Thursday, 30 December 2010

Another day, another... um...

Well, pick your currency of choice. The Deutchmark went the way of the Dodo a few years back, and "another Euro" just doen't have the same ring to it. Ho hum.

Anyhow, the rest of yesterday went if not swimmingly, at least passably.

Today, though, has the ring of Muppitday to it.

Evidence the gormless minicab driver with his fog light on, and five miles after the halt sign at the lights. What is it about traffic signals that some of these motorists find so difficult to understand?

Answers on a postcard to the DSA (Driving Standards Agency) please!

Then, on reaching the high point on the western end of the route, I found out why he though he needed his fog light on. Mist.

Fog lights are supposed to only be used when visibility is severely degraded - there's no distance noted, as it's a variable feast, after all.

Which probably explains the gits with fully blacked out windows ands fog lights in the middle of the day, come to think of it!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

It's turning into one of *those* days...

So, I get to the bus stop five minutes early, having had to run, as the night bus that takes me to work was running early...

The first bus I take out develops a brakes problem, and then the replacement bus blows its turbo...

OK, so bad luck comes in threes, allegedly.

Wonder if anything else will go wrong today?

Saturday, 25 December 2010

OK... panic (almost) over...

...The Christmas shopping had been done almost a week earlier... the last work shift before Christmas Day was over, and I was on the way home, when AAAAAAAAAARGH!

Memory resurfaced - I'd forgotten one of the most important pressies - the one for my Mum!?! OH HELL!!!

So, last minutes shopping hell for me - again. Sigh. you'd think I'd've learnt my lesson on this from ages part (well, the last 46 years of my live, actually), wouldn't you?

Yeah, right, and if you believe that, I've a bridge that I want to sell to you...!

Anyhow, it wasn't actually as painful as the above makes out; we've a family tradition here that my folks are positively absolutely and most definitely the most awkward on the planet to secure presents for.

So, we pass the buck writ large, and leave it to them to decide what they want.

As the advert for car insurance says, "Simples *squeak*".

Well... not quite.

Generally, they drop completely obscure hints all over the place that everyone misses, then give up and tell each other what they want, and then shop for each others pressies, and pass them about for us to give to them on the day.

Only this year, there was a miscommunication, communications failure, fubar, screwup, or the planets got misaligned somehow (...Allegedly, Patrick Moore's still trying to explain how Mars got put into Saturn's orbit...), but the end of the cock-up was that my Mum's pressie, well, the major bit of it, got missed.


Hence the last minute dash into Bromley (bugger Croydon, I'd seen what that place was like earlier, driving me damned bus, and the word "Mental" only scratched the surface!), so, Bromley it was, at 4pm. One hour to the shops closing....

I accomplished the task, end to end, in - wait for it - three quarters of a bloody hour.

45 minutes.

It's a sodding record!

Me Great Hunter! YAH!

Weeeeeeeeeell... not quite.

The Great Hunter was actually led by his tracker (Dad, over the phone), who told me what to get, and where to get it, and the expected price. He was right on all three counts.

I'll never hear the bloody end of it, most likely. Well, until the end of Christmas Day, when I can retreat - I mean 'tactically withdraw in contact' - back home again, anyhow!

And the moral of this story?

I'm doing ALL my Christmas Shopping on bleedin' Amazon next year. Saves a mile of grief, writ large!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

It's official. I'm pissed off.

We just got a new rota schedule in a couple of weeks back at work.

Needless to say, it got changed within a week.

And in doing so on both counts, they screwed up my, and more to the point, my better halfs, Christmas and new year arrangements

The idea was to have been for my other half to come up from the west country, and spend the new year with me. So much for that idea, when the new rota came out. Nope, new days off are over Christmas (four of them), and one day off on New years' Day.

So, we re-arranged our arrangements. I'd travel down there for Christmas, and have a quiet New Year at home instead.

Well, that was the idea, until I tried to get travel arrangements sorted out. Remembering that my sodding car is off the road (long story, repeated often and at irritatingly regular intervals to some of the folks at work, so trust me, no car is the order of things right now), I considered the trains. No joy there. There aren't any trains worth a damn running on Boxing Day, of course - and as to getting between London Victoria and Paddington, forget it: The tubes are on strike on boxing day, just to add icing to the transport chaos bug... So, Coaches, then. Nope, no coach stop within five miles of where I live. However, there IS a coach stop at Mitcham Junction, ten miles away, and I can grab a tram to get there, so all was not lost... or so I stupidly thought...

Anyway, I then tried National Expresses online system, to find that it wasn't taking bookings for the trip until the 2nd of January - DO WHAT?! So, I tried their phone service.

An 0871 number.

Half an hour later I gave up in disgust after hanging on in their queuing system with the sodding thing ringing off the hook.

Now, I understand they need to sort out the cancellations due to the weather we've been having of late. I'm not totally without common sense, even if I do work on the buses, k?

However, you might have thought that they'd INCREASE the number of "agents" at the call centre at this very expectedly busy time of year, wouldn't you? ("Agents"?! what, they carry guns and yell "FREEZE! FEDERAL AGENT!" down the phone when a punter looses their rag at their appalling customer service?)

Well, apparently, they haven't thought of it, or the bean counters hit, or Martians landed, someone's planning to shoot down Father Christmas, or whatever the hell goes on up on Birmingham at this time of year that buggers things up again.

Anyhow, the upshot is that I've exhausted all possible ways of being able to spend meaningful amounts of quality time with my better half over Christmas, so I guess it's plan "C". Some time in January for a link up. As you might imagine, it's got me well depressed. I wanna hug (Sorry, the other half likes teddy bears, and I promised ages ago I'd find a way to stick one into the Blant!)

Trust me when I say this: Without my better half to keep me going and cheer me up beyond all reasonable expectations, I am going to be so bloody bored witless over Christmas that it's positively frightening.

And as to organising my next visit to my better half, I haven't a clue WHEN in January - or February come to that - it'll be, as the current rotas so truly stuffed up six ways from Sunday that it'll be a sodding miracle if the scheduling section even manages to work out that a Sunday follows a Saturday, and that there isn't a "Z" in any month in the English Speaking Calendar

Anyhow, I just tried phoning my better half, but I guess they're all up to their armpits in Turkeys in the pub I meant the food, not the customers!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Last minute (almost) Christmas shopping...

So, there I was, on the way into Croydon, to perform my almost last minute Christmas shopping. By bus and tram, since I've got the handiness of a staff pass, and the car's off the road - naturally, it was snowing again - and who wants to drive in this bleeping clag, anyhow?

So, I get to the tram interchange, and the coffee stand windows were up, there was a woman there, and whoopee! It looked like I was actually going to get a coffee while I wait for the tram!

Wrong. Of course. You'd think I'd learn that it's never that easy when I want a coffee on a Sunday.

Anyhow, seeing no tram at the stop, I walked over to the coffee stand, and before I'd even had a chance to order a coffee, the lady looked up from wiping some jug-like stainless steel implement, and in a very heavily accented eastern European voice, said "Zorry, izz owt ov zervise, izz clozed, yes?"

Oh, Well, that was that. I shrugged, and tromped off in the falling snow to the tram stop.

The rest of the day, luckily, was far better; I got the presents I was looking for (no clues here, folks - my family actually read this!), and a few other items besides, and that was that. Getting back home again took about the same amount of time as getting into Croydon - ages. At least the drivers of the trams didn't need to stir soup-like manual points controls this time

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Snowpocalypse 2010 (v.3)

Well, we've been hit again. Snow, wonderful on the telly on "Snow Sunday" and suchlike, but not so hot (sic) when it's a few inches thick (and getting thicker by the hour), and still falling.

Even the Trams, informally famous for having little trouble coping last time (a few weeks ago, no less), were having a few problems this time - frozen points were the hiccup, this time around.

The photo (taken through the drivers door to the saloon of the tram, hence the blind grid lines) shows the tram driver at the Church Street tram stop, working with one of his engineering colleagues, to free up the points there. The previous two drivers had few problems with this; they took a special pole-like tool with a spade point, cleared some clag from the rails set into the road, stuck the point in a manual lever slot, and stirred the pole around like they were making an industrial-sized pot of soup, and presto, the points were freed up.

Not so this time, of course, and naturally, this time, it was for the tram that I was on. Figures, really.

This time, it took a great deal longer this time, a driver, an engineer, and a LOT of stirring. And yet more clag removal, more stirring, more clag removal, more - well, you get the gist of it. Something like five or ten minutes later, we were finally on the move, and I got to work.

Which was a pity, because we all thought someone might actually see sense and pull us all back off the road for an early dinner.

No such luck.

Someone in city hall must have done a reverse snow dance or something, because once I got out there in a bus, the roads quickly got back to close to passable, despite some truly appalling and frankly cringe-worthy driving from the amateurs out there. Frankly, I was amazed to note that I didn't see a single wreck out there today - mind you, the roads were about ten times lighter on the traffic side than they were normally on a Saturday, so I guess most folks took heed of the weather, and left their cars at home!

Oh well, day off tomorrow.

What's the betting we get ten more inches of the muck overnight?

Thursday, 9 December 2010

It would appear that Wikileaks is commercially driven... big fat hairy surprise.

Read this: Wikileaks are for-hire mercenaries - Cryptome.

Wouldn't surprise me one bit if it's true. The reading between the lines on all recent leaks on wikileaks seems garnered to be sensationalistic crap (with the possible exception of the BNP membership list, which was actually quite public spirited).

Oh, and in my view, naming it Wikileaks is, by the way, insulting to the wiki system, and not a little bit misleading. Look into what the wikipedia and wiki style system is all about if you're at all confused (google it).

Monday, 6 December 2010

It *was* quite funny. Now it's endangering our people..

It was fun to watch the American Diplomatic Corps running around in ever-decreasing circles, but now the fun's over. The individual who released the sodding stuff is now directly endangering BRITISH subjects. Read here:

Releasing a US National Security Interests list that is frankly a target list for locations in Britain is not only irresponsible, it's now, in my not so humble opinion, a matter of espionage by a foreign citizen against Great Britain.

If Julian Assange IS, as has been rumoured, in Great Britain, then bugger the USA and their legal system that's even more full of holes than ours: We MUST catch and prosecute the bugger HERE, and bang him up forever and lose the damned key.

Let's be perfectly frank: That damned list has NO place being available on the internet - or anywhere else, come to that: It's an invitation for terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda to use the damned thing to target this country with a viciousness that we've not yet seen, and I for one am NOT happy about that one little bit.

Mr Assange needs, desperately, to be stopped and brought to British Justice, before he releases anything more that can be used by terrorists.

I don't know whether he's doing this out of some insane plot to destroy the world, or through some lunatic idea of open government, but either way, he's stepped well over the line now.

I won't say "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" - that's asking for trouble (besides which, I'm not a king!).

I WILL, instead, say this:

Will someone please arrest the maniac before he does even worse harm to this country?

UPDATE: Tuesday 7th December 2010: Assange has been nicked, on the basis of a Swiss Extradition Warrant. I'd rather he'd been nicked under UK law, say under the Official Secrets Act and/or the Theft Act, but at least he's now under lock and key, at least until the relevant authorities get their bleeping acts together.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Rolling on the floor laughing my *** off!

Well... not exactly like that, but it was a close-run thing!

Wish I could take credit for the cause, but it's so damn funny, I have to share

I had cause to look up a telephone number that called me while I was otherwise occupied the other day (I'm on the late shift this week, and was having a shave, if you must know)

Anyhow, the phone rang, and I nipped out of the bathroom, hit the handsfree answer button, and heard what sounded like the background chatter of a call centre. On saying "hello" a couple of times, to no reply, the caller hung up. Really annoying, that. So I noted the number that appeared in the caller display, and made a note to look it up, which I only just got around to doing just now.

Here's the link, which leads to a reference page on the "Who Calls Me?" website... You're looking for the sixth reply, as follows...


i had a call From these Today in the middle Of A twating Meeting

Guess how i answered

"Hello Derbyshire Cremtoriom u kill em we grill em"

the phone soon went dead lol

I'm actually thinking of adding this quote to my standard answerphone greeting

Friday, 3 December 2010

Oh... nuts... NFC, coming to a cellphone near you...

I really have had enough of the banks.

It's bad enough that the banks like Barclays went and added NFC (Near Field Communications, otherwise known as "contactless card technology", much like an Oystercard for public transport in London) to credit and debit cards, and then issued them without opt-in or opt-out to their customers - we've no damned choice, it seems - add to this that Barclays then RAISED the maximum amount that could be charged on their contactless cards from £10 to £15 - again, no choice in the matter. Now, when you consider that it's apparently easy to have an electronic version of someone picking your pocket with these damned things - and now they want to add them to our phones as well?!

It seems that the banks have become tired with waiting for the cellphone manufacturers to install NFC technology into their new models, and are starting to go it alone. Read about it here.

Now, given the security threat that exists with NFC cards (there's hardly ever a requirement for cardholder verification, you don't even have to enter your PIN most of the time, you just swipe and run), I'll happily bin my smartphone upgrades, and use my current, non-NFC mobile phone, and a normal wallet with cash, when the time comes - and I'm looking forward to when someone, somewhere, manages to make a reliable, cheap, wallet with a built-in Faraday cage for the damned card that they've already damn well issued to me!