Monday, September 28, 2009

Dog Photographer of the Year 2009 .

Here are the winning pictures from the Kennel Club's Dog Photographer of the Year 2009 competition.

There declared winner was this one , although I prefered this one or even this little one .

I would have liked to have posted these 3 photographs above but it is not possible to save an image from the flickr website onto your computer. These images are impossible to copy so you must click the links above to view them. It looked a nice competition and I thought the quality of the images were good.

Which photo from the shortlisted entries do you think should have won? Answers in the comment box below!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pay attention in training courses!

Looking at one of my favourite blogs tonight, Health and Safety News , I find this howler posted on Friday 25th September 2009...

Thames Valley Police has been fined £40,000 for breaching health and safety laws when a civilian worker was accidentally shot.

Pc David Micklethwaite, 52, shot control room employee Keith Tilbury, 57, during a firearms awareness course in Oxfordshire on 30 May 2007.

... Click here to read the full story!

This Pc David Micklethwaite sounds a right wally to me, he had already failed a gun training course and was then put on a firearms awareness course. For goodness sake, what a wally. I have nothing to do with guns but it is obvious that you NEVER point a gun at anyone. If you MUST do role play during a training exercise then it is obvious that the guns MUST be checked to ensure that they are empty. Common sense had clearly gone out of the window with this wally. I think his fine of £8,000 and being ordered to pay £8,000 costs was appropriate for his outrageous actions.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Get out the cotton wool boys!

Oh, the signs are ready. The main A48 dual carriageway into and out of Cardiff - Eastern Avenue - is to have a 50 mph permanent speed restriction imposed. This is a good road into and out of our city. There are no traffic lights, no roundabouts and no pedestrians. It is a regular dual carriageway with only entry slip and exit slip roads. There are no perpendicular junctions or crossroads. Looking at this dual carriageway you can understand why it has the National Speed Limit of 70 mph for cars and motorcycles.

So, what bright spark in Cardiff Council has decided to impose a permanent 50 mph on this good dual carriageway? National Speed Limits are made from our elected national government. I can see no reason for a reduced speed limit of 50 mph on this good dual carriageway road. I can see nothing wrong with cars and motorcycles travelling at up to 70 mph on this road as they would on similar roads throughout the UK. There is simply no need for a 50 mph limit on this road. What is going to happen at 3 o'clock in the morning? A squirrel is squashed, big deal.

Everything has to be paid for and increased journey times add extra costs to business which are passed onto the customer, you and me. There is a trend going on where local councils throughout the UK are imposing lower speed restrictions within their boundaries. The result of this is that slowly the democratically decided National Speed Limits for cars and motorcycles of 70 mph on dual carriageways and 60 mph on single carriageways are being reduced by stealth to 50 mph without any discussion among our elected representatives. What next, cotton wool bags being delivered by our councils in case you scratch your arm on a bush in a local park?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The joy of keyboard shortcuts.

Some computer users like the mouse and they click here, there and everywhere. These mouse heavy computer users are clicking icons, buttons and a whole range of drop-down and extended menus. Of course there is another way, the simple keyboard shortcut. I have used keyboard shortcuts for years and I only use the mouse if I have to use it. Why move your fingers away from the keyboard when typing and wander over your desk to fondle a mouse? Using keyboard shortcuts is quicker, intuitive and you will not get the increased risk of RSI - repetitive strain injury - than will occur from heavy mouse usage. So here are the most common keyboard shortcuts, for the full list, click this link .





Paste .....................Ctrl-V



Page break......... Ctrl-Enter

Change window ......... Alt-Tab

Quit application ......... Alt-F4

Minimise window ......... Alt-Space-N

Maximise window ......... Alt-Space-X

Close sub-window......... Ctrl-F4

Task manager or Windows Security ......... Ctrl-Alt-Delete

Screen grab......... Alt-Print screen

Rename file......... F2

Go to address bar......... F6

Lock PC.....................Windows-L

Close all windows......... Windows-M

Launch help......... Windows-F1

Switch programme......... Windows-Tab

Select All ......... Ctrl-A


Italics .....................Ctrl-I

Open new window........Ctrl-N

Open file..............Ctrl-O

Close window...........Ctrl-W

Full screen............F11

Bookmark this page.....Ctrl-D

...happy keyboard tapping everyone!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

deadly decisions by Kathy Reichs .

This is the third book featuring Dr. Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist, that has been written by Kathy Reichs. She wrote this 382 page novel in 2000 and it was re-issued in 2008. This book is okay but I do not think that it is as good as deja dead , death du jour or bones to ashes .

deadly decisions concerns Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs and some deaths involving biker gangs. This book provides a good outline of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and the biker lifestyle, together with their leisure activities and economic activity. What lets this novel down is how convenient Dr. Temperance Brennan's nephew Kit and Detective Andrew Ryan fall into this story. Their involvement in this tale is simply not credible. Everything else is true to form although this story is a bit like a made-for-tv movie. This novel has passed my quality threshold, as it is better than reading a newspaper!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The bouncing dog.

Time and time again I am driving our car up the Grand Avenue and Gail tells me that I have just passed a garden where a Staffordshire Bull Terrier is stood on a trampoline. I am busy driving our car so I have never seen this dog on a trampoline. However, when I was looking at one of my favourite blogs tonight, Nothing To Do With Arbroath , I found a You Tube video clip of a dog bouncing on a trampoline. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.

The book I am reading at the moment is called deadly decisions by Kathy Reichs. On page 138 Kathy writes...

A colleague at UNC-Charlotte had a sticker on her door that read: Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first. I'd always considered that good advice.

...That's food for thought and it got me thinking. Many people put off things in life and later they find out that what they wanted to do is no longer possible. Life can be uncertain and your dreams can vanish overnight. You can save for a rainy day only to find that you die before you can spend it. You can look forward to an exotic holiday only to find that later your health prevents travel to that location. The list is endless but by living the dream first you put it into your bag of life experiences. "Life is uncertain. East dessert first." is a similar motto to "buy now whilst stocks last" or "when it's gone, it's gone". It is great to plan ahead and to reap your rewards but I think a balance has to be made and sometimes have your dessert first.

And before I receive a comment from John in the box below, I will not be buying a Harley Davidson 883 Roadster !

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Every little helps .

Oh yes, "every little helps" goes the slogan of Tesco, or as we say Up North, "where there's muck, there's money". Tesco is the least hygienic of Britain's big four supermarkets, with environmental health inspectors finding more serious problems at its premises than at Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons, according to a league table of checks by local authorities. In a five-star rating system, 5 per cent of Tesco stores scored less than the three-star rating which indicates good compliance with health laws, according to statistics passed to The Independent.

The results provide unwelcome publicity for Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer with a 28 per cent market share, following several allegations of rodent infestations and other breaches of food safety laws at its stores during the past year. However, there were marked differences between retailers with similar customer demographics; while Tesco had five per cent rated zero to two stars, all of Morrisons' premises were rated three stars or more. During the past year, Tesco, which has annual sales of £60bn, has run into trouble with environmental health officers on several occasions:

*Last September, 24 products were past their sell-by date at a Tesco store in Llandudno, including one item 12 days past its expiry date

*Last October magistrates in Cardiff fined Tesco £6,000 for selling a chocolate cake gnawed by rats

*In April, environmental health officers linked three suspected cases of food poisoning to fresh tuna from Tesco in Inverness

*In May, Suffolk Coastal District Council accused Tesco's Martlesham store of being "heavily" infested with mice. Tesco denies eight charges brought by the council in an ongoing case.

*Last month, Tesco had to close its staff canteen at Inverness for a week because of a cockroach infestation.

...So, there you have it, "where there's muck, there's money". Profit before hygiene, every little helps. Companies do not like it when news like this gets into the public domain. Of course you can always check on the Scores on the Doors website to check how your local take-aways, clubs, pubs and restaurants are rated by the official local authority officers in a 5 star rating scheme. I am pleased to see that the hotel I will be staying at tomorrow night in Bradford has been given the maximum 5 star rating for food hygiene. Of course, hygiene is not just a problem in shops, hotels, take-aways, clubs, pubs and restaurants. Some cockroaches like to travel around our country by coach, the Plaxton Panther model of coach has proven to be very popular with these hardy little creatures!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bring on the big girls!

Auditions start on Tuesday for The XL Factor, a competition whose only criteria is that performers are at least a size 18. The talent show, which is currently the subject of a bidding war between three television production companies, is to seek out four larger women to form a girl band and find the line-up for a cabaret group called Moulin Huge.

... Click the link for the full news story. Then, when the television programme is being broadcast, set your digital tv recorder and when a "safe" time comes, get the tissues out and enjoy the show! Bring it on, girls!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

death du jour by Kathy Reichs .

This 436 page book was written in 1999 and reissued in 2008. It is the second book written by Kathy and once again features Dr. Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist. I have enjoyed this book which involves religious fanatics. Apart from all the police and forensic work, this book explores how religious sects and cults work. It explains the thinking behind the leaders of these cults and how they influence their members. The powerful techniques used by these groups to draw in their members are rather involved but are very effective. By having a strong leader and very staged meetings, they quickly develop a trust with the new member. These cults condition their members easily by holding their meetings in isolation. Because these meetings are held away from mainstream society and all the other members live and sleep the cult dogma, this is how new members are drawn into the cult.

Of course, these powerful conditioning techniques can also be used by other groups, organizations and companies. Think about corporate sales and training meetings and how they are held. These companies use the same powerful techniques so they can condition the staff into the company way. When you read this book and then think about the corporate meetings you have attended in the past, you will find the issue of group psychological conditioning rather creepy. Chant the phrase after me, "Making Travel Simpler",..."Making Travel Simpler",..."telephone Service Support",..."telephone Service Support". After a while, group members believe the company mantra.

death du jour is a good book. It is a tidy novel that has a good, explained ending. Although readers can read the whole series of Dr. Temperance Brennan books, you do not have to read them in any order as each novel is a stand-alone story.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The flower of the Ely Valley .

It was our 18th wedding anniversary yesterday and I got my wife Gail a card, a present and some flowers. She likes the cards I buy her and really likes the words I put in them. Yesterday's card hit the spot with the words...

Years ago I searched for a girl to marry,

then I found the flower of the Ely Valley.

We married and made a home together,

living happily forever in our house,

not far from the Ely river.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

50 things that are being killed by the internet

The internet has wrought huge changes on our lives – both positive and negative – in the fifteen years since its use became widespread. Tasks that once took days can be completed in seconds, while traditions and skills that emerged over centuries have been made all but redundant.

...Click the link above to read the list, it is an interesting read. It is surprising how things have moved on in the last 15 years. Some things will make you smile and many things we now take for granted. We have all evolved but can still laugh at how some people use the technology. My favourite to poke fun at is Sat Nav, how some people feel naked and lost without it! Some people cannot read a map, know which way they are going or follow signposts! I thought that finding your way around was all part of becoming an adult.

My favourite positive aspect is the quickness at finding answers to questions using search engines and the online news services. Knowledge at my fingertips is a joy to be able to use. No more ploughing through reference books or waiting for the newsagents to open.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

A little puppy fat?

Lizzie Miller is considered too large to model plus-size clothes. Is the reaction that followed the publication of this picture going to change that? 'It's a photo that measures all of three by three inches," gushes Cindi Leive, editor of US Glamour in a post on the magazine's blog, "but the letters about it started to flood my inbox literally the day Glamour hit newsstands." What does it show? A beautiful, creamy-skinned naked model . . . with a small roll of stomach fat. Lizzie Miller, the 20-year-old model in question, agrees that it's astonishing that, at 5ft 11in and 12.5 stone she's considered a "plus size" model.

The article on the US Glamour magazine website has now attracted 965 comments.

...I find this photograph quite normal and I would consider Lizzie to be slim, not plus-size. It is a shame that most fashion pictures feature skinny women who are not representative of society. Most women have a little puppy fat around their waists, some more than others. Men like the well-fed look and it is a joy to see women wearing muffin tops. Advertising is there to sell products and by using skinny models it does not make the image realistic, you may as well view the garment on a hanger! Using a plus-size model in your advertising allows you to show the reader what your garment will look like on the street. Women want to know what their clothes will look like when they wear them on the street and not some anorexic fashion catwalk. The use of normal sized women as models should help rather than hinder the fashion industry. Get real clothing manufacturers, women have body fat and a little puppy fat around the waist is quite normal.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Has Facebook become a peeping site for employers?

The High Street electronics chains Currys and PC World face embarrassment after staff were caught posting abusive and offensive comments on the social networking site Facebook. Around 3,000 people have become members of the Facebook discussion group in which past and present employees post messages about customers. DSG International, the shops' parent company, is understood to have launched an investigation into the abuse after some staff posted messages under their real names. A spokeswoman for DSG International, said some comments on the unofficial "DSGI Employees" group page were posted by former members of staff.

Earlier this year it emerged that Marks and Spencers staff ridiculed had ridiculed their customers as "idiots and cheap little b*******" in another Facebook group.

Tesco staff also branded shoppers "moronic" and "smelly" on a similar forum and Waitrose launched an investigation after they found descriptions of customers as "pikey skanks" on the same website.

British Airways took action against staff who complained about their customers' "stupid American accents" on Facebook.

Virgin was also embarrassed when employees labelled some fliers "chavs".

...So, what does natural yogurt suggest employees do? Simple, avoid any Facebook group linked in any way to your employment. Employers are getting nasty and they monitor all internet content about them. Anyone identified as posting content that is perceived as negative to a company's brand is likely to be sacked. You have given away your right to free speech and freedom of expression by signing your contract of employment. Of course this same free speech and freedom of expression is fully available to ex-employees and all other members of the public, they can write whatever they wish, without any comeback. But everybody who is accepting the company pound is bound to secrecy! I suggest that you never write about issues concerning your workplace on a forum like Facebook.

Of course there are other avenues where you can express yourself. You can always set up a blog or post to a forum under a username that is not your street name. The trouble with this is that your identity has to be kept secret and you can never claim credit for your content! Also your writing must never give away who or where you are! This underground blogging and forum useage has a place but because of the steps you must take to safeguard your job, your influence and audience is very small. You could write a blog as an allegory but then internet users would never find your blog using a search engine because their search fields may not be listed.

I sniff around the internet and find many interesting things. Ordinary people write good blogs which give a good insight into the real world, not the public face that companies shout from their rooftops. It is an army of bloggers who write about the real world but they very often have to allegorize to get their story across. Some bloggers give up the game and simply leave the regiment .

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

They did what?

I had a quick skim of the news tonight and then started reading the efforts of my favourite bloggers. When I got to Grumpy Dragon I read his post about the climate change protesters today at the Royal Bank of Scotland. He quite rightly demonstrates the sloppy reporting at the BBC. I was surprised and a little annoyed because licence payers provide this reporting that a lot of our world rely upon. Read the Grumpy Dragon's post yourself to see the differences between the BBC webpage and what an employee at his desk witnessed. The BBC have clearly sexed up this story just like our government did with the September dossier making the case to invade Iraq in 2003.

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