dalliard.net

ST WLTM PC - GSOH Essential

Proof that some storage media isn’t as volatile as you may think. Read More...
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Pacman (2013 Generic Retail-Park Version)

A variation on an old classic for one - four players.

Insert coins to play. One credit = £30. Read More...
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Epiphany

A quick update on my running progress. Read More...
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Monotony

How I’m trying my best to introduce some interest to something that I really don’t like doing… Read More...
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A public information announcement

As we finish 2011, please read this heartfelt plea…. Read More...
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Prawns

This one’s about prawns, nipples and social gaming. It’s not a tenuous post at all, really. Read More...
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Success

I’m pleased to say that today I achieved an ambition. After five and a half years of training, I passed my black-belt (1st Dan) grading.

A small selection of blurry-legged images are attached below so that you can get a vague idea of what’s going on. I felt that I generally didn’t do bad at all - I held my own and it was one of the better gradings I’ve done for a while. Am I pleased? Definitely. It’s the only sporting achievement I’ve ever managed.

However, it’s time to go back to practising hard, because there’s still plenty of room for improvement and nobody’s going to care about your black-belt if they can still punch you in the face...



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All change, please...

I guess I should offer an explanation for my near two-month absence. Apologies aplenty will follow once I’ve got my thinly-veiled attempt of an excuse out of the way.

It all started one day near a public toilet in Paddington Station a few weeks ago. Whilst you’re probably thinking that I was ready to commence an act of George Michaelesque indecency, I was actually looking for something else - namely platform nine and three quarters*, Paddington Bear and sushi. I found two out of the three, but instead of finding owls, wizards and Robbie Coltrane, I discovered something of greater significance.

One usually visits a public toilet in order to perform their ablutions when in dire need. A public toilet is not the throne of choice, especially as it costs thirtty pence for the privilege. There’s nothing like your own, as they say - and that could not ring more true today, but needs must when the devil squeezes your bladder.

I sat on the concourse bench just outside the conveniences and waited. I should add that the bench was not my throne of choice, merely a place to pass the time whilst I waited for somebody else. And lo, a few minutes later, a pink-haired figure walked towards me with a piece of plastic in her hand, the sort of plastic that I am reliably informed is the most advanced piece of technology that one can urinate on. The pink-haired lady showed me the window. Urine dribbled down the stick. Advanced technology it may be, watertight it aint.

“It’s a positive”, she said.

And at that moment, a smile popped on my face, as I realised I was going to become a father. A provisional date of the 29th of November has been given**. Expect to be bored with more info shortly.

Sorry for being slack.

*OK, Pedants - I know Harry Potter was at Kings Cross Station, but really, I don’t give a jewel-encrusted arse.
**No, smart-arse - the wee-stick isn’t that good. That’s something called a midwife - they don’t require batteries. Well, perhaps just when they’re off duty.
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mrdalliard's mixed-metaphor meal menu

The internet has a lot to answer for. With all this communication stuff going on, the world really has got a bit small - if you’ll pardon the cliché. We can now share videos of trampolining foxes and stoats having fits in seconds with our distant “loved-ones”. Miraculous, eh? Thanks boffins!

Of course, it’s not just communication that’s benefited from all this internet stuff - it’s food. If you compared the contents of your fridge to what you had in there thirty years ago, you’d probably notice that it’s got a bit more of an international flavour. Indeed, as I sit on my Japanese futon, drink Italian cappuccino and eat Russian blini*, I’ve had a moment of realisation - food is just going to get more boring. We’ve probably discovered just about everything. There’s nothing new left to discover, is there?

To illustrate my point, think about curry. I had my first curry at the age of six - thirty-ish years ago. At this point, it was something new and exciting. Nowadays, I’m eating the damn stuff all the time and it’s become the norm. It’s the British national dish. It’s just so easy to become bored with something when you’ve tried it all before. We need something new. New experiences are the basis of what makes life interesting, but unless we have visitors from another world in the near future, I doubt that Earth-cuisine is going to radically change.

But fear not! I think I’ve come up with a short-term solution to this food-boredom dilemma - how about mixing our food-related metaphors?

Think about it, there’s a whole pile of weird names out there. There’s Pigs in blankets, Toad in the Hole, Spotted Dick and Angels/Devils on Horseback. All we need to do is mix the metaphors up and then we’ve got an entirely new menu.

So....
  • Cock in the hole = chicken in batter.
  • Toady dick = sausage-based sponge pudding.
  • Leekie Angel = Scallop/oyster and leek/potato soup.
  • Spotted blankets = Vine fruits in bacon.

I’m sure you could think of more - there’s plenty of possibilities out there.

Don’t mock. All I shall say to you is this - what you scoff at today, you will be scoffing tomorrow.**

*For illustrative purposes only.
** Of course, you may be thinking this was a thinly-vailed attempt to produce innuendo-esque meal names. You’d be right.
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Crunch

As property prices nose-dived and banks went to the wall, the bottom fell out the toast market.

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Worth remembering...

From the fire information council...



...it's always worth remembering, folks - "All year round, fire works".

Perhaps if fire works, that's why everyone else gets a bank-holiday.
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Bello!

I love the Nigerians - they're so generous. I got an e-mail from a Nigerian person last week...

Date: Mon, 17 Feb 2008 09:26:04 -0800 (GMT-08:00)
From: "OFFICIAL"
Subject: Your Fund Release


INTERNATIONAL REMITTANCE DEPARTMENT
African Development Bank Group
Nigeria Country Office (NGFO)
Plot 813 Lake Chad Crescent
Maitama District Lagos, NIGERIA

http://www.afdb.org

Dear Beneficiary,
I am Dr. Yakubu Lukman , A director with Africa Development Bank here in Africa .I want to bring to your notice that my office has taking over/ Mandated all the money Transaction originated from any part of African and Europe countries  such as Contract payment, Fund inheritance or Lottery Winning due to Unauthorized/incapability of financial Institutions/security companies In releasing such huge sum of money due to Fraud, terrorist and money Laundry activities going on world wide.

The World Bank Group has Mandated the African Development Bank via my Office to release funds to beneficiaries through International automated visa atm card  or via wire bank transfer depending on choice of fund transfer. Hence Your Name appears as one of The fund beneficiaries whom their fund was successfully cleared recently From Terrorist and Money laundry and your money will be released to you .

You are therefore advised to forward your direct telephone numbers, your contact address and a copy of your identification  for Immediate release of your money. Most importantly be aware that Six Million , Five Hundred Thousand Dollars Only (US$6, 500, 000.00) was allocated to you Only .

Finally , immediately you can re-confirm your full details as stated above , we will commence  your fund transfer release order .Confirm the receipt  by your swift reply. Awaiting your response .
 
Yours In Service,
 

DR. YAKUBU LUKMAN.
INTEGRATED PAYMENT DEPARTMENT

What a nice man. He's much nicer than George Agdgdgwngo. I might tell him that.
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Linky Stuff

As I haven't give you any for a while, here's the odd bit of linkage for you to read/watch/play.

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21=Run

Always worth knowing...

20

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del.icio.us links - 23/12/07

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Things you don't say in public (1)

Overheard in the showers at the gym....

"You know *name removed*?"
"Yeah, he's a total sad fucker."
"Yeah, yeah - did he ever find out that you fucked his missus?"
"Nah - He's oblivious."
"Sweet. You're a top bloke for keeping that one secret."....

....or have you?

It's good to see the Christmas spirit is alive and kicking. With friends like this, who needs enemies? I've removed the name from this posting, but if you feel a bit of moral outrage coming on, simply put "moral outrage!" as a comment. Where are those four ghosts of Christmas when you need them?
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del.icio.us links - 20/12/07

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del.icio.us links - 4/12/07

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del.icio.us links - 1/12/07

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del.icio.us links - 22/11/07

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(A)bort (R)ename (D)elete

I'm seriously considering a name change. I clash.

My name clashes with a lot with other people at work.

  • Another employee has exactly the name as me.
  • Three people have my surname.
  • Four people who work fairly closely with me have the same christian name.
  • Several have the same initials. This is annoying because everyone gets referred to by their initials.

It's also a pain in the arse when you think someone is calling your name - and they're asking for someone else.

Perhaps my name is just common. Pah.

My father had the right idea, reversing his first and middle names - perhaps I should follow suit? Or perhaps I could be given an entirely name?

Something that isn't too derogatory may be considered.
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del.icio.us links - 19/11/07

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del.icio.us links - 16/11/07

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del.icio.us links - 13/11/07

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del.icio.us links - 10/11/07

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del.icio.us links - 7/11/07

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del.icio.us links - 4/11/07

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del.icio.us links - 1/11/07

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del.icio.us links - 29/10/07

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del.icio.us links - 26/10/07

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...is that you, Harold?

Yes, it is.

Jut like Harold Bishop, I was swept off a rock - and consequently disappeared off the radar. Ever since, I've been with the Salvation Army, singing Onward Christian Soldiers - but now I'm back, thanks to some helpful people on a Tasmanian trawler.

And that's the story I'm sticking to. Mneh.
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del.icio.us links - 09/10/07

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del.icio.us links - 06/10/07

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del.icio.us links - 03/10/07

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del.icio.us links - 30/9/07

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del.icio.us links - 22/9/07

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del.icio.us links - 19/9/07

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Ger'orf moy carrrr....

A typical Dartmoor scene....

- Lumps of rock - check.
- Sheep and horses - check.
- Gorse - check.
- German film crew that creep up on you whilst out for the day - check.



It's not often a film-crew move in whilst you've been away for the day. I had to politely ask them to move so I could escape the car park. (The guys on the right are the ones leaning against my car)
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del.icio.us links - 16/9/07

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Beware



See that cold, menacing stare?

He knows where you live.
He knows what you eat.
He watches you when you sleep.
He'll always be within visual range of you on the moor, following everything you do.

Scoff at Psycho Sheep. Oh yes, scoff you may - but you won't be scoffing when you find two lamb-chop shaped pieces of flesh removed from you when you wake up one morning. It'll be a bigger nightmare than that kidney-removal story.

Consider yourself warned.
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del.icio.us links - 13/9/07

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del.icio.us links - 10/9/07

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del.icio.us links - 7/9/07

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del.icio.us links - 4/9/07

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del.icio.us links - 1/9/07

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Sorry

Plymouth City Council get something right for once. It's a very sorry lift. It's rusty and smells of wee.

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del.icio.us links - 29/8/07

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Garmin eTrex GPS

Like being told where to go? This is for you... Read More...
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Batspex

With the war on crime won, Bruce Wayne diversifies into other industries...

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del.icio.us links - 23/8/07

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del.icio.us links - 20/8/07

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del.icio.us links - 17/8/07

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del.icio.us links - 14/8/07

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Clumsy Ninjas



Inspired by a discussion with a mate during training a few nights ago. Stipgenerator is jolly good fun.

Update: Then I found this: (*clicky*) - Seems as though I'm not the only clumsy ninja.
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del.icio.us links - 11/8/07

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del.icio.us links - 8/8/07

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The Hot Seat

This is the result of a work discussion on "The Hot Seat".



Yes. I know. It's stupid. You don't need to be a mastermind to tell me that.
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del.icio.us links - 5/8/07

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del.icio.us links - 2/8/07

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del.icio.us links - 30/7/07

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del.icio.us links - 27/7/07

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del.icio.us links - 24/7/07

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Potato-Based Snack Scandal

First there was the scandal of Monster Munch being sold in bite-sized chunks - now I buy a bag of salt'n'vinegar flava Discos and discover the horrific truth that they've changed and are no longer tongue-shrivellingly savoury!

HAVE MERCY! IS NOTHING SACRED?
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del.icio.us links - 21/7/07

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del.icio.us links - 18/7/07

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Dalliard Simpson

Ok. I confess, I couldn't resist. Have a look over *here* and play with the avatar creator. I did - and the closest I could get to me was this - if you can excuse the stomach....



I'm easily amused.
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del.icio.us links - 15/7/07

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18 Again

Conversation overheard in the middle of a newsagents....

Kid : Hey Dad, look (points at magazine) - It's Doctor Who
Dad : Ah yes. So it is.
Kid : Is it true that he's really 900 years old?
Dad : Yup.
Kid : Nine-hundred years?
Dad : Yeah, just like me...
Kid : NO YOU'RE NOT! YOU'RE FIFTY!
Dad : I think it's time to go...

Kids suck at discretion.
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del.icio.us links - 12/7/07

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del.icio.us links - 9/7/07

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del.icio.us links - 26/6/07

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del.icio.us links - 23/6/07

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del.icio.us links - 20/6/07

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del.icio.us links - 17/6/07

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del.icio.us links - 14/6/07

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del.icio.us links - 11/6/07

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del.icio.us links - 8/6/07

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W.W.I.A.F.T.M (2)

Honestly, you never see any - then all of a sudden you see a pile of 'em. Perhaps they're planning to invade earth?

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del.icio.us links - 5/6/07

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Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man

When I first saw this on Family Guy, I thought it was just a joke, until I saw a real one today.....

(Quicktime 7+ needed - it's a 3gp movie file)



I've obviously led such a sheltered life.
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del.icio.us links - 2/6/07

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del.icio.us links - 30/5/07

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del.icio.us links - 27/5/07

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del.icio.us links - 24/5/07

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del.icio.us links - 21/5/07

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del.icio.us links - 18/5/07

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del.icio.us links - 15/5/07

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del.icio.us links - 12/5/07

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del.icio.us links - 9/5/07

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del.icio.us links - 6/5/07

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del.icio.us links - 3/5/07

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del.icio.us links - 30/4/07

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Daddy Or Chips?

You've got to give it to those Sainsburys chaps for comic juxtaposition. It's a tough decision when you're shopping...

Smoothie or lard?
Smoothie or lard?

Smoothie...... or ...... lard?



Lard - obviously. You can't make pie with smoothies.
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del.icio.us links - 27/4/07

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del.icio.us links - 24/4/07

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Happy St George's Day...

...I'm off to traditionally celebrate - with a curry.
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del.icio.us links - 21/4/07

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del.icio.us links - 18/4/07

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del.icio.us links - 15/4/07

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Plymouth Mafia

Solely responsible for the increase in organised crime in the South-West.



"Hand over the chips and nobody gets hurt..."
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del.icio.us links - 12/4/07

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del.icio.us links - 9/4/07

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del.icio.us links - 6/4/07

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del.icio.us links - 1/4/07

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Barrels Of Fun

Science gives us something useful, for once... Read More...
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del.icio.us links - 29/3/07

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del.icio.us links - 26/3/07

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del.icio.us links - 23/3/07

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del.icio.us links - 20/3/07

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del.icio.us links - 17/3/07

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Take my pain, bitch

"So, if you're doing martial arts stuff, how come you come off with some many bruises?"
"Because, to understand a technique, you've got to be on the end of the receiving end, just as much as you dish it out."
"But wouldn't it be easier if you had someone to take all the pain and be thrown around for you?"
"Like a pain bitch, you mean?"
"Yeah."
"You volunteering?"
"Errrr, no. (*points*) He is. He's tubby, he'd bounce well."
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del.icio.us links - 14/3/07

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del.icio.us links - 11/3/07

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Happy Birthday, Paul

30 This weekend - Have a good one.



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del.icio.us links - 8/3/07

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del.icio.us links - 4/3/07

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Eclipse Schmeclipse

10x Zoom, ISO 800 and 3 second exposure. All I get is this:



Not very impressive. Significantly more impressive to watch.

This could be me looking under a microscope, photographing a streetlight or indeed the inside of my mouth. Not to worry.

At least I only have to wait about a year to try again.
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del.icio.us links - 1/3/07

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del.icio.us links - 26/2/07

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Dissapointment guaranteed...

...or your money back!

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del.icio.us links - 23/2/07

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del.icio.us links - 20/2/07

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del.icio.us links - 17/2/07

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del.icio.us links - 14/2/07

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del.icio.us links - 11/2/07

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del.icio.us links - 8/2/07

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del.icio.us links - 5/2/07

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del.icio.us links - 2/2/07

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Self-Esteem Booster

A: Try this on. It'd suit you - it says "Golddigga" on it.
B: Most people already say that about me anyway. (Puts jacket on)
A: That looks really nice. It looks really good on you.
B: Really?
A: Yes. It makes you look less fat.
B: Thanks, Gran.
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del.icio.us links - 30/1/07

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del.icio.us links - 27/1/07

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del.icio.us links - 24/1/07

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Analyse This

I don't usually remember my dreams, but I remembered this one - and it seemed very vivid. Anyone care to shed any light on it's meaning? Read More...
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del.icio.us links - 21/1/07

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del.icio.us links - 18/1/07

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del.icio.us links - 15/1/07

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del.icio.us links - 13/1/07

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del.icio.us links - 11/1/07

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del.icio.us links - 9/1/07

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Ho Ho Ho Ho

Well, that's it. The twelth day of Christmas has now passed and you should be packing your decorations away - especially if you're a neighbour of mine with a dancing snowman that constantly sings the same 20-second tune from about 7pm until the small hours of the morning, every bloody night.

If it's not removed soon, it may be taking a trip to somewhere where snowmen melt.

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Sarcasm

If you'd like a chuckle, follow this link (*clicky*) and have a read of the reviews of Katie Price/Peter Andre's album, "A whole new world". It's good to see the art of sarcasm is not wasted upon this talentless couple. No doubt the reviews will probably get pulled in a couple of days....



Quotes include:

"Restored my eyesight after 36 years"
"I cried strange tears"
"Saved me from killing myself"
"Blew my testicles off"
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The Sign Of A Worthwhile Christmas...



It's a swan. I think.
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My Only Festive Joke

Q) How does Good King Wenceslas like his pizza?
A) Deep pan, crisp and even.

*drums*

I thank you.
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Edukayshun, Edyoocasion, Edjoocation

I liked the bit of spam that I got today. Their entertainment value gets better and better.


So, where do I sign up?
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Forgotten

One year ago today there was an explosion at Buncefield, an oil storage depot.

It's strange really, I was actually away working in Sunderland this time last year, but for the weekend I took a Christmas shopping trip to London. The blast was something else. I was in bed at the time (it was about 6am) and I felt a huge shock-wave nearly pop the windows out of their frames. I was staying at a cheap Bed'n'Breakfast and the noise scared the shit out of me. Virtually all the nearby vehicles had their alarms triggered off and this was 30 miles away from the explosion, but there were reports of it being heard up to 100 miles away.

At the end of the weekend, as I flew back north, you could see the huge plume of smoke over a good chunk of the South East. It was all pretty freaky stuff, freakier still that we forget these things so quickly. The claims for the damage caused by the incident total well over half a billion quid.

There's a BBC Report on the incident here. (*clicky*)
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Flashmobbing

I'd never heard of such a thing until it took place somewhere I used to frequent a lot - Paddington Station, London. It was a place I used to pass through the place every day, when commuting to work in West London.

Flashmobbing is described as:

"A flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, do something unusual or notable, and then disperse. They are usually organized with the help of the Internet or other digital communications networks." (Wikipedia)

So, at 7:18pm, on Thursday 30th November, 3,500 random people - all plugged in to their music players started dancing to "What you do", by Big Bass. A little YouTube video is provided for you below, along with a news article, courtesy of The Independent. (*clicky*)

I like the guy at the end, who totally doesn't get it.



Random is good. Should such a thing ever happen down this end of the country (unlikely, but you never know) I'd love to get involved. Check out flashmob.com and flashmob.co.uk for examples...
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Defensible Chortle

I don't read all my spam, I'm not that sad - but today I saw one (see title above) that did at least make me chortle with some of it's rather random text. Here's some samples for you:

"Google doesn't believe in setting up perverse incentives when it comes
to improving the user experience. I don't think so for a moment, but
it's Friday, which means that idle speculation is allowed."


or...

"They've also recently completed an improvement in the algorithm that
scours landing pages. Like I posted earlier I am trying to kick what is
either some bad food . The problem is, if we give too much information
about the process to the bad guys, they'll turn around and use that to
circumvent the process. Anyway, the key point is you create whatever
look you're happy with - though frankly, as in real life - looks are
only skin deep."


...which all goes to prove that not all spam is awful drivel selling Viagra - although if it starts to make sense to me, I'm not sure what that says about my mind.
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Drip

...and the rain continues. I wonder if in a few years time, we won't call this season autumn, but the monsoon season instead?

Anyway, as I drove home tonight the rain was nothing short of torrential. Along the way I saw a lone female pedestrian, looking extremely uncomfortable - probably because she was getting a drenching in the downpour.

Once upon a time I would have stopped and offered a lift, but things have changed. Whereas I would have been previously happy to offer random acts of kindness such as this, I no longer wish to be looked at like a potential rapist/idiot/mugger and spoken of as that "creepy man who pulled up next to me" to the individuals friends the following day, when I was merely being altruistic.

Similarly, about 18 months ago I was first on the scene to a severe road accident (the car was upside down). I called the emergency services and stayed with the driver for a significant amount of time. When they arrived, they were verging on abusive, despite me having to deal with the incident and direct traffic whilst waiting for them. It makes you think twice about becoming personally involved with strangers at all.

It's a very sad state of affairs. Just as we seem to have forgotten how to be polite and kind to strangers, we also seem to have forgotten how to accept kindness without questioning it's motive, when most of the time, there isn't one.
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Fun with wood.

No doubt you have the same problem as me when it comes to buying Christmas presents - all the shops sell the same old tired crap, thus making it hard to buy anything remotely original.

Well, I've stumbled over something different, local and distinctly Cornish - and chances are that if you buy it for a family they probably won't have it.

Cue Smite. (*clicky*)

In short, it's a family garden game that's locally made - and now, each year they have a World Smite Championships! Woohoo!

P.S. If you know me, this obviously reduces the possibilities regarding your present. Sorry 'bout that. Gasp)
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Shazam

Ever clicked on the "Pandora" link on the right and explored some new music ideas? If not, give it a go. However I've just stumbled over another website that works in a similar way, called Shazam. (*clicky*)

The best thing to do is click on the "Explore" link once it's loaded. The explorer system will start by showing an artist, followed by related artists the system thinks you'll like if you like the one highlighted in the centre. You can listen to most suggestions and if you want to start from a different point, you can put the artist name in yourself. You can even change the way the system organises it's alternatives so that it fits your line of thinking. Naturally, you can listen to a small sample of an artists work.

It's suggestions tend to be a little more mainstream than Pandora, but it's fun to click around.

Probably the best part, though, has to be the tagging system (look on the "Mobile" bit). If you're anywhere in the world listening to a bit of music, simply call the supplied number and let the system hear 20 seconds worth. If it knows who the artist is, it'll send you a text with the details - and it's only 50p a throw. It's quite an impressive idea.

(They say they've got a database of 3.5m tracks - if you give it a go, let me know how you get on. I'd be interested to see if it works.)
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£1m? Is that all?

Yesterday, I did something that I haven't done in a good few years - I bought a lottery ticket.

To be honest, I largely can't be arsed with the National Lottery. Camelot seem more and more obsessed with introducing more and more games to the point that there's no sense of occasion, unless you're a seriously committed gambler. It's a sorry state of affairs. The prize fund has continually diminished - where once you had the quantifiable sum of £10m as a weekly jackpot, it's now been reduced to the staff at Camelot having a whip-around at the office and you now just win your weight in free biros. With so many jackpots, the whole thing has been diluted - although every cloud has a silver lining. It might just put Dale Winton out of a job on Saturday night.

That said, there is one prize fund still worth winning - The Euro Millions. The problem here is that it seems to work in the opposite way - nobody ever seems to win it. There's talk that this week the jackpot is £120m, because it's rolled over so much. Now we're talking. If you're going to win money, make it an obscene amount. It's even convinced me to invest the princely sum of £1.50 on a ticket. You can tell that I don't do this sort of thing much - I had no idea how many numbers to tick, how much the fee was, what the odds were or what winning options there were. It'll probably take me 10 minutes to check the ticket when the numbers are announced.

The thing is, what constitutes a prize that's large enough to retire on?

I'm of the opinion that you need at least £2.5m, but you need £5m to do it properly.

Once upon a time, just about any gambling emporium would tout £1m as their holy grail. Sad really, a million quid just isn't what it used to be. If you pay off your mortgage and have a splurge, changes are you'll have £750,000 left - then you have to think about the rest of your life. Naturally, what you want to do is set yourself up with an income so that it keeps topping itself up.



Most banks pay 5% on that amount if it's kept in savings. Deducting 2.4% for the current rate of inflation, that leaves you with 2.6% left per year - and you'll probably want to put in more than 2.4%, otherwise you'll be getting poorer over the years. So, say you put 3% back in that leaves you with 2% as your yearly income. That's £15,000 a year, hardly a princely sum. That's about the going rate for working in a call-centre. Great.



So, using my logic and multiplying everything up, winning £2.5m would give a nice comfortable income (~£40k/year after a splurge), but £5m allows you to have some serious fun.

Of course, should £120m come my way, I shan't be declining it as obscene. I shall keep my job on a part-time basis and say irritating things such as,"of course, I know I don't have to work, but I find it just helps me keep a handle on normality". I'd want to kill me already.
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Entertainment for meetings

Today, I shall be in a meeting so desperately awful, I shall want to gouge my eyes out with an HB pencil.

However, I've found a solution - and it's here - (*clicky*) - Bullshit Bingo.

Simply print a gamecard out (they're randomly generated) and give to your colleages, an ideal way to brighten up a dull moment.
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Bins²



So the bins are disposable? Does that mean that when they're finished with, they go in the bin?
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School = no hug zone?

When I was a young'un, I used to go to Callington Community College. I therefore couldn't help but look when I was told that the school had got into the news because the current headmaster had tried to ban hugging. Of course, if you look on the site for the school, you won't find anything in the form of a statement, as there's obviously been some sort of hasty retraction, but it's amusing nonetheless. The ban changed to "discourage". Of course, thanks to Google's cached page (*clicky*) for pointing that one out.

These days, people don't get much in the way of human contact. Friendly human contact is a good thing, essential for our mental well-being. Unfortunately, we're probably more used to beating the crap out of each other than hugging, so it's rather sad when such conduct is frowned on and deemed inappropriate - a case of the British stiff upper lip, perhaps? That said, I remember that there used to be a rule in place stating that the sexes were not allowed to come more than within a foot of each other, so perhaps this isn't such a remarkable thing after all.

Anyway, here are the links:

The Times (*clicky*)
The Sun (*clicky*)
The Mirror (*clicky*)
BBC News (*clicky*)

P.S.: It would also be good if Ms Kramer could spell "Citizenship". (*clicky*)
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28 Weeks Later

I've deliberately not placed this in the film section because it isn't actually out yet.

Anyway, it looks like a sequel to 28 Days Later (one of my favourite British films of recent years) is being shot, which takes a look at Britain seven months on from it's predecessor.

A link to a chap who reviewed the script is here. (*clicky*) I wouldn't be remotely surprised if the film does turn out like this. I mean, is there actually a sequel out there that's better than the original? Discuss.

In fact, read the script - and if the reviews next year are consistent, then you've saved yourself seven quid at the cinema.
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Whatever

Today, the BBC tell us the revolutionary news that most of Britains teenagers are complete scrotes. Cutting edge journalism, I'm sure you'll agree. I never knew that at all.

Indeed, where I live it's certainly not yet a case of drive-by shootings or the chippie actually being a local crack-kitchen, but the problem is there nonetheless. There's a group of about a dozen "yoofs" that hang around at the bridge near the bottom of the village - doing absolutely bugger all on most days. From what I've seen, they're not an evil bunch - they just need something to occupy themselves, and therein the problem lies, because there's not that much around our way for them to do.

Whilst it's really easy to scream that it's the parents fault and that they need to be shot at dawn, there are probably some more telling reasons. Let me tell you a story...

Several years ago, I used to be Cub Scout Leader. Sure, you can make pedophile jokes and say, "dyb dyb dyb", to me and I'll poke your eyes out ("dyb", was actually something that finished back in 1971, but I digress), but the truth was that kids loved it, just as much as the older kids loved Scouts. Whilst every child didn't turn out a model citizen, they knew the concept of respect, fun and that occasionally doing nice things for people was actually a good thing to do sometimes. We gave them life skills and socialised them with the adult world. Every so often, I bump into one of my old Cub Scouts. I don't think any have had an ASBO so far....

"So, why did you give it up?", I hear you cry. Well, there were many reasons, but the main one was help. There were four of us that used to run the pack of 30 kids - and it was bloody hard work.

Could we get any help? Could we shite.

In my last year as leader (I did it for six years), I appealed repeatedly for assistance - and got none. Even with threats of closure looming, nobody came forwards. And eventually, a little bit of the community died. It was a sad time.

There may have been many reasons that nobody came forwards - The lack of flexibility demonstrated by employers towards those that do voluntary work, the longer commute times in order to get to work, dysfunctional family circumstances or maybe, just maybe, people just can't be arsed. I don't know.

What I do know is that the voluntary sector in this country is very slowly declining. Soon, we'll be at a stage where there are no after-school activities left - and the gangs that hang around will slowly get bigger and bigger. We bemoan the situation we're in - but one way or the other, we caused it.
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Polysics

Today, I decided to go on a random music quest and find something interestingly different. Think I found it.

What I stumbled on was a Japanese group called Polysics. Their music is quite indescribable - a vague attempt would be something between rock and electronic, almost like The Hives or White Stripes with a bit of occasional Kraftwerk in there. That description probably still doesn't do them much justice. Anyway, I think I must have had my head buried in the sand because I was totally unaware of their existence until I started watching some Youtube stuff, where I found 'em. Apparently they've already done a Europe/UK tour and have a huge following. Shows how much I know.

So, here's an example. The track is well and truly stuck in my head and won't be going for a few days - The track, "I, my, me, mine".



If you can't see it, it's probably down to those pesky YouTube people removing the video. (They recently removed a lot).

Anyway, the little girl that's doing the robotic dancing is something of a Japenese phenomenon. She's known as "Strong Machine 2" (Strong Machine 1 is her dad) and she's only 11.

Finally, if you liked the track, you can see some other stuff on Rolling Stone's site, (*clicky*) or on Polysics own site. (*clicky*). There's plenty to listen and see. Oh and here's a Polysics Wiki. (*clicky*)
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Separation agencies

Some of you will remember my previous idea for a business (*clicky*) and how that idea was taken on by someone.

Well, there's even now a website! http://www.ibreakup.net/ (*clicky*)

Interestingly, they also have a "Make Up" section too, but does anyone find it just a little bit disturbing that they have an age categorisation for "Age 9 and under"?

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Farewell Mr Bucket

You can stuff your fancy cars, blingy jewellery and expensive clothes - I've got a toilet that works.

Yes, you heard me right. I can push a little flushy button, or a big flushy button - and whatever is there disappears, a bit like standing on the outside of the TARDIS.

Sheer unadulterated luxury, I'm sure you'll agree.

For those that haven't heard my story before, I shall just for a moment turn into a house bore. When I moved in, my bathroom was frankly disgusting, providing spacious accommodation to several hundred dead flies. It's now undergone something of a transformation.




The smallest room has had:

A new window.
A new door.
New electrical work.
New paint.
New tiling.
New bathroom suite.
New fixtures.
New lighting.
New plumbing.
A new floor.

In fact, there's virtually no trace of the previous room left. It's been quite a major project, which will soon come to a close. Probably a few more days of work will complete it. In the meantime, I'm just going to enjoy the fact that I no longer have to flush the loo with 2 buckets of water - and that friends can actually come around and use it.
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Performance Anxiety

You're probably sniggering, but I can assure you that I don't mean it that way.

In about half an hour, I'm going training again. Last night, I went running. Same again the day before. It was training the day before that. The continuous physical activity over the last couple months has had many effects. Whilst fitter, this morning I felt so knackered that it was more of a struggle than ever to get out of bed. I don't think I was awake properly until midday.

You could ask, "why do this?". A very good question indeed. The simplest answer would be that I'm supposed to be grading on Saturday November 4th, but actually it's not that simple, so I'll elaborate further.

This time, I'm grading for my blue belt. If it were just a question of doing the necessary techniques, it's possible I could scrape a pass, but it's not. Fitness is important - there's no point in being able to do a few throws if after thirty seconds of self-defence you need a defibrillator to help keep going. And to be honest, I probably wasn't far from needing one last time. Remember, time is relative - and I've invested a lot of time in this, probably about 8 days of my annual leave entitlement has been used to ensure I get my Tuesday nights off.

No, there's more to it than that. It's actually a question of honour.

Before you think I've gone all turned clichétastic, I'll qualify that statement further. My grading will not just take place before my instructor, but before my instructor's instructor. He is a thoroughly nice chap, but compassion and niceness don't come into a grading. Things must be done well. Thus, we have two reasons for doing a good job, namely the reputation of our club, combined with the fact that I do not want my performance to appear as a bad reflection on the instructing capabilities of my own Sensei. It must go well. One does not come all the way from Italy to watch a damp squib.

= Performance anxiety. It's two weeks away and I'm nervous already.
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Steeped In Tradition

With summer behind us and the nights drawing in, it's that time of year where we start getting a bit miserable and reach for the Domestos. As luck would have it though, in my local area we have something called the Fayre, which is an attempt to bring us out of our gloom and be happy - or alternatively, get pissed, eat too much and vomit whilst riding poorly constructed fairground rides.

On the second Wednesday of each October, we have the Goose Fayre, an event that renders all the main streets in Tavistock to be closed off to traffic, much to the annoyance of local residents, who are urged to park in Croydon to avoid any inconvenience - one can't get in the way of tradition, y'know. People say the event dates back to at least 1990. Village elders hint at even earlier beginnings.

Of course, such a traditional Fayre, complete with market stalls and all wouldn't be the same without, well, traditional fare. If one searches hard enough, olde goose rolls can be found, replete with snout hoof beak - a steal at just a fiver a throw. Soak up that atmosphere whilst you're served it up by a surly Essex boy in a mobile greasy spoon.

With such an event having traditional roots, it's no surprise to see that the contents of the market stalls haven't changed over the years. Inflatable hammers, Tammy Wynette tapes and flashing mobile phone charms are all yours for the taking - it's no surprise that Fayre-goers come back year after year to take advantage of the bargains. In fact, the greatest bargain of all (three boxes of cling-film for a fiver) was the original celebratory reason for starting the event back in 1981, when cling-film's invention allowed the residents of Tavistock to preserve their beloved dead geese through the long, cold winter.

But now, it's past midnight and things are winding down. It's over for another year. The cleaners are out, shovelling up the vomit, beaks and hammers so that the town can return to it's normal self the following day.

Isn't tradition great?
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A rare find.

Today, I discovered someone who actually believes that these...



...taste as described - Flamin' Hot.

A surprisingly rare discovery, I'm sure you'll agree. Mr Walker should go take a photo of them, quick, before they're an extinct species.
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Money Making Ideas (1)

A little while back I was getting bored and thought that instead of working for somebody else, it would be so much better if I could control my own future by being self-employed. The romantic notion of being able to pay yourself what you like is just that - a romantic notion. You need to put in a lot of work, along with having a sound business model. There are 12 billion hairdressers, restaurants and corner shops around. No, I needed a better idea, something that hadn't been done before.

One thought I had was a "reverse dating agency". After all, there are shedloads of websites out there dedicated to getting people together. However, nobody wants to deal with the ensuing mess that occurs when splitting up - the "It's not you, it's me", conversation, the dividing up of CD collections, the tears and anger - the general awkwardness of it all.

Unless you got paid for it. Then you could just fob the job off onto someone else, surely?

I was considering buying two domain names - www.shuntthemunter.com for men to dump women and www.dumpthelump.com for women to dump men. This would allow tailored content for each sex. If things took off, I would probably have bought some suitable domain names for same-sex separations too.

The shopping experience would have been the usual basket affair. You bung in the personal details of your soon-to-be-ex, then you pick your package. For example, do you want your victim to have a face-to-face chat with one of our friendly representatives, or a text? Perhaps you'd like the Red Arrows to write, "Steve, you're chucked", in the sky in red, white and blue smoke or have graffiti daubed over the garage door?

No problem - everything comes at a cost.

Then, there's the aftermath (or, as we call them, "optional extras"). Do you want relocation? Do you want a new phone number and/or identity? What about the insertion of prawns into your partners curtain-rails (a previously documented activity) or hot grits in their favourite underwear? It could all be done. Your pain could be our gain. All you'd need to do was get the ball rolling and retreat to a safe distance whilst we do the business. Simple.

Damn shame really. I saw this story on the BBC news and discovered that someone has beaten me to it. (*clicky*)

Poo. Back to the drawing board. Interestingly, dumpthelump.com has now been bought, although there's just a placeholder page there at the mo'. I wonder what will be there?
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You look like a girl!

About eighteen months ago, I got my hair shaved off. I'd previously had long hair for something like 14 years. Looking back, shaving it off was one of the best things I ever did. To be honest, I'd now really like a permanent solution. Is there a way of ensuring complete hair removal forever, or am I going to have stay best friends with my razor?

If you know of any solutions, I'd sure love to hear them.

On a related note, I found this. The BBC has a great archive selection of video, which is slowly increasing. It's not Youtube, but what you don't get in quantity, you sure get in quality. This clip is marvellous and comes from the local news in 1964. Three boys are interviewed about their decision to grow their hair and the attitude of the interviewer, along with the opinions of the general public at the time is marvellous. This is cutting-edge journalism at it's best.

"Tell me, how long have you been growing your hair?"
"You're not trying to look like a girl, by any chance?"


Marvellous. See below:



Update: Poo. The BBC have now pulled their creative archive project footage. Sorry 'bout that.
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Alive

Yesterday was one year since I got my first fish. Today, I'm pleased to say that all three are still alive, which is nice. See, I don't kill everything I touch!

That's an honour specially reserved for houseplants.
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The Knowledge

Well, I'm back from my course - and what did I bring back with me?

Beanbags.

Well, actually, more the knowledge of where to get kick-ass beanbags. Ladies and Gents, I introduce to you, The Fatboy. (*clicky*)




Yes. It's only a beanbag.
Yes. It's £150.
But I sooooo want one.

So as you can see, my course wasn't a total waste of time, energy and company resources.

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Mythology

Tuesday has been a good day, a good day indeed.

I had the phone call this morning - my car was finally back on the road. On hearing the news, I drove the discourtesy vehicle back to the hire company and dispatched it. Before I got out, I checked the vehicle over - it was cleaner than when I picked it up. I'd even left more fuel in the tank. The company hadn't cleaned the vehicle whatsoever before I collected it, so I felt a return of the favour was in order. Originally, the floor was covered in nutshells as someone had been eating a bag of peanuts and raisins. There was still an unopened bag in the glove box. However, the bigger surprise was that there was a banana behind the bag.

I decided to leave it there. It's at least two weeks old so far. Whilst I've hoovered and pressure washed the vehicle, there is a strange smell inside, almost like someone has died. The rather mouldy banana is secreted behind all the owners manuals, so it won't be immediately visible - it's a derivative on the "prawns in your curtain pole" prank.

Anyway, one of the hire guys drove me to the repair company and I had one of those moments - where someone has a "feature" about them that you can't help but look at, no matter how hard you try not to. This fifty-something chap had the most virulent nasal hair I've ever seen. Whilst we trundled towards Plympton and put the world to rights on matters such as Afghanistan and why the Drake's Circus Shopping Centre is nothing but a hideous eyesore, I tried my best to avoid staring at his nose-foliage.

The repair guys have done a good job of patching up my vehicle, which goes a little way towards redressing how shambolic their administrative department is....

...and so on to Ju-Jitsu. Well, I trained - and escaped without injury. I'm so pleased that in such a short space of time, I've got myself active again. There were two routines that were a Really Bad Idea and better for me not to do, but the night went extremely well. Whilst I'll never be perfect, I managed to carry off all my blue belt throws - which means that once I've mastered the twelve techniques of the 2nd Ippon Kumite (I've just realised that this sounds mythological), I'll be in a position where I can just practice, practice, practice and then, who knows?
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A Demonstration

Whilst sat on the benches on Sunday, my ju-jitsu colleages kindly demonstrated the techniques I need to master in order to attain my blue belt. Again, it's all been recorded on the little Xacti (*clicky*). Sanyo rule.

So, if you'd like a look at what I've got to do, look:

Here (If you've got an average broadband connection)

*edit* - To save bandwidth, the high-res version has been removed. Apologies.
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Pub Golf

I was having a clear-up on my hard-disk today, when I stumbled upon this - a little game called "pub golf".

DrinkList scorecard

It's something I put together a while back, when a bunch of us went on an outing for the day. It's a simple idea - 18 pubs, 9 hours. Each drink has a "par" and you have to finish the drink in as many (or less) swigs than the par in order to score. Those who don't drink (or love their liver) come along as "caddies" to keep an air of sobriety to the proceedings and fill in scoresheets, along with making sure that no-one cheats. Just like regular golf, minus scores = good and plus scores = not.

Anyway, feel free to download away. It's my no-obligation gift, no matter what you decide to do. I'm sure you could change it for your local town if you don't live in the Plymouth (UK) area. And even if you do, some of the drinking establishments might not be there any more, so you'll need to change it anyway - but you get the idea. At the time, I was pleased just to get around. From what I remember (which wasn't much), I scored about 10 under par. The winner at the time was -19.

Disclaimer: I'm not responsible for the condition of your liver, or any other bits that fail during trying this. You're on your own.
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Ex-Crocodile Hunter

As I was jogging away on my treadmill today, the headlines on Sky News flashed up and told me that Mr Irwin (the Australian bloke) died when he was got by a stingray.

Maybe I got him all wrong, but all I remember of him were programmes that showed him deliberately making very dangerous animals very angry indeed and saying things like, "Look, he's really angry now", whilst wrestling said poisonous spider/crocodile/snake to the ground and pissing it off further.

Isn't it ironic therefore that a stringray (which I am informed, is not an aggressive creature) should be responsible for his death?
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Slap / Crunch

Today has not really been the Bank Holiday I'd planned for. My shiny new(er) car is now not quite so shiny after an accident less than a mile down the road, on a day trip to Paignton. The accident wasn't my fault - I had a case of a good old "smack from behind" from a guy who seemed more interested in his dog (unrestrained and sitting on the passenger seat) than anything else. It'll get repaired good as new again, but nonetheless I know the vehicle has now been in an accident and it takes the shine off somewhat.

Jeez. I've not even had it for three weeks. And I now ache in some strange places. The guy admitted he wasn't paying attention at all. Whilst it's an admission of liability, it highlights that he was just plain negligent. Grrrrrrr. I'm glad I didn't go with my original plan of going for a brand spanking new C2 VTS, or I really would have been hacked off.

So, as a cheer-me-up, I've had a look on Youtube for some funnies, which rarely disappoints. Only the Japanese could come up with concept of being hit up the arse with a baseball bat in a public library, or "Old Man Bites Tenderly". A contrived situation, I know, but amusing nonetheless. Enjoy.

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Environmentally Friendly Plumbers?

In the ongoing saga that is the refurbishment of my bathroom, I stumbled across these guys. (*clicky*), who claim to be environmentally friendly builders/plumbers that are pleasant people to deal with. They say, "We work for people who want a personal service, reliable tradesmen and women who will turn up when they say they will, do the job properly and honour the customer and the company" - An interesting quote indeed.

But the question is, how will they fare?

Well, they've already scored more points than the other plumbers I've had the misfortune to deal with:

Somebody pleasant answered the phone.
That person said the plumber would call me back later.
They did!
They're coming to give me a quote in the morning.

I'll keep you posted on how I get on. If these guys are good, they'll be getting inundated with business. I know of loads of people screaming out for good plumbers.
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Pointless Crash Testing

Here's another video for you. Whilst looking for information on vehicle crash tests and safety data, I stumbled upon this. I think it's from Channel 5's motoring programme, 5th Gear.

It's quite chilling, because the speed of the crash (70mph) is something most people do, and it's interesting to see how a vehicle fares in this circumstance. Nonetheless, the end conclusion summarises the pointlessness of the test - who cares about the cars? Humans don't survive crashes with concrete blocks, even if cars do....

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Unfortunate..

..not a personalised number plate, surely? I'll let you decide.


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Running(ish).

The running is going well. There is one problem, though - it's a bit boring. I find that I have to take one of the following strategies to cope:

1) Listen to music and take your brain to Jupiter (disclaimer: other planetary bodies are available). This allows you to totally tune out and forget you're even running.

2) Join some friends and run somewhere more interesting - make it sociable. I did a short (4 mile) cross-country run last week and quite enjoyed it.

However, my interest level would probably go up a little more if we got to do this sort of stuff on a treadmill..... Enjoy....

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Playing Dead

A while back, I wrote a little bit about how one of my fish (a clown loach) likes to play dead. After a little bit more research, it's transpired that this is in fact totally normal and the species are just a bunch of piss-takers. Bless 'em. They've got some character.

More information here. (*clicky*)

As a footnote, the first fish I purchased are still alive - and they've been in the tank for 10 months. Only two months to go. Just how much is a "fish year", though?
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Sheep, Goats and Llamas.

For the best part of 25 years, I've been playing around with computers and games.


  • In 1981, I started with a humble 1k ZX81. Remember that touch-sensitive (or not) keypad? I remember crashing my version of Frogger, because I clocked the score over a million, but the score was only supposed to go up to 6 digits!
  • Then I got a Commodore Vic-20 and went up to a whole 3.5k, which later was 19k. Riches. I didn't know what to do with it all.
  • Then I went on to an Atari ST (which I still have and works). Half a MB of memory and 16bit goodness, wowzer.
  • Then I progressed to an Acorn A5000 (another part of my computing museum), A 32 bit machine with a couple MB of memory that did amazing things, pretty quickly.
  • After which I got my first Mac, a Performa 5500 - My first "all in one" machine, which could be called the predecessor to the iMac.
  • ...and on to a Powerbook G3, then an iBook, then a Powerbook G4 (I'm on my second).

So, I started with an 8 bit machine with a 1k of memory and I'm now using a 32 bit machine with 1.25GB of Ram. The computing power I've used has exponentially grown.

It's therefore somewhat amusing that the program that is currently giving me an awful lot of joy is the Mac version of Gridrunner, put together by computing legend Jeff Minter , of Llamasoft fame. I was playing something quite similar on my Vic-20, twenty something years ago. The current version is more psychedelic, but the fixation with sheep is still there, the action is frantic like all good arcade games should be and it's top notch stuff, it really is.

If you want to have a play for yourself, go here: (*clicky*) - There's a Mac and Windows download. Get that nostalgia going. If you know nothing of Jeff Minter, shame on you - Wiki has an entry on him here. (*clicky*)

I'm going back to zap some alien scum....
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A Worthwhile Plug...

A friend of mine is doing a charity bike-ride, in aid of the Alzheimer's Society. As I speak, he's now on day 2.

However, this is no ordinary bike-ride - he's going from Land's End to John O'Groats and back again, which is about 1,800 miles - and he's doing it in just 3 weeks!

Sponsor him! You can go to his website here: (*clicky*)
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Sling a Sony... Bung a Blackberry...

After me mentioning how useless a Nokia N80 mobile phone was a few weeks back, it now seems appropriate to mention the Mobile Phone Throwing competition..... Amusing idea, but surely all mobile phones weigh a different amount, therefore providing a varying handicap to how far you can throw it?

Or maybe I'm just thinking about it too much.....
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secondlife.com

The site is aptly named, as that's how you feel when playing. I started playing a couple days ago and I'm starting to think I've now got a split personality.....

You start by creating a person that exists within the virtual world. You can do more than just look around things, you can totally interact with them - people, vehicles, machines, etc... you name it. The "grid" (world) even has it's own currency and allows full trading.

Probably the best thing is that it costs absolutely nothing to sign up and play - it only costs if you want a permanent home in the world, which works out at about £6/month, but I'll continue to be a cheapskate, thanks.

It seems that people take part for many reasons. Some are graphic artists who want to create fantastic virtual worlds, some are just socialites who just want to chat, some want to make money by selling their wares, but for me, the fun is the exploring. There are thousands of different islands, and the detail and accuracy on some are amazing. Probably the most impressive one I've seen so far is a recreation of central Dublin, which I had fun in when I borrowed a moped and had a ride around! I have to admit to being very unsociable in it and not really talking to anyone, but the single person I have spoken to says that it's a very compulsive, but enjoyable game to play.

You'll need a good broadband connection and a reasonably good computer with 3d capabilities (and sound, of course) to take part in it. I can see myself going back to it again and again as the grid evolves. For me, this is the first attempt at a 3D environment that seems to work well. Take a look... (*clicky*)

Footnote: I'll add some screenshots in the coming days to give you an idea of what I'm on about...
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Unanswered Question - 1

Q) Why do old men like directing traffic?

(Don't tell me you've never seen an old man take control of a parking situation or potential snarl-up - resulting in you being "waved" in/out whilst manoeuvring your vehicle)

Answers in a comment, please....
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In the wrong place...

...I was wondering why the door wouldn't close when I got home this evening... poor chap. At least he managed to hop away ok.

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Living up to his species....

I have a clown-fish that seems to enjoy swimming upside-down, and at night sleeps upside-down. Is he:

  • Just taking the piss - and it's normal?
  • About to croak, forever to be consigned to the Great Toilet Bowl in the Sky ?

Most things I look at on the web seem to suggest this is a bad thing, although he's done it ever since I got him.
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Yuk

In my personal version of hell, this is the only drink available:

For some strange reason, unlike other cranberry drinks, it actually smells of the cheesiest feet ever known to man. The sort of feet that have been in hiking boots, three pairs of wooly socks and haven't seen daylight for a week because they've been walking through squelchy marshland.

I know you're supposed to drink it, not sniff it, but please take my advice and stay well away.
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Chernobyl - 20 Years On

I was 13 when the Chernobyl accident occurred, and I don't think it ever really sunk in at the time about the long-term impact. That said, I, like every teenager at the time, had a morbid fear of all things nuclear as the cold war was in full swing.

The BBC has an absolutely excellent mini-site (*clicky*) on the accident, in remembrance of what happened 20 years ago. The site contains some powerful photography. I had a holiday in Minsk in neighbouring Belarus nearly 10 years ago and when you look at the BBCs map of where the contaminant cloud went, you'll see just how poor Belarus really didn't come off very well - Minsk was one of the few places not to get contaminated.

I just hope that we've learnt something from all this.
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Today has been...

... strange. As a person with a small repertoire of words, I think this is the best one to use.

The gap between Good Friday and Bank Holiday Monday is always a weird one - a bit like a miniature version of the gap between Christmas and New Year. Well, that's how it feels to me, anyway. If you're like me, you're at work, but you're not. This weirdness was compounded when my alarm went off for work this morning. I switched it off, blinked and it was an hour and a half later. I was about to be late. Stranger still that I should fall out of bed, get ready and manage the 17 mile drive into work in 40 minutes and actually turn up 5 minutes early.

The strangeness had a cherry on top when I ended up being the first aider at work for my partner, who subsequently went to hospital - and I'd just made the comment yesterday about how in the 3 years we've been together, we've never actually spent an Easter together and this year would be different.

Strange.
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Easter

I'm not a particularly religious person to be honest, so Easter has little significance to me - apart from being able to stuff my face with chocolate and have a couple days off work. However, this morning I thought I'd do a little search around on t'internet and have a look at a few blogs to get other people's perspectives on Easter. Does it really matter to anyone else? I thought I'd look at both ends of the spectrum.

Firstly, I discovered this. The "War on Easter" works on the school of thought that Jesus didn't really exist anyway and that telling children they should believe in a man who was nailed to a wooden cross or face the fiery pits of hell is a bad thing. The site encourages an activist stance, asking people to go on "missions" into churches and leave fliers or anti-Christian DVDs in visible places. I really am not sure about this. Sure, I can't say I've ever been Christianity's number one fan, but this form of activism seems to be equally bad in opposition. It's pushing non-belief. Perhaps I just fall into the "let people believe what they want to believe" category. Ignorance is bliss. Or something....

..and then there's this. Sickeningly sweet, this blog is in full celebratory mode, with complements of the season being exchanged between all. However, as one of the posters says, "Remember what this was for". I hadn't forgotten, thank you.

The whole Easter thing just doesn't sit well with me. Lazy oaf that I am, I'll take my bank holidays, but the fact that we're celebrating an event of such barbarism really does make me scratch my head. Someone was nailed to a cross. We then tell children the story of Easter and the fact that eggs are symbolic of Christ's tomb. Really. It's just not right. We are warped.

Have an enjoyable long weekend.
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If....

...you'd like some amusement for half an hour, then you could do far worse than have a look at Weebl and Bob's dancing competition, where you can watch the physically challenged attempt to look like they've got the moves. The forum thread is here. (*clicky* )

My personal favourite is the Santa Claus/Rod Stewart number.... marvellous.
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How...?

Having seen a bit of the Winter Olympics today, I have 2 questions:

1) How do you start a career in ski-jumping?
2) What sort of careers advisor makes a recommendation that you start such a profession?

Sorry. I had to get that thought out. I can sleep easy now.
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Powerball High Score



Don't know if you've seen what a Powerball is, but they're funny things. Once you pick one up, they're very hard to put down again.

The thing is marketed as a solution for people who suffer from R.S.I. (I should add that I don't), or do sports and want to improve their arm/hand strength and co-ordination (a bonus in martial arts). Whilst I treat such claims with a healthy degree of scepticism, I do have to say that it is good fun to play with (and you can feel your arm/hand muscles working). Back in October, I got roped in when I first played with somebody else's. I ended up buying my own.

Whilst I haven't played with it solidly (apparently, I have a life), I have now managed to work up a respectable score - 11,055. It used to rank quite reasonably on the main high score table, but now wouldn't get an honourable mention.

Ho, hum.

If you've got one of these things and can beat me (probably not a hard thing to do), I'd be interested to know your score.

Updated: 7/2/06 - 11,461! Gasp)
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Rats with fluffy tails.



Having received a shiny and lovely telephoto lens for Christmas, I'd not really had much opportunity to test it out, until a couple of days ago when looking out of my window, I caught the common country thief known as the squirrel, thieving food from my next door neighbours bird-table. I think it did a rather good job.

On the higher res version original I've got, you can even make out each individual hair on the body. I was rather chuffed....

If things work this well, it should allow me to take some pretty good pictures come March. (And I need not say what's happening then, do I?)
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Happy

Well, this evening I finally did my jujitsu grading. It took an hour and a quarter and was significantly more involved than previous gradings, but then again, it was bound to be.

Apart from showing a deficiency in my holding techniques, things went pretty well. I'm happy and more importantly, I didn't get hit (always a bonus, that one). The surprise of the grading was that during the Goshin (full-on self-defence), we had two uke who were two levels higher than us doing all the attacking. I've not had adrenaline flowing like that for a long time.



Anyway, I got my green belt! I'm chuffed to bits and it's made the 5 months of hard training I've put in for it worthwhile. I really need to develop more stamina, so that my Goshin sessions allow me to have a clearer head (and a better set of lungs!), along with improving my groundwork techniques, but at the moment, I'm on a high and you'll have to scrape me off the ceiling.

There's a little shot to the side, but it's not the best - everything we did that evening was somewhat fast and furious and as a consequence there seems to be motion blur - but you get the idea.
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Bluejacking....

Yesterday, I spent about 16hrs of my day going to and from Newcastle. Believe it or not, I flew (and yes, it still took a long time).

As it took so long, you can understand that I got bored. So, whilst sat in the airport lounge I decided to try something out. There were so many people here, nobody would know it's me....

I started up my Powerbook and got bluetooth going.

It scanned and scanned.

And scanned and scanned.

I had an entire airport lounge of people who obviously don't switch bluetooth off on their phones when they're not using it. Within about 5 minutes of scanning, I had at least a dozen devices and addresses to have fun with, so I picked a contact and sent "U R Bluejacked" to them from my mobile (I should add that both devices were not discoverable themselves). In an area such as that, you have quite a selection of people within 10 metres-ish of you, so I kept my eyes peeled.

As I looked around, I saw a woman in her mid forties hurriedly switch her phone off - and my contact transmission failed. But it was fun nonetheless, as I worked out who I'd bluejacked.

Looks like I have a new game to play in crowds to while away the hours....
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Fish-Tastic!



My first little project with the house is done. The disgusting 1960's style integrated glass cupboard that was in my front-room has been ripped out. I've filled up all the holes, painted, got power rigged up (thanks Dad!) and a little tropical fish-tank rigged up in the space that remains.

It now looks an awful lot better than what was there before. You can just see the original nastiness in the image on the left, whereas the slight improvement is on the right...

As for the fish, I've started off with three little Tuxedo Platies. I've been informed that they're hardy little blighters, but I've decided to call them Breakfast, Dinner and Tea on the premise that I don't think they'll live that long, as it's a new tank which will take a couple months to settle down - and might take a few casualties along the way....
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Where are they now...?

It's strange sometimes. You leave school, forget about all those people you were with and then you get something like this pop up. Makes you think about how people can go off into totally weird and wonderful career paths and lives. The person mentioned in the BBC News story is someone I used to be at school with.

Largely, I hated my time at school and would not have shed a tear if the majority had been burnt to death in a freak toaster accident, but it's always nice when one of the people whom you didn't wish had become a bagel or teacake ends up doing something interesting and newsworthy.

(Thanks to the sender of the link...)
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Needs no explanation...

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Random acts of kindness.

Had something rather nice happen to me at work yesterday.

A random woman said "Hello", asked for me by name (I'd never met her before) and presented me with a bottle of single malt, with her thanks.

I'd forgotten that about five days beforehand, I'd taken a phone call from a distressed lady who'd lost her wedding ring on the previous nights shift. She lost it when washing her hands in the loos. By quickly intervening with the cleaner, I managed to save her the previous days rubbish bags - where amazingly, she managed to find her ring again. I was just quite chuffed that I'd tracked it down and managed to get it back for her - the whisky was a definite bonus, though. It also restores some faith in human nature when such expensive things don't just grow legs and get nicked. It was a gold ring with several diamonds in it.

Those sort of things make your day and take the edge off going to work. It's nice to be appreciated. Gasp)
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