Sunday, June 29, 2008

A new low

When the post arrived this morning, it included several items that I had been waiting for. This was a good thing, since all I had received all week was a pile of junk mail (which I took reasonable pleasure in feeding to the shredder, but which was still annoying).

Except of course that, this being Sunday, this wasn't the mail delivery this week, but rather my neighbours re-delivering the pile of things that had been sent to the wrong address. Score one for Royal Mail!

But the best item of the lot was a card reading "Sorry, you were out" (which I was), "the packet was too big for your letterbox". Unfortunately, I know the item in question, it being a monthly delivery, and it is not too big for my letterbox. If they'd delivered it to the right address, I would have it by now, and not be set up for another exciting opportunity to pay £1.70 for 7 minutes of parking again.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Yesterday, I burned the back of my wrist in a lasagne-related over glove malfunction. This was not a good thing.

It hurts like crazy. I'm given to believe that this is actually a good thing - 'tis only a flesh wound.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Of course, the one thing has nothing to do with the other

Contrary to Captain Ric's assertions, I do count. In fact, I have elected to start counting in hexadecimal, casting off the shackles of the outmoded base-10 system in favour of a more logical and altogether more elegant method.

In unrelated news, it is my birthday soon. I'm looking forward to turning 20.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Only 50% psychic

Yesterday I arrived at band to find that the Pipe Major had called an emergency meeting. "Oh hell," I thought, "he's going to quit." I looked around the room at the assembled band members, and concluded that there was no-one in the band who was likely to take over.

Right then. Time to plan how I'm going to take the band forward. What should be the short-term plans, the medium-term plans, and the long-term plans?

The meeting began, and sure enough, the Pipe Major had decided to step down. He had a new job, which would take him away for too much time, and anyway things hadn't really been going to plan.

However... he'd found his successor. One of his friends, a Grade One piper, and a guy who had come to help us tune up at several competitions in the last year, had agreed to take over, if this was acceptable to the rest of the band.

So, I dodged a bullet there. I feel almost Neo-like in my mad skillz.

And now we wait and see: where will the new guy take us from here?

The sweet smell of success

It's always nice successfully completing a task that was right on the edge of your capabilities. It's even nicer when you do this about an hour before you stop for the weekend.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

They didn't tell us about the need for hats

In church today, we were given a task. The command was simple: invent an extravagant greeting to use.

But, as we all know, true extravagance needs hats. The taller the better? How could we invent a truly extravagant greeting without a ready supply of comedy headwear?

And, of course, there's the moustaches. Clearly, no-one was prepared with a suitably twirly moustache for extravagant hatted greeting use. (Obviously, that's one for the Men in the congregation. As we all know from the "Spongebob Squarepants" movie, only Men are entitled to twirly moustaches, and the ability to grow a twirly moustache is the true indication of Manhood.)

Honestly, why don't they tell us these things in advance?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I must confess...

Euro 2008 is a whole lot less interesting without England in there.

On the other hand, watching it is a whole lot more pleasant without the commentators and analysts constantly diverting off at tangents to talk about England's chances, to bring us the latest 'news' from the England camp, and crowing about how England were surely the favourites to win the tournament. Followed, of course, by the unpleasant sense of schaudenfruede that comes when they inevitably get knocked out by Portugal or Germany (or Argentina, in the World Cup) on penalties. (To my English readers: I'm sorry, but I really hate your presenters.)

(It's also unfortunate that Scotland aren't there. However, given that Italy and France got drawn together again, and with Holland this time, I'm not sure we would have been in it for long. And, given our qualifying group for the World Cup, the fact that Holland trouced Italy was more than a little disconcerting.)

Oh, before I go, my prediction for the tournament: although the best teams I've seen so far have been Spain and Holland (I haven't seen Portugal, but I heard they were very good yesterday), I'm going to go for Germany as the eventual winners. Spain have a habit of imploding at key points, while Holland may well find the effort involved in qualifying from an Italy/France group tires them too much for the later stages.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Random Thoughts

I'm extremely tired. I don't think I should be so tired.

The Fratellis' second album is... okay. It's about as good as their first album, with the exception of "Chelsea Dagger" - the new offering doesn't have anything that comes close.

Tesco's "Ridge" crisps are a low-fat clone of McCoys, which they didn't have in stock. Despite tasting much the same, and having the same sort of texture to them, they are strangely unsatisfying.

The 4th Edition of "Dungeons & Dragons" isn't as bad as I'd feared. More on this at a later date.

"Sunshine", the film by Danny Boyle about a mission to re-ignite the sun is awful. Avoid like the plague.

Similarly, although I haven't seen it, I'm going to confidently predict that "Species IV" is awful.

LOLcats are funny.

The government's latest antic, to give false terror suspects £3,000 compensation for each day they are wrongly held without charge beyond the present 28-day limit (this being a bribe to persuade rebel MPs to vote for this atrocity), would leave me fizzing with anger, if the concept of making a decent living in this way didn't cause me to giggle with Doctor Evil-esque glee.

Isn't it odd that some words are just funny, in and of themselves?

Chunky Monkey ice cream is an odd thing, although not an unpleasant one. I'm not sure about the walnuts, though.

Which is better, candy floss or a sledgehammer?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

£1.50 for seven minutes of parking?

It frequently seems like many of the services that exist in this world are specifically designed so that people who work can't take advantage of them. Need your gas meter read? Well, the guy only works 9-5 on weekdays. Need to visit the doctor or dentist? Well,they're open 9-5 on weekdays (maybe).

And then there's the postal service. Now, these guys are fine, provided you're only ever receiving junk mail and bank statements. However, the moment you need to have a parcel delivered... you get a little card saying "Sorry, you were out", as if that comes as a surprise to them. (Perhaps it does - I've noticed that the delivery is getting later and later in the day.)

Still, that would be fine. All you have to do is go and pick it up at the collection centre, which is only a couple of miles away. And which is only open... Actually, that's not true. It opens at 7:30 and stays open until lunchtime, six days a week. So, it's a hassle to go during the week, but it is possible. And it's also possible to go on a Saturday, which is nice.

Or it would be, if there were any parking nearby. But no! There are various supermarkets around, but they are for customers only, and you can't get out without either buying something or paying for the parking. And then there are the pay-and-display car parks.

So, I went to one of those, intending to pay for the smallest possible length of time, get in, and get out again. Of course, the smallest possible length of time is 2 hours, at a cost of £1.50, and the total length of time it took me to get my parcel was seven minutes. (Of course, the pay and display charges start at exactly the same time as the collection centre opens. Anything else wouldn't be sporting.)

I'm not terribly happy about that. I'm just hoping that the parcel with the other half of my delivery is thin enough to fit through my door.

Monday, June 02, 2008

In pursuit of spectacular mediocrity

We entered our second competition of the season on Sunday. It would be an understatement to say it was a somewhat disappointing day.

The seeds for the disaster to come were sown last week, when I switched on the TV to watch something (possibly "Pushing Daisies", or perhaps "Blade Runner") to find "The One Show" doing a feature on sublock, and how it just wasn't as effective as the bottles claimed. Of particular note was their assertion that a person was supposed to put on a full sixth of a bottle every two hours. This came as something of a surprise.

Now, I loathe sunblock. Truly, it is just awful. It's slimy, and sticky, and unpleasant, and if I wear it with my contact lenses in, I have to wash my hands immediately after putting it on, or else be blinded by my own sunblock. And, of course, it's waterproof, so the washing of the hands is something of an ordeal in itself when on a beach with plenty of water but no soap around.

So, I try hard to avoid situations where I might have to wear it, either by hiding indoors when the sun is about, or by wearing black from head to foot, thus not having to wear it. But, as we know, at the last competition I got badly sunburnt.

(Keen readers of this blog will have noted a comment in an earlier post about a "The One Show"/sunblock rant. That was it there.)

Anyway, Saturday was a gloriously sunny day, which I therefore spent indoors, venturing out only twice, to wash the car and to mow the lawn. (I would have been meeting friends for WFRP, but that got cancelled.)

Sunday downed bright and sunny, and I woke early to get ready for the competition. After my morning shower, I proceeded to apply a sixth of a bottle of suncream to face, neck, shoulders, arms and knees. Then I thoroughly washed my hands (on account of having contacts in), and put my uniform on. I packed a bag for the day, and left the house (cunningly leaving my wallet behind, but in the event I didn't need any money, so that was okay).

En route to the bus, I met a guy who lives across the road, who commented that it was a nice day for it. Anyone care to guess what happened next?

Anyway, the trip to Markinch was okay but rather uncomfortable. Bus trips are never nice when it's too hot. We got there, hung around for a while, and then left the bus to go to the tuning area.

At this point, it started to rain, lightly at first and then heavily. Oh, yes, having gone to the trouble of applying sunblock, I proceeded to get rained on.

But the story gets even more amusing. See, rain not being an unknown phenomenon in Scotland, we have invested in long waterproof capes. These are highly effective at keeping the rain off. And, having had it drilled into me quite thoroughly when I was ten, I take the cape with me whenever I'm out at the band, even if the sun is blazing. So, I had packed the cape in my bag in the morning. Huzzah!

It was back in the bus.

We took cover under a passing tree, and completed tuning up. We were ready.

The band went on to perform really badly, rather worse than the previous competition in Dunbar. Basically, we started far too quickly, and although the rest of the tune was then played correctly, it was just far too fast, and there was nothing we could do to fix that. There was additionally the 'bad blowing' problem that has been our bane for years, which occurs when people don't keep sufficient pressure on the bag, causing notes to drift up and down.

So, we came off the park, and the pipe major gathered the band, livid at the performance. He proceeded to enquire just what we were playing at (not in quite those words, right enough). We then returned to the bus, and an uncomfortable wait for the march-past, and the results ceremony. (We came last of course. That's not really a factor in the rest of the story.)

A couple of hours later, the rain having ceased, I went for a wander. On returning to the bus, I found the pipe major standing just outside the bus talking to the mother of one of our pipers. I found this most curious, since said mother had not actually travelled with us. Something was going on.

Still, not wanting to be nosy, I proceeded into the bus, to hear the speculations.

In the event, it turned out that my first instinct was correct. The girl in question (or perhaps her brother) had taken exception to the pipe major's comments, and called her mother. Said parent proceeded to drive up to Markinch to collect her children, and to tell the pipe major just what she thought of him. At this time, it seems likely that the girl will be leaving the band as a consequence of this. (There is some speculation that the mother wanted her to leave anyway, in order to move her to a bigger/more successful band. This may be true, but begs the question: why not just go? It's not like we have any hold on her.)

So, thoughts...

  1. I'm still not sure whether it is better to play your very best, and still come last, or whether it's better to play far worse than you'd hoped, and thus let yourself down.
  2. I still really hate pipe band politics. They're killing this band.
  3. I agree with what the pipe major said, and the terms in which he said it. I perhaps would have waited until tonight, however. I'm also not sure how much longer he's going to be able to continue in the role - things just don't seem to be going right.
  4. Spare me psycho mothers.

The next competition isn't for six weeks. I don't think I care.