Tuesday, June 27, 2006

World Cup update

Is it just me, or has this World Cup just kinda sucked? There seem to have been hardly any goals, not a lot of skill on show, and few teams really showing us what they can do. I'm sure the last one was better (and not just because I got to watch the matches at work).

The most notable thing about the World Cup has been the absolutely abysmal refereeing. To many dodgy decisions, too many cards, too many sendings-off. I'm sorry, but to have had two games with more than three red cards each is just too many. Something isn't right here.


Following last week's blog silliness, I have decided to have a sensible week. Therefore, allow me to recount for you one of the key events of my weekend.

I competed with my band on Saturday. It was my first 'proper' competition (discounting a BB contest of a few years ago because it was very obviously a different experience altogether). Because I've only just joined the band, I only played for the qualification round, which they got through. I didn't play the final.

The band came dead last in the final. This was not the result we were hoping for. However, it does mean that we can only improve, and it does give me some scope for fitting in better for the next competition.

In addition to competing, I saw a few people in other bands that I had not seen for a while. One of my former students was playing with her schools band in the Novice/Juvenile grade. They did very well, as always. Additionally, I saw (but didn't get a chance to speak to) several people from another band I'm aware of. It seems that they have left that band and joined another, which gives me a certain sense that perhaps all is not well there. Still, not my concern.

There were three lessons I learned from my experience:

1) If the car doesn't have any petrol in it, don't leave the house without your wallet. You'll need it.

2) Getting up at half past five in the morning, especially on a Saturday, is not good. However, as expected wakening at that time does not have the same paralytic effect as an unexpected wakening at three.

3) It's a good idea to wear sunblock when going out in the sun. This was the third Saturday in a row I managed to get sunburn, which is even more impressive in Scotland than elsewhere in the world.

The band are now preparing for their next competition, which is in Callander. This should be interesting, as it is on the day after I get back from my holidays. I may not be at my very best on that day.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My 'Bigger Mac' story

On Friday of last week, I went to McDonalds and had a Bigger Mac. It was nice. It tasted exactly like the Big Mac, but was bigger.

The End.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Repeating myself...

Sometimes, I worry that I might be becoming senile, and start repeating myself. Part of the reason for this is that I really only know four conversations, so I have to keep having them with different people.

Anyway, I was worried I might have already blogged about the women/sock conspiracy, so I felt the need to check every single post on this thing to make sure. Fortunately, it turns out that I haven't done that one before. Whew!

The down-side is that it turns out I have blogged about every other subject imaginable. Therefore, I will now have to start repeating myself.

Repeating myself...

Sometimes, I worry that I might be becoming senile, and start repeating myself. Part of the reason for this is that I really only know four conversations, so I have to keep having them with different people.

Anyway, I was worried I might have already blogged about the women/sock conspiracy, so I felt the need to check every single post on this thing to make sure. Fortunately, it turns out that I haven't done that one before. Whew!

The down-side is that it turns out I have blogged about every other subject imaginable. Therefore, I will now have to start repeating myself.

Throwing us off the scent

My recent surfing has taken me to another blog, in the comments of which a number of women were lamenting the loss of socks to their washing machines (the blog wasn't about said loss of socks; this was merely a tangent). Anyway, I felt that this was a cruel trick for the so-called fairer sex to attempt to play upon us humble menfolk.

See, I have discovered the truth of the lost socks!

In days of yore, my washing was done by my mother. In those heady days of youth, the loss of a sock was an event so common as to be unworthy of comment. After Mum went back to work (still many years ago), there was a time when my sister did the washing in the house (I was responsible for dusting - it wasn't a sexist thing, merely division of labour). In those days, the loss of a sock was likewise an event of great frequency.

Some time later, Claire determined that she was too busy continue to do the washing. At that point, and in all the days since, I have washed my own socks. In all the days since, I have never lost a single sock... (I thought I'd lost one once, but it turned out I'd just dropped it.)

This led me to question to accepted wisdom that it was the washing machine that ate socks. Clearly, if this were the case, then socks would be eaten regardless of who was doing the washing.

But if the washing machine wasn't eating the socks, then who was? A mystery indeed.

Naturally, I engaged in a little detective work. As we know, in order to commit a crime, you need means, motive and opportunity. Seeing means and opportunity was simple enough, but what was the motive?

Well, all became clear a little later, when it occurred to me that the classic gift, given by all mothers to their sons, by all wives to their husbands, and so on, for every event at which gifts must be given, is socks!

Suddenly, it all made sense. Unable to think of gifts for their husbands, some women adopted the policy of eating socks, gaining both a rather strange meal and also gift-giving opportunities. The practice is passed from mother to daughter, and is widespread today.

I can only believe those comments about lost socks were really just a bid to throw us off the scent. The other possibility is too horrible to contemplate.

Expanding the Crusade

Last night I was explaining to someone that I'd decided to expand my two-fold crusade to include a mandate to "banish ITV from TV-land", only to realise that I'd never actually explained my two-fold crusade to anyone (except Richard and Leigh, who were there when I first announced the crusade).

Anyway, the goals of my now-three-fold crusade are as follows:

1) To eat lots of biscuits
2) To complain about cleaning products being of every colour of the rainbow
3) To banish ITV from TV-land.

My progress to date has been minimal.

Clearly, the goal of eating lots of biscuits is a noble and sensible one. Biscuits represent a great threat to mankind's continued supremacy on the planet, and therefore must be stamped out. Unfortunately, my progress in this area is hampered by (1) Having had to go on a diet (ick!) and (2) Having had to give up Penguins because the largest packet available has 27 biscuits in it, which puts the eater at risk of accidentally only eating one biscuit, getting a unique joke, and unravelling the universe.

Now, cleaning products. Despite the fact that there exist only ten distinct colours, three of which are black, various companies still insist on providing their cleaning products in every hue. Do we really need blue washing-up liquid? Green bleach? Orange surface cleaner? (Orange, of course, just being yellow that has ideas above its station)

I say no! Therefore, I have made it one of my missions in life to moan about this fact to any poor fool who is silly enough to listen. Including you, dear reader. (In fact, having now complained, that should suffice to complete that ambition. Yay for me!)

And then there's the delights of ITV. Thus far this year, they have shown exactly two things worth watching: the new Sharpe (a BBC America production, no less!), and the World Cup. Their World Cup coverage is actively bad; it's just a shame that the BBC aren't showing all of the matches (or even Sky). In truth, they also have some Champions' League matches, but again, their coverage sucks and should be moved to another channel.

Apart from these few things, they show an endless diet of bad soaps, talentless shows, and other such nonsense. In fact, I was shocked that during the World Cup they haven't tried to introduce a scheme whereby voters can text in to say which teams they want to go forward. Frankly, that strikes me as a far more democratic and egalitarian scheme than basing such decisions on trivial things like talent.

And so, there it is, my three-fold crusade.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Take That at 3am

Yesterday was not a good day. As usual, I didn't get enough sleep. Still, I got up, got ready, and went to the gala day that my band were playing at. It was good. I got sunburnt.

Where it went wrong was after the gala day, when the band had a barbeque, to which I was invited. I went, but because I had my car, I couldn't drink. Then, I found that the only soft drinks were Diet, which as we all know really means "not as nice, potentially carcinogenic, and definately depressing..."

But the big problem came a bit later, when it became apparent that everyone in the band knows each other from way back, they don't know me, and we don't really have that much in common (true of about 99% of the population, of course). After a bunch of conversations about bands I'd been in in the past, I snuck off.

There then followed a fairly depressing evening of watching TV. I went to bed early, once it became apparent that only was there nothing good on, but that there never would be again.

It was a good thing that I did.

About 3am, I was woken up by music from downstairs. My neighbours are a couple and their daughter. The parents are currently away; the girl had gotten home with some friends - a girl and two guys.

Anyway, there then proceeded more than an hour of loud music, mostly consisting of Take That's Greatest Hits. Which brought home to me three things: 1) Take That aren't improved by being heard through a floor. 2) Take That still suck, but are now better than virtually everything that's in the charts. 3) Having "Relight My Fire" stuck in your head isn't much fun.

About 3:45, one of the guys joked that this was their "3am wake-up call". I'm a little annoyed about that. (Funnily enough, I just accidentally hit CAPS LOCK just before I hit the 'A' there...)

Anyway, the music went off at 4:15ish, whereupon I went back to bed... but no joy getting to sleep. At this point, I went for a walk.

Sadly, once the sun is up in the morning, and once I've woken up, there's no getting back to sleep. Hopefully, I'll be able to just zone out after 24 tonight. Hence, surfing the net, watching bad TV, reading a bit, and so forth.

Still, it is a Sunday morning, and I'm not that old. Perhaps I'll just ask them to play better music next time. Any recommendations for good music to be rudely awakened to?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

King Penguin

Before I was compelled to give them up, I was rather fond of Penguins, the king of all biscuits. In addition to that lovely chocolate and biscuit, and the opportunity to build up entire teams of Penguins in different colours for my forthcoming parody "Match of the Penguins II", they always had a fascinating fact or hilarious joke on the back of the wrapper.

Jokes such as the majestic:

Q: Why did the starfish blush?
A: Because the sea weed.

However, I noted the universal law that no matter how many Penguins one ate, one never encountered a new joke or fact. Every single biscuit had one of the same three entries on the wrapper.

Until one day, our hero ate a Penguin, turned to the joke, and found a new joke there! Truly this was a banner day, one worthy of being recorded for all time on blogs across the nation.

Our hero then ate his second Penguin of the day, for never must they be eaten in isolation, and turned to the second joke... to find it a duplicate of the same new joke he had just encountered. Harmony was restored to the universe. Disaster averted.

(I feel that the moral of this story is that it is quite right to never eat only a single Penguin. If you do, you run the risk of finding a unique joke, and breaking the universe.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Tis the season...

I have noticed that the adverts for my works Christmas night out have gone up this week. I have, therefore, responded by doing all my Christmas shopping. Apparently, the fashionable Christmas gift for this year is a bottle of suntan lotion.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

SPA Update

As many of my loyal readers know, I am the founder and member of the Society for the Prevention of Acronyms (SPA for short). Our mandate is to prevent the proliferation of acronyms in the world by ranting inanely on the internet. It has been a while since I updated anyone on the latest antics of the SPA, so felt the time to do so had come.

Recently, the SPA had a great success. Through our lobbying efforts, the British Union of Red Parakeets were persuaded that their name was already sufficiently ridiculous, and that therefore there was no need to adopt an acronym. Huzzah!

However, not all our efforts have met with success. I must report failure in the effort to prevent the Clowns Against Rivers, Ninja And Green Envelopes adopting their new name. Indeed, tensions came to a head at a recent demonstration by the SPA, and indeed the outcome of the ill-tempered confrontation can only be described as... chaotic.

Finally, there has recently been a motion within the SPA to expand our mandate to stand against the scourge of spling misteaks. However, the motion to this effect was defeated on two grounds. The first was that SPASAM was considered to have less of a 'kick' to it that our previous name, but it was also noted that this change would require us to take a moral stand against our own membership, which would probably detract from the focus on the core mission of the SPA. The poll of our member showed an impressive 70% in favour of retaining the original name and mission of the SPA.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Something that has been bothering me for some time...

Today, I'm going to muse on a crucial matter of global importance. If you are easily offended, you might want to stop reading now.

As everyone knows, the greatest crisps ever invented by man are Walkers Cheese and Onion crisps. Truly, they are the second-finest expression of the paragon of vegetables, behind only chips in their gloriousness. (In the unlikely event that there are any Americans reading: crisps (UK) = chips (US), and chips (UK) = fries (US).)

At least, that used to be the case. However, a few months ago, Walkers announced that they had found a way to make their crisps using "sunseed oil", which would allow them to reduce the fat content by about 70% (!) without affecting the taste (!!). Truly, a wonderful outcome, if only it had been true.

Weep with me, friends, for they have ruined crisps!

The new Walkers crisps do, in fact, taste the same as their predecessors. They do, in fact, have a lot less fat. However, they are also harder, more brittle, and generally a lot less pleasant to eat. In short, they are no longer the greatest crisps in history.

Here's the thing: I'm an adult (no, really!). I am capable of making informed choices about what I eat. And I choose not to eat "low fat", "good for you!" or "diet" versions of foods. It's a taste thing - I would rather eat less nice food and/or exercise more than eat things that just aren't as nice.

I suppose that's the key, though: many adults are not capable of making informed choices about what they (or, more to the point, their children) eat. It's not easily obvious how much you should be eating of various things, nor how much of those things foods contain. And the interactions are not clear either - you're supposed to drink 1.5 litres of water per day, but does coffee count? Does Cola? Does fruit juice? You're supposed to eat 5 servings of fruit and veg per day, but how much is a serving? And does cooking the food make a difference? And what about the fact that spinach contains very different nutrients from sweetcorn?

And so the food companies feel a pressure to constantly try to make their food healthier, even if that means it doesn't taste as nice, and the government tries to force us to eat more of the things that they think are good for us. When, in fact, the correct solution to our health problems is that we're just not exercising enough. Sort that out, and many of the other problems just go away.
One suggestion that gets made every so often is the notion of a 'fat tax'. Typically, this takes the form of an additional tax on unhealthy foods. A better solution would be annual weigh-ins, and a tax based on that. The best solution, though, is nothing of the sort - simply taxing people for being overweight is useless without better enabling them to sort out their weight problems.

What needs produced is a set of leaflets, outlining several balanced diets, making use of things that are easily acquired and easily prepared. These diets should be presented making use of foods that people are actually going to eat, because simply saying "don't eat burgers" isn't going to work. The diets should cover all the meals for a whole week (at least - a month would be better) giving plenty of variety, plenty of options, and substitutions where possible.

In parallel with this, we urgently need work done to encourage people to exercise. This potentially means reclaiming land for playing fields, but that by itself is not enough. It is also crucially important to provide opportunity for exercise, and taking up that opportunity must be easy. So, our sports centres should be running workshops in whatever sports they specialise in, which should be free to all comers, and which should be heavily advertised. Every playing field should be the focus of some summer club for some sport or another.

Thirdly, there needs to be made easily available health check-ups for everyone (for free, and on an annual basis), which includes not just assessments of the the areas that need worked on, but also clear guidance on how to fix problems. At the moment, it's nigh-on impossible to see a doctor when something is wrong, so no-one goes for a preventative consultation. But we should - in the same way we all understand a car needs regularly serviced, so too should we understand that our bodies need the same.

Then, and only then, do you introduce a fat tax.

In the meantime, I'm going to continue lamenting the death of nice crisps, and think about trying out the 'Bigger Mac', because I do like a tasty burger...

TV Update

Well, the Sky guy came on Saturday, so after only four attempts I now have the full range of bad TV to watch again. Although oddly, my Sky box still thinks I'm living in Yeovil, so it tunes to BBC 1 West, BBC 2 England, and whatever the local ITV station is down there. I need to try to figure out how to change that, for those three occasions when there's something different on STV than that ITV station, and I actually want to watch the STV programme (and when I say three occasions, I don't mean the three in the five months remaining on my contract, or in the next year...).

On another note, can someone explain to me why it is Scottish TV decided they had to 'rebrand' themselves as STV? As far as I'm aware, everyone just calls them "three" anyway. If they want to attract more viewers, perhaps they should show the occasional good programme.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Living the dream

My sofa finally arrived last night!

This, of course, allowed me to achieve one of my great ambitions for the year: I was able to sit on a sofa while watching TV! Shame there wasn't anything on, but still...

Tomorrow, I'm going to go one step forward, and watch TV while sitting on a sofa and eating chips.