Monday, 28 December 2009

Nadolig Llawen!

Well, that's christmas over and done with. Bit of a busman's holiday really, as I ended up doing the 160 mile round trip back to Wirral twice. Once to take two of the step children home, and once to take the other step child home because his clutch failed while he was driving back. It's been a pain in the arse spending 4 hours a day driving, but at least my phone didn't ring or text once over the festive period.

The barn we stayed in was a cold, dirty hole when we first arrived. My sister and her husband also live 80 miles away from it, so they're very much absentee landlords. If we'd paid for this we wouldn't have been happy. Still, once the fires were switched on, and we'd cleaned up the shit that the last occupants had left behind, it became much more warm and cosy.

We'd anticipated the barn being pretty much a base, but ended up spending quite a lot of time, particularly during the evenings, sitting in a nice warm living room. Internet access, via a mobile broadband dongle, was a frustrating experience. It would take ten minutes to load up google, if it would load up at all. So I spent much of each evening playing games, either with the family, or computer based stuff like civilisation2. It's been a while, and I'd forgotten just how repetitive it is.

Snowdonia can be breathtaking. The bridge at the bottom of the lane is a place where we'd always stop and look. Us and everyone else. That point on google earth is a mass of little blue squares.

Anyway, we're back. We've brought all the stuff in, but not really unpacked, and I feel like I need a holiday.

Some piccies to finish...

This is Lake Padarn, a few days in. Taken from the bridge of photogenaity. On the right is Snowdon. On the left is Glyder Fach. Or Glyder Fawr. Not sure which. This particular photograph is now my desktop wallpaper.

This one was taken a day earlier. We got up early, and saw mist over the lake, so took a walk down to the bridge. It was lovely. The big snowy mountain on the left is Glyder Fach or Fawr again.

Not sure what this mountain is, but it looks like a grand place for sledging.

One walk we did was up a track behind the barn, through Padarn country park. After slipping and sliding through the remnants of snow, we reached civilisation of sorts. This old tractor caught my eye.

There are quite a few different officially signposted walking routes in the area. the walk I did around lake padern was indicated by posts with white stripes on them. This picture was taken by the Llanberis slate mining museum, where many paths meet. The dark blue takes you to flooded quarry where divers can dive. The yellow follows the white but veers off into the higher hills. The green one takes you back to nature. The red one leads to either Hell or Anfield. The light blue one leads to the sky.

This also taken from the southern end of Padern, near the slate museum. Most of the snow was gome by this morning. The mountains almost always get covered in the winter. Up until a few years ago, the snow would lie in the valleys too, but these days, it rarely stays for long.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009


It's not a matter of escaping from the connectivity of modern life. It's about controlling it. I'm miles away from home here, in a sparsely populated part of the world. The phone isn't ringing. No texts are coming in. But I can power up my laptop, and post this. Mobile broadband is an expensive way of moving ones and zeroes around, but hey! These are the best of times! I'd post a picture, but the two bits of technology I didn't bring are a battery charger and connecting lead for my camera.

Here's one from the internet instead.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Away for Christmas!

We're not doing the usual Christmas this year. We're buggering off to a barn in Wales.

Here, to be precise.

Carry on without me, won't you?

Sunday, 13 December 2009


I can juggle. A bit. Three thuds standard. When I used to practice it, I could just about do 4 balls - two in eachhand. The way I learned was to use two balls in my strongest hand (my left) and once I'd got my head around looking at the apex of the ball's trajectory rather than at my hands, and understood that the act of juggling really consists of throwing and catching in the same movement, I was able to learn with two balls in my right hand. After that, juggling three balls in two hands was easy. The hand to ball ratio is just 1.5. That's 25% less than the hand to ball ratio of two balls in one hand.

There's transferrable skills in there somewhere, should you ever wish to become a driving instructor. Many people when trying to learn how to steer, try to do it by looking at the steering wheel. Unless you know where the car is going as a result of your hand movements, you have no context to what you're doing.

Friday, 11 December 2009

7 billion euros... Is that a big number?

I recently picked up a book called "The tiger that isn't"

It's about numbers and how to read them. Sometimes, a trillion can be quite a small number, while 0.1 can be enormous.

So when I read that the EU is planning to spend 7 billion euros over 3 years into a global warming fund, what does that actually mean?

Well first of all, lets divide that by 3 to get a yearly amount.

7,000,000,000 / 3 = 2,333,333,333

Two and a third billion euros a year. Is that a big number?

According to wikipedia, the population of the European Union is 499,794,855

so divide the amount being paid per year by the number of people in the european union and you get...


So each person in the EU is going to have to fork out 4 euros and 67 cents per year to save the world.

Is that a big number? I suspect it will be far too large for some people to countenance.

The UK, of course, is giving more than any other nation. £500 million a year according to the BBC article. So divide that £500,000,000 by the 2009 estimate of our population (61,113,205) and you get the princely sum of... £8.1815378525803056802535556758969. Per year. Almost 16p per week.

Holy Jesus fucking Christ! How can we eat? What about the Children?


Thursday, 10 December 2009

The acoustic properties of unhomogenised hot milk and granulated coffee compared with the acoustic properties of homogenised hot milk and coffee...

You will need:

1 mug

enough milk to fill the mug

a teaspoon

enough granulated instant coffee to at least partially fill the teaspoon

a microwave oven, with a connection to mains electricity

at least one hand

at least one ear


To investigate what happens acoustically when you stir granulated coffee into a mug of hot milk


Fill mug with milk.

Place milk filled mug into microwave oven.

Heat on full power for 2 minutes (750 watt oven) or until milk is hot enough to make what you'd describe as a "hot" drink.

Add granulated coffee to mug of hot milk using teaspoon. (Any brand of coffee will do here. Caffeinated or decaffeinated are both fine. When I did this experiment, I used Kenco de-caff, but ethical experimenters should find that fair trade organic instant coffee will work just as well)

Stir. Vigorously enough for the spoon to repeatedly tap the internal sides of the mug.



Well you can hear it can't you? The note generated by the spoon's contact with the mug changes. It becomes lower. Perhaps by as much as an octave.


The process of homogenising hot milk and granulated instant coffee in a mug causes a change in the acoustic properties of the medium.

Suggested further research:

The three main factors here appear to be the solvent, the solute and the noise generating media.

So, other soluble materials, such as chocolate powder, andrews liver salts and sugar could be added to hot milk, and stirred so that their acoustic properties can be analysed. Insoluble materials, eg, sand, and woodchips could also be added to the hot milk.

A different solvent, such as water, vinegar, molten lead or sulphuric acid (H2SO4) could be used with coffee, or with other solutes as mentioned above.

Finally, different media could be used. A plastic spoon and a snare drum full of hot milk/cofee solution may generate a different dataset for example.

The possibilities are endless with this one, kids! do try this at home!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Mind the gap!

Here, according to is where the British parties stand on a social and economic spectrum...

And here's where I stand...

I don't support any party uncritically, but I suppose I will be quixotically voting Green at the next election, if I don't quixotically exercise my democratic right to tell them all to fuck off by spoiling my ballot paper. Certainly they seem to be the only ones that come close to my position.

Now, I've posted the test before, a couple of years ago, on a non-political forum, and many of the people that answered the questions that defined their positions found themselves placed as left wing and libertarian. Why not take the test yourself and see where you stand? Regardless of your political persuasions, please feel free to take the time to add a comment to this thread letting me know where you fit in and whether you thought the questions were fair.

So assuming the questions are not leading people in a certain direction, as one person suggested in response to my posting of this test, a couple of questions need to be asked.

1. Why do the mainstream political parties occupy the political space that they do, if they want the votes of people who hold a far more left wing and libertarian viewpoint?

2. Why do people who have a left wing and libertarian viewpoint keep voting for centre right parties?

I suppose the second question answers the first.

Monday, 7 December 2009

"I was wrong, and I'm sorry"

- words you never see on internet discussion boards...

You'd think it would be easy wouldn't you? I mean, it's not like you're face to face with the people you're arguing with. You're just a collection of dots on a computer screen.

Yet that very lack of person to person interaction seems to make it harder maybe.

But my experience is, the best you can hope for, even if you demonstrate conclusively and unequivocally that the other guy got it wrong, is that they just shut up. It seldom causes them t change their point of view. So the reason for taking the time to argue on internet forums is not to win an argument against an opponent, but to present a good argument for your audience.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

The RTP filter and the Great Money Trick

One of the books that helped to define the way I look at the world is "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" by Robert Tressell.

You can find the text online HERE or it can be purchased from a wide variety of places if you'd prefer paper to pixels. I recommend your local independent bookshop, rather than the big sellers, if posible. Ideological, that's me.

The book itself is an explanation of Utopian socialism, and is both somewhat naive, and something of a polemic. It's a reflection of it's time (it was written in the first few years of the 20'th century) and yet so much of what it has to say still reverberates.

So, for example, when I read people discussing filesharing, I can see that Tressell would have approved of it completely, but would consider the artists creating the stuff being shared as having contributed something of value to society, and to be therefore entitled to their fair share of the things produced by that society.

Or more specifically, when I read today's news, and I find that the Board of the Royal Bank of Scotland are threatening to resign if they don't get their multi-million pound bonuses I find myself thinking

The men work with their hands, and the masters work
with their brains.
What a dreadful calamity it would be
for the world and for mankind
if all these brain workers were to go on strike.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

How to count two seconds...

In good weather, on dry roads, two seconds is a safe gap. It's actually quite a sensible way of doing things really, as the faster you're travelling, the further you go in two seconds, so the gap increases with velocity.

But the last thing you want to do is take your eyes off the road to look at a stopwatch when you're doing 71.3 miles per hour down the M62.

So us instructors have a little phrase.

"only a fool breaks the two second rule". Find a bridge or an orange roadside telephone, and say it.

It should take two seconds to pronounce.

But does it?

No. It took 2.594 seconds. It's good to include a safety margin, but is there a more accurate way of doing this?

The other way I've encountered is to count elephants.

So, "one elephant, two elephant..." is a safe gap, according to this method.

Clicking on any of these pictures, by the way, will open them up full size. So if you can't see, try clicking on them for a better view. You should find that the light blue boxes at the top of the picture contain a number. This is the length of the sound wave, in milliseconds.

1729 milliseconds is just over 1.7 seconds. That's 15% less than a safe gap. At 70 miles per hours, that 0.3 second difference translates to about an extra 30 feet travelled before you've come to a halt, and that, you tailgating fool, puts you right into the boot of that Volvo you were following.

Not good. It doesn't matter that he slammed on, because a dickhead in a BMW suddenly changed lanes and then immediately braked. Hitting someone from behind is pretty much always considered to be your fault (you must have been either too close, or going too fast, or you weren't paying attention) you wouldn't have a leg to stand on. Especially if it had been amputated because it had been badly mangled in the collision.

So we need something a bit longer than an elephant.

An anaconda should do it.

Nope. At 2.319 seconds, it's a third of a second too long.

So I'm looking for something longer than an elephant, but shorter than an anaconda.

. . .

This went on for quite a while but then I found that my willy was exactly the right length. It's just slightly longer than an elephant, but a bit shorter than an anaconda.

See! Exactly 2000 milliseconds!

So next time you're wondering if you'll be able to stop in time as you travel down some dry road, just recite, "one my willy, two my willy", or "one Paul's willy, two Paul's willy" if you prefer.

Remember though, on wet roads, you need twice the distance.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

the incomparable privilege of existence

From Bill Bryson, "I'm a stranger here myself"...

Take a moment from time to time to remember that you are alive. I know this sounds a trifle obvious, but it is amazing how little time we take to remark upon this singular and gratifying fact. By the most astounding stroke of luck an infinitesimal portion of all the matter in the universe came together to create you and for the tiniest moment in the great span of eternity you have the incomparable privilege to exist.

For endless eons there was no you. Before you know it, you will cease to be again. And in between you have this wonderful opportunity to see and feel and think and do. Whatever else you do with your life, nothing will remotely compare with the incredible accomplishment of having been born. Congratulations. Well done. You really are special.

But not that special. There are five billion other people on this planet, everyone of them just as important, just as central to the great scheme of things, as you are. Don't ever make the horrible, unworthy mistake of thinking yourself more vital and significant than anyone else. Nearly all the people you will encounter in life merit your consideration. Many of them will be there to help you--to deliver your pizza, bag your groceries, clean up the motel room you have made such a lavish mess of. If you are not in the habit of being extremely nice to these people, then get in the habit now.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Snooping around!

A picture was posted on a blog. Perfectly innocently. Just a picture of a rainbow taken from a window.

But I wondered if there was enough information there to identify where the picture was taken from using Google Earth.

The text accomanying the picture tells me that this was taken in a place called Rathcoole, which is somewhere near Dublin.

Most of the ROI is only covered by low quality satellite imagery, indeed much of Ireland appears to be covered in lava. But I'd imagine that Dublin at least would merit some higher resolution aerial photography.

And there it is. Rathcoole. Just a bit South West of Dublin, on the N7 towards Naas (I hitch-hiked from Dublin to Waterford once, and one leg of my journey took me from South Dublin to Naas, so I probably got driven along it once, I think by a middle aged lady in a flowery dress). The airport at the top of the picture is called Casement Aerodrome, and is presumably named after Roger Casement, the famous revolutionary bloke from 1921 and all that.

Some of Google Earth at this point is hi-res, and some of it is low-res.

Now, what clues do I have to guide me closer?

The most obvious one is a road sign in the bottom right hand corner of the picture. There's a main road with another road bearing off to the left, just out of shot. The roadsign is in full sunlight, so the picture could not have been taken from the North, facing south. The text of the sign is too small to be legible, but the words appear to be quite long. Are Irish roadsigns written in English?, or Gaelic? Or both, as happens in Wales?

Well here's one I lifted from wikipedia...

So the signs are bilingual, with the gaelic first, but in lower case, and the English second but in upper case.

Some politics there, methinks, but the text is too small for me to identify anything useful.

Non-motorway national primary routes use white text on a green background, with the specific route number in yellow bold text.

So that puts my man next to a major road. The N7 or the N81 or the N82. There are lamp posts pretty much in the foreground, so the place this picture was taken from is close to a road. they're fairly far apart, so that also suggests quite a major road.

Although the time the photograph was taken is not stated, the sun never goes that far north, especially not at this time of year. It looks like it's pretty low in the sky, too, judging by the quality of the light, and the way the clouds are lit, almost horizontally.

Rainbows always appear beyond the viewpoint, directly in a line from the light source. See HERE for more information. The site linked contains loads of beautiful images and interesting information about all sorts of atmospheric phenomena. Not just rainbows.

Anyway, the higher the bow, the lower the sun, so this was definately taken either shortly after dawn or shortly before sunset. I suspect the latter. The man that took this picture can regularly be found posting stuff on discussion boards in the wee small hours, and he's known to enjoy the occasional recreational relaxant, so my guess is that he was safely tucked up under his duvet shortly after dawn on the day this picture was taken.

So the sun was in the west or south west, therefore the sunlight went from there to the east or north east, and therefore the camera must also have been facing either east or north east.

Here's Rathcoole rotated in Google Earth so that East(ish) is at the top...

So I'm looking for a place where an eastbound road has a road branching off towards the left/north.

In the background are low white buildings. They appear to be industrial units. It's certainly a more built up area than the fields in the near and middle distance. There are some buildings slightly in front of them that look like farm cottages or similar. The horizon is fairly flat, at least the bit of the horizon that isn't hidden by the raincloud is fairly flat.

The fields themselves form an identifiable pattern, as do the combination of ditches, fences and trees that form the field boundaries.

So, looking for a point just south of a major road, and just west of a point where that road contains a left fork, probably into another fairly major road, roughly a mile or so away from some white industrial looking units, with a rural landscape of fields filling the intermediate space.

so here's where I reckon it is...

Drumroll, please!

You can almost see his beard.


The photographer himself was kind enough to contact me and tell me almost exactly where the picture was taken from. Certainly got to within a mile or less, but more pertinantly, most of my logic was correct. It is a place just south of the N7. The camera was facing east, and the shot was taken in the late afternoon. If Google Earth had been using aerial photography in this location, rather than satellite imagary, I reckon I could probably have pinned down the street in which he lived, if not the precise house.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Gran Turismo 4: A moment of triumph!

This may rate as my saddest ever blog. Sad in the sense of "You saddo!" But Gran Turismo has been a part of my life for a long time.

Back in the dark days, the original Gran Turismo came out for the playstation. My sister had a playstation. It came with three games. One was Gran Turismo. The others I couldn't name if my life depended on it. , and I fell head over heels for the game. I'd regularly stay up all night playing. A few years later, I bought a playstation second hand for about £60 just so that I could play it. I didn't even have a memory card, so Icouldn't save my progress, and so had to keep sitting and re-sitting the license tests.

Several things set this particular driving game light years ahead of anything else out there at the time. One was the graphics. Another was the physics. And a third was the gameplay.

Graphics-wise, most driving games at that time were top-down cartoon style affairs. They were really 2D games, but Gran Turismo did things very differently. Right from when you switched on, the graphics from the intro looked like real life. I'd assumed that the gameplay wouldn't match the intro, but it did. Indeed the intro was just snatches of gameplay stitched together and fitted to a soundtrack.

Since it was proper 3D with polygons and a track with gradients and what-have-you, it was always going to "feel" good. You have to remember that the playstation itself was a huge leap forward in games consoles. It was pretty much the first 32bit system, and it was fast enough to give players a real sense of motion. The first game I played was Wipeout, and that had me and my stoned friends swaying in our seats as we played. And so it was with Gran Turismo. To get around the track, you had to actually go round properly. The weight of the car would move forward and backward and outward in accordance with the laws of momentum. The grip of the tyres was finite. So you couldn't just go buy a big powerful car and win all the races.

And so there was a real challenge here. The techniques had to be learned. And to facilitate this, before you could participate in certain types of races, you had to obtain licenses. These were obtained by completing sets of increasingly difficult tasks; These included starting and stopping within a set area within a set time, doing a slalom between cones or tyrewalls, doing a very tight course that could only be done within the time by using the handbrake and accelerator to spin the back end out, and completing full laps of some of the tracks, within strict time limits.

There are always cheats available in the actual races. Knowing where you can cut across a verge or smack into the back of another car to push it off the track and simultaneously slow yourself down. Or just getting a powerful car with really sticky tyres so that the opposition could never hope to keep up. But none of this was possible in the license tests. The cars were chosen for you, and were not modifiable in any way. Coming off the track or hitting walls/cars/etc would result in an instant fail.

For me, these tests really added something to the game.

The original Gran Turismo looks very dated these days. It's been superceded by GT2, then by an entirely new console in the PS2, and then by GT's 3 and 4. I've played them all, although I don't have a PS3, and have no interest in getting one just yet. Give it a couple of years and I will be able to pick one up in Cash Converters or ebay for£50, but for now, I'm more than happy with my old PS2.

It sits under the telly for months on end, gathering dust, and then the whim will take me and I'll play on it for a few days or a week or whatever.

This is what I've been doing for the last few days, and surprise surprise! I've been playing my most up to date incarnation of Gran Turismo - GT4...

I'd left it at a point where I'd completed most of the licenses, but I'd only completed about half of the time trials that comprise the final, special, license. I had left myself the most difficult and challenging courses. Driving on snow in Chamonix, the Le Mans course, Suzuka, etc. The final challenge - the boss track of them all on GT4 is the Nurburgring. It's about 12 miles long, and requires a huge degree of skill and concentration to get around at all, never mind within the set time of just under 8 minutes.

Yesterday, I finally managed it. I Got around in 7 minutes and 57 seconds - a whole half second within the allotted time. And just to prove it (See? I said this was my saddest ever post) I've taken a photograph of the telly screen at the moment where I passed the finishing line.

Ta daaaaa!

Sentimental Bollocks follow-up

Tomorrow at 11:09 AM somebody will address you and tell you some thing you have been waiting to hear.

At 11:00 this morning, my wife's alarm went off. Being a light day workwise (just one lesson at half three in the afternoon), I'd left my alarm switched off, and had a lie-in.

When her alarm went off, we snuggled. We nestled like spoons. My groin pressed into her buttocks and we squirmed in a most agreeable fashion.

If she said anything at all at 11:09, it would have been something like "Don't squeeze them so hard" or "A bit higher up" or "Scratch my back". Certainly nobody else came into our room around that time.

So perhaps, without even being aware of it, I've been waiting all this time for someone to say to me "Oh don't. That hurts my back".

Ho hum.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Sentimental Bollocks

There are some lovely people around. A few of them in particular like to send me heartwarming e-mails about guardian angels and how friendship is forever. I should pass these on to at least ten other people, so as not to break the chain apparently.

So I've set up a special folder in my almost infinitely large gmail mailbox.

It's a bit like my spam folder, but the contents are much more sugary.

Just in case you're unfortunate enough not to have any such mail yourself, I enclose one below...

Date: Thu, 12 Nov 2009 07:31:24 -0500
Subject: Fwd: FW: Read ASAP-Let me know tomorrow


--Forwarded Message Attachment--
Date: Thu, 12 Nov 2009 09:07:50 +0000
Subject: FW: Read ASAP-Let me know tomorrow

-------Original Message-------
From: Joan
Date: 11/11/2009 22:06:33
To: Val Gail gwen joan
Subject: FW: Read ASAP-Let me know tomorrow

Fingers crossed for you all

Let me know what happens to you the morning after you open this e-mail.
This is an unusual one.

It actually gives you a time tomorrow..

Let's see if it works.

Forward this message the same day you received it. It may sound ridiculous, but it is right on time. We believe that something is about to happen. Angels exist, only sometimes they haven't got wings and we call them friends; you are one of them. Something wonderful is about to happen to you and your friends. Tomorrow at
11:09 AM somebody will address you and tell you some thing you have been waiting to hear.

Please do not break this. Send it to at least 7 of your friends!

So, there you go. I've forwarded this to my blog, which gets several readers each day, from places as diverse as Ethiopia and Guernsey. I will let the world know, through this very blog, if anything happened.

Monday, 9 November 2009

A whole lotta allotment!

Well we've been on the waiting list for a while. We even got a close relative to put their name down. And in the end it was their name that got drawn out of the hat first. We have a long skinny piece of land to call our own, sort of, and upon which we can grow tomatoes and asparagus and thyme and gherkins and apple trees and dandelions and flax and aubergines and kale. It needs a bit of work as the photos below show, but that's kind of the point isn't it? To take something that is nothing and turn it into something that is something that will feed us and give us something to do with our hands and minds that is productive and that connects us to the Earth.

So here's how it looks on Google Earth... A whole load of allotments. Some tidy. Some wild.

And here's how ours looks in the flesh.

From the far end looking back towards the entrance...

And from the entrance looking in...

Ah, the joy of it. There's so much to do! The sheds need sorting out because they're not properly secure right now. The greenhouse has no glass. The top, or far end, is a sea of grass and, particularly near the fence, nettles. I'm afraid Brenda is going to have to deal with them. I could legitimately be on an episode of The Panic Room when it comes to Urtica dioica

Friday, 6 November 2009

The Whole Damn alphabet?

.oH":HH$' "' ' -*R&o,
dMMM*""'`' .oM"HM?.
,MMM' "HLbd< ?&H\ .:MH ."\ ` MM MM&b . "*H - &MMMMMMMMMH: . dboo MMMMMMMMMMMM. . dMMMMMMb *MMMMMMMMMP. . MMMMMMMP *MMMMMP . `#MMMMM MM6P , ' `MMMP" HM*`, ' :MM .- , '. `#?.. . ..' -. . .- ''-.oo,oo.-'' Well there you go... ascii art doesn't work on this blog... It should have looked like this

Just a thought though... What if I do it with underline?

.oH":HH$' "' ' -*R&o,
dMMM*""'`' .oM"HM?.
,MMM' "HLbd< ?&H\
.:MH ."\ ` MM MM&b
' `MMMP" HM*`,
' :MM .- ,
'. `#?.. . ..'
-. . .-

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Three weeks pass like nothing in the life of yours truly...

So much to write about and mainly I can't be bothered getting down to the nitty-gritty of actually writing about it properly.

Here's some:

Givvies! Lots of them, including one right at the top of my own street! Why had I never noticed it before? I must have walked past it a thousand times!

Existentialism! I seem to be spending a lot of my time banging my head against infinity and eternity right now. Not comfortable thoughts. I fear I may go insane as I get older. Seriously.

Patterns of behaviour on discussion boards! Just had a typical experience while arguing my case. I'm a toady apparently. Because I pointed something out in someone elses defense. I was called this by someone who jumped in on behalf of another person.

Oh the irony... They succeeded in stopping the person I'd asked from having to bother thinking though, so we can all go on as if nothing matters.

Driving instruction! Liz is a poo! And so is Emma! And Kev!

Really, You don't want to know. Or maybe you do.

Clocks! From Thailand no less! I want a clock with Thai numerals. I have a mate over there who is looking for one for me.

Here are the Thai numerals from 0 to 9...

๐ ๑ ๒ ๓ ๔ ๕ ๖ ๗ ๘ ๙

Saturday, 3 October 2009

There's someone watching me...

I put a counter on this blog this evening.

In the last 4 or 5 hours, 4 or 5 people have taken a peep in here. Hello to you!

I suppose I should write something of importance then.

My sister is getting married tomorrow (later today)

I will post about that, complete with google earth pictures.

Also, I went to Lake Vyrnwy yesterday (now the day before yesterday) and that was cool too. Ditto the pics.

Friday, 2 October 2009


My good wife and I enjoy a satisfying and experimental sex life. Not for us the dull routine of vanilla missionary intercourse.

And I found out something last night that I never knew before!

If you use the right kind of vibrator, on the right part of a male, it does what it does for women, but to a man.

In my case, the right kind was a powerful mains hitachi.

The right part of me was between the glans and the frenulum. The right amount of pressure was important too. Too light or too heavy a touch and the vibration wasn't transmitted in the right way.

But when it was right, oh boy! was it right!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

shit day

I had a driving test today. Unfortunately it didn't happen because my brake lights weren't working. So I feel like a worm for letting my poor pupil down. It's cost me well... £57 for the time I couldn't charge her for today, £62 for her new test date, and another £57 for the lessons I've had to cancel today to get this sorted out. And about £10 for 2 new bulbs. What's that? About £176?

Plus, yesterday I spent £20 getting the car valeted. I thought I'd treat it and myself to a nice valet.

The reason the lights weren't working was because the wiring had become loose and the 2 side bulbs had blown. And it's only happened after someone's been poking around in the footwell with vacuum cleaner.

And I can't even prove they fucked up my wiring.

This afternoon has been spent cancelling lessons, visiting garages, sitting on hold while phoning the driving test people, and getting hot and bothered.



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I feel better now.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Flight simulating - just got a lot geekier!

I went and got myself Microsoft's Flight Simulator, the 2004 edition. So far I've just been getting to grips with it, but I just did my first landing. If you've read this blog, you'll know that I spent quite a lot of time taking off from Manchester, and trying to land at Liverpool.

Only natural then that I should do the same sort of thing with this. In fact the program had me taking off from Liverpool, eastbound, so going to Manchester seemed like the simplest thing to do.

I passed it on my right, then circled round and came in at about 90 degrees to where I thought the runway should have been. So I had to circle back again. I came in at a bit of an angle, but landed really smoothly. Inevitably, I slewed off the runway because I was using the differential brakes, but if I'd been doing it for real, I'd have probably survived.

I didn't take any screenshots at the time, but I sort of took off again and tried to land. This time I crashed, but this is what it looks like...

Circling around...

Approaching the runway...

Anyway. How's this for a hard luck story?

I got everything right. It was just spot-on. I passed Runcorn bridge and had a perfect glide path into Liverpool. Dead centre. Nose lifted slightly as I touched down and....

I crashed.

I'd forgotten to put the undercarriage back down.

Monday, 21 September 2009


Being a tiger means you laugh

when other, lesser tigers have

to eat meat that's infected

Being a tiger means your mate

When overfed will defaecate

in places least expected.

Marvellous :)

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Flying High!

Starting from Sea Level, I've been trying to go as high as I can in the flight simulator.

My record?

Well see for yourself...

This was my first attempt. Just over 60,200 feet above sea level. But I got better.


And better...


And better...

Just over 72,400 feet! On a cloudless day you can see for miles.

I'm sure I can get higher still.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Who goes? You decide!

Well really you don't decide at all, but you can vote if you like.

Last season, Ronnie Moore's super white army came within a whisker of a place in the first division play-offs.

Then, inexplicably, over the summer, he was shown the door. Tranmere then appointed John Barnes - someone with little experience and a poor track record in club football management.

Poor old Barnesy looks totally out of his depth. I feel sorry for him really. I wonder how long he will last.


Well time will tell I suppose.

Rumour has it that Old Ronnie was found to have had his hand in the till. Just rumour of course. His sacking made no sense whatsoever in footballing terms.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

6 days, 2 meals, 1 walk, 5 bare appendages...

Still not smoking. Only occasionally do certain triggers make me think of them. One thing is a meal.

Today I went for a walk with my missus. We parked near Irby quarry, hoping to walk along the top of it, but there were too many nettles and brambles in the way.

Instead we ended up climbing Thor's Stone is Thurstaston.

It was like we were the only people for miles around. The sun was shining - A beautiful afternoon!

So Bren got her tits out.

You Wuss, I said. Why don't you take all your clothes off.

But she wouldn't.

You take all your clothes off

she said,

so I did. My body was shockingly white in the warm late summer sunshine, but I stood atop the rock, with nary a stitch on, while she took photographs.

I can show you this one, coz all it shows is my bum.

After this we walked to the local pub and had lunch before retracing our steps.

At one point, we went through a field with bullocks in it. One of them tried to eat us.

Seriously, that bullock was a bit scary. It seemed to feel quite threatened, particularly by me, and when my arm ended up in it's mouth, there was more to it than just friendly curiosity.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Erm... 3? 4 days?

Ah something like. Still getting the odd little craving, but really, it's been relatively easy. Here's some of the things I haven't done this time round:

  • Set a date in the near future to pack up
  • Bought and ate loads of snacky food (healthy stuff like celery, or unhealthy stuff like crisps)
  • Smoked pot instead
  • Chewed gum
  • Obsessed on mindless computer games for a few days while I got over the worst bits

I can see how hypnotherapy works. I'm thinking of learning how to do it, although it will cost me about £1400 to get the training. It would complement what I already do, provide a bit more variety to my job, and potentially give me a second source of income. As I said in my last post, I don't think I'm a good subject for hypnosis. I found too many tiny things distracting. But I do understand how it works, and I think I could do it very effectively.

If you can't wait for me to get trained up, and want to use hypnotherapy to stop smoking, here's the one I used.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Day 1.5...

Well, I don't think I was all that hypnotised, but what went on consciously did help. It's all in the mind you know.

I have had some cravings today, but I'm trying to use the right language. It's supposed to be easy this way. Last time I had a cigarette was about 3.30pm yesterday. So tomorrow afternoon will be day 3. Or something. It's not been that hard, and it should get easier.

Friday, 4 September 2009

I've stopped smoking

I went to see a hypnotherapist today.

I'm now a non-smoker. I'm going to bed now. When I wake up I won't want or need a cigarette.


Special K

Nowt that special really. But have found a different and slightly better "K".

Been a while since I posted one of these.

It's a bunker on a golf course in a desert.

There's also an F...

and a U...

And a C...

And a moose, and a dog, and a snake wearing lipstick.

And a W and a Y.

May post more pics at some point but...

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Me 'n Andy

This is me standing on the shoulders of Andy Proffitt, who's now a social worker in Plymouth. Or Torquay. He's a top bloke. Even if he is on the bottom. The photo is dated as 1994. 15 years ago. I was 26 years old.

It's taken in a field in Neston, South Wirral.

Sunday, 23 August 2009


When I was a kid, if I didn't know the name of something, I would give it a name of my own devising.

How many 5 or 6 year olds know that the pointy bits on a fork are called tines, for example? I didn't. So I called them "yay-yays". Probably onomatopoeic in origin. The word's repetition relates to the shape of the object.

How many people of any age would have a word for these things though?


This is one near Thingwall, in central Wirral.

And this one stands proud just outside Bebington Station, also in Wirral.

I think they are old ventilation chimneys for the sewers or drains. They're generally ornamented more than a purely utilitarian approach would allow, with their fluted columns and splayed tops. You don't see that many of them around, but there are a few knocking about.

Anyway, since there doesn't seem to be a definitive noun attached to these things, I propose that they be called Givvies. I've been calling them that for 35 years now, and so do most of the rest of my immediate family.

If anyone reads this and knows the locations of other Givvies (singular: Givvy) feel free to let me know.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

So what's with all the aeroplane stuff then?

I hate flying!

Last time I flew was about 5 and a half years ago, when I flew back from my honeymoon in Amsterdam. As we travelled 30,000 feet above Eastern England, I was conscious all the time of the yawning gulf of thin air just a couple of feet beneath my feet.

But you know how children develop an obsessive, almost autistic focus on things, whether it be football or dinosaurs or whatever? Well I was into aeroplanes. I'd build airfix models. Buy the observer's book every year. Look up to the sky whenever I heard the whine of a turboprop. (usually a Vickers Viscount on it's final approach into Liverpool) That kind of stuff. My drawings were full of them. I even sent a design off to British Aerospace when I was about 12 or 13. They gave me a guided tour of their Broughton factory and told me I could have a job with them if I got the right qualifications. And I got to see Concorde land at Liverpool Airport from one of their satellite control centres, courtesy of a friend's older brother who was an air traffic controller.

Ian, if you happen to read this, thank you! I've never forgotten this.

Anyway, ecologically speaking, I think that flying is bad news. I will never fly again as a matter of principle. Least I can do given that I have one of the worst jobs you could get in terms of saving the planet.

Still, I still find the whole thing awe inspiring, and doing this stuff on GE comes easily. I can take a close look at airports, fly from one to another, develop my skills and understanding, and since I'm using my computer anyway, this is at a zero carbon cost.

What not to like?

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Being really boring...

Here it is! In glorious technicolor!

A short haul flight from Manchester to Liverpool, complete with near perfect landing.

Takes about 10 minutes...

Good to see that works. I've also uploaded it onto youtube. I wonder if I can link/embed from there?

Marvellous! And it also gives the option of full screen!

Maybe this time...

Well, I've spent days trying to create and upload video of the flight sim.

I got a program called Fraps which captured it simply enough, but then nothing could make it appear on blogger. Or google video. Or youtube.

So it's the format (probably)

After farting around trying all sorts of things that I couldn't really understand, I've managed to use windows movie maker to convert it from a .avi to a .wmv.

Here goes then. A very brief clip of zooming around somewhere over central England...

Well, looks like this one's worked! Now I can be REALLY boring!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

The Red Arrows!

Look! There they go!

Britain's premier military formation aerobatics display team.

In a perfectly straight line, wingtips only inches apart, they zoom, just inches from the ground, at a combined speed of nearly 1 mile per hour.

And they deserve no less a setting than Blackpool International Airport. There's an old avro vulcan around there somewhere too.

I just flew from Blackpool International Airport to Liverpool John Lennon Airport. Came in along the Mersey, landed on the runway, skidded and bounced, before using the wheel brakes to put myself back on the runway. Silver medal but the passengers weren't happy.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Ghost riders in the sky

Once leader of Yugoslavia, General Josip Broz Tito died in 1980.

He had a retreat on the archipelago of Brijuni, on the Adriatic coast.

And that's where you can find this strange plane, and negative shadow, complete with negative contrails, which stretch back Westwards over the Adriatic.

So is Tito really dead? I think we have the makings of a conspiracy theory here. The plane is flown by a lizard, and is on route from Roswell to Narnia. The passenger list includes David Koresh, David Icke and Lee Harvey Oswald. Not that you'll find anyone that will admit this.

Friday, 24 July 2009

a to b

Google Earth has a built in flight simulator. I've been having fun with it. Taking off and flying are easy enough. Landing is trickier!

So I set myself challenges to try to improve, and I wondered how other people would manage. Here's what you have to do...

1. Download Google Earth, if you don't already have it installed.

2. Download the placemark for your destination... Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

3. Download the placemark for your starting point... Manchester airport, about 30 miles away.
This should put you at the end of a runway, facing southwest, with a white arrow just in front of you.

4. Open up the flight simulator. This is accessed from the "Tools" menu on your top bar.

5. Select your plane. The jet is quicker, but the prop plane is easier to control.

6. Fly off into the wide blue yonder!

Your challenge of course is to

7. land safely at Liverpool Airport. Since you downloaded the placemark, it should show up as a big yellow pushpin, even in flight sim mode.

If you land on the runway, stay on the runway and bring your plane to a standstill on the runway, give yourself a gold medal!

If you land on the runway, but end up stopping off the runway, you can award yourself a silver medal.

If you manage to hit the runway, but crash or land safely somewhere other than the runway, give yourself a bronze medal.

If you get lost or crash without making it to the runway, give yourself a poke in the eye.

Good luck!

I just did a wonderful approach, hit the runway nice and early, but slid off to the right. I realised I needed to throttle back the engine, but instead of pressing the "page down" button, I pressed the down arrow by mistake, sending my plane shooting up into a vertical climb, and shortly afterwards, a stall, and a plunge into the terminal buildings.

Oops. Bronze medal for me there!

Second attempt...

Came in perfectly. Only the tiniest nudges of the controls needed. Landed nice and straight, going much slower, and the wheel brakes did the rest. Finished right smack in the middle of the runway, about a third of the way down.

Big shiny gold medal for me!