Thursday, 26 February 2015

What's the Purpose

Been in Rome and Sicily for a couple of days on business (no, not that kind of bizness). 

Had a squint at the Alitalia in-flight shopping catalogue on the way back last night - can anyone explain to me the purpose of a chocolate fountain?

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Back to the House

A few weeks ago we employed the services of a local farmer (Danny, who Hay used to know at school) to flatten the hump of spoil from the house footings. He spread it over half the field (you can see it in the distance on the left side of the 1st photo below), facilitating access to the hedge once more - which had additionally been severely pruned back by another farmer friend. It's useful to know the odd farmer - they have all manner of equipment.

Over the weekend we planted some shrubs along the 'garden' along the edge of the lane (on the right of the photo below, but out of shot). During the process we had to dig out the clay from about 20 holes and dump it on the upper field.

While Hay was dumping a barrow load, she came across what I can only describe as the foreleg of a Yorkshire terrier - at least that's what it looked like to me. Perhaps it had fallen foul of a local fox (possibly the one I saw flattened on the road on Friday).

Not aware of anyone local who even owns a Yorkie, let alone a lost one. 

The shed you see on the left is the remains of No.1 Son's bedroom from when it was attached to the caravan. We left it in place and Perry is now using it as a place to do his drum practice. It will have to go soon though, as it's a bit of an eyesore.

The flattened foundation spoil.

View down the field toward the house, showing the pad for the cabin on the right. Hopefully the cabin will be finished this year. Next on the build schedule is a large garage and workshop for me and my eventual retirement.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Overheard Smoking Lepers

The Chairman is retrieving his spectacles from Hay's lap, leering in the process:

Hay: "You're like a dirty old man."

Chairman: "What do you mean, like?"


TV Advert Announcer: "So remember to look for the signs of a stroke: dropped face, unable to raise the arms, slurred speech...."

Hay: "Wouldn't be able to tell with you, that's how you are normally."

Do lepers in California feel like smokers?

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Interesting Laptop Go Between

Overheard at Curry's PC World (Hay is buying a new laptop):

Salesman: "You can buy it over 6 months interest free."

Hay: "Interest free? That might be worth doing."

Salesman: "There's a £25 admin fee."

Hay: "But if the laptop is £550 and the admin fee is £25 and it's over 6 months, that's nearly 10% APR equivalent, which is more than I get charged by my bank for a real loan."

Salesman: Silence.

It was sold with Windows 8 and Office 365. It took her about 6 hours to set it up and I think she was on the verge of taking it back or killing me. Gone are the days of unpacking a computer and it working straight from the box.

If Hay's laptop is anything to go by, I suspect there is going to be a huge swathe of 60 plus people who will be using Windows XP for the next 20 years, rather than go through the torture that is Windows 8.

Talking of interest, was watching Harold Pinter's 1971 film 'The Go Between' on TV yesterday (before losing interest in it) and noticed some obvious howlers. The film is set in 1900 (some say 1902), but:

  1. There was a shot of Norwich railway station emblazoned with 'British Railways Norwich Railway Station'; British Railways wasn't created till 1948.
  2. In another shot there was a very obviously late 1950s Bentley posing as a 1902 Bentley; Bentley wasn't created till 1919.
Alan Bates had a really ridiculous line - he said; "Can I trust you?" to a 13 year old boy he'd recently met. Never mind about a 13 year old boy being the most untrustworthy object on the planet, but the question itself is meaningless, as how do you know it's answered honestly?

Friday, 20 February 2015

Cindy Crawford & Nov. 5th Hitler Road

One Cindy Crawford (age 48) has released some photos of herself where she's scantily clad. It is understood by this correspondent that the photos are un-retouched, which is a novelty in the world of modelling. Hay is over the moon - at age 50, her bod looks infinitely better than Cindy Crawford's 48 year old one - and I have to say I agree!

Yesterday I was listening to an Australian debate between Richard Dawkins and a certain Cardinal George Pell (Pell came off the worst, by a long chalk and was floundering badly). This question wasn't asked of Cardinal Pell, but I wish it had; if you were around in the late 1800s and knew (possibly by a divine revelation or a prophesy) Hitler was going to be responsible for 50m deaths in WWII (Cardinal Pell's number, used in the answer to another question), would you have aborted him? I think, but can't guarantee, that his answer would be a no, but he'd have a helluva job arguing why.

It's strange that in the world of the sciences you can get theoretical, experimental and practical disciplines, but theology strikes me as a discipline that can only ever be theoretical.

You know how on the continent - specifically the Mediterranean continent - you get roads named after dates that are important in the national history; well, we just don't do that here. There's no November the 5th Avenue (an obvious date), or 3rd of September Road (last battle of the Civil War), etc. I wonder why that is?

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Overheard Electricity Bill

Overheard during the evening:

Chairman: "Anything on iPlayer?"

Hay: "I've been doing the old person thing of putting stars against suitable programmes in the TV listings."


Frozen Alaska Narrator: "The Arctic ground squirrel is conscious for only 12 days during the entire winter."

Hay: "Much like yourself, Badger."

Heard an interview on radio with Martin Lewis (the Money Saving Expert guy) about the benefits of switching electricity suppliers - I use the word suppliers advisedly, as it's just billing that's involved.

He said people would be surprised at how much they could save by using the U-switch service, which advises on what would be your best option and sets it up for you. However, the vast majority of people, especially old people, are reluctant to do it - and perversely, they're the ones who moan most about electricity bills.

Gave them a call yesterday and switched from NPower to ScottishPower, saving about £300 a year, based on my last 12 months' consumption.

Hay's challenge now is to get her dad to switch, as he's with the most expensive supplier.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


I received an email (see below) from a friend in Canada containing a viral email from an American friend of his castigating ObamaCare as a power grab.

It went on to bemoan the fact that ObamaCare would cost the sender a large amount to subsidise Hispanics and ne're-do-wells.

Well, my American friend - that's what taxes do, due to the very nature of taxes being based on salary percentages. You could extend the argument to subsidising the poor in virtually every public sphere from defence to road building.

America likes to portray itself and a God-fearing, Christian culture. A lot of it just a selfish culture based on the NeoConservative ethos of let-the-Devil-take-the-hindmost, and it stinks.I'm glad I'm British and we have the NHS.

The sad thing is that the Amercian who sent the email to my Canadian friend was once a Brit.

Here's the email:

I'm a 54 year old consulting engineer and make between $60,000 and $125,000 per year, depending on how hard I work and whether or not there are work projects out there for me. 

My girlfriend is 61 and makes about $18,000 per year, working as a part-time mail clerk. 

For me, making $60,000 a year, under ObamaCare, the cheapest, lowest grade policy I can buy, which also happens to impose a $5,000 deductible, costs $482 per month. 

For my girlfriend, the same exact policy, same deductible, costs $1 per month. That's right, $1 per month. I'm not making this up. 

Don't believe me? Just go to , the ObamaCare website for California and enter the parameters I've mentioned above and see for yourself. By the way, my zip code is 93940. You'll need to enter that. 

So OK, clearly ObamaCare is a scheme that involves putting the cost burden of healthcare onto the middle and upper-income wage earners. But there's a lot more to it. Stick with me.

And before I make my next points, I'd like you to think about something:

I live in Monterey County, in Central California. We have a large land mass but just 426,000 residents - about the population of Colorado Springs or the city of Omaha.

But we do have a large Hispanic population, including a large number of illegal aliens, and to serve this group we have Natividad Medical Center, a massive, Federally subsidized county medical complex that takes up an area about one-third the size of the Chrysler Corporation automobile assembly plant in Belvedere, Illinois (see Google Earth View). Natividad has state-of-the-art operating rooms, Computed Tomography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging, fully equipped, 24 hour emergency room, and much more. If you have no insurance, if you've been in a drive-by shooting or have overdosed on crack cocaine, this is where you go. And it's essentially free, because almost everyone who ends up in the ER is uninsured. 

Last year, 2,735 babies were born at Natividad. 32% of these were born to out-of-wedlock teenage mothers, 93% of which were Hispanic. Less than 20% could demonstrate proof of citizenship, and 71% listed their native language as Spanish. Of these 876 births, only 40 were covered under [any kind of] private health insurance. The taxpayers paid for the other 836. And in case you were wondering about the entire population - all 2,735 births - less than 24% involved insured coverage or even partial payment on behalf of the patient to the hospital in exchange for services. Keep this in mind as we move forward.

Now consider this:

If I want to upgrade my policy to a low-deductible premium policy, such as what I had with my last employer, my cost is $886 per month. But my girlfriend can upgrade her policy to the very same level, for just $4 per month. That's right, $4 per month. $48 per year for a zero-deductible, premium healthcare policy - the kind of thing you get when you work at IBM (except of course, IBM employees pay an average of $170 per month out of pocket for their coverage). 

I mean, it's bad enough that I will be forced to subsidize the ObamaCare scheme in the first place. But even if I agreed with the basic scheme, which of course I do not, I would never agree to subsidize premium policies. If I have to pay $482 a month for a budget policy, I sure as hell do not want the guy I'm subsidizing to get a better policy, for less that 1% of what I have to fork out each month for a low-end policy.
Why must I pay $482 per month for something the other guy gets for a dollar? And why should the other guy get to buy an $886 policy for $4 a month? Think about this: I have to pay $10,632 a year for the same thing that the other guy can get for $48. $10,000 of net income is 60 days of full time work as an engineer. $48 is something I could pay for collecting aluminum cans and plastic bottles, one day a month.
Are you with me on this? Are you starting to get an idea what ObamaCare is really about?
ObamaCare is not about dealing with inequities in the healthcare system. That's just the cover story. The real story is that it is a massive, political power grab. Do you think anyone who can insure himself with a premium policy for $4 a month will vote for anyone but the political party that provides him such a deal? ObamaCare is about enabling, subsidizing, and expanding the Left's political power base, at taxpayer expense. Why would I vote for anyone but a Democrat if I can have babies for $4 a month? For that matter, why would I go to college or strive for a better job or income if it means I have to pay real money for healthcare coverage? Heck, why study engineering when I can be a schlub for $20K per year and buy a new F-150 with all the money I'm saving?

And think about those $4-a-month babies - think in terms of propagation models. Think of just how many babies will be born to irresponsible, under-educated mothers. Will we get a new crop of brain surgeons and particle physicists from the dollar baby club, or will we need more cops, criminal courts and prisons? One thing you can be certain of: At $4 a month, they'll multiply, and multiply, and multiply.
ObamaCare: It's all about political power.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Cerebral Teletubbies

Overheard while watching a news item on a chap with cerebral palsy:

Hay: "It's sad how people think that those suffering from cerebral palsy are mad, thick or stupid simply because they have problems talking."

Chairman: " A bit like me when I put my dentures in."

90's hit children's show, The Teletubbies, is being remade. Not recycled, but remade. The show's original creator says she thinks this is sad and she will not be watching it. Neither will I. Her reason is it shows a lack of creativity on the part of the BBC's children's broadcasting; for me it's an age thing.

Monday, 16 February 2015

What's Your Score?

We were watching some Adam Curtis documentaries on YouTube and iPlayer last night ('Bitter Lake', 'Century of the Self' and 'The Power of Nightmares') and stumbled on a documentary about psychopaths.

There's a scoreboard that mental health professionals use to measure psychopathy called Hare's Psychopathy Checklist. Essentially it attempts to measure your ability to empathise. Score over 30/40 and you exhibit potentially destructive psychopathic tendencies; I scored 14 while Hay scored 4.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Thomas the Tank Engine Laboratory

It was Hay's dad's birthday yesterday and I'd bought him a Thomas the Tank Engine birthday cake (he likes steam trains). Hay wondered how a cake that was bought over over 2 weeks ago could have a shelf life of close to a month - it's just not natural.

Here's why - it's a bloody chemist's lab!

Was reading about the Conservative plan to withdraw benefits from obese people who don't seek help. Some obese woman said that she couldn't afford to buy healthy food. Never heard so much Tommy-rot. Processed food is more expensive than fresh - we can get a week's veg from our local greengrocer (Ian) for under a tenner - and that feeds a family of three. Not much in the way of meat is needed to add to that, if indeed any; you just need to select your cuts carefully. In our experience it's cheaper, or at the very least just as expensive, to buy the raw ingredients yourself than buy processed crap. The additional secret is not to waste any and recycle leftovers. What this woman means is that she either can't or won't cook and prefers to stuff herself with choc-chip cookies.

I would contend that even if you buy cheap, processed food from Iceland, you won't become obese unless you stuff yourself silly with sugar, fat and the crap that's in the Thomas the Tank Engine cake. There are lots of people who live on nothing but processed foods and yet don't get obese (university students, for example), simply because they eat in moderation.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Thoughts Wren is Spring

Overheard in the restaurant at an early Valentine's meal (we're cheapskates)

Hay: "Have you ever stopped to consider that not everyone thinks like you."

Chairman: "Don't they? That's a hideous thought; no wonder the world's in a mess "

We have a wren's nest in the house! It must be behind one of the oak beams in the eaves, but we haven't heard anything.

Over the last week we've had to let 4 wren fledglings (I assume they are fledglings) escape - one was caught by the cat on the way out, but three made it through an open door or an open window before Kitty could react.

There must be a small access in the eaves somewhere through which the parents go out to forage, but the fledglings chose to leave the nest via the interior of the house.

Not sure they'll survive in this weather.

Now I have to find the access, as the hole is obviously causing a draft.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Overheard Putin Fridge

Hay: "I haven't slept at all well this week. I've been lying next to a snoring, snorting, groaning, farting lump of a person."

Chairman: "Have you been seeing someone else then?"

Apparently scientists have discovered the source of the strange cracks and pops that emanate from fridges at night and wake owners up. My fridge goes one better - it actually talks to me. I hear this soft voice at night calling me to the fridge at night. I'm led to believe these night-talking fridges usually only communicate with men.

What's Putin up to? I reckon he's just doing what every tin-pot dictator does when things aren't looking too healthy at home - creating imaginary and non-existent foreign threats and demons with which to rally people to his (or her, in the case of Argentina) flag. Everyone needs a scapegoat at some stage to cloak reality.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Lancashire Bomb Site

The Chairman and Hay are watching Tony Robinson's TV progrmame, "Walking Through History", showing an episode on the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

A gent was showing an aerial photograph of Wigan.

Tony Robinson: "And so when was this taken?"

Gent: "Just before WWII."

Hay: "Looks like the aftermath of a Luftwaffe bombing raid during WWII."

The media don't half string things out. There was an accident in Bath earlier in the week in which I think 4 people were killed by a runaway dumper truck. Fully half of Tuesday night's SW News programme was devoted to it - a full 15 minutes of interviews with relations of relations, hospital doctors, local residents and binmen - in fact I'm surprised I wasn't interviewed.

Last night another few minutes were given over to it, with the reporter saying the area is just staring to come to terms with it and trying to resume normal life. A friend of Hay's lives just round the corner and said the mess was cleared up pretty quickly and everyone just continued as normal - nothing like the media-portrayed events.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Samsung in Shouty Welsh for Blind Kings

My Samsung Smart TV asked me to speak up a bit last night.

Prince Charles has been to Saudi and had a word with King Wossisface. I wonder whether the world's kings and queens ever get together for a conference to talk about kingy things. There used to be quite a healthy market for kings and queens in the 18th and 19th centuries; there were loads of either overthrown monarchs or princelings ready to be hired out to any country that needed one. They don't seem to be in as much demand now though. It's strange to think that it was essentially one family that has ruled Europe for most of its history, as they were all related in some respect through intermarriage.

Hay's dad, who is a bit hard of hearing - no, very hard of hearing - received a communication from NPower yesterday. I'm not sure whether by using 24 point text they were shouting so he could hear, or whether they just got his affliction wrong.

No matter how I orientate the image in my computer folder, Blogger insists on this orientation and I can't change it.

Going back to Hay's dad, NPower also have their geography wrong - unless they think he lives in Welsh North Bristol. 

Talking of afflictions, the Prado Museum in Madrid has commissioned texturised copies of famous works so blind people can feel them. NPower would probably just make have descriptions that are German.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Hair-Brained Policies

Labour is pledging 4 weeks paid leave for new fathers. Talk about hammering small businesses!

Totally hair-brained. That's destroyed any chance of them getting my vote.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Cat Gangs

Chairman: "Kitty's very skitty today."

Hay: "It's the close proximity of all the other cats in the neighbourhood - it's not natural for them to be so close in the wild."

Chairman: "Bit what about alley cats - they go around in gangs."

Hay: "No they don't, it's a myth."

Chairman: "I'm sorry - what about Top Cat? He had his own gang. And then there's those cats from Cats!"

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Flowery Veg

Got to rush to the supermarket this morning to get some daffodils for tonight's dinner.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Iron Man at Oktoberfest

Have you noticed how most irons seem purposely designed so you have the maximum difficulty in filling them with water? For the first time in my life, I came across an iron that doesn't spill water all over the show when you try to top it up with water for steaming - in Greece of all places, and it's a Sunbeam. I wonder when Dyson will turn his attention to steam irons, if he hasn't already?

Got an invitation to the Munich Oktoberfest (which starts in September) from my dealer in Munich yesterday. Not sure about that, not with my bladder.

Back to Blighty on the 7pm from Athens tonight.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Overheard in Hamburg

Matthias: "We've had problems with the Russian Mafia - they run drugs and prostitution."

Chairman: "In Amsterdam they leave that to the professionals - the city government."

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The Wrong Teeth

In Germany till Thursday PM, then Athens till Friday PM - but I brought the wrong teeth. 

I don't mean I brought someone else's teeth. I mean I brought the bottom dentures rather than the top ones, which are the ones I use to smile insincerely at customers without giving them a fright.

What with the flambeed Prussian hairdo (and matching eyebrows), the suppurating burn on the end of my nose and the gaping gap in my gnashers, I fear I look like something out of Night of the Living Dead.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Iranian Memories

Narrator of TV Program: "Experiments with goldfish shows they have remarkably good memories - in excess of 5 months."

Hay: "That's better than you, Badger."

Iran is to hold a cartoon competition on the theme of holocaust denial in an attempt to attack the West’s “double standards” over religious satire and free speech.

They don't need to, for two reasons:
  1. The mere idea of free speech in Iran makes me giggle with mirth, and
  2. The idea of anyone supporting holocaust denial in contravention of all known facts can only be satire (although I must admit I fail to see the satire myself).
Additionally to 2 above, anyone who honestly denies the holocaust is to be pitied as a fool, not threatened with death.

Monday, 2 February 2015

New Hairstyle

Got a new hairstyle - it's the petrol assisted bonfire sweep.

Was applying some accelerant to the pile of tree branches and got a bit too close when lighting it. The result was an explosion that managed to singe off 90% of the beard and most of the hair on the front of my head (went right down to the wood on my front right) and some eyebrow hair. As a by product, it also took out the nose hair, so I don't need to do any clipping this week.

Had to get Sam, our hairdresser neighbour, to come over to give me another trim last night (the 2nd in a week). Not much she could do, but it will grow back.

Almost everyone saw the funny side. Hay didn't and gave me a rollocking.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Alan Barnes

The fund for disabled mugging victim, Alan Barnes, which was aiming for £500, has reached £200k. I chucked a tenner in myself.

The problem is that having £200k in his back pocket may mean he loses his benefits. There may be a law of unintended consequences here. We shall see.