Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The shame of Jacqui Smith.

Nice piece in the newspaper today...

They watch porn in Redditch, you know. Let me rephrase that: we know for certain that a man in the West Midlands has watched two porn films, and yesterday his wife was said to be "mortified" and "smiling through the pain" following the revelation. Clearly, Jacqui Smith must now go round with a fixed grin, aware that half the country is sniggering at the idea of her husband watching Lesbian Hell Sluts (or something similar) behind her back.

It's even been said that the Home Secretary's job is on the line, ostensibly because the cost of the movies appeared on her expenses – which she has promised to pay back – but really for the much more serious offence of being an overweight, middle-aged woman whose husband needs to get his rocks off elsewhere.

...Big deal, so Ms Smith's husband, Richard Timney has watched an adult movie. Enjoy it mate, it is only a bit of harmless adult fun and it may give you a little bit of wrist exercise! What Jacqui should be mortified and smile through the pain about is the wrongful use of expenses - she has been found out. It does not matter that the expenses were claimed for the watching of an adult movie, it is the wrongful use of taxpayers money that really offends the public. It could be a film, a book, a beer or a meal - it was the robbing of the taxpayer that is wrong and she should be ashamed. Any other employee who ripped off their employer for the wrongful use of business expenses would be sacked. Sacked for what the wrongful claiming of expenses is - theft.

Women should never be bothered about their husbands watching porn, it is only a film on a television, no different really to watching a football match. Many women find watching football boring, a lot of running around with the chance of someone scoring. Adult movies are the same except that a lot of Premier League football is very defensive and the match ends in a no-score draw. With adult movies there is always the "money shot" when the hero comes! The husbands still love their wives but they do not insist that their wives appear in adult movies or the football pitch. All men like to watch, although adult movies have a greater audience than football. I find football boring and I would rather watch an adult movie instead, although I will not pay to watch one and certainly not put the bill onto my employer! So when I get to Bradford tonight it will be Sky News on television and not Lesbian Hell Sluts or something similar.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Stagecoach need to proof-read.

One of the many blogs that I enjoy to read regularly is called A Transport of Delight which is written by a team of people under the banner of The Lincolnshire & East Yorkshire Transport Review. It is a great blog to read to discover the latest developments happening in British public transport. This is not a blog of bus or train spotters but a very good analysis of what is happening on the nation's bus, coach and train routes.

I draw your attention to the post on 26th March 2009 about Stagecoach needing to proof-read their advertisements. This post features a photograph of a Stagecoach bus with one of their advertisements on the rear engine cover. The advertisement reads "7 days unlimited travel in Peterborough £11 it's a no brainer really".

I looked at the photograph and wondered what was wrong with it? I studied the photograph and could still find nothing wrong with it. £11 for a weekly anywhere travel ticket is good value as the equivalent on Cardiff Bus is £14. I have had 11 years of schooling and have been involved with buses and coaches for 30 years. I looked at the advertisement for the third time and still I could find nothing wrong with it. I read the rest of the post written by a review member with the initials of CW to find the answer.

Ignoring the obvious lack of capitalisation, 7 days' unlimited travel. It's a no-brainer, really is how it should be written. I wonder how many others have spotted this?

For a company the size of Stagecoach, who produce a large volume of corporate literature, to miss out an apostrophe, a hyphen and a comma on the same advertisement tag-line is rather a poor show. This just goes to show that there is more to bus spotting than noting registration numbers!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Are we living in a Police state?

I thought that we were living in a free country and the only people the Police were interested in were criminals. I thought that you could walk out of your home wearing just the bare essentials and wander about. I thought that everyone was free to live their lives and even with suspicion, people were innocent until proven guilty.

Not everyone is happy about the political, financial and global situations at the moment. People should be allowed to protest about things in free society and those people who are not bothered should be allowed to simply wander about as though nothing has happened. Yet the wonderful Metropolitan Police have very different ideas for people in London next week. Here is some of the advice that has been given to people who might be affected by protests against the G20 summit:

Bankers Work from home; dress down; cancel meetings; use public transport.

Security staff "Anticipate anything"; liaise with police.

Canning Town residents Strongly advised to carry two forms of ID; prepare for stop and search; don't use cars.

What is going on? People must have the right to go to their workplace, dress as they please, conduct meetings and use private transport. Security staff should not become a budget Police force or rent-a-thug. Residents should not have to carry any form of ID, never mind 2 forms of ID. Stop and search is nothing but bullying by a Police force, an infringement on residents human rights and is simply harassment. Residents must be allowed to use their own private cars, they have paid for them and have a right to use them.

The whole attitude of the Police stinks. The residents pay the wages of all the Police yet they are having their human rights reduced. No wonder the Police get less and less respect from the general public week by week. I think that some civil disobedience is called for next week in London to show the Police that they are public servants not judge, jury and jailers. I think a number of sit down protests would be a good idea to get the message across that it is our country and we should not sleepwalk into a Police state. I agree with Mark Barrett, one of the organisers of the protest outside the Bank of England, who said that if trouble kicked off stewards would order everyone to simply sit down, showing up any violent element as a minority.

I notice that the Police have recently hyped up the threat of terrorism and disorder to gather public support for their bullying. Do we really want to be herded around like cattle by the Police forces that we pay for? I certainly don't but if the general public do not get their message across then slowly but surely we shall become a nation of mice. We already have a surveillance society with more CCTV cameras than any other country and we could very quickly become a nation of sheepish people. We don't have to stand for it, we can sit down against it!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Do they think that I am stupid?

I received a text message on my mobile telephone yesterday...

Someone posted Your full Personal and Banking information at http://persdata7.com web site. You must to remove it now.



...There are no typos above, that is exactly as it came. Well I am not stupid and I was not born yesterday. I would never give my mobile telephone number to any company whatsoever. Only trusted friends and family have my mobile telephone number. I am well aware of criminals throughout the world running scams to rob people. Well, they will not rob me as I am well aware of their tactics and I know how the UK banking system works. All UK bank customers are safeguarded by the banks against fraud. All you have to do is reconcile your bank statements and report any thefts to the bank. In the event of theft from your account, your money will be refunded as I was in March 2008 .

Any criminals running these scans would not share their information with other criminals or victims. However, because some many people have worries about identity theft on banking fraud you can understand how many naive people may visit the persdata7.com website. I urge everyone not to put that website address in your browser window, that is why I did not type a hyperlink in the title of this post.

That was my common sense decision to ignore this text message and the persdata7.com website. I wondered if other bloggers had the same experience and sure enough they have. Looking at hpHosts I read that...

Friday, 27 March 2009
Malicious SMS sending victims to persdata7.com
I've been advised by Holger at Malware Domain List, that a malicious SMS message is doing the rounds, pointing victims to persdata7.com with the following SMS message (and variations thereof);

someone posted your full personal and banking information at hxxp://persdata7.com website you must remove it now

I'm trying to find out which number is sending these so I can get in touch with their provider, and am trying to get in touch with Global Net Access, LLC, who actually host persdata7.com.

persdata7.com currently infects victims with the Ambler trojan (naughty naughty). If you receive one of these SMS messages, DELETE IT - DO NOT VISIT THE WEBSITE.

/update 16:50

I've spoken some more to Holger and the number that was sending the text messages was;


persdata7.com has now also been suspended.

/update 20:30

I've been doing some research, and from what I can find, +38 is an Albanian mobile phone, possibly provided by AMC (Albanian Mobile Communications). I'm trying to get in touch with them to get this verified (if it does not belong to them, they will hopefully point me in the direction of the correct provider).

/update 20:50

Holger has advised me that +380 is actually the Ukraine .... (why the sites I looked at didn't mention that is beyond me).

...and on the Malware Domain List ...

WARNING: All domains on this website should be considered dangerous. If you do
not know what you are doing here, it is recommended you leave right away. This
website is a resource for security professionals and enthusiasts.

2009/03/26_00:00 persdata7.com business2.whbdns.com exploits/trojan Ambler privacy protected

...Looking on F-SECURE I read the Ambler trojan does...

This type of trojan secretly installs spy programs and/or keylogger programs.
Additional Details
This malware secretly captures a user's credentials for Internet banking webpages; the stolen information is then forwarded to a remote server.

...So there you have it, Ukrainian criminals have set up a website that would infect your computer with an Ambler trojan. If you used internet banking or a credit/debit card online then your secure details would be sent to the Ukraine where a criminal would rob you. Never give your details to companies over the phone, on websites and for goodness sake, never fill in those Customer Service Questionnaires that offer the chance to win a prize.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Don't want to queue, then just barge in!

Okay, the British are famous around the world for forming a queue. Foreigners can laugh but this is our sense of fair play. Forming and standing in a queue is democratic, fair and treats everyone the same. Queue jumping is frowned upon and rightly so, however there is a hardcore minority who will use any ruse to jump to the front of a queue.

We are used to the owners of the most expensive motor cars aggressively forcing their way to the front of traffic queues. Their attitude is clearly "I have more money than you so get out of my way" as they believe that their wealth gives them the privilege to barge into the front of any queue.

This "me first" mentality has now spread to our airports where flashing the cash can get you to the front of a queue. Airports have started charging up to £5 for the right to save up to half an hour in queueing time. Luton has become the first large airport to introduce the fee following Leeds, Liverpool and Bristol. BAA, which owns Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Edinburgh and Glasgow, is considering the scheme. Unlike existing fast-track systems for business and first-class passengers, there is no separate security scanner for Luton’s “priority lane”. Passengers simply enter a channel taking them to the front of the queue. Luton introduced the £3 fee last month after observing a similar scheme at Liverpool airport, where about 10 per cent of passengers pay to queue-jump. If a similar proportion of Luton’s passengers were to pay the fee, it would raise £3 million a year. Liverpool’s fee began in 2007 at £2 per passenger but is now £3. Leeds-Bradford also charges £3 and Bristol £5.

So we have the cash rich who can jump the queue simply by waving their wallets. This is disgusting and I am totally against this practice and I think this attitude simply stinks. It is most unfair and the public should simply form a queue for everything as everyone should be treated equally and without favour to any one group.

There is another group of people who use their status to jump to the front of queues. These are people who love to be classed as disabled because of the advantages that some people put their way. It is not just the special parking spaces enjoyed by the disabled but other transport concessions. These disabled people enjoy free local bus travel and reductions of up to 50% on coach travel. The free bus travel and reduced fare coach travel are political agenda agreed through our democratically elected parliament. So the disabled should queue up with everyone else and board a coach just like everyone else. Ah but we have the wonders of the Help Point staff at London Victoria Coach Station who will fast track passengers who claim a disability. Time and time again there are queues of passengers lined up orderly to board a coach when along comes a member of the Help Staff who then tries to bully the driver and push the claimed disabled passenger onto the coach ignoring all the other queuing passengers. This is morally wrong, we form and respect queues here in Britain. These passengers enjoy the financial benefits of their claimed disability yet cannot be arsed to queue up like everyone else. Levels of disability vary and there are many disabilities that qualify. Tell me what makes a mentally handicapped person unable to stand in queue? What makes a deaf or blind person unable to stand in a queue? What makes a mobility restricted person unable to queue? Any severely physically handicapped person would be sat in a wheelchair and could queue all day long! Add to this the further insult to all other passengers that the disabled demand the front seats on a coach, not because of their disability but because they can.

This queue jumping by the cash rich and the disabled should stop. We should all treat each other equally and not allow some minorities to barge into the front of queues. Fair play for everyone by forming a queue. By respecting a queue we develop a respect for each other rather than the adoption of a two class state.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The cost of nagging.

Women tend to nag at men and do not worry about the cost of their nagging. Women also do not tend to dress sensibly for the weather and moan about feeling cold. But what can we men do when women nag at us. We cannot tell them to go away but we must respond to their complaints.

Earlier today one woman nagged at me about a lack of heating on the coach. I responded to her complaint by informing her that the heating was switched on. She countered this by claiming that there was no heating on at all. I checked the side trunking of the coach and sure enough there was no heat coming out of the channels into the coach. So I telephoned my depot and Matthew instructed me to check that the butterfly valve in the engine bay below the header tank was in the open position. I checked this valve and it was open. Matthew then instructed me to drive to the next motorway services where somebody would meet me to address the problem.

This nagging women then said to forget about the heating because the coach was already late when it started from the station and she did not want everyone to hate her for delaying the coach any further as nobody else had complained. I advised her that I was duty bound to follow the instructions given to me by the engineer.

At the next motorway services Mike had a look at the heating system and found that the water filter had become blocked with sludge. He removed this sludge from the filter and sure enough hot water made heat inside the coach come out the the saloon channels. Of course all this takes time and the clock was ticking away. From pulling into the motorway services, waiting for Mike to arrive and then to fix the heating, 23 minutes had elapsed. But still the woman's complaint had been responded to and what is 23 minutes compared to a journey of 3 hours and 35 minutes.

The cost of nagging: 23 minutes - the cost of responding to a complaint: priceless!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Missing by Susan Lewis .

Missing is the 20th novel written by Susan Lewis and it was first published in 2007. The paperback edition runs to 568 pages and it is a mystery set in Devon. It's an early autumn day like any other as Miles Avery drives his wife, Jacqueline, to the station. Nothing remarkable crops up in conversation, nor do either of them appear anything other than their normal selves. At the station, Jacqueline gets out, takes an overnight bag from the back seat, then turns towards the platforms. This is the last anyone sees of her.

Three weeks later, Miles calls the police.

This is a good book, I enjoyed reading it. It is a mystery but it is also a story of love. Miles Avery is loved, not just by his wife Jacqueline who has gone missing but also by two other women, Vivienne and Justine. I vote this book a HIT because it shines with such an emotional warmth. Although mysteries involving love should naturally appeal to women, because of the quality of Susan's writing I believe that men will also enjoy this book. I enjoyed reading it and I did not feel a wuss for doing so. You will meet Miles's 14 year old daughter Kelsey and she is really annoying in the way that only 14 year old teenage girls can be. You will marvel at the patience and sheer undying love that Miles holds for her.

This book is a tale of how, with love, people can move on from whatever life has thrown at them. Slowly the mystery unfolds towards a terrific end. On page 553 the first of two letters written by Jacqueline is revealed to the reader. This letter is very moving because of it's depth, understanding and love. Then on page 561 the second letter written by Jacqueline is revealed to the reader. You have built up such an understanding of all the characters in this book by then that I found the content of Jacqueline's second letter very moving and it brought a tear to my eye. This is not a soppy love story but a very sad tale, a tale of Missing.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Blow me down with a feather!

I went into work on Friday afternoon and Brian said he wanted to see me. He smiled and gave me a small package with a piece of paper for me to sign. Bob called out for Brian to watch out because I might go into shock when I open the package. I gingerly opened the package and inside were 4 nationwide company issue uniform shirts! I was amazed, these were the shirts I had asked for ages ago and had assumed I would never get any because eventually the uniform would be replaced with another style. I had blogged about my shirt situation on Friday 14th November 2008 so this was not express delivery!

I like these pale blue new shirts, they are a good quality shirt with a good cut and length. The only difference to the old pale blue shirts is that they are made by Alexandra while the others were made by Allen & Douglas . The timing of this delivery makes me wonder why it has taken so long. I wonder if I was not going to get any of the old uniform issue shirts but they had complaints from the Network Standards Team that I was still wearing the Bengal Stripe shirts? I wonder if they were waiting for the new tax year to come so that the billing would be delayed? I wonder if the new uniform style has been abandoned by the nationwide company?

Still, a shirt is a shirt to me and I like the current nationwide company uniform. I do not want to change uniform style and I prefer a fleece jacket to the proposed blazer style jacket. Hopefully the new uniform style has been abandoned and we can continue to wear clothing that is best suited to our job rather than a catwalk.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Israel's dirty secrets in Gaza.

It is the front page story in today's Independent newspaper and it all refers to articles in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz . During Operation Cast Lead, Israeli forces killed Palestinian civilians under permissive rules of engagement and intentionally destroyed their property, say soldiers who fought in the offensive.

In their own words: Soldiers' stories

Squad leader Aviv

"At the beginning the directive was to enter a house with an armoured vehicle, to break the door down, to start shooting inside and to ascend floor by floor and – I call it murder – to go from floor to floor and to shoot at everyone we identify. In the beginning I asked myself how could this make sense? Higher-ups said it is permissible because everyone left in the city [Gaza City] is culpable because they didn't run away. This frightened me a bit. I tried to influence it as much as possible, despite my low rank, to change it. In the end the directive was to go into a house, switch on loudspeakers and tell them 'you have five minutes to run away and whoever doesn't will be killed'."

Soldier Ram

"There was an order to free the [confined] families. The platoon commander set free the family and told them to turn right. A mother and two children didn't understand and turned left. [Officers] had forgotten to tell the sniper on the roof that they were being set free and that everything was okay and he should hold fire. You can say that he acted as he was supposed to, in accordance with the orders. The sniper saw a woman and children approaching him, past lines that no one was to be allowed to cross. He fired directly at them. I don't know if he fired at their legs but in the end he killed them."

The full press reports can be read on IDF in Gaza: Killing civilians, vandalism, and lax rules of engagement and on ANALYSIS / Can Israel dismiss its own troops' stories from Gaza? both written by the Haaretz journalist Amos Harel.

What these disgusting stories show is that the crimes committed by Israel in Gaza have been ordered from the top. This is not the odd rogue soldier or the one bad apple in the barrel. This policy has come from top government and developed by the Israel Defense Force with no regard for international law, borders or human rights. This policy was adopted by a government who has been democratically elected by the Jewish people. I accept that not all Jewish people have endorsed the dreadful conduct of the Israel Defense Force or the aggressive foreign policy of the Jewish parliament. It is the same as our British government, elected by the man in the street. Not every British voter is behind our government's foreign policy or the deployment of our armed forces abroad.

What really offends me is the actions of Israel as a nation and the crimes that have been committed by the Israel Defense Force against the civilians of Gaza. Shame on Israel, it's government and it's armed forces. The eyes of the world see what evil you have committed and endorsed. The only light so far at the end of the tunnel is that a handful of soldiers appear in the cold light of day and with the benefit of hindsight, to have a conscience and a belief in humanity.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Horne & Corden Comedy Sketch Show .

The new Horne & Corden Comedy Sketch Show is now being broadcast on BBC Three. I watched this programme last week and thought it was great. I found their comedy fresh, up to date, very funny and entertaining. They seem to carry on where Hale and Pace left off in 1998.

However, I was rather surprised to read on Sunday that not everyone is enjoying the programme and that some people think it is rather bad. Some critics claim that this programme is homophobic and puerile. The Stage's TV critic, Harry Venning, wrote: "They are actors, not comedians. The BBC pointed out that it received its highest first-night audience for BBC3. The show pulled in a healthy number of repeat viewers and was the most popular show on the iPlayer watch-again download. A spokeswoman said the show was aimed at twenty-somethings, not middle-aged television critics.

Well, I watched the second episode of the Horne & Corden Comedy Sketch Show last night and my view has not changed. I enjoyed the second episode as much as I enjoyed the first and will continue to watch the whole series. I vote this programme a HIT. The critics still surprise me. I do not consider this programme as homophobic. I encourage and celebrate diversity in our society and with my understanding of homosexuality I cannot find anything homophobic about the content of the programme. I think that homosexuals should enjoy this programme as much as bi-sexuals and hetrosexuals. I do not think the humour is puerile, I think it should appeal to viewers of all age groups. To claim the programme is aimed at twenty-somethings is daft because television is as age universal in it's appeal as denim jeans. I am 50 years of age and I do not consider that it is aimed at a younger audience or that I am to old to enjoy it. Comedy appeals to people of all ages. Horne and Corden are good actors, they are also good comedians. Any good comedy programme must have good actors to present the programme because bad acting would make the programme fail.

Well done to Horne & Corden, you made me laugh. To the critics I say simply use your off button, it is your right to choose in our free society.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dr. Oetker Onken Mango, Papaya & Passion Fruit Biopot yogurt .

I go to work to earn money, not to spend money. Therefore I always take food with me to work and I do not buy anything out. Over time, like anybody, I can get a little bored with my regular packed lunch. I try different things and on our weekly supermarket shop I look at the shelves in the hope of finding something a little different.

Readers will notice that this blog is called natural yogurt and yes I do like to eat natural yogurt especially when it is poured over a mixed fresh fruit salad. I thought that maybe I could bring a large tub of natural yogurt to work, so I examined the refrigerator closely. There are many yogurts to choose from, some plain natural yogurt, others with some fruit in them. One tub of yogurt was on special offer, from a manufacturer I had not heard of before. The packaging looked bright but it was the lettering that attracted my attention. Mango, Papaya & Passion Fruit it declared. These are three of my favourite fruits and it brought back memories of having fruit smoothies at breakfast whilst on holiday in Cuba last year.

I thought why not, give it a try. So I purchased one 500g tub of Dr. Oetker Onken Mango, Papaya & Passion Fruit Biopot yogurt.

I took the pot to work and when I tasted my first spoonful I was amazed. This yogurt is gorgeous, it is rich and creamy. It has real fruit pieces in it and eating it becomes a dream. I was loving every spoonful and quickly the pot was empty. What a wonderful lunch this yogurt became and all I had left was an empty 500g pot. I then read all the information written on the outside of this tub. It has live bio cultures inside with the names of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobbacterium longum. It also has a live culture of Streptococcus thermophilus. What made me laugh though was the instruction "Once opened consume within 3 days"! No sorry, once opened this will always be consumed in one go! And where do they make this foreign sounding yogurt? Is it Holland, is it Belgium? Neither, try West Yorkshire. They make this beautiful yogurt at 1265 Century Way, Thorpe Park, Leeds LS15 8ZB.

I know now what is going to be in my shopping basket next week.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The right to protest.

Throughout the world people protest in public in very different ways. In Pakistan black-suited lawyers and flag-waving opposition activists launched a so-called long march from the cities of Karachi and Quetta yesterday, and aim to reach Islamabad on Monday.

In Luton, here in the UK, Muslim anti-war protesters hurled abuse at soldiers yelling "terrorists" and held homemade signs denouncing the soldiers as "butchers of Basra" and "baby killers".

In Northern Ireland people came in their thousands to stand in silence The gatherings took place in Belfast, Londonderry, Newry, Downpatrick, and Lisburn, and in Craigavon where Constable Stephen Carroll was murdered, the third member of the security forces to die in three days. The crowds gathered outside Belfast City Hall observed a minute's silence in memory of the security forces killed in separate attacks by dissident republicans.

Muntadhar al-Zaidi was the now famous Iraqi reporter who threw his shoe at President George W Bush. Throwing shoes is a traditional way of showing hatred and contempt in Iraq but Mr Zaidi's action, shown on television around the world, was soon copied in other countries. Mr Zaidi, 30, was a television reporter working for al-Baghdadiyah television when the incident took place, prompting spontaneous demonstrations of support in both Shia and Sunni districts across Iraq, as well as in many other parts of the Muslim world. As he hurled his first shoe Mr Zaidi shouted: "This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people – dog."

Now Muntadhar has been sentenced to three years in prison for his protest. Dhiaa al-Saadi, the head of Mr Zaidi's 18-member defence team, condemned the sentence as harsh and said an appeal would be launched. "It was an act of throwing a shoe, not a rocket," he said. "It was meant as an insult to the occupation."

I hope that Muntadhar's appeal is successful because his sentence of three years in prison for protesting is outrageous. People throughout the world must have the right to protest in public. That protest should also reflect local customs and traditions. All Muntadhar has done was to show his disgust at President George W Bush in a traditional Iraqi manner. Muntadhar did not drop his trousers and wave his backside at Dubya to demonstrate his feelings like many a likely lad could have done here in the UK. Muntadhar simply threw his shoe in disgust, which is part of the custom in those parts and the three-judge panel would surely be aware of this local custom. I agree with Muntadhar's sister Ruqaiya when she burst into tears and shouted: "Down with Maliki, the agent of the Americans." I believe this sentence was imposed because the judges were not independent but on the payroll of the Americans. This was not justice but an insult to all the Iraqi people.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The health and safety game.

The notices have gone up at Llantwit Fardre and everyone has their own score books. Management have issued everyone with a glossy booklet about first use and driver walk around check inspections. Yesterday the game got off to a great start and all the team were playing well. It all takes time but what the hell, we have all day.

Management want every goddamn seat belt closed on every bus and coach. Okay but this takes around 6 minutes to achieve. Management want you to report every defect that you can spot from a checklist of over 30 items, okay but this will take time. Management want you to return this form before you leave even if you have a serviceable vehicle, okay but this takes time. Management want only an engineer to declare a vehicle fit for service although the grey area has been reduced, okay but this will take time and involve a higher VOR (vehicle off road) declaration.

My coach had 3 defects which Matthew could not resolve so it was declared VOR. These defects had been reported before but nothing had been done. My replacement coach had 3 defects, 2 of these defects Matthew resolved but time was ticking away. The third defect, a microphone that does not work, could not be fixed. This defect had been reported before and nothing has been done. Now it was stand off time, John claimed there was no other coach available. I countered this with the written instructions from Mahmoud and the nationwide company that all drivers must use the microphone at every stop to nag at the passengers to wear their seatbelts. All drivers face disciplinary action if they fail to make these announcements. I stood my ground with the clock ticking away and John did not explode. So I made my point that the defect system clearly does not work and said good-bye.

We are given only 15 minutes at the start of the shift to do all the paperwork and the extended vehicle check and reporting system detailed in the glossy booklet. I drove out of Llantwit Fardre 45 minutes late, 60 minutes after reporting for work.

If any passenger wonders why their bus or coach is late arriving, then they should blame it on the glossy booklet, a defect system that does not work, a garage manager who does not want to pay for parts and a management with it's head up it's own backside. Like I have written before, "Never complain, never explain" and yesterday's health and safety game explains why. It is pointless complaining or explaining at Llantwit Fardre because you may as well talk to the wall.

Richard 0 - Stephen 6.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Waving the Green Flag .

It's that time of year again to renew my car breakdown cover. This year I will be waving the Green Flag, for one simple reason, cost. I wanted my car breakdown cover to include roadside assistance, recovery to a chosen UK destination and a home start service. All breakdown companies give you a discount for buying online. The big three this year, for the same level of cover, quote in at £112.12 for the AA , £105.75 for the RAC and £57.75 for the Green Flag . What a difference in premium for the same service, I was surprised at the range of quotes. The decision to go for the Green Flag was an easy one for me to make.

The documentation has now come through the post and I find it impossible not to read it cover to cover. There are always gems to laugh at in all corporate literature and the Green Flag booklet is no different! There are two gems in the Breakdown Cover Terms and Conditions booklet, both on page 6.

Vehicle locating via mobile signal.
If you use a mobile phone to request service under your policy we may, within half an hour of your call to us, use the mobile signal to help identify the location of the immobile vehicle. We will not use the signal for any other purpose.

Passenger - any person who at the time of the incident is riding in the vehicle and is not a hitch-hiker.

Laughing out loud, Big Brother is watching you and has his terms and conditions to ensure compliance!

Friday, March 06, 2009

bones to ashes by Kathy Reichs .

This thriller has 435 pages and the author's day job is a forensic anthropologist. This novel is written in the first person and involves a character called Doctor Temperance Brennan, whose job, just like the author's is a forensic anthropologist. This is the tenth novel that Kathy Reichs has written featuring Temperance Brennan but the reader does not need to have read any of the others because the stories are stand-alone. The beauty of Kathy's writing is that everything is explained for the layman, you do not need to be an expert in any field. Temperance explains what she is doing with her special forensic skills and continues to explain the work of experts in other fields that are used to solve the mystery. I was surprised to learn from this book book that there are 206 bones in the human body and just how much can be learned when the Police find a body.

This story has a good pace and plot. The joy of this book is the attention to detail which makes it such an enjoyable read. The bulk of this book involves forensic and investigative Police work but there is also some social commentary, raw emotion and workplace humour.

An example of social commentary can be found on page 108...

"And you can double that for kids. The families of missing and murdered kids live in agony. Every year that anniversary rolls around, the day the kid disappeared or the body was found. Every Christmas. Every time the kid's birthday pops up on the calendar. A dead kid's just one big ugly wound that refuses to heal." Hippo's eyes met mine. "The guilt eats at 'em. What happened? Why? Why weren't we there to save her? That kinda hell don't ever go cold."

An example of raw emotion can be found on page 319...

The video had been shot with a single handheld camera. There was no sound.
The setting is a room done in roach-motel cheap. The side table is wood-grain plastic. The double bed is plaid-quilted. A shadow hairlines from a nail on the wall above the headboard.
Normally my mind would have played with that. What had been removed? Terrible mass-market art? A print of beer-drinking dogs playing cards? Something fingering the motel's name or location?
No speculation this time. All my senses were focused on the horror center stage.
A girl lies on the bed. She is pale and has cornsilk hair. Bows double-loop from the ends of her pigtails.
My breath stopped in my throat.
The girl is naked. She can be no more than eight years old.
Rising onto her elbows, the girl turns her face toward something off camera. Her eyes sweep past the lens. The pupils are caverns, the gaze unfocused.
The girl lifts her chin, tracking someone's approach. A shadow crawls onto her body.
The girl shakes her head no and lowers her lids. A hand comes into frame and presses her chest. The girl drops back and closes her eyes. The shadow moves down her torso.

Opposing reflexes shot through my nerves.
Turn away!
Stay! Help the little girl!

I kept my eyes glued to the monitor.
A man moves into frame. His naked back is to the camera. His hair is black, bound at the nape of his neck. Ugly red zits speckle his buttocks. Around them, the skin is the color of pus.
My fingers sought each other, clenched hard. I felt dizzy, anticipating the nightmare that was about to play out.
The man takes the child's wrists and raises her frail little arms. Her nipples are dots on the curvy shadows defining her rib cage.
I looked down. My nails had carved crescents into the backs of my hands. Drawing two steadying breaths, I refocused on the monitor.
The girl has been turned. She lies prone, helpless and mute. The man has climbed onto the bed. He is on his knees. He moves to straddle her.
Shooting to my feet, I bolted from the room. No conscious thought. Limbic impulse straight to motor neurons.
Footsteps echoed mine. I didn't look back.

An example of workplace humour can be found on page 433...

"You know Hippo, the bogeyman's not always hanging out in the school yard or at the bus depot. He can be the guy in your parlor hogging the remote."

The final chapter of this book, number 41 runs from page 426 to 435 and nicely rounds everything off. This story is drawn to a tidy close and everything in the plot is revealed and accounted for. I cannot find a fault with this excellent book and I vote it a HIT. I will be happy to buy another of Kathy's books because of the quality and detail of her writing.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The dismantling of Israel Document:

Readers may have noticed that my two posts below this post have attracted a comment from a blogger whose name is displayed in another alphabet/language. I can only write in English and my spoken Arabic is limited to "ureed zujaajit beera maHalleeya" and "shukran". The comments were from a very respected and established Egyptian blogger called Nawara Negm. She is the daughter of leftist poet Ahmed Fouad Negm and her blog has the English sub title of "Freedom is only for those who are ready to die".

In October 2005 I went on holiday to Bodrum, in Turkey. I took some holiday reading with me, a rather large book containing some 1328 pages. This book is called The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East by Robert Fisk , who is the Independent newspaper's Middle East correspondent. Robert's book is a wonderful insight anyone can gain into the complex history and problems of the Middle East. This book was both an eye opener and a real education for me into the conflicts that take place throughout the Middle East. Since reading this book I have followed stories concerning the Middle East in our national newspapers with the same enthusiasm as Premier League football supporters follow their sport.

Readers of my blog will by now know of my criticism of Israel. There is not much a blogger can do, I will always boycott Israeli goods. As much as I enjoy grapefruits , I will not buy them if they come from Israel because my conscience will not allow it. So when Nawara sent me the link to her petition for the dismantling of Israel , I was more than happy to sign up to it. The crimes committed by Israel over the past 60 years have been well documented. Read Robert Fisk's book for full analysis and an historical perspective. The crimes committed by Israel since 2005 have been covered by all the quality newspapers.

On Monday I was the 812th person to sign the petition, a quick click tonight shows that 1,220 people have now signed this petition for the dismantling of Israel. So come on everyone, vote with your conscience and sign up to Nawara's petition. Looking at all the work Nawara puts in, I am sure that her father is very proud of her.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Biker jailed for 122mph ride with son.

A man caught on camera driving at 122 mph on a motorbike with his 14-year-old son sitting on the back was jailed today for six months. Robert Bennett, 47, was caught by police speeding along a two-lane road in Devon with the youngster, who was not wearing any protective trousers or gloves, clutching on to the seat of the Suzuki 1,300 cc bike. Judge Phillip Wassall said the police footage of him was "unbelievable." Bennett, from Barnstaple, Devon, was jailed for six months at Exeter Crown Court and banned from the road for 18 months after admitting dangerous driving, the Press Association reported.

...WOW!! 122mph on a motorbike, terrific. Pillion passenger not wearing gloves, bad news. Biker given a six month custodial sentence for speeding, ridiculous.

Okay, I do not condone speeding but imposing a custodial sentence for riding a motorcycle quickly is not justice in my book. I feel that a fine and penalty points would be appropriate in this case. Instead, we the taxpayers will have to pay for Robert to be kept in prison, at the same time he will also not be paying taxes. His sentence then becomes another tax on the rest of us. What for, who was the victim of this crime?

Danger and the risk of danger is relative. Speeding along in a motor car, with it's safety cage and other features, if something goes wrong then you should be Okay. Speeding along on a motorcycle, if something goes wrong, then it is curtains for you - final. Robert is 47 years old and has ridden bikes since he was young, so I do not think that he had been driving dangerously but quickly. You do not ride motorbikes at 47 years of age and take silly risks.

Prisons are places for criminals not for quick riding bikers.

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