Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Beer Festival and Alchohol

Last weekend I ventured into the wilds away from my home in the metropolis of Hull, out to North Ferriby, which was holding a beer festival, the "Ferribeer Fest".

I've always quite liked the idea of going to a beer festival, around here (and in many places I'm sure) a lot of the local towns and villages tend to have one at some point over the summer, and it seems much classier to go to a beer festival and sample some quality ale, rather than just go to the pub for inebrative purposes!

The event was free to attend and was well attended, and there was something like 27 or so different real ales, lagers, and ciders to try, which myself and my father did our best to tackle, although sadly I think we only managed somewhere around 14 between us before we started to unaccountably struggle!

Selfie taken at some point. We'd ensconced ourselves into a cubby hole suitably nearby the bar to give us a wall to lean on.
Obligatory pump shot.

I don't drink cider very often, but the Galtres ciders (produced by Orchards of Husthwaite from North Yorkshire) particularly stood out for me, they had a really nice flavour and I'd definitely think about getting some again.

Action shot. No idea what beer was being drunk at this point.

There was a band which was nice.
 And after the festival we headed back to my parents house, via a field that we had to cross to get to a pub so that we could ask for directions. I was feeling somewhat devil may care at this point and had what I've always known as a "Smartie" - a mixture of Tia Maria & orange juice, which takes the flavours of coffee and orange, and bizarrely turns them into chocolate.  I don't understand it either.

Field that we decided to cross.  I have no memory whatsoever of taking this photo. I think my smartphone must have taken matters into its own hands.
In other news, spotted the below sign the other day at an outdoor rest area - I wondered if the sign manufacturer was under the influence at the time of production...

Friday, 23 September 2016


Today is apparently the 358th anniversary of the first advertisement for tea in Britain, albeit at the time being described as a "China drink".

Tea is the quintessential British drink, I venture to say.  There's nothing I like so much as the idea of afternoon tea, reviving yourself after a hard day of writing letters and walking the estate by taking on a pot of tea and a selection of cakes and sandwiches.

There has been many recipes over the years on how to make the best cup of tea, and I'm sure that they are all very good.  But allow me to put forward my method:

One - Kettle on

Don't fill it up too much, or you'll be waiting forever.

Two - Teabag in a mug

The choice of teabag shows your social standing.  If you're using square teabags, you're salt of the earth. Pyramid ones are for those aspiring to the aristocracy.  Everyone else has a decent round teabag.

Three - When the kettle boils, fill the mug about 75% full

Not too full!  You can always put a splash in later if needed.

Four - Milk in

Don't even think about telling me that the milk should go in first.

Five - Sugar if required, otherwise, stir to a good colour

The right cup of tea should be a decent beige colour, not quite brown, but heading that way.  White is a no-no.

Six - Drink it!

Ideally accompanied with a rich tea, digestive (even though you have to bite the edge of it before you can dip it in your mug), or a Chocolate Oreo if you're just a crazy fool who likes living life on the edge.


 Tea - how do you take yours? Drop me a line in the comments :)

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Melted chocolate

So, I was going to a meeting last week, and decided, being a team player, to pick up a pack of biscuits en route to take for everyone to enjoy.

I decided to purchase a pack of KitKats (as an aside did you know that in the Dubai airport duty-free, 1 tonne of Kit Kats are sold every day?) put them on the passenger seat in my car and immediately forgot all about them, going to my meeting without them.

It was a hot day, and when I returned to my car several hours later, the packet of KitKats was decidedly warm to the touch.

I took them home, and put them in the freezer for a day with the hope of salvaging them.

When I took one out, it looked like this:

Not too bad, you might surmise, the silver foil looks a little crumpled, but otherwise not too shabby.

However, inside they had essentially moulded into a single lump of chocolate, with two biscuits hidden somewhere within, plus they had taken the opportunity to absorb as much of the foil wrapping as possible.

How long does it normally take you to eat a Kit Kat? A minute? Two? If I'm in a hurry I could eat a two fingered KitKat in one bite, pop it sideways into my mouth, use my tongue to snap it in half and crunch the sucker into a chocolatey biscuit goodness.

These babies took a good ten minutes to eat, simply because you had to carefully extract tiny bits of foil from the confectionery, bits of foil which cheerfully ripped into even tinier bits of foil whenever you touched them.

You'll be pleased to know that the saga of the KitKats is now well and truly over, each one has ultimately done its duty and been eaten, and I feel that the world is a better place for it.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

AI and the future of work

I've gone a little bit thoughtful on this one, don't worry, in a couple of days I'm going to be talking about chocolate :)

I read this interview with Mike Lynch today, which mentions the company Luminance and how its AI can automate part of lawyers workloads, handling due diligence and other tasks, work which would often take up a great deal of time, freeing up lawyers to spend their time on the more complex and challenging elements of their role.

I view this as one of the steps on the road to having a society dependent on AI.  For decades now technology has been used to carry out tasks quickly and easily, like car assembly and other manufacture.  Now AI is coming in to automate the more routine elements of what, for the sake of this blog, I'll call "professional work" (not that I think that the work undertaken by lawyers or other professionals is more important than manufacturing, merely different).

It won't stop there.

Think of all the repetitive tasks in any office job.  In fact, not just office jobs - in any job.  The combination of AI and physical technology will result in machines able to carry out larger elements of any job.  Consider medicine - how much of the typical doctors work could be done by a sufficiently knowledgeable database, a computer able to analyse symptoms to produce an answer?

I foresee work as we know it changing massively over the next 2-4 decades.  Humans won't be needed for so much work - we will get to the point where technology is quicker, and most critically cheaper, to do so much. Society will have to come to terms with the reality that not everyone has to work.

I don't look upon this brave new world with fear.  It'll be fascinating - we should be able to run the world with every human suitably fed, clothed, and enjoying at least a minimum level of comfort.  We'll be set free to spend our lives creating, with our families, exploring, and thinking.

There will be huge challenges, of course.  The removal of the link between work and having a reasonable amount of money to live on, perhaps resulting in the provision of basic income, or the Finnish experiment currently being undertaken. The challenge of course will be to ensure that people are happy, that they still contribute in some positive way to society - but there would be opportunities also.

How many people are in jobs that they truly enjoy, and how many have ended up in jobs which are tolerable, maybe even reasonably pleasing, but not what they ever really wanted to do - and because of the position that we are now in (mortgages, families and the like) people are unable to consider retraining to a job that they might enjoy more?

Exciting times.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Four Naughty Trees

I haven't blogged for a while, I was struggling for something to write about, and then...

Here's a picture of some prickly branches in the back garden this evening.  Or, as my son described them, when attempting to come inside and discovering them in his way, "Daddy, there are FOUR NAUGHTY TREES!!!"

Guess I'm cutting the grass this weekend :)

In other news, check out my wife's latest flosstube video, she's giving away a cross stitch magazine (and check out her 500 sub video, she's giving away more stuff in that one too, you just have to tell her your unicorn name!)

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Star Trek 50th Anniversary

It's Star Trek's 50th anniversary today!

Star Trek was one of my favourite shows and big interests when I was growing up.  I even painted a huge control board, based on information from the Next Generation Technical Manual, so that I could pretend to be controlling the Enterprise (Enterprise-D for those fellow fans, TNG was always my favourite)

Ooh, there's a Deep Space 9 technical manual...

I don't know why I liked Star Trek so much, but the characters were cool (there was even an android on the bridge!), the ship did all kinds of great stuff, and the special effects looked amazing (at the time, anyway).

Anyway, I had an idea a little while back to start a series of videos looking at some of my favourite games (mainly computer but maybe a couple of tabletop or mobile games also), and it seems to make perfect sense to start it off today with a look at Star Trek: Birth of the Federation. Enjoy :)

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

September Heatwave

It's early September, and it's HOT.

So hot, in fact, that my son is having trouble sleeping.

When I say hot, it's actually reasonably warm, but it's humid, which is possibly the worst form of weather known to anyone in the UK.  You see, us Brits like the weather, because we can complain about it. We're geared up for fifty weeks of the year complaining about the cold and the rain, and we can't wait for the handful of days when we're able to say "Isn't it warm?!? I like it warm, but not this warm".

The news lives for the weather.  It's great.  Heatwave?  Roads will start melting, and train tracks will deform.  Cold?  Roads are blocked by three inches of snow, and train lines ice up.  Wind? Trees block roads and train lines (you get the pattern - essentially we want to know how the weather will inconvenience our travel plans).

Anyway, it's humid, or muggy, or close, or whatever you choose to call it.

Last night about 2am, our son woke up, declaring "My bed is broken, it's too hot" (to be fair he's only six so you can forgive him for not understanding that beds don't actually have an integrated air conditioning system), so we went on an epic journey trying to sleep everywhere in the house, including:

  • The spare bed
  • The living room sofa (after I'd gone round and turned off all of the plugs in the room powering the standby lights of various bits of electronic entertainment)
  • The playroom sofa
  • The carpet on the first floor landing

I actually have a great deal of experience sleeping in places that aren't my normal bed (that sounds wrong), when I lived with my parents there were many months that I slept on the sofa, generally because I wanted to watch a video or DVD and fell asleep watching it - pro-tip if you want the feeling of deja vu, fall asleep while watching the 24 hour news channel, you wake it convinced that you dreamt about all of the "breaking news" they cover over breakfast.

I've also slept on a jeep safari, in a submarine, floors, in far too many cars to count, the list goes on. However my son hasn't gained the same level of experience, though he is learning quickly.

After trying these many places we found that his bed had been uninhabited for so long that it had actually cooled down, so he happily went off to sleep.

Before I finish, I made this a while back, but can't remember ever posting it.  So here it is.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Guest Post - Pulleys!

Today's guest post from my father Graham covers his delight of globalisation, and how it lets him order hardware.  He was after a pulley, apparently.



I can tell you're impressed! Indeed as we are in this modern age of Google and global economies, market places etc it would be grossly old fashioned to try the hardware shop - one of which still does exist down a sleepy road in Hull, nay perish such thoughts, Google will answer all my needs!

Indeed, and lo, there were a staggering variety of pulleys, plastic, galvanised, stainless steel and even some steel/brass constructions. Unsurprisingly my preferred option was 'Outstandingly strong and serviceable, but amazingly cheap'. This took some searching for but eventually under 'Chinese Imports' I found gold dust (well, pulleys actually).

I could either purchase perfectly good pulleys at around 20p each, and an absolute bargain price - minimum order 1000 units (!), or, I could buy single items at approximately £3.50 each. I chose the latter!

Mike, my favourite son, did the doings, clicked on - oh 'things' on the computer screen, I gave him real money and I now await a package from Hong Kong anytime this or next month.

Mike is well versed at this frankly amazing sort of purchasing, indeed only last week we received a T Shirt on his behalf all the way from the USA via Germany (as proved by various labels attached to the packaging).

Yes, I thought so too ... why via Germany?

Erm, clueless I'm afraid, I blame the EEC myself, well politicians anyway.

Anyway ... what?

Oh pulleys? Ah er, exercises! Persons who know me are aware that I am an exercise freak. It seems that if you lift a weight via a pulley you have 'constant tension' applied to the muscles via the rope - pulley system thingy ... apparently, and this is good ... allegedly. I read it somewhere on Google, so it must be true! Even better than that, you can perform some seriously odd exercises from an amazing variety of angles with a pulley ... what is there not to like?

Don't answer that!

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