Friday, 28 October 2011

The Mat sat on the Cat.

Saddo that I am, I woke up this morning thinking about noun order.

In the case of the title, the order matters.  The thing doing the sitting comes before the thing being sat on. It could be otherwise, but "sat" would have to change to "was sat on by" to maintain it's original sense.

Other nouns are placed in a certain order because of cultural reasons.

These include both common nouns, and proper nouns.

So it's always John, Paul, George and Ringo (John - Alpha smart arse male, Paul - a bit like john but a bit wishy-washier, George - Played Guitar and didn't sing as much, and hardly wrote any of the tunes, Ringo - Ugly fucker with a lousy voice hiding behind a drumkit)

It's always Adam and Eve. Never Eve and Adam. Also Mr and Mrs. Not Mrs and Mr. This is a man's world.

Try asking for any of these:
  • Vinegar and Salt flavoured crisps.
  • Chips and fish.
  • Squeak and Bubble
  • An Onion and Cheese pasty
It never rains dogs and cats(although if there was a massive explosion in a Japanese car factory, it might rain Datsun cogs).


You never get Lizst and Brahms (that one's the way it is because it's rhyming slang - it wouldn't work the other way around of course - see also "Apples and Pears" and "Dog and Bone") If I fell out with you, we'd never be at sevens and sixes. The Union Flag is always Red, White and Blue. Never White Blue and Red. It's always Cheap and Cheerful. We fall for things Hook, Line and Sinker.

I'm sure there are many many others, so this post may grow if I can be arsed.

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There's no such thing, but there should be. Power goes to the person with the biggest hammer.

Oh.. Hang on...

A google search for malletocracy will now yield one result.

driving lessons in Wallasey?

*except it doesn't. It yields 54. Every post contains the word in it's sidebar archive bit.

Truly cornered the market on Malletocracy .SEO.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Ode to potatoes

O spuds! O earthly treats!
For one that eats no meat
A fine old thing to eat.

We planted one and dug up twenty.
Now we've filled our horn of plenty.

Dug from mud
this humble spud
fills the space twixt starter and pud.

We've just dug up the last of them. The kitchen is full of sacks and bags and buckets full of Pink Lady Fairapple, and Desiré. We had mash and chips for tea tonight. Again. We're giving them away to all and sundry.

Free potato with every driving lesson!

We also had Burdock today. You eat the root. It's pretty bland, so you eat it with other stuff. In this case, mashed with carrots (also from the allottment). Not found a way of growing my own Linda McCartney pies yet, sadly.

Taters have only been part of the UK diet for a few hundred years. It's difficult to envisage life without them. They're pretty ubiquitous, and I'd imagine they're the biggest non-cereal crop. (They are. I checked)

Potatoes are the world's number one non-grain food commodity. Unlike major cereals, potatoes are not a globally traded commodity and thus prices are not influenced by the vagaries of international markets.

driving lessons in Wallasey?

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Bombs for the homeless.

Just a thought...

Give each homeless person a bomb, to do with what they will.

It would then stand to reason that the fewer homeless people there are in our society, the safer we will all be.

driving lessons in Wallasey?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Stone Roses

Various bands have grabbed me by the ears over the years.

In my mid-teens, I got totally and obsessively into The Beatles. I could sing every nuance and "huh" and "hey".

Then as I got into my late teens, I went down a fairly typical stoner route of Floyd/Led Zep/Doors etc. Then I met Dave, who got me into more Avant Garde stuff (at least to me and my small town circle of mates). A mix of old stuff like the Velvet Underground and 13th Floor Elevators, and contemporary things like Julian Cope, REM, Camper Van Beethoven, and Pixies.

And Stone Roses.

I don't remember the exact occasion, but I know how it must have been.

We'd have been out to the pub (Probably the Greenland Fisheries Hotel) and would have come back to Dave's house and exchanged pleasantries with his mum and stepdad, really wanting them to go to bed so that we could start skinnning up. I'd get all blissed out on the sofa while Dave put some sounds on his high spec turntable. I know that the first time I heard it, I was instantly smitten. I'd have demanded to record it onto a cassette, and I played it on my walkman, pretty much every day as I cycled the ten miles to work or college or whatever it was I was doing then. It was 1989 or 1990. I was 21/22 years old.

Now 20 years have gone by. Stone Roses are reforming. People are striking their enthusiastic/cynical (delete as appropriate) poses on the discussion boards I visit.

Personally, I don't really care. I never got to see them live. I could never have afforded to buy a ticket for their famous Spike Island gig, and although I've seen that gig billed as "The woodstock for the baggie generation", the people I know that went to it weren't all that impressed with it at the time. So nothing has changed. I still can't really afford a ticket, although Manchester is not too hard to get to from Wirral.

But wow! It's 20 odd years since I sat on that couch, all blissed out, while John Squire's chords rolled over me, under me, and through me. Half my lifetime.

A generation earlier, the young adults  were being wow'ed by Sgt Pepper's lonely hearts club. I wonder how they felt in 1987, when the lyric, "It was 20 years ago today" caused a resurgence in interest.

driving lessons in Wallasey?

Monday, 17 October 2011

A "Nelson" moment...

Friends, I flew my kite again today. It has sat in the boot of my car, unused, ever since I broke the video camera.

I added the kite string to the string from another kite to make an extra long kitestring. the conditions were perfect. The kite flew beautifully, and far higher than it had with it's original string.

The low sun and dark clouds formed a dramatic backdrop, so after flying it for a while, with no problems at all, I decided to risk nipping home and getting my "proper" compact camera.

 However, when I returned to the dips, it was as exasperating as the previous bit had been rewarding. The camear is much heavier than the little video camera, and this affected the centre of gravity of the kite. Strings got tangled repeatedly, and I spent most of my time trying to unsnarl a rats nest. The perfect wind had dropped, and I just couldn't get the kite to fly, no matter how fast I ran.

I must have persevered for about an hour. Just as I was giving up, frustrated and demoralised, some guy in his car slowed right down nearby and shouted "Get a fucking life!"

The timing of this pointless and unprovoked insult couldn't have been bettered. 

Think big I guess. These guys took a video camera upto the edge of space. They even plotted it's course using GPS and Google Earth.

Don't worry Bren, I'm not planning on buying a weather balloon, or a gps any time soon.

driving lessons in Wallasey?

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The smell of wet salty rat...

There's this thing in the news...

Our brave lads have rescued some sailors that had been hijacked by evil Somali pirates. The victims of these foul and dastardly ruffians managed to raise the alarm by the time honoured method of stuffing a note into a bottle, and chucking it from a porthole.

Boys own adventure stuff, ain't it?

That bottle, having been thrown, was then picked up, and it's contents acted upon within a useful timescale.

The ship was captured by the pirates 620 miles offshore by the way.

So, did the bottle somehow reach the shore? Where no doubt some random beachcomber saw it, recognised it, and acted upon it? Or was it spotted bobbing in the oggin by some passing tramp steamer?

You lucky, lucky, lucky bastards. The US Meanwhile have thwarted a terrorist plot.

I wonder what the government have been pushing through today.

Anyway, I actually did once find a message in a bottle. It was after a spring tide. The bottle had been washed up on the Dee estuary. I found it while out walking. It contained a brief letter explaining that it had been chucked into the Sea by a girl called Sarah Charnley, of Blackburn, Lancashire, while on holiday in Anglesey. I found it about 18 months after I she launched it.

driving lessons in Wallasey?

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Um... A couple of things...

One thing I've observed as a teacher is that there are gender differences between how Men and Women deal with errors. I offer no opinion as to whether this is due to nature or nurture, and what I have to say is said using a big broad brush.

When Men make an error, they tend to blame something external. It was the other guy's fault. It was the traffic lights. It was the shoes they're wearing today. I've done it myself.

Women, on the other hand, tend to blame themselves, even if it's not their fault. I can even give you an example using google earth...

My pupil, Helen, came down the road centre top and turned right, following the curve of the building at the bottom of the picture. She then encountered a red light, and stopped. Meanwhile, at the junction behind her, someone misread the filter light, and went straight ahead when they shouldn't have done, and smashed into another vehicle. Big loud bang. Airbags out. Helen turned to me, wide eyed, and asked, "Was that my fault?"

That's pretty typical. It's by no means universal. There are men who will do this, and there are women that will point the finger elsewhere when they make mistakes.

My job, in a sense, is to make people make mistakes. This might sound odd, but while the repetition of stuff people can do is useful for reinforcing the techniques people have learned, once they can do it without thought, it no longer really needs reinforcement. So my job is to challenge my pupils - to put them into situations that they are not totally comfortable with, and which they are sometimes going to get wrong.
Mistakes also lead to a fuller understanding of what you're doing. Instead of just knowing what to do, you also learn how to get back on track when things go wrong. This is vital, because nobody gets it right all the time.
So it's far more important to learn how to get going again after you've stalled, than to try to pretend that you're never, ever going to stall.

What else? Well some thoughts about left wing reactionaries.

Over at Head Heritage, someone posted a post about a Spanish Duchess, who, now in her 80's, has married someone 20 years younger than her. The article linked to was accompanied by a less than flattering picture, and the post generated a whole lot of comments along the lines of "Don't think much of yours, Mate."

It was left to the board's residant tory troll to point out the ugliness of this behaviour.

As you might expect, rather than fess up, some perfectly reasonable people went on the defensive instead. "It's OK to take the piss out of an old woman because she's rich", said one class warrior. "If someone had "I love hitler" tattooed on his face, I shouldn't comment on it then" said another, beautifully proving Godwin's Law. in a lame and incorrect attempt to use reductio ad absurdum to justify his behaviour.

Ultimately, we on the left are trying to make the world a better place. I like many of the people making those comments, and I understand how difficult it can be to say "I was wrong, and I'm sorry", but a better world doesn't mean just redirecting the shit to a different section of society.
driving lessons in Wallasey?

Friday, 7 October 2011

Back to basics...

I was trying to work out a system of gambling by running a simulation on a computer, rather than spending money in a bookies, but doing it manually was tedious. It was just the sort of thing that a computer could do easily, if only I could find the right program.

But I couldn't, so I wanted to write my own.

But modern computers do everything for you. You can't just dash off an ad hoc program like in days of yore.

Actually I suppose you can, but as ever, I had to be a bit perverse and go about things in an arse over tit manner.

Hence I downloaded first a ZX Spectrum emulator. This was extremely unwieldy. It had to emulate the spectrum's method of assigning commands to individual keys. - Press L to get the command, "LIST" for example.

So I tried a BBC emulator instead. This was much better. It assumed that when you typed "x=1:y=5" that you meant "LET x=1: LET y=5" instead of having to type in the command. It allowed me to just type in what I wanted, rather than constantly have to refer to a table of commands and their PC keyboard equivalents.

It's not perfect. Once a line of code is in place, I can only edit it by typing "EDIT line number" for example, but it's simple enough.

Funny what you remember. It must be 25 years since I used a BBC micro, yet I know what I'm doing (mainly)

Not got the program I want yet, but it's coming.

As you can see, I'm trying different methods, like calling procedures and jumping to different line numbers. Very much a work in progress...

driving lessons in Wallasey?

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

black looks

The new look is inadvertant. Blogger now offers some shiny clean new ways of displaying whatever it is you want to share with the world, and I gave it a brief try. Unfortunately, after deciding that shiny and clean don't go with what I have to say, I found I'd lost all my customisations.

No big deal, but I've been busy today. I've not been able to access the internet from my desktop computer, although I have still had my laptop.

When I got home from work, I got the new dongle that arrived today and after a lot of messing about, got back online.

That though, is just the start. I now have to install a load of XP service packs, before any of the applications I want on my computer (anti virus, google earth, etc) can be installed.

driving lessons in Wallasey?

Sunday, 2 October 2011

That was just a dream...

Flying dreams are rare, at least to me. But now and again, I do get them. Generally they are enjoyable, but there always seems to be an element of uncertainity/fear/menace/doubt attached. Flying dreams can easily turn into falling dreams.

There are different types of flying to be done in a dream. One sort is fast. You swoop. You soar.

One sort is slow. You float, just out of reach, of those below. Movement through the air is made by twisting and angling your body.

And sometimes you're not in control at all.

Once upon a time, I was riding my bicycle down Heath Lane in Willaston. As I came to the hump-backed bridge,

a car came the other way. That it was a Ford Cortina has no obvious meaning.

In desperation, I pulled hard on the handlebars, just as I reached the crest of the bridge, and suddenly...

I was perhaps 50 feet up in the air. There must have been some strength in my dream arms. I bet even Lance Armstrong (must have strong arms with a name like that) couldn't make a bike go 50 foot high off the crest of a bridge.

This was not really a flying dream though. I had no means of remaining aloft. I'd become seperated from my bike, and now I came back down again.

Fortunately, I landed in a bush, so I was OK.

driving lessons in Wallasey?

Saturday, 1 October 2011