about time to take part.

Firstly, my story!


 It was a dark and stormy night.
 Wind rattled the window panes as he looked out into the darkness.
 Nothing there.
 He turned, to look at the others in the room.  Sure enough, they sat, eating and talking, totally ignoring him as usual.
 He sighed and walked through into the kitchen..
 The kitchen was full of dirty pots and pans, and was unremarkable except for the unusually large amount of sweets sat in a bowl.
 It must be Halloween, he mused, unless it's Christmas and the sweets are for gorging on whilst watching one of those dreadfully nice films.  No, he decided, can't be Christmas - no tree.
 Nothing of interest here.
 Without making the slightest disturbance, in moments he was then sat in a dark pit, surrounded by lumps of dirty coal.
 Now this is the life.  This reminds me of when I was young.  When I was... more active.
 He passed some time, reminiscing in the coal shelter,

 Later on, he went back into the house.  Two of the others were drinking and laughing. whilst the third was at the front door, inviting a small robot and a ghost to help themselves to sweets.
 That isn't a real ghost, he said to himself, I should know what a real ghost is.

 It was the middle of the night.  He sat on one of the beds in the house, next to one of the others while they slept, totally unaware of his presence.
 Time to have a little fun.
 He blew in their ear.  They muttered and shifted in their sleep.
 A few seconds went by - he blew in their other ear.  This time a sleepy hand swung up as the person neatly slapped themselves in the face.
 Laughing at them from only a few inches away, the humans eyes opened and they yelled in shock as they finally saw him - at such a close distance he couldn't be missed.
 "Dammit it Felix!  Okay, I'll feed you!"
 Felix the cat padded through to the kitchen while the human, abandoning sleep, followed them to dish out some cat food.

I hope you enjoyed this story!  And now, here's my Halloween costume.

This is what happens when you decide to take a photo after a beer.  All I can smell is cinnamon.
If you're taking part in either contest let me know in the contests!  For more, check out The Whackos Blog post!

And if you'd like to see me do the proper thing and just eat the damn shower gel...

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Windows 10 vs Google Chrome

(Please enjoy this blog post, I fell down the stairs earlier - an event surely deserving of beer and a lack of achievement - yet I still went back upstairs to the PC to write it!  However, I am knelt on the floor as sitting in a chair is a little uncomfortable.)

I'm struggling at the moment.  You see, I've got Windows 10.  By and large, I'm very happy with it - I can't particularly say that it's better than 8 (or even 7, for that matter), but it seems fine.

However, ever since I got it, Google Chrome keeps falling over, and I love Google Chrome.  I use a lot of the Google websites and services available (including, obviously, its Blogger facility), Chrome is fast, and does everything I want well.

So having to try Microsoft Edge, which seems sluggish in comparison (and isn't automatically logged in to all my Google stuff) isn't great.

Chrome seems to work as long as I don't open too many tabs at the same time, so I'm having to audit my tab usage constantly, as I am one of these people that has tens of different internet windows open all at the same time.  I've tried looking for solutions but I've not found one that works yet.  I may be forced to employ the services of Colin to help me out.

And he hasn't even got his Microsoft certification.

Anyway, must dash - Downton Abbey starts in 20 minutes!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Wine vs paperwork

I keep trying to do paperwork but this pint of wine keeps getting in the way.

I've been away for a couple of days, and for once it hasn't really given me anything to blog about - sure, there was the accidental two hour walk in London (don't worry, it was offset with fish, chips, and beer), plus the obligatory dash across Doncaster rail station on the way home to get my connecting train before it cleared off, but otherwise it was a fairly quiet and productive couple of days.

But, I did have an idea for something.  I'm not going to talk about it now, but suffice to say that it involves social media.  And I'd love for you to help!

What do you think of social media?  How do you use it?  What websites/apps do you use?  What is good and bad?

Let me know in the comments below.  And I might do something with it! Thanks :)

Now - back to the wine!
TOTS 100 - UK Parent Blogs
Paperblog BlogCatalog