Thursday, August 31, 2006


In Fibbers tonight. British Sea Power. I'd forgot how sweaty it can get in there even though it's now got the air-con. Cool.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Parcel Delivery

Whilst I was at work today a parcel from Amazon arrived at my flat (some DVDs and a book). As I wasn't in, they left a card saying what they'd done with the parcel, which was to have left it with one of my neighbours. This was a good thing because it meant the parcel was nearby. It was bad news because it meant I'd have to have contact with my neighbours. I actually wouldn't mind this, as I know most of them, but the delivery man had managed to leave it with the one neighbour I've never met, and indeed have no idea what he/she looks like.

I tried initially to go for the approach of hoping said neighbour would bring the parcel down to me and save me having to climb two flights of stairs. On the basis that they'd have nothing better to do than sit around watching out of their window for me to get back from work (because obviously they'd know who I was!) so that they could rush down and give me a package of happiness.

But this didn't happen so I had to resort to plan B: going up to... see them, a complete stranger.

Bit scary.

I went upstairs, and had worked out what I was going to say ("Hello! I live downstairs, why weren't you watching out for me returning home, can I have my ball back?") and approached the front door of the flat. What I saw wasn't what I expected to see. My parcel was just leaning by the flat door. I took it relieved that I'd avoided a confrontation (oh, ok, conversation) and went back downstairs. But I was puzzled.

Either a) the delivery man had gotten into the building and left the parcel outside completely the wrong flat (for safety?) and then left me a message saying he'd done that or b) the owner of the other flat had left it outside his own door in a bid to avoid having to speak to me.

The second option seemed more likely, but I didn't really understand why they hadn't just have left it by my own front door. It wouldn't really have been any less secure - it's not like there are hundreds of people traipsing round the place. Maybe he was thinking that he knew the delivery man would leave a card saying the package was at his, not mine, and so he should go for the approach that made this as true as possible.

I don't know. But at least I got my stuff.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Return of The Yorkshire Hussar

The First Hussar wasn't one of my favourite York pubs, but it was one of the closest to work so I'd find myself there from time to time. It was recently taken over and refurbished, and it reopened a week or so ago under its original name of The Yorkshire Hussar. Whilst it's still in the same location, it features some new and improved features inside such as:

1. A bigger bar
2. An extra door leading to the toilet corridor
3. Better beer
4. Not being sh*t (i not u) any more.

Apparently it had a VIP opening.


I wasn't invited though, this wasn't my invitation. I didn't go.

I'm not bitter though because when I went to the newly opened pub for the first time, Jack the landlord gave us a free bag of crisps. My custom can always be bought with free crisps (hope you're reading this, Landlords of York).

Monday, August 28, 2006

What to do with spare chocolates (part 3)

It's surprisingly easy to convert your flat into a hotel using only chocolates taken from a local curry house.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sticking a puppy where the sun don't shine

My current toilet roll has small pictures of puppies on. This is apparently some form of innovation. Andrex, in their infinite wisdom, have decided that what users of toilet roll really need are small embossed dogs. Several per sheet. "Puppies on a roll".

What is the point in this? Does having a puppy there make the paper softer, more comfortable, more absorbent? No, of course it doesn't. I just don't see who, in their right mind, would find the whole bum-wiping experience improved by the presence of puppies up their arse-crack.

It's madness, and a product that just isn't needed. If I wanted to clean my bottom with pictures of dogs, I'd pop down to York central library, head to the "D" section, find the first dog book they had (something like "The Observer's Book Of Dogs"), check it out, take it home and wipe to my heart's content. Because that's what any normal person would do.

Obviously I'd wipe the book down with (puppy-less) toilet paper before returning it to the library. I'm not a caveman.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I've never been to prison

When you go to prison, do the police give you half an hour to sort out your life before you are locked up? For example, can you:

1. Top up your ISA?
2. Do the washing up (imagine how mouldy your cups would be after 5 years in the slammer!)?
3. Lock your front door?

There must be many other things as well that I haven't even thought of.

I know prison is supposed to be a punishment, but is part of that punishment the continual worry that your kitchen might be overrun with new species of growth?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Yellow Sock

I'm not sure that I'd wear socks like these.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Tinkler Bell

I'm enjoying the current series of Dragon's Den. The main things people seem to be inventing this year are:

1. Bags that turn into blankets (or vice versa)
2. Premium rate phone lines

There have been two inventions in the second category, both equally retarded. The first was Car Doctor, a premium line you phone when your car's broken. They give you advice on how to fix it, most of which appeared to be along the lines of "take it to a garage". Genius. The second was The Knowledge, a service where if you are lost in London you phone a premium rate line where a taxi driver will answer and give you directions. There are so many flaws in this idea that I won't even begin to list them.

But the reason I mention the program is that I have an idea that is brilliant. However, I'm too lazy to patent it, design it, prototype it or to try and make any money from it whatsoever. Instead I'll describe it here and the world can take it as a present (though if it wants to give me a percentage, I won't say no).

My Idea - The Tinkler Bell
Isn't it annoying when as a male you visit the little boy's room and forget to do up your fly when you've finished having a tinkle? Often the first moment you'll realise you've forgotten to do it up will be when you emerge on to a street and small urchins point at you and laugh at you and say "eh, mister, yer fly's undon'".

This need happen no more, not when you've fitted a Tinkler Bell.

Imagine the same scenario, but this time when you've finished your tinkle, forgotten to do up your bits that should always be done up and begun to walk away, you hear a small bell from down below. "Aha!" you think. "Silly me!" and you do up your trouser fly, embarrassment avoided.

It's a revolutionary idea, but how does it work? I'll tell you!

Attached to the bit of the zip that you hold is a small steel bell. At the top of the aluminium zip itself is a magnet (could be built into the trouser button). Hence when the zip is open, the bell is free to ring and ring it will as you move about, fly undone. But when the fly is closed, the magnet holds the bell still, preventing it from ringing.

This really is a genius idea. Up there with the paper clip.

And I personally would find it quite useful. Come on world, make my dream into a reality.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

No more nieces

I was pondering the other day on how you should refer to your nieces and nephews as a whole - ie with a collective noun. I think I may, for possibly the first time in my life, take Bert's advice and try to invent my own word and try and get it into proper widespread usage. Quite ambitious, but no harm in trying.

When inventing a new word, I think it works best if the word starts from current words and expands on them. I'm going to take a cue from Adam Roberts. In his book, On, he uses a system for family members which typically start with a root related to a currently used part-word, followed by a "he" or "she" to denote the male or female. For example, parents are "pas", the male parent (the daddy!) is a "pahe" and the female parent (the mummy!) is a "pashe".

I don't think I need to go quite so far from current usage. I suggest the following:

1. Nephews stay the same and are called "Nephews".
2. Nieces become "Nepshews"
3. A collection of Nepshews and Nephews (Nieces and Nephews in the old parlance) are now just called "Nephs". Maybe this technically should be "Neps", but "Nephs" sounds a bit softer so I'm going to run with it.

So, now, I have two nephs - one nephew and one nepshew.

I think this actually works quite well and I'd encourage all of you to start using it as quickly as possible. Together we can improve our langauge.

Now, I realise it's emminently possible that someone else has already tried to instigate this usage. I did check Google though, and didn't get any usages of "nepshew" apart from a few instances where it looked like "nephew" had just been typed badly.

The only outstanding issue is pronunciation. Should it be Neph-she-ews or Nep-shoes? I think I favour the second one...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Brummies don't sound funny

I saw some research today that said all jokes are funnier when pronounced with a Birmingham accent rather than a Yorkshire one. This is clearly bollocks. For example:

Q: What has eight arms, eight legs and eight eyes?
A: Eight pirates!

I could hear you laughing so loudly when you heard my voice in your head saying that. You're still rolling on the floor, you silly moos. Now get up and imagine the same joke in a Birmingham accent:

Q: What has eight arms, eight legs and eight eyes?
A: Eight pirates!

Hah! Not funny at all, now is it? Stupid researchers. They know nothing.

If anyone has a funnier accent, please feel free to try it on me - you won't win though!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Do you deliver? Yes? Can I have a liver and pineapple pizza then please?

I quite enjoy dirty pizzas - not ones that are actually dirty, but pizzas that come from your generic takeaway kebab/burger/fish/pizza outlet (I nearly used the word "restaurant" there but thought better of it). Actually, most of them probably are dirty. You never know quite what you are going to get and some places do much, much better ones than others. Each new place is a new experience.

Found a great new one last night - Salsa Pizza in Acomb. The best thing was that the pizzas weren't overloaded with cheese - sometimes you get one and you can hardly find the pepperoni for the cheese, if indeed you're lucky enough to have real mozzarella rather than the strange cheese substitute that I believe sometimes acts as a stand in. These ones had just the right amount of cheese - much closer to what you'd get on a Dominos or Pizza Hut pizza. But much cheaper!

I had pepperoni, jalapenos and green peppers. Tasty. I wasn't really particularly hungry because I'd had a big plate of pasta before going out. However, I was a little drunk and I managed to get through three quarters of an 11 incher.

So if you're ever in the area, consider this to be a recommendation.

Mmmmm... pizza.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Exciting New Blogging Toys

Well, I've just migrated over to the new Blogger Beta. Very exciting for a saddo like me. I still have a bit of fiddling to do with fonts and the stuff in the sidebar but I'll get there eventually.

Best new features I've found so far:
1. The spell check is now much faster and easier to use (not that I need it...)
2. It's much easier to manage lists in the sidebar
3. I can put labels on my posts
4. Because it is now all linked to my google account, I have one less password to remember!

I had planned to go running this afternoon, but all this fiddling has cut into my available time. Ah well, there's always tomorrow...

Friday, August 18, 2006


And, finally, like a half legged leper, Big Brother Seven has crawled drippingly to an end. Thank God. I kind of wanted welsh muppet Glyn to win, but inevitably it was sweary Pete instead.

This series has been unique in that it featured somebody (Graceless) who was so f***ing horrible that I often felt physically angry when she came on screen. I hope she gets a job on one of those interminable late night quiz channels. That's the kind of hell she deserves. ****.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

New Baby

I got a brand new niece yesterday. She's now 1 day old and looks like a baby (though a very cute one). Welcome to the world, little one! Behave well and cry not a lot.

She's my second niece/nephew - is there a word for that? If I myself had two children, one of each gender, I could say I have "two children" rather than "one son and one daughter". Can I do a similar thing with niece/nephews? I suspect there's a very obvious word that I've forgotten due to being stupid.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Lorraine - Live and Not Live

I went to see Lorraine play at Fibbers last night. They're an electro-pop-rock band from Norway, and unlike most bands from round there, they don't seem to be satanists. They were very good indeed. Sounds of the Pet Shop Boys, New Order and the Eighties (in a good way).

I've been on their mailing list since I saw them supporting The Feeling in February. They have been sending me a series of free promotional CDs - those half-size ones that you can't play in slot loading CD players. The first one was a great song (Tell me where you want to go - there's a lovely key change part way through) and the CD case had a picture of an alarm clock with the track length (4:20) displayed on the screen.

The next one came a few months after the first. The cover looked familiar - it had the same alarm clock with a different track length on (4:16 as it was a shorter track). What I didn't realise at first (due to a bad memory) was that the track name was... the same as the first one. It was the same track but a version that's 4 seconds shorter. I have no idea what has been cut out.

What's the point of sending me the same song twice? Why? And why is the second one slightly, pointlessly, shorter?

The only thing I can think of is that because the CDs can't be played in my Mac as it is slot loading, it's a hassle for me to rip it. They've therefore realised this and have sent me the second one to put in a different room to the first. This is actually quite thoughtful of them.

Norweigans - they're such nice people.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Shower Fixing(s)

I've had a plumber round this afternoon to fix a leaky shower. It was a very, very small leak, but it was pretty constant and was enough to cause problems elsewhere. The water had been pooling on the front edge of the bath and was then getting under the sealant between the bath and the wall which wasn't quite as tight as it should have been. This had then leaked down the wall, behind the bath, and had started coming through as a small damp patch on the living room wall.

I think he fixed it. Looked like the whole magic part of the shower had come away from the wall a little, as one of the hidden fixings had come loose. This meant that one of the pipes going into it wasn't as secure as it should have been. So he fixed it back up properly and applied some new sealant round the side of the bath (after first filling it right up to the top). That was actually a job I'd meant to do years ago but never bothered to do as it didn't seem urgent. There's a moral in there somewhere.

He told me that I had a very powerful water supply. I said that yes, I had and that that was a good thing. He agreed but thought it was unusual to find such power in a newish flat such as mine.

Maybe he's right, maybe he's not. I don't really know much about showers and plumbing. When I phoned the plumber this morning I spoke to a lady and she asked me whether it was an electric shower or not. I wasn't really sure. Which was daft because thinking about it a little more, I've used a lot of electric showers in the past and they tend to be notable for one main thing: you have to turn on the electricity before using them. Since I don't have to do that, I could perhaps have made a clever deduction.

But given my shower doesn't have electricity, I'm not really sure how it works. It has a thermostatic feature that keeps the water at a constant temperature and in my head this had always been powered by electrics. So now I don't know how it works and I'm confused, and can only assume that it does indeed run by magic.

Or perhaps, to paraphrase Arthur C Clarke, any sufficiently advanced technology will look like magic to an idiot.

Monday, August 14, 2006

This post covers minimal new ground and is mostly other people's ideas. That doesn't make it untrue though.

One thing I worry about from time to time is whether we are all real or whether what I am experiencing as "reality" is in fact just a giant computer simulation. Yadda, yadda Matrix etc.

Whilst browsing the New Scientist archives yesterday I came across this old article, from July 2002, which pretty much proves we are in a simulation with a probability approaching one.

The argument broadly goes as follows:

1. We need to make one assumption - at some point computers will become powerful enough to simulate a consciousness. I personally think this is reasonably likely.

2. Then either three things can happen:
a) we all die (from terrorism, natural disasters, asteroid impact, grey goo or just from plain old worrying) before the computers get powerful enough. In this case, we are in the original timeline :-) But we're all doomed :-(
b) computers get powerful enough but nobody mimics consciousness for ethical reasons. Yeah, right. In this case we're also in the original timeline and lions are our friends.
c) computers get powerful enough to mimic consciousness and they do actually do this.

3. Under 2c) it is likely that a very large number of universes will be simulated. Therefore on the basis that I, today, find myself in a universe (which I do), it is quite improbable that it would be the original one. In fact, as the number of computer generated simulations grows, the probability of me being actually in one grows towards one.

And that's how it goes. We are The Sims.

Now this does actually explain quite a lot - all those glitches - the way my memory doesn't always tie to everyone elses, the way road markings sometimes move from day to day and so on.

The article later points out that if we are in a simulation then there is a risk that we could be deleted. The best way to stop this would be to work out the purpose of the sim and then act in a way that fits best into it so the creator will like you. If for example it's an entertainment sim, "then you'd better make sure you're part of the fun. What that means varies across cultures, so to be safe you should be funny, outrageous, violent, sexy, strange, pathetic and heroic all at once" which sounds a bit like a Big Brother contestant to me. Horrid to think that maybe this whole universe might be designed purely to produce Big Brother contestants.

A final thought on this (as I could go on all night but I'm planning to go out for a drink shortly). I was watching Odyssey 5 earlier, a nice little show, shame it was cancelled after one season, and the episode featured one of the characters (Robocop) becoming trapped in a computer simulated reality. Now, this could be coincidence. Or it could be someone from the outside trying to give me a message, a clue that I'm on the right track.

But I think I'll stay in the sim for now. At least while it's warm and I'm having fun.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Animals and People

There's a lovely juxtaposition of stories in this week's New Scientist. On page 6 there is a story about how vets need to start taking bestiality more seriously, as it can be quite harmful to the animals.

Then, over on the opposite page, a completely separate article starts: "Should medical researchers be allowed to create human-animal hybrids to investigate disease?".

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Girly Race Results

I've got my time and placing for the race I did on Tuesday - 124th out of 168 runners, 29 minutes and 29 seconds. I was also slower than the entire main mens' race which makes me think I definitely made the right choice when I categorised myself as a "slower man" and joined the girls' race. Unfortunately, they've labeled me as an "F" (girl) on the results page of the website. Darnit.

Next race looks like it will be twice as long - a 10k race in Harrogate in September. And after that, about twice as long again for the Great North Run. I can see where this sequence would go next, but that ain't happening. No. Way.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Reasons to be cheerful (part pizza)

1. I have only one more day at work before I have a nice week off.

2. I'm due to be either an uncle or an aunt again shortly. Not sure which yet, my sister hasn't told me what flavour baby it is, but I'll find out soon enough.

3. I avoided the rain this evening.

4. I was at work until seven pm but that's ok because I was doing good stuff and I should have everything finished that I need to before I leave tomorrow.

5. I'm about to order pizza.

6. Not going out tonight, but there's a lot of good telly on a Thursday at the moment. Dragon's Den, Time Trumpet, Extras.

7. Big Brother's nearly finished. Thank God. It feels like forever.

8. Four Day Hombre have landed a support slot on the upcoming Embrace tour.

9. I've now just ordered pizza.

10. I don't need ten reasons, just to be cheerful!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A New Dance

Dancing class tonight as normal for a Wednesday. New dance: The Empty Car Park Tango.

Yep, turned up, nobody else there, no class this week, nobody told us, own fault, should have gone last week to hear the warning to not go this week.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Slow and steady wins the race...

This evening I've taken part in my first ever proper running race! It was a whole 5km down around the river and the millennium Bridge. There were two races - the first was for men, and the second was for women and slower men. I clearly went in the second one. If I'm going to be beaten by girls, it might as well be by hundreds of them.

It was strange running that way, with marshals pointing the way and random people clapping. As I got near the end I was being encouraged along by shouts of "Come on Liz!" which helped me no end.

Anyway, suffice to say, I didn't win the thing. I don't have my final position yet, but it was definitely not top ten. Or top hundred. Oh well. My time was twenty nine and a half minutes which I was happy with since I don't normally do that distance any faster than that and I was dead ill yesterday.

If you're worried that I might be over-exerting myself, then you're probably right and I intend to now take a few days very easy and relax and sleep and get back to 100% health, or at least as close to that as I ever am.

And this will be helped by the lovely bags we got at the end of the race containing Smarties (standard), Fruit Pastilles, a Kit-Kat Chunky and... Twenty Yorkshire Teabags. Can't complain!

I was ill. But I got better

After my incident at the level crossing last night, the last thing I wanted to see when I turned on the TV was that public information film with the cute rabbit ambling along a railway track where it eventually comes across bits of wreckage and eventually, at a level crossing, a full on car crash. Message: Don't piss about on level crossings.

Strangely it was pretty much the first thing I actually saw when I turned on the TV.

After that I sat in my shorts watching my favourite engineering programme, Megastructures on Channel 5 (this week featuring the Dubai dude and his bizarre island building plans) and slowly started to feel colder and colder. I swapped my shorts for jeans and put on a fleece. I was still cold and was starting to shiver so I added a dressing gown on top. This didn't quite do it and by now I was shivering a lot so I added my duvet to the mix. That just about did the job (after a bit). I was also running a bit of a fever at this point - if I'd had a thermometer I think it would have shown a temperature of about a million degrees.

I assumed that this was some new feature of the cold I still had. I'd been sneezing and sniffing and headachy all day, indeed all weekend, so it seemed strange for the thing to suddenly move into full on fever mode.

It lasted for an hour or so and then I started to feel better and was able to remove some of the excess layers until eventually I was comfortable again wearing just my normal clothes. Then I slept ok overnight and I feel now pretty similar to how I felt yesterday (ie a bit crap but not exactly bedbound).

I'm hoping that I'm over the worst of it and it'll be uphill all the way now. But I'm going to take some Lemsips to work just in case.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The light of an oncoming train

I was out running this evening (how nice for the temperature to have dropped below 20 degrees...) and for the first time ever the level crossing barriers at Nether Poppleton were down and flashing when I got to them. There were a couple of lorries waiting on one side and a car and a cyclist on my side. There was also a railway man in a yellow jacket who seemed to be looking after things and talking to the drivers to explain the delay.

As I got close I slowed down to look around and see if the man would wave me across as he was starting to do with the rest of the traffic. Once he'd cleared most of it (the lights were all still flashing and there was a loud siren going off) he waved me over. I crossed the tracks carefully, thankful that there was someone there who knew what was going on and would prevent me from being run over by a speeding train.

He said to me that the things were all out of order. Ahh, thought I. That's annoying. Lucky you were here to prevent me waiting around for hours!

Then, as I started to run off, the man in the yellow jacket got back into his big lorry and drove off! Yes! He wasn't a railwayman at all, just a fat trucker! He could have had me killed! I trusted him and believed he knew there was no train coming, but he likely knew no such thing. He was just guessing.

They don't warn you about that kind of thing in running school.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Driving Practice

I took a friend out for a drive this afternoon - he is currently learning how and needs practice before his test. Since I have been driving for longer than 3 years and am also over 21, I am a suitable person to sit beside a learner whilst they attempt to move a large dangerous hunk of metal from A to B without passing through Dead.

We went up to the test centre at Osbaldwick and then drove one of the actual routes they use for the test. My knowledge of the roads of Tang Hall is now much higher than it was yesterday. I found it quite hard to get all the directions right - a lot of them say things like take the 5th left turn but it's not always obvious which one that is. Also the routes don't always do what you might expect them to - they dive off into little housing estates and do little loops and things. We only made one proper mistake though and I was able to get us back on course fairly easily.

I think I was quite a good driving supervisor overall. I was calm and didn't scream once. The actual driving itself seemed better than the driving of certain people who have driven me places in the past that had passed their tests. I think he'll be fine as long as he keeps practising and works on his starts a bit.

A Mild Cold

I'm currently labouring under a mild cold. Definitely in the annoying rather than debilitating category. Slight runny nose, slight sore throat, slight feeling of grogginess (that could just be yesterday's wine), lots of sneezing, etc.

I got some Lemsips (my favourite drink) from the shop though, so I'll be ok.

Friday, August 04, 2006

I'm not just making fruit up...

It's hard to belive that two years after launch there are still good, decent people out in the world that haven't yet been introduced to the wonders of Fruity Smarties. They're great!

I think I've done adequate brain correctionage on the subject tonight now...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Time Trumpet

Tonight I've particularly enjoyed watching Armando Ianucci's Time Trumpet. It's like one of those annoying talking heads retro clip shows but from 30 years in the future and about times that haven't quite happened yet.

Some reasons why it's good:
1. It has Armando Iannuci in it (really just guessing at his name spelling though I should know it by now)
2. It has Stewart Lee in it.
3. It is funny (I hear the career as a TV critic beckoning...)

It's not as good as The Day Today or Brasseye, buy maybe the closest I've seen for some while.

To update on a previous post, I'm now 99% certain it was Herring I came across on the train at the weekend. I'm going to always go first class now!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Love Poetry

Here are the contents of one packet of Love Hearts, in the order they come out. I'll type as I eat.

It's Love
New Love
Looking Good
How Sweet
Just Me
I Want U
For Ever
Groovy Chick
Bye Bye
You Fat Fuck
Find Me
Cool Dude
Nice Girl
I Won't Tell
Whore Yourself
Cheeky Boy
My Angel
Just Me
My Pal

I enjoyed creating this post. It tasted good.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

So wet

It's been very very wet this evening. I had thought that I had left work at the wrong time since I was absolutely soaked when I got home (I hadn't bothered to take a coat or umbrella). It turns out that this would have happened pretty much whatever time I left. I'm sure Summer will return soon though.